Sunday, January 10, 2010

Energy Bars

Here's a little known fact about me- I studied nutrition* in college. There, I said it, my secret is out- I actually know how to eat "right." And at the beginning of every year, my inner nutritionist urges me to try and eat more moderately, mindfully and healthfully. Which is a tall order b/c my outer hedonist insists on fun, full-flavored eats.

Thus, my perpetual task (read: struggle) is to balance out satisfaction with smarts. These energy bars from Ellie Krieger really help do the trick. I subbed alot per my personal tastes & health considerations, but you'll notice I listed her original ingredients below if you would like to try that first. I try not to have to spend an exorbitant amount and stay within the resources of my local Kroger. I would also like to mention that this mixture just barely fit in my 7 cup food processor.

These are great for that 3pm lull where you need a pick me up. According to Ellie's nutritional count, these should make 24 bars out of a 13x9 pan and contain 133 calories per bar. Mine are prob. around 150 cal's a piece according to my math. (which is always questionable ;) ).

They keep for 3 days in an airtight container or 3 mo's frozen (wrapped individually).

* NOTE- I am not a licensed nutritionist and will never be dispensing that sort of advice on this site! ;)

Energy Bars
adapted from an Ellie Krieger recipe

Cooking Spray
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 c. shelled, unsalted raw sunflower seeds (I used toasted soy nuts)
1/2 c. toasted wheat germ (I used toasted flax seed)
1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 c. dried apricots
1/2 c. raisins (I used dried cherries)
1/2 c. pitted dried dates (I used dried mission figs)
1/2 c. raw almonds (I used mixed nuts that I had on hand)
1/2 c. nonfat dry milk
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350, coat a 9x13" pan w/cooking spray, set aside.

Place all ingredients except maple syrup and eggs, in a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add syrup & eggs and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse paste.

Transfer to baking dish and spread evenly to cover bottom. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes then cut into 24 bars.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

RIP Tavern on the Green

It's incredibly sad to me that this landmark is closing b/c it contains precious memories for so many people. You could debate about the price tag vs. the common man, but I feel like we all need something special like this to aspire to visit. Something above and beyond the ordinary. A tradition of excellence to be admired. ToG, you will be missed.

Here's a few of the items up for auction Jan 13/14. Wish I could pick up some of those gorgeous samovars!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Bean Soup w/Salsa Cream

It's frigid here in VA and as such, my tastes run toward soul-warming soups and chilis.

Recently picked up the Williams Sonoma Soups cookbook. So far, I've tried two recipes and have plans for about 10 more. I've been pleased with the roasted veggie soup (which I'm still feasting on courtesy of my freezer) and even more impressed with my recent endeavor- black bean soup.

The texture is velvety & rich while being exponentially good for you as well as filling. Great dish to start the new year out right with in case your resolution is to be more health conscious. Not to mention, it just plain tastes good! Just make sure to knock back a few beano before ingesting ;)

I adjusted this recipe to be used in a slow cooker for more convenient preparation on a week night.

Black Bean Soup with Salsa Cream
adapted from WS Soups cookbook

2 c. dried black beans
8 c. water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 jalepenos, " "
3-4 cloves garlic, fincely minced
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 small ham hock
1 tspn dried oregano
1 tspn dried coriander (I toasted and ground whole)
1 tspn dried cumin
1/2 tspn chile powder (I used ancho)
Texas Pete, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste (I used 1 - 1 1/2 tspn salt at the end)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Salsa Cream-
1/2 c. sour cream (I use lite)
2 tbsp salsa
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt & pepper to taste

Pick through beans for stones etc. Soak beans in a large bowl filled with water overnite.

Place ham hock, beans and water in slow cooker set to High.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Sweat onions, garlic and jalepeno for approx. 5 minutes. Add dried spices/herbs to allow their flavors to open up, as wll as red pepper cooking approx. 3 minutes with onion mixture. Add to crock pot.

Cook on high setting in crockpot for 7-8 hours or until beans are tender. Remove ham hock. Place 2 cups of bean mixture in blender, remove middle from blender top and cover w/a dish towel to vent the heat, puree. Pour into separate bowl and set aside. Repeat until entire batch is pureed (or not, depending on whether you want a pureed texture or a chunkier texture). Pour the bowl of pureed soup back into crockpot, hit with Texas Pete/salt & pepper to taste as well as lime juice. Adjust slow cooker settings to Warm.

Meanwhile, prepare salsa cream right before serving soup.
Serve each portion of soup w/a dollop.