Friday, September 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

Two weeks ago someone posted that they were making Nanaimo bars and this instantly sent me in search of what this could possibly be.  I found several recipes for this yummy treat and then I found a peanut butter version, well...the original was pushed aside for the peanut butter and the rest is history.

They were absolutely amazing!  My family and I ate the whole recipe in one sitting, which is not hard to do because once you start you cannot stop.

So what is this and where does it come from?  Here is a brief explanation.

Nanaimo (play /nəˈnm/) (Canada 2006 Census population 78,692) is a city on Vancouver Island in British ColumbiaCanada. It has been dubbed the "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World" and "Harbour City". Nanaimo is also sometimes referred to as the "Hub City" because of its central location on Vancouver Island and due to the layout of the downtown streets which form a "hub" pattern. It is also fondly known as the "Hub, Tub, and Pub City" because of its association with the bathtub racing and the numerous "watering holes" in Old Nanaimo.

So HOW do you pronounce it?  I found some interpretations while trying to figure it's still a mystery to me..LOL




I can tell you this, I will keep making this yummy treat regardless of the pronunciation...LOL 

I made my own gluten free graham crackers and they were awesome used in this recipe.  You can sometimes find GF graham crackers at Whole Foods or some specialty shops.  I will post the recipe and pictures I used next week but if you cannot wait until then to make these, use google and you will find several recipes posted.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

This recipe was found on the Food Network website. I put my personal notes in red.



  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used GF Graham Cracker crumbs...see note above) 
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds (I also tried a batch with pecans and they tasted just as good)

Peanut Butter Filling:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Chocolate Glaze:


Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or casserole with aluminum foil, with long flaps hanging over each edge. I used parchment paper and a circle cake pan and it works great too.
For the cookie: Put the butter in a heatproof medium bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer over medium-low heat. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and cocoa, and stir to combine. Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until warm to the touch and slightly thickened (it should be about the consistency of hot fudge), about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan. (Save the pan of water for melting the chocolate.)

For the filling: Beat the butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar together in a medium bowl with an electricmixer until light. Spread over the cookie and freeze while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

For the glaze: Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl, and set over the barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.). When cool but still runny, pour the chocolate layer over the chilled peanut butter layer and carefully smooth out with an offsetspatula. Freeze 30 minutes.
To serve, remove from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pull out of the pan using the foil flaps and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Busy baker's tips: Finished bars can be wrapped in the pan in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month.

Written by Sherron Watson

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hearty Italian Soup

This is a recipe that I married into.  My husband's Mom has made this as far back as I can remember, at least 24 years. I loved it then and I love it now.  The soup is so easy and quick to make.  It is perfect the next day.  

This soup is hearty, warm and a perfect blend of flavors.

Recipe: Italian Soup

I usually double this recipe for my family of 5...we love it for leftovers the next day.

Brown together:

1 lb sausage (use can mix and match types and flavors to create a dynamic flavor)
1 med green pepper, diced
1 med onion, diced

Add and bring to a boil:

1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
2 (8oz) cans tomato sauce
2 cups of water
3 cubes chicken bullion
¾ tsp salt

**If you don't have bullion,  you can use boxed or canned chicken broth (2 cups)

Add and let noodles cook:

¾ cup elbow macaroni (for GF I used Schar Fusilli Noodles)
Serve with :
shredded jack cheese or mozzarella cheese

Brown meat.  Sauté onion and pepper together; add to browned meat.  

Add remaining ingredients (except pasta, for gluten-free see note below) and bring to a boil, add macaroni and cook until macaroni is done about 20 minutes.  Serve with warm bread and shredded jack cheese or mozzarella cheese.

Gluten-Free Note:  I do not cook the noodles in the broth.  I find that some of the noodles will change the flavor of the soup.  I cook my GF noodles in a separate bowl until they are almost done, then I drain and add to soup to finish cooking.  This does make your soup a little bit runnier but the flavor is still amazing.

Written by Sherron Watson

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coconut Shrimp and Mango Salsa

I find it odd that as an adult, the memories I have of living in the Philippines as a child, are all centered around food.  I remember the pig roast, the mango's, coconuts, sugar cane and slugs (although not a fruit..I will never forget the slugs...LOL).

Up to this day, I can still taste the flavor of the mangoes.  I find that the mango's in the states just don't have the same flavor.  I believe it's because they are not as fresh as what I was used to.  This has never deterred me from having a mango though.  I still love the juicy orange flesh.  

I bought a few mangos the other day and some shrimp.  I wanted to throw together a table that was bright and sunny.  That was a reflection of our summer here in Maryland.  I wanted the colors to be vibrant and fresh.  

To round out our bright and sunny dinner, we had: Sweet Potato Fries, Grilled Pineapple, Homemade Chips, and Mango Salsa and Coconut Shrimp.  Our table was very colorful and cheery.  This was perfect.  The next week our weather changed to Fall and so this was a celebration of summer, we just did not know it that night.

Coconut Shrimp

1 pound of shrimp
unsweetened shredded coconut
3 egg whites, beaten

Preheat oven to 350.

Your shrimp should be washed, shell removed to the tail and de-veined.   This process took me 15 minutes.

Add caption
In a bowl add your egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, add 1 cup of coconut at a time.  It's hard to say exactly how much you will use.  I bought 2 cups from Whole Foods and I had plenty.

Take a shrimp and coat it with the egg white then coat the egg white with the coconut.  I used my baking stone and lined the shrimp on this.

The shrimp needs to bake for 8 minutes on each side.  Turning the shrimp allows both sides to brown and cook.  The shrimp should be solid when touched to check for doneness.

 Recipe:  Mango Salsa

1 mango...very ripe, orange-skinned, cubed
1 slice of pineapple or a small can of tidbits
1/4 cup of red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 T. cilantro, finely chopped

Take all of your ingredients and combine them in a bowl.  Mix well and serve with chips or over fish.

If you need help in cutting a mango, go here for two different techniques.

I also found this awesome recipe for another mango style dish at Natural Noshing for Mango Bean Salad.  YUM

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clam Chowder

I can't remember a time that I did not like fish.  I have always loved it.  I grew up in a very small town, for most of my childhood, by a huge lake.  We fished in it all the time.  I remember my grandpa taking me out, helping me bait my hook and then showing me how to clean the stinky fish.

Fish is wonderful in my opinion.  Oysters, clams, and squid are little pieces of happiness to me too.  I love fried oysters!  I made them, at home, a few years ago and my son and I devoured them.  I ate my first raw oysters last summer.  I started with one, and then another and another.  My husband was surprised I ate 6 with no problem.  YUMMY!

Fish is so abundant where I now live.  LOVE, LOVE this.  We were in UT before and fish was available but not like here...right off the boat!  When I decided to make clam chowder this time, I picked up the can of clams and then my hubby suggested we try fresh clams.  I have never done that before.  I wasn't sure what to expect..sand, taste, texture...would it ruin the soup?

I am here to say that it did not ruin the soup and it was so much better.  I found that the canned clams were sweet and added an artificial flavor to the soup.  The fresh clams gave you that pure clam taste.  I can't explain the taste other than, for me, it was wonderful.  I bought 40 clams at 45cents a was spendy but well worth the money. 

Clam Chowder

This will make enough for 6-8 adults.  It is wonderful the next day warmed up.

2 cups of Chicken Broth ( You can use water if you want, I just like the flavor of the broth in the soup.)
2 cups of water
clam juice (The juice should come from the can or in the container with the fresh clams)
1 cup of fresh clams or 2 small cans of clams  (Fresh is about 40-50 clams, shucked)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup of celery, diced
4 potatoes, cubed
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour (gluten-free- use brown rice flour)
2 cups of milk
2 cups of cream
pepper and salt to taste
2 dashes of hot sauce (optional)
2 T. Fresh Parsley, minced  (optional)

Chop your clams if they are fresh.  I usually don't have to chop the clams from the can.  If using fresh, let your clams sit overnight so the sand has a chance to sink to the bottom of the container.  I was surprised at how much was there the next day compared to the first.  Gently remove the clams from the container.  Save the juice to add to the water/broth.  If you want a stronger clam flavor you can always add purchased clam juice to the broth.

In a large stockpot, add the broth, clam juice, and water or 6 cups of water and clam juice.  Turn heat to medium-high.

In the pot, add your diced celery and onion.  Add your cubed potatoes.  Bring the pot to a boil and cook until potatoes are done.  Depending on the size of your potatoes, plan on 15-20 minutes.

In a separate pot, add the stick of butter and melt.  Stir in your flour.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the milk and cream.  This should get thick after a few minutes of cooking on medium-high.  Turn heat off and set aside until the potatoes are done. If it is not thick after 5 minutes, you may need to add more flour.

Meanwhile, you can mince the parsley if you are using it in the soup.  

When your potatoes are done, add the flour/milk/cream mixture to the soup.  Add your chopped clams.  The clams do not take long to cook, 5-10 minutes.  They should be firm to the touch.

You will need to add pepper and salt to you soup.  I find that I use a lot of salt but everyone is different.  So you will need to salt, taste, salt, find what is best for your family.  We also love a few dashes of hot sauce..this is optional of course.  The fresh parsley adds more flavor to the soup.  We love this addition.  

Written by Sherron Watson

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pad Thai

When I saw the Pad Thai from Bake Your Day, I just knew I had to make it.  We love Pad Thai and I have had a hard time finding a recipe that had the flavor we liked.  This one hit the spot. It was so good and delicious that we have eaten it at least once a week for a month now.  It's easy, tasty and my kids LOVE IT!  It also reheats very well the next day.

I snapped some pictures of our dish which you will notice is made with Chicken.  We have also made this with just a scrambled egg.  I can't wait to make it with the shrimp when the hubby is away for the weekend.  He does not like hoo!

Recipe: Shrimp/Chicken Pad Thai 
adapted from Bake Your Day

8 ounces of rice noodles
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. Sriracha (more or less depending on your desired heat level)
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
3 Tbs. canola oil
1 1/2 cups green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. cilantro, divided
1.5 cups of cooked chicken
1 – 2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted

Cook noodles according to package.  Drain and drizzle with olive oil.

While the noodles cook, mix the brown sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, lemon juice, Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet or wok.  Add onion, garlic, shrimp and 1 tablespoon cilantro; stir-fry until chicken is almost cooked.  Stir in sauce and cook one minute, stirring constantly. 

Add the cooked noodles and bean sprouts.  Garnish with peanuts and the remaining cilantro.

Written by Sherron Watson

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fried Rice with Egg, Onion and Ham

I know that several times over the past few months I have mentioned that the Hubster ( hubby) has made dinner.  I have laughed because every time he does make dinner it is spaghetti.  I have learned through others that this is a common occurrence among the other husband/wife teams.  It's not that his spaghetti is's awesome and we love it!  We just all know that when he announce's that he is making dinner we all say together..."SPAGHETTI RIGHT?" and we laugh, he laughs too.

Were we in for a surprise on the day he announced he was making dinner and changed it up a bit.  He made the best...and I mean....the best fried rice ever!  As a child I lived in the Philippines and still remember the flavor of the fried rice they would serve and it was so tasty.  My first bite of the Hubster's rice immediately took me back to when I was a child...he hit the mark.

We have eaten this rice at least twice a week for the last two weeks!  We are like that.  If we love a food or a dish, we eat as much of it as we can.  LOL  But it's more than that, the rice reheats so well.  I have learned, and this might be right or wrong, that you can not put white rice in the does not reheat well and it is hard...YUCK.  So I leave it out on the counter, wrapped or I try to make the perfect amount so we do not waste it.

 This rice reheats!  It's just as wonderful the next day as it was fresh out of the rice cooker.  Our poor rice cooker gets used about 4 times a week.  We love rice and we love it even more with his new recipe.

So today is a recipe that my Hubster created and one that his family loves!  Way to go Daddy Boy!  We love be the Master Chef!  LOL

Recipe:  Fried Rice with Egg and Ham/Bacon

3 cups of rice--We use a Japanese Sushi Rice, it's our favorite.
1 (32) oz. box of Chicken Broth
2 T. butter
2 T. soy sauce ( GF..use Tamari)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 T. garlic, minced (heaping..his words..LOL)
salt/pepper, to taste
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
2 T. butter/olive oil  (this is for the rice cooker)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups Ham or Bacon, diced and cooked

In a sauce pan, add the butter.  Saute the onion and garlic together.  Add the soy sauce,  cayenne, salt and pepper.

In your rice cooker, add the rice and chicken broth.  Add your sautéed onion/garlic mix and the remaining butter/oil.  Start your rice cooker.  Ours takes about 25 minutes and yields about 6-7 cups.

While the rice is cooking I scramble and cook the eggs.  I also fry up my ham.  Even though the ham is precooked, the frying of the ham in a small pan brings out so much more flavor to add to the rice.  We have also used bacon.  Fry up your cut bacon to your desired doneness.

You can add the scrambled egg  and ham/bacon directly to the cooked rice or you can add the rice to your egg/meat mixture and fry it for a few minutes in the pan.  This second step adds a hint of browness to your rice and adds a fried flavor....either way is excellent.  For me it depends on how much time I have as to which method I use.  ENJOY

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jalapeno Poppers with Pineapple

I watched a show last week that made Jalapeno Poppers on the grill.  I have been dreaming about them ever since.  My family loves jalapenos!  We go through a very large jar several times a year. We eat them on everything...eggs, salads, pizza, sandwiches, etc...You name it and it only gets better once you add a jalapeno.  LOL

I bought all of the stuff and was ready to make the traditional style of a popper.  You know the one, cheese in the middle and bacon wrapped around the outside, then grilled to perfection.

All plans sometimes must be rethought and some take on a world of their own.  This is what happened with my popper recipe.  When you can't do plan A you must switch to plan B.  There was no way that these were not going to be in my tummy last night..NO WAY!

I wanted to grill them on the BBQ but we were out of gas.  OK then, I will have to bake.  I was worried about baking.  WHY?  Because I am the pickiest person about how my bacon must be cooked.  I don't like burnt bacon, can stand ultra-crispy bacon and I won't eat the bacon if it's wilted or raw looking (as a whole piece).  I know, I am picky and spicy and some days it's hard to live with myself...LOL

How in the world was I going to achieve this perfect bacon experience in the oven?  I decided to precook the bacon, cut the jalapeno's in half and embellish the cheese with MORE cheese variety...this was starting to shape up to be an amazing POPPER experience.

FYI:  I like my bacon medium crispy with the ends cooked slightly...the edges crispy and the middle soft.  YES, it's true...I never eat bacon outside of my home!  Picky, Picky, Picky!

My family was so excited for dinner last night.  They absolutely loved the poppers and I think I will be making these again at the end of the week.  I love taking something that is "expected" and turning it into something that is "WOW".  I used the leftover cheese filling as a dip and served it with apples and bell pepper.  I thought that some of my kids would not like the hot jalapeno...I was wrong, so I did the only thing I could do and ATE the whole ramekin of dip!  LOL  If I could get it through a straw I would have used one to eat it was that tasty!  ENJOY

Jalapeno Poppers

9-10 jalapeno peppers, 2-3 inches in size
1/2 cup of grilled pineapple, minced
1/2 cup of green onion, sliced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup of bacon, cooked to your liking
1 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of asiago cheese, shredded
dash of salt and pepper

Preheat your baking stone and oven to 425 degrees.

Cut your bacon into little pieces and cook.  Grill your pineapple or saute it in a pan and mince.  Grate your cheese (s) and prepare your jalapenos.

To prepare jalapenos please be very careful.  These are hot and the oil will go into your hands and while cleaning out the seeds it is possible to flick some of that into your me, it is possible.

Cut the jalapenos in half and clean out the seeds. Wash and pat dry.  Set aside.

Prepare the filling by combining all of the ingredients and mix well.  The great thing about this filling is that you can add anything you want to make it your own.  Get crazy, live on the wild side.

I lined up my poppers on my counter.  I filled a large gallon bag with the filling and snipped a corner.  This is the easiest way to fill these puppies or poppers. LOL

Because I did not have the grill to cook them on (this time) I used my baking stone.  I preheated the stone so that it was piping hot and gently laid my poppers close to each other.  I could hear the sizzle and smell their hotness immediately.  OH SO GOOD!

Bake the poppers for 15-20 minutes.  You want the jalapeno to be soft (not mushy) and the topping to be browned.

We served ours with rice.   It is a nice compliment to the jalapeno, especially if you get a really hot one!

Written by Sherron Watson

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Donut Breakfast Casserole

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