Jill Bloomfield is a cookbook author who lives in St. Paul.

Granola Bars | 9.11

This forgiving recipe lets you change up your bars using what you’ve got on hand. Use a different type of cereal, try raisins or substitute honey for corn syrup. Makes 16 bars.

2 ½ cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Butter or nonstick spray for greasing pan

Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with foil or parchment and liberally grease it. In large bowl, combine cereal, rolled oats and chocolate chips. In small saucepan over medium heat, stir brown sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla well. Pour hot liquid over cereal mixture. Mix with a spoon or spatula. Press into pan. Note: the more firmly you press, the less crumbly your bars will be. Allow to cool 3-4 hrs.

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Double Tomato Zucchini Ribbons | 8.11

4 medium zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise
1½ tablespoons olive oil
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon sundried tomatoes, chopped fine
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, minced

Using a vegetable peeler, create long ribbons of zucchini by slicing zucchini lengthwise. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan or skillet, add zucchini and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until zucchini is tender and translucent. Add cherry and dried tomatoes and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Put in a serving dish and top with cheese and basil.

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Lemon Chiffon Ice Cream | 7.11

3 tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Combine lemon zest and sugar in a food processor or blender and process until zest is fine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the zest mixture, milk and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until it becomes stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture, being careful not to deflate whipped cream.
Spoon mixture into a freezer safe container and place in the freezer until firm enough to scoop.

Jill Bloomfield a cookbook author living in St. Paul, likes lemon desserts tart. If you prefer them less tart, reduce the amount of zest you use.

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Strawberry Jam Bars | 6.11

Makes 12 servings

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Cooking spray or oil

Directions: Preheat 350°F. Generously grease an 8”x8” pan. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients and then cut in butter until mixture has a sand-like texture. Press two cups of mixture into the pan to form crust. Microwave jam briefly for 15-30 seconds, and then spread on top of crust. Top with remaining oatmeal mixture. Bake 35-40 min. or until topping is golden brown.

To make this easier and neater when baking with children, combine dry ingredients and butter in a zipper top plastic bag. Squeeze air out of bag and close, and then allow children to knead mixture in the bag.

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Watermelon Salad | 5.11

Juicy watermelon, succulent tomatoes, crunchy celery, and tasty onion come together in a refreshing salad that is perfect for barbecues. Hollow out the watermelon halves carefully and use them as a serving bowl.

Serves 4-6. Equipment: Medium mixing bowl, wooden spoon.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
2 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced

Combine red wine vinegar and sugar to bowl.
Add all other ingredients to bowl and toss to coat with liquid. Serve chilled.

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Balsamic Butter-Drizzled Roasted Asparagus | 4.11
One of spring’s best vegetables is elevated with a few pantry staples.

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400° F. Rub asparagus with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place asparagus on baking sheet, bake 10-12 minutes or until asparagus is tender. In a microwave safe dish, heat butter in microwave for 30 second intervals until it is melted. Stir soy sauce and balsamic vinegar in with melted butter and pour over asparagus just prior to serving.

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Recipe: Shortbread | 3.11

Simple ingredients that are pantry staples make a delightfully decadent sweet to share. Note that using a mixer changes the consistency of the dough, so the old fashioned way of muscle and elbow grease yields the best, most tender, flakiest result.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons white sugar

Combine all ingredients except white sugar in order listed in a medium bowl using a spoon or spatula until a soft dough forms. Press dough into a 9-inch pie plate and sprinkle with sugar. Using a toothpick, prick dough in a uniform design. Bake in an oven preheated to 350° F until the surface is golden. While shortbread is still warm, remove from pan and place on cutting board. Cut into wedges of equal size.

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Recipe: Margaret’s Brandy Rocks[IMAGE]

We received several requests for Margaret’s “Brandy Rocks” recipe, after she recalled making them for her husband to take to work on the Northern Pacific. Some remembered a similar treat in their families; others thought they sounded too good to pass up. Thanks to Margaret for sharing her family recipe.

1 cup butter/margarine
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 beaten eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups chopped walnuts (1 lb.)
5 tablespoons brandy
1 lb. chopped dates or half dates and half raisins
(Margaret uses half dates and half golden raisins)

Directions: Mix all ingredients and drop by teaspon on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 15 minutes.

Black Bean Soup | 1.11

Often New Year’s has people thinking about eating less of some food, perhaps in an effort to control weight, blood pressure or cholesterol. Self-denial is often difficult, so changing the orientation of thought to consume more of some food might make sticking to the resolutions a little easier. Eating more fiber has several benefits, from promoting fullness to regulating blood sugar to minimizing “bad” cholesterol. Beans are a good and inexpensive source for fiber, and they play a starring role in this spicy soup.

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
2 tablespoons red onion, minced

Directions: Combine beans, broth, tomatoes with chilies, cumin and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. When soup begins to boil, reduce to a simmer. If you wish, use an immersion blender to process until smooth. For serving, ladle into a cup and top with sour cream and onion. Makes 4 servings.

Carmelized Brussels Sprouts | 12.10

2 lbs brussels sprouts, bottoms
trimmed and cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup walnut pieces

Directions: Preheat 400°. Place brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper. Put in oven to roast. After 15 minutes, carefully remove from oven and toss. If not caramelized return for 5 minutes. When they caramelized, add walnuts and return to oven 3-5 minutes to toast walnuts. When you smell walnuts toasting, remove immediately. Put in serving dish. Note: can make in advance and reheated in a covered dish in the oven. Serves 8.

Jill Bloomfield is a cookbook author and publisher of INGREDIENT: a magazine for kids curious about food. A picky child, Jill would not have touched black bean soup until her mid-20s.

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