Tag Archives: oats

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me really well is familiar with my love for peanut butter and jelly. I could eat a PB&J sandwich every day. If it weren’t for all the other wonderful nut butters in the world I probably would. My fridge is always stocked with at least two, more likely three or four, different kinds of nut or seed butters. Right now I have a GIANT jar of PB, a tub of tahini, and a jar of T.J.’s sunflower seed butter. I’ve been on a serious open-face, forget-the-jelly, nut butter on toast sandwich kick lately. That and toast with avocado, smoked sea salt, and pepper are my lunchtime obsessions.

Back to the peanut butter and jelly. I used to find peanut butter kinda scary. It was sooo high-calorie and so high-fat! I tried to get away with spreading as little of it as possible on my sandwiches and, consequently, never savored that peanut butter’d up sticky mouth feeling.

Nowadays, no one can tell me to use less peanut butter, or any nut butter for that matter. Those are healthy fats and useful calories, especially for a vegetarian! The same goes for baking with nut butters. I purposely bought a two-pack of giant PB jars at Costco so I could bake with it. Otherwise, one PB-containing recipe can use up most of a jar!

Determined to bake something other than 5-minute-a-day bread last week, I broke out the giant peanut butter jar, some grape jam, and some oats for a batch of granola bars. It’s been quite a while since I made granola bars last and I’ve never found a recipe that I really, really love. This one comes close. The bars held together. They’re fully on the healthy side of the spectrum (in my opinion) and they’re beautiful to look at!

After a sample, I carried these over the hill to Lee’s work, where hungry engineers promptly devoured them. This was my second walk of the day with Doc, who was thrilled to go on a granola bar delivery. The weather in San Francisco was summer-like for a couple of days last week and I did not let it go to waste. Come to think of it, isn’t there something about summer weather, PB&J, and granola bars that fits together? It’s like a deconstructed childhood memory centered around summer camp lunchboxes and snacks eaten on the grass.

I couldn’t make these bars without including an unusual ingredient. I think they owe at least some of their deliciousness to the leftover sweet potato I mashed into the mix.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ, or oat bran, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 a baked sweet potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey (more if you like things sweeter)
  • 1 "flax egg" (2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons water)
  • About 1/3 cup grape jam
  • Additional 1/4 cup oats for topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a square or rectangular baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together flax seed meal and water, set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, mash sweet potato.
  5. Add honey, peanut butter, and "flax egg" to sweet potato, mixing well.
  6. Add oats and wheat bran, stirring until mixture is evenly moist.
  7. Spread peanut butter-oat mixture into prepared pan, flattening it with a spatula or spoon.
  8. Spoon jam on top and and spread evenly over peanut butter-oats.
  9. Sprinkle reserved oats and coconut over the jam.
  10. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown at the edges.
  11. Remove pan from oven, lift bars out with parchment paper and cool on a wire rack.
  12. When bars are partially cool, place them on a cutting board (parchment and all) and cut into squares.
  13. You can put the bars back on the rack to cool, with or without the parchment. I kept mine on the parchment for easy transport and cleanup.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://blog.muffinegg.com/2012/02/27/peanut-butter-jelly-granola-bars/

11 Comments

Filed under other goodies

Two Left

My kitchen was full of food when I left town last week. I had spent Friday grocery shopping, baking bread, and making cookies. I wanted to make sure Lee would have enough to eat while I was gone without subsisting on chips+salsa.

wpid-DSC_0431-2012-01-26-15-45.jpg

Look at those crunchy, buttery edges and chewy, oaty mountains of cookie!

wpid-DSC_0429-2012-01-26-15-45.jpg

He ate pretty well on his own. Most of the sourdough loaf I’d baked was gone when I got home last night and Lee had left me a few cookies (four to be exact). Given the deliciousness of the cookies, I’m surprised he was able to restrain himself. These particular cookies came from the Foodzie Cookies & Confections Cooking Box that my mom sent me a few weeks ago. We ordered boxes for each other when they went on sale post-Christmas. I’ve had my eye on Foodzie’s extravagant Tasting and Cooking Boxes for a while but couldn’t justify buying one for myself. Isn’t that what moms are for? It was a perfect gift exchange.

wpid-DSC_0345-2012-01-26-15-45.jpg

I photographed the goods as soon as they arrived.

wpid-DSC_0348-2012-01-26-15-45.jpg

wpid-DSC_0355-2012-01-26-15-45.jpg

Only the recipe and one of the ingredients were really in the box. The rest came from my pantry.

After Lee and I each ate one for dessert last night, only two cookies remained. I have a feeling they’ll be gone by tomorrow!

I can’t decide which I love more: the cute recipe cards with cookies recipes from fantastic bloggers or the mouth-watering selection of special ingredients for those cookies. The edibles are ample supply for cookie baking and then some. The cards will add some heft to the cookie section of my recipe box and will probably be butter-stained in no time.

The recipe for Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Pistachios from The Vintage Mixer caught my eye first. I’m just an oatmeal cookie kind of girl. Every chewy, sweet bite of oats brings me complete dessert happiness and satisfaction, no milk dunking necessary. Rather than a vehicle for chocolate, sugar, or frosting, an oatmeal cookie is a real food all by itself. It’s what’s inside that counts. In this case, the Benjamin Twiggs Michigan Dried Red Cherries went a long way towards making an excellent cookie.

wpid-DSC_0434-2012-01-26-15-45.jpg

I must confess, I used the walnuts and pecans that were already in my pantry rather than buying pistachios for this recipe. It’s hard to find shelled pistachios that aren’t already roasted and coated in salt! The nuts I used were great but I’m determined to have green hunks of goodness in my next batch of Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Pistachios.

1 Comment

Filed under desserts, inspiration and musings

Buttery Buttermilk Scones and Sourdough Disasters

wpid-DSC_0033-2011-07-21-11-52.jpg

Given the choice, I usually like to start with the bad news. I won’t bore you with my sad story, though, so today I’ll start with the good stuff!

See those little brown peaks on the surface of these scones? Those are crispy mountains of buttery flavor and beneath them are melt-in-your-mouth soft, crumbly centers. All that texture and flavor came from only a small amount of butter and a generous glug of buttermilk!

I don’t know what inspired me to buy buttermilk the other day but once it was in the fridge I had to find something to do with it. While scones may not be the obvious application I think they are my new reason to buy buttermilk. As a bath for chew oats and the main liquid ingredient in the scone batter, buttermilk is a winner with all it’s tangy richness.

This was a totally spontaneous baking foray and I’m very happy with how it turned out. I think I’ll be making these scones over and over again with different mix-in combinations. Cherry chocolate chip is on the horizon!

wpid-DSC_0032-2011-07-21-11-52.jpg

Buttermilk Scones with Dates

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2-4 tablespoons agave nectar
About 6 medjool dates, chopped

Combine oats and buttermilk in a medium-sized bowl and leave in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Thoroughly mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add butter in small pieces and cut it into the flour mixture using a pastry blender (two knives or a wire whisk work too).
Stir chopped dates and agave (to taste, for desired sweetness) into the buttermilk and oats (you could also add the dates at the beginning of the soak time to soften them up).
Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended. You might need to add a splash of milk to moisten things up (I did).
Spoon the batter onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 425 F. for 12-15 minutes, or until your scones have little brown peaks on top.

I highly recommend eating one of these as soon as you take them out of the oven for the maximum buttery goodness!

And now for the tragedy.

wpid-DSC_0027-2011-07-21-11-52.jpg

I had a major screw up in my baking few mornings ago. I blame it on the 6 am body pump class that exhausted me to the point that I could not function normally for the rest of the day. I returned from class, ate a hearty cereal, yogurt, and fruit breakfast (of course there was coffee involved too), and prepared to make something with my happy, well-fed sourdough starter.

I have been feeding my starter the night before baking with it. I mix up the sour contents of the jar in the back of my fridge and pour them into the GIANT bowl (with quite a history that I’ll get to later). Then, per my starter’s parent’s directions, I add a cup of all-purpose flour and a cup of water. After mixing thoroughly with a whisk, plastic wrap and a tea towel go on top of the bowl and I stash it away in a corner of the kitchen for the night. In the morning a cup of this mixture goes towards baking and the rest (or whatever fits in the jar) goes back in the fridge. This method has been working well for me.

I fed my starter properly on the night before the incident but the next morning I skipped a step. I was so absorbed in weighing my flour and testing the water temperature that I completely forgot to remove all but one cup of the starter to save for future baking. My entire batch of starter was half-blended with white, wheat, and rye flour plus a dash of olive oil and some water before I realized what I’d done. It’s a good thing no one was around to hear me cry.

wpid-DSC_0030-2011-07-21-11-52.jpg

I woefully slopped some dough in my starter jar, just in case it was salvageable. So far, that dough hunk’s future looks promising. I fed it a cup of water and half a cup of all purpose flour, then filled my jar and used the rest to make pizza crust last night. The crust rose beautifully and tasted fantastic! I’m crossing my fingers for my starter’s future.

3 Comments

Filed under Bread, other goodies

Chocolate Chip Carrot Muffins

I need to learn to wear an apron. I have one. It’s colorfully striped and my mom gave it to me several years ago. Do I ever think to put it on when I’m about to make a huge mess in the kitchen? No. It sits in a drawer right in front of me while oil spatters on my shirt an little flecks of tomato sauce make their way onto anything white that I might be wearing. I should really wear the apron while I’m eating, for that matter, since balsamic vinegar and pasta sauce rarely make it to my mouth without leaving a drop here and there.

wpid-DSC_0017-2011-07-15-16-34.jpg

When I started grating the carrots for this recipe I remembered my apron, got it out of the drawer, and put it on. No carrot juice left it’s mark on me!

Now for the muffins. It’s been a while since I’ve baked my favorite treat. The time was right for muffins this morning. I was craving chocolate after breakfast (who doesn’t?) so I shuffled through some cookbooks and my recipe box for a chocolate chip vehicle. A recipe for Carrot Cake Bars came up as the winner. I’ve made these bars many times before and they always satisfy my craving for carrot cake without making me feel too guilty if I eat several a day.

How did bars become muffins, you ask? I don’t have the right pan to make bars and muffins come pre-portioned. I swapped out raisins with chocolate chips and made the recipe vegan, since Lee ate the last eggs this morning. Necessity is the mother of invention!

Hot from the oven with melting chocolate chips in every bite, these satisfied my chocolate craving. I love how oats give muffins crunchy tops and chewy centers!

wpid-DSC_0018-2011-07-15-16-34.jpg

C is for carrot. C is for chocolate: Muffins on a cute little plate from my grandmother.

Chocolate Chip Carrot Muffins

Adapted from Cooking Light

2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter or vegetable oil*
3/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk*
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, because it’s yummy)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated carrot
Handful semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine ground flax seed with water. Set aside.
In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter (or oil).
Add the milk, flax mixture, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring gently until just combined.
Fold in grated carrot and chocolate chips.
Spoon into muffin pan lined with paper or silicone liners or into silicone liners on a baking sheet. (I filled 10 silicone cups about 3/4 full and the batter rose just to the tops of the cups when baked.)

Bake at 350 F. for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are crispy and brown.

Next up: The sourdough loaf I’ve been baking but still haven’t captured on film? ICE CREAM in my new ice cream maker? I know, maybe some sourdough waffles in my untested waffle iron. I’m sure all these things will make it to the blog eventually!

5 Comments

Filed under muffins