Killer Cereal

You know what I’m really bad at?

A lot of things.

But you know what I’m really, really bad at?

Making decisions.

Oh, not major life decisions.

I knew I wanted to go to college before I even went to full day kindergarten.

I didn’t get cold feet before my wedding because I was more than sure I was ready to be a Mrs.

I put my life savings toward my very first home with hardly a care that I would

potentially have to eat Oodles of Noodles for the next 30 years.

Life might actually be easier if I was forced to eat Oodles of Noodles for the duration of my home loan.

Because then I wouldn’t have to decide what to eat.

I.can.never.decide.what.I.want.to.eat.

I have literally stared into cupboards for upwards of 45 minutes trying to decide what I want.

I want everything.

And nothing.

My step-dad has been witness to this.

If he came into the kitchen and found me planted in front of the pantry for longer than it would take a lasagna to cook, he would look at me and chuckle…

“Looks like its a cereal for dinner kind of night.”

Yes!

Cereal!

Jeeze louise, there are 7 kinds of cereal in there.

This is never going to end.

But cereal-ously, I love cereal.

And granola.

And granola cereal.

And chocolate granola cereal.

Because sometimes, nothing will do for dinner besides a big old bowl of  cereal granola.

Cocoa Crunch Granola

2 cups old-fashioned oats

2 cups crisp rice cereal

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Tidbit: You can also use 1 tablespoon of canola oil for a nut free granola*

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, rice cereal, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

If you want crispy granola, you must use crisp rice cereal. Also known as Rice Krispies for the upper middle class that can afford such name brand-ary.

Does there really need to be baking soda in granola? Well, no. But it makes the cocoa taste less bitter.

 

Add peanut butter (or canola oil, if using) and maple syrup.

Mix until oats and rice cereal are evenly coated.

Spread onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes

*Tidbit: Check frequently since granola tends to burn quickly!

This has a lot of sugar to be eating giant bowls of it, but feel free to sprinkle it on smoothies, fruit, non-dairy yogurt, or just eat it by the handful.

But if you’re eating it for dinner, by all means, load the bowl up.

Well, shoot.

Now I have to decide what I want for breakfast.

KEEP CALM AND CRUNCH ON!

The Life of Pie

Oh.

My.

Pie.

For breakfast.

Yes.

Go ahead.

Peruse the ingredient list.

Then scroll back up because we’re not done talking.

Don’t get your blackberries in a bunch.

I just wanted to tell you why pie is the most important meal of the day.

1. Oats: Contain selenium which can lower the risk of join inflammation.

2. Flax seed: An excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids.

3. Peanuts: Contain niacin which can help prevent age related cognitive decline.

4. Blackberries: Contain folate which may reduce the risk of mood disorders.

5. Chia seeds: 1 ounce contains 18% daily value of calcium.

Tidbit: All information except those with a link was obtained from The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan.

Peanut Butter and Blackberry Breakfast Pie

For crust:

3 cups quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup natural applesauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons peanut butter

For Filling:

2 (12 oz) packages frozen blackberries, thawed

1/4 cup chia seeds

I SAID SCROLL BACK UP!

For Assembly:

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

To make crust:

Combine oats, ground flax, and salt.

Add applesauce, honey, and peanut butter.

Mix thoroughly.

Press firmly into 9 or 10 inch pie plate.

To make filling:

Combine thawed blackberries and chia seeds.

Note: This has no added sugar. If you prefer a sweeter pie, feel free to add some honey or sugar.

To assemble:

Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter over the crust.

Yeah, there’s chia seeds in my peanut butter. I didn’t wash the tablespoon. You’ll live.

Pour in the blackberry filling.

Top with chopped peanuts.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Pie will set once cooled.

Don’t serve this for dessert and expect your friends to be impressed.

Serve it for brunch and be prepared to hand out the recipe.

Ah, the life of pie.

Chasing Tail

Crunch.

Crunch.

Crunch.

That’s what I heard when I went outside to check on my dog after she didn’t come when I called her.

Crunch.

Crunch.

Crunch.

 Oh, great.

She got into the compost and now she’ll be sick tonight.

So I thought.

I should have known better.

I should have known she wouldn’t be crunching on apple cores.

Apple cores don’t make a loud, snapping sounds like, like……………… chicken bones.

Or in this case, squirrel bones.

I should have known.

I also should have known not to reach into her mouth in the pitch black hours before bedtime expecting to pull out rotten fruit.

No.

First came the tail.

Fur and all.

Then came what I can only imagine to be, um, connective tissue.

Attached to a live organ.

Just one.

Just a tail and one fledging, tiny little animal organ.

The rest of some poor critter was  on its way down my dog’s digestive system.

It was all I could do to hold down my own dinner.

I managed to get everything cleaned up and thought the worst was over.

Until I poured myself a bowl of cereal the next morning.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

The previous night’s incident flashed through my brain.

The next sounds that came out of my mouth are not really appropriate for the public forum.

Nice imagery for a food blog, eh?

Now you know how I felt while I tried to choke down a bowl of crispy, crunchy cereal.

I wanted no part of it.

Every crunch was like a stabbing reminder of the carnage that took place in my back yard.

I needed something soft.

Oatmeal!

In cookie form.

Breakfast cookie form.

A chewy breakfast cookie made with oats, banana, peanut butter and maple syrup for sweetness. These are really good for breakfasts on the go or a quick snack throughout the day. Even though its called a breakfast “cookie” its more about the shape than the actual flavor. These are more like a slightly sweet oatmeal muffin-in cookie form.

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAKFAST COOKIES

(Makes about 6 large cookies)

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 teaspoon ground flax

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch baking soda

(scant 1/8 tsp)

1 large, ripe banana

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, flax seed, salt, and baking soda and mix thoroughly.

TIDBIT: For a chewier cookie with more flavor, you can toast the oats for about 12 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

In a small bowl, mash the banana.

Mix in the maple syrup, peanut butter, and non-dairy milk.

Add the banana mixture to the oats and stir just until combined.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until bottoms are browned and cookies are set.

Tidbits:

This recipe is super versatile.

*You can leave out the ground flax if you don’t have any on hand. They act as a binder and add healthy omega 3′s but aren’t crucial to the recipe.

*For a sugar free version, you can omit the maple syrup and add an extra mashed banana. It will be slightly less sweet and more dense but uber nutritious.

*Toast the oats for 12-14 minutes for a chewier more flavorful cookie.

*Add more peanut butter (or any nut butter) for extra protein and healthy fat. Increase non-dairy milk if needed.

 

 

HAPPY CRUNCHING  CHEWING!

What the Fudge?

Valentine’s Day

Is for suckers.

Suckers for chocolate.

I’m sure that “F” stands for fudge, right?

Riiiiiiiiight.

Fudgy Brownie Bites

1 ( 8 oz) package pitted dates

*Don’t act like you can’t make these because you can’t find fancy dates. Packaged dates can usually be found next to raisins and other dried fruit.

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until mixture forms a firm ball.

Press mixture into a square about 1/2 inch thick.

If you don’t want to take the time to press and cut the mixture, you can just break off pieces and roll them into balls. Fudgy Brownie Balls.

Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shape.

Continue until you have used all of the mixture.

*Tidbit: You can eat these raw OR you can pop them into a 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes to set them like a real brownie.

My Valentine had no idea these were made from dates.

That’s saying a lot considering his STD.

Super tastebud detectors.

What?

Did you think I meant something else?

Get your mind out of the gutter.

We only do wholesome here.

Now go fudge yourself.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 

 

Pumpkin + Beer = Winning

Beer and books.

Two of my favorite things got together for a party.

Fordham Brewing Company celebrated their fall release with a pumpkin packed event that supported the local library.

The festivities included a brewery tour, punkin’ chunkin’,  pumpkin carving, taste testing, and a pumpkin recipe contest.

I’ve been drinking working hard to come up with the perfect pumpkin dessert.

A peanut butter cookie base

meets a thick, rich spiced pumpkin filling

and gets topped with peanut butter cookie crumbles, roasted peanuts, and peanut butter chips.

.In case you weren’t aware, peanut butter and pumpkin go together like beer and books.

There are quite a few ingredients and steps to this recipe, but once you taste these squares, you will be hooked!

The layers of peanut butter cookie and pumpkin collide to make a soft bar that adds a new twist to traditional pumpkin desserts.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Squares

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

For bottom layer:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

½ cup  peanut butter

½ teaspoon vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.  Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to peanut butter mixture and stir until combined. Dough will be soft. Spread half of dough in bottom of 9 X 9 inch pan.

For Pumpkin Filling:

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 egg

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

¼ cup maple syrup

                                                                                                   ¼ cup evaporated milk

Combine sugar and pie spice. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in pumpkin and maple syrup. Gradually add evaporated milk. Pour over peanut butter crust.

 For topping:

Combine remaining half of dough with ½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup chopped peanut butter chips and  ¼ cup ground peanuts. Dough should be crumbly. Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture.

Bake 45 minutes or until topping starts to crisp.

The salty, buttery bars paired perfectly with the mildly spiced harvest ale and I’m proud to say they were awarded third place in the recipe contest.

It was a night of good beer, good conversation and a lot of local love.

It was a night of pure beerfection.

Sunflower Power

I’m sure that catching up on my blog is the most important part of your weekend and I don’t have to remind you that I made granola on Sunday.

But I’m not really a plain granola kind of girl.

I needed something with a satisfying crunch to go into the secret recipe I’m developing.

It started innocently enough with some chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

Lisa  over at Sunny Seed Stories made a request on her blog that I just couldn’t ignore.

Photo courtesy Lisa at sunnyseedstories.tumblr.com

She challenged readers to take a pack of Sunny Seed Drops on some type of adventure such as running, biking, sight-seeing, studying, vacationing etc. All you had to do was e-mail her a description of the adventure you had planned for yourself and she would send you a free tube of chocolate covered sunflower seeds to take with you.

I needed free sunflower seeds.

Therefore, I needed to go on some type of adventure.

Apparently in the blog world there is an event called the Healthy Living Summit. It’s an action packed weekend focused on food, nutrition, fitness, and blogging. This year’s event is in Philadelphia and starts with a Friday night cocktail party, a full day of informational seminars on Saturday, a fun run 5k, and a Quaker Oatmeal breakfast buffet (with all the fun fixin’s!) on Sunday.

Considering most of my summer adventures have been obtained vicariously through library books, I was more than ready to mingle with real humans while getting my food and drink on in the city of brotherly love.

But there would need to be snacks.

Sunny Seed snacks.

It must have been fate when I discovered this at the grocery store.

SunButter!

Oh, sure,  I’ve seen Sunflower butter before but I was mostly tossing it out of the way to get to my beloved PB2 and Smucker’s Creamy Natural Peanut Butter. I thought SunButter was some crappy alternative for all those poor, poor, souls with peanut allergies. SunButter is made from sunflower seeds so I wanted to try it paired with the Sunny Seed Drops, which are like miniature versions of the best m&m’s you’ve ever had in your life. That is a lie. They are 1000 times better than m&m’s.

I gave the Sunbutter a little taste test and ohmysweetmothermaryandjoseph.

This.was.incredible.

Somehow it is smoother, creamier, and slightly sweeter than peanut butter and tastes really decadent. It has similar stats to traditional PB plus it’s a great source of vitamin E.

Since I have a mild obsession with peanut butter balls, I wanted to make a similar version with the SunButter.

Behold the creation of the SunButter Crunch Ball.

It is a combination of creamy SunButter, crunchy granola, honey, and Sunny Seed Drops that are studded throughout like little Christmas presents hidden under the tree. Delicious Christmas presents that are so good you would punch your unassuming sister in the face just so you could steal her tube. Serves her right for trying to sleep in on Christmas morning.

Since I already know that you spend all your free time perusing the blog and making various recipes, I’m sure you have a batch of Sunday’s granola post all ready to go.

Go ahead and give 2 cups of the granola a free ride in the blender.

Pour it into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 cup of SunButter, half of a cup of PB2, and 1 tsp. of honey.

Stir in 1 tube of  Sunny Seed Drops.

Roll into a million (or 50) little balls.

These keep nicely in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator or freezer.

That is if you don’t eat them all before they actually make it there.

Here’s the deal.

These are not low-calorie.

They are not low-fat.

They aren’t low anything.

But they are high energy meaning they are perfect for kids to snack on before soccer practice, for parents who never actually have time to eat because they are too busy driving their kids back and forth to said practice, for office dwellers who are buried in paperwork and don’t have time to take a break, or for those crazy- mega -ultra athletes who run double-digit miles and need a snack to fuel them through a tough workout. Or just because you need that little something sweet to help you forget about kids, soccer, paperwork, and even the idea of trying to squeeze exercise into your day. They are loaded with good for you ingredients like  whole grain oats, nuts, healthy fats, and natural honey to give you just the kick in the ass you need in the afternoon (or morning or middle of the night).

It’s like a healthy Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Keep it to four small crunch balls and you have yourself the perfect 200 calorie snack.

Or make it 8 and call it dinner.

I won’t tell anyone about the four more you’ll have for dessert.

SunButter Crunch Balls

2 cups ground granola

1 cup sunflower seed butter

1/2 cup PB2

1 tsp. honey

1 tube Sunnyseed Drops (3 oz)

Combine all first four ingredients in medium-sized bowl. Stir in drops and roll into 50 small balls.

Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Don’t have all of the ingredients?

No problem!

Peanut Butter Crunch Balls

2 cups ground granola (Kashi GoLean Crunch works beautifully)

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. honey

 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

Follow directions above.