Monday, January 21, 2013

Best of Extra Credit: Weekly Menu 1/21/13

Hello friends! While my "New Dish Challenge" for January is still underway, so is a house remodeling project that has gone on much longer than expected. Though the kitchen has been available to me each night to make dinner, my time at the computer to write blog posts has been limited as our family tries to vacate the house for workers each day.

So I thought this might be a good time to recap some of my favorite "Extra Credit" dishes from the last six months of this blog. "Extra Credits" are snacks, baked goods or side dishes  - tasty items that supplement day-to-day meals.

Enjoy and stay tuned for fresh Weekly Menus soon!

Baked Oatmeal 

oatmeal baked with raisins

Your house will smell like an oatmeal cookie and you'll have a warm breakfast in no time.

  • 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. 
  • Combine the milk, applesauce, vanilla, butter, and egg. 
  • Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well. 
  • Pour oat mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. 
  • Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Adapted from this Cooking Light recipe


Extra Credit: Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars made with oats and chocolate chips

 These are nothing like packaged granola bars. You can taste every ingredient - that's a good thing. They make a great option for school lunches and snacks before sports practices and games.

  • 2 ½  C. quick oats
  • ½  C. crisp rice cereal
  • ½  C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½  C. brown sugar
  • ½  tsp. salt
  • ½  C. canola oil
  • ¼  C. honey
  • ½  tsp. vanilla
Note: I always have to add a little more honey than the recipe calls for to get it sticky enough to spread in the pan, so you may want to have extra on hand.

  • Preheat to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a square baking pan really well with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
  • Mix all ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) really, really well - you may need to use your hands. Taking your time also allows the wet ingredients to sort of soak into the dry components. If your mixture seems dry after mixing then you may need to add a little more oil and/or honey - a teaspoon or two at a time - until it starts to clump up a little. 
  • When your granola mixture is not too wet, not too dry, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Press the remaining granola into your pan. Press mixture firmly, compacting it as well as you can.
  • Bake for 17-22 minutes. They are ready to remove from oven when the tops are golden.  If they don't cook long enough they may not hold their shape. If they cook too long they will get too dry and may not hold their shape.
  • Let the granola bars cool COMPLETELY. Leave them all day or overnight - cover the pan with a dry towel if you're cooling them overnight.
  • Invert the pan onto a cutting board and use a long knife to cut into bars. Wrap bars individually in waxed paper.

Find the recipe on

Extra Credit: Crash Hot Potatoes

Smashed, roasted red potatoes with salt and pepper
 This alternative to the usual baked potato is from the Pioneer Woman blog. They are simple and they never fail to be a HIT.

Make Ahead Notes
  • Boil potatoes ahead and allow to cool slightly; do not refrigerate before baking
  • 12 whole New Potatoes (or other small round potatoes)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Rosemary (or other herbs of choice) to taste 
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.
  • On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
  • With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
  • Sprinkle potatoes generously with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
  • Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

 Recipe from The Pioneer Woman blog

Roasted Corn, Avocado & Bean Salad

Salad made with roasted corn, avocado, black beans, cilatro and lime juice
Make a batch of this to eat over several days as a healthy snack or lunch. Only add the avocado right before serving.

Ingredients for shopping list:
  • I can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ bag of Trader Joe’s roasted corn, defrosted
  • 1-2 ripe, diced avocados (add this last, right before serving)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (if cilantro’s not your thing, try diced red onion or green onions instead)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently toss to combine. Add the avocado right before serving to avoid it going brown. You can tailor this salad easily to your liking with add-ins like different beans, chopped fresh tomatoes or garlic. And here’s how to turn it into a fast app: buy the “scoops” tortilla chips and spoon about a tablespoon of this salad into each chip to serve.

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