Saturday, June 16, 2012

Magic Cookie Bars

This is the golden oldie, the classic, the 'magic cookie bar'. It's the recipe that we all grew up with from the back of the sweetened condensed milk can. It has been years since I've had these, so I don't know what made me think of making them now, but they were even better than I remembered! Or maybe they were just so good because they fueled us for a full weekend of skiing. I took these snacks with us on our last ski trip of the season this year. Closing weekend was in April, and we were definitely there to say sayonara to ski season 2012.

Peter is a BIG snowboarder. His family took wintertime snow trips to the mountains, whereas my family was more of a summer beach vacation kind of fam. So when Peter and I started dating, I recognized that his snow sportiness was definitely one thing we did not share in common... yet. We loved playing soccer together in college, and volleyball and softball during our first summer dating, but snowboarding was something I was yet to learn. My time had come to learn when our first winter came around that we were dating. I so badly wanted to learn to snowboard because I knew he loved it so much. But learning to snowboard with Peter was like baptism by fire; I got thrown right into solid 4 day ski trips with him and his buddies. I pictured a few hours of learning each afternoon, but with this group it was first chair in the morning to last run of the evening. Like I said, baptism by fire. That first trip, I came home and had lost 5 lbs! Long hard days on the mountain burns some serious calories!

But Peter was such a patient teacher, and soon enough I had picked  up snowboarding and fallen in love... with snowboarding too :) Now, I have been snowboarding with him (and our friends) for 4 years already. Snowboarding has definitely become another fun activity that we share together. However, I also now know to pack some much needed calorie dense treats for our long days on the slopes. Most recently, I made these magic cookie bars and everyone in our group LOVED them. They made for a perfect mountain treat. I think they may become a new ski trip tradition for us :) 

Shopping List (makes a 9x13 casserole dish): 

  • 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (1 wrapped sleeve out of a box)
  • 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked Coconut
  • 1 cup chopped Walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a microwavable bowl, melt your butter:

Once the butter is melted, add the graham cracker crumbs into the bowl and combine well with the melted butter:

Press this crumb mixture firmly into a 9x13 casserole dish to make the bottom layer of your magic bars:

Then pour the can sweetened condensed milk over the crumb layer: 

Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips, the coconut flakes, and the walnuts over the condensed milk layer. Press these top ingredients gently down into the condensed milk:

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the coconut flakes look golden and toasty on top:

Allow it to cool slightly before cutting into squares:

And box these bad boys up for a road trip to the slopes :)

But be sure to taste test one while it's still a little warm :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Honey-Ginger Salmon

Hot weather makes you want to BBQ,  be outside, eat lighter meals, and start dreaming about days on the beach!

Not only have Peter and I officially started beach season with our first volleyball match here at main beach, but we have been heating up our BBQ more often, and we even started running together! Man I love these long, summer days! 
I *cough* used to be a runner, and Peter... well, let's just say swimming has always been his strong suit (no pun intended).  So, we are taking advantage of this beautiful weather -and the opportunity to motivate each other- by going on runs together. After a run, the last thing we want is to eat something heavy, so we have started eating more fish! 
You've probably noticed that I don't cook seafood very often ever. This isn't because I don't like fish, but rather because I simply never think of it. I grew up in a meat & potatoes kind of family, so fish recipes have not been handed down in family cookbooks or served at our tables. This is funny, though, because my family is full of fishermen! We all love fishing! Most kids grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, but my big brother made my sister and I watch 'Bill Dance' bass fishing in leu of cartoon time. Even family vacations always included fishing- whether it was in a river, lake, or an ocean. ...All of this, and we still weren't big fish eaters!?!? What was wrong with us!? Fish is such a great food! It is a wonderful source of lean protein and it is packed full of healthy omega-3 fats. I wish I ate more fish. Fish should definitely find its place in a healthy diet and lifestyle. This is why Peter and I are heating up our BBQ (and lacing up our running shoes) and making a conscious effort to eat more fish this summer. 

1 lb Salmon Fillet, skin on (cut into 4 serving portions)
4 Tablespoons low sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 teaspooons minced Ginger
Sesame seeds for garnish

In a small saucepan, whisk to combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and ginger. Pour half of this sauce in a shallow dish or a plastic ziplock bag and leave the other half in the saucepan. (You can mix it in a bowl if you would like, but mixing it straight in the pan eliminates an extra step and an extra dish).

Place your fish in the dish or bag with half the marinade and allow to marinate for 20 minutes. 
*Helpful Hint: Don't marinate longer than this. A lot of people think that marinating longer means more flavor, but the acid in a marinade will break down the fish and make it mushy if you marinate it much longer than this. You want flavorful flakey fish, not mushy fish. 

Preheat your BBQ grill to high while the fish marinates. Then, on the stove top, reduce the other half of your marinade in the saucepan over medium heat until it thickens enough to brush on the fish like a glaze. 

Once your fish has marinated for 20 minutes, reduce the BBQ heat to medium-low, and place your salmon fillets right onto the BBQ grill grates, skin side down. No oil or spray necessary; the skin crisps up and releases easily from the grates. Close the BBQ lid and allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until your desired doneness: 
*Helpful Hints: 

  • When picking out fish, you want it to be a bright coral/pink color with defined striations in the flesh. If it is dull or grey in color, it is most likely not fresh. Old, grey fish= pungent, not fresh-tasting fish
  • Do not flip during cooking otherwise you will lose delicious flakes of fish into the fiery abyss of the grill
  • The fish should turn from a translucent pink to an opaque off-white when done. It will also become more firm and flakey when finished :)

 When you have about 5 or 10 minutes left, throw some veggies on the grill while the fish finishes cooking. You can also brush on a little more glaze at this point.

Use a spatula to lift your fish off the grill and remove it to a platter where you can brush it with your glaze.

We enjoyed ours with some lentils and grilled zucchini

Don't forget to garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds too! Not only do they look fun and pretty, but they also hint at the asian flavors in the glaze.