Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Bars

My mom knows me so well. My Christmas haul: Hershey's 4 books in 1 cookbook, Williams Sonoma Fast and Fresh cookbook, and my first ever fancy cutting board. Needless to say, I have been trying a lot of new things lately. This recipe is brought to you from the Hershey's 4 books in 1. It does not disappoint. 

I took this picture a couple days after making this. Yes, between Hunter and I, we had made this much of a dent in the pan all by ourselves. I could have eaten the whole thing all by myself, truth be told. 

You can't really go wrong with oreos, coconut, almonds, and chocolate. I did think about subbing out the white chocolate (I don't even think it should be considered chocolate if you want my real opinion, haha), but I am glad I didn't. It added a nice flavor and makes them look pretty.

Yield: 24-36 bars, depending on how you cut them

2 cups Oreo crumbs (this took about 5/6 of a package of oreos - so you still have a few to munch on afterwards)
6 tbsp butter, melted
6 tbsp powdered sugar
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Turn the oven on to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking pan. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Mix the sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and almonds together and spoon over the oreo layer. Spread it into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until coconut begins to brown.  Allow to cool completely. 

Microwave semisweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream together in 30 second bursts until well mixed and completely smooth (it took me a minute and a half). Allow to cool until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Smooth over cooled bars and top with white chocolate chips. Cut into bars once chocolate has cooled and enjoy!

Source: slightly adapted from Hershey's Brownies, Bars, and Treats

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I am on a Do-It-Yourself kick. If there is something I am capable of doing at home without too much extra effort, I do it. This Spaghetti Sauce is one of those. It's easy, tasty, makes a ton, and in the long run is cheaper than buying a can of sauce every time we eat spaghetti (which, I am happy to report, is far less frequently than it used to be).

Because I was in the mood, I did this as a step - by - step post. Sometimes it's fun that way. 

Yield: about 5 cups

1 onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 14.5 oz cans tomatoes - any kind works, I used diced
3 6 oz cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves

Empty your cans of tomatoes and tomato paste into a crock pot.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan.

Dice your onion and add the onion and garlic to the heated oil and saute for 1-2 minutes.

While the onions are garlic are saute-ing, add the water to the tomatoes and mix well. I used my immersion blender so that my sauce would be nice and smooth. You can leave it chunky, or make it smooth however works best for you.

Add in the onions, garlic, all the seasonings except for the bay leaves, and the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil. 

Mix it all together

...and put the bay leaves on top.

Cook in the crockpot on high for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

When your 3 hours are almost up, brown 1lb of Italian sausage (I use hot Italian sausage) or ground beef.

Remove the bay leaves - be warned, you might have to dig for them.

Give it one last stir.

Add about 1 1/2 cups to the pan with your browned meat and allow to heat and mesh flavors together for about 5 minutes. Serve over noodles and enjoy!

Since it makes much more than 1 1/2 cups, I froze the rest for later use. 3 times of spaghetti in one go? Yes, please!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coconut Crusted Chicken

Early last month, we went to Hawaii for a few days. The vacation was far shorter than either of us would have liked and it took a couple days to adjust to the fact that we were pulled out of our vacation much sooner than we liked. One thing that helped ease the pain was this coconut chicken. It was easy, tasty, and brought back sweet memories for us through our taste buds.

I also served ours with both the dipping sauce included in the recipe and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. It was much tastier with the orange marmalade sauce, but the chili sauce was good too. Enjoy!

1 egg
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into chicken finger sized pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted

Dipping sauce, optional:
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

In a small bowl, beat the egg. In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut, flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Individually dip the chicken breasts first into the egg, then into the coconut mixture, then place on a greased baking sheet. When all the chicken is dipped and on the baking sheet, pour melted butter evenly over the chicken then bake for 30-40 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, mix the orange marmalade with the Dijon mustard.

Source: adapted from Pennies on a Platter