Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another recipe I have searched long and hard for, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Taking the best parts of different recipes, this result takes 1st place with the amazing flavor, slightly crunchy outer layer and deliciously gooey inside.


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla (Tablespoon, not teaspoon!)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 335 Degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

Cream melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla, egg (and extra yolk) until creamy.

Mix in dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto your baking sheets about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 23 minutes or until edges start to turn golden. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes before removing onto racks or paper towels.

Enjoy :)

Granola Bars

Granola bars are great to have on hand when you need a quick or portable snack, but they can get spendy at the store (especially with as many people as we feed here) and have you ever read the back of the box? Gross.

I have spent so long trying to find a granola bar recipe I was happy with. I wanted healthy, but doesn't taste like dirt and something that was soft and chewy, but stayed together in a bar shape. Oh I found it! A no-bake granola bar that is all my dreams and more :) This is a highly adaptable recipe so feel free to substitute with what your family likes and what you have on hand, just be sure to keep the same ratio of wet to dry ingredients.

Some things you might use:

protein powder
wheat germ
the dried fruit options are endless.....
almond butter or another nut butter
pureed pumpkin instead of peanut butter....
chocolate chips
mini m&ms (freeze them first!)

These are pretty sweet so feel free to experiment using less sugar or no brown sugar at all, but you need the honey to help it all stick together. Pay attention to if your dried fruit already contains added sugar, most of it does.


2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup high fiber cereal (we used Fiber One)
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (chopped small)
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural with no added sugar. If you only have some with added sugar leave out the brown sugar.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey (try flavored honey!)
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and grease just for good measure.

Mix together your dry ingredients (except for brown sugar and salt) in a large bowl, set aside.

Over medium high heat melt butter, salt, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter until boiling (stirring constantly.) Boil and stir for 2 more minutes, take care not to let it burn.

Pour liquid goodness over your dry ingredients and combine well.

Dump mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and using a rolling pin covered in butter roll it flat. You want to press down hard so it all sticks together well.

Cool in the fridge (faster so you can eat them sooner!) or on the counter (Boo!) and cut into rectangles and wrap individually.

These will make a great treat to bring camping and hiking this Summer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Polenta With Spinach & Balsamic Tomatoes AND Asparagus, Strawberry Salad

That's a long title...... and a delicious combo :)

This took a little more prep using all fresh ingredients and making it all fancy looking, but it was worth it. The idea came to me as I was trying to decide what to do with a ton of spinach I needed to use and a pre-made roll of polenta. I wanted something pretty to try out the food setting on my new camera and this was the end result.

Remember that you can easily substitute things here, I use what I have on hand because I'm terrible at menu planning!

Polenta With Spinach & Balsamic Tomatoes


1 roll of pre-made polenta
2 huge bags of spinach (precise right!)
6 roma tomatoes
about a 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 large lemon
Spices.... I used basil, thyme, cayenne and some salt n pepper.

Put the oven on broil and grease a large cookie sheet.

Wash and dry your veggies, be extra sure the spinach is dry.

Chop your spinach.

Slice polenta into rounds about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick, season with salt and pepper. Lay on your greased pan and lightly spray the top with cooking spray. Broil on each side 6-8 minutes or until golden.

Remove and change oven to 350 Degrees F.

Dice your garlic and saute it in some olive oil over medium high heat until golden. Add your spinach (if there is any water watch out!) Cover and turn heat down to medium for about 2 minutes. - Hey?! Where'd all my spinach go? I rarely cook spinach, we love baby spinach fresh and eat lots of it. It's amazing how much it shrinks when you cook it! remove it from the burner and squeeze 1/2 lemon over it, season with salt and pepper, mix well.

Dice tomatoes and mix with 2 Tablespoons balsamic, 2 Tablespoons oil and the herbs. I used cayenne to give it a little kick and a slightly different flavor than the salad... it was kinda awesome. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Top each polenta round with some garlicky spinach and then some cheese. Put them in the oven for about 10-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.

Serve tomatoes on the side (I prefer fresh over cooked tomatoes and it keeps the "pizzas" from getting soggy while cooking). Each person can top their rounds with some tomatoes and enjoy alongside some.......

Asparagus & Strawberry Salad

Oh yum.... this was great and so easy to make! You just want to make it an hour or so ahead so the flavors mix up well. I made two versions, the only difference being one was with asparagus and one was with green beans. Both were good, the kids were more likely to eat green beans than asparagus so this way they had a choice. The asparagus was better though and got 100% of the adult votes. It soaked up the flavors wonderfully.


1 bunch asparagus (or green beans)
1 pint strawberries
2 Tablesoons honey
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
juice from 1/2 large lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Blanch vegetables in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then put directly into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Dry well.

Wash and dry strawberries and slice.

Chop vegetables into large chunks... about 2 inches long.

Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Mix vegetables and strawberries in a large bowl and pour dressing over the top. Mix well, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for about an hour.

We really enjoyed this meal, so pretty, healthy and tasty! The only thing I'll do next time is make more!! And maybe add some roasted potatoes to the plate.