Monday, October 16, 2017

Caramel Pear Streusel Bars


I really like pears. I think they play second fiddle to apples far too often. I love eating them, but I also like baking with them. They bake up deliciously and other textures and flavors really complement them well.


In these bars, we have a shortbread crust, topped with pears, caramel sauce and then a crunchy streusel. It's the perfect fall dessert!


Find more fall ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2.


Caramel Pear Streusel Bars

Crust:

6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Pear Filling:

4 medium pears, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping

Streusel:

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp. butter, cold and cubed

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving enough overhang on all sides. Lightly coat the foil with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

For the crust: Stir the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake at 300 for 15 minutes.

For the filling: Combine the sliced pears, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the slices are evenly coated.

For the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two forks (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350°F. Evenly layer the pears on top of the warm crust and press them down to fit. Pour the caramel sauce evenly over the pears. Sprinkle with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or overnight). Lift the foil or parchment out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.

Recipe Source: Inspired by Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, October 9, 2017

Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy {Instant Pot!}


My favorite thing about the Instant Pot? It can deliver delicious meals of things that you haven't had a lot of success with otherwise. Case in point, pork chops. (Second case in point - POACHED EGGS! Coming soon...)


Pork chops are really hard to cook well, in my opinion. They dry out easily and no amount of barbecue sauce can make you want to chew forever on them. (Ahem.) But in the Instant Pot? Pork chops come out beautifully tender - you don't even need a knife! - and maintain good moisture. No dry meat here! I particularly love this mushroom gravy - but if you aren't a fan of mushrooms, just leave them out. Mashed potatoes are a must here, too. They soak up all the delicious gravy. This is the perfect autumn comfort food. And this is the way I'll be making pork chops from now on!


I've heard that if you have a "tall trivet" you can even make potatoes in the IP WHILE YOU COOK THE MEAT. Get out! That sounds fantastic. I do love my IP for mashed potatoes (no more potato water all over the stove!), but at the same time? I will have to investigate one of these tall trivets and I will report back. Even if you have to make the potatoes on the stove like I did, still make this. These pork chops will knock your socks off. I can't wait to try different pork chop variations now...


Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

4 boneless Pork Chops, thin/medium cut
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Season both sides of pork chops well with seasoned salt. Turn InstantPot to Sauté and allow to heat. Add the oil to the cooking pot and when hot, sear both sides of pork chops, one at a time, for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. Add onions and sauté for one minute. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute.

Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth to the pot and scrape up any brown bits that were stuck to the bottom. Add the rest of the broth to the cooking pot. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine.

Pour in the gravy mixture, add the butter, and stir until butter is melted. Add in the mushrooms and pork chops, along with any juice that accumulated on the plate. Lock the lid and close the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. When finished, allow a 10 minute natural release.
Remove the chops to a serving plate.

Reset the pot and press the Sauté button. Remove 1/2 cup of liquid from the cooking pot and add 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch and whisk really well. Pour into cooking pot and stir to thicken gravy.

Serve pork chops and gravy over potatoes or rice.


Recipe Source: This Old Gal

Monday, October 2, 2017

French Silk Brownie Dessert


I love watching the Great British Baking Show. It is amazing what those home bakers can do and the creations they present to the judges. I always end up feeling a little inadequate. I'm not particularly clever with my "bakes" and I certainly don't do any 3-D sculptures of baked goods. However, then I quickly remember that it doesn't have to be fancy to be delicious. And shortcuts are sometimes just as good as doing it the long way. That is particularly true for this recipe.

You start with a boxed brownie mix, which is fine on its own, but is truly decadent when topped with a french silk layer and additional cream. And there's garnish! Maybe there's hope for me on the Great British Baking Show after all.


Find more inspiration at Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck.

French Silk Brownie Dessert

1 box brownie mix, plus ingredients to make the brownies (usually 2 eggs, vegetable oil and water)
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, plus more for garnish
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
16 ounces (2 – 8 ounce tubs) Cool Whip
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Prepare brownies as box directs, but transfer them to a 11x7 pan for baking. Make sure not to overbake so that the brownies stay fudgy.

For the french silk, melt chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds, then stir, heat for 30 seconds again, then stir well, then heat on 10 second increments, stirring between each, until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes.

Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. Add chocolate and mix until combined, then mix in vanilla. Fold in half of the Cool Whip (one 8 ounce container). Spread the chocolate mixture on top of the brownies, then top with second container of Cool Whip. Use a potato peeler or a microplane grater to shave some additional baking chocolate all over the top.

Chill for at least one hour before serving to allow it to set. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Crazy for Crust

Monday, September 25, 2017

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad


This is one of my favorite salads from the grocery deli counter. I don't buy it very often, but enjoy it at potlucks and other events when other people buy it and bring it! So I couldn't have been more thrilled when Lund's and Byerly's released the RECIPE for this salad. I knew from eating it that it wasn't complicated, but I couldn't really place the dressing. Now that I see the recipe, I feel kind of silly. It's so exceedingly simple, that dressing - just prepared poppyseed dressing and mayo!

Although late September is an odd time to be making pasta salad, the 87 degree weather makes it possible - it's just not beef stew time yet, is it? So if you need a simple lunch or dinner, or want to be the envy of everyone at the next potluck - make this salad! It's really delicious.


Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
12 ounces small pasta shapes (like gemelli or small shells)
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1 cup dried cherries, cut in half
3/4 cups mayonnaise
3/4 cups Poppy Seed Dressing
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Spring mix or spinach, for serving

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Rinse with cold water; drain.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, pasta, celery, onion and cherries.

In a large measuring cup, combine mayonnaise, poppy seed dressing, salt and pepper.

Fold 1 cup of dressing into salad, reserving the rest. Refrigerate the salad, covered, several hours or overnight.

To serve, add remaining dressing as needed. Serve on a bed of your favorite greens.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Lunds and Byerlys

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

White Chocolate Brownies


After a tumultuous August, I am glad to be back in the kitchen again, trying new recipes. These brownies seemed like the perfect thing to make after several weeks of non-stop work after a crisis. A white chocolate brownie base, drizzled with chocolate - what's not to love?


I especially appreciate recipes that can be made in one bowl; no mixer required. I really liked these after being refrigerated too, maybe just because it was summer, but I liked the texture after they were chilled. Basically, I like these on a train, in the rain, in a car both near and far. I like my white chocolate brownies, Sam I Am.


Find more inspiration at Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us.

White Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup butter
6 oz white chocolate (not candy melts or white chocolate chips)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with aluminium foil leaving an overhang on each side. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl, melt together the butter and white chocolate in short 20 second bursts. Stir the mixture after each 20 second burst.

After both the butter and white chocolate are melted, allow to cool slightly. Then whisk in sugar, vanilla, eggs and salt. Whisk together the mixture until smooth and evenly combined, then carefully fold in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan and bake at 350 for 20-24 minutes, or until the top is set and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan.

Allow the brownies to cool fully in the pan. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the aluminium foil edges. Carefully peel back the sides of the foil, then cut into 12 squares.

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in short 20 second bursts, stirring between each burst. Drizzle the chocolate over each square.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Just So Tasty

Monday, July 17, 2017

Double Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars


I've had this recipe pinned for a LONG time. I finally had the perfect reason to make these - raspberries that needed to get used up, and a family gathering that called for dessert. These bars are wonderful! A simple shortbread crust is the foundation for two layers of chocolate, with a sprinkling of raspberries. The raspberries add wonderful color and break up the chocolate flavor. These are rich, so you can cut them into small pieces. They also freeze well if you want to save them for another time.

I used espresso chips for the melted chocolate layer - they added a fabulous dimension of flavor. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate chips - I think any variety would work well, so use what you have!


Take advantage of summer's great raspberries and make this delicious dessert!

Double Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (espresso or dark if you like)
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh raspberries, semi crushed

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Mix in brown sugar, flour and salt. Continue mixing until crumbly.

Press 1 3/4 cups of crumb mixture into a well greased 9x13" baking pan. Set remaining crumbs aside. Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk one cup of chocolate chips. Cook at 50% power at 1-minute intervals, stirring between each session. Cook just until melted; do not overcook or the chocolate will seize.

Remove crust from oven and pour chocolate mixture over warm crust.

Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over chocolate layer. Spoon raspberries over crumb mixture and top with mini chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Deliciously Sprinkled

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sausage, and Spinach


We loved the flavors of the Creamy Tuscan Chicken so much that I adapted that recipe to use shrimp, and went searching for more recipes! Then last week, when one kiddo requested "some kind of spaghetti" for that evening's meal, I knew this would be perfect.

Chicken sausage, spinach and sun dried tomatoes swim in a creamy sauce with plenty of spaghetti mixed in. It is amazingly delicious. You could substitute regular Italian sausage for the chicken sausage but I am a huge chicken sausage fan... feel free to use more spinach than it calls for too - that's a great way to get more greens into your (and your family's) diet.


I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did, and will again soon!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share.


Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sausage, and Spinach

12 oz. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. cooked Italian Chicken sausage links, sliced lengthwise then crosswise into half moons
3 cups (or more) baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook garlic until fragrant, 1 minute. Add sausage, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until sausage is browned and spinach is cooked, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Let thicken until sauce is creamy, then add spaghetti to skillet and toss until fully coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the Parmesan and serve. Makes 4-5 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Delish
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