Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spaghetti with Pesto and Tomato-Mozzarella Salad

I decided to try this quick and easy recipe from Good Housekeeping Family Vegetarian Cooking: 225 Recipes Everyone Will Love mainly because I had all the ingredients on hand.  I was in the mood for something simple and yummy that would also leave me some leftovers for tomorrow.  I pretty much followed the recipe as written, making only a few slight changes.  First of all, I chopped up one large Brandywine tomato from last weekend's farmers' market instead of using cherry tomatoes.  Second, I used my own pesto that I already had made and frozen in ice cube trays.  Trust me, after making three double batches of it this weekend, I was all too happy to pop a few cubes into the microwave to defrost and voila! ready to use -- so much easier than making it from scratch every single time.  And last, I used whole wheat angel hair and less mozzarella than called for because I only had the end of a package.  OK, so maybe I made more than a few changes, but the essence of the recipe remained the same.  The result?  Deliciously simple.  Can't wait to eat those leftovers tomorrow!

P.S. This is the cover recipe of this cookbook.  A beautiful full color photo -- talk about inspiration!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books & Cookies...sounds like a good night to me!

After dropping Nick and his father off at dart league, his mom and I headed over to the local Borders.  We just had to check it out one last time before the doors close for good and 70-90% off was just too tempting.  Yes, I know I already have too many books and definitely too many cookbooks, but again 70-90% off!  They were practially giving the stuff away.  And for a miniscule amount of money, I added two books to my collection; one cookbook: The One-Block Feast: An Adventure in Food from Yard to Table all about local food and one regular book: The Cookbook Collector (just can't get away from the topic of cookbooks now can I?).

So anyways, that was a good start to the night and when we got home we decided we wanted a little homemade dessert.  We decided on a recipe I found quite awhile ago on King Arthur Flour's website for Kids' Choice Chip and Fruit Oatmeal Cookies.  We may not really be kids, but when it comes to cookies, I think there's a little kid in all of us.  So our choice was to use white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and dried cranberries. You can use any combination of dried fruits, chocolate chips/chunks, and/or nuts that you like, but that is what we had in the pantry and we thought they sounded good together.  And the verdict? YUM.  These cookies were so good, especially while still warm from the oven.  Definitely a keeper recipe.  The only thing we did differently was to use all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat.  Usually I am substituting the other way around, but these are cookies so we decided they didn't really need to be too healthy.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A family favorite: Apricot Squares

According to my brother, I shouldn't have to make anything for my own party, the "Boo! Christine in moving to Albany party" that is.  Truth is, I volunteered -- I just can't resist the opportunity to make and share something yummy with people I care about.  Also true is the fact that my brother was really only saying this because I was already in the middle of baking, and he would much prefer that I left the final product at home for him to enjoy!  Well, in the end he got his wish.  My first attempt was to make Mini Jam Tarts (which I've made and written about previously), but they ended up a crumbling (but delicious!) mess because my silicone muffin pans are tucked away in a box in my in-laws basement.  I thought they would come out OK in regular muffin pans, but I was sadly mistaken.  They tasted good, but let's just say they wouldn't have survived the trip to Astoria without oozing everywhere.  So my family got to enjoy my first attempt while I went to work on Attempt #2 for the party.  Since I was not in the mood to face another potential mess, I decided to go with a tried and true recipe and picked a family favorite: Apricot Squares.  This recipe was passed down from a friend of my grandmother's to my grandmother, to my mother, to me.  I used Raspberry Jam instead of Apricot Preserves because I had a homemade jar our landlord gave us as a parting gift when we moved out.  I've tried this recipe with all sorts of homemade jams and they always come out delicious.  So here it is, our family recipe:

Apricot Squares:
Print Recipe

1 1/4 cup oats

1 1/4 cup flour (I often use whole wheat or white whole wheat & am still very happy with the results)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
12 oz. apricot preserves (or other flavor jam or preserves, just don't use jelly because it's too thin)

Combine all ingredients, except preserves, in a large bowl.  Reserve approximately 1 cup of crumb mixture and press the rest into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish.  Spread preserves over base.  Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool at least 10 minutes, cut into bars. 

Note: If you are having trouble covering the bottom of the pan, you can reserve less crumb for the topping, it will still work out fine.