Thursday, March 31, 2011

PB&J doesn't need bread

I'm getting lazy about posting.  I need to change my methodology and just post one thing at a time and save it for my "best" work, but not yet.  Because I think everything I make is the best, obviously, at least as far as baked goods are concerned.

First up...sweet treats!  Oatmeal Cookies!  Rarely do I want a cookie that doesn't include chocolate.  Or peanut butter.  Or both.  There are exceptions.  Molasses and/or Ginger cookies, those amazing frosted Lofthouse Sugar Cookies (or sugar cookies in general), the yummy pumpkin caramel cookies I make in the fall, and maybe a few of my mom's Christmas cookies.  Ok so that's a lot of exceptions but I can eat a lot of cookies.  Anyway, someone at work had a bag of Trader Joe's 100 calorie oatmeal cookies and I decided I needed to make oatmeal cookies!  I also randomly had some raisins last week and they tasted really good so I figured I needed to put them in a cookie.  I didn't change a thing about the recipe; it was perfect as is.  They were super soft and chewy and tasted amazing, despite having no chocolate.  I recommend baking & eating these immediately.

Then I had to make a treat to bring to my Cooking Matters volunteer class - where we teach the teens of El Monte, CA, how to cook healthful, affordable meals.  This week was graduation and we needed a treat to go with all of the awesome food the kids made (that could be another entire post that I am going to forgo.)  Anyway, kids pretty much love PB&J so I made these yummy bars, no bread needed.  Just 3 cups of peanut butter.  Super rich and delicious - although probably not so healthy.  I used raspberry jam (not seedless) from Trader Joe's but any flavor would work, it just wouldn't be as good.  I just happen to think there is no flavor of jam superior to raspberry.

In other new adventures, I made granola!  But not just any granola...Paleo granola.  That means no grains (or dairy or other things that don't go into granola anyway).  I had a taste of Steve's Original Paleo Krunch when I was in Michigan a few weeks ago and it was DELICIOUS!  While I zero intentions of going Paleo, this knock-off recipe is pretty good!  I found all of the ingredients except the unsweetened coconut at Trader Joe's.  I did find that the granola burned really easily so I would recommend doing a lower temp and stirring more often.  And since I refuse to go Paleo, I ate this granola on top of my berries and Greek Yogurt for breakfast.  Mmm.  I also may or may not have snacked excessively on it...

And finally, some cooking.  Some no recipe, figure it out as I go, easy pasta dishes.

For Sunday dinner & a few lunches this week, I wanted to do something to use up a bag of frozen artichokes.  I didn't measure a thing but it was something along these lines:

Chicken breast, cut in strips, salt & peppered, and browned
Bacon, cut into little pieces before cooking
Pasta (I didn't make it, sorry to disappoint)
Frozen artichokes
Chopped onion
Lemon juice
Parmesan Cheese
Romano Cheese

Cook pasta.  Cook bacon & remove from pan. Brown chicken in bacon grease.  Remove chicken from pan and add onions & artichokes.  Saute until warmed.  Add cooked chicken and pasta.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Add capers.  Grate cheese on top. Enjoy! Not bad at all!

And last but not least, a super easy but super tasty dinner for tonight.  It required zero skill and zero effort but tasted pretty awesome.  I just made one serving and this might be a new weeknight stand by (which right now is usually veggie burgers & steamed broccoli).

Cook pasta
Saute shrimp & remove from pan (it gave off some water because it was slight frozen so I rinsed out the pan before adding the sauce)
Add a spoonful of jarred Chimichurri sauce to pan, add back shrimp & pasta
Add a splash of lemon juice

I bought the Chimichurri from this super cute lady at Penman Springs Vineyard up in Paso Robles.  I really would like to make my own at some point for until I use my jar, I'll hold off.  Its so herby and delicious and was a nice simple dinner.  Little baby shrimp are so cute!!

Ok, phew, all caught up.  I have no idea what I'm making next.  I had a suggestion to make spaghetti squash and wanted to do that last week but Ralph's was fresh out.  I found a few recipes I want to combine so when I get a chance, I will definitely do that.  For baked goods, I'm thinking either something with ricotta (or else it might become gnocchi), Nutella, or Almond Butter.  But in the mean time, I have guests coming to town so I will likely be eating out instead of cooking, so maybe I'll get some inspiration for my next challenge!

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