Thursday, July 29, 2010

Granola Bites

The other week I got the urge to look up recipes for granola bars. We love them, but unfortunately, a lot of the ones on the market have a lot of palm/coconut oil and other unhealthy (but delicious) things. I looked for a long time and came across two recipes that sounded good.

I made this recipe last week and to a good degree of success. The few notes I have for next time include thinking of something to get the bars to stick together better (they tended to be very crumbly) and cooking it perhaps on a lower heat and/or less time. Other than that, they are very good and I will most likely make them again! I'll post the other recipe once we've tried them and determined their taste validity.

Oh, and since we have Winco nearby, this whole things cost something like $5 total to make because of their plethora of bulk food items. I probably wouldn't have made it if I had to buy individual boxes, bags of the items.

1 1/2 c. granola (I used a combination of three that we picked out-french vanilla, honey almond, apple cinnamon)
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. dried cranberries (we thought cran-raspberries would be most tasty)
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 egg whites
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbl. vegetable oil

1. Spray 8"x8" baking pan, preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine granola, oatmeal, cranberries, raisins, flour, almonds, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl.
3. In smaller bowl, lightly beat egg whites. Stir in honey, brown sugar, and oil.
4. Stir in honey mixture into dry ingredients until all is coated.
5. Press evenly into pan.
6. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown (less is more, in my opinion).
7. Let cool fully, then cut into bars and wrap up in plastic wrap or foil.

another close-up

Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 16
amount per serving

Calories: 185.5
Total Fat: 4.8 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: --
Sodium: 79 mg
Potassium: 127.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 37.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Sugar: 25.2 g
Protein: 3.5 g
Vitamin A: 5.4 %
Vitamin C: 0.4 %
Calcium: 5.1 %
Iron: 9.9 %

Honey Peach Frozen Yogurt

This week we made honey peach frozen yogurt because we had a bunch of peaches and we love peach ice cream. However, we decided to use vanilla yogurt instead of heavy cream so it would be a less fattening. This recipe was really simple and we added a few extra ingredients until it tasted how we wanted it to. Delicious!

3 c. peaches (peeled, pitted - - about 3 peaches)
1 (32 oz.) vanilla yogurt
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add mixture to ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.

Very simple! It did freeze rather hard, so it'd be a good idea to let it stand at room temperature for 5 - 10 minutes before serving. Also, we decided to blend all the peaches up because we hate having frozen chunks of peaches in the middle of the ice cream/yogurt, so if you want to blend half and have the other half cut up small, that would work too.

Oh, and I was a little exuberant with the food dye.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bing Cherry Jam

Well, we still had a lot of cherries after we made the ice cream, so I figured I'd make cherry jam. I found a pretty simple recipe online that worked well, the only problem was that I wasn't sure when the jam was done, because it was my first time doing it alone. But it seemed to work just fine, and now we have yummy cherry jam to enjoy for awhile!

4 c. pitted fresh bing cherries
2 c. sugar
2 Tbl. lemon juice
1 pinch salt
3 Tbl. dry pectin

1. Add the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, salt to slow cooker; stir gently and let stand for 15 minutes or until sugar is mostly dissolved.
2. Sprinkle with pectin.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2, stirring 2 - 3 times while cooking.
4. Remove the lid, turn the cooker to HIGH and cook 2 - 3 hours more, until jam reached desired consistency (make sure to check on it every once in awhile, because I had a huge mess to clean up--but I had left the lid on it)
5. Ladle the jam into clean spring-top glass jars, or screw tops with new lids (I bought some plastic freezer jars from Ball that worked just fine), let stand to cool.
6. Store, covered in the fridge for up to 2 months, or freeze.

This recipe's supposed to yield 5 cups. I doubled the recipe and filled 4 16 oz. plastic jars. Just sayin'.

work station
173 cherries = 1 hour to pit
all ready after hours of cooking

on homemade bread

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vanilla Cherry Ice Cream

Yesterday we made an impulse purchase: a 4 qt., Rival ice cream maker for $20. It was on clearance at Wal-Mart and we decided we might as well give it a shot; we don't need to get the $100 Kitchenaid attachment just yet. Well, I had been looking at recipes for bing cherries (since we have a huge flat left, and some are starting to turn yucky), and came across a vanilla cherry ice cream recipe. And since that is both one of our favorite recipes, we decided to give it a shot. It's a very simple recipe and we are quite pleased with the results with both the recipe and the ice cream maker. We are now excited about making different types of ice cream this summer....

2 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
3/4 c. white sugar
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 c. fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half (we did quarters so it would be easier to eat)

1. Combine the cream, milk and sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Stir in the extracts; add the cherries.
3. Pour into ice cream mixture and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.

churning away
after being frozen overnight
yum yum yum!
Zak has stained hands now, haha

Cherry Pie

This week I made cherry pie, for the first time ever.  I actually don't even remember having cherry pie that often, but I know Zak loves it, and we had a huge bag of pie cherries from his grandparents, so I decided to give it a shot.  I've only made  pie crust a handful of times (Zak has always been around to help out with that; we made apple pie a few Thanksgivings ago together), so I was a bit nervous.  I used a recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, since it seemed pretty simple.  The result was very delicious, however, next time I will perhaps make it thicker, because we had a fair amount of cherry syrup hanging around in the bottom of the pan.  Oh well, not bad for my first time!

Pastry for Double-Crust Pie:

2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
8 - 10 Tbl. cold water

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size.
2. Sprinkle 1 Tbl. of water over part of the flour mixture; toss with  fork.  Push moistened pastry to side of bowl; repeat until all of the flour mixture is moistened.  Divide pastry in half; form halves into balls.
3. On lightly floured surface, slightly flatten one pastry ball.  Roll it from the center to the edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter.
4. Wrap pastry circle around the rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch pie plate.
5. Roll remaining ball into circle; cut slits in it.  Place onto filling; trim the two crust edges and then fold top under the bottom and crimp edges as desired.

Pie Filling:

1 1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbl. cornstarch
5 1/2 fresh (or frozen) unsweetened pitted tart red cherries
1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie

1. In large bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch.  Add cherries; toss gently until coated.  Let mixture stand about 15 minutes or until a syrup forms, stirring occasionally (if using frozen cherries, let it stand about 45 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed but still icy).
2. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.  Prepare and roll out the pastry dough.
3. Stir cherry mixture, transfer to pastry-lined pie plate.  Trim bottom pastry to edge of pie plate.  Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on filling and seal; crimp edges as desired.
4. If desired, brush top pastry with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar.  Place pie on a baking sheet.  To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil.
5. Bake for 30 minutes (or 50 for partially thawed frozen fruit).  Remove foil.  Baking an additional 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

ready for the top crust
ready to go in the oven!
not as pretty, but still delicious!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Watermelon Berry Sorbet

Ok, so when Zak's family came to visit for a day or so, we had our delicious chicken kabobs, corn and watermelon. However, we did not consume most of the watermelon, and I decided to find some kind of recipe that would use up our leftovers. I found this great one on recipezaar, and tweaked it a little. It's easy, healthy and delicious!

1 c. water
1/2 c. water
2 c. cubed seedless watermelon (I must have used 4-6 cups, basically filled the blender)
2 c. fresh strawberries, hulled (I only used 1 c., I wanted the watermelon to be the star)
1 Tbl. minced fresh mint (Next time, I'll use maybe 1/2 Tbl.--we have spearmint & peppermint in our mint garden, so it was really fun to go outside and pick it!)

1. In a small saucepan, boil water. Add sugar to boiling water, stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
2. Put watermelon, strawberries, and sugar syrup in blender. Cover and process for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth.
3. Transfer mixture to a 9"x13" dish. Freeze for 1 hour or until edges begin to firm.
4. Stir in mint, freeze another hour.
5. Transfer to blender, cover and process 2-3 minutes or until smooth.
6. Freeze another 2 hours, or until it is firm.

I tweaked the freezer times a bit; it originally said to freeze the mint in for 2 hours, then transfer it all into a blender just before serving. But then it was all slushy, so we ended up freezing it again for another hour or so. The only picture I have is of the sorbet being a little more on the liquid side, but it's still very yummy and refreshing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Snickers Surprise Peanut Butter Cookies

My boss made these cookies last week at work and they were so good, I went online after work and looked up a recipe for them. I made a batch to take to Washington for the 4th of July and Zak's grandpa's 70th surprise birthday party. I accidentally burned a few of them (too busy running around cleaning and packing), but they were devoured. They are very simple to make and the chocolate drizzle on top is optional, but I thought it would be a good balance to the big peanut butter taste. I got about 31 or 32 cookies out of this recipe, which is a bit more than it predicted.

Anyways, these were a hit and are very delicious!

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 jar creamy peanut butter (18 ounces)
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag mini Snicker's brand candies
1/2 bag chocolate chips, melted, for drizzling on top (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth.
3. Add the eggs, yolk and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Stir in peanut butter.
4. In another bowl, add in flour, baking soda, salt; add to peanut butter mixture.
5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.
6. Form dough into 1-1/2" balls, flatten and wrap around each mini candy bar.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown on edges.
8. Let sit for a minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack.
9. Once cooled, add melted chocolate in drizzles across each cookie.

I put them in the freezer to harden up the chocolate before our drive

Saturday, July 3, 2010


This recipe comes from my family cookbook, courtesy of my Aunt Karri. I just modified it a little to our tastes and it was delicious! I grew up having Prego (which I love and is great, don't get me wrong), but I wanted to try my hand at making a more traditional sauce. Zak loved it (always a good sign), and I will probably make this more often in the future. Enjoy with garlic bread and salad, which is what we did!

1/2 lb. ground beef (the original recipe calls for 1 lb., but I figured we didn't need that much meat)
3/4 onion (original recipe calls for 2, but I used a pretty large onion), diced
1 large can stewed tomatoes (I used Italian style)
1 can tomato paste + 1 can water
1/2 tsp. basil (I used two large leaves from our plant)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. sugar
3 1/2 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, crushed

1. Brown meat with diced onions.
2. Add all other ingredients.
3. Simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours.

simple & delicious, yum!

Delicious Fruit Cobbler

I modified this recipe I found in a cookbook. Well, we had peaches, strawberries, bananas and some frozen blueberries, and no cherries. Besides, doesn't the combination of that fruit sound better than just cherries? Yes. Yes it does. This cobbler was so good (both cold and warm) that Zak ended up licking the bowl. He loved it and I will be surely making this again this summer. It's a homerun.

1 c. flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/4 c. butter
5 c. fresh (or frozen, but it's summer, go for fresh!) fruit [I used three peaches, several larger strawberries, one banana, and it was about 1/2 c. frozen blueberries. I just tried to get at least 5 cups of fruit]
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 Tbl. cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
whipped cream (we make our own with whipping cream and a few Tbl. of sugar and a dash of vanilla, way better than store-bought stuff) OR vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. For topping, stir together (in medium bowl) flour, 2 Tbl. sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if desired). Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.
3. For filling, in large saucepan, combine the fruit, 2/3 c. sugar, water, cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble and thicken.
4. In a small bowl, stir together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.
5. Pour fruit mixture in 2-quart square pan (I used my 8x8"). Using a spoon, drop topping into six mounds on top of the filling.
6. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until topping is golden brown (18 was the magic number for me). Let cool in pan on a wire rack about 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

before adding the topping
super delicious!

Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs

This meal is definitely a keeper. Zak didn't really want to come home and grill after a sub-par day at work, but once we got the kabobs on the grill and he smelled the delicious scent of grilled, teriyaki chicken, he knew he was in the wrong. I had decided earlier that day to make the kabobs, after getting a craving for them. And I wasn't going to pay over $5 a pound when I could easily make the same meal for cheaper! I mostly made it up as I went along, with the exclusion of my mom's teriyaki recipe. Which is:

1 c. soy sauce
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
sprinkle of ginger

I made half of that recipe and had previously turned it into a glaze for chicken tenders on the stove a few days earlier. But I figured whether glaze or marinade, it would still work for our purposes.

I put two chicken breasts (probably 3/4 - 1 pound) in a Ziploc bag and added enough sauce for them to sit in. And then I went to work.

I read in a recipe book that if you soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before grilling, they won't burn on the grill. So as those soaked, I cut up:

1 onion
1 yellow pepper

into decent chunks. I cut them on the smaller size, but they worked out great us. I also cut up the chicken into pieces about 3/4 - 1" in size. And I opened a can of pineapple chunks.

Then I threaded them onto the skewers, somewhat in this manner:


I tried to get about 4 pieces of chicken on one skewer. And I got 8 kabobs out of the ingredients, with some of the vegetables leftover.

Then Zak grilled them, and once they were almost done we added a glaze. I was initially just going to heat up the remaining teriyaki sauce and stir in some of the pineapple juice, but Zak thought we should add some spices to make it really yummy. I probably used half of the pineapple juice drained from the can. Zak added pinches of:
cinnamon (small amount)
garlic salt
chili powder (small amount)

He brushed it on both sides and they came out really well. We had them with corn on the cob and now we can't wait to have them again!

Here's a kind of recipe for those who didn't want to read my awesome explanation of everything:

1/2 recipe of teriyaki sauce, as provided above (which had been made thicker, into a glaze)
3/4 - 1 lb. chicken breasts, marinated in said sauce for 3 - 4 hours, cut into 3/4 - 1" cubes
1 onion, cut into similar sized cubes
1 yellow pepper, cut into similar sized cubes as well
1 can of pineapple chunks + juice (reserve in a bowl)
8 wooden skewers [if you use metal, I read to brush them with oil first]
pinches and dashes of [here pinches are the larger of the two]:
ginger (pinches)
garlic salt (pinches)
pepper (pinches)
chili powder (dash)
cinnamon (dash)

1. Make teriyaki sauce into glaze (add water that is equal to 1/2 of the total amount of sauce + cornstarch, microwave until thick and clear).
2. Put chicken (cut up before or after, doesn't matter) in bag, add maybe 1/2 of the sauce.
3. Marinate for 3 - 4 hours.
4. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.
5. Cut onion and pepper up, into 3 /4 - 1" cubes.
6. Open pineapple can.
7. Cut chicken, if you haven't already.
8. Thread on ingredients in some semblance of this order: chicken/pineapple/onion/chicken/pepper/onion/pineapple/chicken, etc. I got 4 pieces of chicken onto each skewer.
9. Grill for 10 - 20 minutes, turning every 5 - 8 minutes.
10. Heat up remaining teriyaki sauce, add about half of the pineapple juice as well as the spices. Mix to taste.
11. Brush glaze onto kabobs once they are almost done cooking.

The moment he realized that I was right, and he was wrong. ;)