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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yummy Christmas Bars

The Christmas season has officially passed.  At least for me and now that we have a second to breathe I thought I'd share the recipe for the bars that I sent to a few family members.  A few years back, we received a whole box of delicious holiday yummies, that we of course gobbled up in a matter of days.  This was my inspiration for this year's gifts seeing that we were on a pretty tight budget. I honestly feel that some home made goodies makes the best presents anyway.

  I have done my fair share of bar making.  These used to be a staple in my house for breakfast, breaks and lunch throw-in's.  I've tried probably 10-15 different recipes and a few of my own.  Never really loving the end result.  Don't get me wrong, they all tasted wonderful, but it seemed like a lot of work and modification for something that tasted pretty simple out of the package.  So after searching out something for my dad, given his sometime erratic dietary requirements, I stumbled upon a website detailing the recipe for a very simple, very wholesome Lara-type bar.  While never actually eating these bars before, I figured the simplicity of 4-5 ingredients was enough to slim down what I had been doing prior and reinvent my own wheel.  I checked my cupboards for the goods and found I was missing whole dates.  Now let me warn you, before you set out on a date hunt around the holidays...just go to Whole Foods.  Surprising, I know.  It was the last place of 8 places I visited that actually had whole pitted dates at a reasonable price.  If my memory serves me correct they were $2.69 for 8 oz.  With all this being said, if you are fortunate enough to have a Winco around...just head there.  Save you a lot of time and money.  I do miss that store....
   Back to the cupboard.  I glance at my pitiful rendition of a food processor.  Years back I purchased the blender/processor duo.  While the blender does it's job, the supposed food processor is an entirely different story.  I don't even think that thing would chop garlic anymore.  Not to mention I feel i like i need to put in earplugs to protect my eardrums from the horrilble high pitched noise it makes when I push the 'On' button.  My child starts crying, my husband leaves the room and even my dog buries his head in the pillows.  I was feeling a little down but then I had a vision of a food processor in a cabinet of this house that we were watching.  Reinstating my motivation, I borrowed that Cuisinart 11-cup food processor and got to work. 

1/4 c. chopped dates (you chop them...don't buy the prechopped variety coated with sugar)
1/4 c dried tart berry (I used cherry flavored cranberries)
1/3 c. chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
Dash of cinnamon

Chop your nuts in the food processor till desired consistency is reached.  I liked mine a little more on the little pebble side than big chunk side.  Pour into bowl and dash your cinnamon.  Mix.

Add dates and cranberries and process till a paste is formed.  Upon initial blending and having prior use of such a poor excuse for a food processor, I thought this paste would never happen.  I stopped at small pieces and added dried prunes and Voila! Paste.

*note*I did find a little more fruit was necessary but perhaps that's because upon the first go around I didn't get my 'paste' and settled for tiny chopped bits.  I figure the more fruit the better though as I LOVE dried fruit.

Take paste and scrape out into bowl.  Prepare plastic saran wrap on counter for bar formation.  Mix and knead with your hands till all pieces have been coated thoroughly and you're able to make a bar like formation.  *note* nobody ever said you had to do bars.  you can do balls or fun christmas shapes if you so desire.

Place in plastic wrap and cover tightly.  Store in the fridge until you're ready to devour these little delicious treats!  They taste so good I seriously though they might be bad for you!

Other varieties I prepared:

Added sunflower seeds and flax seeds to a grinder and made a seed flour almost.  Sprinkled in my bars to up the ante.

Peanuts and chocolate chips.  Dash of vanilla and you have Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Tropical variety fruit and dates pureed with a sprinkle of coconut and nutmeg.

The options are truly endless but check out this website for more!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh how I LOVE Scones!

  As promised...more frequent blogging entry numero uno!  I have been thinking about these scones for a good while now.  I have lemons and frozen strawberries from this summer on hand.  I figure a scone in the making.  Now which recipe?  If you've ever searched for scone recipes, there's enough to make your head spin.  I have read my fair share and feel that the most important thing to keep in mind while making these is to not handle your dough too much and to keep your ingredients as cold as possible.  Now with this all in mind, I set out to make my own scone recipe.  Well kind of...
  What started as just lemons and strawberry goodness quickly turned into strawberries, peaches and apple goodness.  I ran out of strawberries!  Whoopsi!  So you'll see in the pictures the different rows so to speak, and now you'll know why.  I underestimated the amount of red deliciousness that I had on hand.  So I used what else I had on hand  : )

Very much inspired from

White Chocolate Multi-Fruit Scones

10 tbsp grated frozen butter (I used salted) + 2 tbsp
1 1/2 c. all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. whole milk
Zest of one lemon
White chocolate chips
Strawberries, peaches and apples (or whatever fruit you might want to use up)

Grate the butter and keep it in the freezer till ready to use.

Combine sour cream, baking soda and zest in a small bowl and let stand.

Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Prepare a floured surface and get your rolling pin ready.

Dump in frozen butter into dry ingredients and mix with your hands till all your butter bits have been well blended and represent small peas in your batter.  Pour in milk and sour cream mixture and mix till barely incorporated. Turn out onto floured surface.  Continue kneading and incorporating with your hands till you have formed a a relatively smooth ball.  This should not be anymore than 8-10 full kneads.

Roll dough out to be roughly 12 inch square.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and fruit.  Try to bring the mixture all the way out to the edges.  Roll up your dough like a pinwheel, carefully eeking away with a scraper if any of your dough has stuck. 

With a floured sharp knife,  cut your scone shape of our of your log.  Place on sprayed parchment paper lined cookie sheet seem side down.  Melt 2 tbsp butter and brush over tops. 

Put in the middle of your 400 degree, preheated oven and cook 18-20 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Let cool 3-5 minutes before moving to rack to completely cooling.  Best served immediately!

I am storing mine in the fridge.  The use of fruit that is normally kept in a cool environment leads to me believe that this is the method of preservation for these little gems.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Random Photos for the curious reader...

I want to thank all of those who have checked out my blog.  Things have been absolutely crazy for me recently and thus the reason that there haven't been too many new posts.  On the bright side, we are finally moved in and I have all of my kitchen gadgets and goodies back at my fingertips.  We also have a camera ready to snap away those delicious images. 
  Tomorrow morning I'm setting out to make Lemon Strawberry Scones, Zucchini Fritters and Lara-Type Energy Bars.  I will of course keep you posted on everything!  Pictures and of the course the almighty recipes that I do my best to follow.  ; ) 
  In the meantime, I wanted to post a few pictures of some random events to keep those of you that are checking this little blog of mine still interested.  Again, these are recipe-less but for those of you who might be more into the visual aspects of what's in store, please enjoy!

 This was a spread I created on 24 hour notice for a dear friend's wedding reception.  Some basic staples but it was almost gone at the end!  It was a joy to come up with something on her special day.

This was breakfast for my Pub family.  Some type of Apple Spice Cake...Scrumptious!  I must say I do miss my mornings where I check the fridge and of course the time and what delicious breakfast treat I can come up with...perhaps upon a return visit I should surprise my old friends with some more muffins or perhaps that braided bread for Adele!

Banana Muffins with 'Eggs' Benedict and a mock Hollandaise Sauce

Years ago I first made this Fruit Makeover Pizza for 4th of July.  I have been making it upon request ever since!  Super simple and super can't have just one slice. 

Well that's all for now folks!  I'll be blogging more frequently from now on...I PROMISE!!!  So stay tuned...