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Holy Cow...I Can Cook?

I started this food blog New Years 2010 to force myself to get in the kitchen and teach myself how to cook. Well it has been a year, and it turns out, cooking isn't so hard after all. I kept the promise I made to myself and cooked healthy yummy meals for my family all year. Once I just got in there, read the recipes, and experimented I found cooking is yet another form of artistic expression. Just like with my art, I let go of the fear of failure and found a new passion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oatmeal Bars

I took the recipe from "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld and made a few changes. You would never guess these crunchy sweet bars have hidden greens! I made a large batch of spinach puree and have been adding it to Evan's pasta sauce...shhhh.

2 cups oats
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter or margarine chilled
1 cup blueberry jam
1/4 cup frozen blueberries (thawed)
1/2 cup pureed spinach *thaw frozen spinach and puree in food processor or cook down fresh leaves and puree

1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
3. Add butter and cut with pastry blender, to form a coarse meal. You should still see pea-size chunks of butter.
4. Divide oat mixture in half. Set half aside, and press the rest firmly into pan. Bake about 15 minutes.
5. While the crust is baking mix the jam, blueberries, and spinach puree in a small bowl with a whisk.
6. Pour blueberry mixture over crust and top with remaining oat mixture. Bake 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Makes 12 bars

*I imagine this would be great with any sort of berry. Or a mix of berries!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Butter Pecan Bars

I served these yummy brownie/cookie bars for Superbowl and they were gone in a flash! They are so soft and chewy a little bit goes a long way. After I baked them, they seem small and thin, but they have a ton of flavor!

1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
2 tbsp chopped pecans
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp semisweet Chocolate chips (melted)
1 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp butterscotch mini chips or toffee chips

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Coat bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray (don't coat the sides)
3. Combine brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg in medium size bowl. Stir well with a whisk.
Combine flour, pecans, baking powder, and salt; stir into brown sugar mixture. Spread into baking pan. Bake for 22 min. Cool completely.
4. Combine powdered sugar, chocolate and hot water, stir until smooth. Spread over bars, sprinkle with butterscotch or toffee chips (lightly press chips into frosting). Chill until topping is set. Cut into bars.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I made this for our Superbowl party and it was a big hit. The full fat version is almost 200 calories per serving. With a few changes you can cut the calories in half! The only thing you have to watch is what you dip with! Baked chips or low fat and/or whole wheat crackers would be great choices.

2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can artichoke hearts (drained and chopped) *avoid the kind marinated in oil!!
2 8oz blocks of less-fat or fat-free cream cheese (softened)
1 package frozen chopped spinach (thaw, drain, and squeeze dry)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 tbsp Parmesan, pepper, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
3. Bake for 30 min until bubbly and golden brown.

*You can make this the day before your party cover and refrigerate. Bake it just before serving!