Monday, April 16, 2018

Oatmeal Dulce de Leche Bars

Here is a super sweet, super delicious bar to help get you through these last few days of winter. I loved these served chilled, so that the dulce de leche is nice and sticky in between the layers of oatmeal cookie dough. As I said, these are suh-weet. So make sure you have a big cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk (or vanilla ice cream for sugar overload factor) when you eat one (or two, or three).

I made my own dulce de leche in the instant pot. I only used about 1 1/2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, and that made plenty of dulce de leche. (of course, if you are prone to eat this out of the jar with a spoon, you might need to make the full two cans, in two separate batches. The can and a half filled my pint jar TO THE BRIM and it still worked beautifully.) There are various versions online for making dulce de leche in the crock pot or stove top, too, so feel free to do what works best for you - or just buy it at your grocery!

Whatever you do, you will love these bars. (And so you will your dentist, ha!)

Find more inspiration at Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday, Let's Party, Whisk It, Wow Me, Wow Us, Hearth and Soul, Sugar and Spice, Awesome Friday, Weekend Potluck.

Oatmeal Dulce de Leche Bars

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal
2 {14 oz.} cans Dulce de Leche

Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly. Mix in milk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine salt, baking soda, flour, and oats. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.

Press 2/3 of the cookie dough into a greased 9x13" prepared pan.

Transfer the Dulce de Leche to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 60 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Spread the Dulce de Leche over the cookie dough in the pan. Top with spoonfuls of the remaining cookie dough.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from High Heels and Grills

Monday, April 9, 2018

Japanese Pan Noodles with Steak

Winter is hanging on here in the north, (it just snowed AGAIN yesterday!) so another comfort food recipe is required on this Monday. Even though this is good comfort food, it's also loaded with broccoli, carrots and whatever other vegetables you want to add. Stir fry recipes are so great that way - just use what you have! I love the savory/spicy flavor of this sauce, and the steak makes it extra special.

I did not have udon noodles when I made this and substituted rice noodles, as you can see in the picture. Udon noodles are those "heavier" wheat-y noodles, and would typically fit this kind of dish much better. But again, I'm a "use what you have" girl, so rice noodles it was. In any case, you could easily sub cooked linguine or something that makes it easy for you - you'll get similar results, and it's really the veggies and sauce that shine in this creation.

Japanese Pan Noodles with Steak

2-3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 pound sirloin steak, sliced very thin
2 (7 oz) packages Udon Noodles (about 3 cups)
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 large crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. mirin, sherry, or other sweet wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1 Tbsp. corn starch

Make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until lightly browned. Add the mirin and cook for another 30 seconds, letting the liquid cook off a bit.

Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Whisk the ingredients together, cooking until the sugar has melted.

Combine cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water and whisk to dissolve.

Bring the pot to a simmer and slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture. Cook for 1-3 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

For the noodles:
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large wok or skillet over medium- high heat. Add the steak to the the hot pan, and cook 3-5 minutes, working in batches as necessary, then set aside.

In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms and broccoli and carrots, and cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until crisp tender. Add the noodles and lightly fry for about 2 minutes.

Stir in the sweet soy sauce and stir until all the noodles are coated. Stir in the steak, cooking until heated through.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves 4

Monday, March 5, 2018

Triple Berry Streusel Muffins

We make muffins nearly every week at our house. The kids grab them on their way out the door for an easy "eat in the car" breakfast, and so I'm always looking for new recipes to try. I like to find varieties that incorporate fruit, and this one was perfect, since I usually have a bag of that frozen berry blend in the freezer!

Another trick I like to use in muffins is substituting applesauce for some of the butter or oil. You can also use half whole wheat flour to make these healthier! I also love it when recipes make a big "batch" - these kind of muffins freeze beautifully so you can use the ones you need now, and freeze the rest for another week!

Triple Berry Streusel Muffins

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups frozen triple berries blend


1/2 cup flour
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, cold and cut into chunks

Thaw berries in the microwave for 1 minute or on the counter until they are soft, then mash with a fork to partly break up the pieces. In a large batter bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, applesauce and oil. Add the sugar and stir until it is incorporated.

Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, and mix until all batter has been incorporated and is moist. Fold in the berries along with the juice of the berries until the berries are evenly distributed in the dough.

In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter for the streusel. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Spoon muffin batter into 24 muffin cups sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with paper liners. Distribute the streusel evenly over the batter in each cup. Bake at 400 for 22-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Art of Gluten Free

Monday, February 26, 2018

Brownie Cake with Cookie Butter Frosting

This cake was on my list as one of the things I would make in 2018. And it's only February and I've already made it, along with Cuban Quesadillas and Instant Pot Cheesecake. I've learned this is the way to make the things on my list - make them early in the year!

And the great thing about making it early in the year? Lots of opportunities to make it AGAIN! And who wouldn't want to make this again and again? It's a brownie cake with cookie butter frosting! Do you know cookie butter? It's made out of those unique Biscoff cookies that you get, among other places, on Delta flights! It has a really distinguishable flavor that is different from anything else. It's great to use in cakes, cookies and bars.

This dessert is very sweet, as you might imagine, you can cut the pieces small, and serve with piping cups of coffee. My dinner guests loved it, and my kids' response on seeing it on the counter: "WHAT is that CAKE?" I guess I should use chocolate shavings more regularly to avoid the shock factor.

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Let's Party, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday.

Brownie Cake with Cookie Butter Frosting

1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tsp. instant coffee
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup speculoos cookie butter
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. half and half

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove the pan from the heat, add the dark chocolate and coffee, and let sit for about 30 seconds, then whisk it all together until smooth and glossy. Add the brown sugar and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, then sprinkle in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the dry ingredients gently until no flour specks remain.

Spread the brownie mixture into a greased 9" springform pan and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake has puffed slightly and the top is settled. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing the sides of the springform pan.

For the frosting, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix together the cookie butter and butter for a full minute so it’s light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, salt, and half and half and beat for another minute, or until the mixture is fluffy and spreadable.

Spread the frosting on the cake, garnish with chocolate shavings, and cut into wedges to serve. Leftovers can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Makes 8-12 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Garlic and Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes

It looks like winter is not yet done in these parts; we expect significant snow this weekend. Scalloped potatoes to the rescue! Scalloped potatoes are the perfect comfort food, and they go well with many different types of meat. This version incorporates garlic and Parmesan for an added taste sensation.

If you have a food processor or mandolin, slicing the potatoes is a snap. And if you don't, it's still not a big deal. Slice up those taters, make this easy white sauce, and let the oven do the heavy lifting. You'll have amazing comfort food in no time at all.

Garlic and Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes

1/3 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
4 1/2 cups sliced potatoes (about 4-5 potatoes)

In a large skillet, melt butter and saute onions for 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute an additional minute. Stir in flour, salt and pepper and cook and stir until onions are coated. Add milk and cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish and place half the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Cover with half the sauce and then repeat the layers.

Cover and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bacon Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas {Instant Pot}

If I had to vote today on what would be my favorite thing to make in the Instant Pot, I would vote for risotto. I love risotto - the creamy rice, the endless meat and veggie combos, the "comfort food" component - I love everything about it. But I don't often have 30 minutes to stand at the stove and stir it. Enter the Instant Pot! It creates beautiful, creamy, delicious risotto with the cover on and sealed, and you can do something else in the meantime!

I have recipes here for risotto in the IP featuring shrimp and asparagus, Italian sausage, and I regularly adapt my favorite shrimp and spinach version for the IP too. But I knew there had to be other winning combinations.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and I had a few things to use up in the fridge. And it worked out beautifully. Salty bacon pairs well with mushrooms and peas - I like the textures, the colors and the flavors! A win-win-win all around.

Have you made risotto in your IP yet? I hope you'll try it, I know you'll love it!

There are more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Show and Share, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.

Bacon Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

6 slices bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Set an electric pressure cooker to browning or saute, and add the cut up bacon. Stir and cook until bacon is almost done. Stir in the onion, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Add the rice and the mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, until the rice is very lightly browning. Pour in the wine, which will bubble immediately. Stir for 1 minute, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Then add the chicken broth all at once.

Lock the cover and turn the pressure valve (so it's not on venting.) Set on High Pressure for 6 minutes.

When the cooker switches to Keep Warm, immediately release the pressure. After the pressure indicator drops, remove the cover.

Stir in the peas and parmesan cheese until the cheese is melted and peas are warmed through. Serve immediately. (Risotto left in the pot will thicken substantially.) Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Creme Brulee Cheesecake {Instant Pot!}

The Instant Pot is great for so many things: my favorites are risotto, mashed potatoes, short ribs, and steel cut oats. And now, cheesecake. That's right, you can make cheesecake in your pressure cooker, and it turns out wonderfully! It is so creamy! I dislike heavy, dry cheesecake, and this one is anything but! All the steam inside the pressure cooker guarantees the perfect texture.

There are so many adaptations you could make to this basic recipe. You could add a fruit topping, chocolate ganache, salted caramel sauce, the possibilities are endless. I did a creme brulee topping, which you add after the cheesecake has been removed from the pressure cooker and cooled a bit. You could also make individual cheesecakes in custard cups or silicone muffin cups.

Because of the build up of steam, you probably will end up with some water on top of the cheesecake, especially where the crust meets the filling. Simply dab a paper towel around the edges, and it will soak up all the water. If you line your pan (both bottom and sides) with parchment, that may help as well.

A note about pans: I have a springform pan that is just under 8 inches and it fits in my 6 quart Instant Pot. Most recipes call for a 6" pan which would likely sit on the trivet inside the pot; mine fits snugly near the top. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly if your pan is smaller, because your cheesecake will be deeper. The great thing is, you can experiment and make this recipe several times until you get it perfect. And you can eat all the trial runs...with different toppings.

Get more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Full Plate, Party.

Creme Brulee Cheesecake

8 graham crackers, finely ground
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup flour

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (low fat works well too!)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

Combine the crushed graham crackers, salt, brown sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Pat into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a greased 7" springform pan. (Alternatively, you can line the bottom and sides with parchment.)

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the sugar, sour cream, cornstarch, vanilla and salt, and mix until well combined and very creamy.

Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Place 1 cup of water in the bottom of an electric pressure cooker and insert the trivet. Fold aluminum foil to make a "sling" for your pan - you want the foil to go under the pan and up the sides. You'll need this to get the pan out later. Use the sling to insert the pan into the pressure cooker, then fold down the foil sides.

Secure the lid, ensure the toggle knob is set to "sealing" and set for manual pressure for 26 minutes. When the cycle is completed, let the pressure release naturally.

Remove the lid, being careful not to drip any of the accumulated water from the lid onto the cheesecake. Carefully remove the cake using the foil sling and transfer to a wire rack. Use a folded up paper towel to carefully dab away any water on the cheesecake. Let cool completely.

Sprinkle with the sugar and then place under a broiler or use a hand torch to brown the top. Watch carefully if it's in your oven! Refrigerate for several hours to fully set. Serves 12.
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