"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Make Your Own Pecan Pie Larabars!

Back when I was in the Larabar-making craze, I tried to concoct a Pecan Pie Larabar, but it never quite seemed right.

That all changed this week. I decided to give it another try. Which turned out to be a great idea!

This tastes just like the store-bought Pecan Pie Larabar, except with the same yummy, non-sitting-on-a-shelf-for-months flavor of the others!!

Pecan Pie Larabars
(Makes 4)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)

So, I measured the dates out then chopped them:

Put the nuts in the food processor, and process until they are the texture of a course meal:

If you're going to add a pinch of sea salt, do it now and pulse a few times.

Then dump the nuts into a mixing bowl and put the dates into the food processor. Process until the dates turn into a paste. They'll sort of "ball up". So you have a date paste ball. Which sounds gross, but is good.

Scrape the date paste into the mixing bowl, and mix together with your hands, or a potato masher (I don't like picking Larabar out of my nails.

After it's well combined, you're going to dump out the mixture onto a piece of saran wrap and form a brick:

I dumped the mixture onto the saran wrap, then wrapped it around the mixture and shaped it using the saran wrap. Again, not needing to get it all over my hands.

So now you have your brick, this will be cut into 4 Larabars in a little bit. But first, pop it into the fridge for like a half hour. This makes it easier to cut:

Wanted: Hand Model

After you chill it, take it out of the fridge and cut into 4 bars! Wrap them up and enjoy!!

If you're interested in making other Larabar recipes, here are the others I've made!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Make Your Own Peanut Butter!! (Regular or Coconut!)

This is one of those recipes that, when I made it for the first time, nearly smacked myself for not having thought to try it sooner!! HOLY COW! It is SO easy to make your own peanut butter!! I LOVE the fact that you can add salt or honey, and make it taste the way you want- my main aversion to "natural" peanut butter is the texture (It can be really drippy), and the taste- I like a little salt and a little honey in mine! The texture of this is fabulous! Spreads easily without running off the bread.

...basically, if you have a food processor and a pulse, you can make this. Easily.

This is Coconut Peanut butter. Unbelievably delicious. 

Start with 1 1/2  cups dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts. I found some in the nut section of the grocery store, then found a MUCH cheaper price at a local health-food store, in the bulk bin. Make sure they're unsalted, so you can control how salty your peanut butter turns out.

Put them in the food processor, and process for about 4 minutes, or until the nuts turn into butter. You will have to scrape the bowl down several times.

Then add salt and honey to taste (If you're making plain pb. If you're going to make coconut pb, scrape the pb out of the food processor at this point without adding the salt or honey) For the plain flavor, I added about 1/4 tsp salt and 1 T honey.

Once you've scraped the processor out, (It doesn't have to be perfect, it's fine if you leave some pb in there, you're going to add it back in after you make the coconut butter anyhow...)

Put 2 cups of unsweetened, shredded coconut into the food processor. Process until buttery and drippy, about 4 or 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl down as needed.

Then add the peanut butter back to the bowl and process. Add salt and honey (I used 1/3 tsp salt, and 2 Tb honey to mine... taste it as you go and add in small amounts until you get the flavor you like.) (Please don't stick your finger in while the processor is running. No one wants finger in their pb.)

The one on the left is coconut pb, which cost slightly over $2.00 for a pint jar. The one on the right is plain pb, which cost around $1.50. So it's GREAT, taste-wise and cost-wise!

The coconut butter is liquid when warm, but solid at room temp, and gets really firm in the fridge, so if you refrigerate the coconut pb, it is difficult to spread. I kept mine in the cupboard, but do what you feel is safe for food storage.

Of course, once you taste this, you'll likely not worry about how to store it, you'll be more concerned with which size spoon to use to eat it out of the jar!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baking Day 3/26 Recipes and Photos and a Word on Balance

It is Monday night.

I have cleaned up the dinner dishes. I am, as usual, resisting the urge to eat a dessert, while attempting to enter into the delusion that the fruit I am consuming is as delicious as the aforementioned dessert. I am, as usual, not convinced.

The thing I struggle with on Monday nights is this: Monday is baking day. Therefore, I do school with the boys, I bake, I make dinner.... I don't do a lot of cleaning. That's Tuesday. Tuesday I mop, I catch up on laundry, Christopher vacuums. Tuesday night, the house is clean. I like when the house is clean.

But there's a balance to things, you know? I am (Slowly....s-l-o-w-l-y) learning. There are days for cleaning. There are days for baking. There are days when you need to be loving on your kids and your husband, and not baking OR cleaning. Every single thing can't be done every single day.

Balance is good. Tricky, when you like to have order all around you. But healthy, and right. Balance allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, instead of just checking items off your "to do" list and filling it up again.

There you have it. My Monday night musings.

Now, for the food!

First thing in the morning (Well, ok, second thing, I had to have my coffee first....) I threw a batch of Eating Well's Southwest Three Bean and Barley Soup into the crock pot. I love having this soup on hand for lunch during the week! 

I like it all packaged up individually, so I can just heat a bowl for a quick meal or snack!

I made a loaf of Easy, No-Knead, 100% Whole Wheat Bread. Well, to be quite honest, I made TWO loaves. The first loaf, I accidentally put into a too-small loaf pan, and it oozed over the sides of the pan into the oven and made a horrible mess!! 

So I cleaned that up, burned my knuckle, and moved on to loaf #2, which thankfully went off without a hitch, like it normally does! Whew!

I bagged up some edamame for snacks and luches:

Baked a batch of Better Than Lofthouse Sugar Cookies- of course, they are supposed to be for lunches, but quite a few were consumed as the day wore on....

Oh YUM.... I made two jars of peanut butter. One plain, and one coconut. I promise I am going to blog the "how to" on these this week- but if you have a health food store near you that sells peanuts in the bulk bins, it is SUPER cost-effective to make your own peanut butter! And awesome, because you can add what you like to it!

The jar on the left is the coconut pb, it costs about $2 to make! The one on the right is plain, it was about $1.50 or so..... both are delish!

Lastly, and I am SO excited about this- I narrowed down my experiments and perfected the Pecan Pie LARABAR!! Oh my.... these are REALLY good!! Recipe to come soon!!! 

Happy baking! (And happy balance!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Freezer/ Crock Pot Healthy BBQ Chicken

I loved the Freezer/ Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken so much, I started looking for other recipes that could be made in the crock pot, and also frozen ahead for later!! This one caught my eye:

I haven't done a lot of cooking with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I loved how they turned out in this recipe! They held together wonderfully, and stayed really juicy and moist! Plus, I LOVED that there were tons of great veggies in this dish!

Freezer/ Crock Pot Healthy BBQ Chicken
Click here for the ingredients- Stephanie has several other cool freezer recipes on her blog as well- I look forward to trying them out!! 

Instead of making two for the freezer, I made one in the crock pot for dinner, and froze a second batch! 

It is SO nice to have in the freezer to plop in the crock pot on a busy day, or when it is almost grocery day and we are out of a lot of stuff- we can still have a healthy, yummy dinner!! It is helpful to stick to the budget as well!!

So I put 1/2 the ingredients into the crock pot (Of course, I used the amazing crock pot liner- those suckers are AMAZING!!)

And the other half into a gallon Ziploc bag.

I served this over rice, but it would be great on its own too!! If your people don't like sweet potatoes, I think regular russet potatoes would taste just as good!!

This was fabulous leftover, too!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cake Batter Cashew Butter

I don't like sprinkles.

I know that's an odd way to start a post- especially when the accompanying photo includes sprinkles.

My defense is this- as much as I dislike the taste of sprinkles, I DO like how they LOOK.

They taste like chapstick though. Just sayin'....

Cake Batter Cashew Butter
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/3 tsp sea salt (fine grain)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 Tb. maple syrup, honey, or sugar (I used maple syrup)
  • Sprinkles (optional, obviously)

First, you're going to roast the cashews. Place on a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning twice.

Let them cool 5-10 minutes, then place in the food processor, and process until the nuts butterize. (I'm not sure that "butterize" is an actual word, but it suits this recipe.) This will take about 8-12 minutes. You will need to scrape the bowl down several times.

Yum. Ok, now, add the rest of the ingredients, then process until it is smooth again, 2 or 3 minutes.

If you're going to add sprinkles to the whole batch, wait for it to cool first, then add the sprinkles. 

My favorite way to eat this is on a baked sweet potato. (Well, that's actually my second favorite way. My MOST favorite way is to eat it by the spoonful.)

I seriously cannot believe how easy it is to make your own nut butter! It is nice to know it's fresh and to know exactly what's in it- plus, it's fun to experiment!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baking Day 3/19 Recipes and Photos

Spring is here.

Is that why it is so stinking COLD?!

Ok, ok, I know those of you who live where it is actually  cold are mocking me.

I have to say, I was very pleased that it was baking day yesterday, because it gave me an excuse to run the oven most of the day!

Here's what I made:

French Toast Bagels- I made a dozen! I updated the recipe, I added a bit more sugar to the dough and made 12 instead of 15- I like the size better this way! These suckers are GOOD!! 

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal- I made yet another batch of this- I still LOVE it!! I totally look forward to having it for breakfast! I added a little bit more nutmeg this time in addition to the other spice and it was super yummy and spicy!

Soft Chewy Wrap Bread- I have finally nailed down this recipe with all whole-wheat flour. I really like the texture of the wrap bread when I use white whole-wheat flour. They have a good, nutty flavor, but are still super soft and chewy. So good with hummus or for wrap sandwiches.....

I made a dozen Freezer Bean, Rice, and Cheese Burritos-- Christopher LOVES these!! He eats them for breakfast or lunch. I love having them for a quick dinner too!! I made them with an extra jalapeno this week and they tasted GREAT!

This photo is for Christopher. He loves Tapatio. I think Tapatio is gross.

My friend Susan stopped by and brought me these beautiful daffodils! It really made my day! They smell so wonderful- and they really make my dining table look cheery! I love when you get an unexpected dose of happiness in your day!

I made a Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche, which was a little more done than before- I forgot to take it out of the oven before I left on my run!! One benefit to this was that I ran really fast on the way home!

Finally, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and froze some cookie dough balls to bake later! I just put them on wax paper on a cookie sheet, froze them for about 2 hours, then bagged them up! They bake up perfectly, and I love having them in the freezer to pop out and bake for a quick dessert!

Happy first day of (freezing cold) Spring!