5-Ingredient Granola Bars

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An article written by Audrey Brashich in the Washington Post titled “Why I became a Snacktivist” is interesting reading.  This is one women’s story about American kids’ snacking habits and might just be applied to, really, everyone who snacks!

She quotes one of food activist and author Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” that I completely support:  “eat all the junk food you want…as long as you cook it yourself!”

Make these yummy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars and you will feel happy about snacking.

Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

(adapted from minimalist baker.com)

1 cup packed dates — you can find them in the bulk food aisle of Wegmans–cut in half and remove the pits

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut or almond butter

1 cup dry roasted unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped

1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats

Optional additions:  chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc.

–Turn the oven to 350 degrees and toast the oats so they become slightly brown, about 15 minutes (you can usually smell them when they are ready).

–Line an 8 x 8 inch dish or pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap.

–Process the dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like substance.

–Place the oats, almonds and dates in a bowl and set aside.

–Warm the honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir and pour the honey mixture over the oats and combine thoroughly, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.

–Once mixed, transfer to the prepared pan.  Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.

–Remove from the pan and cut into even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

Cream of Tomato Soup

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This winter has been harsh in Happy Valley.  Though the last few days the sun has been shining, the snow has been melting and spring is just around the corner, don’t get used to it yet!

Although we all want to start wearing our flip-flops, we know that there are going to be more cold days ahead.  This soup is a fine meal to warm you up, it is easy to make and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already.

Cream of Tomato Soup

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup butter

2 Tablespoons chopped onion

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup cooked rice (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, butter, onions, baking soda and chicken broth in a large pot.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Add the cream (and the rice if you wish) to the soup just before serving.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

Blond Brownies — because it’s still snowing!!

 

IMG_4906aMarch First!!  The day I look forward to all winter long.  The day I realize that the weather, as bad as it is, will not be as bad 31 days from today.  You can’t say that about January or February!!

As the saying goes, when like gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Well, today, when life is giving us snow and ice, we are making brownies–with double the amount of chocolate chips.

Blond brownies are that wonderful combination of chocolate AND brown sugar. The brown sugar gives the brownies a chewy texture with a slightly maple flavor.  Try this simple recipe that uses only a microwave, a bowl and a wooden spoon.

This is an easy recipe for kids to make.  I used this recipe last summer during my Shorts and Sports cooking camp lessons.

Also, this is a great recipe to feed 20 hungry teenagers a treat.   I tripled the recipe, poured the batter into two 9×13″ pans and baked for about the same amount of time. The kids ate every–single–one!!!

Blond Brownies

Makes 18 small brownies

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips (I doubled it using 1 cup!)

–Grease a 9 x 9 inch square pan.

1.  With a fork, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl (yes, I said one bowl used–I forgot about this bowl!).

2.  Melt butter in a large microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute on high or use “butter” button to melt.

3.  Mix into the melted butter the brown sugar and stir until it is dissolved.

4.  Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture.  Mix well.

5.  Stir in the dry ingredients.

6.  Stir in the chocolate chips and place the batter into the greased pan.

7.  Bake in the oven, set at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the brownies are set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Depending on how chewy or not you like your brownies, let them brown longer for drier brownies.

8.  Take out of oven and let cool for about 15 minutes — cut into 18 pieces.

 

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