Thursday, August 26, 2010

Butterscotch Oatmeal Lunchbox Bars

I came across this recipe last year and it's been a standard ever since. When I make a batch, I freeze most of them so that I can one out for my son's snack at school. Or a snack for me. It's a Cooking Light recipe and has oatmeal. It's totally healthy.

Cooking Light's Lighten Up Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

1 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups butterscotch morsels (about 8 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla and egg. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Add oat mixture to sugar mixture; stir with a fork until combined (mixture will be crumbly). Place 3 cups oat mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray; press into bottom of pan. Set aside.

Place sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch morsels, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 1 minute or until butterscotch morsels melt, stirring every 20 seconds. Stir in walnuts. Scrape mixture into pan, spreading evenly over crust. Sprinkle evenly with remaining oat mixture, gently pressing into butterscotch mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Place pan on a cooling rack; run a knife around outside edge. Cool completely.

I stack two bars and wrap them in cling wrap. This way, I can pull out just two if that's all I need. If I need just one butterscotch oatmeal bar, I somehow manage to consume the other one, too.

I put those packages in a freezer zip-top bag.

Then my freezer is stocked with homemade goodness.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pesto Chicken Salad

A couple of days this week I've had pesto chicken salad sandwich on focaccia with roasted red peppes and goat cheese for lunch. It was one of the sandwiches where I thought, "OH. SO GOOD." after every bite. I love those.

Every time I make pesto I wonder why I don't make it all the time. It's really - truly - easy. Whirl fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil* in the food processor. The last bit I made I poured into ice cubes and froze until solid. Then I put the ice cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer, ready in small portions for when I have a hankering for pesto.

Like for lunch this week. I thawed out two cubes of pesto and added the pesto to a spoonful of mayonnaise, about 1/3 to 1/2. I mixed it up and added some shredded chicken breast we'd cooked on the grill Sunday night. I refrigerated it overnight and daydream about it during the day.

* Mark Bittman cautions against adding the Parmesan cheese if you're going to freeze the pesto. He says when you're ready to use the pesto, thaw it and then add cheese.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

This may be the second-best thing I've made all summer. It, too, is a tomato dish.

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Based on a recipe from Pasta & Co. By Request

3 pounds of tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
8 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup fresh basil leaves or 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 medium onions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Core the tomatoes, and slice in half horizontally. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in a casserole dish.

Put the basil or rosemary, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Process until the garlic is finely chopped.

Pour the mixture over the tomatoes

and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until the tomatoes collapse and begin to caramelize. Your house and kitchen will smell amazing the entire time. Stir the tomatoes ever so often.

In the meantime, roughly chop up two onions and saute over medium heat in a bit of olive oil.

When they onions have some color to them, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat as low as it will go, cover the onions, and let them be.

When the tomatoes are cooked down, remove from the pan from the oven.

Puree the sauce, plus the caramelized onions, through the food processor.

We had some the next day on pizzas and it was lovely. I froze the rest.

I plan to hit the farmer's market tomorrow for more tomatoes. This time, I'll double the recipe. I'm going to make as much of this as I can while the fresh tomatoes are still good. Just think: lasagne, all kinds of pasta, pizza, so much you can do with this sauce.

The original recipe says it yields 4 1/2 cups. I got right at 3 1/2 cups of sauce. Maybe I should triple it, now that I think about it. I want lots of sauce in the freezer to enjoy this winter.