Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hand Pressed Granola Bars....

How about a healthy snack to eat throughout the week? This recipe contains only natural sugars and is robust with flavors. And best of all, its hardiness will hold you through to your next meal. Don't be intimidated, you will be thrilled with how easy they are to make.

Hand Pressed Granola Bars
Author: Brenna Bowers
Serving: 12 bars, 13x9 inch metal baking pan with a lip

2 cups quick oats
1 ½ cups chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts*, or your preference)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup dried berries
½ cup oat bran (or wheat germ)
3 Tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup real maple syrup
2 Tablespoons dark molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a baking sheet, evenly spread the quick oats, walnuts, almonds and shredded coconut (hazelnuts must be toasted separately*). Bake for 8 minutes just to roast and slightly extract the flavors and oils). Remove from the oven and place in a large mixing bowl. (Add in the hazelnuts.) Also in the mixing bowl, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, dried berries and oat bran. Mix all the dry ingredients until well tossed.

Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a 13x9 inch metal baking pan that has a lip with parchment paper and then spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a small sauce pan combine the butter, honey, maple syrup and molasses. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook one minute while stirring and then remove from the heat to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour the slightly cooled honey-maple mixture into the dry ingredients. Toss until the mixture is even. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

Wrap your fingers in plastic wrap. Spray lightly with cooking spray—this will help the mixture not stick to your hands. Pack down the mixture by pressing with your fingers.

Bake in the 300 degree F. oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool at least 3 hours before cutting into 12 even bars.

Wrap in wax/parchment paper or place in an airtight container lined with wax/parchment paper.

*Untoasted hazelnuts have an outer skin on them that does not taste or feel good in your mouth. Bake the whole hazelnuts on their own sheet pan. One baked at 350 degrees F. for 8 minutes, and while still hot place them into a hand towel and rub them together to remove their skin. Chop the hazelnuts and use as directed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Love Filled New York Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Hearts....

How about something special for those you love?! And if they didn't love you before, they are bound to love you now! :)

This particular cheesecake was made for the birthday of someone special to me, Mr. Rose--Happy Birthday!!!!

New York Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Hearts

This cheesecake makes a statement in its flavor and presentation.

Evenly smooth out the sour cream-lemon curd topping.

Evenly place raspberry dots using a piping bag and tip.

All you need is a piping bag, small round piping tip and a toothpick

Drag the toothpick in a circular motion, NEVER stop and pick back up!

 Heart Decorated Cheesecake
New York Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Hearts
Author: Brenna Bowers

An easy way to decorate without skimping on the 'WOW' factor!

1/4 cup frozen raspberries
4 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Homemade New York Cheesecake, chilled (my favorite author:America's Test Kitchen)
1/2 cup lemon curd (my favorite brand: Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Extra tools: fine strainer, piping bag, small round piping tip, toothpick

In a small sauce pot on low heat , stir the raspberries, orange juice and sugar. Allow to simmer very low and slow for 10-15 minutes. (The mixture should become thicker than liquid but thinner than jam.) Cook longer or add a splash more orange juice if the consistency is not correct. Discard the seeds by passing the hot mixture through a fine strainer using a spatula. Allow to cool. Place into the piping bag with a piping tip. 

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and lemon curd. Spread onto the cooled cheesecake. Spread evenly with a spatula or back of a large spoon staring at the outer-edge of the cheesecake (spin the plate rather than your arm for perfect rings). 

Pipe dots (smaller than the size of a chocolate chip) evenly spaced in a spiral until the entire cheesecake is covered. 

Beginning with the dot on the outer most edge, drag a toothpick through each dot. NEVER PICK UP the toothpick unless you have drug the point through the end of the last dot.