Homemade Granola Bars

Don’t let the step-by-step instructions deter you. Mix it all together. Press in pan. Chill. It really is that easy.

Homemade Granola Bars

1 c packed Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 c honey (or sub maple syrup or agave for vegan option)
1/4 c your favorite nut butter

1 c slivered, unsalted almonds
1 1/2 c rolled oats (gluten-free if that’s your thing)
Optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, apple chips chips
Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
Note: if your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help them blend better and hold the bars together better. It shouldn’t be necessary if you find fresh, sticky moist dates.

Toast oats in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so, until slightly golden brown. Optional: skip toasting and just leave them raw.

Toast almonds in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so, until slightly golden brown. Optional: skip toasting and just leave them raw.

Place oats, almonds, and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.

Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.

Once thoroughly mixed (stir in any optional ingredients at this point), transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish which you’ve lined with parchment paper.

Press down firmly until uniformly flattened. Tip: use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.

Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove bars from pan (lifting carefully by lined parchment paper) and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days or in the freezer.

Notes

Spring Garlic & Shrimp

Spring Garlic & Shrimp
1 lb large shrimp, thawed, peeled, and cleaned
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup sliced spring garlic, cleaned, trimmed, and finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 bottle of your favorite white wine
Melt butter in a large pan. Add chopped spring garlic and asparagus and cook on low heat until softened, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in a cup of white wine and allow to simmer on low as it reduces to a thin sauce. While that’s cooking, pour yourself a glass of the wine and enjoy the aroma.

Add the shrimp and cook until just pink, being careful not to overcook the shrimp.

Serve immediately, as is or over angel hair pasta. Top with sprinkle of parsley. Serve with white wine, if there is any left.

Quinoa Salmon Salad

Quinoa Salmon Salad
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 lb piece skinless salmon fillet
kosher salt and black pepper
1 c quinoa
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2 English cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced<
1 c fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4cup torn fresh mint leaves
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsl fresh lemon juice

Follow package directions and prepare quinoa. Set aside, allow to cool.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Cook the salmon until opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

Toss the quinoa with the cucumbers, parsley, mint, onion, lemon juice, remaining tablespoon of oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Using a fork, flake the salmon into large pieces. Gently fold it into the quinoa mixture.

Asparagus Tart

Asparagus Tart
Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
5 1/2 ounces (about 2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Prep your asparagus: wash, rinse, and trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears.

On a floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 12-by-12-inch square. Trim uneven edges.

Place pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a square. Using a fork, pierce the dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove the pastry shell from the oven. Let cool approximately 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips.

Brush with olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Bake until the asparagus is tender, 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Iced Lemon Pound Cake
Cake
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon extract, to taste (not teaspoons; and not lemon oil and not lemon juice – see step 4 in directions)

1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Icing
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.

In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, and yogurt, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine. Add the lemon zest and lemon extract, and whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and stir until just combined, don’t overmix. Some lumps will be present and that’s okay, don’t try to stir them smooth.

Turn the batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for about 50 to 52 minutes, or until top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter. In the last 10 minutes of baking, tent pan with foil (loosely drape a sheet of foil over pan) to prevent excessive browning on the top and sides of bread before center cooks through.

Allow loaf to cool in pan on top of a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto rack to cool completely before glazing.

Lemon Glaze: In a small bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice while whisking until smooth and combined. You may need to play with the sugar and lemon juice amounts a bit as necessary for desired consistency and flavor.

Drizzle glaze over loaf before slicing and serving. Pound cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Quinoa Jambalaya

Quinoa Jambalaya

4 1/2 c lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 c quinoa (12 ounces)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb Kielbasa, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1 large onion, chopped

1 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 c spicy tomato juice
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 c fresh or frozen peas
1 c grape tomato halves
Combine 4 cups chicken broth and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a skillet and add kielbasa, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add remaining broth and tomato juice; bring to simmer. Add shrimp and simmer 5 minutes or until done. Add peas, tomatoes, and cooked quinoa and toss.

Zesty Baked Catfish

Zesty Baked Catfish

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 catfish fillets (6 ounces each)
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine oil and lemon juice; brush over both sides of fillets.

Combine the remaining ingredients; rub over both sides of fillets. Place in an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Yield: 2 servings.

Slow Cooker Salmon

Slow Cooker Salmon
1-2 lbs salmon fillets, skin left on
Salt & Pepper
Spices, optional
Sliced lemon, optional
Sliced aromatic vegetables, like fennel, onions, or celery, optional
1 to 1 1/2 cups liquid, like water, broth, wine, beer, cider, or a mix

Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper: Be generous! Sprinkle on any other spices you’re using and rub them in with your fingers.

Line the slow cooker: Cut a large square of parchment or aluminum foil and press it into the slow cooker. This makes it easier to lift the delicate salmon out of the slow cooker later.

Place aromatics over the bottom of the slow cooker: If you’re using them, place a layer of lemon slices and sliced aromatics on the bottom of the slow cooker. This adds flavor, but isn’t strictly necessary.

Place one layer of salmon in the slow cooker, skin-side down. Top with more slices of lemon and aromatics, if using.

Add another layer, if needed: If you’re cooking more salmon than fits in a single layer, you can add a second layer. Place a piece of parchment over the first layer, lay the rest of the salmon over, and top with aromatics. (I don’t recommend adding a third layer.)

Choose your cooking liquid: The liquid helps to poach the salmon gently. It can be as simple as plain water, or as complex as a cup of amber beer with soy sauce and fish sauce mixed in. My standby is half water and half white wine. You’ll need between 1 and 1 1/2 cups of liquid.

Pour the liquid over the salmon: If cooking one fillet, add enough water to just barely cover. If cooking two layers, add enough water to come partway up the side of the top fillet.

Cook on LOW for 1 to 2 hours: The exact cooking time will vary based on your particular slow cooker, the number and thickness of your fillets, and how “done” you like your salmon. Check the salmon after an hour and continue checking every 20 minutes until it’s done. If you prefer fully cooked salmon, check it with a thermometer in the thickest part — the fish is done when it reaches 145°F.

Remove from the slow cooker: Lift the salmon from the slow cooker using the parchment or aluminum foil. Tilt the paper slightly as you lift to drain off the liquid.

Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Store leftover salmon in an airtight container.

Shrimp & Spinach Salad

Shrimp & Spinach Salad

3 slices center-cut bacon
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 c thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 medium bulb)
1 c grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
8 oz fresh baby spinach

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings, and crumble. Add the shrimp to pan, and cook 2 minutes, turning once.

Combine bacon, 2 cups fennel, grape tomatoes, red onion, and baby spinach in a bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the shrimp and balsamic mixture to spinach mixture; toss well.

Seasoned & Seared Tuna Medallions

Seasoned & Seared Tuna Medallions
1lb albacore tuna medallions
For the Season Salt:
2 Tbsp kosher salt
Pinch ground allspice
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of ½ orange
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh tarragon
Citrus-y Salsa:
2 orange
½ red onion or 2 shallots, finely diced
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with your fingers, gently bruising the tarragon leaves to release their aromatic oils. Cover and let sit for at least 20 minutes; use within a few hours. Sprinkle on tuna steaks to taste.

Fire up the grill, concentrating the coals beneath the spot where the steaks will go so as to maximize the heat. Or if you’re not quite ready to break out the grill yet, crank up the heat under a grill pan.

Lightly oil and season the tuna medallions. When the grill or grill pan is very hot, throw on the tuna. Now keep your mitts off until the sear is complete. This takes 1 to 2 minutes. When the time comes to flip, you’ll know the sear is done if the tuna moves easily and does not stick to the grates or pan. Cook the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Make the salsa. Peel the oranges and cut them into segments; cut each segment into thirds and combine these with the onion, tarragon, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with the salt and toss well.

Slice the tuna steaks across the grain. Spoon the salsa over the steaks, and pour a glass of chardonnay to go with the wine salt.