Monthly Archives: July 2010

S’mores Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

We are in the throes of the lazy, hazy days of summer around these parts.  With all the sun, my basil and hot peppers are loving life, though we have been wilting a little under 90+ degree days.  However, this weekend is glorious.  Sunny and warm days with cool nights, it is perfect weather for sitting by the campfire under the stars and toasting marshmallows.

Beating the dough

Beating the dough

Unfortunately, with all the birthday parties and visitors this weekend, there is no time to go camping.  Luckily, we found this recipe for s’mores that you can make in your oven.  While it might be blasphemous, I dare say these s’more cookie bars are even better than the original.   Layers of chocolate bars and marshmallow sandwiched between two graham-cracker flavored dough sheets, all baked until melty and golden… well, it’s pretty darn close to campfire heaven.

The layers

The layers

So if you can’t get to the campground this weekend, don’t despair.  Eat these cookies while sitting in your backyard, looking at the stars, and you will feel like you are truly roughing it… and you don’t have to sleep on the ground. 

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

S’mores Cookie Bars

Adapted from Hershey’s

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 squares)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4-5 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bars

1 cup marshmallow creme

To Make:

Heat your oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture and beat until blended.  Divide the dough in half and press half of it into the prepared pan.

Next, arrange the chocolate bars in a single layer over dough, breaking as needed to fit.  Spread the marshmallow creme evenly over the top of the chocolate.   Break off pieces of the remaining dough and gently press them over the marshmallow creme to form a solid layer.  If you feel like being a perfectionist, you can roll out the dough and place it carefully over the top of the marshmallow.  Either way, it tastes delicious.

Bake the bars until lightly browned, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

To Serve:

Cut into 16 bars.  Enjoy outside with a glass of milk, campfire optional.

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Filed under Baked goods, Bars and Brownies, Dessert, Recipes

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

I have a confession to make.  I don’t really care all that much for green beans.  I try to like them.  I eat them steamed, roasted, even grilled, but they never get more than a “meh” from me.  I really want to like them, all green and fresh and crisp but something about the flavor is off for me.

Beans, ginger, and a chili

Beans, ginger, and a chili

This season, I was determined to find a way to cook green beans that I would actually enjoy.  After much searching, Marc came across this recipe.  It looked promising.  Sesame oil, good.  Ginger and garlic, good.  Hoisin sauce, very good.  Almonds soaked in Tamari soy sauce, very very good.

Almonds bathing in tamari

Almonds bathing in tamari

Turns out, this recipe is awesome.  I love good Chinese food and this has all the elements of Chinese take out.  Even better, it made me like green beans.  In fact, I had leftovers the next day, a true testament to the deliciousness of this dish.

Beans in their delicious sauce

Beans in their delicious sauce

Spicy Green Beans with Tamari Roasted Almonds

Adapted from The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds

Tamari soy sauce, for soaking

3 tbls toasted sesame oil

1 cup rice (uncooked)

1 hot red chili, seeded, finely chopped

1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups green beans (about a pound), cut into 2 inch pieces

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

1 tbls brown sugar

2 tbls mirin (rice cooking wine)

To make:

First, make the tamari almonds.  Put the almonds in a bowl and pour in enough tamari to cover.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain off the tamari (save the tamari, it can still be used).  Heat the almonds for a few minutes in a hot skillet, shaking occasionally.  Roughly chop and set aside.  Wipe out the skillet.

In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil.  When the oil is hot, dump in the rice.  Stir to coat the rice and toast for a few minutes.  Add in the appropriate amount of water and cooking according to the rice instructions.  Set aside.

In the same skillet that you used for the almonds, heat two tablespoons of toasted sesame oil.  Add in the finely chopped ginger, garlic, and chili; cook for 1 minute.  Add in the green beans, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar.  Cook until the beans are slightly tender, but still with some crunch, about 5 minutes (or until they are as soft as you like).  Add in the mirin and cook for 1 minute more.

 To Serve:

Put the rice in a large serving bowl.  Top with the green beans and all of the wonderful sauce.  Finally, add the roughly chopped almonds.  Serves 6 as a side.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Rice, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Pasta Con Zucchini e Basil

Pasta with zucchini and basil

Pasta Con Zucchini e Basil

Clearly, it has been a while since our last post.  We apologize.  We have nothing to offer except that life has been Busy (with a capital B).  But talking about how busy things are is boring.  Let’s move on to a topic that is more interesting. 

Sliced zucchini

Sliced zucchini

Today I picked my very first sun gold cherry tomato from one of my tomato plants.  It was delicious, though a little tart.  I suspect I picked it a bit early but I don’t care.  I am just happy I got it before the darn chipmunks who have been cheekily plucking my small green tomatoes, eating half of them, and leaving the remaining half to rest forlornly on the driveway.  I am not amused.

Zucchini and onions, hanging out

Zucchini and onions, hanging out

So while it is still a little early here in New England for the late summer glut of tomatoes, we do have lots of zucchini, and lots of basil too.  This dish makes use of both, and is quick enough to make even on the busiest night.  Light and simple, this dish is best made with super fresh ingredients so the individual flavors really shine through.

Tossing the pasta, dinner time!

Tossing the pasta, dinner time!

Pasta Con Zucchini and Basil

Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey

Ingredients:

2 small-medium zucchini

2 tbls butter

2 tbls olive oil

1/2 medium onion, sliced into thin half rings

About 15 basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/2 pound pasta such as rigatoni or penne

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted water until al dente according to package directions.  Drain, reserving a half cup or so of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise.  Cut halves crosswise into half moons.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter and oil.  Once the skillet is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft fragrant.  Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 10 minutes).  Chop the herbs and stir them into the zucchini and onion mixture. 

Pour the hot pasta into the skillet, top with grated parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste, and toss it all together.  Add the pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time to moisten the pasta. 

To Serve:

Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Zucchini Pancakes with Mint and Basil

Zucchini Pancakes with Mint and Basil

I am having a tough time believing that it is zucchini season already.  The summer is speeding by and even though it seems like our first CSA delivery was just a couple of weeks ago, we are already finding ourselves with lots of zucchini and summer squash. 

Lots of Zucchini

We are always looking for new ways to cook zucchini.  With the early veggies, we enjoy simple sautes and stir sliced zucchini into pasta.  However, as the season wears on, I start needing to spice things up a little bit.  These pancakes are really tasty, easy to make, and make use of lots of fresh summer ingredients.  According to my little brother, these zucchini cakes were “mad good”. 

Herbs and Feta

It is worth noting that the batter is very loose.  There is not a lot of binder relative the rather large amount of zucchini in the recipe.  This makes the cooked cakes a little fragile, but I like the way the zucchini and herb flavors come cleanly through.  If you wanted more of a typical “pancake” texture, adding an extra egg and maybe another 1/4-1/2 cup of flour would help.

Cakes on the Griddle

Zucchini Pancakes with Mint and Basil

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs zucchini, golden zucchini, or summer squash

1/4 of a large onion

2 large eggs

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

3 tbls fresh mint, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To Make:

Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the zucchini and onion.  Rinse briefly with cold water.  Place handfuls of the grated vegetables in a tea towel and squeeze all the water out.  Repeat until all the zucchini and onion are squeezed dry.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Add the cheese, bread crumbs, flour, garlic, and herbs and stir to combine.  Stir the zucchini and onion into the batter.

Drop the batter by 1/4 cupfuls on a lightly oiled, preheated skillet or griddle.  Cook until golden brown on one side, about four minutes.  Flip, flatten gently with the back of the spatula, and cook until the second side is golden.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until they are ready to be served.

To Serve:

Serve warm or room temperature.  Makes about 20, 4 inch cakes.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian