Friday, August 31, 2012

Lentil Tacos

This recipe is so fun! Lentils are such a great replacement for meat when seasoned just right. Not to mention they're much more affordable! You could use this filling for tacos, burritos, taco salad, the possibilites are endless.

 Lentil Tacos (adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)
1 c. dry lentils
2 c. water
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. onion powder
1 t. oregano
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. chipotle chile powder (or more if you like heat)
2 T. oil
3 T. tomato paste
8-10 taco shells
shredded cheese
In a pot, combine lentils and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

 Meanwhile, combine all the spices in a small bowl.
 Lentils will be plump and no water will remain when they're done.
 In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add lentils, spice mixture, tomato paste, and 1/3 c. water.
 Mix and mash. Add more water if needed. Season with more salt to taste.
 Scoop into taco shells and top with salsa and cheese.
Lentils are significantly more nutritious than red meat. Not only are they rich in protein, folic acid, and B-vitamins, but they are an outstanding source of fiber, which you can't get from meat. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nutella Cheesecake Bars

Okay, here's what going down: chocolate crust, nutella, and cream cheese. Is there any way this could end badly? I don't think so! If you're a Nutella fan, here you go.
Nutella Cheesecake Bars
1 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1 & 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c. Nutella
2 eggs

For crust, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking powder. Cut in butter. Add milk and vanilla and mix to form a stiff dough.
Measure out 1/2 c. crust mixture and set aside.
Press remaining dough into a greased 9x9" pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, Nutella, and eggs. Mix until smooth.
Pour over crust.
Sprinkle the 1/2 c. dough over the cheesecake mixture.
Bake at 325 F for about 35 minutes or until the middle is a little puffy. (It will still look pretty giggley in the center, but not to worry. It will set up in the fridge.)
Let cool on the counter a little while. Then cover and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Then cut into squares...or just eat it out of the pan with a fork. Haha!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Bars

These were my very favorite dessert in elementary school. I don't know why I've never made them before now because they are irresistable! Maybe that's why... :)

 Peanut Butter Bars
3/4 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 & 1/2 c. peanut butter, divided
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 & 1/2 c. flour
1 & 1/2 c. oats

Chocolate Icing
6 T. butter, softened
1/2 c. cocoa
2 & 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

For bars, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, 1/2 c. peanut butter, baking soda and salt. Finally, add flour and oats.
Spread into a greased rimmed cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment and then greased it). Leave about 1/2" around the sides.
 Bake at 325 F for 14-16 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent overbaking. You want a nice, almost underbaked cookie.
 While cookie layer is still hot dollup remaining 1 c. peanut butter (or more if you like) all over the top. When it's all melty, carefully spread it around.

 For chocolate icing, combine all ingredients with an electric mixer. Cool peanut butter bars for about 15 minutes, then top with chocolate icing.
 Cool completely and then cut into bars.

 These are so dang good. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Root Beer Float Rice Crispy Treats

Rice crispy treats are the perfect treat for a hot summer day. Add a hint of root beer for an extra special summertime party!
Root Beer Float Rice Crispy Treats
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
8 c. miniature marshmallows
1 t. root beer extract
5 c. crispy rice cereal
1 c. white chocolate bark (or white chocolate chips), melted
1/2 c. toffee bits

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in marshmallows and heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in root beer extract.
Stir in crispy rice cereal.
Press into a greased 9x13" pan.
Drizzle with melted white chocolate.
Sprinkle toffee bits on top.
Cool completely before cutting into bars.

A whole new world opens up when adding flavors to rice crispy treats. I'm quite excited about trying lots of other flavors too. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer Squash & Mushroom Pasta

 I just love the abundance of fresh veggies this time of year. You can throw any number of fresh summer veggies in this simple dish.

Summer Squash & Mushroom Pasta
12 oz. rotini
2 T. olive oil
1-2 c. pearl onions
1 1/2 c. zucchini, thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 lb. sliced mushrooms (I used criminis)
1 (25 oz.) jar butternut squash pasta sauce (or your favorite sauce)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Prepare rotini according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, heat oil and add pearl onions. Season with a little salt and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and saute until tender (5-7 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in sauce and minced garlic. (This is amazing sauce that I found at Costco. It's also available online at Dave's Gourmet or Amazon.)
 Stir in cooked rotini.
 Serve with a little parmesan sprinkled on top.
 This is such a fast dinner to throw together for a busy summer evening. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Five Spice Carrot Zucchini Cake

This is a great cake to use up some of that zucchini you've got in the garden. (Unfortunately, I don't have a garden, but I have sweet neighbors who often give me some of theirs!) And instead of using only cinnamon, I opted to use chinese five spice powder. Chinese five spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, anise, fennel, ginger, cloves, and licorice root ... which is six spices ... Anyway, it give this cake a fun flavor. People will never guess that this is a healthy dessert!

Five Spice Carrot Zucchini Cake

2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
3 t. chinese five spice powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 c. finely grated zucchini
1 c. finely grated carrot
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. water

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
 Then add wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
 Grease and flour a bundt pan (or two loaf pans, if you prefer).
 Pour batter into prepared pan.
 Bake at 325 F for 40-50 minutes. It might need more, depending on your oven. Just keep an eye on it.
 Cool for about 20 minutes and then invert cake onto a platter. Then cool completely.
You might notice that I drizzled glaze on mine, but I wasn't very happy with it. It was too runny. I suggest dusting it with powdered sugar or finding a glaze that you like.