Roi Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn

IMG_0236

Hey, look! I cooked! And photographed it! Baby steps, right?!

Last weekend, we got invited to a baby shower for some new friends, which was awesome. Not so awesome? I didn’t know there was an email chain regarding food to bring until late Saturday night. The shower was Sunday at 1.

Blergh.

Josh and I were brainstorming Sunday morning, and while his offer to make his amazing guacamole was tempting, I was really afraid that we wouldn’t be able to find enough good avocados, since all the ones I find lately need a few days to ripen, and we had… 3 hours. I started scrolling through a few of my favorite websites and then I saw this, and remembered that I’ve been wanting to make it ever since Joy introduced it.

Furikake Kettle Corn.

I took this to the shower and made a bunch of strangers love me, which is really the point of bringing food to an event where you hardly know anyone. Sweet, salty, crunchy, just enough chew… this might be my new favorite party snack of all time. Homemade kettle corn, Corn Pops cereal, dried pineapple, crumbled bacon, spices, furikake, brown butter, and chives. It’s a good thing that it’s only delicious the day you make it, otherwise I’d be making it in bulk.

Head over to Joy’s blog for the recipe.

Sunflower Seed and Date Bars

IMG_0141

There was a time period that I was seriously obsessed with the LARABAR. It was the perfect thing to grab as I as running out the door in the morning, and easy to eat while driving (oops).  I loved the flavors, and there was enough variety that I didn’t have to worry about burning out on one.

However, the price, while not exorbitant, was still enough to make me feel a little guilty for not just eating breakfast at home, and I was usually hungry enough that I really wanted two of them anyway, so I stopped buying them. It didn’t help that poor Josh couldn’t eat them either, since nuts are a key ingredient.

Time passed, and I started to learn how to use seeds in place of nuts, and the glory of dates, and I kept stumbling across recipes for homemade date and nut bars. Josh thought they all looked good, so I set out to make one to suit our tastes and his allergies.

I succeeded.

Sunflower Seed and Date Bars (inspired by these)

Bars

  • 1 1/2 c. raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 c. pitted dried dates
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting

  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp. maca (optional)

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the seeds and pulse a few times to start breaking them down. Add the dates and salt, pulse a few more times, and then process for a good 2 minutes. If you notice any large clumping happening, break it up with a spatula.

After the two minutes, the mixture should look very crumbly, but will hold together in you squeeze a little in your hand. Scatter the chocolate chips over the mixture, replace the lid, and pulse until the chocolate has broken down a little and is well dispersed through the mixture.

Pour it all out into your prepared baking dish and press down firmly with your hand until it’s solid and even.

Once the mixture is pressed into the pan, it’s time to make the frosting.

In a small pot over low heat, combine the remaining chocolate chips, coconut oil, salt, and maca (I love the flavor). Keep the heat on low and stir often, until the chocolate and coconut oil have completely melted and become smooth and glossy. Pour this over the top of the date and seed mixture, spread evenly, and let harden in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

To slice, carefully lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang, and cut into 8 or 10 bars (depending on how big you’d like them). Keep in the refrigerator and enjoy cold.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

IMG_0020

This week Josh requested granola bars as the snack option. This came as no surprise since my granola is one of his favorite things to eat, so we started looking through various recipes. I’ve made granola bars in the past, but while those bars were very tasty, there still hasn’t been one recipe that we’ve been able to agree is our favorite.

That might have changed.

These bars manage to walk that fine line between crispy and chewy (even crispier even if eaten straight out of the freezer, my preferred method). The toasted oats and wheat germ give them a nuttiness and complexity that make me want to eat about 3 at a time. We, of course, went our traditional pumpkin and sunflower seed route, but I imagine they’d be delicious with a variety of nuts instead.

Oh, and the wheat germ… people get funny about wheat germ. I understand that it can give people vivid flashbacks to 70’s era vegetarianism or something but really, when it comes to recipes like this, it’s one of my favorite ingredients. Yes, it brings a ton of health benefits to the table, but it also brings a really delicious flavor, and that’s what we’re going to focus on. Grab a bag, keep it in your fridge/freezer, and throw in a handful whenever you’re making granola or oatmeal.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

  • 1 c. regular rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seed butter
  • 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c. puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper well. Set aside.

Pour the oats into a relatively even layer on a large rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the oats are fragrant and toasted. Pour the toasted oats into a large mixing bowl. If your wheat germ isn’t toasted, spread it out on the cookie sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice through the process. Pour into the bowl with the oats. Add the seeds and brown rice cereal and mix to combine.

Lower the oven to 300.

In a small pot over medium-low heat, combine the syrup, sunflower seed butter, brown sugar, coconut oil, and honey. Heat until the oil has melted and the brown sugar is incorporated, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and mix, making sure that all of the dry ingredients are well coated.

Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the chocolate chips over the top and press lightly into the surface. Bake for about 15 minutes, and let cool in the pan. I found that slicing them when cool, then placing them, still on the parchment, into the freezer until cold made it very easy to remove them from the paper without having them fall apart.

Keep in a sealed container in your refrigerator or freezer and try not to eat them all in one day.

 

Tim Tam Slam

So… today’s post isn’t really a recipe, and it’s kind of a tease, since the key ingredient can be hard to find in the US, but it’s one of our favorite desserts.

Meet: The Tim Tam.

Eat: The Tim Tam Slam

I introduced Josh to this treasure years ago, and now he’s every bit as hooked as I am. Sadly, it’s not always easy to find Tim Tams in the US, but I have a few options for you.

For one, stores like World Market or Jungle Jim’s, sometimes even Publix or any store that has a British/Australian section might carry them. We got ours this time at Jungle Jim’s, and they even had a wide variety of flavors. I’ve had both the classic chocolate cream and the type with the caramel center, and I prefer the classic. The caramel doesn’t always melt well, which is just cruel and throws off the texture.

Your other option is to wait until January, when Pepperidge Farm should be releasing their version in the US. They normally sell them for a few months around the holidays every year, so I’m not sure why they’re waiting so long, but I saw it on their FB page (which is apparently a thing) that they should arrive in the beginning of the year.

In terms of beverages to dip them in; coffee, hot chocolate, and peppermint tea are all excellent choices, though I’m sure it would really work in just about any hot drink.

Find them, stock up, and start slamming.

Cocoa Coconut Bites

IMG_1903

I’m not entirely sure how I haven’t posted this recipe yet, since we’ve been eating them regularly for years now.

Actually, I do know: I’ve never once made them myself.

I know, I know. Ridiculous. Josh just makes them so perfectly, and why mess with a good thing?!

These treats definitely fall into the “so delicious that I forget how healthy they are” category, which is always a win.

Josh topped this last batch with flaked salt (which we had on hand for salty honey pie) after baking them and now that needs to happen every time. Salty sweet just hits the spot

Cocoa Coconut Bites (recipe from Sprouted Kitchen)

  • 1 1/2 c. dried, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. natural cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. grade b maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Flaked sea salt (optional)

Combine the coconut, cocoa powder, and oats in a mixing bowl. Add the syrup, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon and stir well to combine everything.

At this point, place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Josh has found that he prefers to leave it for at least an hour. This will make it a little harder to work with due to the coconut oil solidifying, but it makes it easier to make really compact little bites.

After the time has passed, preheat oven to 215.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a small cookie scoop or measuring cup, form the mixture into roughly 1 inch balls, making sure to pack them as tightly as possible. Place them on the baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. If you’re topping with sea salt, sprinkle that on after they’ve cooled for a few minutes.

We like to keep these in the fridge, but they also freeze really well! Just remember that if you keep them at room temperature, they will be a little messy due to the coconut oil.

Crispy Cacao Treats

IMG_1676

My apologies for being such a tease and promising this recipe for so long with no follow through. The season change and shorter days always take some adjustments in terms of getting good natural light for the photos, and it’s almost fully dark by the time I get home.

However, this weekend, I planned ahead! WIN!

We’ve been eating these treats for about a month now, partially because they’re insanely delicious and full of healthy ingredients, and partly because, well, they’re easy.

Really, really easy.

Crispy Cacao Treats

  • 4 c. of puffed brown rice cereal (I got the Whole Foods Organic house brand)
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/3 c. of raw cacao powder
  • 5 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp maca (completely optional, but I like the faintly butterscotch flavor and all of the vitamins and minerals it brings)

Line a muffin pan with paper liners, and set aside.

Combine all ingredients except for the brown rice puffs in a small saucepan over low heat, and stir until well combined and glossy. Taste and make any adjustments (I tend to like things a little on the saltier side).

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice puffs and the cacao mixture and stir until all of the puffs are well coated.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and lightly pat down with your fingertips. You will probably have some extra mixture, and I highly encourage eating it by the spoonful to reward yourself for all of this hard work.

Not that I’ve done that.

Place the muffin tin in the freezer until the treats have set, then transfer, still in the paper liners, into a large ziploc bag and keep in the freezer. Since there’s so much coconut oil, these will remain nice and solid as long as they stay cold, but can definitely get messy as they warm up.

Eat straight from the freezer and enjoy.

Double Banana Chocolate Chip Bars

photo (28)

I’m always interested to see what Josh picks on weeks when I tell him to go crazy and pick all of the meals. Most weeks, we each decide on a few meals, so it’s a good balance, and we both try to keep the budget in mind. He did a great job, budget wise, staying easily within our limit.

His choice for snack this week? These bars, which are always a favorite, and since we usually have most of the ingredients on hand anyway, they wind up being insanely cheap as well. Easy to make, hearty, and delicious. It’s really just a win/win.

Double Banana Chocolate Chip Bars (recipe from Eat Live Run)

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/3 c oil, preferably coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 c quick cooking oats
  • 2/3 c chopped banana chips (we use unsweetened)

2/3 c dark or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 8×8 pan and set aside.

In large bowl, smash the banana until it’s just a mushy pulp (appetizing, right?). Add the oil and brown sugar and stir until completely combined, with no sugar lumps remaining. Note: if your kitchen is cold, or you use a cold banana, sometimes the coconut oil will start to harden. The few times that has happened to me, I placed the mixing bowl into a large bowl of hot water and let it warm up, then stirred it again.. Nothing to worry about!

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined, then fold in the chocolate chips and banana chips.

Pour this mixture into the 8×8 pan and pat down evenly. Bake until the edges are golden, about 25 minutes.

Let cool, and enjoy.

Raw Zucchini Bread Bites

photo (19)

Once upon a time, I ate Larabars pretty much every day. If you haven’t had one before, it’s basically a blend of nuts, dates, and various other dried fruits and spices. They come in flavors like cherry pie and carrot cake, and are a generally healthy, tasty and easy snack/breakfast.

The main problem (besides the cost)? They all have nuts, which means Josh can’t eat any of them. So, so sad.

I thought about making my own, to cut down on the cost, but since Josh couldn’t eat them even if I made a good facsimile, it just didn’t seem to be worth the effort, so I gradually just stopped eating them all together.

Over the years, I’ve become a lot more familiar with nut substitutes, so when I saw this recipe for a raw zucchini bread truffles, I thought, duh, I should see if I can make these work for us.

They might not be the prettiest guys in the world, but they’re so healthy, easy, and tasty that I plan on making them (and all the variations I keep dreaming up in my mind) over and over again.

Raw Zucchini Bread Bites (recipe inspired by this Nutrition Stripped recipe)

Makes about 20 bites

  • 1 cup raw sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sprouted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 generous cup raw shredded zucchini
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (I prefer freshly grated)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Put the pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a food processor and pulse a few times, just to start breaking them up a little. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until they start to form a pretty solid mass.

Roll with your hands into balls about 1 inch in diameter, and place on a cutting board/sheet pan. Once you have them all formed, place in the freezer for about an hour to get them nice and firm, and then keep them in an air tight container in either your fridge or freezer. I keep ours in the freezer, and they’re perfectly thawed in just a short time spent in our lunch bags.

 

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

photo-1 copy 2

The running joke in our house is that once blueberries are in season, a pint of them won’t last a full day before being inhaled. They are, by far, Josh’s favorite fruit, and one of the only ways I can convince him to let me do something with them (besides eating them by the handful) is to tell him that I’m going to make these muffins. That is the power of these muffins.

Honestly, what’s not to love? Fresh blueberries, folded into a not overly sweet batter, laced with nutty browned butter. All very, very good things.

The original recipe calls for a streusel topping as well, but we like them best when they’re simple and unfussy. The batter is thick, and I wind up having to gently mush it into the muffin liners with my fingertips, taking care not to burst the blueberries.

Go find some fresh blueberries (raspberries would work beautifully as well!) and experience them for yourself.

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins (recipe from Joy the Baker)

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Place you oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 375. Grease or foil/paper line your muffin tin.

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. It will get all crackly and it might stress you out, but that’s a happy sound. Once the crackling starts to subside, the fat pieces turn a nice golden brown, and it starts to smell nutty, it’s ready to take off the heat. You really need to watch it closely, because it WILL burn. Stressed again?

Combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla and whisk well.  Slowly stir in the browned butter.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries.

Divide evenly among the muffin cups and spread them out until the tops are flat. I usually wind up doing this gently with my fingertips because the batter is definitely on the thick side.

Bake for about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Best eaten still warm with some extra butter. Butter makes it better.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

afterlight (3)

I told Josh last weekend to choose a random special recipe that he’d like me to make as a treat. I was really curious to know what it would be. A slow simmered short rib meal? A big vanilla cake? I was open to anything. When he told me he wanted this double chocolate banana bread, I was thrilled. I mean, I’m still not feeling 100%, and it doesn’t get much easier than a one bowl, no yeast bread. Now I’m sooooo glad that he requested this, because dang, this bread is delicious. So delicious that I have a feeling that it will be a new favorite in our rotation of snacks, and I’m totally fine with that. I mean, it has fruit, so it’s totally a health food, right?

Fun fact: If you don’t have super ripe bananas, you can place whole, unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast at 300 degrees for 1 hour. This will soften and sweeten the bananas to the perfect flavor and consistency. Yay, science!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread (recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used light because that’s what I had, but dark would be just fine)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 1 c semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (I used semisweet chips)

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free.  Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Possibly hide from your coworkers while eating it. Too good to share.