Monday, July 30, 2012

Energy packed Coconut Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars!

Hi all. This overdue post comes with a few points. Firstly, I have been training for a half marathon race that can explain for said blogging-absence. Seriously, training is a full time job. The only payment is the the finish line. Well, I am happy to report that race is OVER, and was completed successfully!!! Cheers to all my friends that completed it with me.... we rocked it!!!! That's no joke, we really did... given it was a rock n' roll sponsored marathon. In Chicago, none the less!

All this race prep had me eating and preparing some foods that packed energy, healthful ingredients, and the carbs needed to get me going for my day's work out. Coupled with the fact that us gals wanted to be prepared come race weekend, I couldn't resist whipping up a batch of homemade granola bars to gift each of the ladies upon arrival in Chi-Town. Hence, these granola bars.

Everyone has an old box of oats, slivered almonds, grains and some dried fruits laying around. Had I known my own granola was THIS easy to pull off. I would never have bought the grocery store versions, ever. I mean.... what do they really put in those things?? All that sugar that makes them stick together & gooey....I'll stick to my own, thanks. 

Next time you want to whip up a healthy snack to throw in your bag for your weekly endeavors, try this. Swap out the ingredients for your favorite grains & dried fruits, and you've got a fail-proof recipe! Crumble them up, make pure granola, and top it with your favorite non fat yogurt! NOW, we're talkin :)

This recipe is dedicated to Maureen, Christine, Christina, Cynthia, & Dianne------ CONGRATS ON THE HALF MARATHON, LADIES!!!!!!! 

Now, when is the next one?!?!

Energy Packed Coconut Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars


2 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
1 cup dried raisins
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and evenly spread out the oats, coconut, and slivered almonds. Toast roughly 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Every 5-7 minutes, mix the ingredients up so they cook evenly. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey until comes to a slow boil, reduce heat, simmer, and stir constantly. Cook down for 3-5 minutes. In a large heat proof bowl, add the toasted oats/nuts mixture & add wheat germ & dried fruits. Add the melted & cooled butter & peanut butter mixture and mix throughly. 

Line an 8 by 12 baking dish (similar to a brownie pan) with parchment paper, and evenly spread out the mixture. Using a large spoon, and your hands, press the mixture down with a little pressure to create an even, bar-like spread. Bake at 300F for 30-35 minutes or until browned thoroughly (but don't burn!). Your kitchen will smell like heaven. Remove from the oven, let cool thoroughly, then refrigerate 2-3 hours at minimum. Remove, slice, and serve! SAVE THE BITS THAT FALL OFF--- this stuff makes kick a$$ granola!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

It is no unusual habit in my family for someone, or multiple people, to crave desserts at a crazy hour of the night. So, at 9pm, after a massive BBQ had gone down and we all swore we were "so full it hurt" I found myself, my sister and cousin itching for something sweet. Scouring the pantry, a York peppermint party and a pack of gum just wouldn't cut it. We needed something better.

Solution? Bake.

But what to bake, at 9pm, that would be quick and easy enough to put together? Minimal effort was key here, folks. I must admit, I was a couple of cocktails to the wind by this point in the day (it's July 4th weekend. Booze is a given. Don't judge). Anything requiring much effort was going to just end badly. Most likely with me swearing at the oven, or a family member.

So to keep it simple, I decided on a tride & true PB&J combo. I threw these ingredients together in my stand mixer, and 20 minutes later (in total, from mix to bake to eat) we were all licking our fingers in triumph.

The next time you need a little dessert pick-me-up in a pinch, these peanut butter & jelly thumbprint cookies will do just the trick. You don't even need flour!

And really. What's more American than peanut butter & jelly?


1 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (if you have regular pb, use 1 cup plus 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp room temperature unsalted butter

Yields: 20-24 small cookies

Preheat oven to 350F. Meanwhile, in a bowl with a stand or hand mixer (or get ready to get your hands dirty!), beat all ingredients until rough dough forms. You will see it come together in the bowl, resembles a thick sugar cookie dough or gingerbread dough. If you still need some moisture, add 1 tbsp of melted butter (unsalted).

Using a teaspoon, scoop up 1 heaping teaspoon of batter at a time, using your palms roll into a little dough ball and place on cookie sheet. Press down with your thumb to create a deep well in the center without puncturing the bottom. Fill the well right up to the top with your favorite jam, and continue for each cookie (I used strawberry). 

Bake 8-10 minutes or until browned and slightly firm to touch. They will still seem slightly soft, but have no fear as they will set as they cool!

Happy Birthday, America!