Tag Archive for 'Snack'

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars & Other Musings

As I post this long overdue note, I am reminded how quickly life can change – and it has. Week One of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in my part of the world saw the initial lockdown expanded from local pockets in the Bay Area to all of California. It has us all looking for ways to stay connected. Virtual is the new every day- and respectful in-home space is a necessity for the new work and study from home evolving culture. I’ll be sharing more recipes and thoughts but for now, let’s get back to a day, not oh, so long ago when this Black Swan event wasn’t even a blip in our consciousness.

Written on January 2, 2020.

Heading into a new decade- the roaring ’20s carries with it a lot of Gatsby-esque lore. But things have changed. A lot. Not just on a personal level but as a nation. In the ’20s a nation was separated by their limited transportation or financial options. Now we are isolated by choice. By the option to do things in our own desired timeframe, creating our own moments. I am feeling a definite nostalgia for the monoculture of yore. The last decade was riddled with one word across multiple experiences- overload. Practically a sanity-endangering overload that took hold in 2000 and by 2020 manifests in a liquidity of information in excess – original content, streaming music, algorithms of your preferences served like a dessert buffet, less thinking involved and less time for shared group experiences. It’s no wonder that I now cling to things that foster a shared sense of unity in our small circles like watching The Godfather on TV at Thanksgiving, complete with annoying commercials, or trying to find a movie that we all like to watch together vs all sitting in one room, on our devices doing different things. In the last decade, it has become easier to be alone, and simultaneously feel stretched. Even despite all of the things we lost, in the rubble and ashes of our collectiveness is the interest to work together as a team. And from the ashes rise the phoenix. New things we never thought or dreamt of like mimes, podcasts and binge-watching are now creating their own communities. AI themes are becoming a reality, yet somehow shared temporality continues to exist. The world is full of change and possibility.

This last decade was not to be taken lightly on the personal front either. In it all, thanks to modern technology, I cheated death. Well, technically, I did it twice. I’ve discovered my ability to find humor, treat myself with less seriousness and that when I am stressed, I find myself in the kitchen. Simplification is my talisman. #GetWhatYouWant is my 2020 motto and the more I say it, the more it becomes true. And that is exactly what I’ve set my sights. From cars to getaways to special moments to spending time with those I adore to rediscovering fun again in my art of words and strategy. For the first time, it feels as if the sky is the limit. The culmination of life and love and dedication and persistence.

One of my constants is people. Good people make the special moments memorable, the important professional milestones less difficult / more rewarding and are IMO the true testament to who you are – your sense of humor, ability to handle stress and find your happiness. Lately, I’ve found a lot of incredible moments. This one leads to a recipe. The reader’s digest version is that in January some good things happened, and I found myself in London at a meeting in a drop-dead gorgeous spot, way too early to be having breakfast and then this unassuming ‘bar’ turned my head. I ate one and followed it with another, then sheepishly asked for the recipe. ACCESS DENIED. They did offer to let me take a few of these bars home. Then the real fun began as I attempted to deconstruct and reconstruct this magic.

These bars, filled will nuts and seeds, make a tasty snack. Toasted seeds and oatmeal give this bar extra flavor, and the addition of gingery/chocolatey goodness makes for a great blend of textures and flavors. This super easy granola bar is what says it is. Super easy, seedy and amazing! Other flaked grains like quinoa or rice flakes can be used. Substitute nuts with more seeds to make them nut-free. So many possibilities! Added bonus, these bars are both vegan and gluten-free.

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars

Ingredients

1 cup old fashioned oats, certified gluten-free if necessary

1/4 cup toasted/roasted pumpkin seeds pepitas or sunflower seeds

2 TBS sesame seeds or hemp seeds

2 TBS chia seeds

3 TBS raw cashews

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

3 TBS chopped candied ginger

pinch of salt (optional)

protein powder (optional)

1 TBS sugar (optional)

3/4 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate

2 tsp coconut oil

Directions

Toast the oats on a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and the color changes slightly which is approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the oats and set aside. Add the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds to the skillet and toast until they start to change color; approximately 4- 5 minutes. Then add in the chia seeds and continue to toast for a minute longer; add it to the bowl with the oats.

Chop up cashews, walnuts, and candied ginger into small pieces and combine. Mix in a pinch of salt. If using protein powder, you can add it in now and mix until well combined.

In a double boiler or the same skillet over medium-low heat, add chocolate and coconut oil and continue mixing until most of the chocolate is melted. Add 1 TBS sugar if you tend to like sweeter bars. Remove from heat and continue to whisk until smooth. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Next add the toasted oats, seeds, nuts, candied ginger to the skillet.

Transfer the mixture to parchment-lined 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Using another piece of parchment on top, press the mixture down evenly.

Chillfor 15 minutes. Slice and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Small Batch Carmel Corn

The holiday season brings with it heaps of food memories. For me, the smells and tastes are triggers. As we work our way through so many of the traditional Sicilian dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation, I feel blessed and cursed. Blessed to have a family so very steeped in traditions in their love of food and cursed that these time intensive delicacies rob me of what little free time I have. There is certainly joy in finding time to cook with my Aunt, Cousin and my Mother, but there is so much pressure to get things done for the big day.

My husband and I are both products of divorced families. As children, having multiple Christmases has its silver lining – seemingly infinite gifts. As adults, the silver lining can sometimes be overwhelming – driving, shopping, cooking (repeat x 4). I end up feeling energy depleted and trying to figure out how I might lighten the load next year.

There is no sugar coating it; four Christmases is A LOT to be merry about. That’s not to say that each celebration is not coveted and special; I love them all. We all do. And we love all of the nice interactions with family and extended family and friends. Yet this year I think I reached my saturation level. I’ve declared that next year I will take the year off. I want to truly appreciate how special it all is, and in order to do that I need to be able to have a holiday where I can just relax. As I shared this with our families the response was very mixed if not perplexed. Even my children were wondering why such measures would be necessary. The reason is simple. I’d like next Christmas to be different. Not complicated or time consuming but indulgent. I am not looking for an epic adventure, just long lazy days, a book and a walk on the beach followed by some festive red cocktail as we head out to dinner.

So I’ve got a dream. Let’s see if I can make it happen. As we head into these final days of 2017, I am making my wish and resolution list and I am going to be a bit selfish with how I spend my time in 2018.

For those interested in a preview (or inspiration) this is what my list is starting to look like.

• Finding the peace in quiet moments

• Work life flow; in the direction of ‘life’ (admittedly there is no ‘balance’)

• More fun, more smiles, more memories, more laughter

• First Friday gatherings with my girlfriends, make a standing date to see the ladies I adore with zero planning

• Travel!

• Be spoiled…

While reflecting on food memories I was ‘reminded’ by Facebook about my favorite childhood caramel corn recipe. This was a ‘camp’ recipe shared with me by the mother of one of my friend’s, and it’s something I’ve never outgrown. >I use the term ‘camp’ loosely because this interlude hardly involved tents or camp fires; it was time away from home in the summer and it was pretty darn amazing!<

This easy Caramel Popcorn is the perfect salty/sweet combo! It starts with fluffy, freshly popped popcorn then it is glazed with real butter and decadent brown sugar, and nuts of your choice — pieces of almonds, cashews and/or pecans make for an irresistible crunch.

Small Batch Carmel Corn

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter

½ cup corn syrup

6 quarts popped corn (1 cup uncooked kernels)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

pecans, walnuts or cashews, to your liking

Directions

Put popped corn and nuts into large bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Boil sugar, butter, syrup and salt for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add in baking soda. Stir well over popped corn and nuts. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring in 15 minute intervals. Remove from oven and cool then store in air tight container.

Sassy RED Spicy Granola

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Remember waking up early, sneaking downstairs to make your mom a special Mother’s Day Breakfast in bed? The quality of the breakfast was usually commensurate with the age. My specialty was drop biscuits with jam. Still one of my favorites go to breakfasts even today.

I remember my kids brining me flowers from the yard and burnt cheese on burnt toast. And I loved it! I loved hearing them scamper about the kitchen, trying desperately to be quite in their loudest ‘yell whispers’. Continue reading ‘Sassy RED Spicy Granola’

Anytime PBJ Toast – The Make-Over

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I know, I’ve been silent. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to share, but rather too much to share to know where to begin. I am at some sort of a beginning and I’ve yet to crystallize my thoughts, but time and distance are moving me closer to that bridge. Right now I am the most simple version of me that I can ever recall. There is time to observe what’s going on around me, and even time to think through a situation and examine if my life pre-Cancer was all that amazing and worth repeating. Continue reading ‘Anytime PBJ Toast – The Make-Over’

Overnight Fruity Oatmeal Parfait

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There is something about Shasta that just clicks with me. I struggle to put my finger on the exact feeling, but as my father says, “It’s in me.” My history with Shasta pre-dates me – my grandfather and my great-uncle started coming here with my father back in 1953. Their quest was mostly to fish and to drink the sulfur water. Continue reading ‘Overnight Fruity Oatmeal Parfait’

Raw Apple ‘Cookies’

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There are those times when it is necessary to change the way you look at things. Change the lens and refocus even on something as simple as an apple. Step out of your comfort zone and Continue reading ‘Raw Apple ‘Cookies’’

Hearty (Heart + Healthy) Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Thanks to my friend Illina, banana chocolate chip cakies have become a house hold favorite over the past few years. With the combo of banana and chocolate chips at the top of the ‘regulars’ chart this recipe is a new twist on a family favorite. One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it is diabetic friendly and dairy free.

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Hearty Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffin Ingredients

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup Almond Coconut milk (or can substitute vanilla almond milk)

2 eggs** (vegan substitution below)

1 TBS baking powder

3 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBS sugar, optional

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (vegan variety are dairy free)

Muffin Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then mix in chocolate chips.

Coat muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or use liners.

Fill 12 muffin cups to the brim.

Bake 20-30 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. If using cooking spray, loosen the muffins from the pan by tracing around the edges with a blunt knife to release. Serve warm.

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Vegan Egg Substitute Adaptation:

Flax seeds contain properties that are ideal for replacing eggs in vegan baking. It is important to use GOLDEN flax seeds which are the light colored ones as the brown flax seeds will alter the color of baked goods. If you are just looking to mix it up a bit and are not necessarily vegan here are some flax seed 101 facts on this alternative goodness: the seeds contain protein, fiber and are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which makes this binder a healthy alternative to other egg replacers. Below are the ingredients to make the equivalent of 1 egg. (Remember for THIS recipe you will need to double the amounts below.)

Flax Seed Meal Ingredients

3 TBS water

1 TBS golden flax meal (to make meal follow directions given)

Flax Seed Meal Directions

Using a blender, food processor or a spice grinder, grind the flax seeds into meal. If opting to grind a larger amount it can be stored in an air-tight container, in the freezer, for up to one year. Equivalents: 1 cup of flax seeds equals about 1 1/3 cups of flax meal.

Add the water to a small bowl, then add the flax meal combining with a whisk or fork. Let the mixture set-up for 5-10 minutes so it develops a raw egg-like consistency. If trying to expedite the process, warm water will speed things up.

Stone Soup

When my first child went to pre-school I recall being perplexed when we were told that our children were going to be making Stone Soup. As someone who can typically find their way around the kitchen, and enjoys trying new recipes, I have to confess, this concept did not excite me.

Yet the lore of the story is about making something from nothing. A good-tasting soup, beginning with a stone and boiling water, becomes a fabulous soup with the addition of a little bit of this and that. At heart, the traditional story is a trickster tale. Typically, the person starting the soup is a beggar who is denied the food he requests from someone living in a house. In many versions, including in the American Civil War version, the beggar is a soldier looking for food. For the original version of how to make this soup, you’ll have to read to the end of the post, for those in the hurry I will share with you my very very favorite version of Stone Soup, named such because the person who taught me this recipe is named Colbi Stone. Read on, it will not disappoint you. Try it as a breakfast, snack or dessert and I promise you’ll be hooked before you can say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.




Acai Bowl Bliss (AKA Stone Soup)

Ingredients

1 100g packet organic acai smoothie packs/original Rio Blend with gurana, frozen
2 ripe bananas
3/4 cup blueberries + 1 TBS, frozen
6 strawberries, frozen
2 strawberries
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup granola
honey

All ingredients can be found at Whole Foods. There are two kinds of Acai smoothie packs, you want the original Rio Blend. The brand I used was Sambazon. They are sold in the freezer section in four packs.

Directions

In a blender add frozen acai berry puree, 1 sliced banana, 3/4 cup frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries and soy milk. Mix until well blended. Pour into a bowl. Add granola, layer with remaining banana, strawberries, blue berries and drizzle with honey.

Note: for my version I used granola with chocolate chips- why? Because I love the flavor of chocolate and berries commingled.



Back to my previous story of pre-school Stone Soup cookery….
The day before the big meal, the teachers asked each student to bring in a vegetable to share and the teacher brought in a pot and one very clean, scrubbed, river stone. With the stage set, the story was read.


The Story of Stone Soup

Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”

“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

“Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”

Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”

The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

For those of you who are feeling adventurous, I would HIGHLY recommend this version of Stone Soup.