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bananas foster baked oatmeal, and a perfect weekend

August 21st, 2013 | 2 Comments »

We celebrated our 11th anniversary with a quiet weekend at the lake, just the two of us.

It was perfect in many ways.

Come in to my kitchen…

fig & almond energy bites

June 10th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

As I write this, I’m snuggled in my favorite chair, with one cat curled next to me, the other on my lap. We sit this way a lot, especially in the mornings, and again in late afternoons, or on solitary days of hours stretched ahead with little plan. This is for us, to re-group.

Lately though, I think they do this for the warmth. Because as we sit here today, it’s raining. Again. It’s cold. Again. Or still, if it matters. June has arrived, and still there is no sign of warmth or heat. There is no hair curling humidity. Temps struggle in the 60′s, I still pull on a fleece sweatshirt and thick slippers in the morning, and just yesterday, I came across a new skirt in my closet, pulled excitedly off a store rack back in April, that is adorable, summery and perfect. Except I’ve only worn it once, and I’d forgotten all about it.

It’s utterly gorgeous outside though, in the deep, deep green that’s arrived with the constant rain. Walking through the trees surrounding our lake home this past week, I was struck with how lush the land has turned, and when the sun does show itself, the effect is more stunning than I’ve seen in recent years. But that sun is fickle, and the thick gray clouds hover; we don’t see enough sunshine to spur the baby plants growth, to coax seedlings from the ground or warm our starving skin. The Spring that never was in Minnesota is segueing in to a Summer that refuses to arrive.

Along with the weather woes, the farming season is deeply behind schedule, and the open air markets have begun with meager offerings. Even so, vibrant stalks of asparagus and ramps, bunches of pea shoots, the deep red rhubarb and clumps of fresh herbs aren’t necessarily inspiring a lot of cooking when I’m still thinking about soup, and warming dishes that steam as I lean over them.

But I am hungry beyond belief. Both for light, fresh sustenance, and for Summer. For heat and sunshine and bare skin.

I’ve been hard at work since February, pushing myself through 2 weekly Body Pump classes -on occasion paired with a bike ride to the Y, plus swimming 2-3 times a week and with all the work, the calories burned and energy gained, I have been just famished. I will eat a good breakfast, spend an hour in the pool or hefting weights, then devour lunch. A few hours later, my belly is loudly protesting again and still, there’s time to pass before dinner. Dinner comes and a few hours later, there’s the rumbling again. For those in-between times, I’ve been on the hunt for a snack that sustains and feeds my ever-raging internal furnace without being too heavily caloric, or outright junky. I have zero will-power against anything with a salty crunch, so having a better option on hand really helps.

These raw Fig & Almond Energy Bites are so satisfying and delicious. They’ve got the texture of cookie dough, with enough sweet to kill a craving, and the right amount of salt to balance fluid loss from an intense workout. I keep the mixture in a container in the fridge and will scoop out a small amount when I wake up to have with my coffee, as I’m usually not ready for breakfast right away. Post work-out, I always drink a protein shake for recovery, washing down a few of these with it to help stabilize muscle fatigue. The mixture can be stirred in to yogurt too, or sprinkled on top of ice cream for a real treat.

There is supposedly some sunshine coming our way this week, with a coinciding rise in temperatures. I’ve got my fingers crossed; our local Farmers Market opens this week and I’m excited to get back in to strolling the stalls and seeing my favorite vendors.

 

Fig & Almond Energy Bites

1 c. whole rolled oats (other grain flakes are a nice option, like barley or rye- I’ve used a commercial 5-Grain cereal from Bob’s Red Mill too and love the result.)
1/2 c. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1 c. dried figs, minced
1/2 c. chocolate chips (or use half cacao nibs for a terrific crunch)
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
1/4 c. chia seeds
2 T. finely ground almonds (or use packaged almond meal)
1/2 c. peanut butter (of course you can use almond butter!)
1/2 c. honey
1 t. almond extract
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. sea salt

Place the oats, coconut, figs, chocolate, flaxseed, chia seeds and almond meal in a bowl and stir to combine. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, extract, cinnamon, ginger and salt until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well with a heavy spoon, or your hands. Chill for several hours. It should hold together firmly when you pick up a small amount and squeeze it, but if not, you may need to add a touch more honey for cohesiveness.

I keep the mix in a container as is, but you can form it in to balls too.

The best part about this recipe is it’s endless versatility. Add, subtract and play with it for a personal mix that you love. Dates would be a fine substitute for the figs, but you might need to adjust the amount of honey used, as dates are notoriously sweet.

Original recipe from Ecosalon, here with modifications.

more muffins, please!

October 10th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

I adore muffins.

But I should clarify something; I like real muffins, not cupcakes masquerading as muffins. While there are those in the camps of muffin lovers that think sweet muffins are perfect, I’m generally not one of them. I like a hearty muffin. Small in stature but huge in flavor. I like them to be full of grains, nuts, fruits and the good stuff that makes me feel all right about eating them. And apparently, given that there are more than half a dozen recipes in this blog (and wayyyy more that never made it long enough to be photographed and talked about), one could stand to reason that if given a choice of what to bake on a very chilly, rainy October morning, it would be muffins.

And even though I likely would LOVE to re-make all these muffin recipes, frankly, it wouldn’t be so hot for my waistline. So I’ll just re-visit some of my favorites instead. You’re ok with that, aren’t you? 

{{Before moving in to Muffin Mania, have you checked out this week’s Cookbook giveaway yet??}}

Songs and soundtracks make up the background for this indulgent Fig Muffin with Honey Lemon Cream Cheese filling.

Just right for the season, Pumpkin Maple Muffins. Sorry the photo is missing……

Butternut squash, November light and Whole Wheat Muffins with Quinoa & Squash.

Whole Wheat Muffins, a blank palette for so much imagination and flair.

Another good choice for Fall; Oatmeal Sweet Potato Muffins. *sigh*

And of course, there has to be something with Apples. The Apple Cheddar Muffin recipe is tops, but quite frankly, these Apple Streusel Bars just had to be snuck in because they are SO darn good.

How about a Blueberry Bran MuffinThis particular creation had a handful of fresh cherries tossed in as well.

 

And finally, a Chocolate Graham Muffin that thinks it should be a cupcake. Add marshmallows and it might be S’Mores.

Next time, I’ll tell you all about my love for Tea Breads. And of course, share that bounty of recipes as well. :-)