Gluten-Free Granola Bars

I had some leftover gluten-free oats to use after I recently made these gluten-free oatmeal fudge bars (rave reviews and gone in less than 24 hours, BTW).

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After researching some similar recipes, I decided to make my own gluten-free version of granola bars. I used my Vitamix blender, but honestly, a food processor would have been better since I needed to stop the blender and push everything down a few times.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup crunchy almond butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate flavored almonds (I used these)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions:

  • Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan with olive oil or coconut oil spray and set aside.
  • Briefly pulse the almonds to coarsely chop; set aside.
  • Add the oats to the blender or food processor and pulse for a few seconds to roughly break them up.
  • Combine almond butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl. Heat about 20-30 seconds to soften.
  • Add warmed almond butter and honey mixture to oats and pulse again until combined.
  • Add chopped almonds, chocolate chips and dried cherries. You may want to stir these in by hand if you don’t want them to be cut into smaller pieces.
  • Press into prepared pan and refrigerate. *These have to stay refrigerated for best outcome.*
  • Eat and enjoy! This makes about 10 bars.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t completely sold when I first finished these. I tasted the mixture as I was pressing it into the pan and thought it was ok, but I wasn’t convinced it was worth the sticky mess in my blender. After refrigerating though, they were great, especially with a glass of cold almond milk.

These were so much better than any other granola bars I’ve ever had.

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P.S. This cute appetizer plate is from CB2.

 

 

Egg and Avocado Toast

I’m wrapping up a work trip to San Francisco – waiting in the airport as I type – and had to post about the most fabulous breakfast ever.

On my last trip to SF two years ago I stumbled upon a local mini-chain called The Grove (www.thegrovesf.com, adding links is wonky on my mobile device, sorry!).

This place was right around the corner from my hotel and serves EXACTLY what I like to eat, no matter what time of day.

Fast forward to this trip: different hotel but same neighborhood, and being a creature of habit, I went back to The Grove every day I was in town.

Yesterday I had to do a work event (book signing; did I mention my group wrote a book?) and give a lunchtime talk for an hour and a half, which meant my usual morning routine of just coffee wasn’t going to cut it for most of the day.

I headed to The Grove for some breakfast fuel and had goat cheese and basil scrambled eggs with a side of rosemary potatoes, and it totally hit the spot.

Today I squeaked in one more visit before my cross country flight home.

But.

Decisions, decisions!

Should I not mess with success and have the scramble again or branch out to something new?

This menu item caught my eye:

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What made me hesitate is that while I am overall a lousy cook, I make a decent avocado toast and didn’t want to be disappointed.

I ordered it anyway.

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Within one bite, I knew that this avocado toast forever shamed my version. It was heaven.

The sourdough toast was rubbed with olive oil and lemon, topped with avocado and then finished with two perfect poached eggs and those fabulous Rosemary potatoes on the side.

The whole thing was easily smashed into a delicious mess.

I ate every bite.

P.S. Here’s a picture of the inside of the restaurant, which is funky and charming.

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Homeward bound!

Kale Scramble

Do you like savory or sweet things for breakfast?

If I had to pick just one category, I’d pick savory, but I like both.

I only go out to brunch about once a year, which is more than adequate since I unfortunately tend to eat my body weight in things like muffins, omelets and hash browns when given the chance.

My usual breakfast is either a mid-morning Greek yogurt with berries, eaten at my desk between patients when I’m in clinic, or a smoothie made from almond milk, vanilla protein powder and frozen fruit – usually consumed when I’m on the go.

But lately, when I have enough time, I’m really digging veggie and egg white scrambles smothered with Sriracha.

I am so, so addicted to Sriracha, and this is a perfect vehicle for it.

Here was my breakfast last Saturday:

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Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil spray for pan
  • 2-3 cups raw kale
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup egg whites or egg substitute
  • Sriracha, salsa or other hot sauce of your choice

Directions:

  • Spray a saute pan with coconut spray.
  • Add cherry tomatoes and sauté on high heat. Ok to let tomatoes blister and split.
  • When tomatoes are thoroughly cooked, add a few handfuls of chopped, raw kale.
  • Spray the kale leaves with a little extra coconut spray and season with coarse salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (optional).
  • Cook the kale until softened, then add eggs to pan and scramble.
  • Smother with Sriracha and inhale. 

Any veggies can be used for this, but one reason kale is great is because it is less watery than other greens like spinach. When I make this with spinach, I usually have to drain out excess water before adding the eggs.

I try to limit the amount of cooking spray I use, so the end result usually involves some serious scrubbing of my pan.

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Still worth it, though.

 

Friendsgiving ’14 Recap

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Yesterday we had an awesome Friendsgiving, and I was so grateful for it.

After 16.5 years of marriage, it was the fourth Thanksgiving meal that Ever Patient Spouse and I crafted.

Two years ago (#2), I was in charge of the turkey. Yesterday, he was on Bird Duty.

One of the best parts of yesterday was having everyone over for drinks, appetizers and conversation, then people who had obligations elsewhere could go as necessary and everyone else stayed for the Big Meal.

It was perfect.

The biggest hit of the day was an appetizer: whipped lemon feta dip.

Seriously, every morsel of this was gone by the time cocktail hour(s) was/were done.

Here’s the recipe:

Whipped Lemon Feta Dip

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 oz. crumbled fat-free feta (this is a real product and perfect for this dish)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • Juice AND zest of one lemon
  • Optional but recommended: Generous shakes of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Get out your food processor. This is what you need for this recipe to work.
  • Pulse the garlic cloves until they are in fine bits. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add feta, lemon zest, olive oil, (and red pepper flakes, if using) and then juice/pulp of the lemon.
  • Pulse until creamy.
  • Ok to eat immediately, but even better if you let the flavors meld for a few hours.

I paired this with crudités (endive, baby zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots), a cheese board (brie, manchego, peppered gouda), marcona almonds, and two flatbreads I bought from Trader Joe’s.

After a prosecco toast, one holiday drink we served was hot cider with two kinds of spicy liqueur (Fireball – a cinnamon whisky, and Goldschlager) as optional add-ins. Yum!

The Big Meal was mostly traditional, but we had carrot cake, pumpkin pie, and my unfailing flourless chocolate cake as dessert. All of the chocolate cake was gone in the end. Every last crumb. Like ALWAYS. This dessert hit another home run.

Having friends over was so awesome. This was a great holiday.

P.S. This actually happened:

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Rosemary Cashews

Last weekend we went to a family potluck and – as usual – I struggled with what to make. 

Since I rarely cook or bake, I was not about to volunteer to bring, say, coq au vin or baked Alaska.

I settled on two things: these gluten-free peanut butter cookies (to which I added chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups from our leftover Halloween stash with great results) and rosemary cashews.

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This recipe is a spin on one from Real Simple magazine. The original article showcases four ways to start with mixed nuts and make them sweet or savory.

For my version, I decided to skip the mixed nuts and started with a 16 ounce bag of lightly salted cashews instead. Here’s the step by step:

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz lightly salted cashews
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet
  2. Add sugar, nuts and rosemary. Stir to coat and cook until cashews are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t burn!
  3. Spread nuts on a baking sheet to cool and sprinkle with coarse salt. Eat. Enjoy.

I brought back some sea salt from Hawaii and the big flakes really elevated the flavor.

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Fat Free Cheesy Ranch Dip

Lately I’ve been hungry for dips, as in the chips-and-dip variety.

The main problem is that many dips fall into the less than healthy category.

For a casual lunch yesterday, I decided to make a healthier version of a cheesy ranch dip that I’ve had in the past.

Full disclosure: I shamelessly ate this with Fritos, but it would work great with jicama slices, baby carrots or other crudités.

First, some gorgeous pictures for veggie inspiration:

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And now the recipe:

Fat Free Cheesy Ranch Dip

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. fat free cream cheese
  • 1 container (6 oz) plain fat free Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz. shredded fat free cheddar cheese
  • 1 packet powdered ranch dip mix
  • 3-4 T. fresh chives
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in food processor.
  2. Pulse enough to break up shredded cheddar and combine everything together.
  3. Sample a generous amount.
  4. Thin with a few tablespoons of skim milk if the dip seems too thick.
  5. Eat!

 

 

 

Candy Bar Brownies

Our friends P & T invited us over to their house on Sunday, and I gallantly said I would bring a dessert.

Except that I barely ever cook, I didn’t have much time, and I couldn’t think of anything to make.

And then I remembered these candy bar brownies.

I saw this recipe in a newspaper column about five years ago, back when we were still living in Texas.

At the time, it seemed over-the-top decadent for a picnic or potluck, which struck me as being particularly Texan.

These brownies couldn’t be easier (even for me!), and they turn out great every time. You can also mix up the filling, but I am partial to the original recipe.

Ingredients:

Here’s what to do:

  • Spray a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with cooking spray
  • Prepare the boxes of brownie mix according to instructions
  • Pour half of the raw dough into the prepared pan
  • Top with broken-up pieces of the candy bars
  • Cover with the rest of the brownie mix
  • Bake at 350 F for one hour. This last part is important! It takes a long time for these to be done.

Here’s a snap from the half-way point:

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I leave the candy bar pieces pretty large and distribute them so that each brownie will have a bit of candy.

After baking, the candy bars form a truffle-like layer of filling that is absolutely delicious.

A few tips:

  • Don’t try to skimp and just use one box of brownie mix, unless you use an 8″ x 8″ pan. Otherwise, they’ll be too thin and you’ll lose the layered effect if you use a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  • Box brownie mix is also fine for this recipe, since the truffle-y filling is the star.
  • There’s something about the smooth and creamy texture of the Symphony bars that make them well-suited for this, but these would also be awesome with Reese’s peanut butter cups in the middle.