Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

I found this as a follower of Polly, Julie, and Julia on Facebook (who now blogs here). My first thought was that someone did this accidentally once and realized it was a super happy accident.

My second thought was "hey, an 8 inch square? I'll double this and make a 9 x 13."

People. Learn from my foolishness. Unless you have GIANT pots or bowls in your kitchen, stick with one batch of these at a time. I ended up kind of "kneading" my marshmallow/butter mixture together with the cereal in the 9 x 13 pan while my daughter and dog happily ate whatever fell over the side/onto the floor.

This is such an easy tweak to the classic recipe and is really worth the effort for the depth of flavor.

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter
10 ounces mini marshmallows (when I doubled the bag had 16 oz and so that's what I used)
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (plus extra for sprinkling)
6 cups Rice Krispy cereal (6 ounces)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan. Again, do NOT TRY TO DOUBLE THIS unless you have a SERIOUSLY GIANT POT for the butter/marshmallow, cereal mixing.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute. This took longer than I expected, but it really did go from golden to brown quickly. My butter foamed up (perhaps I was stirring too much) around the time it turned brown, so it took me a while to get a good look at it. It smells divine!

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan, pressing firmly and evenly into the edges and corners (I use a sheet of wax paper to make this easier, or you can butter or spray your hands with nonstick spray). This will make fairly "tall" squares.

Let cool and then cut into squares. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

These are seriously delicious. The next time you are making rice krispy treats, try this variation and see if your "customers" notice the richer, delicious flavor.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Olive Cheese Bread

This is from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, which is a lovely book filled with all sorts of not-at-all lowfat foods that are delicious.

I suggest you make a rule for yourself regarding this bread. My rule is that I can only make it when I'm not at home. It is strictly reserved for vacations, because it is so good, but so bad for you, and once you try it you will have to force yourself to stop eating it.


But if you do make it at home, don't say I didn't warn you.

1 14.5 oz can black olives, drained
1 6-oz jar pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained
2 green onions
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise (real mayo, no substitutions)
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 loaf crusty French bread.

Preheat the oven to 325.

Chop the olives roughly until most of the large pieces are broken up. Slice the green onions, then chop them roughly.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, mayo, cheese, and chopped olives and onions. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Slice the French bread loaf in half lengthwise and spread olive-cheese mixture in an even layer on each half.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese mixture is thoroughly melting and beginning to turn light brown.

Cut into diagonal slices and serve immediately.

Or take into closet and eat them yourself.

You can prepare the olive/cheese mixture up to 2 days ahead of time and store it tightly covered in the fridge, or spread it on the bread and freeze, tightly wrapped, up to 6 months (thaw before baking).

She also says the cheese mixture is good on crackers and that you can sub drained, chopped artichoke hearts and grated Parmesan cheese for the black olives and Monterey Jack cheese.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Green Beans Parmesan

Green bean casserole is awesome, but it's also a caloric/fat nightmare and full of sodium. This recipe is from a Jenny Craig cookbook, and I actually prefer it to traditional green bean casserole made with a can of soup and french-fried onions. It is lightest as written, but I usually use real butter (and sometimes more than it calls for) and more shallots. Just watch the beans or they'll get too mushy.

2 tsp reduced calorie margarine (or you could just use butter)
2 large shallots, sliced and separated into rings
1 lb fresh green beans
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese

1. Melt margarine/butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook 20 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

Wash beans and remove ends. Place beans, chicken broth, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12-14 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain beans and stir in shallots. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with cheese.

As recipe is written: 4 servings, 67 calories per serving (8.8 g carbs, 3.9 g protein, 2.6 g fat, 2.3 g fiber, 2 mg cholesterol, 171 mg sodium, exchange=2 veg, 2 WW pts).