Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shara's Oatmeal Bars

What a excellent day :D

1.  I got to sleep in!!
2.  I got to spend some time with my bestie...I really needed some girl time!
3.  I got to take a nap!
4.  The kiddos played really well together!
5.  We had homemade pizza!
6.  I got to make one of my favorite cookie bars for our Pizza with the Pastors Lunch tomorrow!

The only downer of the day was that Mike and I were supposed to go out on a date tonight.  And technically, we still could have gone, but both agreed it was for the best.  He'll be preaching tomorrow because our Sr. Pastor is under the weather, and we felt the time would be better spent on him preparing.  Oh well!  Thank goodness we made plans in advance for an early Valentine's date 2 weeks from now! :D

Here's those yummy bars:

Shara's Oatmeal Bars
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 c flour
3 c quick oats
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10x15 or half-sheet baking pan (13x18).  Combine sugar, brown sugar, and oil in mixer.  Mix well.  Add eggs and vanilla and make sure everything is combined well.  Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour and oats.  Combine again.  Lastly, add in chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.  Dough will be very sticky and thick.  Spread dough out into pan.  Dough will seem too stiff, but just keep working it out to the edges.  It really puffs up during baking!  Bake for 15 minutes or just until edges begin to brown.  Cool completely before cutting.

And I'm just throwin' this pic in because he's just so darn cute...I mean, look at those lil' freckles!  After his shower tonight, he went and fixed his hair all by himself.  He's already turning into a metro like his daddy :D  I had to hurry & snap this pic before he put his ninja mask on to take on Cader & Daddy....LOL

Friday, January 22, 2010

Potato Wedges

We finally had the pulled pork barbeque sandwiches tonight!  We were supposed to have them Wednesday, but well, that didn't happen.  I served them with pasta salad and potato wedges.  Mike told me tonight that everything was really good, but the potatoes were "the money" (in the words of Guy Fieri - Food Network chef with crazy white pointy hair and host of one of our fav shows, Diner's Drive-Ins, & Dives).  So, I decided to put up this recipe tonight.

Potato Wedges
3 medium potatoes
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Shara's House Seasoning (see below for recipe)
2 Tbsp dry ranch mix (or half a package)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Wash and cut potatoes into desired length and thickness (I cut mine about 2 inches in length by about 1/2 in thick, but there was no real measurement!!  I didn't get my ruler out or  In a medium bowl, mix the oil, house seasoning, and ranch.  Add potatoes and stir to coat.  Dump potatoes onto baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 25-35 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes) or until fork tender.  If potatoes are not browned and crispy, switch oven to Broil and bake until desired crispiness.

Shara's House Seasoning
1/2 c salt
2 Tbsp black pepper
3 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp onion powder

Mix well and use in place of regular salt & pepper :D

I also baked up a few Oatmeal Cookies because our dear friend, Chuck and his lovely new bride, Andrea, came over for a short visit after dinner.  Chuck said, "I always make room for Shara's Cookies!"  He got "brownie" points for that!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Country Stew

It's a dreary, cold day outside, and since we had pizza last night, tonight was Parent's Choice.  What did we choose?  Stew & sandwiches.  I'll be using the pork roast I cooked up yesterday in my crockpot.  I also baked up a couple of loaves of French Bread.

Country Stew
6 c water
2 Tbsp beef bouillon (or 6 cubes)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/4 c cornstarch
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 lg carrots, peeled and diced
1 can green beans, undrained
1 c frozen peas
4 c cooked roast (pork or beef)

Place all your ingredients except cornstarch in your crockpot and cover.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  In the last hour, mix your cornstarch with about 1/4 of broth from crockpot to make a slurry.  Pour back into stew and mix well.  Continue to cook for the last hour or until all veggies are tender.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ranch Vinaigrette

Soooo, it's been one of those days.  You know the kind, where everything just seems to not go the way you want it and to top it off, you have a headache all day.  Yeah, well, I woke up with the headache, then realized I forgot to put my pork roast in the crockpot last night; decided to pop it in the microwave just to defrost it enough so that it would be ready by dinner, but my microwave quit working (it's 12 years old - I knew it was gonna happen soon, but wasn't happy it happened this morning).  Kinda just went down hill from there, and Mike (my fabulous, fantastic, wonderful hubby) picked up some pizza for us on his way home tonight.  So, my pulled pork sandwiches will be for tomorrow night, I guess :D

I wanted to share this homemade dressing with you and I'll be honest, the basis of this recipe came from my Momma.  Now, SHE is an amazing cook...I dream to be like her someday :D

If you love ranch dressing but you're looking for something lower in calories (a long time ago, I figured it out to be 63 calories for 2 Tbsp) or maybe you just like tangy vinaigrettes rather than creamy dressings, then you've got to give this a try.  It's my favorite!

Ranch Vinaigrette
1 c vinegar
1/2 c oil
1/4 c water
1 pkg dry ranch mix

Add all ingredients to a jar.  Cover and shake well.  Store in refrigerator.  It will separate while in fridge, so be sure to shake well before using.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ciabatta Change

Change - is a difficult thing for me, most of the time.  I like changing stuff around on my computer, aka blog (as you've probably noticed...I'm just trying to get it to look just right - my perfectionism at it's best); I like changing the furniture around in our house; I like changing up recipes.  But when it comes to big life stuff, I don't handle it so well (friends changing or moving, changes at church, someone else changing my stuff impulsively). However, I'm not one of those kinds that fights it kicking and screaming...just more like sulking and crying :D  I also know from experience that it is a necessary process, for growing, for becoming more mature, for gaining wisdom, for becoming the woman God that wants me to be.

Last summer, we noticed a cocoon on the outside of our garage.  It was super cool.  Everyday we'd check on it.  It went from a vibrant green color to black.  At one point, I wasn't even for sure that it was a cocoon.  But then one day it looked like this:

I could actually see the print of the butterfly.  And by the end of the day it looked like this:

Leave it to God to teach us about patience, change, endurance, beauty through a tiny little butterfly.

So what does this have to do with food?!  Tonight is pasta night and I wanted to make Ciabatta bread to go with it.  I've never made this bread b/c of the length of time it takes.  It begins with a starter that has to proof for at least 8 hours, then mixes with some more ingredients and it changes.  Then proofs again for another 2 hours, and it changes again.  Then you shape it and it proofs one more time - for another hour.  However, the outcome from the patience and changing process is beauty:

The length of time is what gives the bread such a deep flavor and the awesome airy pockets in the texture.

God knew what He was doing with nature, with the science of this delicious Ciabatta bread, and He knows what He's doing with me.

Just for my benefit, I'm gonna repeat that last part...He knows what He's doing with me.

Ciabatta Bread
1 1/2 c flour
1 c cool water
1/16 tsp instant yeast
all of the starter
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp dry milk
1/4 c lukewarm water
2 Tbsp olive oil

For Starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Cover the starter and let it rest at room temperature at least 8 hours, overnight, or for up to 15 hours. It will become bubbly.

Place all of the dough ingredients, including the starter, into the bowl of your mixer, and beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 7 minutes. The dough will be very smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic. (it will even look a little runny - if it doesn't, add 1-2 Tbsp water).   Transfer dough to a greased bowl or other rising container, cover it, and let it rise for 1 hour, deflate it and rise another hour.  Grease your large baking sheet and grease your hands. Transfer dough onto pan and split in two parts, using your hands or a tool of your choice.  Do this very gently as you don't want to deflate it. It'll lose a bit of volume, but don't actively punch it down. Shape into 2 logs.  Let rise for another 45 minutes - 1 hour.  Halfway through, dimple the top with your fingers (this means, just poke it a few times - lol)  Towards the end of this rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spritz the loaves with water.  Some of the dimples should have disappeared by this time.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  This bread is perfect with pasta, made into garlic toast, used for making sub sandwiches.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Well, tonight was Mexican Night and we had Chalupas.  This meat is fantastic on a tortilla like in my picture, or even just topped with a little sour cream and salsa and used as a dip. It's wonderful and delicious and makes a ton and freezes well. It's an all around great dish to make!

2 lbs pork roast 
2 Tbsp chili powder 
2 Tbsp garlic powder 
2 tsp oregano 
2 Tbsp cumin 
1 Tbsp vinegar 
1 Tbsp salt 
pepper to taste 
1-2 lbs dry pinto beans, rinsed

Place all ingredients in a crockpot.  Cover with water and cook on high until roast is tender and beans are tender, at least 8 hours. Break up roast with fork and serve with flour tortillas or nacho chips.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shara's Oatmeal Cookies

Oh, how I love oatmeal cookies. The earthy cinnamon and oats, the chocolatey goodness of the slightly melted chocolate chips....mmmmm. This recipe is my collision of an old recipe that my maternal grandmother makes and another recipe I found on the internet. They're soft, chewy, cinnamony, chocolatey, yummy. Which is why I HAD to make them this afternoon! :D

Shara's Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/2 c butter flavored shortenting
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c flour
3 c quick oats
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, butter flavored shortening, brown sugar, sugar, and pudding mix. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake. Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Make sure you eat a few right away, because they don't last long!