Almond Butter Fiber Bites

As Martta preps for her amazing Oscar Party coming up tomorrow, I thought I would share this easy & healthy snack recipe…. Almond butter fiber bites!

Need fiber? I think it’s safe to assume the average person does not eat enough fiber in a day… I can include myself in that stereotype as well. A few weeks ago, Martta made some really delicious snacks similar to the Peanut Butter Balls my Mom made us as kids. I’ve attempted to recreate it the way Martta did, but with a little bit of my Mom’s recipe left intact.

1 cup Almond butter

1/2 cup Dried cranberries

1/2 cup Oatmeal

1/4 cup Bran or Flax seed

1/4 cup Sesame seeds

1/4 cup Honey

1/4 cup Powdered milk

Mix all ingredients together and roll into balls! Pretty simple, right? I prefer to refrigerate mine so they are cold and a little more firm, but they should stay together just fine.

I love this recipe because it is so adaptable. Use peanut butter, instead of almond butter for a cheaper alternative. Substitute raisins for the cranberries, or even dried blueberries! More antioxidants, right? I don’t think the powdered milk is a necessity, but it adds more protein, calcium, and vitamin D.  I found it in the baking section of the store, and it was pretty inexpensive.

My daughter loved these, and they are a great snack for after school… that period of time when the crankies come out!

I hope you try these and enjoy them as much as we do!

-Heather

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Sugar Cookie Bars with Chocolate, Caramel & Almonds

Again, Pinterest has been an inspiration for new crafts & recipes. These sugar cookie bars looked like something my kids would devour in seconds, but I wanted something without frosting… don’t hate me, but I’m not a big fan of frosting. Chocolate & almonds felt a little more my taste, and these did not disappoint.

cookie barFollowing this recipe, I basically left off the frosting, cut into bars, and dipped in chocolate melted over a double boiler. I also had some caramel bites… throw them in a bowl with a little water or milk, microwave until melted & smooth. Drizzle over your bars & sprinkle with almonds. It’s a cookie & candy bar all in one! I did leave out the lemon zest for my version, but mostly because I just forgot! Doh!

Here’s a pic of the caramel bites I used. You can also buy pre-made caramel or use the wrapped cubes if you can’t find these.

Source: Our Best Bites

These were fantastic with a hot cup of coffee in the morning. If you want to serve these for a party with adults & kids, I suggest using frosting on half of the pan, and using my dipped method on the other half… then everyone is happy!

Enjoy!

-Heather

Crepes Cooking Class

As Summer slowly (painfully slowly) slips into Fall here in Texas, it’s time for our annual Theta pilgrimage to the Whole Foods Culinary Center and a hands on cooking class.  For the past two years we’ve done the Global Cocktail course which has resulted in such favorites as goat cheese galette with spring herb salad, roasted red peppers with toasted baguette rounds, and caesar salad with watercress, cilantro and toasted pepitas.  This year we decided to mix it up a bit and go for a course on just crepes!

The menu for the class was a tantalizing mix of both savory and sweet crepes:

  • Ham, Egg, and Gruyere Crepes
  • Crepes with Roast Chicken and Sautéed Greens with Mornay
  • Crepes Fitzgerald
  • Crepes Suzette
  • Crepes Commanders
Our chef extrodinaire for the day was Katie – who you can check out on her blog at the Culinary Pirate.  Katie taught a relaxing, laid back class.  Unlike our previous courses, where we divided up the menu and sets of students prepared separate dishes, we all got to try our hand at all the crepes possibilities.  Katie first demonstrated the technique for savory crepes.  The recipe is quite simple and with a blender and a few ingredients you too can be a crepes wizard!  The recipe called for:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 C Milk
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 3/4 C Flour
  • 2 oz Melted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C Water

Add the water slowly to the mixture – you’re looking for a batter with the consistency of heavy cream.  If you are the patient type, you can now set this batter aside and let it sit for several hours so all the bubbles come out and you will have perfectly smooth crepes.  We were impatient and decided to pour the batter immediately.  This led to bubbles in our crepes, but did not impact the structure or taste in any way.

The nice thing about the Whole Foods cooking class, (besides the fact that they do the dishes!) is that they lay out all the ingredients for you at your workstations – no measuring!  See the beautiful Mise en Place (Sweet crepes on the left, savory on the right):

We were just missing the milk and butter.  The milk came out of the fridge right after Katie demonstrated and the butter we obtained from the vat o’ melted butter on the central stove.

I can just hear Paula Dean praising the use of a vat o’ butter now…..

It’s all in the wrist!  There were several crepes for the dog before we finally got the technique of pouring just the right amount of batter into our non-stick pans.  You’re aiming to coat the bottom, but not run the batter up side or have too thick of a crepe.  I found that if I poured the batter into a 2.5″ to 3″ circle in my 8″ pan, that I ended up with about the right size and thickness of crepe.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat and flip when they are lacy at the edges.

Soon it was a crepe production factory in the kitchen.  Jonathan, Liz’s husband, who in general has the mad cooking skillz (when are you going to guest blog for me Jonathan??) quickly turned out enough crepes for the whole class!  Here is his combination of ham, gruyere, and crème fraîche:

Katie left out a stock of various crepe fillings (eggs, ham, cheese, the roasted chicken and mornay, etc) so we all had a chance to mad scientist it and make our own combinations.

Then it was on to the sweet crepes.  Just a few substitutions to the above – no pepper and the addition of an egg white as well as vanilla and sugar.  Katie demonstrated crepes commanders including flambe!  Then she set us out in a kitchen with alcohol and multiple gas burners.  How we managed to not burn the place down (Robin, I’m looking at you) I have no idea!  But look at the beautiful results:

Susan judged these to be just right – even if they were super sweet and rich!  After she finished most of this plate, she was stuffed and couldn’t eat any more crepes 🙂

I went off the reservation and decided to create a sweet and tangy filling of mixed berries in a balsamic syrup.  I poured 1/4C of balsamic vinegar into a saute pan and added a teaspoon of sugar.  I reduced the mixture in half and added sliced berries then tossed them to coat in the syrup.

Yum!!  I topped with a bit of fresh lemon zest and folded the whole concoction into a crepe.  With the little bit of extra syrup, I drizzled the top of my crepe and enjoyed!

After stuffing ourselves silly we found there were still un-filled crepes!  Thankfully Katie came through with the tidbit that they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.  This sounds like a perfect breakfast make ahead trick.  Make the crepes the night before and then the filling in the morning.  Assemble and then heat everything under a broiler to melt cheese, warm meats, etc. = one fabulous breakfast of savory crepes!

Once again, a fabulous experience at Whole Foods with great friends!

After finishing up class, I went home inspired.  1. I need to add a non-stick skillet to my Amazon wish list.  2. I needed to play with this crepes recipe a bit more…  3.  I definitely need more practice!

Since I’m working the no dairy angle lately, I was substituting soy milk for all my crepes during class.  It tended to make a slightly sweeter crepe – even with the savory recipe.  We found in class that adding all the water resulted in a too thin batter.  So I went home and played with it a bit before coming up with my own sweet crepe recipe:

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 C Original Soy Milk
  • Dash of Salt
  • 3/4 C Flour
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 2 t Sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C Water
I fed these to my family and they didn’t miss the dairy one bit.  The olive oil is a wonderful substitution for butter, but Katie mentioned I could probably substitute another liquid like orange juice also.  However, if I did make that change, I’d probably want all the egg yolks in there to help balance out the fat ratio.The kiddos weren’t the biggest fans of the berries and balsamic combination.  So I had to fall back on an old Laura favorite: a sprinkle of sugar and squeeze of lemon juice.  Roll it up like a taquito and voile!  Those disappeared!– Martta

Chocolate Chip Banana Bran Bread

Say that 5 times fast!

We had some bananas looking pretty sad on the counter, so I decided they had to be used before they met the awful fate of the trash can. I checked my Better Homes & Garden Baking Book, but the banana bread they had just didn’t have the extra punch I wanted. Plus, whenever I can, I add unprocessed bran to baked goods… my kids need the extra fiber, and so do we for that matter! So I changed a few things and made it my own… I know, you’re shocked, right?

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup bran

1 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup vegetable oil

3 bananas, very ripe & mashed

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1.5 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray to round cake pans with cooking spray.

Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix. Combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl, then add to the dry mix. Stir everything together until combined and try not to over mix.

I only have one loaf pan, so I decided to use my two 9 inch cake rounds. Fill them each with half the batter and bake for 25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean!

This was so good! In fact, my husband ate one entire round himself… I almost had to hide it so the rest of us could enjoy some later! The addition of the bran is barely noticeable for those who might be worried about picky eaters. My kids have been eating pancakes, waffles, and quick breads with added bran for the last 2 years. I may try this with whole wheat flour next time, but I have a feeling they might notice… baby steps!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

-Heather

Laura’s Mum’s Cinnamon Scones

Well I couldn’t just leave you on that last post without telling you how to make Laura’s Mum’s Cinnamon Scones.  They are so yummy.  A wonderful breakfast treat or as Laura says, fit for any meal.  To get started, gather up your ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 3 C Flour
  • 3 t Baking Powder
  • 1 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 Oz (4T) Cold Butter
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 6 Oz (3/4C) Buttermilk
  • Melted butter/cream/egg wash
  • Cinnamon Sugar
For the Filling:
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 t Cinnamon
  • 1 T Butter, melted
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Sitr until combined.  The next step is key: grate the butter.  I know this sounds a bit looney tunes, but Laura’s Mum swears it’s the key to the entire recipe (and since it turns out delicious, I don’t argue!).  Add the butter to the dry mixture and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk together.  Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing until just incorporated.
To create the carmel filling for this scone, combine the sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.  I find mixing with a fork does this job quickly.  This layer creates a cinnamon crunch in the scone, almost like the bottom layer of a traditional coffee cake.  Mmm coffee cake.  Might have to make that for breakfast today.
Roll out your scone dough and apply the carmel filling to one side of the dough.
Carefully fold over your dough and seal the edges so none of the carmel-ey goodness leaks out in the cooking process!  Or, you know, do the best you can …
Brush the top of the scones with either more melted butter, cream or an egg wash and top off with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the scone is firm.
I probably should have patched that hole, but oh well.  Cut into triangle shapes and serve with whipped cream.  Warm or cold, breakfast or dinner these are yummy and actually will hold up for a few days with no problems.  So now you know how to make all the scones, get out there and get that oven cranking!
Thanks to Laura for teaching me this recipe!  I hope you enjoy,
–Martta

Scones!

What little girl (at heart) doesn’t want to watch the royal wedding tomorrow?!  But you can’t watch the wedding without the proper nosh!  So I’ve whipped up a few of my favorite scones.

The assortment includes:

Quick brew the tea and put some scones in the oven!  You can tart yours up with my Union Jack decorations downloadable here.