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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Apple Pie Cereal Bars

Last week, I adapted this cereal bar recipe from Once a Month Mom.  Overall, they were really good, but I  did not make enough crust to do a sufficient top layer, so they were kind of like apple cobbler bars.  Here is what I did, and how I'd change it next time: 

Ingredients: 

Apple Filling
(I did not change this part at all, and it was freaking delicious.  The only thing I might do differently next time is puree the apples after they are cooked)

3 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt (just put your thumb in the middle of your 1/4 tsp. spoon and fill it halfway)
4-6 Tbsp. water, added one tablespoon at a time

Oatmeal Crust:
(I followed the recipe, but increased it by 50%, thinking that I could fill a larger pan this way.  I also reduced the fat by using some applesauce in place of all of the butter.  I should have doubled it, and maybe done a bit more than 1/3 butter.  This is all now fixed and doubled, with a few of my other tricks thrown in as well, and should work with a 9x13 pan for next time.)

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. oats, not instant
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated


First to make the filling: Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add all of the other ingredients and cook, adding water as necessary.  You want it to be fragrant and sort of caramelized, with the sugar and the butter.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples soften and look delicious.  (I might blend them up with a hand blender after they are done cooking.)  

Preheat the oven to 350*

Now for the crust: 
Mix together the dry ingredients, then blend them all together with the melted butter and the applesauce.  It will be kind of crumbly.  Press half of it into your parchment/foil-lined pan.


Then cover with the apple mixture, and the rest of the topping.  (Hopefully yours will offer more coverage than this.)


Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Let cool, then slice and serve!  You can also slice them and package them individually to freeze and eat later for snacks.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mother Earth News Fair

It's official! I am going to the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup next Saturday!

Despite the fact that I keep referring to it as "the hippie fair", I am super excited about it.  (Plus, everyone knows that Folklife is the real hippie fair around here.) I'm really going to have a hard time deciding which workshops to go to, but I know for sure that I'm going to the one on top bar beekeeping!  There's also a class on food preservation, breadmaking, making your own skincare products... classes on keeping ducks, alpacas (which I'm really sad to miss, but next year!), tons of gardening classes... it's really endless!  I first heard about this fair last year, (after the fact) so I made sure to keep tabs on it this time around.  Find out more info here, if you live in the area and might be around next weekend!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gardening... at the mall?

So, the last time I went to U. Village, it was a very disappointing experience.  I rarely get to go out shopping during the day any more, so the fact that they had nothing that I wanted to buy (and went there specifically to find) made me even more grumpy.  But then, I walked around, in an effort to cheer myself up.  This kind of helped:

 Everything was so vibrant!  Whoever it is that plans out the containers here has done a great job.


I love this gorgeous flowering purple tree.  


And no, your eyes are not deceiving you... that is SWISS CHARD planted in the middle of all of those flowers.  That is when you know that edible gardening has reached its' pinnacle; when an outdoor mall puts chard into their planting displays.

It's wonderful.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Growing Leeks

Last summer, I set out to grow some leeks in my backyard.  A year later, they still look like chives.  However, I also took some over to the twins' house to grow.  Look how they turned out!!


They were huge!  (I actually said, "Shut up! Are those leeks?!)  They gave me about 3 pounds of them to take home.  Just goes to show that piles of sunshine makes a difference for some veggies.  (my squash and greens seem to love the shady backyard though; go figure.)  I think I'll transplant my chive/leeks over there in a week or so!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer of Pie!

Last year for my birthday, I got one of those awesome mini-pie bakers.

It's essentially a waffle iron that makes little pies.  It had been stuck in the cupboard until last weekend... and now it's going to see a lot more of the outside world.

 I declare this to be the Summer of Pie!  First, I found a really great crust recipe (Trader Joe's, your frozen crust has let me down too many times!). I was thinking that it should be all butter, but then I read that even Julia Child says that you should mix butter with shortening, so that became the plan.  I used the crust from this book, (from this bakery, originally) using butter and vegan margarine as the shortening, and using 2 c. white flour + 1/2 c. whole wheat flour for the 2 1/2 c. it calls for.  (I guess that book might be out of print now, since it's so expensive.  This is a very similar recipe, just do 2/3 butter+ 1/3 shortening.)  Divide crust into two mounds, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.  Then roll out the dough and cut circles out of it; a larger one for the bottom, and a slightly smaller one for the top.  These four pies used 1/2 of this amount of dough (so one crust's worth).

Then, I pulled out my trusty pie book, and adapted the filling amounts to make it work for a mini pie.  Since John and I have VERY different tastes in pie (I like every berry, cherry, summer fruit you can think of; apple and pumpkin are his two favorites) I made just enough filling for two pies of each flavor; peach for me, and apple for him.

Pie Filling (for 2 mini pies):

1 c. fruit (I used one granny smith apple for his, frozen peaches for mine)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. flour (apple)/1 Tbsp. flour (frozen fruit)
1.5 tsp. lemon juice
dash of salt
1/2 Tbsp. butter

I mixed these things together, and microwaved them for 3 minutes each (just because I didn't know how well the pie baker would cook raw filling). I heated up the machine, put the bottom crust, then filling, then top crust, and closed it.  Pies were done in about 10 minutes!!

The only difficulty I had with this machine was that it was very difficult to see when the green light was turned on (signalling that it was done).  I had to turn off the kitchen light and be in the dark to know for sure!  I also don't think that you could do an open-top pie, like pumpkin, in this.  Next time, I think I'll top the pies with a little bit of cinnamon sugar, but these were super good. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Once a Month Mom

So,  I came across this blog several months ago, when I was still pregnant.  At the time, I thought, "Oh yes.  I should compile all sorts of freezer meals, because once the baby is here, when will I be able to cook?"  And then she came a week and a half early, so all I had "compiled" was a giant bag of cranberry mini breads.  They are delicious, but not exactly meals!  But, truth be told, I really have no problem making dinner most nights; once in a while (usually Fridays or the weekend) I am tired of cooking and we get a pizza or takeout from Red Robin- but it really hasn't been difficult to keep cooking, surprisingly.

But I digress.

The other day, I was looking for a healthy cereal bar recipe, preferably one with apples in it (since they are one of John's favorites).  This is what I found: Apple Pie Cereal Bars!  Back to the awesome Once a Month Mom site I go!  The idea is that they compile a series of recipes for the month, and then one day you make a  huge pile of food and freeze it for dinners for the month.  They give you the recipes, but you can subscribe to the site for $8/month to access their shopping lists, secret freezer tricks, and portion-sizes multiplied up for your household.  Honestly, there are only two of us eating this right now, so I am just testing out a few recipes (because who doesn't like to try new things?) so we'll see how it goes.  This week, we are also going to try Pretzel Tofu with Mustard Marinade, and Cauliflower and Kale Pasta; they both look really good!  (Oh, and my goal today is to make the apple bars; I'm going to try to reduce the butter in the crust a little bit, but other than that it is on! I will let you know how it turns out!)