Friday, August 5, 2011


Rolling right along now! My list of recipes that I have yet to test is down to a reasonably small size. I'm at the point where I am happy to abandon recipes that were taking too much research time, such as kale chips. I just couldn't replicate my one success with that recipe.


Everything in moderation, including moderation! Here are some desserts and naughty snack foods that offer some “good for you” ingredients, while still being decadent.

Oatmeal Cookies (or Oatmeal Bars)
(quick treat, or make in advance)

This recipe makes about 25 cookies. Cookies can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for several weeks, and even longer in the refrigerator or freezer. When you make your own cookies, you know exactly what is in them, and you can tinker with them to make them a little more healthful, if you desire, by adding such things as dried fruits or nuts.

1 stick of butter
3/4 cup brown (or white) sugar
1 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups oats (rolled or quick)
(optional) 1 cup raisins, other chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts
(optional)1 tsp vanilla
(optional) ½ tsp cinnamon or other pumpkin pie spices
¼ tsp salt

Let the butter and eggs come to room temperature. (If you are in a hurry, put the wrapped sticks of butter under your clothes, against your skin for a few minutes!) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the butter is soft (but not melted) put it in a mixing bowl along with the sugar. Use a fork to “cream” the butter. This means that you smash the butter through the tines of the fork, mixing it with the sugar as you go. Do this until the butter and the sugar are combined.

“Creaming the butter” is the most difficult step in making many baked goods. It can be done with an electric mixer, if you have one. The reason that the butter can’t be too soft in cookie recipes is because melted butter will cause the cookies to be too flat and too crispy.

To the creamed butter, add the eggs and vanilla, stirring until the eggs are beaten and thoroughly mixed in. Then add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mixing well. Next, add the oats. The mixture will be very dry, and you may have to mash it with your hands to work in all of the oats. Lastly, add the optional dried fruit or nuts by pressing them into the dough with our hands.

Spoon out rounded tablespoons full of this mixture onto an ungreased baking sheet. As they bake, these little balls will melt and expand into the size and shape of cookies, so leave enough room for them to grow!

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes. You will want to remove them from the oven when they still seem undercooked, because they will continue to firm up after being removed from the oven. As soon as you can use a spatula to remove them from the baking sheet without breaking them, move the cookies to a plate so that they can cool.

This mixture can also be made into bars. Simply pour the cookie dough into an ungreased 13 by 9 inch baking pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Energy Bars, a.k.a. Rice Crispy Treats Gone Wild

This recipe is a variant on one that is a favorite of cyclist and Tour de France rider Christian Vande Velde. Essentially, it’s a Rice Krispy treat, but it has a lot more fun stuff in it. Substitute in your favorite dried fruits and nuts, and take it with you instead of a prepackaged energy bar with unpronounceable ingredients.

Note: if you plan to take these along on a hot bicycle ride, don’t use chocolate chips. They’ll melt in your pocket and make a mess!

4 cups of any puffed grain cereal, such as Rice Krispies
1 ½ cups dried fruit
1 cup of seeds or chopped nuts (try a combination!) and/or chocolate chips
½ cup tahini or peanut butter
½ cup brown or white sugar
½ cup honey or maple syrup

First, coat a large chopping board or large casserole dish or large plate with butter. Find a water glass or a clean jar with a flat bottom, and butter the bottom of this as well. Then combine the cereal, fruit, and seeds/nuts/chocolate in a large bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey/maple syrup, sugar, and peanut butter/tahini. Stir the sugar mixture constantly so that it does not burn. When it bubbles, pour then liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until coated.

Watch out: hot sugar can cause nasty burns! Use caution if children are helping to make this recipe.

Transfer the gooey mass of stuff onto the buttered surface. Then, use the buttered flat bottom of the jar or the glass to smash it out into a flat shape. Once it’s about ¾ inch thick, leave it to cool for an hour or so. Then slice with a knife, and store in an airtight container.

Cinnamon Toast (quick treat)

This is a great treat for children. First, lightly toast some sliced bread. Butter the bread liberally, then put it on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle it lavishly with brown or white sugar, and cinnamon (or Pumpkin Pie spices, recipe #). Cook this under the broiler until the butter and sugar bubble. (Or use the toaster, if you have a toaster oven.) Remove from the heat and let cool before serving.

Caution: When using a broiler with bread, you will need to stand and watch, because when it starts to brown, bread will very quickly start to smoke and blacken. Make sure that small children are out of the room, because you must cook on high heat with the oven door partly open. Always pull out the oven rack to get to the bread. Do not reach under the hot oven element.

Hot Chocolate (quick treat)

Packets of hot chocolate are expensive. Instead, keep a jar of baking cocoa in the cupboard. For each serving, you will need:

1 cup milk
1 tbsp baking cocoa
1 tbsp brown or white sugar, or honey, or maple syrup
(optional) flavorings: mint extract, almond extract, vanilla, cinnamon
(optional) marshmallows

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the milk occasionally until it is too warm to dip your finger into. (Or use the microwave - but be warned that your milk may unexpectedly boil and spill out all over the microwave. Don‘t test the heat with your finger.) Then whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Continue to stir and heat until the hot chocolate is just starting to steam. Add optional flavorings. Pour into mugs, and add marshmallows.

Pouring from a pan usually results in a mess. You can minimize the damage by pouring over the sink, and by pouring down the back of a spoon, to direct where the liquid goes.

Dessert Bread Pudding
(cook in advance)

This dessert recipe is great for using up stale bread. If your bread isn’t stale, toast it first.

6 cups of torn-up stale or toasted bread (6 slices of sandwich bread)
6 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
3 tbsp butter
2/3 cup brown sugar (or white sugar, or ½ cup maple syrup)
1 tsp cinnamon (or other pumpkin pie spices)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 dash of salt
½ cup chopped pecans or other nuts (optional)
½ cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Put the torn bread into a large casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar, beating together with a fork or whisk. Then add the milk a little at a time, continuing to stir. (The cinnamon needs to be persuaded not to form lumps.) Add the eggs, and beat them in. Melt the butter before adding. Add the vanilla and salt.

Pour the wet mixture over the bread. Use your fingers to dunk any bread that remains dry. Bake until firm, which may take an hour or longer, or until the center of the pudding reaches 160 degrees.

If you cook this in a loaf pan, then cook the loaf pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch the overflow.

If you wish to make this dessert even sweeter, reduce the above sugar by half, and top with the following sauce:

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup white sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of salt

Melt the butter in a small pan, and whisk in the flour. Give the flour a couple of minutes to cook, and then add the milk. Boil this for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Then allow to cool a bit, and add the salt and vanilla. Pour over the warm bread pudding, and serve.

Fruity Bread Pudding (milk-free)

This dessert bread pudding is pure comfort food. It’s as tasty as pie without all of the work. And, oddly, since most bread puddings are based on a custard of milk and eggs, this recipe contains no milk. Eat it hot or cold, by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This makes enough for about four hungry people.

1 20 ounce can of pineapple, peach, or other canned fruit, plus the liquid from the can
3 or 4 cups torn-up stale bread
2 eggs
¼ cup butter
½ cup sugar
(optional) 1 diced banana, apple, pear, or other fresh fruit
(optional) ½ cup raisins or other dried fruit, or nuts or seeds
(optional) pumpkin-pie spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon

If the canned fruit is in large pieces, cut it up into bite-sized chunks. Beat together the eggs, sugar, and the liquid from the canned fruit. Combine this with the bread, fruit, and optional ingredients. If the bread is particularly dry, give it ten minutes to soak up the liquid, stirring once or twice. Then put the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 350 until the pudding is firm all the way through, or when the center reaches 165 degrees.

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