Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Do you guys always have dried cranberries on hand?  I do.  I put them into my chicken salad; toss them in for a little sweetness in a green salad; or sometimes just a sweet afternoon snack.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2008.

No substitutions were made.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars 1

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

Crust:
4.5 oz all-purpose flour (about 1 c)
1 c quick-cooking oats
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tblsp butter, melted
3 tblsp orange juice
cooking spray

Filling:
1 1/3 c dried cranberries (about 6 oz)
3/4 c sour cream
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated orange rind
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly).  Reserve 1/2 c oat mixture.  Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  – I used a 9 inch square baking dish.

To prepare filling, combine ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well.  Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling.  Bake at 325 for 40 minutes or until edges are golden.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars 2

cartoon-strawberry-9I’m not a fan of sour cream, so I wasn’t so sure how this one would turn out.  BUT I’m trying to not be prejudiced towards ingredients, so I decided to give it a go.  SO GOOD, and completely unexpected.  We enjoyed these with friends and coffee in front of the fire on a chilly winter night.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Do you guys get as excited as I do to try new recipes?  I can read a cookbook like a novel, drinking in details, picturing how the flavors will meld together and hoping when I make the dish it’ll be better than I imagined.  Each week I shift through cookbooks, and notebooks full of recipes waiting for something to jump out at me and say “This is the week!  It’s my turn!”.  These tacos shouted loud and did not disappoint.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2012.

Substitutions made, noted below.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs – cut into bit sized pieces
3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tblsp canola oil, divided
1 1/2 tblsp honey – I used agave syrup
1 tblsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tblsp coarsley chopped dry-roasted peanuts
3/4 c diagonally sliced celery
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas – I used flour tortillas
1/3 c sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 lime wedges

Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add 1 tblsp soy sauce to bag; seal.  Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade.  Place 1/4 c cornstarch in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt.  Add chicken to cornstarch in dish and toss chicken to thoroughly coat.  Shake off excess cornstarch.

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add 1 tblsp canola oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add half of coated chicken; saute for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown.  Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.  Repeat the procedure with remaining oil and chicken.

Combine remaining 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, remaining 2 tblsp soy sauce, honey and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice.  Stir in garlic.  Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.

Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently.  Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas.  Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips; serve with lime wedges.

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh man was this a killer meal.  We all loved these tacos and the boys are ready for me to make them again.  I just have to remember the 30 minute marinade ahead of time so we’re not eating a super late dinner. 😉

Pecan Streusel Bread

A sweet friend and her husband just finished building their dream home.  When going over to see the new diggs, I wanted to bake something special to celebrate.  She and I sat, talking for hours, enjoying the gorgeous view and each having two generous pieces of this bread.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2012.

Substitution made.  The original title for this recipe is Walnut Streusel Bread.  I just don’t do walnuts, so pecans (the better nut) were substituted.

pecan streusel bread 1

Pecan Streusel Bread

Streusel:
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of salt
2 tblsp butter, melted
2 tblsp chopped pecans

Bread:
9 oz all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tblsp butter, softened
2/3 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c fat-free buttermilk
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy)

pecan streusel bread 2

Preheat to 350 degrees.

To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add 2 tblsp melted butter, stirring until well combined.  Stir in nuts, set aside.

To prepare bread, weigh or lightly spoon 9 oz flour in to dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Combine 5 tblsp butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at med-high speed until well blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla.  Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.  Scrape half of batter into a 9×5-inch loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with half of streusel mixture.  Spread remaining batter over streusel; swirl.  Sprinkle remaining streusle on top of batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center come out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.  Remove from pan; cook completely on wire rack.

pecan streusel bread 3

cartoon-strawberry-9 This quick bread is a buttery, crumbly coffee cake.  Meant to be enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee and a dear friend.

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

When the temps get down to single digits and you’re stuck in the house all day, it’s time to bake.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, September 2011.

Substitution made, noted below.

PB cups 1

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

5.6 oz all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 c)
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tblsp 2% milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
4 (.75 oz) peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped – I used 1/3 c mini PB cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt), stirring well with a whisk.  Combine peanut butter and next 4 ingredients (through eggs), stirring well.  Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture; stir until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into a 9-inch square metal baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray, and arrange the peanut butter cups over batter.  Bake at 350 for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool in pan  on a wire rack.

PB cups 2

cartoon-strawberry-9Chocolate and Peanut Butter, what could be better?  When said chocolate and peanut butter are wrapped in a chewy blondie!  We always have mini PB cups on hand in the freezer, so this was the perfect treat on a very cold evening.

Chocolate Chip-Coffee Muffins

While husband’s family was visiting over Thanksgiving, I baked these muffins to enjoy on a lazy Saturday morning.  Most of us are coffee lovers, so I figured these would be a hit.

The recipe is from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2012.

Substitution made, noted below.

muffin Collage 1

Chocolate Chip-Coffee Muffins

2/3 c whole milk – I used 2%
5 tblsp butter, melted
3 tblsp instant coffee granuales
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
9 oz (about 2 c) all-purpose flour
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine first 5 ingredients.

muffin 2

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray (I used muffin cup liners.)  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until done.  Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

muffin 3

cartoon-strawberry-9These are great muffins, they mix up easily and bake quick.  It’s a great recipe to have on hand for a lazy Saturday morning or a fancy Sunday brunch.

Sausage and Spinach Soup

I was figuring out our dinner menu for the week and asked if husband wanted anything special.  He asked for French Onion soup, he got Sausage and Spinach soup instead.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, March 2007.

No substitutions were made.

sausage n spinach 1

Sausage and Spinach Soup

10 oz sweet turkey Italian sausage
cooking spray
1 c chopped onion
2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1/2 c water
15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz can organic stewed tomatoes, undrained
14 oz fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 c baby spinach
1 tblsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tblsp grated fresh Romano cheese

spinach Collage 1

Remove casings from sausage.  Cook sausage in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over high heat until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add onion and 2 tsp garlic to pan; cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 c water, beans, tomatoes and broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thick.  Remove from heat, and stir in spinach, basil and oregano.  Ladle 1 1/2 c soup into each of 4 bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 tsp cheese.

sausage n spinach 5

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a wonderful and quick soup, dinner was on the table in less than a half hour!  Husband didn’t love the amount of tomatoes, but the flavor is rich and wonderful.  Just another soup to help chase away the chill of the Fall.

Chicken and Cashews

Who doesn’t love a cashew?  Crisp and buttery, full of good fats and nutrients.  We have cashews on hand all the time for a go-to healthy snack.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, May 2009.

No substitutions were made.

chick cashew 1

Chicken and Cashews

3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tblsp dry sherry
4 tblsp cornstarch, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tblsp oyster sauce
1 tblsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
3/4 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
1 tblsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
1/4 c chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews

Combine 1 tblsp soy sauce, sherry, 2 tsp cornstarch, and chicken in a large bowl; toss well to coat.  Combine remaining 2 tblsp soy sauce, remaining 2 tsp cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce and honey in a small bowl.

chick cashew 2

Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken mixture to pan; saute 3 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in pan.  Add onion, celery and bell pepper to pan; saute 2 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic; saute 1 minute.  Stir in broth mixture.  Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle with green onions and cashews.

chicken cashew 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a wonderful, quick and healthy go-to meal if you’re craving Chinese food.  I served the chicken over angel hair pasta tossed with dark sesame oil and the green onions from the recipe.  YUM!

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

There were a few greasy spoons in CA that made the best onion rings.  Not something I’d order all the time, but every once in awhile, a greasy cheese burger with onion rings is the perfect meal.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2008.

No substitutions were made.

BBQ onion rings 1

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

3 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 tblsp sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into (1/4-inch thick) slices, and separated into rings
1 1/2 c dry bread crumbs, divided
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

BBQ onion rings 2

Combine flour, sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, allspice and eggs in a large bowl.  (A) Dip onion rings in flour mixture. Place half of onion rings in a zip-top plastic bag; add 3/4 c bread crumbs, shaking bag to coat onion rings.  Repeat procedure with remaining onion rings and remaining 3/4 c breadcrumbs.

(B) Arrange onion rings in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.  Lightly coat onion rings with cooking spray.  Bake at 450 for 5 minutes.  Rotate pans on racks; bake 5 minutes.  Turn onion rings over; lightly coat with cooking spray and back 5 minutes.  Rotate pans and bake 5 minutes or until crisp.  Serve immediately.

BBQ onion rings 3

cartoon-strawberry-9These are a less greasy, more flavorful version of one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  They paired perfectly with turkey cheese burgers.  My only wish is that I had a mandolin slicer to make perfectly sliced rings.

Black Bean Soup

Almost every time we have lunch or dinner at Panera Bread, husband will get their black bean soup.  I wanted to try this recipe to see how he’d like it.

The recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2010.

No substitutions were made.

black bean soup 1

Black Bean Soup

1 c dried black beans (about 6 oz)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 c chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
14 oz organic vegetable broth
4 oz can chopped green chiles, drained
1/4 c tomato paste
3/8 tsp salt

Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven.  Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil.  Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 1 hour.  Drain beans.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over med-high heat.  Add onion and garlic to pan; saute for 3 minutes or until tender.  Add beans, 2 1/2 cups water, oregano, red pepper, cumin, broth and chiles; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.

black bean soup 2

Place half of bean mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.   Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Pour pureed soup into a bowl.  Repeat procedure with remaining coup.  I used my immersion blender for this.  Return to pan.  Stir in tomato paste and slat; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

black bean soup 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a spicy soup!  But in the very best way possible.  Everything blended down gives it a creamy consistency and is perfectly spiced.  Husband was a big fan of this soup and it paired well with our fish tacos for dinner.

ps – photographing dark brown soup in a pot?  kinda boring and not very pretty…

Chicken & White Bean Soup

I am so loving the onset of fall.  All the windows have been open for a week, allowing soft breezes to waft through the house and allowing the dog to sleep in the sunshine on the deck.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2011.

No substitutions were made.

chicken and white bean 1

Chicken & White Bean Soup

2 smoked bacon slices, chopped
12 oz skinless, bonless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 c chopped onion
1 garlic cloved, minced
1 c chopped plum tomato
2 tblsp chopped fresh oregano
2 c water
2 c fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 c uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 15oz can organic white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tblsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt

chicken and white bean 2

Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat 7 minutes or until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan; set bacon aside.

Add chicken to drippings in pan; saute 6 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan.  Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender.  Add tomato, oregano, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Return bacon and chicken to pan.  Stir in water and broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Bring to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.  Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until heated.  Remove from heat; stir in parsley, vinegar, and salt.

chicken and white bean 3

chicken and white bean 4

cartoon-strawberry-9The tomatoes, onions and oregano give this soup a strong flavor of bruschetta.  Cutting and trimming the chicken thighs took awhile, but the rest of the soup came together easily after that.  Enjoy this soup on a beautiful fall night.