Pop Tarts

I had bookmarked this homemade pop tart recipe from Smitten Kitchen two years ago, but never got around to making it.  If I am going to bake something sweet for breakfast, I would rather make something like a muffin or scone.  Plus, I am not that great with a rolling pin.  But then my mom saw the recipe, and she is good with a rolling pin, and we had all the ingredients on hand.  It was fate.

We followed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen very closely, but substituted 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose flour.  (Sorry to report, that does not make these a ‘healthy’ breakfast!)  We made half of them with a cinnamon and sugar filling and half of them with a jam filling made from both blueberry and strawberry preserves.

Since it was a hot and humid summer morning, we had to put the dough in the freezer fairly frequently.  Every time it got too soft to work with, we tossed the dough, dough mat, and all right into the freezer for about 15 minutes, and then started again.  In other words, the next time we try this recipe will be in January!

The pastries came out of the oven lightly brown, with a tender and flaky crust.  Is it possible for a pastry crust to be too flaky?  Because these came close.  I may look for other variations of the recipe which would be a little sturdier.  Both the cinnamon and jam fillings were delicious, but someone suggested a Nutella filling which I think we have to try.  And my sister suggested we work on an icing.  While we’re not anywhere near to putting Kellogg’s out of business, this was a really fun project with a delicious end result.

 

pop tarts

One Pot Fettuccine

You may have seen the One-Pot Spaghetti recipe and pictures on Facebook, Pinterest, and various blogs.  I’m not sure of the true origin, although many roads lead to Martha Stewart.  I’ve seen a lot of references, but I chose the Italian Wonderpot recipe from Budget Bytes to guide me.

Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and you can assemble the pot within just a few minutes.  Some versions include red pepper flakes for a little extra heat.  I kept thing simple with minced garlic and Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle.

Although this doesn’t have the complexity of a gourmet pasta dish, it has a good taste and works well as an easy meal.  There’s plenty leftover for lunches too.  Double win!

 

one pot fettuccine

 

One Pot Fettuccine

2 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
1 (12 oz.) package whole wheat fettuccine
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 onion, chopped
1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 (16 oz.) package frozen spinach
2 t minced garlic
1 T Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle, or Italian seasoning

Place ingredients in a large pot, in the order written.  Make sure that ingredients are covered by liquid.  Cover pot, and bring to a rapid boil.  Remove cover, and boil for 12-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Eggplant, White Bean, and Basil Dip

Dips are the ultimate convenience food; you don’t even need utensils.  This one inspired by the Food Network goes well with cucumber slices or chips, and it’s hearty enough that you might forget about cooking dinner altogether.

You can make this spicy with an extra shake of cayenne, or add more basil and lemon for a sharper flavor.  Everyone around the (large) table seemed to like this dip, including the 3 year old.  That’s success!

 

eggplant dip

 

Eggplant, White Bean, and Basil Dip

1 large eggplant, peeled, and cut into 1″ chunks
Olive oil (1/4 c. plus more for drizzling)
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. packed fresh basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
2 t minced garlic
Dash cayenne pepper

Place eggplant on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 400F for 20-30 minutes.  Allow to cool.

In a food processor, blend eggplant, 1/4 c. olive oil, beans, basil, lemon juice, and garlic. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne.

Oreo Cake

No long weekend with my family would be complete without at least one cooking disaster.  We set out to make this Oreo Cake, which I had seen on Pinterest.  It includes two layers of chocolate cake with Oreos baked right in, a filling made with whipped cream and Oreo crumbs, and a rich chocolate frosting.

Unfortunately, most of the cake batter ended up on the bottom of the oven, and we gave the smoke detectors a workout.  To be fair, we did use egg replacer and also baked the cake in 8″ round pans instead of 9″.  It’s hard to imagine that those 2 changes would cause such a mess, but I can’t figure out what else might have gone wrong.

We revised the plan, and ended up making 2 layers of chocolate cake from a boxed mix.  We still made the filling and frosting from the original recipe, and finally put it all together.  My nephews ‘decorated’ the cake with Oreos, and here is the final product.

 

oreo cake

 

While it wasn’t the best cake we ever made, it was pretty good.  But next time it’s this hot, we’re going to leave the oven off and eat ice cream.

Pork Chops and Peaches

Today’s recipe is brought to you by the letter “P”.  We have pork chops, peaches, and sugar snap peas.  And it was all inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light.

It’s fun to use fruit in an otherwise savory dish, especially seasonal summer fruit.  The peaches did get quite soft in this recipe, so I adjusted the cooking times below to keep them a bit firmer.  Pork chops can be a bit boring, but the peaches, onion, and wine come together to create a flavorful sauce.

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July!  I’ll be back next week with some new recipes from the long weekend.

 

pork chops peaches2

 

Pork Chops and Peaches

3-4 boneless pork chops
2 t canola oil
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thinly
1/2 t dried thyme
2 peaches, sliced thinly
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 water
1/2 t Penzey’s Mural of Flavor

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper.  In a large frying pan coated with cooking spray, cook pork chops for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Remove, and set aside.

Add oil to pan.  Add onion and thyme, and saute for 10 minutes.  Add peaches, wine, water, and seasoning.  Simmer for 5 minutes, scraping bottom of pan to remove any browned bits.  Add pork chops back to pan, cover, and simmer until pork is cooked through.

-Adapted from Cooking Light

Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

Strawberry season is in full swing, and I was excited to try this Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread from Skinnytaste.  So excited that I think I ate half a container of strawberries while my Mom was cutting them up.  But that’s OK, there were still plenty to roast.

To make the recipe egg-free, we used Ener-G Egg Replacer.  As you can see, the bread didn’t rise very well, but I am not sure if this was due to the egg replacer or another factor.  Despite being a bit dense, the bread was still delicious.  If I can keep a carton of strawberries around long enough, I might give it another try.

 

roasted strawberry banana bread

Caprese Sandwich on the Grill

It was a fabulous weekend at the beach, with plenty of fun in the sun.  Everyone in my family loves Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and home-grown basil.  With a little inspiration, we turned the salad into delicious grilled sandwiches.

I didn’t include amounts in the recipe below, but use your intuition and you won’t go wrong.  You do want to be sure to keep the grill on fairly low heat; the bottom of the bread burned in a few places which made for some crispy sandwiches.  Just enjoy them on the deck, and no one will have to clean up the crumbs!

These fancy grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect for either lunch or happy hour.  They were a great way to celebrate the true arrival of summer.

 

capreseonthegrill

 

Caprese Sandwiches on the Grill

Olive oil
Minced garlic
Italian bread, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Basil Leaves
Balsamic Vinegar

Mix olive oil and minced garlic.  Brush one side of bread slices, and place facedown on grill.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, until just lightly browned.  Turn bread over, and place tomatoes and mozzarella on bread. Close grill cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Place basil leaves on mozzarella.  Remove sandwiches from grill, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.