Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

Raspberry Oatmeal BarsBelly Up To The Bar
I am probably the least OCD person you could meet…and all you have to do is look at my office for proof. I am very much a visual learner. So, if I can’t see it, I forget about it. This means I have stacks of important stuff in various piles on my desk. I also have some similar stacks at home. It drives my very tidy husband bananas. If there is one area where I am a bit compulsive though, it would be school lunches.

I make my kids lunch every morning because the thought of them buying what passes for lunch at school makes me cringe. The good news is they would prefer to not buy their lunch. So, that battle is avoided. I have a strict formula. And, if I run out of one of the components, and am forced to send them without it, I develop a tick. I got issues, man.

The formula goes something like this:
There will always be a main component in either the form of a protein-filled sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner. (My daughter is the queen of leftovers.) There will always be a bottle of water and fresh fruit. A snack item is essential in the form of some pretzels, crackers or maybe some nuts. And, last but not least, lunch must always have a little something sweet at the end.

That last component serves two purposes. First, it’s a nice to get a little treat during the day. And second, I can use it as an excuse to randomly make yummy things. Why, as a mature adult, would I need an excuse you may ask? Because I can enjoy the occasional cookie—but my husband has no self-control. When it comes to home-baked goodness, he will eat them by the dozen. If I tell him that they are for lunches though, he is able to stifle his inner cookie monster. (Most of the time…sometimes I gotta sacrifice a handful to the cookie gods because, and I quote, “he is concerned that I may be poisoning the children and would sacrifice himself for their health and welfare”. Way to take one for the team, babe.)

I made these Raspberry Oatmeal Bars over the weekend “to put in the kid’s lunches”. The flavors really remind me of fall. The brightness of the raspberry jam will make you smile and I think we could all use a few more smiles these days…

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Makes 16 to 24 bars (depending on how you cut them) Read more…

Amy’s Fresh Corn Salad

Amy’s Fresh Corn SaladYellow Gold
The season of corn is upon us and that makes me very happy. We just got our local Brentwood corn in the store which means it is now officially summer.

I will admit that I am a corn snob. I only eat it during the “corn months” (June-August/September or so) which means for 8-9 months out of the year you will not see corn in my house. Sure, I will occasionally use frozen corn in recipes when it is called for. But, eating straight-up frozen or canned corn? Nope. Can’t do it. Please understand there is nothing wrong with frozen or canned corn. I’m just a corn snob.

With this in mind I have a tendency to go kinda corn crazy because the window of opportunity is short. Fresh steamed corn on the cob is by far and away my favorite way to consume this warm weather treat. You just can’t top the flavor of super-sweet fresh corn with melted butter. Doesn’t mean that’s the only way I will eat it, though. There are so many other ways to enjoy it.

This Ina recipe for Confetti Corn is great for a backyard BBQ or Potluck. And, for something totally different there’s this Corn Pie. Every summer, I try to find a new way to enjoy corn. So, I developed this recipe for Amy’s Fresh Corn Salad.

Bonus: It’s also a good way to eat your ripe garden tomatoes….

Amy’s Fresh Corn Salad
This salad is a perfect dinner side for a hot night and also good as lunch the next day.
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Egg Sandwiches

Egg SandwichesChicken And The Egg
As a family, we have reached that stage where making scrambled eggs means using at least a dozen. Usually more. (I have teenage boys.)The good news is that because we have chickens, we always have fresh eggs around. Until we don’t…

If it’s 6 AM on Saturday morning and everyone is awake, chances are I am at the stove making egg sandwiches to go because we are heading to some sort of event—baseball, softball, volleyball, music. And, nothing is as portable or easy to eat in the car than an egg sandwich. This past Saturday, though, tragedy struck.

There are 5 people in our family. We had 4 eggs in the fridge. This almost never happens. With 6 chickens and a busy weekday schedule we normally have way more than we need. But, see, we have that busy weekday schedule and sometimes pancakes and eggs for dinner is the fastest way to feed a hungry crowd. Yeah, that was Wednesday night…Remember what I said about the scrambled eggs?

So while the kids were getting dressed and putting their gear together, I was pacing the kitchen floor like some expectant parent anxiously waiting for the telltale squawk from the back yard. I knew it was coming. I just needed some patience and more time which was in short supply. The girls are pretty regular layers and there is always at least one egg in the coop by the time we go to let them out in the morning. But, we were up a little earlier than normal. So, I was at the mercy of the flock clock.

Now, I get that this might weird some people out. There’s fresh and then there’s really fresh and some people are just more comfortable with a little more time distance between the chicken and the egg. I totally get it. But, I will tell you that if you ever get the chance to eat a really fresh egg you will no longer have that issue. There is that much of a difference and they are that tasty!

So, the girls came through in the end. After a rather vocal commotion in the coop, we had five sandwiches in hand, five butts in car seats heading down the highway, and a fight for the sandwich with the really fresh egg.

Egg Sandwiches
Here are two delicious version of egg sandwiches that make a fantastically quick meal. Of course, the variations are endless…you can play with the breads, cheeses, meats, veggies, and sauces. Your creativity is encouraged. Read more…

Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken

Bundt Pan Rotisserie ChickenTechnological Wonders
I had a plan to talk about Irish food this week—for obvious reasons—everyone is Irish this Friday.

That plan was blown out of the water by one of those ubiquitous cooking videos that pop up daily on my Facebook feed (sometimes hourly). Most of the time I kinda just glance at the video and move on to other things. Every so often, though, I spot that one video, and I drop everything to watch it. Because my mind is blown. (Or there is a lot of chocolate.) Today was one of those days. Total lightbulb moment…I’m still recovering.

If you’ve ever heard of Beer Can Chicken you will get why I was compelled to watch the video, and then immediately make the recipe. I mean it’s genius. Of course, this would be great, it’s Rotisserie Chicken in your home oven. Brilliant! And it looks weird which is always an excellent reason to make anything—if only to keep people guessing about your mad scientist cooking skills…

Adding this recipe to my weekly rotation was easy since we have roast chicken at least once a week. My only complaint is that you can only make one chicken at a time (unless you have two bundt pans). I like to use the second chicken as the base for some other meal later in the week. I know, first world problems!

Feel free to get wacky with the ingredients and the rub for the chicken. I left the carrots and onion out and went with all potatoes and then mixed a spicy dry rub with the olive oil and rubbed all over the chicken. That made for some tasty taters…

Have fun with this one!

Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken
Adapted from Delish

Ingredients
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 large bunches of fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 lb chicken (gizzards removed)
1 lemon, sliced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper Read more…

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers

Amy's Juicy Lucy BurgersBaseball Habit
When our kids first started to play little league, my husband and I swore we would not become those parents. You know who I am talking about. The almost obsessive, uber-involved people who live for game day, and volunteer for everything. We were convinced that would never be us. We were too laid back and easy going. No way would that happen to the two of us. Besides, we didn’t really even like baseball…

I’m not sure where it all went wrong. At first, it was just a little bit of tee ball a couple of nights a week. Just one or two innings here and there. No big deal. As the years went on, we found ourselves at the fields more and more often watching more and more innings. We just couldn’t get enough. It got so bad we even (gasp) starting watching baseball on TV! (Go Giants!)

Baseball was just the beginning, though. Softball came along and we were caught up in its tangled web of fast pitches. Now it’s to the point where our weekends are devoted to tournaments and our vacations are scheduled around potential plate appearances. I’ve even joined the league Board. We’re out of control. Can no one save us?

All kidding aside, this past weekend it was my pleasure to watch the sunrise at our fields as our league set up for our Annual Opening Day Parade and Ceremonies. Every year on Opening Day, the 1800 or so kids in our league and their parents gather to watch the teams parade through our city and end up at the fields where we are treated to a day of sunshine  (not always) and some great playing. It’s the one day of the year that you can bet that you will see literally everyone you know in the bleachers and it is a day that most of us look forward to with great anticipation.

It takes a lot to put something like that together, so dinners last week were not complicated. Friday night we had burgers ‘cause they are awesome. For me, I am all about the cheeseburger—the cheesier the better. This is why I am a big fan of Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers. (Juicy Lucy Burgers are a thing in Minnesota. You can Google it.)

If you have never tried your burgers this way, I highly recommend that you do. You may never go back to the ordinary cheese on top. This is one of the only times I will say that American Cheese is a must. But, mild or medium cheddar is an acceptable substitute.

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers
Serves 4

Read more…