Thursday, August 20, 2009

Warning: Crazy lady baking in 90+ degree weather

Yeah. That would be me.

I don't know what came over me the other day. We have had quite an odd summer in New England, a lot of rain, and the typical hot humid summer days only really began coming with frequency the past two weeks or so.

So the hot weather is finally here, we are struggling to keep our 1st floor of the house cool with one window a/c unit and what do I decide I would like to do? You got it: bake a batch of cookies!

In my defense, I only baked half a batch so it was 1 pan and done. Also I threw these right in when I started to preheat and adjusted the cooking time slightly to make up for it (it really was not a huge adjustment either). The urge could not be controlled and I'm glad it couldn't because these suckers came out GREAT!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S Cinnamon Chips
3/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons unto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. About 4 dozen.

BAR VARIATION: Spread batter into lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; cut into bars. About 3 dozen bars.

Bacon? Did you say bacon?

I just mentioned in my previous post that last week we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. Her boyfriend LOVES bacon, and, for the record - so does my husband. He says I don't make enough bacon. I, on the other hand, can take or leave bacon so he's probably right that I don't make it enough!

When I decided on a BBQ themed dinner, I thought cornbread was in order but then I thought about how to incorporate bacon into the meal as well. The beans in my previous post took care of that to an extent, but I figured I'd search for a bacon cornbread recipe just to mix things up. Lo and behold I found this incredibly quick & easy recipe which was a hit. Between the 4 of us all but 1 piece was eaten by the end of the night!

Cheese & Bacon Cornbread

1 package corn muffin mix (i.e., Jiffy)
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
6 slices crisply cooked and crumbled bacon
1 egg
Milk, as label directs

Empty corn muffin mix into a medium mixing bowl. Save about 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese and bacon for topping; stir remaining cheese and bacon into muffin mix. Mis in egg and milk, following label directions.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes; sprinkle reserved cheese and bacon over top and bake 10 minutes longer, or until cornbread browned and firm.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yes. I'm a slacker.

At least I admit it!!!

Summer 2009 has been a fairly busy one, not as busy as last summer when I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, a matron of honor in another - that meant 3 bridal showers, 2 bachelorette parties, 3 rehearsal nights. Oh and did I mention there were 3 baby showers last summer too?

This summer has been decidedly more quiet as far as "big events" like those go, but we've been consistently busy on the weekends. I've been sticking to a lot of tried and true recipes and other meals I just know how to make, but I have been trying new things here and there. The frequency of new recipes though, has definitely decreased as we've been on a tighter budget. I love to cook and bake, but it can get pricey. But make no mistake about it - I still love to cook and bake, I'm just trying to do it more frugally than before!

Anyway that's enough of my ramblings - now onto the recipe! Last week we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. I made a BBQ themed dinner - pulled pork, corn on the cob, cornbread, and baked beans.

The baked bean recipe below is a great "shortcut" recipe. It uses canned beans rather than dried ones which cuts down on a lot of prep time, and for the most part includes a lot of "run of the mill" ingredients you probably have in your house already. I left out the chipotle in this recipe and I know that probably takes out the "blazin'" part of this recipe. But it was a great recipe nonetheless!

Blazin' Baked Beans

1/4 pound finely diced bacon slices (raw)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
5 (16-ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (18-ounce) jar low-sodium barbecue sauce
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan, and set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes.
Combine bacon, onion, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon the bean mixture into a 13 x 9-inch or 2 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.