Friday, July 30

Keep it going... (Cran-Coco Oatmeal Bars)

Week 6 of clinicals, complete!   This nursing program is all about endurance.  Midterms weren't as bad as they could have been, and the little three day weekend was much needed.  It was hard to get up and go back on Monday, but I'm excited to see what we're going to learn for the rest of the quarter.  We're getting close to being halfway done.  It's weird to think about how much we've learned and how much we can do now, that we couldn't back in March.  It's also humbling to realize how much more we have to learn until we're even close to being nurses!

To keep my spirits and energy up for this marathon, I've been dreaming about some sort of oatmeal/cranberry bar type thing for a few days now.  In my mind, it incorporates my newly discovered almond flour and dried cranberries with chewy oatmeal goodness.  Preferably not dripping in butter or covered in white sugar.  So I set about finding a recipe for this idea of goodness, only to find...nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  So, in typical fashion, I decided, fine, I would do it myself.

These bars are pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.  Hubby and my carpool buddy agreed, so I'm satisfied.  You could probably add whatever dried fruit you wanted, but after much contemplation, I opted for my favorites:  dried cranberries and coconut.  A little sweet and filling without being heavy and overbearing.

(chewy goodness with no butter!)
Cran-Coco Oatmeal Bars
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 canola oil
3 egg whites
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 to 1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup flaked coconut

Beat together sugar, oil, egg whites in a large bowl.  Combine flours, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.   Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.  Mix in oats, then cranberries and coconut.  Spread in a baking dish (mine was 9x56) and bake at 350 for 25-26 minutes, until edges are golden brown.  Cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, July 27

You're killing me, Smalls... (Sandlot S'mores)

 Summer, anyone?

First, you take the graham.

You put the chocolate on the graham.

Then you roast the mallow.

When the mallow's flaming, you put it on the chocolate.   Then you cover it with the other end.

Then you stuff it.

If you got that reference in under 5 seconds, we might be best friends!

 It's been too hot to roast mallows outside, so I opted to use the broiler and make them into cookies for Mandatory Margarita Mojito Movie Monday night.  

(A note about chocolate:  I'm from Pennsylvania.  I have heard that there are other forms of chocolate, and that they might even be pretty good, but for s'mores, there is nothing better than Hershey's.  Made into the perfect s'more size, with the perfect amount of sweetness...go ahead, try something else, but me, I'm a purest.)

Sandlot S'mores
18 graham crackers, broken cleanly in half
6 full size Hershey bars
36 large marshmallows

Turn on your broiler to high heat (400-450 degrees).  Line a baking sheet (I used my bar/cookie stoneware from Pampered Chef) with parchment paper.  Lay one half of each graham cracker end to end on the sheet.  Place two pieces of chocolate on the graham.  Cut the mallows in half, lay on top of the chocolate.  Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the mallows are flaming (as much as you want).  Remove, top with the remaining chocolate (two pieces each) and replace in the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until melted.  Remove and immediately top with the other half of the graham.  Eat immediately.  Or, allow to cool for 1-2 hours for a different, yet still delicious, texture.

Gooey, chocolate infused marshmallow noms!

Friday, July 23

It's Always Sunny... (Lemon Cookies)

Midterms are over! I'm determined not to slack off for the second half of this quarter like I did last quarter, so instead of sleeping in the sun for the next three days, I'm going to stay on top of the clinical work and reading that we have to do (in between sessions of sleeping in the sun). I do have a long list of things that I want to make over the next few weeks, so expect some sweet (and savory) postings that make the most of the rest of the summer!!

Hubby and I have started watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on DVD. (Yay for Netflix!) I love watching TV shows all at once, like we did with House, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development...instant gratification. Much better than commercials and hiatus cliffhangers. After many recommendations from pretty much everyone we know, this month is Always Sunny - which gets funnier and funnier as it goes on.

These cookies are little bite-sized pieces of sunshine. They're buttery and lemony and melt in your mouth. Perfect little mid-July treat!

Always Sunny Lemon Cookies
(taken from Real Simple)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks, vanilla, and salt - beat until combined thoroughly. Gradually incorporate flour, mixing until just combined. Turn out onto wax paper and shape into 1-1/2 inch logs (I made one long one, but you can make two shorter ones if you want). Refrigerate 30 minutes, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove from refrigerator and cut into 3/8 inch slices. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown (the recipe says longer, but they brown quickly). Cool on sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

Whisk confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small, wide mouthed bowl. Dip cooled cookies into the glaze, and allow to set (15-20 minutes) before stacking. The cookies can get slippery, so hold on! Allow the glaze to set before serving (unless you eat them all yourself, in which case the choice is yours).

Little pieces of lemony goodness!! :-)

Wednesday, July 21


Midterms are only half over - and afterwards I have some fun things to share! Lemon cookies, cinnamon bread and a little summer night surprise (if it turns out). For now, I leave you with some comfort from the pupster:

It's ok, you can pass these tests! I believe in you!

Monday, July 19

Sweet Granola Goodness (Savin' Lives Granola Bars)

Now that we're in the hospital 3 days a week, grab and go foods have reemerged into my diet. I carpool with a friend in the morning - she brings the coffee and I whip up the breakfast sandwiches, and we enjoy our mornings on the road. With breakfast at 6 am every morning, by lunchtime/ after care discussion at 12, I'm starving!! Necessity is the mother of new recipes, so I made some granola bars for us to throw in our bags, along with the iTouch, stethoscope, penlight, alcohol wipes, reflex hammer, black pen, medical tape, bandage scissors, name tag, security badge and other various nursing paraphernalia that we're forced to lug around with us.

These were a little frustrating because they didn't stay together terribly well, but I think it's because I used half left over Bear Naked Granola and half rolled oats. Next time I'm going to do it with just the oats (since I used up all the granola) and probably some wheat germ (which I didn't have at the time). That should improve the consistency and make them hold their shape better. Otherwise, cut the honey down to 1/3 cup.

(Mid morning deliciousness!)

Savin' Lives Granola Bars
(adapted from Alton Brown)

1-1/2 cup Bare Naked granola (I used vanilla almond)
1-1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup honey
1/4 packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 1-1/2 cup dried fruit

Toast the oats and pecans on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. While they're toasting, combine brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and salt over medium heat until completely combined. Remove the oats and pecans from the oven, turning it down to 300. Combine oats, pecans, granola mixture and dried fruit, then add sugar mixture. Stir until all the oat mixture is completely coated. Press into an 8x8 greased pan and bake at 300 for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely and cut into bars. I wrapped them individually for easy access in the morning.

(No time to sit down and eat - we're busy savings lives!!
...well, maybe assisting a little.)

Sunday, July 11

I got the blues... (Blueberry Tarts)

I should start calling the blog "things to do with millions of blueberries". Today is blueberry tart day. I found this recipe in Real Simple last year and adapted it to hand pastries that I could take to picnics and Mandatory Mojito and Margarita Movie Monday (which is exactly what it sounds like) with the gang. They were a big hit, and I decided to make them again to commemorate a second summer of MMMMM.

Blueberry Tarts
(adapted from Real Simple)

2 pie crust sheets (I use the Pillsbury ones)
1 tbsp turbinado sugar (for dusting)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar + extra for dusting
2 cups blueberries

Cut the pie sheets into 4 inch circles and place them into muffin pans. I can usually get 18, if I roll out the leftovers again. Using a knife, gently score the bottoms so they don't puff up. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the dough. Bake at 375 for 14-16 minutes, until golden brown. Allow them to cool, then remove from the muffin pans.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese until smooth, then add cream, confectioner's sugar, and lemon zest. Beat until smooth. Using a teaspoon or a pastry bag, top the pastry shells with 1 to 1-1/2 tsp cream cheese mixture. Top with blueberries. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Keep refrigerated for 2-3 days (if they last that long). Enjoy outside, with friends!

(I think they would make Martha proud :-)

In a jam... (Blueberry Jam)

Interesting factoid of the day: The self-proclaimed "Blueberry Capital of the World" is in Hammonton, NJ, about 25 minutes or so from here. One of the members at hubby's golf course owns a blueberry farm in Hammonton, and every year sends home a ginormous box with 12 pints of blueberries. This is generally a highlight of the summer- I love blueberries. I eat them with yogurt, on toast, frozen, fresh, in smoothies, muffins, pancakes, you name it.

However, there are only so many things you can do with 12 pints of blueberries before they go bad. I usually freeze about half of them, so that we can enjoy muffins, smoothies, pancakes, etc in November and February and other non-blueberry friendly times of the year. This year, I decided to expand my blueberry repertoire to include jam. What a good decision on my part. :-)

Blueberry Jam
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

2 pints blueberries
3 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

Freeze a plate to use later for testing.

Warm sugar in 200 degree oven for 5 minutes (spread out on a baking sheet).

(mash mash mash mash)

Mash 1 cup blueberries in the bottom of a deep medium sized saucepan. Over medium heat, add remaining berries and water. Simmer, 5-7 minutes, until berries are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in sugar and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to come to a slow boil and cook until thickened, about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. To test, drop a fingerful onto the frozen plate and press down. When the jam wrinkles around your finger, it's ready.

Pour into glass jars (makes about 3 cups) and allow to cool. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy on anything you want.

(Are my pictures getting better?)

Saturday, July 10

Chili at 90 degrees (Chicken Chili)

Today was the first truly rainy day we've had in weeks, and it brought the temperature down to bearable. Kristen and I went to the farmers market this morning and got soaked! When I got home, I curled up in my sweats and finished the work I had for clinical next week. The lazy, dreary day needed some sugar and spice to pep it up. Enter....beanless chicken chili.

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, but it's photocopied in my trusty blue binder, waiting to be slow-cooked. It's not really "chili", since it has no beans, but it's a spicy chicken stew-ish dish that was delicious with some homemade cornbread. It turned out so well, with the chicken fall apart juicy and the peppers and onions simmered to perfection. This will definitely be a repeat recipe at our house!

Chicken Chili Stew
1-1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large red bell peppers, chopped
1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 box (9 oz) frozen corn, thawed, optional
2 tbsp cornmeal

(I opted out of the frozen corn, since we didn't have any and I was too cozy and comfortable to go out into the rain and get some.)

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, brown chicken with 1 tsp chili powder, about 5 minutes. (You can brown half the chicken at a time, if it fits better in your skillet.) Transfer to your slow cooker.

Add remaining 2 tbsp chili powder, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, lemon juice, water, brown sugar, cumin, bay leaf and cocoa to slow cooker and mix well. Press down to form and even layer, and top with corn kernels, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the outside. Cover and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low, until chicken and veggies are fork-tender.

At 20 minutes before cooking is over, gradually stir in cornmeal until well blended. Cover and cook on high for 15-20 minutes, until mixture thickens. Serve, sprinkled with shredded cheddar or colby-jack cheese.

Golden Cornbread
1-1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1-1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients; stir until just moistened. Pour into greased 9 inch square baking pan. Bake 20 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, July 7

Still hot... (Cinnamon Sugar Ice Cream Sandwiches)

I'm not an air conditioning kind of girl. That being said, it's currently 103 degrees outside, so yes - I am sitting in front of the vent on the kitchen floor, trying not to spontaneously combust.

In all honesty, I'm probably being a baby about it, since today I've scurried from the door to the car to the hospital to the car to the door. All in all, I probably spent about 5.2 minutes in the heat today. Hubby the golfer, however, sweated off about 6 pounds this afternoon, and he was very excited to see these in the freezer.

My thought after the fact: if you had marshmallow ice cream, these would taste exactly like frozen s'mores!

Cinnamon Sugar Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brown Sugar Refrigerator Cookies
(Betty Crocker Cookbook)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat together brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredient to form a dough. Shape dough into a 10x3 inch rectangle on plastic wrap. Wrap and refrigerate 2 hours until firm (not longer than 24 hours). Heat oven to 375. Cut "brick" into 1/8 inch slices, back 2 inches apart for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Melt 1-1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1-1/2 teaspoon shortening in a microwave (45 seconds, then 20 second increments until melted). Stir well. Spread chocolate mixture onto the flat bottoms of (completely cooled) cookies. Allow to cool and harden.

For the ice cream filling, I used the generic vanilla bean ice cream from the grocery store (Lucerne brand) because it comes in a cardboard container that can be peeled off and the rectangular ice cream can be cut in half and sliced into appropriate sized pieces to match the cookies. I wanted to take a picture of this, but the ice cream melted the second it came out of the freezer and I had barely enough time to get the sandwiches filled before it turned into a huge mess.

Store in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Best enjoyed in front of a fan. :-)

Monday, July 5

Happy Fourth of July!! (Feta Cheese Spread)

I love the Fourth of July. It might be one of my favorite holidays - the sun, the grilled hamburgers, the beach, the fireworks, the saltwater it!!

(I love saltwater much we gave it away at our wedding!)

We spent the long weekend at the shore with my family, and when we came back I realized that dinner was going to be an interesting problem - I haven't been to the store in over a week, and the husband was huuuuuungry. I threw together a bunch of stuff in my fridge and ended up with a delicious sun-dried tomato and feta spread. Put it on a wrap with some oregano chicken and romaine, and it was a delicious night!

(cheese + tomatos = awesome)
Feta Cheese Spread
1 package feta cheese
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatos (I used the dried ones, decrease EVOO if using the oil-packed ones)
1/2 tsp oregano

Process all ingredients in a food processor or Magic Bullet (with the flat blade) until creamy.

(chicken wrap with sun-dried tomato feta cheese spread)

I also made ice cream sandwiches, which I'll post tomorrow once the ice cream sets. It's going to be 100 degrees this week - we need all the frozen nom noms we can get!! :-)
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