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Resolution Recipe 7: Almond Date Breakfast Bars


Getting caught up on recipes and posts before school starts up so here’s the last one I have in the queue that I’m getting around to posting about. 20140825_215216 These bars are really easy to make but they do require a few different ingredients you probably don’t have in your pantry. These include dates and wheat germ. I definitely had to make a stop a Sprouts to pick up these items as well as the oats, almond butter and almonds since I didn’t have those in my pantry either. I thought I had whole wheat flour on hand but I didn’t. This always seems to happen to me with one ingredient! You would think I would have learned by now, but nope. I’m learning to be the substitution queen. In this case I felt lucky because whole wheat flour seems like an easy thing to replace with regular flour. However, I’m wondering now if it would have helped with holding them together since it is more course then regular flour. Noted for next time. 20140825_215438 I was able to find pitted dates at Sprouts so I encourage you to try and find the same if you can since I imagine pitting these guys is not the easiest thing to do since they are a bit on the sticky side when cutting into them. I have to be honest. These look like bugs to me….cockroaches to be exact….so I pretty much never eat them if I can help it, let alone work with them. I got over my squeamishness a little bit working on this recipes, but just know the sacrifice it took for me to do this you guys….it was a big one. (Dramatic much…:) 20140825_221817   Recipe is easy…combine dry ingredients as seen above. Then…. 20140825_223325   Combine your dry ingredients until you reach the smooth texture you see here.

This is the point in the recipe where things went a little south for me…unfortunately. I’m learning the ropes in my parents kitchen since I recently moved home. (Side note…had to move from Whittier to Corona because they are selling the house I lived in. Sad to leave but happy to have a place to transition to while I figure out where I’ll live next. Rent free and nice kitchen to cook in is a super bonus, but commute to work/school went up so we’ll see how long I last). Being in this new kitchen has been lovely. More surfaces to use and better kitchen supplies on hand…all great. What is not great is the bummer process of learning how you mother stores her ingredients the hard way. She has an olive oil bottle (seen pictured above with ingredients) that HAS been used for olive oil in the past. I swear! Recently she put a different kind of oil in there…thinking canola oil….and uses olive oil straight out of the bottle. *sigh*. And guess who did not smell the oil to make sure it was right?! Yep yep, this novice right here. Lesson learned.

20140825_223447I sadly ended up using the canola oil which, let’s face it, does not taste as good as olive oil. As soon as I poured it in the bowl I knew I had done something wrong because the smell was more of the oil used in deep frying and I had pictures of deep fried treats dancing through my mind as soon as the smell hit my nose. NOT the taste or smell you want associated with your healthy breakfast bars. I kept hoping that the taste would not be affected, but sadly it really was. It had an unfortunately greasy taste to it and I don’t think that’s what we were going for with these. Ugh. 20140825_223655 Back to the recipe…after you get the creamy consistency of your wet ingredients you’ll combine it with the dry and mix until well coated. You’ll pour that into the pan and do your best to press the mixture down into the pan to make it as compact as you’re able. I do not think I did as good of a job at this as I could have. I know that would have made the difference in how well they were able to stay together in the end so learn from my mistake please!20140825_223951 Deb gives a suggestion to do two crisscross pieces of foil or parchment paper to help with removing the bars after they have cooked. Doing this also makes for an easier clean up with all the oil you’re using as well so I suggest you take her tip. 20140825_230658 You won’t notice a major change in color once it come out but the oats will be a bit more brown like an apple crisp (my only real comparison…haha). She suggests that you let them cool inside the pan for a bit and then to take them out with your foil and place them on a cooling rack before cutting them. I did try to do this but when I went to take them out, they began to break apart. I was able to do it in part to get a picture but they are pretty fragile.  I ran into the same problem the next day so I wasn’t able to really cut them into easily removable bars that would hold up long term. Again, I’m sure this was due to me not packing them in very well so there is hope for success next time. 20140825_233144Instead of keeping them in crumbly bars, I ended up breaking them up into the chunks of granola they were naturally falling into. I figured the crumbles would make good bite sized versions. It would also be a good yogurt topping as well if you’re a yogurt lover.  The think I loved about these clusters/bars that is different from anything I’ve had is the orange zest! It’s a different but lovely flavor to have in bars like these. I might also want to add dried cranberries when making these again since they would complement the freshness of the orange. Can’t wait to try them again with all the right ingredients!

RECIPE:

Once again I’m flying and not able to post the recipe without the book so I’m redirecting you to another blogger who has done the recipe and an excellent job of taking pictures of what it SHOULD look like! Check out the details on the blog Cafe Carol.

Thanks for reading everyone! Next post will be about my foodie adventures in Delaware and Philadelphia! I got to check something off my Philadelphia bucket list while I was there so I’m excited to pool my pictures and share about my good eats from my trip.

Also, if you’re a fellow Pinner, be sure to check out some of the stuff I’m pinning on the Novice Cook Diaries Pinterest Boards  if you haven’t already! Tell me which boards have the tastiest looking recipes and if I get enough feedback and I’ll pick a recipe from that board and give it a try.

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Cookie Lee Party!


I’m writing with a little sadness in my heart because as much fun as my party was yesterday, I have no pictures to prove just how amazingly lovely my table turned out. All that planning…pshhh…out the window…

No worries…I’ll just have to use some amazing writing to paint a picture for you….

The Menu

  • Fruit Pizza Bar
  • Veggie Pizza
  • Chocolate Fondue
  • Miscellaneous little bites

The Decor

Went for a valentines theme courtesy of the 99 Cents store. Red/White/Pink/Purple/Orange. Had a red table cloth with a few purchased sturdy plastic placemats for the three main dishes…bought a little plastic bucket for the plates, napkins, cups and silverware…had pink and red paper cups…white plastic bowls from the miscellaneous nibblies…it was great.

The Party Purpose

I’m a Cookie Lee consultant and I decided to have a clearance sale for all my Cookie Lee jewelry I’ve had in my trays for awhile. Everything was 50% off which meant a lot of purchases were made! Here’s my personal pitch…if you would like to check out the NEW Cookie Lee catalog that came out, check out my website: http://www.cookielee.biz/esuite/home/jessicaabsher. If you decide to make a purchase and tell me that you found the link here on my blog, I’ll give you 25% off any item in the catalog! You have to look pretty when you cook right?!? Sorry guys…you can purchase something for the beautiful cooks in your life!

The Menu Inspiration

I sort of based my spread off the Fruit Pizza Bar seen below. I found this on Pinterest and thought it had to be one of the most clever and cheap ideas I had seen in awhile. I bit labor intensive if you decide to make your own sugar cookies (which I did) but still very cheap and pretty no matter how you do it.

My bestest friend Jamie came over to help me get things put together and it’s a good thing she did since we had a pink lemonade emergency clean-up process that required all-hands-on-deck. I learned that if you place your pretty glass beverage dispenser with a spigot in the refrigerator with the spigot facing out, your door may actually help you open it up when you go to close it. Which means sticky pink lemonade all over your poor clean refrigerator…and the floor. The sad part of this story is that the incident was a “fool me once” scenario..mean I was the genius that earned and “shame on me” when I put the dispenser back in the fridge, forgetting to turn it so this didn’t happen again. Needless to say Jamie and a friend Brittany kept me from completely unraveling as they helped me mop it up. Our shoes and feet were sticking to the floor with the lovely accompanied noise, but we go everything ready to go on time.

Back to the menu…the fruit pizza was one of the stars but the others were the chocolate fondue and veggie pizza. You’ve all probably had a veggie pizza like this one from Pillsbury.  The crust is a cylinder of crescent roll dough, the spread is cream cheese, sour cream, dill, and garlic powder, and the toppings are your choice of chopped veggies. This recipe is one that my grandmother use to make all the time when we were younger, but we just recently added it to our appetizer archive and it is one we make a lot for get togethers with family.

The last thing I made was a chocolate fondue. When looking for a recipe I was hunting for something simple that didn’t involve a lot of ingredients. I found a recipe that called for 3 ingredients: chocolate, heavy cream, and brandy (Cognac and liqueur are also mentioned as options). I had a pack of chocolate chips that I used and bought a very small thing of heavy cream which gave me a cup of cream. The recipe says to just use 8 oz of chocolate and 3/4 cups of cream, but I decided to just the full 12 oz package of chocolate and 1 cup of cream so I didn’t have to measure and it turned out just fine…wasn’t too thick…. so I recommend doing the same for the ease of it. You finish it off with a tablespoon of brandy and stir it in before transferring it to your bowl or fondue pot. My dippers were pretzels, strawberries, marshmallows, nilla wafers and tangerines. It was a big hit and couldn’t have been an easier dessert.

These were my easy three table items, but then I decided to add a few extra things for a fun touch. I had chocolate covered toffee pieces and yogurt covered raisins that I got from Fresh and Easy that I placed in martini glasses and also made some candied almonds and pecans because I had them on hand and figured why not! I don’t know if you’ve had those warm nuts sold in touristy destinations or bakeries that they serve in a cone that you open up and can’t help but demolish in less then 5 min! I wanted to make those! I found this recipe and thought it would be  a fun addition to the table..which is true…they were! I would encourage you to try this with your favorite nut since it’s easy and would likely work the same not matter which one you did. A TIP:  I had to keep mine in longer because they were to sticky after the time they gave in the recipe. I read a review on the website that they left them in for 45 min until they had the crunch they were looking for. So keep that in mind, but if you’re like me and worried about burning or over cooking them keep an eye on them.

So that was my menu and it kills me that I didn’t take any pictures to share, but these ones are better then any I would shoot with my phone camera. A special thanks to Jamie for bringing some chips and yummy dip to add to the table. It was an awesome addition to cut the sweets!

Hope you give me your thoughts and feedback on these recipes or other like them…what do you do for parties that is easy and quick that you can share with me?!

Updates: I bought a new camera!! It’s on it’s way…stuck in NJ last I saw….but there are hopefully going to be much prettier pictures coming soon. Can’t wait to use it on new recipes.

P.S. I made my first pizza on my stone with smoked mozzarella…yum. Didn’t take pictures but would like to practice the dough a few more times since I botched up my first batch…more to share about that later…but I’ll use my new camera to document that process next time. Also, I’ve asked my older sister, Elizabeth, to be a guest writer on here so hopefully she’ll share some of her fun recipes with you all soon.

Happy cooking all!