Sunday, July 31, 2011

Energy Bars!

I love making our own energy bars. So I know exactly what is going into them. And the options for ingredients are endless. Just remember that they'll only last for around 4 days unless you freeze them.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

1 cup quick oats
1 cup bran
1/4 cup flour (I use whole wheat because it's a lot healthier!)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
(here's the part you get to adjust for yourself!)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped almonds

I've made this recipe with all different types of "fillers". I love macadamia nuts and mini chocolate chips when I'm feeling naughty!

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees! Spray a rectangular baking pan (around 9x13) with cooking spray.

Get your ingredients ready! Start by putting your oats, bran and flour into a mixing bowl.

Then mix in the 1/2 cup dry milk. If you purchase the box with packages in it, this is about 1/2 of a package. I then put the other half in a baggie for next time!

Next add in the cinnamon and ginger

Now is time for your almonds and raisins (or what ever you have decided upon). If you use something like dried figs, you may want to put them into a food processor so that they're cut up into small enough pieces. Or you can just do it by hand. :)

Mix these together well.

Get your eggs and crack them into a small dish. Give them a quick whisk to break them up slightly.

Now add your eggs and the honey

Mix everything together really well. I usually end up using my hands to make sure it's well mixed.

Once that is done, you simply put the mixture into the baking pan and spread it out with your fingers. Throw it in the oven and cook it for 20 minutes. The edges will have a slight brown to them when they're done.

When they're cooked, pull them out and allow them to cool. Then cut into which ever size bars that you want! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stitch N' Bitch

So, a friend of mine taught me the basics of knitting. And then immediately moved halfway across the country. :( I have spent the last ten months making scarves. And more scarves. Because that is all I knew how to do. I've tried looking at youtube videos, but end up off on some other subject. All the books (and there were a lot of them!) have put me to sleep. They make zero sense! Then a girl I know suggested I get this book Stitch 'N bitch by Debbie Stoller:

It is FABULOUS!!! I'm in love....with a book. I got it at Barnes & Noble for under $10! This book should cost much, much more than that. :) It is super informative and the directions are laid out wonderfully! Not to mention that it's beyond hilarious. So if you have thought about trying to knit or want to learn more, I highly recommend this book. And that is coming from a non book learner! Check it out, the worst thing that could happen is you're out $10. But it's well worth it!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lovely Granola!

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I love this granola. I now have to make it weekly or the husband will get upset. :)

This is my granola recipe:

3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower if you prefer them)
1/4 cup oil (I always use olive, but canola would work too)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can also use sweet)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (chopped) toasted nuts (I usually use almond slivers & walnuts)
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (optional)

First off, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get a regular sized baking sheet and cover it with aluminum foil.

Then make sure that you toast the nuts. You can refer to my entry here for directions. Just make sure you do toast them! :)

Next you're going to take all of the ingredients except the fruit and mix them together. I usually start with the dry ingredients: rolled oats, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, nuts, cinnamon, brown sugar, and the salt. Mixing these together well first will help.

Next I add the wet ingredients: oil, vanilla, and honey. Make sure that you mix these together really well. 

Spread the mixture evenly on your baking sheet. 

Now comes what I consider the hard part. You have to keep an eye on the granola while you're cooking it because it can go from perfect to burnt in a minute! This is the schedule that I have discovered works the best:

I start off baking it for 7 minutes. Then I pull it out, stir it, and put it back for another 7 minutes. Stir it again and then set your timer for 4 minutes. At this point it's just about done, so I stir it (again!) and bake it for just another 2 minutes. :) Just watch it and make sure to stir it often. You want it to be a nice golden brown, lighter or darker to your taste.

Once the granola is baked, allow it to cool all the way in it's pan. Once it has cooled you can add in the dried fruit. We use craisin pomegranates.

Now, it's ready to eat! Just try not to eat it all the first day. I usually hide it away. :) Our favorite way to eat it is with vanilla yogurt for breakfast. Yum!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

How to toast nuts

I try not to preach, but when it comes to toasting nuts or seeds....I preach. A long time ago I was one of those people who simply ignored the word toasted and threw the nuts in raw. Until the first time I went ahead and toasted them. From that day on I was a changed girl!

Toasted nuts have a completely different taste. Toasting them brings out the flavor. In fact, toasting makes it so that you don't have to use as many nuts in a recipe. It's hard to describe the difference...just try and you'll see.

Now to toast them. Set your oven to 350 degrees and grab the nuts you want to toast.

I'm toasting some to use to make granola. Get a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan and lay the nuts out on it. You don't need to grease it or anything. 

Put the nuts into the oven. :) You'll want to keep an eye on them, but it takes around ten minutes. Depending upon the type & size of the nuts. You also want to shake them around or stir them with a spoon at least once during toasting. You can tell they're done because they'll be a nice golden brown and you will be able to smell them easily.

Now they're ready! Don't feel bad if you burn a batch....I refuse to admit how many I've burnt. Usually because I forget them!!!

You can also use a skillet to toast them. I use this method when I'm toasting pine nuts or something else really small. It's the same basic idea, heat a skillet to med-high heat until it's hot. Toss the nuts in (no oil!) and cook until brown and fragrant. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tahini Sauce

Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste. I go through the stuff like crazy! It's one of the key ingredients in Hummus (or what I call Yummus!), but it can also be combined with yogurt to make a delicious sauce. You'll need:

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup yogurt (I use Greek yogurt, it's become so popular now you can find it everywhere)
1 lemon (or a couple of Tablespoons of lemon juice)
2 large garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper

Friends have told me that they've had difficulty locating tahini paste before. Most large grocery stores carry it, it's just a matter of figuring out where they shelve it.

Now, this is the easy part. Just simply mix all of the ingredients together! To make it smoother & creamier you can toss it into your food processor for a few moments. Add salt & pepper to your taste, and it's ready to eat! 

It's delicious with my falafel recipe. Or as a dip for vegetables. 


I love Falafels! They're fairly simple to make, super cheap, and delightfully tasty! They're a Middle East dish that's made with deep fried chickpeas and spices. I make them into balls, but you can also make them in a vegetarian burger.

To get started you'll need the following (this will make about 3 dozen of them):

3 cups dried chickpeas
2 Tbl cumin seeds
2 Tbl coriander seeds
1 large onion, chopped
9 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I sometimes substitute oregano)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes (you can adjust this to make it spicier or milder)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Vegetable Oil (used to fry the falafels)
Pita Bread
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, & feta cheese

Tahini or Tzatziki sauce (recipes to follow!)

First you need to rinse the chickpeas and discard any bad ones. The night before you want to make the falafels, you'll need to begin soaking the chickpeas. Put them in a bowl and cover them with water by at least 2 or 3 inches. Put them in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.

Now it's the night to make falafels! Get a small skillet and your cumin & coriander seeds. Put the skillet on medium heat and put the seeds in it to toast them. 

Just leave them over medium heat until they'll toasted and fragrant. Pull the seeds off and grind them up. You can use a mortar & pestle if you have one. Otherwise use your imagination. :) You can substitute already ground coriander & cumin, but the taste will be different. And in my opinion, no where near as great!

Next, drain the water off of the chickpeas and rinse them completely. They will have "grown" to 2-3 times their original size.

Put the uncooked chickpeas into your food processor and grind them. You just want to insure that there aren't any whole chickpeas left, it will not be smooth. Next add the onion, garlic, ground seeds, herbs, red pepper flakes, and baking powder. 

Process these until well mixed and all of the items are well ground. Do not add any water or other liquids! Add salt & pepper to your taste. Transfer the mixture back into your bowl and put it into the refrigerator while you finish preparing the meal. 

Next you'll want to heat the oil. If you have a deep fryer, put it around 350 degrees. If not, use a heavy pot and heat it to med-high heat. While the oil is heating I slice my tomatoes and cucumbers.

Once the oil is heated, get your falafel mixture back out. You now need to roll it into balls, about the size of ping pong balls. 

Test your oil temperature and the consistency of your balls by dropping just one into the hot oil. If it falls apart, you can add a little flour or plain bread crumbs to the mixture to help them stick together. You want the oil hot enough that they'll crisp up on the outside, but not too hot that they'll burn. Once it's all correct, you're ready to go!

I also toss my pita bread into the oven to warm it at this point. :)

Put around six into the oil at once. Be careful to move them so that they don't burn to the bottom of your pan. It takes about 4-5 minutes to cook them. You want them to be a nice, dark brown color on the outside. They'll also be very crispy. When they're ready pull them out with tongs or a slotted spoon and put them on a plate covered with paper towels.

You're now ready for a fabulous dinner!!! Cut open your pita bread and stuff it with a few falafels, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and feta. You can also use drop in some tahini or tzatziki sauce. Eat now and enjoy! Don't forget to make a few extra for lunch tomorrow. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oil & Vinegar

I love birthdays. Mainly when they're mine.

This year I got a great gift from my sister-in-law: a flavored oil & a flavored vinegar!
Somehow I'd never purchased these before....although I'd attempted to make them myself. Unsuccessfully. These are wonderful, the flavors are fantastic! If you're interested, she found them here. I'm planning to place an order for myself to stock up!

Welcome Baby Birds!!!

A while back I went out front to water our hanging basket, all of a sudden something flew out of it at my head. A dove had made it her new home, complete with a partially built nest. After lots of thought and a little debate, I decided that the two of us could share. And so I named her Daisy.
Daisy & I attempted to make an agreement about my plant. She could live there, but she would have to allow me to water it. Often the watering can would cause her to fly away, but we worked on it. The mailman did not appreciate the day that she dive bombed his head. 

Earlier this week my husband was in the front yard and discovered part of an eggshell!
I was ecstatic. Then I was worried...what if the eggs had fallen out of the nest and broken? What if this didn't mean that the babies had been born? I started stalking the nest. I would walk casually past it and trying to see through Daisy's feathers. Eventually she got sick of me and flew off. It was my chance! I held my camera high over my head and snapped pictures, holding my breath that I would see babies in them and not just an empty nest. I pressed the review button and....

There they were! Two of the most delightfully ugly baby birds I had ever seen. Daisy is officially a mom! And I'm officially a landlord. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Be Still My Heart!

Zucchini Bread is one of my all time favorites! My mum always made it when I was a child. I remember sitting at the kitchen table and going crazy waiting for it to come out of the oven! I always thought it was a huge work of art when my mum would put a piece in front of me. I never realized how very easy it is to make!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grab a large bowl and a medium size one. There are about a million different recipes for zucchini bread, but this is the one I use:

3 1/4 cups flour (I personally always use whole wheat)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup oil (I use olive, but a lot of people use vegetable)
1/3 cup water
4 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp vanilla (I usually throw a little extra in!)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups of grated zucchini

First take the flour, salt, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, & nutmeg:

Mix these together in the large bowl.

Make sure that you have grated your zucchini! You can use any size grater, I switch back and forth between sizes.

Mix the remainder of the ingredients together in the medium bowl.

Then mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones.

Spray two loaf pans with nonstick and then split the batter between them. Bake for approximately an hour.

Also, if you have smaller pans they would take about 45 minutes to bake. I like to throw some into small pans and then put the leftover into a cupcake pan (I love that size). Those need to cook about 20 minutes.

Before you take them out, do the toothpick check! Insert a toothpick into the center and make sure that it comes out clean. When they're done, let them cool and enjoy!

Now, for part two of zucchini bread. :) I personally prefer mine plain, but it certainly doesn't have to be! There really is no end to what you can throw in here...and I've seen some interesting versions! I've listed some popular ones below, each would need about one cup worth:

Nuts: walnuts & pecans work the best. Don't forget to chop them
Coconut (shredded. Either sweetened or unsweetened)
Grated apple

Then there comes the topping choice! I LOVE LOVE LOVE strawberry cream cheese on top of mine. Try's fabulous!

I've never done it, but many friends use a cream cheese frosting. You can find a great recipe for it here. Now, go have some zucchini bread!

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