Homemade Granola Bars

Lots of chopping but it was definitely worth it!

I had never been a too into granola bars as a snack, they are often sweet enough for dessert and I prefer to eat the real thing when I want dessert – which is almost always. Granola bars just never seemed to do their job and I ended up eating lots of extra sugar without the same satisfaction. Then I discovered Larabars and realized how great snacks granola bars can make. One of the greatest things about Larabars is they do not have any artificial sweeteners added unfortunately I live on a pretty tight budget and Larabars which can be quite pricy don’t always make the cut.

I have been trying to make my own granola bars for quite some time. They have been too crunchy, too crumbly, and dry. I did my research read up on different things to bind the ingredients together but hadn’t had success – until now. I found a recipe on Eat Simply that looked intriguing. I hadn’t used egg before. I switched up some of the fruits based on what was available at my grocery store and the fact that I LOVE dried blueberries and I used a mixture of nuts to vary the flavors and because using all pecans would be more than my budget can handle. I have been imagining new combos of flavors for granola bars all day, can’t wait to make more!

Homemade Granola Bars – adapted from Eat Simply

1/3 cup flour (can be whole wheat)

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1 cup dried apricots chopped

1 1/2 cups dried figs (I wanted to use dates but all the store had were figs) chopped

1/2 cup almonds chopped

1/2 cup walnuts chopped

1/2 cup pecans chopped

2 eggs

1/2 tspn vanilla

1 tbsp honey

*make sure that your dried fruit does not have added sugar and that the nuts you purchase are not salted.

preheat the over to 325 degrees

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the chopped fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and vanilla for 2 minutes until light and frothy. Add egg mixture and honey to the fruit, nuts and dry ingredients.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes depending on your oven then let fully cool before cutting.

Cut as small as you would like – one of the best parts about making your own granola bars is you get to determine how big they are.

Have you made your own granola bars – what worked and what didn’t?

Granola bars before they were cut into bars!

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The Snowy Day

I work in an elementary school and teachers speak a special language “picture book.” Anyone who has spent some time in a school or with little kids knows that The Snowy Day is an excellent picture book about what else but a snowy day. We read this book to the kids before the first big snow storm each year (thanks to Mother Nature we have not yet had the opportunity to share this literary gem). We teachers firmly believe just as Apple suggests for everything “there is an app for that” for any given situation, mood or lesson “there is a picture book for that.” We express our feelings with I Love you This Much, celebrate seasons with The Snowy Day, and refer to all of our bad days as Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days!


I woke up giddy this morning planning on spending my Snowy Day doing laundry, cleaning and my favorite snow day activity baking. Despite my excitement, the white stuff failed to fall from the sky. I decided to bake anyway.

Enjoy my snow day Chocolate Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Cookies:

1 cup butter – room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
Preheat the oven to 350  degrees
Using a mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add eggs one at a time mixing until combined then add vanilla.
In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients – flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
Use a tablespoon to drop unto a greased cookie sheet bake for 8 to 10 minutes until set. Cool on a wire rack completely.
I hope that you all enjoy your not so Snowy Day tell me about all The Places You’ll Go today!

Waldorf Chicken Salad with a Twist!

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My senior year of college I discovered I LOVE chicken salad. I am not sure what brought about this sudden adoration, maybe I had never even tried chicken salad before but suddenly I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Then I discovered Waldorf Chicken Salad and I fell in love all over again.

At my first job after college there was a place around the corner from my office with the best Waldorf Chicken Salad ever. I made every excuse to go there: having a bad day guess I need some chicken salad, having a good day well I should treat myself to some chicken salad. I went through this reasoning regularly and my love for this dish was widely known. When I left that job they had an office goodbye party, you better believe there was lots of Waldorf Chicken Salad from my favorite spot. I am not sure which I was more upset about leaving the job that I loved or the regular access to such a great lunch.

Now I work at a job I absolutely love but there is no great chicken salad in the neighborhood so I am forced to make it myself. I have gotten pretty skilled in the art of Waldorf Chicken Salad but today decided to add a new spin – a waste friendly version. I swapped out the mayo for some greek yogurt and was pleasantly surprised. Except for the need to add a little extra salt it was hard to tell the difference. Tonight for dinner I will be indulging in a Chicken Salad Sandwich, tomorrow for lunch I will continue the streak by putting it over some baby spinach for a salad, in my book if it’s Waldorf Chicken Salad you can’t go wrong!

Waldorf Chicken Salad with a Twist:

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken chopped or shredded (I use chicken breast baked in the oven)

2 stalk celery chopped

1 Fuji apple chopped

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

handful of dried cranberries (about 1/4 of a cup)

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples immediately after chopping. Combine all the chopped ingredients and add yogurt until the salad is as moist as you desire – you may not need the full half cup or you may want a little more. Everyone likes their chicken salad a certain way I like lots of cranberries and apple so feel free to adjust the amounts to get the right balance!

Turkey Meatballs with Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

I love watching football and everything about it including the food. In case yesterday’s post wasn’t clear today I will be very enthusiastically rooting for the Giants! I will also be sporting a new favorite shirt thanks to my book club secret santa – she found the softest Giants t-shirt known to man! I have had to resist the urge to wear it and sleep in it all week long so that it would be clean for today, it wasn’t easy.

In addition to being a football fan I am lactose intolerant (I realize these things usually have nothing to do with one another). Incase you haven’t noticed most foods that go with football watching tend to be smothered in cheese. While Lactaid pills are an amazing invention and they make sampling all of the cheesy concoctions possible I wanted to bring a tummy friendly food to add to our super bowl menu. One of the many reasons I love asian foods is because they are usually dairy free so, to cheer on the Giants I made turkey meatballs with a ginger scallion dipping sauce.

Three of my favorite ingredients: Ginger, scallions and onions

Turkey Meatballs (will make about 12-15 meatballs depending on size):

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (extra lean)

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 egg

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 scallions chopped

1 teaspoon sesame oil

salt

Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

3 scallions chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl mix together meatball ingredients. Shape together meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Place meatballs on a lightly greased cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (or until no longer pink when cut open). Transfer meatballs to a serving dish and serve with toothpicks.

Whisk together ingredients for the dipping sauce.

Enjoy and don’t forget to root for the Giants – Go Big Blue!

Go Big Blue Cookies!

Growing up, black & white cookies were a personal favorite and wonderful treat. I always ate them the same way: a little bit off the vanilla side then the chocolate saving the middle bite with a little bit of each color for last.  It wasn’t until I went to college in Boston that I realized they were a regional favorite. At least the version I was used to.

A friend in my freshman dorm’s family owned a bakery in the North End (Boston’s version of little Italy). I couldn’t get over my fortune upon finding out this information and couldn’t wait to pay a visit and eat some goodies. Now don’t get me wrong, everything I ever ate from Bova’s Bakery was delicious but, you can imagine my disappointment when I ordered what I believed was my old favorite disguised under the name half moon and learned that it was a totally different dessert! Black & white cookies in New England are called Half Moons and they don’t have same hard glazed icing that we  in NYC are accustomed to. Half moons have chocolate and vanilla frosting like you would find on a cake and while still delicious (I am never one to turn down dessert) it is not what I grew up with and came to love. During my four years in Boston while fellow New Yorkers complained about not being able to find quality pizza or bagels I longed for a good black and white cookie. I dealt with this loss by eating cannolies (always from Bova’s and never from Mike’s Pastries).

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even thought about trying to make this treat. It’s important to note that I hadn’t attempted this recipe again until today. This is due to the amount of work that goes into making them but today is a very special occasion, the Giants are in the super bowl and I needed to make a treat to show my support for Big Blue! By the way, the name is still up for discussion – anything but Black and Blue Cookies, that does not have a good ring to it.

Go Big Blue Cookies:

Cookie Ingredients: 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups cake flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter (slightly firm)

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon oil

3/4 cup milk

Vanilla Glaze:

3 cups confectioners sugar

4 1/2 tbsp hot milk

1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

a few drops of lemon oil

blue gel food coloring

Dark Chocolate Glaze”

1 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 oz dark chocolate

2 tspn unsalted butter

2/3 cup confectioners sugar

2 tbsp boiling water

2 tspn light corn syrup

1/2 tspn vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray standard muffin tins with non-stick spray

For the cookie: sift together the flours, baking powder and salt set aside

In the bowl of a mixer using a paddle attachment cream together the butter and eggs until light and fluffy, and the eggs one at a time mixing after each addition, then mix in the vanilla and lemon oil.

Add in the flour mixture in 4 additions alternating with the milk in 3 additions. Start and end with the dry mixture.

Put 2 tablespoons of the batter into each muffin cup and cook for 10 minutes until the edges are brown a little and center is set.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Glaze: in a large bowl stir together confectioners sugar, milk, corn syrup, vanilla, and lemon oil. Stir until smooth and pours well – if it is too thick add a little more milk if too thin add more sugar, then add a food coloring a small amount at a time until you get the shade you desire.

To glaze the cookies line the cookies up on the rack side to side. This process is messy and it’s best to put a cookie sheet or plate underneath to catch the icing as it drips off. Use a long offset spatula to mark the halfway point on the cookies. Put the blue icing in a measuring cup with a spout and pour onto the cookies toward the center line letting it drip towards the outer edge.

Chocolate Glaze: heat the chocolate and butter in a double boiler until melted. Add the confectioners sugar and boiling water in alternating additions, stirring between each. Stir in the corn syrup and vanilla until smooth, can use a whisk if sugar is not smooth. Spread onto cookies using the back of a spoon.

***Caution both glazes harden/clump quickly so make the vanilla and glaze immediately then make the chocolate and frost onto the cookies.***

Enjoy and root for the Giants, these are New York style cookies not the half moons the Pats fans will be eating!

I was going to debut with Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

I planned for my great blogging debut to be with some awesome Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies I made for my book club the other night…then we ate them too quickly and I forgot to take a picture. I promise to get better at this, and to be quicker with the camera!

A friend recently told me that I should just start a blog, she also promised that people would want to read it. I will never know whether she made this promise because she was sick of listening to what I planned to cook for dinner that night and thought I needed a new outlet for my kitchen creations or if she truly believed people want to read about these things!

Regardless of the motivations, here I am. I love food! I love to cook and love to bake and I love to talk about baking and cooking. I also like to run – because with all of the eating I need to do something to work it off.

I stressed for so long over my name and this first post its taken a few months to get to this point. Welcome to my journey and please bare with me while I learn the ropes. I also am attempting to learn how to tweet. I am told blogging and tweeting go hand in hand. I figured if I am going to do this might as well go all the way and I joined twitter as well. Follow me @thesugarlining (pretty sure that’s the right lingo)!

I think that this should be enough for one evening…promise an actual recipe to come soon!