Granola Bars

This recipe is something I am always tweaking and playing with, depending on what we have in the pantry or what I feel like throwing in. As long as you keep the butter/sugar mixture the same and use 2 cups of dry ingredients, they always turns out great! You may want to start with the original recipe I started with (found here on Lauren's Latest) and make it your own gradually, or you may wish to just jump right into new combinations. It's a fun recipe to play with! Here's the combination I made today, as pictured below.

1/4 C butter
1/3 C brown sugar
2 Tblsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 C quick oats
1 C Rice Krispie cereal
1/4 C wheat germ
2 Tblsp ground flax
1 Tblsp flax seed
1 Tblsp coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 Tblsp mini chocolate chips (optional, but always sells the kids!)

Combine butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Once butter mixture has boiled for 2 minutes, stir in vanilla and pinch of salt. Combine butter mixture with dry mixture until well coated. Press into a 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and press into granola mixture to stick. Allow to cool completely at room temperature before slicing. (I cut into 12 to yield bars the same size as commercial granola bars) Wrap tightly for freshness.

On the right: a store-bought granola bar with 21 ingredients. On the left: my homemade granola bar with 12 ingredients.  I don't think you will miss what I left out: "...canola and/or soybean oil, fructose, glycerol, soya lecithin.."
Which one would you choose?

Are mine as thick and chewy as theirs? You bet! Even more! 

Iced Ginger Pear Matcha

When I flipped through the recipe booklet provided to Kiss Me Organic Matcha customers, the Iced Ginger Matcha jumped out at me. I improvised on the recipe a bit by adding some frozen pears, and a bit of water to be able to blend it smoothly. If you had a more powerful blender than my Magic Bullet, you could reduce or omit the water for an even more flavourful matcha. This drink is very unique and refreshing, and it was a great pick-me-up in the middle of my morning!

3 ice cubes
2 Tblsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tblsp lime juice
1 tsp organic matcha
1 tsp honey
1/3 C water
1/2 C frozen pears

Add all ingredients to blender and process until smooth.

You still have time to enter the Kiss Me Organic Matcha giveaway on the post HERE or on my facebook page. The winner will be chosen tonight!




Giveaway: Organic Matcha from Kiss Me Organics

Matcha is a fine-ground, powdered, high-quality green tea which boasts all sorts of benefits; from increased energy and metabolism, to improved skin health, to increased memory. Kiss me Organic's Matcha is 100% organic, culinary grade, and tested for purity, and it contains more than 137 times the antioxidants found in a cup of brewed tea. It is available exclusively on Amazon.ca with free shipping. (You know I love free shipping!)

I was delighted to receive this product to try for myself, and to provide as a giveaway to one lucky reader! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me how you would use the matcha. In a smoothie or latte? In some baked goods? Simply mixed with water? Let me know and your name will be entered. Get a bonus entry by commenting on the giveaway post on my facebook page(Draw to take place Monday July 21st)

If you aren't sure how you would choose to use Matcha, all new Kiss Me Organic customers receive a recipe guide, which is a great place to get started! I am looking forward to trying their recipe for an Iced Ginger Matcha!



*This is a sponsored post. I have received free products and/or compensation for this post. The opinions featured here are always honest and my own*

Spinach Pizza Dough

Friday night is "Pizza Night" at our house. We all know I like to sneak extra veggies in wherever I can, so I usually puree all kinds of extra vegetables into my tomato sauce to get a little more into the kids when they eat their favourite cheese pizza. When I saw this recipe for spinach pizza dough, I knew it would be the ultimate way to take their cheese pizza from good to great. 
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 C warm water
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed but not drained
2 Tblsp olive oil
3 C flour
1 tsp salt

Combine yeast and sugar in warm water. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or until yeast is active and foamy. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender or food processor, puree spinach (in liquid from package). In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Once yeast is foamy, add yeast mixture, spinach, and olive oil to flour. Stir to combine into a rough dough. Knead until the mixture is elastic. (A stand mixer with the dough hook is excellent for this!) Cover dough, and let rise for 20 minutes. Divide dough in half to give you enough for two 12-inch pizzas. Stretch pizza dough and top as desired. Bake at 400` for 15-20 minutes.

I chose to make one 12-inch pizza immediately, and to bake the 2nd crust as a plain shell. It is waiting in the freezer for a quick last-minute meal some day soon! Alternatively, you could stretch the entire batch to make a large pizza on a baking sheet.




Here's a close-up to show you the colour of the cooked crust. It has a greenish hue and small flecks of spinach, though you really can't taste them or detect anything different in the texture. The kids gobbled it up without a second glance!


Spinach Raspberry Mini Muffins

I have mentioned before that Weelicious rocks my world. I have never had anything but great results using Catherine's recipes, and she always has great stories and photos to share. And who could balk at delicious recipes that get more "good stuff" into yur wee ones?! My friend, Katie, recommended this recipe for Spinach Cake Muffins, and they looked like something my kids would go for. I altered the original recipe slightly, and these 24 little muffins lasted less than 24 hours in our house!

If you think your kids will be leery of green muffins, consider calling them Monster Muffins or Frankenstein Muffins. Instead of raspberries, mini chocolate chips might help you convince them too!

1/2 C plain or vanilla yogurt
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 C fresh baby spinach, packed
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 C sugar
1 C All-purpose flour
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C frozen raspberries, crushed (Whole raspberries are too big for mini-muffins, but feel free to use them if you are making full-sized muffins)

Using an immersion blender, puree yogurt, egg, vanilla, spinach, and oil. (This could also be done with a food processor). Stir in sugar until well-combined. Combine dry ingredients, then stir into the wet ingredients until flour is incorporated. Gently fold in raspberries. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins (12 muffins or 24 mini muffins). Bake at 350` for about 15 minutes, or until they test done.



Here's Isaac enjoying a mini-muffins. He ate nearly half the batch himself!



Spice-It-Up Rub for Meat and Vegetables

I like ingredients that are versatile. I don't like a one-trick pony, and I hate buying something that I will only use in one particular recipe. Where is the fun in that? It's like buying one of those craft kits that has everything you need to make one particular craft, and you can't deviate because they only gave you exactly 3 pipe cleaners and 5-inches of yarn. I know, that's a little off-track...but in my mind, it's the same thing.

I came across this recipe (from the Manitoba Canola Growers) for a spice mix, which had all kinds of ideas of how to tailor the same mix to work for different dishes. We have enjoyed this rub on several things, which are pictured and explained following the recipe.

1/4 C paprika
2 Tblsp dry mustard
2 Tblsp salt
2 Tblsp sugar
2 Tblsp granulated garlic
1 Tblsp pepper
2 tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients and store in a cool, dry place. I find a small glass jar ideal for this.


Pork Back Ribs
Rub ribs with oil and spice mix to coat.
Place in a baking dish and cover with foil.
Cook at 375` for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and place under broiler for approximately 10-15 minutes, flipping once.

Cauliflower Steak
Cut slices of cauliflower approximately 1/2-inch thick.
Rub with oil and spice mix.
Over medium heat, drizzle a little oil in a pan.
Add seasoned cauliflower slices. Cover pan. 
Cook 5 minutes until cauliflower is golden brown.
Flip, cover, and cook and additional 10 minutes.


Chicken Legs
Rub a little oil on each piece of chicken.
Sprinkle with spice mix and rub to coat.
Place on a foil-lined baking sheet at bake at 350` for 40 minutes, or until skin is crispy.

Breakfast Sandwich

We recently traveled out of town and stayed with an old friend. In the morning, he offered us a Breakfast Buddy. How could you ever turn down anything so cheerful? It was a bagel with a fried egg cooked with peppers, onions, and mushrooms (almost like a little omelet) topped with cheese. Delicious! It made me think about how everyone has a different spin on similar breakfast sandwiches...here's mine!

When peppers are on sale, I slice and freeze them. I always slice a few into long thin slices for strifries, fajitas, etc. I save one to slice cross-sectionally to use in these sandwiches. They go straight from freezer to pan, contain the egg so it fits well on the bun, and add a great texture to the sandwich. Win-win-win! I also keep a few slices of cooked bacon in the freezer, which are a great addition to this sandwich too. Just toss it in the pan - it will defrost and warm up as you cook the egg!

Simply toss the green pepper ring into the pan, and crack your egg inside. Cook egg as desired. After flipping, add cheese to melt. Toast a bun (this is a Country Harvest Ancient Grain bun), and top with sliced tomato and condiments as desired (I like honey mustard. Josh likes barbeque sauce). Add cheesy green pepper egg, and enjoy!





And isn't it delightful when things fit perfectly on a bun?
It was like this tomato was grown just for this sandwich!

Spicy Beef & Cucumber Wraps

My husband works a night shift one week each month. It's kind of a downer when he isn't here for dinner/homework/sports/baths/bedtime, but it is nice to have the morning together each day. Another bonus is that we often sit down and have a "real" lunch together. Not a sandwich on the fly, not a piece of fruit and a slice of cheese eaten on the run...but a real lunch. 

I didn't plan to make this for our lunch today, but I picked up ground beef and cucumber on sale so I wanted to put them both to use. I pinned this Korean Beef recipe from Six Sisters a while back, but I felt like the sugar needed to be cut back. I paired it with a cucumber salad that was mostly made by squinting in the fridge: The edamame was leftover from the kids last night, the jalapeno was the last one in the jar, and these were our last two carrots. Feel free to improvise on the salad based on what you have on hand! I served this on romaine to make lettuce wraps, but it would be great served as a taco on a soft tortilla or a crisp taco shell.

1 Tblsp sesame oil
1 Lbs ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblsp brown sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp (+/-) crushed red pepper
-------
1 cucumber, quartered and chopped
1/2 C - 3/4 C shredded carrot (2 small)
1/2 C steamed edamame
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped fine
2 T rice vinegar
1 Tblsp sugar
1 Tblsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown ground beef with garlic and salt in sesame oil. Drain fat, if necessary. Add remaining ingredients, and cook on low for 3-5 minutes to blend flavours.

In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Whisk to combine. Toss with cucumber, carrot, edamame, and green onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve cucumber mixture over beef on a large piece of lettuce, a tortilla, or a taco shell.

 



Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies without any butter or refined sugar, and instead filled with fibre, protein, and vitamins A & C? Now there is a dessert you can feel good about! These cookies were gobbled up by my wee ones for a treat after school, and my husband and I ate a few more as a late night snack. 

1 C canned white beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tblsp water
1 C baked/mashed sweet potato
2 eggs
1/4 C honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
1/3 C oatmeal
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 C chocolate chips

Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree beans with 2 Tblsp water to yielf 1/2 C bean puree. Combine bean puree with sweet potato, eggs, honey and vanilla. Stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine wet and dry ingredient until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 350` for about 12-15 minutes, until done. These cookies are best served the same day.




Quick Ratatouille with Brie

I came across two similar recipes on Pinterest (here and here), and used them as inspiration for a new side dish. We absolutely loved this...so much so that I made it twice in a week! Traditional ratatouille is stewed, slow cooked, and layered, while this dish is quick and painless to throw together. It certainly isn't a true ratatouille, but what would you call it?

The quantity listed below worked well in a pie plate, as pictured. The second time I made this, I was out of  brie and wanted to make a larger amount. I doubled everything and made it in a 9X13 dish, topping it with a little bit of shaved red onion before adding the Parmesan, olive oil, and salt & pepper. Both combinations were delicious! This is a simple and versatile way to prepare your vegetables, and a great Make It In The Morning option too.

1/2 zucchini, sliced approx. 1/4 inch thick
2 plum tomatoes, sliced approx. 1/4 inch thick
1/2 sweet potato, sliced slightly thinner than other vegetables
Brie, sliced approx. 1/4 inch thick
2 Tblsp (+/-) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tblsp olive oil (+/-)
Salt & pepper, to taste

Place sliced vegetables and brie in pie plate, alternating and overlapping as you go. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake at  375` for about 25 minutes, or until sweet potato is tender.



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