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Chocolate Caramel Coconut Bars

I’m gearing up for the holidays once again. It seems like the reasons to bake are never ending- fundraisers, brunch and cookie swaps at work and just-for-the-hell-of-it treats for friends and family. I’m going to send as many holiday baked goods your way in the next few weeks. You won’t want to miss any updates, so make sure you’re signed up for my email updates or follow me on Facebook (check it out on the right).

I’m kicking things off with these Chocolate Caramel Coconut Bars. You guys, this dessert it to die for. I got a bar similar to this at the farmers’ market a few weeks back. It was good, but not great. The bars were so insanely sweet that it took me four days to eat the tiny square. These bars? They’re definitely decadent and sweet, but not overly sweet. That said, I’m a big fan of sweet + salty, so I have a feeling that salted caramel will be making an appearance in the next batch I make!

Chocolate Caramel Coconut Bars | doughseedough.net

Chocolate Caramel Coconut Bars

38 caramels (about 1 ¼ cup), unwrapped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups shredded sweetened coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 7×11-inch (or 9×9-inch) baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small pan over medium heat, heat the caramels and heavy cream until caramels are melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, oats, salt, baking powder and butter until mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of crust in an even layer. Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and sprinkle the coconut on top. Bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes or until coconut is toasted and the edges of the bars are golden brown.
  5. Let cool completely and lift the bars out of the pan with the parchment paper. Set on cutting board and cut bars into squares.

 

recipe adapted from Eva Bakes

 

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Easy Pepper Steak with Mushrooms

I’m spending more time than ever just cooking for one. The weekdays Mike and I spend together are rare, and when we do get the chance to enjoy each other’s company during the week,  the last thing I want to do is spend hours cooking. My cooking style has evolved. I’m focusing more on super quick and easy dishes now more often than not. I don’t see this changing in the near future, either. I’ll be going back to school for my master’s in January (!!!) which means even less time in the kitchen.

For this recipe swap I was assigned Angie’s blog, My Chicago Kitchen. I looked through a bunch of her recipes before settling on this pepper steak dish. Quick and easy? Check. Delicious? Check!

Easy Pepper Steak with Mushrooms | doughseedough.net

Easy Pepper Steak with Mushrooms

slightly adapted from My Chicago Kitchen originally from Elly Says Opa

1 pound flank steak, cut against the grain into thin strips
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms,  sliced
salt & pepper, to taste
cooked brown rice,  for serving

  1. In a shallow bowl, marinate the flank steak in 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce for 15 minutes. Season with a touch of ground white pepper.
  2. While the beef is marinating, make the sauce. Mix the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce with cornstarch. Add beef broth and whisk until corn starch is dissolved. Mix in red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onions are tender-crisp. Increase heat and add beef and cook until no longer pink in the center. Add peppers and mushrooms to the pan and cook until peppers are tender-crisp.
  4. Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Bring sauce to a simmer; it will thicken as it warms. Serve hot over brown rice.


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Niu Rou Mien (Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup)

I’ve realized that some dishes are just better when my mom makes it. My mission this time was to replicate the delicious beef noodle dish I ate growing up – niu rou mien. I asked her for a recipe, and she told me to just come over and watch her make it and take notes. She ended up sending me an email with a rough draft of a recipe; I’ve done my best to assign amounts to the various ingredients.

This recipe is long. It has many, many ingredients. I thought about finding shortcuts, but I honestly don’t think there are any. This recipe is truly a labor of love and it’s not something you can cheat and simplify without sacrificing taste.

One thing I noticed from pouring over niu rou mien recipes is that most of them instructed you to boil the beef to get rid of the impurities. If you have bone-in meat, you’ll want to make sure you boil it or you will end up with a film of gunk on your finished product. And that would be a major bummer after you spent all that time prepping and cooking, right?

This dish is my childhood in a bowl. And I’m so happy that I have been able to recreate it in my kitchen.

Niu Rou Mien (Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup) | doughseedough.net

 

Slow Cooker Niu Rou Mian (Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup)

3 pounds beef shank and/or chuck roast  (I used 1 1/2 pounds each)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fermented black beans
2 teaspoons five spice powder
2 tablespoons Sichuan bean sauce
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce
1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (vodka, vermouth, or sherry will also work)
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon rock sugar
2 cups beef broth
2 tomatoes, quartered
5 green onions, cut into thirds
3 dried chili peppers, optional
8 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
5 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
5 large carrots, sliced

for serving:
baby bok choy, blanched
noodles of choice, cooked (I prefer medium-width Chinese noodles)
green onions, thinly sliced
rice wine vinegar
pickled mustard greens, recipe below

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add beef and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beef is cooked all the way through. Skim off the impurities floating on top of the water. Remove beef and reserve the cooking water.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Brown the beef on all sides. Remove beef from pot and place into the bottom of a slow cooker.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger into the pot and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the black beans, five spice powder, Sichuan bean sauce, and hot chili sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the Shaoxing wine, both types of soy sauce, and rock sugar and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Pour mixture on top of the beef.
  4. Add in the beef stock, tomatoes, green onions, chili peppers, and hardboiled eggs. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves (optional: combine these ingredients in a cheesecloth and tie it up to make removing all the little pieces a bit easier at the end.) Top everything off with stock and six cups of the reserved cooking water (or use 8 cups of beef stock). Cover and cook on low for 5 – 6 hours or until the meat is tender. Add carrots and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until carrots are tender. Taste and add more soy sauce if necessary.
  5. To serve, place noodles in a bowl and top with bok choy. Ladle scoops of the beef stew on top. Garnish with green onions and the pickled mustard greens relish. Top with a splash of rice wine vinegar, if desired.


Pickled Mustard Greens Relish

10.5 ounce package mustard greens
2 hot chili peppers
2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Rinse the pickled mustard greens and soak in water for 30 minutes. Change the water twice during this time period to get rid of excess salt.
  2. Dice the mustard greens into pea-sized pieces.
  3. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add the mustard greens. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in chili peppers and sugar and stir until sugar is evenly distributed. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until water has evaporated.
  4. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight jar.

 

recipes slightly adapted from my Mama’s recipe


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Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

The last outdoor farmers’ market is this Saturday in Madison. The last Wednesday market was yesterday and my heart broke a little. What am I going to do on my Wednesday lunches now? I can’t believe it’s November. I can’t believe it’s already snowed. I’m looking forward to visiting the indoor market for the first time this winter. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Madison for 5+ years and have never been to the indoor farmers’ market.

I have one thing that I’m looking forward to buying – kale. Lots and lots of kale. Sometimes I forget that good food doesn’t need to be time-consuming. It doesn’t need to be complicated. This kale & apple salad is the perfect example of that.

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing | doughseedough.net

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 red onion, cut into a small dice
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound)
2 medium honey crisp apples

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper until well combined. Drizzle in oil while whisking continuously. Stir in onion and set dressing aside.
  2. Remove fibrous stem from kale discard.  Slice leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch thick ribbons and place in bowl with dressing.
  3. Slice apples into matchstick pieces and add to bowl. Toss to combine. Allow salad to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Salad can be prepared up to one day ahead of time; toss again before serving.

 

recipe slightly adapted from Chow

 

 


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Pumpkin Pie Granola

This pumpkin pie granola is a million times better than actual pumpkin pie. It packs all the delicious flavors of pumpkin pie without that baby food texture. Carrie over at Carrie’s Sweet Life hosted this month’s What’s Baking challenge and the theme was pumpkin or squash.

This granola recipe is crazy easy and since the pumpkin craze is in full swing, you probably have all the ingredients you need to make this in your kitchen already. I skipped out on using added fats in this recipe and instead used pumpkin to bind everything together to make a delicious, crunchy, slightly healthier granola.

Pumpkin Pie Granola | doughseedough.net

 

Pumpkin Pie Granola

5 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup pepitas
⅔ cup pecans
⅔ cup dried cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, mix together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the wet mixture into the oat mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated. Stir in pepitas and pecans.
  4. Place granola onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Remove and sprinkle cranberries on top and stir in. Let granola cool complete; it will crisp as it cools.
  5. Store granola in an air-tight container.


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SNAP Challenge 2014 Day 7 (+ a pasta recipe)

SNAP Challenge Day 7 | doughseedough.net

It’s done. Mike and I have finished the SNAP Challenge. We both agreed that this year was harder than last. We couldn’t figure out why at first – we had plenty of food (leftovers, even), but everything just seemed more difficult. We think it was partially due to the fact that we had to complete most of the SNAP Challenge apart. I also didn’t plan for enough snack foods throughout the week.

There are definitely things I’m looking forward to now that the Challenge is over – farmers’ market produce, sparkling water, breakfast sandwiches, ice cream… I actually even miss rice. Mike told me he’s craving chocolate and plans to eat chocolate everything for a day. I can’t control what he eats from 2 hours away, so we’ll see what happens :)

Doing this Challenge will never equate to what those who live on SNAP experience day-to-day, but this Challenge is always a great reminder of how much I have to be thankful for in life, and why I am never ever “too busy” to take time to volunteer. It reminds me to not judge people and the food choices they make. As a dietitian, my heart crumbles a little every time patrons at the food pantry choose 6 Slim Jim sticks over 4 cans of tuna. As a human, I now understand why they would make that choice.

Today we ate:

Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me), oatmeal with agave (Mike)
Snack: apples
Lunch: pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in lemon-yogurt sauce
Snack: celery and carrots with Greek yogurt dip
Dinner: pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in lemon-yogurt sauce (me); chicken taco soup, corn on the cob (Mike)
Snack: peanut butter toast with banana (Mike)
Drinks: peppermint tea, water with lemon

Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes in Lemon-Yogurt Sauce | doughseedough.net

Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes in a Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

13.25 ounce package whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
olive oil spray
4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted. Stir in tomatoes and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer zucchini mixture into large bowl of yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the drained pasta and gently toss until well combined. Add the reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to thin the sauce. Serve immediately.

recipe slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake


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SNAP Challenge Day 6 (+ chicken taco soup)

SNAP Challenge Day 6 | doughseedough.net

Mike and I were out running errands today and ended up at the mall around lunch time. We had been out all morning running from store to store looking at flooring. By the time we got to the mall to look at some clothes for Mike, we were hungry and tired. Mostly hungry. As we walked around, the smells from the food court, the samples from the pretzel shops and coffee shops tempted us.

It was so hard to walk past everything. I was speed walking as fast as I could manage to get away from whatever tempting food was lurking in the area. The chicken taco soup we had for lunch was so good after spending two hours in that Sbarro-Panda Express-Auntie Anne’s haze.

For the soup, I used farmers’ market sweet corn and just barely cooked it so that it still retained its delicious crunch. If you don’t have any fresh corn on hand, 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn will work just fine. But nothing will ever beat good ol’ Wisconsin sweet corn!

Today we ate:

Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me), oatmeal with agave (Mike)
Lunch: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast
Dinner: spaghetti with zucchini and tomatoes in a creamy lemon-yogurt sauce (check back Monday for the recipe!)
Snack: peanut butter toast with banana

Chicken Taco Soup | doughseedough.net

Chicken Taco Soup

3 chicken breasts
olive oil spray
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 –  2 jalapenos, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 – 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 – 14.5 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
garnishes (optional): shredded cheddar, nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, jalapeno slices, diced avocados, tortilla chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking pan with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of the mixture of the chicken breasts and set the rest of the spice mixture aside. Bake chicken in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked through. Shred chicken with two forks.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat and spray with olive oil. Add in onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining spice mixture and stir to evenly distribute. Stir in tomato sauce, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir in chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and corn and cook for an additional 2 minutes to heat chicken through.
  4. Serve soup hot with desired toppings.

 

recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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