S’mores Bars II

20150303_144157[1]Back in 2011, I published a recipe for S’mores Bars using Golden Grahams cereal. It’s a no-bake recipe that was very popular. I recently came across this s’mores bars recipe in my binder from about 15 years ago. Like the other one, this recipe uses marshmallows and chocolate — but instead of using the cereal as a shortcut, it has a baked graham cracker crust. You add melted chocolate and marshmallows, then briefly brown them in the oven.

The two recipes end up having the same s’mores taste and are equally scrumptious. I’m not sure I have a favorite, so which one I make will probably depend on how much time I have (baking or no baking?) and what kind of dessert I want — big, crunchy squares in the style of Rice Krispie Treats, or crumbly layer bars with toasted marshmallows. Which one would you pick?

14 graham cracker rectangles, crushed finely
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate (do not use milk or dark chocolate)
4 heaping cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the first four ingredients, then press into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with the back of a spoon. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool.

Heat oven to 450F/230C degrees. Melt the chocolate and spread over the cool crust. Cover with marshmallows. When the oven is ready, place the pan inside and bake until the marshmallows are just browned, about 5 minutes.

Important: Let cool completely — preferably overnight — for the best taste. It’s not easy to wait, but it’s worth it!

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Filed under Cookies & Brownies & Bars, Desserts/Baking

Grilled Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Basil Sandwich

This delicious grilled sandwich makes a filling lunch, but it can also be a nice dinner — just add a couple of sides, like oven fries (we like the sweet potato ones) and a salad. This recipe is for one sandwich. When making it for more people, I make an assembly line on the countertop for easy preparation.
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Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices firm white bread (from a ciabatta or good sourdough loaf from the bakery)
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 thin slices mozzarella (from a fresh ball of mozzarella, not the kind in a bag)
2 thin slices prosciutto
3 large fresh basil leaves
2 thin slices fresh tomato, or about 3 slices from a plum tomato
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Melt 1 tsp. butter and brush it very lightly over the two slices of bread. On one slice, stack 2 slices of mozzarella, the prosciutto, basil leaves, and tomato slices. Season with pepper.

Top with the remaining 2 slices of mozzarella. Finish with the other slice of bread, buttered side down.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter with the oil and cook the sandwich until browned. Turn with a spatula and brown it on the other side. Press it down lightly with the spatula.

(The sandwich may also be prepared in a toaster oven, but it won’t come out as well.)

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Filed under Main Courses, Sandwiches & Wraps

Holiday Cornflake Wreaths

20141211_220232[1]These are like Rice Krispie Treats, only with cornflakes. They are a fun dessert to make at Christmastime, and very easy, too. Plus, they have only five ingredients.

Makes about 18

6 cups cornflakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
10 oz. marshmallows
1 tsp. or more green food coloring
Small red cinnamon candies (Red Hots)*

To prepare, butter two or three baking sheets — you will form the wreaths on them later. Put the cornflakes in a large bowl.

In a medium pot over low heat, melt the margarine. Add the marshmallows and stir constantly until completely melted. Add the food coloring, starting with 1 tsp. but adding more as necessary until the mixture is dark green. (The ones in the picture above aren’t as dark as I intended.) Pour the marshmallow mixture over the cornflakes and mix carefully with a spoon until completely coated.

With buttered fingers, take out a small handful of the coated cornflakes (just enough to fill your palm). Put it on the buttered baking sheet and form into a wreath. Put four or five cinnamon candies on the wreath to look like berries.

Refrigerate the wreaths for several hours before serving. Use a spatula carefully to lift them off the baking sheets.

*I found the Red Hots in the baking aisle, next to the bottles of sprinkles — not in the candy aisle.

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Filed under Cookies & Brownies & Bars, Desserts/Baking, Holiday, Other Desserts

Cod Fishcakes

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Easy, delicious, and a great way to have fish. You might think that with the potato they’d be a bit heavy, but they’re actually light, even a bit fluffy, and the lemon perks up the flavor.

The recipe requires two steps that must be done ahead of time — boiling and mashing the potatoes and poaching the fish. You also have to chill the fishcakes for at least half an hour before cooking them. So save this recipe for a weekend, or a day when you have some time to get into the kitchen a few times to prepare the night’s meal.

Definitely serve this with lemon wedges. A side of buttered broccoli works well.

Serves 4 (makes 8 fishcakes)

400g (14 oz.) cod fillets
200ml (just under 1 cup) milk
2 large floury potatoes
25g (1 oz.) unsalted butter
Pinch of grated nutmeg
5 large sprigs of parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 lemons (zest of one, the other one cut into wedges)
4 Tbsp. plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil (at least)

Poach the cod in simmering milk (thinned with water) to just cover it, for 3-4 minutes until the fish starts to flake. Drain, discard the skin if there is any, and pat dry. Leave to cool.

Peel, quarter, and boil the potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and mash until smooth. Mix in the butter, nutmeg, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Flake in the cod by rubbing the fish between your thumb and fingers to make small bits. Season with salt and pepper and cool.

Divide into eight balls and press into patties about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Season the flour with cayenne pepper. Dip the fishcakes in the flour to coat. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Fry the fishcakes (in batches if necessary) for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown.

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Filed under Fish & Seafood

Moroccan Rice

Rice

Here is a delicious side dish that’s full of flavor and very easy to make. I served it alongside a simple baked salmon drizzled with lemon — it was so good that the meal is now going to be a staple on our menu!

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup bell pepper, any color, chopped
1/2 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (regular paprika is OK)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. golden raisins (sultanas)
Fresh cilantro and parsley
Fresh lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, bring the oil up to medium-high heat.

Rinse the rice to remove excess starch and then add to the hot oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until golden.

Meanwhile, in a blender, place the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and spices and puree. Add the mixture to the rice and cook for 4 minutes or until the color of the tomato deepens.

Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add the raisins and herbs, and serve with lemon wedges.

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Filed under Pasta & Rice Dishes

Sausage Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

20140302_192956[1]This is an easy dish that you can prepare in as much time as it takes to cook the pasta. It calls for a jar of store-bought alfredo sauce, something I’m embarrassed to say that I used — but wow, does it make things simple. That means it’s a great dish to make on a weeknight. You could also use a homemade alfredo sauce on a night when you have more time. One tip: Chop the vegetables and grate the cheese as you wait for the pasta water to boil.

Serves 6

1 large leek, white and pale green part only, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 links mild Italian pork sausage (8 oz.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
8 oz. rigatoni pasta
8 oz. sliced baby Portobello mushrooms (use white if they aren’t available)
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 15-oz. jar roasted garlic alfredo sauce
2 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

Start boiling the water for the pasta and cook as directed on the box. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and grate the cheese, then set aside. Remove the sausage casings by cutting the links in half lengthwise (butterfly them), then turning the sausage over and peeling the casings away.

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring to crumble the meat, until browned and no longer pink. Remove to a bowl and add remaining tablespoon of oil to the same pan, then add mushrooms and leeks. Cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until tender.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the wine or broth; simmer 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half.

Stir in alfredo sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in pasta and sausage and stir 1 minute. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

The recipe is adapted from one I found at Publix.

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Filed under Main Courses, Pasta & Rice Dishes

Egg Fried Rice

This recipe requires day-old cooked rice, preferably steamed, so it’s a great way to use any rice left over from Chinese take-out. That’s what I used the other day, along with some long-grain rice I happened to have in the fridge. I chopped a couple of carrots and threw them in, along with a handful of frozen peas and some canned water chestnuts. You can add whatever vegetables you like, whether chopped or sliced. Scale the recipe according to how much rice you have.

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1 Tbsp. peanut oil (substitute canola/rapeseed oil if you need to)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cold steamed white rice
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1-2 tsp. sesame oil
Vegetables as above

Heat a wok or large pan over high heat until a drop of water vaporizes instantly upon contact. Add peanut oil, swirling to coat wok evenly, and heat until hot and just smoking. Add eggs, tilting wok and swirling eggs to form a thin, even layer on cooking surface, and cook 30 seconds, then add rice and salt and stir-fry, breaking up eggs and letting rice rest several seconds between stirs, until rice is hot, 2-3 minutes. Add scallions, sesame oil, and vegetables and stir-fry until combined well and heated through.

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Filed under Leftover Ideas, Main Courses, Pasta & Rice Dishes