Saturday, May 25, 2013

Caramel Apple Squares

When it goes from snowing one day to 90° in just a few days, you know it's getting close to the end of spring in Utah. And that is a great time to make cool desserts like this one that require no baking.  It is so easy to toss in whatever you like in with the apples: other fruit, chopped candy bars, marshmallows, coconut, toffee chips, cinnamon chips, use your imagination! But I like it just like this too.

I've had this recipe for years and years and have no idea where I found it orginally. I did the Apple-Crunch addition to it with an orange-cranberry granola.
Caramel Apple Squares

11 graham cracker squares                               
1 (14-oz.) pkg. caramels                                                     
6T. milk                                                        
2/3 c. chopped walnuts                                          
1 c. cold milk
1 (4-serving size) pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 (8-oz.) tub whipped topping, thawed
2 c. diced red and/or green apples 

            Arrange crackers on bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish, cutting crackers to fit, if necessary.  Microwave 15 of the caramels and 2 tablespoons of the milk in small microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 to 1 ½ minutes or until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, stirring after 1 minute.  Spread over cracker; sprinkle with 1/3 c. of the walnuts.  Refrigerate.

            Pour 1 cup milk into large bowl.  Add pudding mix.  Beat with wire whisk 1 or 2 minutes.  Gently stir in 1 cup of the whipped topping.  Spread over caramel layer. 

            Refrigerate at least 3 hours or until ready to serve.  Garnish with remaining whipped topping, 1/3 cup walnuts and apples.  Microwave remaining caramels and 4 tablespoon milk in small microwavable  bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth stirring after 30 second.  Drizzle over top of dessert.  Store leftover dessert in refrigerator. 

VARIATION: Apple Crunch-  Sprinkle with granola cereal and cinnamon.

I know most people think of apples as fall food, but I love it in lots of different desserts like these year-round:


Friday, May 24, 2013

Thai Style Melon Beef Salad

I know some people don't like fruit with their savory meal, but I do. Perfect for summer, I love the bright colors of this fresh, healthy salad that I found at Eating Well. (I forgot to add the cucumbers before taking the photo.)

I have to admit that I was very hesitant to add fish sauce. I have seen it in many recipes, but always left it out because it scared me, but I decided to try it finally. In case you've never had it, it doesn't taste anything like fish. It adds umami flavor, which I have heard of on the Food Network lots of times. I only added 2 tablespoons instead of 3. It gives it a distinct flavor and I really liked it. It was a little strong for Sabrina and she ate one bite and then wouldn't eat any more so next time I use it, I'll add a little less and see if she'll eat that.

This secret ingredient is still a secret at my house, so it's a lucky thing they don't read my blog. I will probably tell them after I try it on one more recipe and see if they like that. Do you like fish sauce?

Thai-Style Melon Beef Salad

12 oz. beef sirloin, or other boneless steak, about 1 inch thick, trimmed
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. lime juice
3 T. fish sauce
2 t. sugar
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 t. crushed red pepper
1 medium-to-large firm ripe melon
1 small green bell pepper
1 small red bell pepper
6 c. lightly packed torn Boston lettuce, (about 1 head)
1/2 c. slivered red onion
1/2 c. thin cucumber slices, halved
1/2 c. lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c. lightly packed torn fresh mint leaves
Preheat grill to medium.
Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare and 6 minutes per side for medium. Transfer the steak to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing crosswise.
Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and crushed red pepper to taste in a small bowl. Cut melon into enough 5-inch-long matchsticks to make 4 cups. (Reserve any remaining melon for another use.) Cut bell peppers into 2-inch-long matchsticks. Combine the melon and peppers in a large bowl along with lettuce, onion, cucumber, cilantro and mint.
Add the sliced beef to the salad. Whisk the dressing, pour it over the salad and gently toss to combine.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Creamy Lemon Chicken

We had this at an Enrichment meeting (church women's function) recently and it was a hit so we all got the recipe and I made it for my family. It's a slow cooker meal, so very easy, but also very flavorful. Love the lemon zest in it. But it is hard to take an appealing photo of something this color.
Creamy Lemon Chicken

2 lb. frozen chicken tenders
1 small onion, cut into small wedges
½ t. garlic powder
½ t. pepper
1 large can low-sodium chicken broth
1 (8-oz.) pkg. low fat cream cheese
Zest & juice from one lemon
2 c. fresh mushrooms

Place chicken, onion, seasonings and broth into crock pot on low for 6 hours.  In the 5th hour, cube the cream cheese and add it into the crock pot with the lemon peel, juice and mushrooms to cook for the last hour. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chocolate Mint Brownies

I made these brownies this weekend since it had been so long since I did. For some reason, the mint layer wasn't as thick as when I made it before and blogged about them (way back in 2008). Elisa and I think they tasted better today, the next day, than they did on the day they were made. Moist and chocoalatey with creamy mint. Yummy combination!

Chocolate Mint Brownies
Brownie layer:
1 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla extract
1 (16-oz.) can chocolate syrup
Mint layer:
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 T. milk
2 t. peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
3 T. butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray. To prepare bottom layer, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir.

In separate bowl, combine granulated sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. BATTER WILL BE VERY THIN! Pour batter into baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.

To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fritada de Gallina (Tender Chicken Dish)

Fritada literally means fried, but this Ecuadorian dish is not fried chicken. It is a chicken dish cooked slowly in a flavorful sauce and makes a very tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken. This is the second time I made it since I found it at Laylita's Recipes. You should look around at her delish recipes! The first time I made this, I made them with llampingachos, but today I just chopped up some potatoes and added them at the last bit of cooking since I didn't have much time. I forgot to take a photo of it plated with the rice, fried plantains and salad, so you get the skillet shot.  

Laylita's recipe calls for chicha, which is a fermented corn drink, but I use chicken broth and it turns out great. I didn't cook the sauce down as much this time (in the photo below) as she does or brown the chicken as much. Go take a look at hers because it's really good prepared that way too.

Fritada de Gallina

5 lb chicken, assorted pieces
1 c. chicken broth 
2 c. orange juice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
2 t. ground cumin
1 ½ heads of garlic
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 white onion, cut in large chunks
Salt  & pepper to taste

Mix the chicken broth, orange juice, garlic and spices. Marinate the chicken pieces in the liquid marinade mix for at least 1-2 hours or overnight.

Put the chicken and the marinade in a wok or a large deep sauté pan. Add the chunks of white onion and the cilantro. Cook over medium heat, should be boiling most of the time, for about 1 ½ hours or until the liquid starts to reduce, stir occasionally.
Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, but keep a close eye on it from this point, stir more frequently. Reduce the heat to low until the liquid is gone and a small amount of grease (from the chicken) replaces the liquid. Stir frequently to keep the chicken from burning and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken pieces are browned.

Utah Local: Rico Cocina y Tequila Bar

I wanted to find somewhere different to have dinner with my children, but it had to have food that all of them would eat. It's not easy ...