Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week 44

It was so nice to have my hubby back this week!  He had a blast snowboarding the slopes in Oregon with his brother and some friends!  It seems he's brought the cold weather back with him from the Pacific Northwest because it's been freezing here in Atlanta!  It actually feels like Winter right now!  You just never know what you're going to get for cold weather when you live in the South.

We had a birthday celebration for our neighbor, Chris, this weekend and here's his oatmeal chocolate chip brownie bar while we sang him 'Happy Birthday.'  Check out the link to this recipe!  These bars were amazing!

Weekly Menu - Week 44

Sunday - Seared mahi-mahi, yellow rice, and roasted asparagus

Monday - Breakfast for dinner (waffles, sausage, scrambled eggs, cut strawberries)

Tuesday - (Valentine's Day) Grilled salmon, roasted red potatoes, steamed green beans and flourless chocolate cake for dessert (recipe to follow)

Wednesday - Barbecue meatloaf, roasted cauliflower and carrots, spinach salad

Thursday - Thai basil shrimp with cabbage & red bell peppers, white rice, broccoli

Friday - Crock pot chicken tacos, leftover white rice, black beans, cabbage slaw

Saturday - Leftovers for kids & Out to dinner for adults

Have a great week!  Can't wait to see your menus!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars

I know. . . the name sort of blows your mind, right?  Well, I can tell you from extensive research that these cookie bars truly do blow your mind!  It's my neighbor's birthday this weekend and his wife is out of town, so we decided to take the poor guy in and celebrate his birthday with him and the kids.  The day before his birthday, I asked him what he wanted for dessert and he told me that he's just not much of a dessert guy (Can you say, YIKES?).  After a brief discussion we both agreed that he loves oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and he loves brownies.  The idea was born!  Without hesitation, I decided that those two items could most definitely be combined into one amazing treat!

I won't deny that it's more work to make both recipes, but I'm going to have trouble ever making only brownies again after tonight!  So, if you're feeling like treating yourself, this is definitely a recipe to try!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or AP flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk (I used coconut milk from a carton)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts (finely processed)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use combination of large dark chips and mini chips)

Mix dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Set aside.  In another bowl, beat butter and sugars together.  Add egg, milk and vanilla.  Add sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix only until batter is moistened.  Fold walnuts and chocolate chips into mixture being careful not to over mix batter.

Press this dough down into the bottom of a 9 x 12 or 13 pan.  I firmly pressed it into place with my hands so that it would be easy to add the brownie layer onto it later.  Onto the brownie layer. . .

Fudge Brownie Layer - Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips (I use a combination of large dark chocolate chips and mini chips and I don't have a problem with them melting).

Pour brownie mix on top of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie layer.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  I prefer my brownies to be a bit gooey, so just check that they are done to your specifications.  ;)


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week 43: Baby Shower!

We certainly had an eventful week!  Despite my hubby out of town since last Saturday, we got a visit from my SIL from Oregon, Crepe Day and a surprise Baby Shower to attend to this past week!  Mary and I took a morning and visited our favorite French bakery, Duceur de France!  They have an amazing eggs benedict served on french toast!  We brought home a few chocolate eclairs that made for a wonderful snack when the kids got home from school!

The kids had such a good time hanging out with Aunt Mary, any excuse for crepes is always well received in this house and the shower yielded some funny home-made onsies!  My BIL works remotely for Home Depot headquarters (based in Atlanta) in Bend, Oregon.  So, you'll notice that the photo below is a particular jab at his work place thanks to my neighbor, Nikki. ;)

Weekly Menu 43

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken from Publix, green beans, yellow rice
Monday - Cheese tortellini, marinara sauce, broccoli
Tuesday - Seared salmon, roasted cauliflower & carrots, wild rice
Wednesday - Fajita burgers, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes, cabbage slaw
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Spaghetti with meatballs, angel hair pasta, seared zucchini, green beans
Saturday - Out to dinner

Have a great week, everyone!  Happy meal planning!

Crepe Day 2012!

Many of you may not be aware that many French celebrate February 2nd each year by making crepes!  Nevertheless, it happens every year in our house!  In France, February 2nd is a holiday called La Chandeleur or Candlemas.  According to a few online resources, the history of making crepes on this holiday goes all the way back to the hight of the Roman Empire.  I've also read that it's the holiday that celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.  It was said to be 40 days after His birth.  How crepes come into this equation is another question altogether. . .

However, it appears that this day is celebrated in some form or another all over the world and it seems to be a day to predict the future in many Western countries.  In France, they eat crepes in the evening and the crepe chef holds a coin in one hand while flipping the crepe.  If he is able to complete the task without destroying the crepe, then it is good fortune throughout the year.

Our family does not prescribe to the theory that it brings us any good fortune, but we love an excuse to make crepes!  So, I decided many years ago (after researching some crepe recipes online) that I would make this a family tradition in our home and we try to share the tradition with friends each year.

This year, my hubby is out of town, but both of my neighbors and their children came over after dinner to celebrate crepe day with us!  We typically set up a dessert crepe bar with the following: sliced strawberries and any other fruit we have, nutella, mini chocolate chips, carmel sauce, chocolate sauce, homemade whipped cream, powdered sugar and white granulated sugar!  My favorite crepe is hot off the stove with white sugar sprinkled delicately over the whole crepe and a thin line of carmel sauce drizzled down the middle!  Heavenly!  I like to taste the flavor of the crepe and I find that if I put too much in it, it's a mess and I completely miss the flavor of the crepe itself!

Jean-Luc's Crepes

1 1/2 cups AP flour
3 tbls. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup Whole milk
4 medium eggs
2 tbls. oil
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Juice from 1/2 orange, freshly squeezed
Zest from 1/2 orange

Mix flour, sugar and salt in small bowl and set aside. Mix remaining wet ingredients in large bowl. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture with a whisk. Mix well. Let sit (covered) in a cooler or refrigerator overnight (4 hours min, but can be used immediately if necessary). Add milk to mixture it more thinning is needed after sitting overnight.

To cook the crepes, heat a medium to large skillet to medium (I use #6 on my stovetop).  Grab a flexible, flat spatula and fill a small plate with a thin layer of oil to grease the pan.  We dip the spatula in the oil and spread a thin layer of oil all over the pan while heating.  Use a 1/3 or 1/2 measuring cup (depends on the size of your skillet) to pour the batter into the pan.  Quickly move the pan around so that the batter evenly covers the entire surface, so that there are no holes and it should be a fairly thin layer.  When it appears that the batter is setting and you can gently lift the edges of the crepe, you can use the spatula to flip the entire crepe over in the pan.  Allow it to cook just a minute longer and it's ready to be decorated and eaten immediately!  Repeat for more deliciousness! 

This yield enough for a family of 4-6, but I would recommend doubling for an more.  When we have large family gatherings, I've been known to triple this recipe!  It's wonderful!