- If you like tea, these cookies make an excellent accompaniment!
- If you desire something even more hardy, old fashioned oatmeal would be the way to go
- These cookies store quite well (I kept them in the fridge). Scott prefers them warmed in the microwave compared to room temp, I like them either way, but of course, fresh from the oven is always best.
My mother’s Rock n’ Roll Bars*
Growing up, my family took a week long vacation to Lake Okoboji, IA every summer. I loved these trips, not because the place was that exciting, but more because of all the traditions and memories we had established there over the many years. When I was little, I made friends with other girls on the beach at the resort and we made all sorts of sand creations together, from castles, to sea turtles, to dragons. As I became a bit older I started to be on the lookout for cute boys wishing for a "summer love" to come my way. Ha! I remember one time, I think I was in 7th grade and this little boy came up to me on the beach and held out a walkie-talkie to me and said his older brother and his friend thought I was cute and wanted to talk to me on the walkie-talkie. When I asked where they were, the younger brother pointed to a bush about 50 feet away that they were hiding behind and immediately I saw two boys dart out of it and run away embarrassed! Oh dear. Family traditions included renting a boat for a day, eating breakfast at least once at O'Farrell Sisters (a small, unassuming restaurant in a trailer park that was famous around the lake for their breakfasts and pies made by the cute old ladies that ran the place), relaxing on the beach and swimming in the lake every morning, playing multiple rounds of mini golf in the afternoon, and playing Uno every night.
The week before vacation my mom would prepare two big coolers full of food for the week and one of the things she always made sure to have is a big batch of her Rock n’ Roll Bars. These bars are one of her staples, they have made many appearances on road trips, picnics, in care packages while I was in college, and even now when my family comes to visit Scott and I she often brings a batch of them for us. They are more than just a staple though, they are really, really good! While they share similar flavors with the much loved skotcheroo/Special K bars, I much prefer these because of their texture, the fact that they are something different, and, well, I just like them better. Chocolate on the bottom, gooey marshmallows in the middle, and crisp, airy, rice cereal covered with butterscotch and peanut butter on top, what’s not to like?!
*These bars originally went by the name Rocky Road bars, but when my younger brother was little he thought we were saying "Rock and Roll bars" and called them by that name instead. My mother loved his name for them and it’s been Rock ‘n Roll bars ever since.
My mother-in-law’s Holiday Salad
I first had this recipe at Scott's family Christmas with his grandparents and relatives. This was the first extended family event I went to before we were married. I had heard many times from Scott and his brothers about the prime rib served every Christmas and the ridiculous amounts of it that they eat--not just because they want to or that it is good, but because it’s almost an issue of pride between them of who can eat the most. Myself on the other hand, I can become intimidated by big, massive, sometimes fatty, sometimes bloody, hunks of meat. It just doesn’t excite me the way it does for Scott and his two carnivorous brothers. So while the boys piled their plates high with meat, I took my modest slice of prime rib (which, by the way, I liked much better than I expected) and scanned the table laden with food for something more up my alley. What I found was my mother-in-law's Holiday Salad . I think I may have had three or four servings of it that day! It has crisp greens with sweet red apples and green pears, shards of savory swiss cheese, tart dried cranberries, and toasted pecans all coated in a homemade poppy seed vinaigrette. It is the perfect salad for me. Now when the boys pile their plates high with prime rib every Christmas, I head straight for my own “prime rib” and pile my plate just as high with my mother-in-law’s Holiday Salad.
Thank you moms for your recipes, examples to follow, wise counsel, encouragement, friendship, time and devotion, for your unconditional love, and everything else that you’ve given and continue to give.
Rock and Roll Bars
Thoroughly whisk the first six ingredients together for the dressing. Put remaining ingredients together in a large salad bowl and toss together with the dressing and serve.
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigianno-Reggiano, plus more for serving, optional
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (All I had was the "fresh" basil that comes in a squeeze tube and this worked fine)
1 recipe fresh pasta (see below for recipe) thinly rolled out or 1/2 package wonton wrappers, defrosted--they will taste more "eggy" than normal pasta but still good
For the sauce:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 cups peeled, chopped, and seeded tomatoes **
1 sprig thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Sprigs of fresh basil, for garnishing
Lightly toasted pine nuts, for garnishing, optional
In a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender and lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until the shallots are soft, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the eggplant mixture to a food processor and set aside to cool before proceeding. If you can handle two things at once start the sauce now, if not, wait until you finish the ravioli.
When the eggplant has cooled, add the goat cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, chopped basil, and pulse until combined and mixed thoroughly. If you do not have a food processor just mix the ingredients well my hand.
For the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and thyme. Season with salt and crushed red pepper, and cook until the tomatoes give up their liquid, about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/3 in volume. Add the cream and cook until reduced by 1/3 in volume, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add the butter and basil and stir to combine. Remove the thyme sprigs. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree the sauce in the pan, or do as we did and puree it in the food processor. Taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency if necessary. Return to the saucepan and keep warm while you cook the ravioli.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the ravioli, in batches, until they float, 3 to 4 minutes. *I often find that they start to float before the allotted cooking time is done, if you take the ravioli out then the pasta will be tough so make sure you wait the 3-4 minutes! Remove using a slotted spoon and transfer to shallow serving bowls. Serve the sauce ladled over the cooked ravioli and garnish with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, and more Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired.
**To peel and seed tomatoes simply slit the skin on the bottom in the shape of an "x" and take out the core on top of the tomato. Like this: