Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dana's Turtle Bars

Tonight for dinner we're having baked potatoes, and since I'm only baking two potatoes, I looked for something that could fill the empty space in the oven so I wouldn't feel like I was squandering our electricity. I was missing ingredients for anything that looked appealing on my Pinterest board, so off to the bookshelf I went to the old-fashioned cookbook binder! On the first page in the cookie section I saw Turtle Bar Cookies, and since I also have caramel sauce that's been lingering in the fridge for awhile, it was the perfect choice. This yummy dessert is also missing from this blog, and it's about time we rectified that!

Dana's Turtle Bars

1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 jar (about 1 cup) caramel sauce
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine flour, oats, sugar and baking soda with the butter. Press 3/4 of the mixture in a lightly greased 8x8" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Drizzle the caramel sauce over and spread evenly. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts on top. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over that and bake an additional 12 minutes. Let cool before cutting. Makes 16 at 200 calories each.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp

The last time we had a barbecue lunch we had hot dogs. They were fine, but this time I wanted something a little more special. Hamburgers aren't really special, although they are delicious, so I went searching for a new idea. This recipe - Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp - looked intriguing, and even on the healthy side as well, so I added the ingredients to the shopping list. It's a good thing I decided against hamburgers, because yesterday Wayne decided he wanted to go out to dinner, and we ending up enjoying delicious, gigantic hamburgers at Flanigan's. Two days in a row would have been too much. 
Flanigan's Caribbean Burger
Anyway, when he saw what I packed in the cooler, Wayne wasn't sure he'd be happy with his lunch. However, at least twice on the way home he mentioned that he really liked it. I guess we'll have this spinach salad again someday.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp

DRESSING:
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

SHRIMP:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
8 to 12 ounces large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

SALAD:
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake/baby portabello mushroom caps
1/4 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion

Combine the dressing ingredients and set aside. Combine the shrimp ingredients and set aside. Combine the salad ingredients and set aside. [Because we were taking this to a picnic, I used ziploc bags and tupperware.] While the coals are heating, thread the shrimp on skewers. Cook on the grill for a few minutes on each side. These cook quite quickly. Toss the dressing with the spinach and divide between the plates. Top with the cooked shrimp and serve. Serves 2-3.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Turkey Taco Casserole

We attended a potluck dinner at the church last week, and Chicken Taco Casserole looked like the perfect choice to take. It disappeared quickly, so I guess it was. It's actually more of a "process" than a real recipe, but here's what we did.
Crush tortilla chips and sprinkle over the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13" pan.

Combine 2-3 cups cooked turkey (or chicken) with about 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1-2 cups cooked black beans, 1 can tomatoes with chilies (also known as Ro-Tel), and taco seasoning. Spoon half of the mixture over the tortilla chips and top with cheddar cheese. Then repeat the three layers.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

Note: We had a version of this often through the years, although I think this is the first time I've used the soup. Often I'll add cooked rice to the mixture, or salsa instead of the tomatoes, hamburger instead of chicken, etc. This time I added some sliced olives on top as well. It's easy to do in a glass pie plate and then heat in the microwave until the cheese melts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Trillionaire Bars

Both Michelle and I tried these this past weekend. Isn't that a fun coincidence? Mine don't look quite like the original - found here - but they turned out to be quite delicious! and very rich!!
Trillionaire Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Caramel sauce

1/4  cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
Dash of salt
1/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup oats

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine the first seven ingredients and pour into a foil-lined 8x8" baking pan. Bake for 18 minutes at 350°. This is the brownie layer, so if you wanted to use your own favorite brownie recipe you could.

Top with a layer of caramel sauce. The original recipe called for melting caramels with some cream, but I had some caramel dipping sauce in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up and it worked perfectly. Put the pan in the refrigerator until the caramel layer sets up.

Combine the next nine ingredients to make some egg-less cookie dough batter and spread over the caramel. This layer was out of proportion for my tastes. I think half the amount would have been fine.

Melt the chocolate chips and cream together and pour over the cookie dough layer. Then chill until hardened.

Remove from the foil and cut into bars to serve. I found it easiest to do this by making four long slices, then turning them on their sides to cut into individual pieces. The knife had a tendency to squish all the cookie dough batter out if you weren't careful!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Recent Columbia Restaurant Cookbook Recipes

We're in the appetizer section of the cookbook now, and here are a few of the recipes we've tried recently.
Picture credit with instructions for baking
First we tried Dátiles Envueltos en Tocino, or Dates Wrapped in Bacon. This is exactly what the title suggests. Wrap a half-slice of bacon around a whole, pitted date. Secure with a toothpick. Fry in deep fat until bacon is light brown. We don't care for dates, so were pleasantly surprised at how good these were! The salty-sweet combination was quite delicious.

Next was Caponata. It wasn't my favorite (the eggplant part was okay, but I don't like green olives), and I'm not going to bother rewriting the recipe because I don't plan on making it again. If you do want to try it yourself, this recipe looks to be pretty close to what we had.

After that we tried the Plátanos Maduros Fritos, or Fried Plantains. Once, again, it's not a recipe I'm likely to try again, unless we have some extra plantains leftover from something else.


Then we tried Croquetas de Jamón o Pollo. These we just might actually have again some day, so here's the recipe. I preferred the ham version, but we served the chicken version to guests and they really liked them, so I guess you can try both and decide yourself which you prefer.

Croquettes

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup milk (whole is best - so 1 1/2 tablespoons cream plus skim milk to equal 1 cup)
2 eggs (one in croquette mixture, one for coating)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (bottled lemon juice would probably be fine)
1 1/2 cups ham or chicken, cooked and ground (using a food processor)
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour
2 tablespoons water
Fine dry bread crumbs
Peanut oil for frying

Melt the butter in a pan and blend in flour, onion, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until VERY thick. Stir in ONE egg beaten with lemon juice. Add ham or chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a shallow dish and refrigerate (covered) for two hours. Shape into croquettes the size of 3-inch cylinders. Chill again. 

Gather three shallow bowls. Put flour in one. Beat together the egg and water in the second. Place bread crumbs in the third. Coat each croquette with flour, dip into the egg wash, and roll in the bred crumbs.

Heat oil in a wok or other pan. Deep-fry each croquette in the hot oil until golden brown. Makes 12.