Monday, June 23, 2008

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

Moist and Delicious!

Well as you can see, I got my first blueberries of the season! What to make... decisions, decisions. There are too many great recipes to make with blueberries. Should I make the always welcomed blueberry muffins or maybe some scones. Of course blueberry pie never disappoints either. Then there's those lemon blueberry cookies I've been wanting to make. Talk about stress...what a tough decision.

But I finally decided to make some Blueberry Oatmeal Bars. Why? I don't really know. Probably because I have never made them before. Plus, I recently ate some of my Mom's Quaker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars and have been thinking about them ever since. So why not create a blueberry bar using similar ingredients? I was up for the challenge!

By the way, they turned out super moist and chewy, flavorful and I think, pretty cute too!

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick tub margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and stems picked off

Heat oven to 350°F. Place a large piece of foil in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, overhanging sides.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In an electric mixer or large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add oil and maple syrup, mix well. Add egg whites (one at a time) and vanilla; beat well. Add sifted flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats; mix well. Carefully fold in half of blueberries.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Add the remaining blueberries to the top of the mixture, pushing berries in lightly.

Bake 28 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 20 minutes in pan; remove to wire rack by lifting up sides of foil. Cool completely. Cut into 24 squares. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Angelic Pasta and Shrimp Primavera

Easy, Fast and Filling...

What more could you ask for? I love to cook but sometimes I just don't feel like making a big fussy meal, especially on a weeknight after working all day. No thanks. That's why I like having quick cooking pasta like angel hair and frozen cooked shrimp on hand. You can whip up a meal in a matter of minutes with either one of these ingredients. And when paired together, you get a "heavenly" combination. That's why I'm calling it...

Angelic Pasta and Shrimp Primavera
by Mixed Salad Annie

8 oz. Angel Hair Pasta
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound frozen cooked shrimp, thawed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup green beans, ends trimmed and halved
1 cup black and green olives, sliced
1 - 8 oz. jar red roasted peppers, cut in strips
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package. In a large non-stick skillet heat oil and garlic over low heat for about 4-5 minutes until garlic is soft but not brown.

Add green beans and stir to coat with oil and garlic. Raise heat to medium-high, add wine and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat back down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add olives, red peppers, shrimp, salt and pepper and parsley. Add cooked pasta to the skillet and combine all ingredients.
Serve immediately.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lightened Up American Chop Suey

I Got A New Pot!

Before I talk about the American Chop Suey recipe, I must first tell you about my fabulous new Dutch Oven. Although Mario Batali likes to call it an Italian Essentials Pot. I got it in his trademark "orange", he calls it Persimmon. It is cast iron covered in ceramic and it is gorgeous and very heavy.
Ok. Now I can give you all a very serious warning about this pot...
It gets very, very hot and apparently holds an enormous amount of dangerous steam. I used this pot to cook my American Chop Suey and had the cover on for about 10 minutes, when I went to peek in on my macaroni, the steam burned my arm pretty bad. I even had a mit on when I opened the cover, but I lifted the cover open from the front...big mistake. This is the damage.

It is pretty bad burn. I covered it with a bandaid for the photo only, since you are not supposed to cover a burn with a bandaid. I will be more cautious when lifting the cover in the future. I guess the cover should be opened lifting up in the back. Now I know. Lesson learned. Hopefully, my mistake will be fair warning for everyone else. Seriously, be careful...

A New England Classic.

My family ate this a lot when I was growing up. It is definately a comfort food for me.
I never really knew that this recipe was originated in New England until recently. Before I made it, I wanted to check some recipes online for the proportions because it's been a while since either my mom or I have made it. While looking, I found many variations and also discovered it's New England origin.

My mom's original recipe uses ground beef and onion. Since I am not a big fan of either ingredient anymore, I decided to adapt the recipe and also lighten it up a bit. I really like the new lightened up version. I also tried to make it for easy clean up. The pasta is cooked right in the same pot as the sauce... I love that. The only thing is, it tends to get a little dry if you don't use enough tomato sauce, so adjust it with water as needed. And be careful not to overcook the macaroni because it will break up and will not be as pretty.

Lightened Up American Chop Suey
by Mixed Salad Annie

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, washed, dried and finely chopped (or 1 large onion)
1 shallot, chopped (can be omitted if using onion)
1 green bell pepper -- cored, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 pounds ground turkey (93% fat)
1 can (28 ounce size) whole tomatoes with their juices, pureed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup water, or more depending on dryness of mixture
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese, for garnish

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leek, shallot and green pepper, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for half a minute.

Add the ground turkey and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the meat is no longer pink.

Push aside the turkey to make an open space. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about a minute. Add the pureed tomatoes, water, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the macaroni to the turkey mixture and stir to combine. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes. Carefully, remove the cover and stir
half way through. Add more water if necessary.

It is ready when the pasta
is tender but still has some bite.
Spoon into bowls, sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan, and serve immediately.

P.S. It's always better the next day, so make it ahead for best flavor!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

Whatever You Have... Just Throw It In!

Still surviving this retched heatwave. I can't stand hot, hazy and humid days. It always amazes me when people say they love this weather. Who in their right mind would love the feeling of damp, sticky clothes and frizzy hair? NOT ME. Ok enough complaining, but I wouldn't be a Rhode Islander if I didn't bitch about the weather.

One thing I am happy about is that I made this salad when I did. Now I can relax and I don't have to worry about cooking anything and heating up the house. Everything is right there in it... protein, veggies, and grains! I like to take it out of the refrigerator at least a half hour before I want to eat so that the flavors are even better.

I love dishes like this. Whenever I have leftover chicken, vegetables or pantry items that have been sitting around for a while, I make this pasta salad. The beauty of it is that you can make it with whatever you have on hand at the time, it always tastes great and it's never the same the next time you make it.

Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad
by Mixed Salad Annie

1 cup fresh parsley,
finely chopped, stems discarded
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pasta Salad:
1 pound fusilli pasta
2 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cauliflower florets, 1/2 cup broccoli florets, 1/2 cup baby carrots (quartered lengthwise), all steamed until aldente (about 5-6 minutes)
1/4 cup mixed black and green olives, pitted and sliced
1 small can water chestnuts
1/4 cup jarred marinated mushrooms, cut in half
1 small jar roasted red peppers, cut into strips

1/4 cup 50% less fat- sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

For Dressing:
Add the parsley, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and salt and pepper to
a blender. Blend until all ingredients are incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the motor is running. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to box instructions and drain.

In a large serving bowl, mix the pasta with the remaining ingredients, except tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing, toss and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

Take pasta salad out of the refrigerator about a half hour before serving and toss in the tomatoes.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Green Beans ala Romano

Pure and Simple.

I'm keeping it simple today. It's too hot to cook anything elaborate anyway. Yesterday it hit 91 degrees here and today and tomorrow are supposed to bring more of the same. Yuck. I have to say I don't like the hot, muggy, sticky days of summer.

But I'll tell you what I do like...Green beans. They just seem to have endless possibilities. This is just a simple recipe that is so easy to throw together on a busy work night.
I prefer to steam my veggies because more of the nutrients are retained, but feel free to boil them if you prefer, to your desired tenderness before sauting them in the garlic tomatoes.

Green Beans ala Romano

by Mixed Salad Annie

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 pound green beans, stem ends removed
1/8 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablepoons chopped fresh parsley

Steam or boil green beans in salted water until tender, about 7 minutes steamed and 5 minutes boiled.

Add 2 teaspoons oil to a medium skillet add garlic and cook over low heat until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook about 2-3 minutes.

Add green beans and cook, mixing to incorporate flavors, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add Romano cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley.

Serves two.