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Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

DSC_1777The school year is in full swing here in St. Louis. Actually, it’s been in full swing for a while! Teachers in some districts went back as early as August 3rd! According to my books, when school starts, fall starts. Yes, I know it’s still a zillion degrees outside, but I still associate back to school season with fall, so I’m just going to pretend it’s happening. Bring on the fall baking, pumpkin beer, college football, and cool weather! Most of the buildings I work in are super nicely air conditioned, so I tend to bring along sweaters and long sleeves. However, at the end of the day I am quickly reminded of those zillion degree temps as soon as I step outside and am smacked in the face with St. Louis humidity. Sigh, I guess I’ll hold off on breaking out the boots for another few weeks.

If you’re like me, the hankering for an after school snack still exists when you’re an adult. These delicious snack bars are super easy to make and a perfect way to satisfy that afternoon craving. You can replace the preserves in the middle with any flavor that you like. There are still a few good peach crops left this year, so that might be a nice way to say goodbye to summer flavors. Strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, rhubarb, peach, and apple all work, so go with your favorite jam!

Happy back to school to all students, teachers, parents, staff, and anyone else who works in education! It’s going to be a great year. Oh, and sorry it’s been forever since I’ve posted. I’m sure you can tell whenever I’m back to work due to the decreased number of blog posts. More deliciousness coming your way sooner rather than later.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
Recipe Adapted From: Ree Drummond
Prep Time: 20 min. Cook Time: 45 min.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
1 jar (17 oz.) strawberry preserves
1 cup sliced strawberries + 1 tablespoon sugar

Preparation:

In a small bowl, combine sliced strawberries and one tablespoon of sugar. Stir to coat strawberries with sugar and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9 x 13″ glass pan. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add the pieces of butter to the mixture and use your hands to work the butter through the mixture until most of the mixture is moist from the butter, with some dry crumbs remaining.

Dump half the mixture into the buttered pan and press so that crumbs stick together. Next, spread the preserves in an even layer on top of the first layer. You might need to use your fingers here, depending on the thickness of your preserves. Be sure to get the edges, too! Dump the other half of the mixture on the preserves, spread evenly, and lightly press.

Arrange sugary strawberries on top of the bars. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the bars are just starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing.

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Buffalo Cauliflower Bites + Moore’s Marinades & Sauces + Operation BBQ Relief

Disclosure: The Newlywed Chefs were compensated for this post.
However, all opinions are our own.

DSC_1592I love a good marinade or sauce. Especially during the school year, when schedules are more busy and we have less time to cook, it’s nice to have a sauce on hand for quick meals. Moore’s Marinades & Sauces reached out to us and sent a variety of their delicious sauces and marinades for us to try. We enjoyed every one, and are still working through the flavors. Recently, we learned that they are teaming up with an organization called Operation BBQ Relief. Operation BBQ Relief started as a response to the Joplin tornado of 2011, serving hot meals to those in need. According to their website, they have since served over 700,000 meals in 19 states.

Moore’s is working with Operation BBQ Relief to provide a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the bottles marked with these tags to Operation BBQ Relief. Look for the tags to know that your purchase is making a difference in the lives of others:

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Photo courtesy of Moore’s Marinades & Sauces

Visit their website to locate where to buy Moore’s in your town. We really like using their Original Marinade for steak and chicken. The Teriyaki Marinade is great also for proteins, but we are going to try roasting some brussels sprouts with it soon and see how it goes. The Original Buffalo Wing Sauce is great (of course) on chicken wings, but we tried a healthier spin on this favorite game day snack by substituting cauliflower for chicken and baking the bites instead of frying them. There are lots of recipes for buffalo cauliflower on the internet, so we read through a bunch and adapted them to our taste, using Moore’s marinades as our inspiration.

First, break up the florets of two cauliflower heads. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and water to make a batter. Toss the cauliflower heads in the bowl and stir (or shake if your bowl has a lid) to coat.

DSC_1493Grease a baking sheet (important side note: if your baking sheet is super old, they won’t be as crunchy, because the batter will stick to the sheet no matter what! If your sheets have seen better days, try placing the cauliflower on a greased rack atop baking sheet) and place cauliflower evenly on the sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and place cooked cauliflower in a bowl. Toss (or shake) cauliflower with 1 cup of Moore’s Marinades & Sauce’s Original Buffalo Wing Sauce.

DSC_1514Place back on a baking sheet or rack atop a baking sheet and bake for another 20-30 minutes until batter is lightly browned. Serve alongside celery and ranch or blue cheese dressing.

DSC_1573These bites are full of buffalo flavor thanks to the Moore’s wing sauce, and a healthier option than their fried counterparts. Remember to look for the tags on the Moore’s Marinades & Sauces bottles to know that your purchase is helping feed those in need through Operation BBQ Relief!

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Recipe Adapted from Real Housemoms, Skinnytaste
Prep Time: 15 min. Cook Time: 50 min.

Ingredients:

2 heads cauliflower
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 cup Moore’s Marinades & Sauces Original Buffalo Wing Sauce

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and water until well combined. Pull apart cauliflower florets and place in the bowl. Stir (or shake if your bowl has a lid) cauliflower until they are coated with the batter. Place battered cauliflower on a well greased baking sheet or greased rack on top of a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place cauliflower in another large bowl.

Toss cooked cauliflower with Moore’s Marinades & Sauces Original Buffalo Wing Sauce and until well coated. Place buffalo coated cauliflower on another well greased baking sheet or greased rack on top of a baking sheet and bake for another 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a bit before serving. Serve alongside celery and ranch or blue cheese dressing.

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Twice Baked Potatoes

DSC_1433There is something beautiful that happens in the time after guests arrive for dinner and before we actually sit down to the table that I love. After greeting friends at the door, we happily pour wine for everyone, catch up on the latest in their lives and simultaneously return to our paused cooking tasks. So many times the conflicting emotions of “They’re here!” and “It’s going to burn in 30 seconds!” hit me. At this point in the evening, it’s a bit of a chaotic dance in our little kitchen, but I like it. I like the challenge of fully engaging in conversation with people and fully attending to the cooking task at hand. Yes, sitting down at the table and sharing a meal together is incredibly meaningful and I’ve written about that before, but the time before is to be cherished as well. Being able to chiffonade the basil without cutting my fingers while maintaining appropriate eye contact with the person I’m talking to is an art form I am slowly learning to master. (But I’m not there yet. Sorry if I tell you to “hold that thought!” … it’s probably because I just remembered something is burning.)

One dish we like to make when guests come over are twice baked potatoes. They’re easy, impressive, and one of those dishes that doesn’t take too much thought so you can fully engage in your conversation with friends. We add a whole head of roasted garlic to our filling to pack some sweet garlicy goodness in our potatoes.

First, oil your potatoes and garlic head and salt everything generously. Wrap each potato and garlic head in foil and bake. Squeeze out the roasted garlic in a large bowl. Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the middle into the bowl, leaving a thin layer of cooked potato in the skin.

DSC_1393Add shredded cheese, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and whip it with a hand blender. I say whip it… whip it good.

DSC_1408Fill each potato skin with the mixture and place them in a cast iron pan. Top each potato with additional shredded cheese. Really load it on there. (I still have “Whip It” in my head.)

DSC_1451Place cast iron on the grill or in the oven until cheese is melted.

DSC_1473We usually serve these alongside steak and salad, but they are super filling and could make a meal of their own the next day for lunch. Next time you are cooking for friends, cherish the bit of chaos that comes in the time before you sit down to your meal. It could be as memorable as the meal itself.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Prep Time: 1 hour (for the potato) + 20 min. Cook Time: 15 min.
Makes 6 twice baked potato halves

Ingredients:

3 russet potatoes
1 head of garlic
2 cups cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat each potato and the head of garlic with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt. Wrap each potato and head of garlic in foil. Set timer for one hour and bake, removing the garlic after 45 minutes. Unwrap garlic foil and cut the top of the garlic head off. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into a large bowl. Discard garlic skin.

Bake the potatoes the full hour, or until cooked through. A knife should easily pass through the center when tested. Unwrap foil and allow potatoes to cool before handling. You might need a mitt or a paper towel if they’re too hot to handle. Cut each potato lengthwise and allow to cool even more. Scoop insides of the potato into the large bowl with the garlic, leaving a thin layer of potato in the skin.

Add the sour cream, 1 cup of cheese, butter, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Using an electric blender, whip all the filling ingredients until smooth. Evenly portion the filling into each potato and top with a generous layer of shredded cheese.

Grill or bake the cast iron pan with the potatoes until cheese is melted and potatoes are hot, about 15-20 minutes. Top with an additional sprinkle of salt and pepper and enjoy.