Wow, it’s been a long time. Way back to August, right after school started. What happened to September and October? That’s a very good question. I’m not sure about September, but October was fondly dubbed “The Month of Lisa,” by my family. It was my birthday month. A BIG birthday month, and my peeps surprised me with a long weekend in southern Utah in St. George and Zion National Park. My oldest niece lives in Utah and she drove down to spend the weekend with us. So grateful for her and for my husband and daughter. They made it a really fun birthday.
If that wasn’t enough, I took a week and headed back to our house in Michigan…by myself! It was a week of work, for the most part, gardening, doing some weatherizing projects before closing up the house for winter, and knocking around with some great friends enjoying the fall color, good food, wine, etc. It finally culminated in a birthday celebration I shared with the son of some friends of ours who shares the same birthday. He was game to do a combined party, so they came for dinner, cake, ice cream, and a quiet evening where he turned 10, and I turned…well…let’s just say it was a BIG birthday.
So, before I head off to the post office to mail my AARP membership application (ha ha), I thought I’d at least share a recipe. These are really delicious fruit bars, perfect for lunch snacks, after school treats, or with a cup of coffee in the morning. Unlike my last attempt at a granola-type bar (which I ended up using as crushed granola over yogurt), they held together really well. They’re still flaky because of the crumble crust (and I probably could have pressed the top layer a little more firmly), but didn’t fall apart when eaten.
They’re not too sweet and I used Smucker’s Simply Fruit fruit spread, which has no added sugar, unlike typical preserves or jam. Whole wheat flour and whole rolled oats keep them in the realm of “minimally processed.” Will definitely make these again. Enjoy!!
Whole Grain Fruit Bars (recipe courtesy Two Peas And Their Pod)
- 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 c rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 c cold, unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp ice-cold water
- 3/4 c fruit preserves or jam (your choice, I used strawberry)
- 9×13 baking pan
- parchment paper
- Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
- Combine first four ingredients (in food processor or mixing bowl) and mix well, making sure brown sugar doesn’t have any lumps. (If using food processor, pulse for about 30 seconds.
- With pastry blender or two knives, cut in cold, unsalted butter and ice-cold water until dough just holds together.
- Line 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Dividing dough in about half, press half firmly into bottom of pan.
- Spread jam or fruit preserves evenly over pressed dough.
- Sprinkle remaining dough over top of jam, pressing down very gently.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool completely before cutting.
Well, hello there, 2014!!! By my calculations, I’m only about two weeks late to the party, but, hey…life has a way of being lived sometimes and I have to admit there’s been little time for cooking AND photographing. Just cooking, lately, and Brownie meetings to supervise, and piano lessons to patiently sit through, and puppy obedience classes to attend. Also, believe it or not, it gets dark really early this time of year in the desert. By 5:30, if I haven’t cooked, plated, and photographed, there’s just not enough natural light.
Ahhh, excuses, excuses, excuses. Enough of that, on to the bean dip.
I made this for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2012. It was a huge hit with our guests and, even though it was just going to be the three of us this year (one of whom wouldn’t touch the stuff with a ten foot pole), I decided to do it again for our New Year’s Day feast. We already had too much food, but this dip is so good (and gets better with each passing day), I was happy to have the leftovers for some post-celebration snacking. It’s low in fat, high in flavor (lots of garlic goodness), and a good source of protein and fiber from the beans. It’s also really fast and easy to assemble. Put it together the day before you plan to serve it for maximum flavor mingling! (I hear there’s a big football game in the not-too-distant future). Serve with the crackers or crudités of your choice. Enjoy!!
White Bean Dip with Rosemary and Sage (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, Aug 2007)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
- Fresh sage sprig (optional)
- Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Serve with pita wedges crackers, fresh veggies. Garnish with sage sprig, if desired.
This is an easy recipe to throw together, has relatively low quantities of added sugar, and gave me that first hint of fall baking. The combination of cinnamon and nutmeg just had that “it’s not going to be summer forever” effect on me. These bars serve well as a healthier after-school snack or lunchbox treat, or with a warm cup of coffee on a cool fall morning (winter, if you live in the desert). Kat gave them two thumb’s up so that’s a win in the Mom Column, if you ask me. I thought, given this recipe’s decidedly autumn-ish undertones, you could easily substitute raisins for the chocolate chips and they’d be just as tasty. Enjoy!
applesauce chocolate chip bars
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg (may use 1/4 cup egg substitute instead)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 cup flour
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts or nuts of your choice (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 325°.
Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking oil spray, or line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 sides for easy release after baking.Combine the shortening, brown sugar and egg in a mixing bowl until well incorporated, then add the applesauce and mix well.
Combine 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon and the 3/4 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Combine flour, baking soda,, salt, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and the nutmeg, mixing well. Fold flour mixture into the combined butter/sugar/egg. Add chocolate chips (and nuts, if you choose), stirring to mix well. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned or a toothpick comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool, then run a knife around the edges and cut into bars. If you like, wrap each bar individually and freeze, then pop a single-serving in to your kids’ lunchboxes. It’ll be thawed and ready to enjoy by lunchtime.
I love granola. Yet, I hate granola. I love it because it’s easy to grab a handful for a quick pick-me-up before heading to the gym, or toss it over yogurt for a little texture and crunch. I hate granola because it’s super calorie-dense and, even though it has a lot of really good ingredients, it has a lot of not so healthy ingredients, too; which means even though I want to stand over the bowl and eat serving after serving, I can’t. Well…at least I shouldn’t.
The dilemma is only compounded by the fact this recipe is super yummy and delicious. So use your best judgment. I take absolutely no responsibility if you are will-power challenged and consume the entire quantity in one day. Besides, if you pace yourself, you’ll get to enjoy this heavenly deliciousness a little longer. Enjoy!
1/4 c unsalted butter
approx 1 tbsp canola oil
approx 1 tbsp honey
approx 1/2 tbsp vanilla
several generous shakes of cinnamon
1 1/2 c rolled oats (organic/gluten free)
1 1/2 c puffed brown rice cereal (I used Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice from Sprouts)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/4 c sunflower seeds (husked, unsalted)
1/4 c flax seed
1 c dried cherries
1/2 c dried apricots, diced
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat and add next four ingredients,
mixing well. Remove from heat and add the dried ingredients (holding back dried fruits), stirring until well combined.
Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking pan. Transfer combined ingredients into the baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 15
Remove from oven and add dried fruit, stirring in evenly. Let cool/harden before eating – if you can wait, that is.
***Cook’s Notes: Like all good recipes, this one was sentto me in partially cryptic
measurements. You know how it is when you bake or create something in your
kitchen? It’s always, “Well, I just add it until I think I’ve added enough,” or,
“Shake, shake, shake. Shake, shake, shake.” So this recipe is simply my
approximate equivalents. Do what you will. It is granola, after all. There are
no hard and fast rules.