Tag Archives: kid friendly

Super Addictive Granola Bars

9 Jan

Happy 2017, y’all! It’s chilly out there, but I found a great way to keep the kitchen warm: turn on the oven and make some divine granola bars. The inspiration came from Smitten Kitchen and I’ve followed her recipe fairly closely, omitting the corn syrup. For the mix of dried fruit and nuts, foodNURDling and I used 1 cup of raisins, 1 cup of peanut and cashew pieces and then made up the rest with dried dates, dried apple slices and peanut butter chips. The thing I like most about this recipe aside from its versatility is that it’s not overly sweet; the bars aren’t shiny like the store-bought ones. There’s still LOTS of sweet stuff in these but you won’t feel the need to brush your teeth right after eating them.

A note that you will want to cool these suckers down completely before cutting them. They’re a bit crumbly and will fall apart if you cut them while they’re still warm!

Ingredients

1 2/3 c quick rolled oats
1/3 c oat flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 ts salt
1/2 ts cinnamon
2-3 c dried fruits and nuts – suggestions: peanuts, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, dried cranberries, dried apples, dried dates, dried apricots, dried cherries, raisins, pepitas, chocolate/peanut butter/butterscotch chips…
1/3 c peanut/nut butter
1 ts vanilla
6 tb melted butter
1/4 c maple syrup
1 tb honey
1 tb water

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a 9x9x2 baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease/spray the parchment paper and any exposed parts of the pan.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together, including the fruits & nuts. In a separate small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Pour the the wet into the dry and mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Spread the mix into your prepared pan and press firmly to make sure they are molded right to the pan. If you find the mix very sticky, you can place a piece of plastic wrap on top and press on that. Voila!
4.Bake for 30-40 minutes. You want a bit of a crispy edge to the bars, so don’t be afraid to leave it for the full 40 – you can always check at 30 and decide if they are right for you. They’ll be soft to the touch in the middle but they’ll set when completely cool.
5. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a rack. I placed the whole thing in the fridge after 15 minutes and left it there for another 30. Once cool, cut them into squares with a serrated knife and place them in an airtight container. They freeze well if you’re not going to eat them all in a few days.

bars

Right out of the oven and smelling deeeeeeelish.

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Braised Pork Stew

27 Jan

Because I just can’t stop buying cookbooks, Michael Smith’s latest, Family Meals, has appeared on my shelf. I’ve always liked Smith: he was my gateway into cooking fish for the first time and his recipes (while sometimes a bit short on the salt for my taste) never fail me. I like his philosophy that a recipe is simply somewhere to start, a thing to be played with, an idea upon which to expound. I feel the same way: when I come across a new recipe, I’ll generally leave the fundamentals alone but will alter things like seasoning and heat levels to suit my taste.

This particular book has some fantastic slow cooker recipes and quite a few vegetarian recipes that look enticing. I tried out the slow-cooked pork shoulder stew this weekend it’s a keeper. We added a few dashes of hot sauce to our bowls but kept it out of the main pot to avoid burning foodNURDling’s little tongue. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. It’s hearty, filling and healthy. This recipe also makes a TON so you will definitely have leftovers. Cook once, eat many times. Works for me.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3lb pork shoulder, halved
salt & pepper
2 tb vegetable oil
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 ts dried thyme and/or rosemary
2 ts salt
7c water
1c white wine (or, if you don’t want to use alcohol, skip it and add 8 cups of water instead of splitting it)

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 300F.
2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan (a Dutch oven is perfect) to medium-high heat. Add the oil and watch for it become shimmery. Season the pork generously with salt & pepper and the two pieces of pork to the pan, searing on all sides until nicely browned.
3. Add in the celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, herbs, salt and liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cover with  a tightly-fitting lid and place in the oven for 3-4 hours.
4. Remove the pot from the oven. The pork will now be fork-tender; shred or cube the meat. Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Granola

2 Jul

File this under “why didn’t I do it sooner?” I’ve had it in my head that I’d like to make my own granola for ages but somehow never got around to it. Finally, timing and motivation collided and in less than an hour with almost zero effort on my part I had aromatic, crunchy, salty, rich, sweet, filling, semi-healthy granola! (Yes, it’s high in fat but they are beneficial fats and if you’re in need of a snack, this stuff is better for you than junk food.)

There is no right or wrong way to make granola as it’s pretty much the most adaptable recipe of which you could conceive. There are some basic ratios but your ingredients can change with every tasty batch. If you want large clusters, don’t stir the granola while it bakes; for small pieces that work well as a topping for yogurt, give the whole batch a good stir every 15 minutes. Or, do what I did and stir half to get the best of both worlds. If you intend to add dried fruit – and I recommend you do – make sure you stir it in at the end when the granola has cooled. Otherwise, the baking process will dry them out further and you’ll get a pretty unpleasant texture. Same goes for chocolate chips: add ’em in at the end or you’ll get melted chocolate.

Makes…a lot, which is good because it won’t stick around long.

granola

Ingredients

3 c old fashioned oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
1 1/2 c chopped nuts (a mix of walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
1 1/2 c coconut shavings or flakes
1/2 c maple syrup
1/4 c coconut or olive oil
1/4 c sesame seeds
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c flax seed
2 tb brown sugar
1 1/2 ts salt
1/2 ts cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 c dried fruit (cherries, raisins, cranberries, bananas, apricots, blueberries, mango, pineapple, etc.)
1 handful chocolate chips, optional but delicious

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 300F.  Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir together everything except the dried fruit and chocolate chips until thoroughly combined.
3. Spread the whole thing out on the baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes for small pieces; don’t stir at all for large clusters; or stir some for a mix of both.
4. Allow to cool and then add dried fruit and chocolate.
5. Store in an airtight container and it’ll last for a solid two weeks if you don’t eat it all before then.

Turkey & Avocado Melts

17 Mar

A couple of months ago, a friend started tweeting pics of quick & easy dishes she was making from Michael Symon’s book, “5 in 5.” She is a busy mom of two small fries who loves to cook and we tend to gravitate toward the same kinds of food. When her pictures started to appear, it piqued my interest and I ordered the book for myself after she swore I’d like it.

I’m now a little obsessed.

I am blowing through this cookbook at breakneck speed.  True to her word, the book contains 120 recipes that can be done in a pretty short amount of time, none of which require a lot of ingredients. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve made from chicken satay to the ridiculously addictive  caramelized banana sundaes (frigid weather be damned!).  A particularly hearty yet simple dish is the turkey & avocado melt which can be thrown together in about ten minutes flat. The crunch of the bread, the smoothness of the avocado, the decadence of the earthy gruyère and the sharpness of the Dijon make for a satisfying sandwich. Try it: I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

8 slices sourdough/any bread you like, thick-cut
1 lb  turkey, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
4 slices gruyère
2 tb Dijon mustard (approximately. You may need more.)
2-3 tb mayo
Kosher salt & pepper

Directions

1. Preheat a pan or griddle to a medium heat.
2. Lay out the slices of bread and spread the Dijon on each piece.
3. On four pieces of bread, layer the turkey, then avocado. Sprinkle with salt & papper.
4. Layer on the gruyère and the second piece of bread.
5. Spread mayo on both outer sides of the sandwich and place on the pan/griddle, cooking until golden brown on both sides & the cheese has melted.

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