Lunch With Loni

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Chocolate Caramel Gooey Bars November 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 6:22 pm

I came across these bars and thought they’d be another good bring to work recipe.  I don’t think mine turned out quite the same as they appear in the Eva Bakes blog, although I did follow the recipe.  I felt the crust was a bit too buttery, and the caramel proportion, particularly in some of the bars, was a little heavy for me.  I should caveat this by saying that I am not a fan of overly sweet items.  For example, I usually scrape most of the frosting off of cupcakes!  I think as is the bars are tasty, particularly if warmed up and maybe with a little vanilla ice cream on top.  If I made them again, I’d probably make a thicker crust (with not quite as much butter), cut down on the caramel slightly and up the chocolate.  Some people at work said they were perfect, though, so it might be a matter of personal preference!

Recipe Courtesy Of: Eva Bakes

Recipe Located Online At:

http://evabakes.blogspot.com/2012/11/chocolate-caramel-bars.html

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup since I thought it would already be pretty sweet with the caramel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 38 caramels unwrapped
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 

Unwrap caramels and place into a saucepan.  Add cream and melt over low to medium heat.  I wound up heating the caramels and cream in the microwave in 30 second intervals and then stirring.

Mix together flour, oats, sugar, salt, baking soda and butter.

Press half of the mixture onto the bottom of an 8.5 by 8.5 inch square pan (I lined it with parchment paper so I could lift the bars out once cooled and cut them easily).

Bake crust for 20 minutes. (The recipe doesn’t call to cool the crust before the next step, but I think it might be easier to pour/spread the caramel if the crust has cooled at least slightly.)

Pour melted caramel mixture over the crust and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Crumble the rest of the crust mixture over the top and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Weeknight Bolognese November 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:04 am

I saw this a few weeks ago on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, and it came to mind one night when I got home from work and was feeling uninspired (and more than a bit tired).  It truly is a good weeknight recipe, as like many of Ina’s recipes it has relatively few ingredients.  It went together quickly and smelled great.  I will warn you that if you follow the original recipe, you may find it overpoweringly pepper-y, or at least my husband and I did.  I double-checked and the recipe does call for one and a half teaspoons of black pepper, which to me was too much.  Adjusted, I think this would be a fabulous recipe for a quick bolognese.

Recipe Courtesy Of: Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten

Recipe Located Online At:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/weeknight-bolognese-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (didn’t have any, so I blended a bit of lowfat cottage cheese with milk to thicken it up)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper (I would try 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon), stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars November 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 6:41 pm

Another recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats…I thought this was a good fall/Halloween combination, both flavor-wise and because of the almost orange and almost black color combination.  I opted to make bars instead of the mini cheesecakes Annie made on her blog, because I was nervous about getting the mini cheesecakes to come out cleanly, and I only have a regular muffin pan, not a mini ones.  I wound up topping the bars with crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups (leftovers from Halloween) as opposed to the chocolate ganache (although that looks delicious and I might need to try it sometime).  Because I had a box of chocolate graham crackers on hand that needed to be used up, I made a chocolate graham cracker crust instead of an Oreo crust.  Although these aren’t 100% true to the original recipe, they are fabulous.  Definitely a winning recipe if you are a fan of chocolate and peanut butter!

Original Recipe Courtesy Of: Annie’s Eats

Recipe Located Online At:

http://www.annies-eats.com/2010/12/27/mini-peanut-butter-chocolate-cheesecakes/

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 package (8 whole crackers) chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the cheesecake:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • Dash vanilla extract
  • Pinch of coarse salt

For the topping:

  • 5 Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8 by 8 pan with two pieces of parchment paper (if you leave enough over the sides each way, you can easily lift the paper out and put the cheesecake onto a cutting board to cut the bars).  To make the crust, combine the chocolate graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a small bowl.  Mix with a fork until evenly blended.  Press the crumb mixture into a flat layer on the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly (I started the cheesecake mixture while the crust was in the oven and the timing worked fine).

Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚ F.  To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well blended.  Add in the sugar and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute more, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the egg and egg yolk, vanilla and salt.  Continue to beat until the mixture is completely smooth.  Spread mixture evenly over the crust and smooth the top slightly.

Scatter chopped Reese’s cups over the top.

Bake just until set, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.  Once completely cool, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill thoroughly, at least 3 hours.

Once chilled, pull the cheesecake out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board, slice into bars and enjoy!

I went ahead and typed up the directions according to what I did…for the original recipe, go to Annie’s Eats.