Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chewy Granola Bars

Last March when Sharona and I went to London, Sharona brought homemade granola bars to snack on. They were really good. She told me they were easy to make, so I filed the thought in the back of my head for future reference.

Mr. Snowgoose and I eat a lot of granola bars. I've had a recipe from vegetarian Times in my idea folder since last summer and I finally decided to make some.

Guess what? They were totally easy to make and tasted wicked good. So good in fact I think I'll just make a batch every week rather than buy granola bars.

Chewy Granola Bars
makes 25 squares

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots (I used a dried fruit mix)
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular size)
1/2 cup walnuts (skipped this but added raisins)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark since it was what I had on hand)
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used sugar free)
1/2 cup almond butter (I used reduced fat peanut butter since I am not a fan of almond butter)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large egg whites

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray
2. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt in bowl. Stir in apricots, chocolate chips, and walnuts.


3. Beat brown sugar, maple syrup, almond butter, oil and egg whites with electric beater until smooth.


Stir in oat mixture.
4. Spread mixture in prepared baking dish and pat down firmly. Sprinkle top with remaining salt. Bake 30-35 minutes or until firm.



Cool 20 minutes before slicing into bars. Unmold, and store in an airtight container.

Per square: 202 calories, 4 g protein, 8.5 g total fat, 2 g fiber.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fakeout Takeout: Crockpot Eggplant and Pea Curry

It is finally crockpot season out in the PNW, especially now that it only ever seems to rain. It had been awhile since I made Indian, and I had been itching to use my new digital crockpot which we received as a wedding gift and try an eggplant and pea curry from the cookbook "The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Recipes from Around the World."

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large yellow onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated or finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon ground turmeric1 tablespoon ground paprika
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro for garnish
rice

Directions:
Combine the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon in a mortar or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture, turmeric, paprika, and pepper flakes and stir foe 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until some of the liquid evaporates.



Transfer the mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender in the pan) and puree until almost smooth.

Place the eggplant at the bottom of the slow cooker and pour the pureed vegetables over the top. Stir gently.

Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, until the eggplant is tender. Stir in the peas during the last 15 minutes of cooking and season with salt to taste.



Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Serve over rice with naan bread.



Cook's notes:
1. I know the combination of spices makes it a true Indian dish and that Indian cooks don't use curry powder, but using curry powder instead of running around the bulk spice bins at QFC would have made the dish a bit easier and saved a few bucks. And considering how I don't grind my own coffee and therefore do not have a coffee grinder. I tried to use a cup to grind the spices but it was a pain in the butt. Eventually I just used some ground cinnamon and left the seeds whole. Also, I used fresh tomatoes but didn't bother to peel them.

2. I've mentioned this before, but I hate having to COOK my food before putting it in a slow cooker. Doesn't it defeat the purpose of a crockpot? You should just be able to dump everything in the crockpot (once chopped, of course) and let it cook. or just cook everything on the stove.

3. It turned out kind of bland and made a ton. Mr. Snowgoose was nice about it but I could tell it wasn't his favorite, yet his still was willing to take leftovers for lunch.

Would I make this again? No. Would I recommend this to you? Heck, no.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mr Snowgoose makes mushroom risotto

When Mr. Snowgoose and I got married in August, we had the most delicious mushroom risotto at our dinner reception. It was so good I ate two plates of it in addition to my steak. Since them I've been dreaming about it.

We got a cookbook as a wedding gift called Boston Uncommon. We'd been eating the boxed version from Trader Joes which was acceptable. But we wanted the real stuff, and since Mr. Snowgoose was feeling ambitious, I let him take over the kitchen.

Ingredients:


2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 ounce dried porchini mushrooms
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons evoo
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup button mushroom, sliced, lightly sauteed in 1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Directions

1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat.
2. Soak the dried mushrooms in the lukewarm water in a bowl for 30 minutes.
Remove mushrooms from bowl by hand and squeeze out as much water as possible. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove any residue. Save that water! Rinse the mushrooms several times and pat dry with a paper towel. Coarsely chop mushrooms and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the rice.



Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine. Cook for 1 minute or until the liquid is evaporated. Add the hot broth 1/2 cup at a time, simmering after each addition until the broth is completely absorbed.


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When the rice has cooked for 10 minutes add the dried mushrooms and 1/2 of the mushroom water. Cook until the water is evaporated, stirring constantly. Repeat with the remaining liquid. Continue to cook the rice for about 20 minutes, adding the broth as needed, until the rice is tender but firm to the bite. Remove from the heat. Add 1/3 cup cheese and 1 tablespoon butter; stir until cheese melts and clings to rice. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the button mushrooms. Serve immediately with 1/2 cup cheese.



Makes 4-6 servings.


This risotto was a pain in the ass. It turned out okay but it took ages and the dried porcini mushrooms grossed me out. In the unlikely event we were to recreate this, we'd leave them out.