Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate

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Well, oopsie. It’s almost been a month since I blogged. What can I say? Summer really took over. Now, it’s coming to a close. My boys go back to school next week ( 😦 ). I’ve so enjoyed my extra time with them, where the days started and ended later, we ate our weight in ice cream, and we did what we wanted. Times are a-changin’! It’s back to the grind. It’s going to be a rude awakening next week, when I’ll be forced to wake them up. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. That “my baby is now going to Kindergarten” bridge will also have to be dealt with. I’m not emotionally prepared to deal with that at this time.

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Moving on to what makes me comfortable – food. 😀

I found a recipe for Quinoa Granola Bars and tweaked them a little.

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These were so good! The oats made them chewy and the quinoa made them crunchy. The dried fruit made them subtly sweet and the chocolate coating just made them. Chocolate coating makes almost everything. Ask anybody.

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You can leave the chocolate coating off, if needed. I can barely come up with a situation where a chocolate coating would not be needed. But, know that option exists.

Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate

Recipe adapted from: Superhealthykids.com

1 C uncooked quinoa

1 C oats

1/2 C coconut

1 1/2 C combination of nuts and dried fruit (I used a 1/2 each of cranberries, golden raisins, and sliced almonds)

1/4 t salt

1/2 C peanut butter

3/4 C honey

1 T  oil (I used coconut)

3 T brown sugar

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 C chocolate chips

1 t oil (I used coconut)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9X13 inch baking dish.  Spread the oats and quinoa on a cookie sheet and toast in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Pour the quinoa and oats mixture into a large bowl and add coconut, nuts, and dried fruit. Mix together. In a medium saucepan, combine salt, peanut butter, honey, oil, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and immediately remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Pour over oats mixture and combine until dry ingredients are evenly coated. Pour into baking dish. Press mixture down into pan. Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes.

To make the chocolate, mix the chocolate chips and oil together in a bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring until melted. Spread over the top of the bars and let them cool/dry.

Cut and serve.

These are a teeny bit crumbly, but are delicious for snacks (after school, maybe? mid-morning? you decide). You could also individually wrap the slices and freeze and pop into a lunchbox.

Enjoy!

Kristin

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A Work Week’s Worth of Overnight Oats

It’s summertime and the living’s…definitely busier than our school year! The mornings, especially, have been busy. To ease into my early mornings (sidenote: whyyyyy are my kids waking up so early during summer break???), I’ve been making overnight oats the night before, so that I might have an already-ready breakfast, that is both really delicious and really filling. It’s been very helpful in getting my day moving.

Simply put, overnight oats is (are?) oatmeal, made the night before (or at the very least, an hour before consuming). It is a great time-saving breakfast. Oatmeal is very filling (and high in fiber), and helps me to snack less between breakfast and lunch.

The formula to making overnight oats is very simple – equal part oats and liquids. For my liquid component, I use both unsweetened coconut milk and Greek yogurt. I also like to add chia seeds (high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids) and [golden] ground flaxseed (high in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber). The more ground flaxseed I add, I find that I need to add a little more liquid. You can choose whatever toppings you enjoy – fruit, jam, chocolate, coconut, nuts, etc. You can eat it hot or cold. I rather enjoy it cold.

Below are some of the delicious flavors I made this week.

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Berry Crumble Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C coconut milk

1/4 C plain Greek yogurt

Almond extract

Strawberries

Raspberries

Mix liquids and oats together. Layer with toppings in a container. Store in refrigerator overnight (or for an hour, at the least).

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Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Peaches

Sliced almonds

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Mango Coconut Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla bean paste

1 T coconut oil

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Mango

Sliced almonds

Coconut flakes

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Blueberry Peach Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Peaches

Peach Jam

Blueberries

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Strawberry Nutella Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

1 T coconut Oil

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Strawberries

Nutella

Enjoy!!

Kristin

Anniverary Leftovers

We had a great anniversary…because we spent it together. Did we do fun stuff during the day? Ehhh, no. Our little one, Smalls, had an unusually high fever the day before and we’d been treating it. But yesterday, our anniversary, we took him to the doctor’s. It was just too high of a fever. So after two hours of waiting at our Pediatrician’s office, we left with a double ear infection diagnosis. Such a bummer. Pray for him? And to not spread sickness?

BUT…we DID go out to an early dinner without the kids. We went to a favorite of ours – Cheesecake Factory! We love that place! And guess what? They have an entire gluten free menu for my husband!

We started off with Shrimp Spring Rolls. We always used to get those when we were dating, so it was nice to have sort of a ‘throw back’. They were delicious.

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I love the dipping sauces. Once the spring rolls were gone, I used their fabulous bread, simply as a means to scrape more sauce out of the bowls, since licking them in public is frowned upon for some reason.

We shared an “adult” beverage, as well – the Pineapple Mojito! YUM!

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It was gorgeous! I’d not had that drink there before. I love how the aesthetics of it were just as beautiful as the flavor.

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And mint is one of my two favorite herbs (tied with cilantro). YUM.

I enjoyed it…

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…A LOT. 😀

I ordered the Luau Salad. I love ALL their salads, but I was feeling…tropical this time. No matter what salad I get there, I ALWAYS order a side of their house-made ranch dressing. I am sort of a ranch snob. I can pick out a store-bought bottled dressing anywhere. So. I URGE you to get their ranch. To dip your bread in, as well.

I am a pig.

Oink.

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With and without ranch. SO much better. Their ranch is a good accompaniment to any of their other dressings, as well.

Enough about their ranch, or they’re going to have to start paying me.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Husband ordered a hamburger off of their GF menu. It was one of the best burgers he’d (and me!) ever had. It was juicy and with the addition of bacon, the cheese wasn’t really missed.

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It was nice for him to have a meal that didn’t make him wish he wasn’t dairy or gluten free.

Until dessert time…

…when I ordered the Mango Key Lime Cheesecake.

YUM YUM YUM. I am eating the leftovers as I type this now.

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It was the perfect end to a celebration of five wonderful years.

Oh! And to catch up on food from the week, since that’s what I do…

I made yummy Oat Energy Balls!

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SUCH an easy recipe. A friend of mine posted the recipe on FB and it reminded me to make them. They are so easy, delicious, and HEALTHY!

The basic recipe is:

1 C dry oatmeal

1/2 C chocolate chips (I did a little bit less)

1/2 C peanut butter (I did homemade)

1/2 C ground flax seed (Costco sells a huge bag!)

1/3 C honey

1 t vanilla

I also added about 1/3 C shredded coconut. You mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and place in the fridge for about 10 or so minutes. Then you roll them into balls and keep in the fridge for about a week.

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My husband can’t keep his hands off of them. And I’ve been putting them in Bigs’ lunchbox for snacks.

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Try them! You can almost put anything in them, as long as the protein and sticky components are there.

I also made arepas. Have you had those?

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Nothing beats an arepa straight off the flat top grill from an outside cart in Miami, but hey, we aren’t there, so I make my own. Unfortunately for my DF husband, no cheese (no GOOD cheese) is allowed on these, but they were still so good! They remind me of my in-Heaven Southern Grandma’s hoe cakes. These are the Latin version.

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I used Harina PAN cornmeal. Super easy – recipe on back. Nothing fancy.

Hmm, I think that’s it for now.

Have a wonderful Friday (FINALLY here!!),

Kristin

 

Sweetie Pie

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Tomorrow is a big day in Bigs’ class – it’s his Valentine’s Day party! No matter how many old (relatively speaking) pictures I show him, he doesn’t remember Valentine’s Day last year. So this time around should be groundbreaking for him. I think he’ll really enjoy it! The parents of Bigs’ classmates have been invited to a potluck lunch in his classroom, and we are so excited! I was in charge of desserts. Obvi. It’s what I do. Plus, they may not know it, but none of the other attendees want anything I’ve cooked. Blarg.

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I made three different desserts. I love variety. I think that’s why I love buffets so much (don’t judge). I need options. Lots of options.

All the desserts I made for tomorrow are gluten free. Not only is my husband GF, but one of Bigs’ sweet classmates is. I love being able to make desserts that everyone can eat. AND that taste great!

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The first dessert I made was a Cherry Vanilla Almond Meringue Cookie.

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I doubled the recipe and it made approximately one million. The recipe called for cherry extract, but as my life typically goes, I did not have that. I did, however, have a Duncan Hines Cherry Vanilla Frosting Starter (powder intended to be mixed into vanilla frosting). It added both a lovely cherry vanilla flavor AND color. I also added Wilton pink (rosa) gel color and extra almond extract to make up for the vibrant cherry flavoring. They came out so festively pink and delicious!

http://momspark.net/holiday-dessert-cherry-almond-meringues/

The second dessert I made was a chocolate cookie I first made about a week ago – Vegan Chocolate Haystacks. SO GOOD! And easy. Two of my favorite things.

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This time, I used Hershey’s DARK chocolate cocoa and they came out richer and more chocolatey.

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

And lastly, I made a GF chocolate cinnamon cookie that I’ve made half a dozen times before. They are really unbelievably good. These were the first cookie I’d eaten that really broke my own personal stigma against gluten free food.

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Chock FULL of chocolate chips, these little babies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yummers. This is a family favorite cookie in our house, long before my husband went GF and DF.

http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously

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I put the desserts in a hot pink tray that I found at the Dollar Store. I also found the little vase there as well. It says, “Love” in different fonts on it. I filled it with conversation hearts. I think it looks cute.

I meannnn, this would be a lovely addition to any Valentine’s Day table!

Even one’s own personal table for one, if that’s your case. If single, I’d DEFINITELY make sure I were eating well.

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I can’t wait to tuck into this (my portion ONLY) tomorrow!

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Happy Valentine’s Eve Eve (so lame)!

I am sadly missing out on a Mommy Night Out making chocolates due to horribly inclement weather. Such a bummer, but I’ll pinch a cookie out of the batches I made today and pretend I’m in a chocolate factory (using the depths of my imagination).

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Have a sweet night!

Kristin

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A Pizza my Mind!!

It was Pizza Day in my Bigs’ class yesterday!! You can tell by the number of “!” how excited I was. I am so food-inspired. It’s weird. Anyways, my Bigs was excited too! We love our pizza – OBVIOUSLY. I make a lot of it. We eat it a lot. Even Smalls likes it. And he likes saying it…”Peepoo, peepoo, peepoo!!”. He’s cute.

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Yup.

I made Bigs a pizza-themed lunch, also obviously. It’s what I do.

Pizza Party Themed Preschool Lunch

This one was so much fun to make! I made a pizza-shaped PB&J (this kid and his PB&J’s!!) and used my food-safe spray to make a golden crust and sort of reddish sauce. I cut out fruit leather “pepperoni” (I add the crusts and bread leftovers back into the bento after picture taking – no one wants to see those things), which served as his dessert. I added pretzel chips and real pepperoni so Bigs can make little snack stacks. Is that even a phrase? He also has an applesauce squeezy fruit. I got such a hoot out of making this. I can’t even handle it.

And obviously, we had to dress the part! I can’t help myself!

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Just a red and white striped shirt (my friend, B, let me know that she found Waldo!!) and…PIZZA EARRINGS. I can’t even.

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Food jewelry makes me happy. Is that weird?

Anyways, I painted pizzas on my nails too. Was it too much?

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All the girls in Bigs’ class squealed with delight when I showed these to them. The boys could care less, although Bigs and Smalls liked it, at home!

I do it for the kids. What can I say?

And Bigs dressed the part too (Smalls always matches big Brother, so he had the same shirt on that day too), wearing a shirt with pizzas having a party.

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I know. I know I’m ridiculous. I admit and accept that.

Bigs’ wonderful teacher had really fabulous pizza themed activity centers! And for snack time, each kid got to make their own little English muffin pizza. It was so fun! I loved seeing how different each pizza came out.

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This has sort of been a pizza week for us. I made Pizza Pasta earlier in the week.

I made it up. I mean, I’m sure it’s been done a time or thousand, but I came up with it on the fly, with what I had.

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It basically came out of when dinner time rolled around and I hadn’t thawed anything. And it worked with our pizza theme.

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I mixed spaghetti sauce with teeny pasta shells (GF for Husband), added mini pepperoni, cheese (none for Husband), and olives, only for me.

I served it with peas and apples. It was good and it totally looked like I planned it.

And today, Friday, I made pizza for dinner. Just to “round” out the week.

I used this GF & DF crust mix:

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It’s pretty good. It comes with a packet of yeast, so it’s at least more like a “real” pizza crust.

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This was the pizza for Bigs, Smalls, and me. GF, but with cheese, ham, and pepperoni.

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My husband’s looked a little more pitiful without the cheese and three lonely pepperonis.

But dessert made up for it (it IS Dessert Friday, after all!!)!

I made vegan Chocolate Haystacks.

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This simple recipe consists only of making a quick, vegan chocolate sauce, mixing it with rolled oats, and freezing. That’s it!

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They came together in minutes and were fantastic!

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I think these would make for a really lovely Valentine’s Day dessert.

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Try them! They are so easy and you probably have all the ingredients!

Here is the recipe:

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

My kind of blogger – “Because I like chocolate”…

ANNNNND, since we are on the topic of dessert, my beautiful friend had a birthday yesterday and shared her cupcakes with some of our other beautiful friends. We had a great time and cupcakes are ALWAYS a plus. 🙂

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Aren’t they just gorgeous? I meannnnnn….. I can barely contain myself where there is a cupcake around. Just wonderful.

I hope you all have had a lovely week and that your weekend is just as lovely!

Kristin