Friday, September 30, 2011

End of Summer Tabouleh

The other day I was at Publix and I got to try one of their Apron Simple Meals and I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. It was a panko crusted chicken with spiced carrots and rice. I had just stopped in to pick up something quick and was actually on my way to meet a friend, so I didn't think anything more about it until it was approaching dinner time that night. Stumped for a good meal idea, I remembered that chicken and went back up to Publix to get the recipe, and the ingredients. The only not so good part of the meal was the boil in the bag rice on the side, I knew I could do better. Inspired by the hummus coasted chicken (more on that later) I decided to do a Mediterranean flavored tabouleh using up some of my end of summer produce - cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. This is what I came up with.

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1 5.25oz box tabouleh (I used Near East Taboule)
1 c boiling water
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 c diced heirloom tomatoes
1 c diced cucumber
1/3 c crumbled feta
1/3 c sliced kalamata olives
1/3 c chopped parsley
1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
1 tbs chopped fresh mint
slat & pepper to taste

Put tabouleh in a large bowl, stir in boiling water, then cover and let stand 30 minutes. Meanwhile chop/slice/measure the rest of the ingredients.

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When 30 minutes has passed, first add the olive oil and lemon juice. Then stir in the tomatoes and cucumbers. Lastly gently fold in the feta, olives and herbs. If you mix the feta too much it can make the salad look milky.

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This salad is best enjoyed at room temperature, but it is also tasty straight from the refrigerator and is even better the next day. Enjoy!

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pecan-Chocolate Bars

As I've posted about before, my mom and I have a tradition of hosting an annual cookie exchange before Christmas. My cookies this year were from Fine Cooking's Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More special holiday issue and they are called Pecan-Chocolate Bars. I personally don't find the chocolate flavor to be very noticeable, so I have re-christened them Pecan Pie Bars, and they are really excellent! They are also easy to make and freeze beautifully. Please let me know if you bake them and like them as much as I do =)

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For the cookie base:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
2 oz. finely grated bittersweet chocolate (a scant 1/2 cup)

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For the pecan topping:
10 oz. pecans (3 cups), toasted
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. table salt

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Make the cookie base: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Put the butter in a food processor, along with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until the mixture is well combined (about 20 pulses). Scatter the dough into a 9x9-inch baking pan and press it evenly over the bottom. (Wipe out the processor bowl but don’t bother washing it.) Bake the base until firm and lightly browned, about 25 min. When the cookie base comes out of the oven, sprinkle the grated chocolate evenly over the top. (Don’t turn off the oven.) Set the pan aside.

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Make the pecan topping: As the cookie base bakes, pulse the pecans in the food processor until coarsely chopped. In a medium-size heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the dark brown sugar, honey, cream, and salt. Simmer for 1 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in the pecans. Pour the pecan mixture over the chocolate-sprinkled cookie base, spreading evenly. Bake until much of the filling is bubbling (not just the edges), 16 to 18 min. Let cool completely in the pan. When ready to serve, cut into 16 squares. Tightly covered, these bars will keep for about five days (though they never last that long).

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The recipe above is straight from Fine Cooking, however, I made two minor modifications. I also used the food processor to grate the chocolate, no point dirtying another dish ;) and I toasted my pecans in the oven while the base was baking, it only took about 5 minutes. I also want to thank both Cooking With Caitlin's foodie chat #FNIchat and Fine Cooking for my gorgeous red KitchenAid food processor, it is completely indispensable and I don't know how I ever lived without it!

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