April 15, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Bars

I'm just back from a trip to NC for a highland dance competition, so this post will be shorter than usual. Thanks for understanding! See you soon!

NOTE: My brother deleted my photos of these (by accident), so there will be no pictures in this post until I make and photograph them again.

I don't know about you, but I love cookies. However, I don't make them very often, mostly because of how long it takes. First you have to make sure the butter is soft enough, but not too soft. Then, you have to make the dough, alternating this, half of that. Then, sometimes, you have to let the dough sit in the fridge for an hour (such is the case with one of my favorite cookies). Then you have to scoop out equal sized balls and bake sheet after sheet of cookies. Is it worth it? Yes, but since neither me nor my mom have time to do that often, we were excited to try this recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars. Melted butter, comes together like a quick bread, and no scooping or baking one sheet at a time. It all goes into a 8x8 pan and you're done. Beautiful.

And the taste? Well, they taste like an oatmeal raisin cookie in bar form. They're more substantial, and they don't have the lacy crunch throughout that usually characterizes the cookie version. Sweet, chewy, a slightly crunchy top, with raisins throughout. They're absolutely delicious, and perfect for those who don't have time to make the traditional version. Like me. Mmmmm.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars
From the June 2008 issue of Everyday Food. Received through Rebecca.

The sugars in this recipe are flexible. You can use raw sugar for the granulated, dark for light brown sugar, and once I made them with 3/4 cup of white and 1/4 of brown and they turned out fine. Also, I've put the instructions for the pan per the original recipe, but when I made these at my aunt's house I made them with Pam, without parchment paper. Just be sure to let it cool before cutting. I have also made a "mix" out of it -- mixing the first ingredients in a baggie without the egg and butter, and then the flour, oats, and raisins in a second.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. (Both metal and glass have worked for me). Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, egg, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Add in flour, oats and raisins; fold in until just combined.

3. Spread batter (for me it's more like pressing and not as much spreading) in prepared pan, and bake until toothppick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached (and a light golden brown color), 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake to work surface; cut into 16 bars. To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature. They are best within 3 days, but I had some that lasted 5 and were fine, but they're best within that 3 day period.

April 4, 2010

Leftover ham?

NOTE: Apologizes for the lack of pictures. I will upload them as soon as I can. Thanks! :) ~Erin
UPDATE 4/11: Here they are!

Well, Easter is nearly over and it was a good one for me. My family and I went to the Easter sunrise service and breakfast in addition to the usual service... it was a beautiful morning.

To save us all from eating pancakes twice on Easter, I decided that I would try to make our dinner. And it was an undertaking. Besides the fact that I stressed out several times, everything went very well. We had: mashed potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs, salad, dinner rolls, glazed ham, and carrot cake cupcakes for dessert. Everything was delish.

As usual, we have a lot of ham leftover. Here are some random ideas for using up ham that just came into my head:

-- in omelettes
-- with pasta and asiago cheese. (recipe below)
-- in soup.
-- in quiches
-- on sandwiches.

I don't know about you, but brie is not my favorite eating cheese -- but it's really good melted. Then it gets all buttery and the weird aftertaste goes away and it's just plain gooey yumminess! And ham and brie go really well together. Sometime I'm going to try ham and brie mac 'n' cheese, but it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, here's a wonderful, panini-like sandwich or appetizer that celebrates one of my favorite combos. Hmmmm, I think we have one more bagel left....

(Hint: scroll down for another recipe)

Brie and Ham Sandwiches.

The amounts here are really loose, so feel free to estimate or guessimate when making.

1 bagel (mini for an appetizer), roll, bun, or 2 slices artisan bread.
Some slices of ham (not lunchmeat ham, although you could try it in the ideas above.)
Some slices of brie cheese (any intensity, although I've never tried it with the really strong stuff. Also, Trader Joe's double cream brie is amazing.)
1 teaspoon mustard, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split bagel or cut roll, etc in half. Spread mustard over both pieces. Arrange ham, then brie on top of bread pieces. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until brie is melted. Serve immediately. Makes one lunch serving.

Here is another recipe that I made up for a delicious, easy lunch, especially if you use leftover pasta. Ham also goes well with asiago. There are the salty, slightly sweet bites of ham, the buttery pasta, the mild creamy beans, and sprinkling of sharp cheese. My mom says it's "really good", which, for one of my creations, is a quite high rating.

Pasta with Ham, Beans, and Asiago.

Note: as with the last recipe, the measurements are estimates.

A few handfuls pasta, cooked. (enough for one serving).
1/3 cup thinly sliced or finely chopped ham (lunchmeat works fine here)
1/3 cup white beans (optional), cooked
1/4 cup grated sharp cheese -- like asiago or pecorino romano/parmesan
Several tablespoons of butter, divided, and softened a little if possible.
A pinch of fresh or dried rosemary (optional)

If using cold, cooked pasta:

Bring a few cups of cold water to boil in a frying pan with high sides. (as high as you can get -- or use a saucepan). Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute. Add beans and cook for an addition minute. Drain.

If using hot pasta, proceed from here (put the beans in the last minute of your cooking time):

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a hot frying pan. Add pasta, beans, ham, rosemary, and 3 pinches of cheese. Stir, adding additional butter as necessary, until everything is hot and the pasta is coated with butter (shiny -- nothing should be bare, but don't overdo it). Make sure not to fry the pasta or anything else. Serve, sprinkled with remaining cheese. Makes 1 lunch serving.