Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cinnamon Espresso Bars

I was looking for something easy and light to make for a work gathering and came across this recipe on the Eat Better America website. The bars turned out great, but didn't have enough coffee flavor for my taste. I made a few alterations and posted the new recipe below.

1 C packed brown sugar
1/3 C butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp instant espresso coffee (dry)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 C water

Cinnamon Espresso Glaze
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
4 to 5 tsp cold espresso coffee or strong coffee

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray; coat with flour. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until blended, or mix with spoon. Stir in remaining bar ingredients. Spread in pan.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until top springs back when touched in center.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix all glaze ingredients with spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over bars while warm. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

We've had a cold snap recently, like most of the country, so I have been in the mood for some comfort food. I've never made chicken and rice soup, but it sounded like it would hit the spot. I consulted a few recipes, took what I liked from each, left what I didn't, and came up with the recipe below. I was very pleased with the results (see the notes below if you prefer a thinner soup). Serve with Mom's Beer Bread - delish!


4 C chicken broth (I used turkey stock I made & kept in the freezer after Thanksgiving)
1 C water
3 boneless chicken breast halves
1 (4.5 oz) pkg Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice Original with seasoning packet
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 C all-purpose flour
5 Tbsp butter
2 C 2% milk

In a large pot over medium heat, bring broth to a boil. Add chicken and reduce to a simmer. Cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth, reserve broth, and shred the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Return the chicken to the broth and add water. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, reserving seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in contents of seasoning packet and veggies until mixture is bubbly. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons, to form a roux. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.

Stir milk mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10to 15 minutes.

*The soup was very thick, almost like porridge. If you like a thinner soup add more water or stock. You could also substitute lower fat milk to make it lighter and to create a thinner base.

Mom's Beer Bread

My mom used to make beer bread to serve with stew on cold winter nights. It's a hearty bread that has hints of bitter and sweet flavors. Since it only takes an hour to make it's the perfect accompaniment to your favorite soup or stew.

3 C self-rising flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 (12 oz) can or bottle light beer
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients until fully incorporated. Turn into a nonstick bread pan, and bake for 50 minutes. Melt butter and brush over the top of the bread. Turn the oven off and return bread to the oven for another 10 minutes.