I was approached by a representative of Nuts.com to enter their healthy summer snack contest! Woo! People are finding my blog and I get an excuse to play with cool ingredients and make a healthy snack.
I knew I wanted to do some kind of bar, but I am not enough of a baker to create a recipe on my own, so I turned to the best baker I know - Melissa from Smells like Brownies. Together, we came up with a granola bar recipe that included cacao butter, cacao nibs, dates, hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut, almond flour, chia seeds, and oats. Sweetened only with honey, these bars are a powerhouse of energy (they also have great texture and flavor).
To get the most flavor, roast the hazelnuts at 350 for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan at 10 and 15 minutes to ensure that they roast evenly. You can then rub most of the skins off with a towel. If you really want to get rid of all of the skins, you will have to blanch them and the skins before roasting.
You will need a food processor for this recipe, but it comes together very easily. Then you just press into a pan and bake. The bars are a little crumbly, so if you aren't a fan of that - try soaking the chia seeds in a bit of water before adding them.
The real MVP of this recipe is the cacao butter. My goodness, does it smell and taste delicious. It's like vegetable oil (or more like coconut oil in terms of healthiness and uses) that tastes like chocolate - I might be a little obsessed now. You can wrap these individually to travel or to freeze. You can also sub in whatever nuts you like, add more dried fruit - whatever you want!
Oh, yeah - if you make sure to use GF oats, this is totally Gluten Free! And if you replace the honey with something like maple syrup, it's also vegan! Enjoy!
I've joined a group called Improv Cooking Challenge, where each month 2 ingredients are chosen for us to make dishes with. This month was peaches and cream - yum! I scrolled through my saved recipes on Pinterest and found this Peach Cobbler Trifle that looked perfect for the challenge!
Pound cake is layered with a pudding mixture, peaches, and a crumble topping. My trifle dish is actually a punch bowl, so I only made 2 layers. But with a taller, narrower dish - you could make 3 layers.
I really liked that the pudding mixture used orange zest and sour cream to take it out of too sweet territory. I added a pinch of salt to the crumble mixture and the peaches to help in this regard, too.
It's cocktail time! Remember the Orange Creamsicle Cocktail? Well, it was so popular that my friends wanted to make a similar cocktail, but Lemon Meringue Pie themed. And I was happy to oblige!
Lemon Meringue Cocktail
a Well Dined original
makes 1 cocktail
3 oz lemon-lime soda
1 oz Limoncello liquor
1/2 oz whipped cream flavored vodka
1/2 oz marshmallow flavored vodka
1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
Add Limoncello, vodka, and sweetened condensed milk to a rocks or lowball style glass, stir to combine.
Add ice and soda, stir again. Top with whipped cream.
It's Secret Recipe Club time! And this month I was assigned the blog I've been waiting for - Smells Like Brownies by my best friend, Melissa! Yay! You may recognize the name, because we cook lunch together every week, and I often blog about it. Melissa is a stay-at-home mommy to a very active little boy, and a precious baby girl. She is devoted to her family and God in a way that is truly inspirational, as well as being a phenomenal baker and photographer. She's just the best and I am so excited to share her blog with you!
Eliminating SRC posts and dishes that we made together narrowed down the field quite a bit, but I still had no trouble finding a ton of things I wanted to make. I actually intended to make several dishes and blog about each of them, but I kept getting sick and injured this month and had to narrow it down to the number one thing I wanted make - this gorgeous Golden Nectarine Cake. Which is kind of hilarious because Melissa hates fruit, so I doubt she even got to try this cake.
The rest of my top "to-try" dishes (which are all vegetarian, because Melissa is a vegetarian) are Debby's famous Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust (because I've heard her talk about it so many times), this Broccoli and Purple Potato Gribiche (that I've been drooling over since she posted it), Monster Green Pea Burgers, Lemongrass Coconut Noodles, and Couscous-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce.
Let's get back to that cake! I loved this recipe because it was easy for a non-baker like me to follow. Start with two nectarines and slice them into wedges. Is there anything more summery than stone fruit?
I have been saving Tasty (Buzzfeed Food) videos on Facebook like crazy. They always look so good! So this week, I declared that I must make one thing from a saved link; and I chose these decadent Chicken Bacon Alfredo Lasagna Roll-ups.
Start by cooking lasagna noodles and filling them with a mixture of cooked chicken, bacon, and Alfredo sauce (made with butter, garlic, cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan). I made some changes to the original, using 12 noodles instead of 8 and more filling per noodle to use up all the filling. I didn't like how, in the video, there was chicken and bacon on the top instead of all contained.
These started off as peanut butter and jelly, I'm not even kidding. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I had been having a bit of a rough week and hadn't planned anything for our weekly get together. So that morning we just wanted to keep things simple and focus on getting our cats to be friends (long story). We were thinking - let's just make PB&J or store-bought ravioli.
But then - she said she was craving salmon, and I said smoked salmon and goat cheese with crackers was easy and good, she said what about nice bread and an egg. Then there were herbs and kale and shallot and good lord we can't keep it simple! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Fresh, gorgeous ingredients (including some from Mel's garden) turned into a lovely lunch for us, even while wrangling a baby, a toddler, and 2 kitties in an un-childproofed house (mine).
It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month, I was assigned A Spoonful of Thyme. I enjoyed the story she tells about her grandmother and the pies, and how she talks about mealtime being an important bonding time. I can tell that family is very important to her!
I went in this month with a mission, because I was hosting a game night and needed an appetizer or snack. I considered this Zahtar Flatbread and these Bar Eggs, and was even distracted by a couple of desserts - Coconut Cream Bars and Poached Figs. But in the end it could only be the recipe that hooked me immediately - Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread. I'd seen this floating around the internet and hadn't tried it yet; this was the perfect opportunity!
I ended up going shopping at 1:00 AM (long story) and there was no working the bread counter. So when I saw that all of the crusty breads were pre-sliced, I ended up having to go with a baguette. It worked out okay, but I would have preferred a regular loaf. Anyway, cut the bread in a crisscross pattern (but not all the way through the bottom) and stuff with cheese slices. This is a bit of a process, but I found it relaxing - kind of like meditation.
I am so far behind in my Try The World reviews, you guys, I am so sorry! Let's talk about this Argentina box: Bake Love Koo! coconut butter cookies (these were gone in like 2 seconds, so good); Dulcor dulce de membrillo (perfect for cheese plates); Chamana and Inti Zen teas (the dulce de leche with red fruits was really good); Memories of Patagonia Malbec wine marinade (I just spread this on crackers with mascarpone, yum); Doña Magdalena dulce de leche; Vanoli chimichurri; MQA Gourmet green olive paste.
I decided to make a meal using the chimichurri and olive paste. I tossed roasted potatoes with the green olive paste; then I broiled skirt steak with some of the chimichurri sauce, and added more on top. Simple, easy, delicious.
May has five Mondays this year, which means - themed Secret Recipe Club post! Falling on Memorial Day, the theme for this reveal is Picnic/BBQ and my assigned blog was A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are former police officers who moved out to the country and became farmers. They treat their animals humanely, are part of an organic CSA, trade with other farmers, and live sustainably as much as possible - I am so jealous! I dream of being a radical homemaker, but don't have the commitment. I was on a specific mission this month, but I look forward to perusing the blog more thoroughly.
I actually made three recipes from Wendy's blog this weekend, in order to have a full meal for the holiday. She had tons of recipes that are appropriate for the challenge, and I chose BBQ Beef Sandwiches, BLT Pasta Salad, and Black Forest Trifle. Each of these was easy to make with the help of store-bought ingredients, so that I didn't have to spend a full day in the kitchen. And each of them was a big hit!
I love Spring. I love the flowers, and the weather (sometimes), and the resurgence of vegetables. Spring vegetables are here and gone so quickly (if you are buying seasonally, that is), so take advantage of them while you can! Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to make this Spring vegetable dish because it uses spaetzle, which is a bit more fun than your standard pasta, and gruyere, which pairs so well with these veggies.
Spaetzle is a chewy German egg noodle. Melissa is familiar with it because she studied German. I've eaten it in restaurants many times, but only made it once before this past fall. And by made it, I mean that my friend made it with her Grandmother's (I think) recipe and her spaetzle press. Meanwhile, I made a vegetarian ragu with mushrooms, butter, onion, thyme, and oregano and poached some duck eggs (thank you, gorgeous Portland farmer's market).