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Posts Tagged ‘craisins’

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I cannot believe that it has been two months since I posted somethings!! My only excuse is that this summer has been I-N-S-A-N-E!

So far I have:

– Quit my job

– Moved out of my apartment of five years in Brighton to new digs across the river

– Went to the Bahamas

– Acquired myself one of those boyfriend things that everyone is always talking about

– and am planning a (temporary) move to Australia!! (more on that later)

Like I said, insane! All have been really positive changes that I’ve been needing to make for a while but I probably could have spaced them out a little bit instead of doing everything in a month. What can I say? I got a little bit enthusiastic!

Last week was the first week I was unemployed and moved into my new apartment. I have to say, I LOVE it. I love sitting down each night and making a to-do list for the next day and then having time to check everything off the next day (ok, that’s a lie. I’ve had ‘Exercise’ on my list every day and somehow, keep forgetting to do that one…). I love having a full day ahead of me to bake and cook and try new recipes. I love being able to work on my new apartment, one little project at a time (wait until you see my coffee nook! Also, what did people do without pinterest??). Oddly enough, I just feel really productive without a job! I’m sure this will eventually fade and may possibly be replaced by boredom but for now, I’m loving it.

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Last week was the first time in what felt like forever that I was excited to step into the kitchen. Most of this summer has been a struggle to carve out time to eat, let alone cook. When I did, it was rushed and often the results weren’t as good as I was hoping for because I was doing 10 other things while cooking.

The first thing that I made last week was this granola. My mom made it for me first and I loved it! I made it the second time and forgot the cinnamon (see! That’s what happens when you do 10 other things!) but it was still delicious.

DSC_2497Almond Granola
recipe came from my Mom but there was no source information. Let me know if it’s your recipe.

Makes 8 cups.

  • 1/2 c. of honey (or maple syrup. I used my Dad’s honey so I knew it was cool)
  • 1/2 c. of canola oil
  • 1 TBSP of Almond Extract
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 4 c. of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. of sliced almonds (I had whole almonds and just ran my knife through. I actually really liked have a few larger pieces)
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 c. roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. pepita seeds
  • 1 cup of sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line Cookie Pan with Parchment Paper. Combine honey, canola oil, almond extract and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring until mixture begins to bubble; set aside.

In large bowl, combine oats, almonds, walnuts, coconut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Slowly pour warm honey mixture over oat mixture; mix to coat. Spread granola mixture evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 17-20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely. Stir in cranberries. Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

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I’ve been eating this with fresh fruit and almond milk (this morning I had it with a banana and a fresh peach from my Dad’s trees) or I’ll have it over some vegan vanilla ice cream with honey. Basically, I just can’t get enough of this stuff!

Ok, off to run more errands and check more things of todays To-Do list. Let’s see if I can actually get ‘Exercise’ checked off today, shall we??

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So, this post is going to be short and sweet, my friends. After spending 4 straight days in bed watching Law and Order: SVU (with four straight nights of nightmares. Seriously, what is wrong with me?), I went back to work today and decided it was time to get that New Years Resolution thing in full swing (yes, I know it’s 2 weeks into the New Years. What’s your point?). So, I ran at the gym at lunch. Then, Melinda asked me if I wanted to go do hot yoga with her tonight. I’d never done it before but I was all, sure.Why not?

Oh man…I’m running on fumes right now. Fumes I tell you! I tried to shower after hot yoga (eew! So. Much. Sweat.) and I could barely muster up the energy to scrub the shampoo in my hair. I’m seriously going to have the worst hair day ever tomorrow!

So here is what I am eating for lunch this week. It’s super yummy. I’m a fan of wheat berries. I thought Waldorf salads typically had a creamy dressing but the dressing with this recipe was actually extremely similar to the dressing that I posted with the Strawberry Chickpea Salad, except not quite as good. When I realized that, I just made the dressing from that recipe and called it a day.

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Wheat berry Waldorf Salad with Cinnamond Dijon Dressing
Salad from Midwest Living; Dressing from Peas and Thank you

Salad:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup wheat berries, rinsed
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored and chopped (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large Braeburn, Jonagold or Rome Beauty apple, unpeeled, cored and chopped (1-1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, dried tart cherries and/or golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup seedless green and/or red grapes, halved
  • 6 -8 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves (or lettuce of choice. For a more filling lunch, I did 2 cups of romaine)
  • almonds or peanuts, I preferred salted

Cinnamon Dijon Dressing:

  • 1 t. Dijon mustard
  • 3 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. agave nectar or pure maple syrup
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • ½ t. ground ginger
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1/4 c. olive oil

Directions:

  1. For wheat berries: In a small bowl, combine the water and wheat berries. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 6 o 24 hours. Do not drain; transfer to a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until tender with a firm, chewy texture. Drain; transfer to bowl to cool. (I soaked mine for as little as 4 hours and cooked them for 50 minutes and they came out fine)
  2. For dressing: In a screw-top jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Cover and shake well to combine. Drizzle dressing over warm wheat berries and toss until covered. You should have about half the jar left. Put aside and drizzle extra over salad when your eating it if needed.
  3. In a large bowl, combine apples, celery, cranberries and grapes. Stir in wheat berry mixture; mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours if not serving immediately.
  4. To serve, arrange lettuce cups on a large platter or divide them among individual salad plates. Spoon salad into the lettuce. Sprinkle with nuts. Makes 6 to 8 side salads. For lunches, I chopped 2 cups of lettuce up and placed it in a separate container. In the morning, I added about 1/2 – 2/3 cup of the wheat berry mixture to the lettuce and just took it to work like that. It made about 4 lunch servings.

You can’t go wrong with this salad- it has the crispy apples, the crunchy celery and almonds, the chewy craisins and wheat berries and the sweet cinnamon dressing. It’s a nice change up from the usual veggie salad

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yeah…your lucky there’s pictures with this. I think I sleep-typed most of that entry…

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Two weekends ago, Melinda and Amelia came over for a dessert baking party. Wine was opened, chocolate was melted and these bars were inhaled. I’m not exaggerating. Melinda wouldn’t even wait for them to set! The pan of Trail Mix Seven layer bars was passed around between all of us on the couch (including two of my roommates) and we ate them directly from the pan.

With our hands.

I wish I was kidding.

I wish we could say we were stoned to at least excuse our behavior but nope! They were just delicious and that’s the only excuse we had!

I woke up the next morning to find a tiny little corner piece was all that remained. The five of us ate almost the whole pan! Clearly, a photograph was not taken and even if it was, I don’t think any of us want us unceremoniously shoving trail mix bars into our faces with our hands to be available on the internet!

Either way, I was forced to make them again for you so I could actually get a picture.

Trail Mix Seven Layer Bars
inspired by Vegan Baking

Crust:

  • 9 cinnamon graham crackers (one packet in Honey Graham Set)*
  • 5 TBSP of coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBSP + 1tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice infused dried cherries (or regular dried cherries)
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 cup condensed milk (recipe here. I used Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk this time)

Prepare the condensed milk ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

Put the graham crackers in a large ziploc baggy and crush until the graham cracker are roughly the texture of sand. (You can use a food processor but honestly, why lug it out and then have to wash the whole darn thing when crushing them works just as easily??).  Add coconut oil, water and salt to  your crushed graham crackers, seal up the bag and mush it all around until everything is well incorporated.

Dump the graham cracker crumbs into your 8×8 pan. Spread evenly. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press down on the crumbs until they are tightly packed together.

Cover the graham crackers with the toppings. Pour the condensed milk over the toppings.

Bake for 35 minutes.  Once removed from the oven, allow to cool completely before cutting into it. I would recommend putting it in the fridge overnight. If you don’t let it cool, it will just be a crumbly mess of ingredients. I mean, it will still be delicious! But it won’t hold together in bar form. Trust me…the crumbly mess is what we ate the first go around because we were impatient.

*I know graham crackers often have honey in them. I could not find honey-less graham crackers when I was at Whole Foods but I don’t have an issue with honey so I went ahead and used them. Also, the Honey Graham brand and Whole Food’s 365 brand had mostly the same ingredients. If you are looking for a honey-less, more all-natural version, I would recommend trying to make these and swap out the honey for agave syrup or maple syrup. These have been on my ‘to-make’ list forever but this recipe wasn’t the time to try it.

The idea for these came about because my cafetaria at work always has seven layer bars and they are sooo good. and sooo not vegan. This was my vegan version. It’s a little heartier with all the fruit and nuts. The great thing about these is, like trail mix, you can customize it to your liking. You could swap out the cherries for raisin (eww, please don’t) or dried blueberries. You could swap out the almonds and pecans for different types of nuts. And you could use any time of non-dairy milk for the condensed milk.

Now seriously, go make these. And maybe have a fork ready so you don’t end up eating them with your hands. Though…I hear all the cool kids are doing that…just sayin’.

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So, its Monday- again. Poor Monday. Does anyone really like waking up after a too short weekend to find that they have arrived at Monday? I’m thinking no.

Lucky for you, I have an amazing cookie recipe for you! So these came about at the request of the Premium Billing Department at my place of employment.  See, the weekly Monday baked goods began as something I did for my floor. It has kind of escalated to the point where I have an emailing list that stretches across three departments. Despite this, I still manage to miss people and those people always seem to be in the Premium Billing Department. Because, for whatever reason, no one shares the knowledge that there are homemade cookies available to their fellow employees. Or, as I found out Friday, they hoard them/ration them out as they deem fit and it seems PBD are the ones that are often shafted.

Or so they say. I suspect they just may be the most vocal =)

Regardless, after getting two more people to add to my emailing list in the PBD, they asked what I was bring Monday and I couldn’t tell them. No seriously, I had no ideas. I had a laundry list of things to do this weekend floating around in my head and what I was making for work wasn’t even on there. So they suggested dark chocolate craisins. Actually, they first requested no peanut butter (to which I concluded they were insane) and then they requested dark chocolate craisins.

So I mulled it over. I could do a standard chocolate chip cookie with craisins but where’s the pizzazz? Where’s the excitement?? Then it occurred to me…Hersey’s Dark Cocoa Powder! I’ve been DYING to try this product. It’s been popping up all over my baking blogs and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. Good thing I was right across the street from the brand new Wegmans in Mass this weekend. They were well stocked!!

Double Dark Chocolate Craisin Cookies (with pecans)
adapted from Toll House’s Double Chocolate Cookies and a White Chocolate Craisin cookie recipe

2 cups all purpose flour

¾ cup of Hersey’s Dark Cocoa baking powder

1 tsp of baking soda

½ tsp of salt

1 cup (2 sticks) of Earth Balance vegan butter, softened

2/3 cup white sugar

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2 Ener-G “eggs”

¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chunks (I used Bakers. They were huge though. I think next time I’d used the 365 Semi-Sweet mini chocolate chunks)

1 cup of craisins

¼ cup of pecans, finely chopped (Optional)

½ tsp of white sugar (optional)

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Beat together the butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until creamy. Add “eggs” one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gradually add in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks and craisins.

Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the pecans and ½ tsp of white sugar. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into balls. Press one side into the pecan mixture. This works best if the pecans are very finely chopped. Since the dough is cold, larger peaces had a hard time sticking. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The dough will not spread out but they will crack letting you know they are done. Let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

If you do not have the time to chill these, you can make these into drop cookies. Just mix the pecans in with the chocolate chunks and craisin, drop rounded TBSP onto greased cookie sheet and bake for around 9 minutes. I opted to put the pecans on the outside because I was only doing half the batter with nuts as some people are allergic/don’t like them.  

Plus, I thought it’d look cool =)

These cooks are very rich but they aren’t too sweet. If I’m not making them for others, I think I would add the pecans to the mixture since I like them and it cuts the richness of the chocolate. Also, the craisins get a little overwhelmed with all the chocolate but I like the idea that they are there.

I think if these cookies should probably be called the PMS cookies because I’m pretty sure they would hit the spot for those chocolate cravings!!

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