June 15, 2010

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Bars

If you read my last post, perhaps you remember that I'm moving, and I have a somewhat stocked pantry of food to use along with 7 different kinds of flour (I later realized I had 9 kinds-- seemed to have missed the rye flour and brown rice flour on first count...).

I've been waking up pretty early the past few mornings, both intentionally and unintentionally, and since it's a bit cooler in the mornings, they've proven to be a perfect time to bake.  Thus, I've sort of been baking up a storm lately.  I made two batches of vegan cookies yesterday, these easily vegan breakfast bars this morning, and probably some biscotti later today or tomorrow.  P.s- vegan baking is a great way to use up ingredients when you don't want to buy perishable items (i.e. a whole carton of eggs that probably wouldn't be used up by the time you left).

So far, I've succeeded in using up my whole spelt flour, white whole wheat flour, canola oil, sunflower seeds, honey, and half my supply of oats.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.

I think these bars are the favorite of what I've baked thus far though.  I found the recipe on Whole Foods' recipe page and a number of reviewers mentioned they were very crumbly so, I set out to fix this problem and, of course, make a few other adaptions along the way.  As with most recipes I like, you can easily change these to suit your tastes by using whatever flavor preserves you'd like and any flavor in the crust/ topping that you think would complement the preserves, as well as any kind of seed or nut.  You can even add dried fruit if you so choose.  So, if raspberry almond isn't your thing, here are some other suggestions:

strawberry preserves, orange (or lemon) zest, almonds
apricot preserves, cinnamon, walnuts
cherry preserves, vanilla, cashews
lemon curd, vanilla, poppy seeds

Let me know if you try anything wonderful!

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Bars
As written, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond extract because it's usually very strong; however, the brand I used this time seemed to be a bit weaker.  Though the flavor didn't disappear entirely, it was not as strong as I'd hoped, so I would suggest trying to be familiar with the strength of your extract before you deciding how much to use.  If you'd rather not use almond extract, you could try vanilla, or perhaps adding a bit of ground cinnamon.
Adapted from Whole Foods

1 cup rolled oats, can use quick or old fashioned
1 cup whole spelt flour
1/3 cup sucanat
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted or raw
1/3 cup expeller pressed canola oil
 2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar if you'd like a vegan version)
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (optional, see above note)
1/3 preserves of choice [I used Bonne Maman Raspberry]

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Combine oats, flour, sucanat, salt, baking soda, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds in a large bowl.  Add oil and1/4 cup light coconut milk, mixing well until all ingredients are fully combined.  Reserve a scant half cup and press the rest into a parchment lined bread pan (The original recipe used an 8x8 pan but I wanted the bars to be a bit thicker).

Spread the preserves evenly over the oat mixture in the pan. Break up and sprinkle the reserved oat mixture (it will be somewhat sticky) over the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack then cut into bars or squares.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

June 12, 2010

Mango Lassi Parfait

This is just too good and too easy not to share with you right away.  So let me get to it.

I'm sure some of you have tried (or at least heard of) Gena's Banana Soft Serve and, if you haven't I encourage you to try some immediately! It's just frozen bananas whirled in the food processor until smooth, creamy, and amazingly ice cream-like.  That's sort of where the idea for this parfait came from.  I like bananas but sometimes I want to switch it up and this is great way to do just that.

The mangoes work nicely because, similar to the bananas, they process to a creamier consistency than other fruits like berries or citrus would.  If you're in the mood for a satisfying tropical treat that's still healthy, I think this might be it.

Mango Lassi Parfait
Serves 1

1/2 cup Greek yogurt of choice (or alternative yogurt if you want a vegan version)
3 tablespoons light coconut milk
~1 cup frozen mango chunks (I use 1 serving of Trader Joe's, which is 16 pieces)
cold water as needed (about 3 tablespoons but this depends on how thick or thin you want the 'mango sorbet' to be)
1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)

Mix your yogurt with the coconut milk and stir until well combined (if you're using coconut milk yogurt or soy yogurt, which have a thinner consistency than Greek, you may want to use a bit more yogurt and omit some or all of the coconut milk). Set aside.

Place frozen mango chunks in your food processor with 1 tablespoon cold water. Process until smooth, adding additional water as needed.

Alternate layering a glass with the yogurt mixture and the 'mango sorbet' mixture. Drizzle honey over top. Enjoy!

June 10, 2010

Dilled White Bean and Tomato Salad

So, I've got a couple things to share with you today.

Number one is that the current heat and humidity, coupled with the lack of air conditioning in my kitchen has severely stifled my desire to cook or eat hot food.  Actually, that's not entirely true, the desire is still there but the conditions are such that I was doing some serious sweating while kneading some cinnamon raisin bread this weekend.  Not the best, or the most appetizing, image.

Number 2 is that I'm moving back to New York.  In 10 days.  It's somewhat bittersweet because it means I'll be living at home again but *hopefully* that will just be temporary.  Aside from lamenting the fact that I'll no longer have my own kitchen, I'm also wondering how in the world I can use up most of the food in my pantry so I don't have to haul it halfway across the country.  Somehow, I've accumulated 7, yes SEVEN, different types of flour (whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, buckwheat, whole spelt, bread flour, all-purpose, and white whole wheat).  Does that make me crazy? Perhaps (see below for the current state of my pantry-- 10 days, my friends, 10 days).

In conclusion, it looks like I'm going to have get get over my distaste for baking in the sub-Saharan desert that is my kitchen and start churning out some baked goods that I can give to people before I leave (though, aren't they supposed to be giving me stuff?).

And, finally, onto this White Bean Salad.  It's quite possibly a perfect summertime dish.  Quick, easy, light, and refreshing, but also nutritious.  It can be made a day ahead and as it marinates, it becomes even more flavorful.  I'd say it's just right for your next barbecue or a low maintenance dinner you can feel good about.

Dilled White Bean and Tomato Salad
One of my biggest changes in this recipe was omitting the 1/4 cup olive oil altogether.  I didn't think it necessarily needed it and I thought 1/4 cup was a bit much.  I think 2 tablespoons would be plenty.
Adapted from the latest issue of Bon App├ętit (doesn't seem to be online yet)

2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill OR 2-3 tablespoons dried dill
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
salt and pepper, to taste

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let marinate for 1 hour (the original recipe suggests letting it marinate at room temp. and serving it at room temp. but I prefer marinating it in the fridge and serving it cold). Can be made 1 day ahead, cover and chill.