Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peanut-Butter Frosted Energy Bars

I love the creative process, especially in the kitchen. This recipe was a perfect example of "creating as you go", because that's exactly what I did. I made these energy bars by combining ingredients that I thought would go well together to create a healthy cookie-type snack. The finished product, however, was not really to my liking. They were big, ugly, and a little bland. In other words, they really tasted healthy. I wanted healthy that tasted unhealthy - maybe that's too much to ask? Well, with a little help from my resident taste-testers (a.k.a. kids) we finally yielded an end product that satisfies both the healthy tooth (if there really is such a thing) and the sweet tooth. I hope you like.

Peanut-Butter Frosted Energy Bars
Copyright 2012 Brendilly Bakes, all rights reserved

Energy Bar Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 cup Quick-Cooking Oats
1 cup Wheat Germ
1/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups stemmed, Dried Figs
1t. Ground Cinnamon
1/3 cup Agave Maple Syrup
2 large Eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray
2. Place the oats, wheat germ, flour, figs, and cinnamon in a food processor; coarsely chop
3. Add the Agave maple syrup and eggs; pulse until well combined.
4. Transfer the mixture to the pan; spread evenly with greased fingers.
5. Bake about 20 mins.. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then cut into 16 bars. Cut those bars in half and frost.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup smooth Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Honey

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter and honey and mix well.

These healthy treats are dense, chewy, and perfectly satisfying with a nice cold glass of milk. :-)

NOTE: Agave maple syrup can be found in the grocery store with the other pancake syrups, or any health food store.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Piggy Biscuits w/Caramelized Onion

This recipe is an interesting story. I set out to make one thing and ended up with something totally different. I was originally going to make these bacon wrapped smokies that I found on Pinterest, but the more I thought about it the guiltier I felt. The recipe consisted of four ingredients: bacon; smokies; brown sugar; and butter. While that sounds really good and the picture of them looked even better, I just couldn't, in good conscience, feed anyone that much fat in one concentrated little meat by-product. I just didn't feel good about it (I was taking these to church). I had already bought the ingredients though, so I had a big 2# bag of smokies that I needed to do something with. My husband suggested I make the traditional pigs-in-a-blanket with the refrigerated crescent rolls, but I didn't have any crescent rolls and was too lazy to go to the store. So, I expended my energy thinking (one of my favorite ways to burn does burn calories, right?) and came up with these.

Piggy Biscuits w/Caramelized Onion
Copyright 2012 Brendilly Bakes, All rights reserved

Makes 24 biscuits

4cups All-Purpose Flour
4t. Baking Powder
2t. Kosher Salt
1t. freshly ground Black Pepper
2T. California Style Onion Powder
1T. Garlic Powder
2/3 cup Butter, cut up
1 large Onion, caramelized and cooled (recipe following)
2 cups Buttermilk
1/2 T. Butter
24 Little Smokies
Shredded Colby Jack Cheese

I don't think my method for caramelizing onions is what you could call "traditional", but they come out tasting really good. I hope you like it.

To Caramelize Onions
Place 2T. butter and 2T. olive oil in a skillet. Cut onion in quarters then slice thinly and add to cold skillet with butter and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Over medium-low heat, cook until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add 1-2T. Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking until the Worcestershire has evaporated and the onions are caramelized, about another 10 minutes.

Biscuit Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325. Cover a cookie sheet with foil.
2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk well.
3. Cut the 2/3 cup of butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives.
4. Add cooled onions to the dry ingredients and cut in with a pastry blender until mostly combined. Finish stirring in and combining with a fork.
5. Add Buttermilk to dry ingredients and mix with a fork.
6. Melt the 1/2 T. butter on foil-lined cookie sheet in the warm oven.
7. Once the butter is melted, remove cookie sheet from the oven and spread the butter all around the cookie sheet with a pastry brush or paper towel. Drop biscuit batter by large spoonfuls (I used an ice cream scoop) onto cookie sheet.
8. Place one smokie on top of each biscuit, pushing it into the biscuit.
9. Bake for 10 minutes, then top each biscuit with a sprinkling of shredded cheese and bake for 3 more minutes.

All dressed up and ready for church.

NOTE: My husband didn't really care for the bread to meat ratio in these, so I'm going to try it again and make the biscuits smaller and see how that works. I'll let you know. :-)

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

I love cheesecake about as much as anybody. I'm not so crazy about Oreos just because I'm a bit of a cookie snob and don't care for store bought cookies...except maybe for a few of the Pepperidge Farms varieties. However, it turns out that Oreos go tremendously with cheesecake. These little beauties are not my own invention and I didn't change the recipe one bit. They're perfect the way they are.

I found these on Pinterest courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I loved that they were cheesecake, they were bite-sized, and the recipe made enough for me to take to church and share. So, I gave them a go and they! Everyone loved them and I think you will too!

Oreo Cheesecake Bites
Makes 36 or more bites depending on size

36 Oreo cookies, divided
4T. Butter
4 pkgs. (8oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Sour Cream
1t. Vanilla
4 large Eggs
4oz. Semisweet Chocolate
4oz. White Chocolate

1. Line a 9x13" baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides.
2. Finely crush 24 Oreo cookies.
3. Melt 1/4 cup butter; mix with crumbs and press onto bottom of prepared pan.
4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each just until blended.
5. Chop remaining cookies and gently stir into batter; pour over crust.
6. Bake the cheesecake for about 35-40 minutes or until the sides are set and the center is almost set. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.
7. When the cheesecake is completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
8. When chilled, remove the cheesecake using the foil overhang and cut the cheesecake into bite-sized pieces. Place the cheesecake bites on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking tray.
9. Melt the semisweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate bowls (I used the microwave, stirring after 30 second intervals until melted).
10. Pour the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag, one for the semisweet, one for the white. Snip a small corner off the corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake bites.
11. Chill the bites until ready to serve. Alternately, the drizzled bites can be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month. Let them defrost in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

* I used Ghirardelli 4oz. chocolate bars in this recipe. They melt beautifully and it's some of the best chocolate around.
* Snip a SMALL hole in the frosting bag, better to cut too small a hole and have to do more than vice versa. Gravity is very helpful and you could end up with chocolate everywhere if you're not careful. Holding the tip of the bag up until you're ready to drizzle is helpful also
* Keep a paper towel handy to wipe your knife as you're cutting these. Too much cheesecake on your knife causes each subsequent cut to be messier and tears up the bites.
* I used a food processor to crush the first 24 Oreos, but you could also put them in a ziploc bag and pound them with your rolling pin.

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