High Protein Chewy Granola Bars

Yes, it’s been a while (more than a year).  Nor am I going to pretend this is some revival of once-upon-a-time frequent postings.  But I have lots of scraps of recipes floating around the house, and I don’t want to lose them, so, to my online recipe box it goes.  A poorly lit iPhone photo or two, a recipe, and that’s that!

Whole Foods was sampling this recipe and while (like most granola) it’s basically a cookie, it does have a lot of good proteins and no refined sugar, so that’s something.

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High Protein Chewy Granola Bars

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (I used barberries because I had them)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (I used currants because they were very close to the use-by date)
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts chopped
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup cashew butter (I used almond)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t cardamom
  • 1/2 t salt

1.  Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment.

2.  Combine nut butter, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

3.  Stir honey-nut butter mixture into dry ingredients, pour into baking pan and flatten into shape.

4.  Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.  Can be stored at room temperature for up to a week and long-term in the freezer.  (Cut up your parchment paper to make squares to separate the individual squares of granola bars).

Zucchini Sauteed with Tomatoes and Marjoram

If you’ve got a garden, a CSA box, or just try to buy seasonally, you’re awash with zucchinis right now, and maybe even the more exotic summer squashes–orb-shaped, pattypan, crookneck, or something resembling a UFO.  Like you, I’m always trying to find ways to deal with it all.   I consider it at a minimum a good deed and perhaps worthy of some small amount of karma to share ideas for using this bounty, and so here I am.  With a recipe that uses 3 pounds worth of your midsummer windfall.

As I confessed last year (yes, click that link for another recipe) I’m not always the biggest booster of summer squash.  At its worst, it’s waterlogged, perhaps a bit slimy, and in those vegetable “medleys” seems to impart an overcooked taste to otherwise well-prepared meals.  But it can be as fresh tasting as a summer vegetable should be if prepared right.  For me, one of the tricks is salting to draw out excess liquid.

Zucchini Sauteed with Tomatoes and Marjoram

It seems a bit counterintuitive that this should be the case:  we want our produce to be bursting with juices, not old, curmudgeonly, and wizened.  And zucchini’s juices aren’t necessarily objectionable in and of themselves, and that liquid in fact is what makes zucchini breads and muffins moist and delicious.  Contrast this with eggplant where salting importantly extracts bitterness.  With many savory preparations of zucchini, however, I think it’s a matter of improving the texture.  Less water in your vegetable  ultimately means less mushiness, and it allows the flavors of everything you’re cooking that zucchini with to absorb into the squash’s flesh.  When that’s tomatoes and marjoram melding with your zucchini, you’ve got something good on your hands.

Zucchini Sauteed with Tomatoes and Marjoram

This makes an easy side dish (I’m thinking a simple steak with oregano and olive oil). Or if you have good crusty bread around to mop up the summer flavors, a nice light meal.

Zucchini Sauteed with Tomatoes and Marjoram

Zucchini Sauteed with Tomatoes and Marjoram (inspired by several recipes in Marcella Hazan‘s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking).

  • 3lb zucchini or any mix of summer squash
  • salt (preferably kosher)
  • 2-3T olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes (if not already chopped, chop before adding to recipe, reserving the juice for the recipe as well)
  • 1/4t dried marjoram (1t fresh)
  • one onion, finely chopped

Slice the zucchini as thinly as possible, then layer in a colander, sprinkling salt as you go.  Place over the sink, toss a bit to distribute the salt, and then allow to drain for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you wish.  While you wait, you can begin preparing the remainder of the recipe.  Note that when you are done draining, you should taste the zucchini before proceeding with the next step to gauge how much salt remains–you may need to pat it dry or lightly rinse.  If only slightly oversalted, this is fine but adjust the salt later in the recipe to take this into account.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Heat the olive oil, then add the onion when hot.  Cook over medium heat until soft.  Add the garlic and marjoram, cook for 30 seconds, and add the chopped tomatoes.  If ready, you can add the zucchini at this point.  Or you can allow the zucchini to drain further and just simmer this tomato-onion sauce over medium low.

Stir in the zucchini, and cook over the stove for about five minutes.  Then put in the oven, without a lid, and bake until the zucchini is tender and its juices have baked away.  This generally takes about 20-30 minutes for me, but as long as your zucchini is tender to your liking, you’re good to go.

Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.  Nice to eat with crusty bread which sops up the juices.

“Exceptionally Good” Macaroons

My love of coconut is a new thing.  We didn’t eat much of it when we were growing up, so I didn’t bake with it much.  With so many other tasty options in bakeries, I would go for the good ol’ standby rather than try something new.  My attitude seems to be more “why mess with a good thing?” than my sisters.  I remember Sara made coconut cupcakes for little E’s first birthday and sent home the extra flaked coconut home with Marie who was visiting.  I thought, “huh.  Coconut?”  Slightly intrigued and yet since I was on the other coast during that birthday I had still not had the occasion to enjoy.

Last year, Paul sent me this picture:

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

It was a chocolate dipped coconut macaroon.  He bought this delicacy at the Mt. Bachelor ski lodge near Bend, Oregon.  It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from where I live now in Portland, so the treat did not make it to me for a sample.  However, he discovered they were ALSO sold at Kettleman’s Bagels, which happened to be in my neighborhood and in my work neighborhood.  These macaroons were the size of your fist, sweet coconut goodness with just the right amount of chocolate.  Wow.  Love.  Sometimes we’d split the macaroon sometimes we’d each get our own.  Occasionally my boss and I would treat ourselves on a particularly tedious Friday afternoon.  She’s a fan too.

I mention that Kettleman’s HAPPENED to be in the neighborhood.  Past tense.  A few months ago it was bought out by Einstein’s bagels.  Much of the locavore community here in Portland was up in arms with the diminished selection of bagels (a controversy that was dubbed “Bagelgate“).  They took to facebook indeed!  I, however, have mourned the coconut macaroons.  Resigned with the knowledge that the treats were no more, I decided it was time to learn how to make them.

I found this Alice Medrich recipe on Salt and Serenity via my good friend Lis.

Were I to do this again, I’d try with shredded coconut to be more in line with my original favorite, but as one recipient commented, they are “exceptionally good” macaroons.

Exceptionally Good Macaroons

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces) unsweetened dried flaked (not shredded) coconut, also called coconut chips OR 3 cups (9 ounces) sweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil Set aside.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

4. Using 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.

Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

5. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes and again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, you can lower the heat to 300°F.  I also covered them with a little foil because I don’t prefer them too dark.

6. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. If you plan to add chocolate, press a small piece of your favorite chocolate into the cookies while they are still hot.  I tried semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate – whatever suits your fancy!


7. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie. The cookies are best on the day they are baked—the exterior is crisp and chewy and the interior soft and moist. Although the crispy edges will soften, the cookies remain delicious stored in an airtight container for 4 days.

Pear Gingerbread Muffins

I know:  more gingerbread.  But I had to share here a post I wrote over on Honest Cooking.  After all, is there such a thing as too much gingerbread?  No, I didn’t think so.

I always think there’s something sumptuous about the idea of spices.  Hundreds of years ago, when spices were rare enough to be plied as currency, preparing food laced with a cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves must have been more than merely welcoming–it was a statement. Today, of course, spices are no longer such a precious specie–cinnamon is an everyday flavor, nutmeg almost as much, and cloves we even use for decoration.  Still, somehow that legacy of luxury seems to linger, and I think that must be why I always feel a bit profligate when I add spoonfuls of these potent powders to a batter or dough.

Funnily enough, though, the end product is more about comfort than extravagance.  Take gingerbread–laden with spices, but what is more homey? To these gingerbread muffins, I’ve added chunks of juicy pear, a fruit that begs to be combined with these warm flavors. It’s cozy feet in slippers in the middle of winter, but I could eat it any time of year.

Note:  Feel free to substitute whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour for up to half the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. In fact, this is another advantage of the spices: they add enough flavor that picky eaters probably won’t even notice the whole wheat.
Pear Gingerbread Muffins
  • 2c (9.2 ounces or 260 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • pinch of mace (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 c dark brown sugar (1.4 ounces/40g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c (120mL) light molasses
  • 1 c (240mL) cold water
  • One Bosc (or other baking) pear, diced.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C).  Line, or lightly butter 12 standard (1/3-cup/80mL) muffin cups.
Whisk flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, mace if using and salt in medium bowl to blend.  In a second larger bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, molasses, and eggs. Stir in the cold water. Add half of the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the diced pears.
Bake gingerbread until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes (check after 20 minutes).
Set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the muffin tin and allow to cool completely on the rack.

Spiced Citrus Champagne and Baklava for New Year’s

Thanks to my sister and her great ideas I was able to find a great recipe for me to use this New Year’s (and The Kitchn). We not only had great cocktails but we also had homemade baklava (made by my friends mother!) It was a very low-key night. My husband and I went to another friends apt and had dinner and watched the ball drop. Even though the weather was great in NYC, none of us wanted to be near Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I guess that’s what happens when you live in New York for too long. Large amounts of people starts to feel very unappealing over time.

My friend’s mother was born in Turkey and a fabulous cook. I had always had the Greek baklava which is made with honey (and lots of it!), but Turkish baklava is much different because it’s made with no honey and just sugar and butter. The difference is it’s much, much lighter. So if any of you out there love baklava but hate the heavy feeling afterwards, you should definitely try this kind. This truly was a great dessert. They wrapped me up a little doggie bag and I’ve been taking many trips over to the fridge this entire day.I have recently realized that I only have four pieces left. Now there is only one and I don’t know if I can wait for my husband to come home and finish it!

The recipe below is unfortunately not my friend’s mom’s secret recipe, but is from the very reliable epicurious.com.

Turkish-Style Baklava

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pound package phyllo sheets, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, melted

Syrup:

  • 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 lemon, peel only
  • 1 clove

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Mix together the walnuts, sugar, and spices and set aside.

As you work, keep the sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom of a jelly roll pan (12-inch x16-inch). Brush the dough lightly with melted butter. Repeat this process until there are 8 sheets of phyllo in the pan.

Sprinkle one-third of the nut mixture onto the phyllo sheets.

Place 4 more sheets of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing melted butter between each sheet.

Place another one-third of the nut mixture on the dough.

Layer the remaining sheets of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing melted butter in between each sheet. Brush the top sheet with butter as well.

Trim the edges so that they do not stand above the level of the dough.

Cut the pastry into 2-inch squares, making sure not to slice through the bottom layer of phyllo dough. Leaving the bottom layer uncut will allow the syrup to soak in more efficiently.

Bake at 375°F for 25–30 minutes or until the top layer of the phyllo takes on a light golden brown color.

While the dough bakes prepare the syrup. Combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove the clove and lemon peel.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour hot syrup over the baklava.

Before serving allow the baklava to stand at room temperature until cooled. Slice through the bottom layer of phyllo dough and serve.

What was else on the dessert list? Spiced Citrus Champagne. It was around 11:30pm and I almost completely forgot that I had to heat up all the ingredients. The hardest ingredient to find is the star fruit, but you can find it at a more specialty based grocery store. Now, the worst part of the night was when we got to our friends and realized we forgot the key ingredient at home (along with the specialty cheese that cost an arm and a leg). I take no blame for this one. I was rushed out the door by someone. Period.

Anyway, this drink was made without the star fruit and it still worked. I think the star fruit has pectin in it (so a friend said) and that helps to soke up the liquids like the honey and water. So my syrup ended up being more like a mixer and much more water based.

I’m not the biggest fan of champagne as it often makes me a bit sick, but it’s New Year’s right? So, this was a good middle of the road drink because you can add as much of the syrup as you like. The “syrup” which is just a mixture of water, honey, cloves and cinnamon can really be added to any favorite alcohol. Need a hot toddy (second reference to this drink on this blog–I know)? All the ingredients are there so it’s a win-win in my eyes!

Spiced Citrus Champagne

  •  1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Zest of 2 lemons, cut into long strips
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Champagne, or dry sparkling white wine

Bring water, honey, lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Cool syrup.

Serve each glass of sparkling wine with 1 tablespoon spiced syrup and a splash of orange juice, to taste. Garnish with a slice of star fruit or a lemon twist.


Mulled Wine

New Years Eve is upon us and  I have a great recipe for mulled wine if anyone is trying to figure out what to serve at their holiday party.

A new wine shop down the street from me (The Winey Neighbor at769  Washington in Brooklyn) has specials on select wines and they had one special that came with a recipe for mulled wine.  The wine I got was Casas Patronales. The grape used in this wine is Carmenere which is Chile’s signature grape!

This was especially exciting for me because I wanted to make a warm drink for my husband and I on our fake Christmas Eve. We didn’t get to spend Christmas together so we planned our own Christmas Eve together which was two days before Christmas (the day before I left!) We were supposed to have hot chocolate but this idea got axed the second I saw this recipe. My friends and family know that I LOVE hot toddies ( I just love saying the words- “hot toddy“) but I have to say I may like mulled wine more.

Here’s what you need:
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup of brandy
2 tbsp of honey
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of nutmeg

You mix all of this together and heat of the stove right before it starts to boil. This serves one so double it or triple it for a nice night to yourself (why not, right?)

Our fake Christmas Eve was wonderful with this addition and this drink is great on a regular old Monday night too. We have a long winter ahead of us! Enjoy.