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Chewy Granola Bars

This ones been in the works for a while, and my family has suffered through many test batches in the past couple of months. I wanted something sweetened with honey– no corn syrup or refined sugars, hearty– because a granola bar full of puffed rice is sad, and not too crumbly– which ended up being the hardest requirement to fill! This recipe filled all of those. The recipe may seem a little complex with all of the variation and suggestions, but it really is simple and comes together in a matter of minutes. And in the end, you have 18 filling, scrumptions, granola bars. It’s worth the effort. I made a peanut butter version first, then tried coconut. Both were delicious, though I liked the coconut best.

I adapted the recipe to include a step in which you toast the oats. This prevents a raw oat flavor that I find unappealing, and gave a better texture in the end. If you are in a rush and need to make these quickly, that step can easily be skipped.

Chewy Granola Bars

3/4  c. softened butter*

1 c. honey

1 tsp. vanilla

4- 1/2 c. rolled oats

1 c. fresh whole wheat flour

1/4 cup flax seed meal(just grind flax seed in coffee grinder of small blender)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. add-ins(depending on what flavor you’re going for, use any combination of sliced almonds, chopped peanuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350. Spread oats on a rimmed cookie sheet and toast in oven, stirring every 5-10 minutes for approzimately 20 min. Remove from oven, and reduce oven temp. to 325.

In a large bowl, stir together butter, honey, and vanilla until smooth.

Add in the remaining ingredients, making sure that oats are cooled if using chocolate chips. Stir well and dump into a lightly greased 9×13 pan. firmly press mixture so that it is even and smooth on top.

Bake for 20-25 min. or until golden on edges. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then using a knife, “score” bars into 18 rectangles, cutting about halfway through. Later, when completely cooled, cut the rest of the way through and store in individual bagies or an airtight container.

*If you would like to make a peanut butter version, reduce butter to 1/4 c. and use 1/2 cup peanut butter.

For a coconut version, try using 3/4 c. organic virgin coconut oil(available at The Granary) in place of the 3/4 c. butter.

Italian Dressing Mix

Confession, when serving salad I usually just drizzle on haphazard amounts of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and if I’m feeling fancy, some ume plum vinegar(a new favorite), and I do like it that way, but my family seems to appreciate it when I put atleast a little bit of effort into a dressing. That’s where this recipe comes in. I can make a double batch of this dressing mix, store it in a jar in the pantry(for forever, practically) and just add some oil and vinegar when I need to use it. And, it taste every bit as good(I say better– much less chemical) as a bottled Italian dressing.

All credit for this recipe goes to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.

Italian Dressing Mix 

All of the following ingredients are available at The Granary:

1 1/2 t. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
2 t. oregano
1 T. dried parsley
2 t. sea salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. thyme
1/2 t. dried celery flakes

Combine all ingredients in a container with an airtight lid. I double the recipe and store in a jelly jar.

To make Italian salad dressing:  Mix 2 T dry mix with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 t. water and 1/2 cup olive oil.

I stumbled upon this recipe online recently, and am so glad I did. Quinoa was one of those things for which I needed a good recipe. This was it! Super simple, really, but it made the quinoa seem so normal(It is kind of a strange grain!). This would make such a great side dish to serve with dinner, or a quick lunch.

If you’re not familiar with Quinoa(say, KEEN-WHA), it is a protein packed, grain-like, seed originating from Peru. Also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and fiber, it is becoming increasingly popular as a health food.

Roasted Garlic, Red Pepper, and Mushroom Quinoa

1 head garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups quinoa, uncooked, RINSED WELL! (Available at The Granary)

1 red bell pepper, diced

8-10 small mushrooms, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice top off of garlic head, and peel away extra papers skin on outside. Drizzle top lightly with olive oil. Wrap in tin foil and roast 20-30 minutes or until soft and golden. Unwrap and cool for handling.

Meanwhile, bring rinsed quinoa and 4 cups water to a boil on stove. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked(12-15 minutes).

Heat olive oil in separate skillet and saute red pepper and mushroom until soft(6-8 minutes). Add cooked quinoa and content of roasted garlic cloves. Salt to taste.

original recipe found here

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I don’t make muffins often, almost never, since I got the crazy idea that I should be able to make a decent 100 percent whole wheat muffin. That idea lasted long enough for me to experiment a few times and produce the worst muffins I have ever tasted. How I wish this post was to announce a triumph! Alas, it’s not. I’ve temporarily given up on the idea of a perfectly healthy muffin(who am I kidding anyways?) and compromised with 50/50. Half fresh whole wheat flour, and half unbleached all-purpose.

Voila! I’m inspired to make muffins again, and while I may eventually try to up the amount of whole wheat flour, I’ve decided it certainly is not worth discouraging myself from baking, something I have loved since I was 4 years old,  over 1 cup of white flour! Greatly encouraging to me, as I struggled with this was a delightful book, Good to the Grain. Gorgeous, gorgeous recipes, using whole grain flours mixed with white for flavor and texture, not just health. It seems simple, probably this has occurred to many already, but the idea was inspiring to me. I am freshly determined to bake for the joy of it, free to enjoy it as a nourishing art, not confined to dense muffins.

Now, let’s make some muffins shall we…

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

original recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Preheat oven to 450. Sift together:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour(mill it yourself, or get it fresh from The Granary!)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Cream in a bowl:

1 stick butter

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

Add:

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat and add:

1 cup buttermilk, or yogurt( soured milk worked for me!)

Fold in dry ingredients and:

2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped small.

Fill 12-18 greased muffin cups depending on desired size. For extra prettiness sprinkle brown sugar on tops of muffins.  Bake muffins for 10 minutes, reduce oven temp to 400 and bake 5-8 minutes longer. Done when golden on edges and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Pumpkin Pancakes!

I’ve had this recipe in my binder for a couple of years, always meaning to try it, but never thinking of it when I have the pumpkin on hand. Finally, I thought ahead of time to pull some pumpkin out of the freezer, letting it thaw out overnight in time for breakfast the next morning. It was worth the effort. Of course, the easy thing to do would be to keep canned pumpkin on hand. 🙂

I couldn’t resist making several changes to the original recipe which were good, but definitely resulted in a fluffier, thicker pancake. If you prefer the more traditional thin style, use all milk– no buttermilk. Also, my pumpkin was unusually dry, and unless your pumpkin is also, the result will probably be a little thinner.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 c. flour

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1/4 c. sucanat

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 c. milk

1 c. buttermilk

1 1/4 c. canned pumpkin

1/4 c. melted butter

2 eggs

Beat the liquids together and stir in the melted butter. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add to liquids. Stir briefly, just until incorporated, but still lumpy. Drop on to hot griddle, cook first side, flip on to second side and remove once middle feels springy when gently pressed. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Rice Pilaf

Rice pilaf is a great, inexpensive side dish. I threw this recipe together yesterday after resisting the boxed stuff at the grocery store which contains ingredients I like to avoid. It was easy-peasy, rice and orzo. 🙂

Please realize that I approximated amounts on this so do the same to suit yourself. Also, this recipe made enough for 8 servings at least.

Rice Pilaf

6-8 Tablespoons butter

3 cloves garlic

1  2/3 cup white basmati rice

1/3 cup orzo

4 cups chicken broth

dried parsley and chives, to taste

1/8 teaspoon turmeric, for color

salt(omit if using store bought chicken broth)

Melt butter in large skillet and add garlic and rice. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken broth, turmeric, and herbs. Bring to a boil, cover and cook 2 minutes. Add orzo and cook another 7-9 minutes, being careful to not overcook rice. If necessary, add more chicken broth. When both rice and orzo are tender, turn off burner and allow to sit covered for a few minutes to finish. Salt adequately.

Kale and Onion Tart

I love this simple quiche style tart. Almost rustic in its simplicity, the flavors from the green onion and cheese are savory and complimentary. And don’t stop reading at this point because you aren’t in the mood to mess with a pie crust. This whole wheat crust is quick to whip up and pat in the pan. No rolling or chilling required. 

The key to a really stunning filling is the buttermilk, but if you are hesitant about the strong flavors, I would encourage a combination of buttermilk and regular milk.  

Here’s how I make it with cheddar cheese. If you are ever in the mood to experiment, I think a parmesan version would be wonderful.

Kale and Onion Tart

the crust:

1/4 cup butter softened

1/4 cup coconut oil melted

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix butter and coconut oil together in bowl. Pour in whole wheat flour, and stir to absorb butter mixture until it is crumbly. Add water, a tablespoon at a time until dough begins to hold together. Dump into a 9-10 inch pia pan or a tart pan, pressing dough across the bottom and up the sides. Prick all over crust with fork.  Bake 15-20 minutes.

 

Filling:

4 cups(approximately) coarsely chopped kale. (I buy it already chopped. If you buy it whole, trim out the tough stems before chopping)

2-3 green onions, sliced

1 1/4 cup buttermilk or a combination of milk and buttermilk

2 eggs

4 oz grated cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

Steam kale in a covered pan with a little water for a couple of minutes, just until wilted. Pour out excess water. Stir in onion and plenty of salt and pepper.

After removing crust from oven, reduce heat to 375 degrees. Whisk eggs and buttermilk together in a bowl. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.

Fill crust with kale mixture, then cheese, then the egg mixture. Try to immerse the kale under the egg mixture if possible. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until custard is set. Best served cooled slightly.