Saturday, February 28, 2015

PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA SMOOTHIE

What a perfect way to start off the weekend but with a rich Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie! 

I woke up earlier than I usually do and just decided to go on and get up. The pastor at our church has challenged us to read the four Gospels during Lent and I am a little behind. With the house quiet, I decided it would be perfect time to get caught up.

But I thought some nourishment might make the process more productive. That's where the Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie comes into the picture of my morning.

The recipe comes from my latest cookbook acquisition, RX: for great cooking, a 50th Anniversary Collection of Groundbreaking Recipes from Supporters of Olathe Medical Center and specifically Susan Schroeder.

When I made this the first time I misread the recipe and only used 2 ice cubes instead of 2 cups. It made a nice drink though. I have made it again and used the 2 cups of ice cubes. It makes two servings but it wasn't as rich tasting as when I just used 2 ice cubes. I have gone back and revised Susan's recipe if you looked at his post earlier.




PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA SMOOTHIE


                           2 servings

2       cups ice cubes
2       sliced banana
1/2    cup skim milk
2       tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1        "squirt" chocolate syrup


Combine in blender and puree until smooth. Will make 2 servings if you use 2 cups of ice cubes or 1 serving if you only use 2 ice cubes. (Glad I can find some humor this Saturday morning. I will take that as a positive sign for a good day.)



I'm not hoping for the snow we have forecasted for tonight. The placemat just makes a nice background. 

***If you want to make just one serving using less ice cubes, use only 1 banana and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Well, this is not getting Matthew read. Have a good weekend everyone and stay warm if it is cold where you are or cool if it is hot!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

FRUIT PIE BARS

Once again after our last snow, our neighbor Jerry cleaned off our long driveway with his snow blower. I usually thank him by making something that I hope he and his wife Diane will enjoy. 

I also needed something to take to Hillcrest Thrift Shop as a surprise on Saturday. I wasn't working, but Volunteer Jerry (a different Jerry) often tells me at church that they really miss me on Saturdays. (What he is really saying is they miss the treat I brought when I was volunteering on Saturdays also for a while.

I had pinned a recipe for some cherry pie bars that looked really good, but when I went to check out the recipe, Pinterest had deleted the pin for suspicion of spam. The one time I didn't copy the recipe down was all I could think. It took a while to finally find the recipe at another site, but I did. I also found a smaller version of it that I thought was actually better.

I thought I would make one using a cherry pie filling and one with an apple pie filling. Then I would cut them into bars and give half of each to Jerry and then take the other halves to Hillcrest. They both looked and smelled really good, but the problem was I couldn't get the cherry pie one to come out in bars. The apple one did better, but still not great.

I ended up taking the cherry pie bars to Jerry and Diane in the pan. I told him he could spoon it out like a crisp.

Since the apple pie ones came out better, I put most of them on a plate and took them to Hillcrest. The guys were so excited they decided to go to lunch 15 minutes early so they could eat some right away. I searched out Jerry and his wife Sharon and told them. Jerry was pleased but informed me they were giving up desserts for Lent. I showed them pictures of the bars on my phone.

I haven't shared the recipe with you earlier because I wanted to try them one more time to see if I could successfully make them as bars. The original recipe said to use half of the cookie mix for the crust and the other half for the topping. I decided that was the problem. There wasn't enough cookie for the crust so that it could come out as a bar.

Yesterday afternoon, I made them again and it worked out much better. My husband plans to take them to the tax office later today.

This recipe is so versatile. Feel free to use any cookie mix and any fruit pie filling. That's why I decided to just call them Fruit Pie Bars. I have made them with oatmeal cookie mix and pumpkin spice cookie mix. I think chocolate chip would be really good also. And don't forget sugar cookie mix. That is the mix the original recipe used. I almost forgot the peanut butter cookie mix too that you can buy.



FRUIT PIE BARS

1       pouch cookie mix (oatmeal, pumpkin spice, chocolate chip, sugar, or even peanut butter cookie mix)
1/2   cup butter, softened
1/2   teaspoon almond extract
1       egg
1       can fruit pie filling (apple, cherry, blueberry, strawberry...)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8 - inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.


Combine the cookie mix, butter (I softened the stick of butter in the microwave on high for 20 seconds), extract, and egg 
on low speed until dough forms.


Reserve 3/4 cup of the dough for the topping.


Press the rest of the dough in the bottom of the pan with your fingers.


Cover with the pie filling to the edges. 
(I like to cut the apple slices in the apple pie filling into smaller pieces to get a better coverage.)


Break the reserved dough into pieces to cover the pie filling. 


Bake in oven for 30 - 35 minutes or til golden brown. I did bake mine the full 35 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack.



Meanwhile mix up the cream cheese frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

2       ounces cream cheese. softened (reduced fat or fat free will work)
1/4    teaspoon almond extract
1/2    cup powdered sugar, sifted
2       tablespoons milk or enough to make it thin enough to drizzle on top


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a spoon. I added the milk a tablespoon at a time.


After bars have cooled for 10 minutes, drizzle the frosting over the top of the bars. 


Wait until they have cooled completely to cut them into bars.  I used a Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix with Apple Pie Filling for this one.
Good news: If they don't want to come out as bars, just serve in a bowl with or without a little ice cream.




Here are pictures of the first ones I made.

This one was made with an oatmeal cookie mix and cherry pie filling. (Jerry said it was very good.)



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

PEACH CRISP

Friend Janice likes to make different crisp desserts. On Monday when the Farkle Friends met at her house for a fun afternoon of farkle, she had made Peach Crisp for us to enjoy mid-afternoon.

While she generally has a recipe, she is known to improvise when she actually prepares it. She wanted to make a little larger serving than a 9 x 13 - inch baking dish this day, so she added some frozen peaches to the pie fillings. It was so good and everyone raved about it.....me included.

Read the recipe carefully as you will see she has modified the traditional crisp/dump cake recipe. I simple love her changes.



PEACH CRISP

2       cans peach pie filling
1/4    cup water
1/4    cup brown sugar
cinnamon to sprinkle

1        yellow cake mix

1/2     cup chopped pecans
1/2     cup quick oats
1/4     cup brown sugar

1-1/2 sticks of butter, softened

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the pie fillings and water and then spread in bottom of baking dish.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the peaches and the sprinkle cinnamon to cover.

Cover the mixture with the dry cake mix sprinkling evenly.

Combine the pecans, oats and brown sugar in a small bowl.

Sprinkle mixture on top of cake mix.

Soften the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Pour over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue baking 40 more minutes.

Can serve with ...

or without ice cream.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

KITTY'S ORANGE CAKE

This is another recipe from one of Joanne Fluke's novels, Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook. It sounded like a good one for me to make and let my husband take to the tax office at Fort Leavenworth yesterday. 

It was a big success. He called me from work wanting the recipe. I was in the car and couldn't remember it precisely so I told him to tell the ladies it would be on my blog next. When he walked in carrying the empty cake container, he said, "Well, they ate it all but one piece and I gave it away when I left." It is really good. Now what will I make for him to take on Thursday????? 

* I buy orange juice in the 10 - oz bottles. That way I always have orange juice when I need it for a recipe. The 10 - ounce bottle works perfectly for the recipes.




KITTY'S ORANGE CAKE

1       box yellow cake mix w/o the pudding added
1       pkg (3 - ounces) orange Jell-O (not sugar - free)
1       cup orange juice*
1       teaspoon orange extract
1/2   cup canola oil
1       teaspoon orange zest (I used McCormick's Valencia Orange Peel)
4      eggs
1       cup semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels (6 - oz pkg)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. (I used my Pan Grease I mixed up. Be generous.)

Stir the dry cake mix and the dry Jell-O mix together in a large mixing bowl with electric mixer.

Add the orange juice, orange extract, oil, and orange zest. Mix together til well blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.


Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.


Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.


Fold in the mini chocolate morsels with a spoon or rubber spatula.


Pour the cake batter into the pan. TIP! A good way to do this is to hold the bowl with the batter in one place and pour. As you pour rotate the pan around using the other hand. This will ensure you are pouring the batter evenly in the pan. I didn't have an extra hand to take the picture. Sorry, but hopefully you understand.


Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a cake tester (toothpick) comes out dry. (45 minutes was perfect in my oven) I wish you could have smelled it cooking in the oven. Oh! My!

Cool on a rack for 20 to 25 minutes.


Loosen the outside edges and the middle, if necessary, and invert the cake on a wire rack or cake plate to finish cooling.






When the cake is cool, drizzle Orange-Fudge Frosting over the crest and let it run down the edges.




ORANGE - FUDGE FROSTING



2       tablespoons chilled butter
1        cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 - oz bag)
1        teaspoon orange extract
2       tablespoons cold orange juice *


Place the butter in the bottom of a 2 - cup microwave-safe bowl. (A 2 - cup glass measuring cup works really great. You can easily pour the frosting out when finished with the spout.)

Add the chocolate chips.

Heat on HIGH for 60 seconds.


Stir to see if the chips have melted. They hold there shape even though they are melted. If they are not completely melted, heat for 15 more seconds on HIGH. The 1 minute is usually enough for me. 


I just continue to stir until they are smooth.


Add the orange extract and stir it in.

Add the orange juice 1 tablespoon at a time stirring well after each addition. 

Note: If you forget like I did and add the extract and juice all at once, it works fine. Just make sure you stir with a spoon until nice and smooth.


Pour the frosting over the crest of the cake letting it run down the sides. You need to work quickly with this as the frosting will cool and start to thicken. You can just enjoy that last little bit in the measuring cup that starts to harden. I did. : )




Place the cake in the refrigerator for 20 to 25 minutes to "set" the frosting. 







After that the cake can be left out at room temperature.

Serve...and enjoy that orange and chocolate blend.



Monday, February 23, 2015

SLOW COOKER APRICOT BBQ CHICKEN

For at least 10 years now, my husband and I have tried to watch our intake of sugar. We used to be more diligent than we have been the last few years, but we make a conscious effort most of the time. If you visit my blog often, you know that I use substitutions in my baking to reduce sugar. 

High fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in many foods. It helps make them taste really good. But since my husband and I don't think it is a good addition to foods we eat, we avoid buying products that contain it. I had a jar of orange marmalade in my pantry that I was going to use with this recipe. I changed my mind when I noticed it had high fructose corn syrup. Fortunately I had a jar of sugar-free apricot jam. I decided to use it. It is hard to find a BBQ that does not contain high fructose corn syrup, but there are some out there. You just have to read a lots of labels sometimes.

My sil Sondra posted this recipe recently on Facebook and I saw it. My dil Sara then commented that she made it all the time; that it was a favorite of theirs. The recipe said to cook the chicken for 3 hours and then add the sauce and cook for 30 more minutes. Sara commented that she didn't cook the chicken first before adding the sauce. I decided to cook the chicken for 1 hour since the chicken had been frozen and I thought the pieces might have some excess water. I don't think it really makes any difference. I think just adding the sauce the last 30 minutes would mean the chicken isn't flavored as much as it is if the chicken cooks the entire time in the sauce. 

Since I had a box of five chicken breasts fillets, I decided to go on and cook all five. We will just have leftovers. I think I will cut the leftovers into chunks and freeze them for sandwiches later or add to a salad.



SLOW COOKER APRICOT BBQ CHICKEN

4 - 5      chicken breasts fillets, thawed
3/4        cup apricot jam (I used sugar free) You can also use orange marmalade, but unless it is sugar free, it will probably have high fructose corn syrup.
3/4        cup BBQ sauce (I used one without high fructose corn syrup)
1            tablespoon soy sauce

Spray a large slow cooker with cooking spray for easy cleanup.

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and cook one hour on high. *If it is more convenient for you, you can cover the chicken with the sauce mixture when you place them in the slow cooker and cook them for 3 - 1/2 hours on high.

Pour off any juice/water in slow cooker. I didn't have too much.

Combine the jam, BBQ sauce, and soy sauce in a medium bowl.

Pour over chicken breasts covering all.

Continue cooking for 2-3 hours. (They should cook a total of 3-1/2 hours. If they are done before you are ready to eat, reduce to "keep warm" if you have that setting on your slow cooker.)

Serve with rice or your favorite vegetable.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE

This Hot Fudge Pudding Cake was the dessert that Friend Judy served us the other night when we met at her house for dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day. It was the perfect conclusion to a perfectly delicious meal. I still have Judy's original recipe for lasagna to share along with two more appetizers everyone enjoyed. And then last but not least we all received heart shaped sugar cookies to take home.

This recipe came from her Betty Crocker cookbook that she received from an aunt as a wedding gift. Her aunt saved box tops to get the cookbook. Judy has used it so much that she has duct tape holding the spine together.



HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE

1         cup flour*
3/4    cup sugar
2        tablespoons cocoa
2        teaspoons baking powder
1/4     teaspoon salt
1/2     cup milk
2        tablespoons shortening, melted (Judy just used oil.)
1         cup finely chopped nuts
1         cup packed brown sugar
1/4     cup cocoa
1-3/4 cups hot water

*If using self-rising flour, omit the baking powder and salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Combine flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a bowl with a whisk.

Blend in milk and shortening.

Stir in nuts.

Pour into ungreased 9 x 9 - inch square pan.

Stir together the brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.

Sprinkle over the batter.

Pour the hot water over batter.

Bake 35 minutes.

Serve while hot. When you spoon out a serving, invert each onto a dessert plate and then spoon extra sauce (from the bottom of the pan) over the serving.

If desired, serve with sweetened whipped cream (or whipped topping). Judy added a scoop of vanilla ice cream before adding some whipped cream and a cherry.



Friday, February 20, 2015

BANANA CHIP MUFFINS

The first time I made these Banana Chip Muffins I made them in a regular muffin tin. Our neighbor Jerry had come over with his snow blower and cleared off our driveway. The recipe made 12 regular size muffins and my husband and I split one just to make sure they tasted okay. I wouldn't want to give them to him if they didn't. I really enjoyed my half and was a little surprised when my husband said they could be a little sweeter. He usually likes breads and desserts that aren't real sweet.  I told him to tell Jerry that they weren't sweet so that they wouldn't be disappointed when they ate them.

I needed something for him to take over to the tax office at Fort Leavenworth yesterday and decided it would be the perfect time to try the recipe again but add more sugar. I also decided to make them in my mini-muffin pan so there would be plenty to go around. I expected to make 24 mini muffins but the recipe made 9 more. That was enough that we could easily enjoy a whole one a piece and compare the taste. They were a little sweeter but not as sweet as I expected them to be. My husband said they were much better. I will leave it up to you as to how much sugar you use according to your own personal taste. I am sharing the latter / sweeter version with you.


BANANA CHIP MUFFINS

1 - 3/4    cups flour
1/4          cup sugar/stevia blend or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 - 1/2    teaspoon baking powder
3/4         teaspoon salt
1              egg
1/2          cup milk (I used skim milk)
1/2          cup mashed ripe banana
1/2          cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3          cup canola oil
1              cup mini chocolate chips
1/2          cup finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin tin or mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour, sugar/blend, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl with a whisk.

Combine the egg, milk, mashed banana, applesauce, and oil in another smaller bowl. Whip with a whisk until completely mixed.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just til combined.

Stir in the chips.

Stir in the nuts.

Fill muffin tin about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes if making 12 regular size muffins OR 12 minutes for the mini muffins.

Cool for 2 minutes in tins before removing.

Finish cooling on a wire rack.

Serve warm or cold ( but really good warm).

When I had the extra 9 mini muffins, I filled the cups with the batter and added a little water to the empty cups. This allows for even baking of the filled cups.

The muffins are so good....full of mini chocolate chips and I like the addition of the nuts. The recipe didn't call for nuts and I didn't add them to the muffins I gave Jerry. But I decided to add them to the batch I made yesterday. Glad I did.