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

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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.

Easy Green Smoothie

Easy Green Smoothie
Green Smoothies ARE easy to make! Choose 1 of each from the ingredient list below, blend, and enjoy!

Choose your liquid: 1 c
Coconut Water / Coconut Milk / Almond Milk / Soy Milk / 2% Organic Milk / Water

Choose your green: 2-3 c
Spinach / Kale / Collards / Romaine / Bok Choy / Swiss Chard / Dandelion Greens

Choose your fruit: 1-1.5 c
Banana / Berries / Mango / Orange / Avocado / Peach / Pear / Apple / Pineapple / Grapes
Note: Frozen fruit makes for a better smoothie

Choose your booster: 1-2 tbsp c
Chia Seed / Coconut Oil / Protein Powder / Almond Butter / Hemp Seeds / Cacoa / Acai Powder / Cinnamon / Flax Seeds

Blend your liquid and greens first. Then add fruit and boosters.
Add a frozen ice cube or two to chill it and thicken it up, if necessary.
Consider adding (room temp) avocado for a smooth and creamy smoothie.
Makes 1 serving.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms
16 large white button mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small zucchini, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped baby spinach leaves, plus a few leaves to serve
1⁄2 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs
1⁄2 cup finely chopped nuts—whatever you have on hand: pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts would all work
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1⁄3 cup grated
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems, shallots, garlic and zucchini, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped spinach, bread crumbs, nuts, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place the mushroom caps, hollow side up, in a single layer in a lightly sprayed shallow ovenproof dish or on a lightly sprayed baking tray. Heap some of the shallot & zucchini mixture into each mushroom cap and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. (The mushrooms can be prepared 2 to 3 hours ahead and kept, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.)

Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Serve warm, on a bed of spinach leaves, if desired.

Preparation time 25–30 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
Makes 16 mushrooms
Nutritional information

Each serving (one mushroom) provides: calories 53, calories from fat 36, fat 4 g, saturated fat 1 g, cholesterol 4 mg, carbohydrate 4 g, fibre 1 g, sugars 1 g, protein 2 g.

Sweet Potato Sausage Breakfast Casserole

This is a favorite recipe for so many reasons. Use what you’ve got on hand&mdahs;no sweet potato? Use butternut squash. Pork sausage, sage sausage, or breakfast links will all work. Bread? Perfect to use up that leftover Italian loaf or dinner rolls. Plus, make this ahead, then just pop it in the over on Christmas morning. So easy!

Sweet Potato Sausage Breakfast Casserole

6 ounces Sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes – leftover dinner rolls would also work. Use what you’ve got on hand.
1 (8-ounce) sweet potato
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces uncooked sausage
3 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 3/4 cup), divided – Cheddar our Gouda would also work

2 cups your favorite milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 large eggs
Cooking spray
1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Place bread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, stirring once. Cool on pan 5 minutes.

3. Pierce potato with a fork. Place potato on a microwave-safe paper towel. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes or until done. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel potato, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

4. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.

5. Place bread, sweet potato, half of sausage, and half of cheese in a large bowl. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk; pour over bread mixture, and toss gently to combine. Let stand 20 minutes.

6. Scoop mixture into an 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining half of sausage and remaining half of cheese. Cover with foil lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake at 350° an additional 20 minutes or until done. Let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower—should yield 2-3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
optional 1 tablespoon almond meal
Desired amount of sauce
shredded mozzarella, for topping
your favorite pizza toppings
Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “rice”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.

Dumped cauliflower into a bowl. Now add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. Optional: Add 1 tablespoon almond meal if your cauliflower yields closer to 2 cups of cauliflower “rice.” This is optional and not necessary if you have closer to 3 cups of cauliflower “rice”. Now add your egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best.

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.

cauliflower-pizza-crustUsing a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.

Top crust with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.

Allow at least 2 minutes to cool before serving up your delicious grain-free cauliflower crust pizza!

Fingerling Fries

Sweet Potato Fingerling Fries

2 Tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt and coarsely chopped black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 lbs Fingerling sweet potatoes, thoroughly washed, left unpeeled with the ends trimmed and cut into quarters, lengthwise
Preheat oven to 450 degree F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, the butter, and salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the potatoes slices, not touching, in rows on an oiled baking sheet. Brush the potatoes with the oil mixture, and roast them in the upper 1/3 of a preheated oven, turning them over once with a spatula, for 18-22 minutes, or until they are golden and crisp.

Transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain, sprinkle them with more coarse salt and pepper to taste (if desired), and serve them warm.

Caramel Pear Cookies

Caramel Pear Cookies

2 cups + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
12 Tbsp. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm
1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup caramel bits
1 pear, finely diced (about 1 cup)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Carefully stir in the caramel bits and diced pears until combined.

Use a small cookie scoop or a spoon to form the dough into tablespoon-fulls. Place on a cookie sheet at least 2.5 inches apart, and then dot on top with a few additional caramel bits. Bake cookies until the outer edges are golden and begin to slightly harden, about 15 minutes. Remove and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.

Kale Mushroom Strata

Kale Mushroom Strata

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch Kale (dinosaur or Tuscan kale), center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 oz of cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz grated cheddar cheese
Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with a little olive oil and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the thinly sliced kale and cook until just wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the onions and mushrooms, and add salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.

Line the bottom of the casserole pan with one third of the thinly sliced bread. Spread one half of the kale mushroom onion mixture over the bread. Sprinkle one third of the cheddar cheese over the top. Lay down the second third of the bread slices. Top again with the remaining kale mixture, and then with a third of the cheese. Lay the remaining slices of bread over the top.

Pour the milk egg mixture over the bread, pressing down with a spatula so that the milk is absorbed by the casserole layers. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
Note: At this point you can chill overnight for making ahead, or continue.

Let the casserole sit for about 15 minutes to further absorb the milk while you preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Cover with foil. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving.

Egg Muffins

Egg Muffins
1 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled sweet Italian sausage (optional)
Veggies: 1 c mixed sauteed veggies: onions, zucchini, corn kernels — whatever you have on hand
Alternately: 4 oz fresh greens—kale, spinach, chard, chopped

1 dozen large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
salsa, for serving (totally optional, but totally good)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray.

After you cook the sausage (if you’re using sausage), scoop it into a paper towel-lined bowl to drain and cool, then wipe out the pan with a paper towel. If you’re sauteeing greens, quickly cook the spinach in the same pan, just until wilted. Let it cool, then squeeze any excess moisture out of it.

Going vegetarian? Sautee the greens in olive oil til wilted.
Sautee raw veggies—onions, green peppers, zucchini, etc—in olive oil til just tender. Frozen corn kernels should be thawed. Use what you’ve got on hand.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Distribute veggies &/or sausage evenly among 12 muffin cups. Fill muffin cups with egg mixture, about 2/3 full. Sprinkle cheese on top. Then give each one a good dose of salt and pepper.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until egg is cooked through. Easy way to check the egg: touch the middle of the muffins… if they are still wet and gooey, they’ll need a little more time in the oven. They should feel cooked through.

Serve egg muffins immediately- with salsa, if desired.

Egg muffins freeze beautifully. Pull out frozen egg muffin in the morning and microwave on high for 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending on your microwave.