Chocolate Chip Oreo Bars

chocolate-chip-oreo-bars
Oh boy. This was an experiment gone awry. And by awry, I mean I just wanted a little taste of something sweet, like a little mini cookie from Mrs. Fields. Instead, I ended up with this:

And I ate half of it in one sitting. What you see here is a 3-layer dessert consisting of an oreo cookie crust, chocolate chip cookie, and oreo buttercream frosting.  Do not make these if you lack self control, you will eat yourself out of house and home.

Recipe:
Oreo Crust

  • 24 oreo cookies
  • 1/2 stick butter

Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 1 c. shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. 2 T. flour
  • 1 t. soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 bag semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Oreo Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 12 T. butter, at room temp and cut into 1/2 in. pieces
  • 8 oreos
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • splash milk
I started by making the oreo cookie crust. Crush cookies in the food processor and pour them into a mixing bowl (before I had a food processor I smashed them in a ziploc bag with a hammer. This worked just fine).  Melt 1/2 stick butter and mix into the oreos; press them into the bottom of a baking dish of your choice – I used a 9×13 in. glass pyrex. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Increase oven temp to 375.
Next, make the chocolate chip cookie dough. Start by creaming the shortening and sugars in a bowl with a standing mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and soda. Add to the butter mixture. Stir in lots o’ chocolate chips. Press the cookie dough on top of the oreo crust; be careful, the crust may still be fragile.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Finally, make the frosting. In a small metal bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.  Place the bowl over a pot with simmering water, and whisk until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the mixture into a bowl with a standing mixer, and beat with a paddle attachment until it’s light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in butter. Add in powdered sugar and milk. Finally, add the oreos. I left my frosting kind of crunchy, but you can mix more or less depending on your preference. Spread over COOLED cookie bars.
To make sure they set, I chilled for about 1 hour. I then found that serving them chilled was extraordinarily delicious, so I recommend doing that.  Put on some pants with an elastic waist and enjoy!!

Fresh Tomato Soup

fresh-tomato-soup
I’m learning that tomato season is very short in Texas. In fact, there were periods of extreme tomato drought this year due to the weather – John and I went to Cafe Brazil for brunch the other weekend and there was actually a sign posted on the door that said ‘Sorry, no tomatoes.’ What? You seriously can’t get them anywhere? TRY HARDER!!!
As with any period of deprivation, it is human nature to gain the necessary survival skills to move on. So when tomatoes came back on the market, I knew I had to ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ so to speak. I bought Central Market out of house and home (aka tomatoes) – and started cooking.
This tomato soup is very tasty, healthy, and  must be served with grilled cheese.  Please try this for a healthy weeknight meal, you won’t regret it.
Recipe
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 T. good olive oil
  • 4 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed (medium sized)
  • 1.5 T tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1.5 t. sugar
  • fresh ground pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/2 c. milk
  • fresh basil
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped carrot and onion, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Next, add the chopped tomato and let stew for 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar. Generously salt and pepper. Stir for another 2 minutes.
Take out your amazing new food processor that you received as a wedding gift. If you didn’t get one, any old food processor will do. Pour the tomato mixture into the food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds, until semi-smooth (I preferred to leave it somewhat chunky, but I won’t tell you how to live your life).
Pour the tomato mixture back into the pot. Add the chicken broth (1 cup if you like it thicker, more if you prefer a soup-ier soup), stir, and let simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Add the milk to your liking – I added about 1/2 cup 2% milk.
Serve and garnish with freshly chopped basil.

Mixed-Potato Skillet

mixed-potato-skille
It occurred to me at Central Market the other day that I had never so much as looked at another potato besides the russet and the sweet.  I suddenly started to wonder – why had I overlooked the yukon gold, the fingerling, and the red for so long? And more importantly, what did they have to offer that someone even took the time to grow such a wide variety of this so-called starch?
I decided it was time to find out. And instead of managing this potato research in individual cases, I decided to perform my study as an all-inclusive potato-finding.
The result? A wonderful collaboration of textures, flavors, and colors that makes this side dish a real winner.
Recipe:
  • 6 Yukon gold potatoes
  • 6 fingerling potatoes
  • 6 red potatoes
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3 T butter
  • Salt and pepper
Start by washing all the potatoes. I just read somewhere that potatoes are the one thing you should always wash before you cook. So I just started doing that.
Start by boiling the potatoes in a large pot of water – about 20 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are very tender.  Meanwhile, saute the onion in a large skillet with 1 T of the butter (or olive oil) – about 10 minutes.  When the potatoes are done, transfer them to the large skillet. Using a potato masher, LIGHTLY mash the potatoes. You do not want them to be the consistency of regular mashed potatoes – the large pieces and inclusion of the skins give this dish the amazing texture you want.
Next, add an additional 2-3 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper, and whole milk.  Stir until combined. Turn on the broiler. When the potatoes are mashed to your liking, remove the skillet from the stove and place them under the broiler until golden brown – just a couple of minutes.
These were a hit – not too crazy but a nice change from your typical mashed potatoes. I have to admit I am happy about the fact that people aren’t slaving away farming a bunch of worthless potatoes – they all bring something unique and delicious to the table.

Grilled Peach Salad

grilled-peach-salad

Oh how I loved this salad! Slice several ripe peaches, and grill about 3 minutes on each side…

Mix a salad with spinach, raisins, toasted almonds, and Brianna’s poppyseed dressing. Top with grilled peaches and voila! Amazingness.

Mexican Creamed Corn

mexican-creamed-corn
I loooove canned cream corn. It used to be one of my favorites growing up…so I was absolutely delighted when I was out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant a few weeks back and creamed corn was on the menu. It was amazing, needless to say, and I immediately started thinking about how I could replicate it myself. I decided to use grilled corn, because it’s more fun than non-grilled corn, and it turned out just fabulous.

Recipe:

  • 3 ears of corn, grilled until charred
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cream or half-and-half; more if you want it creamier
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 T. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
Start by grilling the corn until slightly charred, about 15 minutes. Once cooled, cut the kernels off the cob into a bowl. Sauté the onions and butter in a large frying pan; add the corn after the onions have turned translucent. Turn the heat to low.
In a separate bowl, mix cream, mayo, and sugar.  Add the cream mixture to the frying pan. Stir thoroughly to coat. Add salt, chili powder, and lime juice. Stir and simmer a few more minutes to let the flavors marinate.  I think I added a little more cream at the end because I like it reeeeal creamy, a la the Jolly Green Giant. Remove the corn from heat, and finish with chopped cilantro.  I hate to say it Green Giant, my days of canned creamed corn are history.
salmon-with-lemon-dill-yogurt-sauce
Now that I am a wife (!!), I have started to do more weeknight cooking. Weeknight cooking is not nearly as fun or exciting for me, as I clearly prefer to make delicious comfort food with little regard to health or nutrition. I am a firm believer that food should taste good and be enjoyed above all else.
During the week, however, I do like to eat healthier. This is the first weeknight dinner that I truly feel really happy about. It was incredibly good, easy, and not boring. You will want to make this – it was a winner.

Recipe (for 2):

  • 2 salmon fillets (about 1/2 pound each), skin removed
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3-4 T. light sour cream
  • lemon
  • fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 350. Generously salt and pepper the salmon fillets, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon on each, then wrap the fish in aluminum foil.

Bake the fish for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and open the foil to let the steam escape. Turn on the broiler, then broil fish for 4-6 minutes to brown the outside.

For the sauce, mix the yogurt, sour cream, and remaining juice of lemon. Mix in fresh dill to taste; I used about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill. Serve over fish.

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