Brownsugar Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal cookie crumbles What you see here is basically Jennie Craig’s worst nightmare.  No joke.

I was feeling a little blue yesterday so I decided to take a page out of Weight Watcher’s Therapy packet and bake.  (That was another joke in case you didn’t realize.)

What is the better antidote to despair: alcohol or cookies?  For a 9:00 am remedy I think I made the better choice.

I hopped onto the Pioneer Woman’s blog as I knew Ree wouldn’t let me down.  My friends, Ree did not let me down.

As a Midwestern born girl and as someone who is theoretically opposed to baking, rather than bake cookies I schlopped all the dough onto my cookie sheet with a high lip and baked bars.  Usually I just add a little time and keep checking back (to me this is more palatable than scooping little balls onto multiple sheets, repeat, repeat, repeat…)  I’m not sure why, but I think these bars took about 45 minutes to finally finish.  I reset that timer for 5 more minutes so many times I lost count…

I like bars also because they can be cut into small little rectangles that I freeze and place into my three kiddo’s echo-friendly containers for lunch at school.  Healthy foods are the foundation of my meal planning, yes.  But everyone wants a little something sweet after their veggies and I like to be able to control the ingredients.  “Breaking the rules” is part of living a balanced life and this way I can use real foods!

So, it’s up to you, follow the Pioneer Woman’s making instructions for cookies (predictable) or go crazy and make bars (for who knows how long) like me.  Either way please be careful.  The crumbs you see in my hand, above, are the only morsels I’m allowing myself to eat (today.)  The rest of the bars are frozen and out of sight.  Dangerous I tell ‘ya.

Pioneer Woman Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients: 1 cup salted butter (softened), 2 cups packed dark brown sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flower, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 3 cups old fashioned oats

Michelle’s Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Throw everything in a bowl and mix. Place balls onto cookie sheet for 12 0r so minutes if you want cookies.  Put the whole lot on the sheet and bake for, uh… a 45 minutes…? if you want delectable bars.

Ree’s Directions: check out the Pioneer Woman blog.  She takes her baking more seriously than I (everyone does) and follows a more methodical step-by-step type situation.  If you’re more like Ree we can still be friends!

Personal message to Ree which she’ll never even see: Thanks girlfriend!  I needed that!

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Real Time Teriyaki Turkey Sandwiches

teriyaki sandwich done

So I still have leftover turkey (can I get an “Amen, sista!”) and by “real time” I mean that I am, in fact, making these sandwiches right now.  it is 10:30 in the morning and if you think this is a strange time to be making dinner, you obviously haven’t attended my Meal Planning 101 Workshop. 🙂

Teriyaki Sandwiches (could also be made with chicken, pork or beef but I got turkey so there)

Ingredients: 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 diced stalks of celery, 1/2 diced med. onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 diced bell pepper, diced left over turkey, 2-3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2-3 tbsp. soy sauce, 1/4 cup or so brown sugar.

Directions: Place oil and onion on stove top and cook at med/high heat till onions turn a bit translucent (about 5 mins.)  Add celery, garlic, bell pepper.  Mix and let simmer until the other veggies begin to soften (another 5 or so mins.)  Then add 2 tbsp. vinegar and soy sauce and most of the brown sugar.  Mix, cover and set heat on low so the veggies can really cook down and soak up all that yummy sauce.

When veggies are cooked, add your diced meat, stir and heat for a few minutes.  Taste and add soy sauce, vinegar or brown sugar as needed.

I was feeling very snappy whilst simmering away this morning, so if you are a visual learner, here are some photos for you:

teriyaki sandwich 1 Here are the veggies getting started.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

teriyaki sandwich 3 And here are our veggie friends after they’ve been reduced a bit and tossed together with the meat.  I wish you could smell this photo…

teriyaki sauce Finally, these are my good friends, teriyaki sauce ingredients (aka: brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.)  For a simple teriyaki sauce situation I use the the 2-3 tbsp. soy/vinegar plus a 1/4 cup loose packed brown sugar, then adjust to taste.  If I need more liquid–like if I’m making stir fry over udon noodles or something like that–I sometimes toss in a splash of orange juice or a little meat broth.

I plan to serve these guys on whole wheat buns for dinner, but it would be also be delicious on rice or a baked potato!

Beauty and the Beasties… Michelle’s Fruit Crisp!

nectarine

(keep reading for a great summer fruit dessert recipe below!)

Beautiful.  And funny looking–just like nature intended.  Perfectly ripe white nectarines make my mouth and heart smile.

All the stone fruits are in coming into season at my local farmer’s market.  White nectarines are my personal fave right now.  They taste milder than yellow nectarines, but–and at the risk of sounding like a cheesy poet–I appreciate their more delicate and subtle taste.  There.  I said it.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to hit a farmer’s market on a weekly basis, but if you enjoy good fruit, I highly recommend hitting one at least once this summer.  In Southern California, in the summer, you will not be disappointed with this experience.  (If you are please let me know and so that I may rethink my entire existence.)

Prices for stone fruits right now range from 2.00-2.50/lb. which is not much different from the regular market.  You can also find the “seconds” bins where the less attractive fruits find a place to rest before being snatched up for, often, 80 cents a pound!

80 cents a pound right now bought me a whole slew of some “beasties,” aka: not so purty apricots.  No problemo.  Josie and I made our absolute favorite summer dessert, which we have aptly titled cheap fruit crisp.

Cheap Fruit Crisp (as the name implies, this can be made with a variety of stone fruits.  This time was apricots.)

Ingredients: 3 cups apricots, diced, 1/4 cup cup flour, 2-3 tbsp. sugar, few healthy shakes cinnamon, 1 cup raw oats, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, few pads of butter

Directions: toss the fruit with flour, cinnamon and sugar.  Spread in a baking dish like this:

fruit crisp step 2

Sprinkle oats, then brown sugar on top.  Add a few pads of butter like this:

fruit crisp step 3

Bake at 350 for 30 or so minutes, or until fruit is cooked to your liking.  When it’s done it should look divine (like this:)

fruit crisp baked

Tips: We love our cheap-fruit crisp served fresh and warm with a scoop of ice-cream on top.  Not only did this whole entire delicious concoction cost me, like, less than 4 bucks to make (no joke)… it’s also much healthier than a pie or cobbler which contains all that yummy–and fattening–crust.  Took about 10 minutes to whip it up and clean up too.  Great with apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines… buy the cheap ones with bad spots.  Why not?

If you’re trying to make use of bland fruit, add a splash of lemon juice to the first step.

Final tip: Near the end of the summer, I like to make one of these and put it way back in my extra freezer.  Then, when fall is in full swing and we begin to miss our sweet stone fruits, I toss the crisp in the oven and wah-lah!  A summer memory ready to gobble up!

Josie helped me record the recipe… Of course I generally eye-ball everything, but for the purposes of spreadin’ the love, we thought we’d better write it down.

Josie's fruit crisp recipe

The “Joye” of Cooking

teriyaki chicken

So I’ve been sorta-kinda posting on MWF (OK, technically this is only my second week with that schedule, but must we split hairs?)   Today, in case you’re not aware, is Thursday, but last night my girlfriend, Joye, found out about a chicken dish I was preparing.  She said it sound delicious and couldn’t wait to see the recipe.

Apparently flattery will get you everywhere with me ‘cuz here you go (Joye!)

Michelle’s  Very Own Hawaiian-Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients:
Whole cut-up (organic if you like) chicken
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
tsp. garlic powder

Directions:
Set oven at 350 degrees.  Pour soy sauce and garlic powder in the bottom of a baking pan.  Place chicken upside down to coat with sauce/powder mixture and then flip over.  Pour pineapple over chicken.  Add a shake of garlic powder over top.  Crumble brown sugar over top of pineapple and then drizzle with vinegar.  Bake uncovered for one hour or until done.   Broil top for a couple of minutes to create a nice crusted glaze over top of chicken.

Tips: you can use whatever chicken you have around (thighs, breasts, whatever.)  Brown sugar, soy sauce and vinegar measurements can be adjusted for smaller quantities, in fact I don’t even measure, just sorta eye-ball and pour until it looks right.  You want about a quarter inch of liquid in the pan when it cooks.  Add a dash of orange (or pineapple) juice if there isn’t enough.  The sauce from the meat tastes super-yum over steamed brown rice…  Oh, and you can substitute cubed or round-cut pineapple, just drain some of the extra juice before pouring.

Bonus Tip: The best thing about this recipe is that I always have the ingredients on hand and can whip it up in a NY minute.  And, yes, the title of this post was a no-brainer. 🙂

p.s. (geeze, shut up already, Michelle!) this recipe is also posted on the “meat” section of my recipe page.  OK.  I’m done.  For real.