woodenspoons

Salted Caramel Sauce

I made a Pear Crisp the other day….first time ever. I wanted something kinda salty to add to it so I thought I’d throw this together and drizzle it on top. Quite honestly, they both were really tasty…but I thought there was too much sweet on one dessert (I know…how is that possible, right?) So….here is the recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce…it is amazingly yummy on ice cream…let me know if you would use it differently? (perhaps for apple-dipping?????)

This is the fast way to make your own salted caramel sauce!

This is the fast way to make your own salted caramel sauce!

This is the fast way to make Satled Caramel Sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce (fast and easy…and Make-Ahead)

1 stick of butter, room temp

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 C. heavy cream

1 Tbs vanilla

In a heavy pan, add the butter, salt and cream. Melt to combine on low heat. Once melted, turn heat to medium and bring it to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. (can be made ahead)

What did I love about this recipe? I love caramel. It is so rich! Add salt to it and the sweet-salty taste is killer!

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Well, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that it was just too much for the Pear Crisp I made. So…I would definitely make it again…just as more of a topping for ice cream or perhaps a thin layer on a cake of some sort.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

It is that crazy time of year again when people can’t get enough pumpkin! I know I am one of those people…and so are many of my friends! I like to try to make different pumpkin recipes this time of year…instead of the standard Pumpkin Pie. That, somehow, has to wait until Thanksgiving for me. BUT we still want the TASTE of pumpkin pie, don’t we? So, ENTER… THE PUMPKIN PIE BAR! Bars are always so easy to make, and this is no exception. This is my own version of the PPB…it has a pumpkin pie middle, but the crust on the bottom is kind of “oaty” and chewy! I hope you like it!

An oaty crust and a pumpkin pie middle...yummo

An oaty crust and a pumpkin pie middle…yummo

 

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Base:

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 c. oats

Pumpkin Layer:

2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar

15 ounces pumpkin

12 oz evaporated milk

1 Tbs maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 cup nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan with cooking spray (Pam).

In mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and cream until combined. Add the flour and oats and mix. Press into a 13 x 9 inch pan. (use your fingers…easier). Bake this for 5-10 minutes….I think I took mine out around 8 minutes…but you want it set but not browned.

While the crust is cooking. combine the Pumpkin Layer ingredients.Feel free to play with these combinations…add, omit, etc…use what you like.

After the crust is out of the oven, pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the crust and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool and serve …we like it plain, but you can pretty it up with  whipped cream or powdered sugar. Store in the ‘frig.

What did I love about this recipe? I love that it is easy and tasted like pumpkin pie. It is simple to serve, too.

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Nothing…I thought it was great!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay…so YES! I am guilty of yet another pumpkin recipe!  We had family for dinner last week. I was making a fruit dessert but Danny’s girlfriend isn’t a huge fan of fruit desserts…so I wanted to make her a little something sweet that she would like for dessert. I like making different desserts so…YIPPEE! (Plus Hayley has the same Pumpkin fetish that I have.)

ANYWAY…I was trying to make a gooey type cookie but these turned out more cake-like. BUT they are incredibly moist so they are perfect the way they are! I love the pumpkin and chocolate together and these are pumped up with plenty of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Hay liked them (I think she said she ate them for breakfast)!

(*notice that these say to chill the batter…makes it easy since you can make the batter then cook as needed or later in the day …or the next day!)

 

This is a moist, cake cookie with plenty of pumpkin flavor!

This is a moist, cake-like cookie with plenty of pumpkin flavor!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup veg oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 c. pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp milk

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups flour

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Combine the butter, oil, brown sugar, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, flour, and pumpkin pie spice. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and chill for up to two days…keeping covered.

When ready to bake…Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment. Scoop batter onto the pans with a cookie dough scooper or a spoon.  Bake for 12-13 minutes or until puffy and cooked through. Let cool on the pans for about 10 minutes then remove.

What did I love about this recipe? I loved that they were cake-like yet super moist. I love the cinnamon taste with the chocolate and the pumpkin. So festive!

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Nothing! Like I said, I was going for a chewy, wet cookie…this isn’t it…but it was a great mistake!

Asian Glazed Chicken Breasts

Friday night was a fun night here for our family here in Northern California. Our two older kids came to dinner with their bf/gf. It was another glorious outdoor dining night…probably our last of the year, sadly. I wanted to make a chicken recipe for the gang. Our daughter, Em, isn’t a HUGE chicken gal, but I knew that if I made it with an Asian-type of marinade that she would enjoy it. So…I did a whole lot of homework and decided on these ingredients to add to the recipe. It was quite good and was scent of the sauce brought everyone into the kitchen wondering, “Oooh…what is for dinner? That smells so goooood!” Of course, that was music to my ears…and I was so happy it turned out well.

This makes the house smell great!

This makes the house smell great!

Asian Glazed Chicken Breasts

1 cup rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs Honey

2/3 cup low salt soy sauce

1/4 cup sesame oil

3 Tbs Asian Chili garlic sauce

6 Tbs garlic, minced

salt

8 chicken breasts

1 tsp sesame seeds, roasted til golden

1/4 cup chopped green onion

Combine first 7 ingredients above. (vinegar through salt).

Marinate the chicken breasts in 1/2 of this marinade for about an hour (you can probably get away with longer than that, but that is how long I did mine) and put the remaining marinade in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let cook for 15-30 minutes and thickened and boiled down a bit.

When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade (toss the marinade) and grill the breasts on the grill until done. Be sure to baste the chicken with the cooked marinade at least one time. (I don’t do the grilling part, so I am not sure how long they take…you can also cook these in the oven)

Remove from grill and put on platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the green onion.

What did I love about this recipe? I love the way this made the house smell. Plus it tasted just like it smells…deeeeeLISH!

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Well, I guess that I had to buy a few of these ingredients especially for this recipe. No biggie…I will incorporate these into other recipes!

Hummus Bites

We decided to do a little last-minute end-of-the-driveway get together for our own entertainment while waiting for the little Trick Or Treaters and I wanted to put out a few snacks…but I wanted EASY! I saw something like this on Pintrest or Instagram or….??? I couldn’t remember what was in it so I just winged it and used what I had in the ‘frig. This took me, literally, 10 minutes to throw together. Isn’t it pretty? It tastes great too!

Super fast and easy way to make a pretty appetizer.

Super fast and easy way to make a pretty appetizer.

 

Hummus Bites

2 English Cucumbers, peeled (or you can leave some on for the pretty factor), sliced into 1/2″ rounds

Hummus (I bought 2 kinds at Costco…Mediteranean and Red Pepper)

Take a small spoon and hollow out the center of the cucumber slices, leaving a bit of cucumber on the bottom. Spoon some of the hummus into a small baggie and squish the hummus into the corner. Clip the corner of the bag and squeeze the hummus into the cukes.  Garnish with roasted pine nuts, sesame seeds or with whatever you like. (total cheat….I used the sauce and the pine nuts that were on top of the hummus when I bought it! )

What do I like about this recipe? EASY! EASY! EASY! Tasty too!

What didn’t I like about this recipe? Not one teeny thing.

Michael’s Scalloped Potatoes

I had a bunch of food in the house that I kind of wanted to use up…mainly potatoes and cheese…I need to stop buying these things at Costco because I end up with far too much! Well, my son will be happy about that because I doubled this recipe and made him one to bring back to college (post-Thanksgiving break). The boy loves scalloped potatoes.

These were super rich and creamy. You can use regular milk instead of the evaporated milk if you want them a bit looser…you can also choose the cheese of your choice. I just happened to have these cheeses in my frig…use what you have or like. I think next time I make these, I will saute up some diced onions to add in. I think that will add another dimension to this creamy concoction. What do you think? Add them or no?

 

One of Michael's favorites...

One of Michael’s favorites…

 

Michael’s Scalloped Potatoes

4 -6 cups thinly sliced Yukon Gold Potatoes

(I don’t peel mine because the skins on Yukon are so thin)

4 Tbs. flour

4 Tbs butter

1 -12 ounce can 2% evaporated milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1-2 tsp dried shallots/minced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cayenne

paprika (I used a blend of sweet, spicy and smoked)

1 cup plus 1/2 c. grated cheese, separated

(I used 1 cup 3-cheese blend and 1/2 grated Gruyère, combined)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish with butter or spray with baking spray.

In a small pan, melt 4 Tbs butter. Once melted, add the flour and let cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Now add the milk. Bring to a boil and stir with a whisk. Add the salt, pepper, shallots, garlic,nutmeg and cayenne. Allow to combine. While still warm, add 1 cup of the cheese and melt through, stirring. Once smooth, set aside.

Add half of the potatoes to the baking dish. Add half of the cheese sauce. Add the other half of the potatoes and top with the remaining cheese sauce and the remaining grated cheese.  Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for about an hour…til it is golden.

What did I love about this recipe? C’mon! It is potatoes and cheese…what isn’t to love??? (okay…it is a bit rich….)

What didn’t I love about this recipe?: It is super rich. It is super cheesy. If that is a reason not to love a recipe, then…there you go. (but, c’mon….!!!)

Shelly’s Steak Marinade

Hi Everyone! While most of the country is enjoying crisp autumn nights with the chill of winter around the corner, we have been blessed with some amazing weather as well…not quite what you would call “autumn temperatures, ” but lovely, nonetheless. Saturday night was a beautiful, warm evening with a bit of humidity in the air. Here in northern CA, a bit of humidity means it feels warmer…a special treat if it happens around dinner time because eating dinner outdoors becomes a no-brainer. That is exactly what we did. We had some friends over and ate dinner outdoors (without using the heater!). Hard to believe the end of October brought us such a treat! Fantastic!

I made steaks and marinated them in this marinade for about 8 hours. They were perfect and my hub, the master bbq’er, nailed the grilling!

(sorry no picture today…trust me, it’s yummy)

Shelly’s Steak Marinade

Combine the following:

1/4 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce

1 1/2 Tbs. garlic powder (not salt)

3 Tbs. dried basil

1 1/2 Tbs. dried parsley

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp hot sauce of your choice

Add marinade to marinating pan. I use a Tupperware marinating container, but you can use a 13 x 9 inch pan as well. Coat steaks with the marinade and let sit in frig, covered, for 6-12 hours before grilling.

What did I love about this marinade? I loved the taste of this marinade…balsamic and Dijon mustard are a few of my favorite products to cook with. They rarely lead you wrong…

What didn’t I love about this marinade? Nothing. It came together easily, had simple ingredients, and it tasted fantastic!

Chicken with Lemon and Garlic (aka Not Really Chicken Piccata)

….So it was requested that I make some chicken for the hubby. He doesn’t often request a particular food type, so I know when he does, that he really has a “hankering” for something. He didn’t ask for a particular type of chicken dinner either,(he is always so sweet when he says, “I know I will like whatever you make…”), but I had a few ideas.

My friend threw out the thought of Chicken Picatta…well that sounded good to me…but I didn’t really want to do the caper thing or a heavy flour/frying type of recipe, so I decided to basically a lighter version with a lot of the same ingredients. I hope you like it!

This is a nice, lemony chicken. Served over rice, it was especially good!

This is a nice, lemony chicken. Served over rice, it was especially good!

 

Chicken with Lemon and Garlic

 4-6  chicken breasts (pounded flat) or thighs

2 Tbs. e.v. olive oil

2 Tbs. butter

4 garlic cloves, minced

juice of one lemon

zest of one lemon

1/2 c. white wine

1/2 c. chicken stock (or broth)

1 tsp dried parsley

1 Tbs. chopped chives

lemon slices for garnish (optional)

Rinse then dry chicken with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Add the oil and butter to a pan then turn on to medium/medium-high heat. Once it is hot, add the chicken and do not move it until you turn it over, about 3 minutes. Flip it over and cook until golden and no longer pink in the middle. Don’t overcook. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover to keep warm.

To the pan, add the garlic. Stir and cook until fragrant (do not burn). Now add the lemon juice, zest, wine, stock  and parsley. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the chives and lemon slices.

I served this over jasmine rice and it was a great combination. The rice kind of soaked up some of the sauce so it was extra yummy!

What did I love about this recipe? Well, it was really lemony! We love lemon so it hit the spot! No complaints and lots of compliments from the Hub.

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Well, it comes together so quickly so be sure you don’t overcook the chicken!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Snickerdoodles


PHave you had enough Pumpkin Pie Spice yet? It seems like it is everywhere…in coffee, yogurt, cream cheese, ice cream, etc. Well, there is a great reason for that! BECAUSE IT TASTES GREAT!!!!!  So today I bring to you a delicious cookie to share this autumn. It is just a slight variation to the traditional Snickerdoodle. I just love the combination of the Pumpkin Pie spices every bit as much as plain cinnamon so I try to use it as often as I can. Hope you like!

Soft, cinnamon snickerdoodles...you can't help but like therse!

Soft,  pumpkin pie spice snickerdoodles…you can’t help but like these!

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp cream of tartar (be sure it isn’t expired)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbs. white sugar mixed with 2 tsp.pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Now blend the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into the wet ingredients. With your hands, shape the dough into 1-2 inch balls.

Roll the balls into the sugar/pumpkin pie spice mixture and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Pat down slightly. You can chill your cookies and bake after an hour or if you don’t mind them a bit flatter, go ahead and bake now.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from baking sheets and let cool.

What do I love about this recipe? It is basic, easy and quick to throw together.

What don’t I love about this recipe? Nothing really. I think next time I will bake them after chilling to see how puffy they get. I am curious to see the difference since I have always made my Snickerdoodles flat.

Shrimp Scampi (our way)

Hi Woodenspoons fans! I am so sorry it has been so long since I have done a recipe on here. Truth be told, I got a bit burnt out. I had to decide if I wanted to keep up the blog or not. I decided YES. I just needed a break. That is reality, isn’t it? We all get tired of cooking sometimes.

Anyway….my boys came back for dinner on Sunday night and Michael requested a Shrimp Scampi kind of thing, so I just threw this together, thankful that I had everything I needed in the ‘frig. It was a hit! They loved it! And it took about 15 minutes to throw together…my kind of meal!

You can have fun changing this up so that it tastes exactly how your family likes it!

You can have fun changing this up so that it tastes exactly how your family likes it!

SHRIMP SCAMPI

(You can add and take away…these measurements are estimates)

1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and cleaned

1 lb pasta, cooked (I used spaghetti, but you can use linguini or any kind you like)

(I usually cook mine while I cook up the shrimp)

3 Tbs butter

3 Tbs olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

pinch red pepper flakes

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 c. dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 lemon, sliced thinly for garnish (optional)

To a heavy pan on med high heat, add the butter to melt. Now add the olive oil. Add the garlic and let cook until golden….do not burn. Now add the shrimp and cook until it is almost cooked through. Add the lemon juice, zest, wine, herbs, lemon and 1/4 cup of the cheese. When cooked through, remove from heat.

Top pasta with the shrimp scampi and sprinkle with a bit of the parmesan. Add lemon slices for garnish.

Enjoy!

What do I love about this recipe? I love that it is so easy and tastes so fresh!

What don’t I love about this recipe? Nothing…I buy my shrimp deveined, so  it is a cinch to throw together!

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