Rice Crispy Bars

Look out! This is a wonderful recipe from the Smitten Kitchen blog-one of my favorites! It is a combination of the best flavors. Watch the temperature of the sugar syrup as I think I cooked mine a little too much and some of the rice didn’t stick together. Rice crispies may work better but I used what I had!

Rice Crispy bars
For the crispy crust
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted (their recommendation) or salted (what I used, and liked) butter, melted

For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
5 ounces good-quality milk (their recommendation) or semi-sweet (what I’d use next time) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter

For the chocolate icing
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted (their recommendation) or salted (what I used, and liked) butter

Make the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan.

Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.

Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.

Make the chocolate icing: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.

Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread (actually, I found it easier to just roll it around until it coated smoothly, avoiding the risk of picking up any of the peanut butter layer with it) into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.

Cut into 16, at least! squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days

Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart

From Cook’s Country. I highly recommend using the best puff pastry you can find. Dufour is my favorite and is pricey but so worth it. I had Pepperidge Farm puff pastry on hand and used it but it would use Dufour next time as it is all butter.
Asparagus goat cheese tart
1 (9 1/2 by 9-inch) sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut 1/4 inch thick on bias into 1-inch lengths (1 cup)
2 scallions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) goat cheese, softened
INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and top positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place puff pastry in center of sheet. Grease underside of 8-inch square baking pan, place in center of puff pastry, and fill pan with pie weights. Using sharp paring knife, score puff pastry around perimeter of pan, 1/8 inch deep. (Do not cut through pastry.)

2. Leaving pan on pastry, bake on lower-middle oven rack for 20 minutes. Remove pan, rotate sheet, and continue to bake until pastry is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine asparagus, scallions, 1 tablespoon oil, olives, garlic, zest, salt, and pepper in bowl. In separate bowl, mix 3/4 cup goat cheese and 1 tablespoon oil until smooth. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly over cooled puff pastry (avoiding raised border), then scatter asparagus mixture over top. Crumble remaining 1/4 cup goat cheese over top of asparagus mixture.

4. Bake tart on top oven rack until asparagus is tender and tart shell has darkened slightly around edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cut into 4 equal pieces and serve.

Thai Beef with Basil

This recipe is from Bon Appetit. It comes together very quickly once you have all of the parts prepped. Since basil is not quite in season, I used three of the small packages of basil. I found one Thai basil which I used for the slaw part of the dish.
Basil is wilted like a leafy green in this stir-fry, then added raw at the end for a double dose of its aromatic flavor.
Thai Beef with Basil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 teaspoon sugar
Steamed rice and lime wedges (for serving)

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and 1 chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, 8–10 minutes. Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Toss carrots, scallions, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chile, 1 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in another small bowl until sugar dissolves.
Top rice with beef and slaw and drizzle with soy dressing. Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Irish Brown Bread

From the Wall Street Journal, this recipe is so easy once you get the ingredients, all of which I found at Whole Foods. I wasn’t able to find the Irish Style Flour but used whole wheat. It is a dense and crunchy bread, perfect for toasting with Irish butter and jam or a poached egg.
Irish Brown bread
3½ cups King Arthur Irish Style Flour or stone ground whole-wheat flour
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups natural bran
1¼ cups steel-cut oats
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ cup wheat germ
1 quart plus ½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl use a large spoon to mix all dry ingredients until well combined. Add buttermilk and stir until dry ingredients are evenly moist.

2. Divide dough equally between two greased loaf pans (approximately 9 or 10 inches by 5 inches).

3. Bake in middle of oven until golden and crusty, 50 minutes. Unmold and cool on a wire rack.