Rice Crispy Cereal Bars

A lot of my baking lately has been related to campus events.  I have found myself baking for bake sales, but not for myself.  One thing that always goes over well is a scotcheroo, Special K bar, or as they are called in the first edition of the Mt. Carmel Country Cookin’ cookbook, Krispie Peanut Treats.  For our students who headed out a couple weeks ago on Alternative Spring Break, I made these bars for the bake sale.  I think they went over pretty well.
Thanks to the leadership of the department, we tend to do a free-will bake sale and there are a ton of students who find things they want to eat and donate more than we would end up selling them for.  On a small campus like ours, we end up making a decent amount of money which contributes to the ASB experience.
When I read this recipe, I am immediately reminded of the Cereal Bars which are a family staple.  But, these turned out delicious as well.  It was a nice change from the traditional scotcheroos and cereal bars, but tied close enough that people were willing to try (eat) them!

Krispie Peanut Treats
1 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1 ½ c peanut butter
4 c rice krispies
2/3 c chocolate chips
2/3 c butterscotch chips
Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.   Remove from heat and add peanut butter, stirring until it melts into the syrup mixture.  Add Rice Krispies, stirring until they are well-coated.  Turn mixture into well-buttered 9×13 inch pan.  Combine chocolate and butterscotch chips in double boiler, stirring until melted (or melt in microwave).  Frost bars with this mixture.

Dinner for the Newts

I’ve been sharing some of my favorite pasta recipes lately, and last post I spoke of my walking in Relay for Life coming up.  As I was working with my Greek students, we spent some time brainstorming ways to inspire the fraternities and sororities to get involved with Relay.  One of the challenges which took place last fall was for each of the teams to register by a specific date.  For one of the first challenges, I cooked dinner for whichever group I drew out of a hat and was registered.  This ended up being the Newts, one of our fraternities on campus, dedicated to their five folds – academic, athletic, leadership, service, and social.  These five folds demand high expectations from the men who are a part of the group and I have been quite impressed with them as a whole.
For their meal, they requested lasagna and garlic bread.  While I happily would have been a little more fancy, with the way the semester kicked off, this seemed like a great start.  I began scouring cookbooks, searching for the perfect lasagna recipe for 14 hungry college men.  I finally landed on a recipe from one of my favorite go-to cookbooks: the Mt. Carmel Country Cookin’ Second Edition cookbook, from Easton, Minnesota.  Courtesy of Lynn Hamel, the Lazy Day Overnight Lasagna recipe made perfect sense.
Lazy Day Overnight Lasagna
1 lb mild Italian sausage or hamburger
32 oz spaghetti sauce
1 c water
15 oz ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp oregano
1 egg
8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles
16 oz sliced or shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, brown the meat and drain well.  Add spaghetti sauce and water; blend well.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, seasonings and egg; mix well.  Spread 1 cup meat sauce in bottom of a 9×13 inch pan.  Layer half the noodles, half ricotta cheese mixture and half of Mozzarella cheese; repeat layers.  Top wth remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Heat oven to 350.  Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes.

Relay for Life

I’ve been pondering a posting on loss since last October.  Within a month, I lost both an aunt and an uncle, and it has taken a long time to figure out what I wanted to say about this.  I think these are also times when it’s hard to know what to say about it.  Along these lines, my campus has a Relay for Life coming up soon and I am feeling compelled to write about my investment, especially this year, to the work of the American Cancer Society.
I grew up in a part of Southern Minnesota where cancer happens.  Not to everyone, but everyone knows multiple people affected by this horrible disease.  From an area with big families, where people just know each other.  This is a place where when someone passes, there are times when people show up en masse to the visitation and funeral.
Over the past few years, there have been a few rituals which are part of loss for my family.  One of these is a prayer which was recited by my uncle who was a priest and passed away shortly after I was born.  In fact, it was when my dad called him to say I was born that Father Denny shared his cancer was terminal.  This was nearly thirty years ago, and fighting colon cancer has come a long way since then, but I feel a special connection to Denny for a couple of reasons.  Additionally, he was ordained several years before I was born, but on the same date as my birthday.  So, whether I should or not, I like to think Father Denny has inspired my Catholicism in some unique ways.
We read this prayer at both my Uncle Donny and Aunt Kathy’s visitations last fall, followed by a praying of the Rosary.  Because of this, when my colleagues and I were out to eat one day earlier this spring, there was some humor poked at my purse still having a rosary in it, which is amusing, but realistic.
Another part of my family’s response to loss is, when we are all together, enjoying a Snowshoe Grog.  One of my dad’s best friends passed away a few years ago from cancer and in his final days, was reminiscing with my dad about snowmobile trips they would take when they were in their early youth and on which Phillips’ Snowshoe Grog was a part.  Now, when we get together, we enjoy a glass of Snowshoe and offer a prayer to DC.  It isn’t the best day beverage in the world (it might even be close to the worst tasting), but the ways we continue to embrace his legacy will live on for some time.
While this post has been about loss, and I am far from recognizing all of those people close to me and who inspire me who I have lost through cancer or other ways, I also have several friends and family members who are survivors of cancer.  For this I am eternally grateful.  I not only walk for those I have lost, but those whose faith has inspired me through their courage, heartache, and fight.  These cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends are some of the people most filled with love, faith, and care for others I know.  When another lap around the track seems like too much, they will inspire me to go further.
Now, I won’t be partaking in Snowshoe on the night that Relay for Life happens here.  It’s a campus event, and one in which I believe alcohol detracts from the event.  I will likely, after I hand the duty phone off to someone else, figure out a way to have a little sip the next day.  On a few laps, you might find me praying the Rosary for Father Denny, Uncle Donny, DC and others.  Even though I’ll be surrounded by my Cornell family, much of the night I’ll be with my Southern Minnesota and related families.
Do you Relay for Life?  Are there ways your family recognizes loss?  Interested in donating to my walking in Relay?

Honey Lime Chicken Sandwiches

I’ve recently shared my love of Cooking Light, but I also have a love of Rachael Ray.  While her recipes aren’t always the healthiest options, they do tend to be pretty easy to make and a great way for me to learn easy ways to use new ingredients.  Her Honey Lime Chicken sandwiches are not necessarily one of those recipes which highlight a new ingredient, although I started making this recipe as I was learning to add fresh herbs into my cooking.  Using cilantro, perhaps my favorite fresh herb, this makes a great grilled chicken – how I wish I had a grill! – and this chicken is delicious on salads, between two pieces of bread, or other ways.  I imagine it would add some oomph to the Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas I made a few months ago.  Do you have a favorite grilled chicken recipe that is especially delicious in your mind?

Grilled Honey Lime Chicken Sandwiches
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1 rounded teaspoon cumin
A handful cilantro (about 1/2 tablespoon), finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), canola oil, or corn oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6-8 ounces each)
1 teaspoon grill seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper
Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning blend or salt and pepper. Coat chicken in dressing and set aside for 10 minutes.

Grill chicken on an indoor grill pan for 6-7 minutes on each side or pan fry over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet, uncovered, 6-7 minutes per side.

Slice chicken breasts on an angle and pile meat on roll bottoms. Top with lettuce, tomato, red onion and sliced avocado. Spread salsa on roll tops as a condiment.

Dakota Bread

I enjoy making bread, but rarely make yeast breads.  It’s just not something we made often while I was growing up.  Instead, we would focus on quick breads.  Banana bread, squash bread, and even zucchini bread were frequently on the table as an after-school snack  or accompaniment to a meal.
A couple of years ago, I started to make a few yeast breads.  If I’m going to go through the work of making a yeast bread, letting it rise, punching it down, and more, I am often also wanting to make something that is a bit unique.  Dakota bread, which I also feel is very Midwestern, is a great bread to fit the bill.
In addition to the Potato Bread I made last summer, this Dakota Bread recipe comes from the Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland cookbook.  I’ve made it several times, but don’t think I have a photo yet.  The next time I make it, I’ll make sure to take a photo of the bread.
Filled with seeds, hearty grain, and more, this is a great bread on which to make a sandwich, or to eat with a warm soup.  It reminds me of something they would serve at Café Latte in St. Paul, Minnesota.  For now, the next time you need a hearty bread recipe, think about this Dakota Bread.

Dakota Bread
2 cups warm water
2 scant tablespoons yeast (instant or active dry)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cracked wheat
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or more for kneading)
1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds

1 beaten egg

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, oil, and cracked wheat and allow to proof about 5 to 10 minutes, or until the yeast is light and bubbly. Add the salt, whole wheat and white flours, and stir to combine.

Knead by hand, or, using a dough hook, knead in a stand mixer for five to ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Mix the seeds together and sprinkle them over the dough, reserving a few tablespoons to sprinkle over the loaves before baking. Then knead the seeds into the dough. (If you use the stand mixer, finish kneading by hand for a minute).  Turn the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and allow the dough to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Press the dough into a rectangle and give it a business-letter turn. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Place baking stone on rack in lower third of oven (I generally use a cooking sheet, since I don’t have a baking stone), and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Divide the dough and shape it into two round loaves on lightly floured parchment paper. Let rise 25 to 30 minutes. Brush the loaves with a beaten egg and sprinkle on any remaining seeds. Slash the tops of the loaves with a razor blade or sharp knife.
Carefully place the loaves, still on parchment, on the baking stone. Add steam by spritzing water in the oven, putting ice cubes on a preheated pan, or adding about a half-cup boiling water in a preheated pan.  Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.
Remove the loaves from the oven and cool on wire racks.

Avocado Chicken Salad

For another New Recipe Tuesday recipe, K made Avocado Chicken Salad a few weeks ago.  We ate it with triscuits.  It was the perfect meal for a day when we were ready for something fresh.  There aren’t measurements, but I was there while she was throwing it together, so I tried to take note of what she was putting in the meal.
Avocado Chicken Salad
3 c poached chicken, shredded or chopped
1 ½ avocados, mashed
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
3-4 green onion
Healthy handful of cilantro, chopped
Lime juice, to taste (1-2 Tbsp)
Salt, to taste
Mix together, chill if desired, and eat.  It’s delicious!