Monday, September 28, 2015

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars from Cook with Sara

I don't know if I've confessed it here before, but my favorite desserts aren't chocolate. I like chocolate, but I LOVE fruit desserts, caramel and butterscotch. So I knew I would love these bars. And no recipe from Mel ever disappoints. These are full of oat-y goodness and because they travel well, make a great treat for a picnic. They're also great just for snacking - and not too guilt-inducing!

Find more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Inspire Me, Clever Chicks, Create Link Inspire, Tasty Tuesday, What's Cooking, Hearth and Soul, Friday Finds.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

1 1/4 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
12 Tbsp. butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup butterscotch chips
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1/8 tsp. salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.

Place the 3/4 cup butterscotch chips in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and let the butter cook until golden brown in color, about 10 minutes, taking care not to burn. Pour the hot butter over the butterscotch chips and whisk together until melted and smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture, just until incorporated.

Line a 9x13 baking pan with foil; spray the foil with nonstick spray. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top, spreading the batter evenly to the edges. Bake the bars at 350 until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 16-18 minutes.

For the glaze, place the 1/4 cup butterscotch chips, brown sugar, water and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the mixture until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes on 50% power. Whisk to combine well.

Drizzle the glaze over the warm bars. Let the bars cool completely in the pan before removing them using the foil. Cut into small squares.

Recipe source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tuscan Chicken

Easy weeknight dinners are a must with busy schedules. And as you saw last week, I have several criteria for weekday dinners - and this one meets all of them. Plus, it's another way to cook chicken. I'm sure you'll agree that we all need some variety when it comes to making chicken! I was excited to be assigned to Debbi's blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club. She has lots of great, healthy meal options (she even named her blog Debbi does dinner healthy!), and she's also the lovely hostess for our SRC group.

This was a big hit with my family and I even used the leftovers in soup. I served it with a rice medley and roasted brussels sprouts - the veggies can roast at the same time the chicken is cooking - super handy!

Expand your chicken repertoire with this great recipe and make weeknight dinner delicious and healthy.

Tuscan Chicken

1/3 cup mayonnaise (light is ok)
3 Tbsp. diced red pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast halves

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, red pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes and vinegar. Arrange chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet and spread mayonnaise mixture over each chicken breast. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serves 6.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Broccoli-Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese

Here are things I look for in a weekday dinner:
- Takes 45 minutes or less to prepare (ideally, 30 or less)
- Uses as few pots/pans/dishes as possible
- Will be eaten happily by all members of the family
- Has good balance of protein, carbs, and plenty of vegetables
- Bonus if it makes a great lunch for me the next day

When I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Cooking Light, I knew right away I wanted to try it. Bacon is one of the main food groups at my house (or I should say, the kids wish it was). They eat broccoli pretty well and like mac and cheese so I was pretty sure it would be a hit. But this recipe had a secret ingredient: pureed butternut squash to amp up the vitamins and also cut down on the need for cheese. Would this really work, I wondered? Could I "fool" my kids into thinking this was normal mac and cheese???

The answer: a resounding YES. After searching several grocery stores unsuccessfully for frozen, pureed squash, I ended up subbing pumpkin. It adds the right color and creaminess not to mention added vitamins, as I said above. And my kids (2 teens and 1 tween) ATE IT UP!!! One even had seconds, which is unusual.

This is the perfect autumn comfort food and a great weekday dinner because it all cooks in ONE POT. Serve it with a nice salad and some apple slices and dinner is done. And it ticks all my little bullet points above. Score.

Find more great stuff at Inspire Me, Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Clever Chicks, Create Link Inspire, Tasty Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking.

Broccoli-Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese

4 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 - 10 oz. package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
(or use equivalent amount of mashed sweet potato or canned pumpkin)
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup milk
10 ounces elbow macaroni
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan. Then remove all but 2 tsp. of bacon drippings from the pan. Add garlic to remaining drippings; saute 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth, milk and squash; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add pasta; cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli; cover and cook 3-5 minutes or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.

Stir in salt and pepper to taste and most of the cheese. Sprinkle bacon and remaining cheese on top. Cover; let stand one minute. Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mississippi Mud Bars

Summer may be (almost) over, but that doesn't mean that fun treats aren't necessary. These rich, indulgent bars will make any work day better - I can attest they are especially good around 2:30 with a cup of coffee...

These homemade brownies are incredibly delicious - and then they're topped with marshmallows swimming in a chocolate ganache...get that coffee pot brewing and make these babies part of your work day survival strategy.

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Inspire Me, Tasty Tuesday, Clever Chicks, Create Link Inspire, What's Cooking?.

Mississippi Mud Bars

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Chocolate-Marshmallow Topping:
1 -12 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 cups mini marshmallows

In a large glass bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Heat in microwave for 1 minute; stir, then heat at 30 second intervals, stirring between each one until melted and smooth. Beat in eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until well blended. Stir in flour, blending well.

Spread evenly into greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, and do not overbake. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

For the topping, combine chocolate chips and cream in a large glass bowl. Heat in microwave 1-2 minutes stirring twice until melted and smooth. Fold in marshmallows. Spread topping evenly over the top of cooled brownies. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
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