Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Almond-Honey Power Bars

Almond-Honey Power Bars
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine

I love these power bars. I eat them for breakfast or for my afternoon snack. It's crispy, chewy, toasty, nutty, and fruity. What makes these bars so flavorful is the toasting of the oats, nuts and seeds which is an essential step. Don't be lazy to skip this part. I prefer to use Trader Joe's brand almond butter because the consistency of the almond butter is thicker than couple of other brands I've tried. If the almond butter consistency is thin, you will end up with softer bars that falls apart while eating.

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (3.0 ounces)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (1.1 ounces)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (1.2 ounces)
1 tablespoon whole golden flax seeds (0.4 ounce)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (0.4 ounce)
1 cup puffed millet cereal (0.5 ounce) OR 1 cup quinoa pops (1.0 ounce)
1/3 cup dried blueberries (2.1 ounces) or dried bing cherries, cut into fourths (2.1 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (1.7 ounces)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (1.6 ounces)
1/4 cup Trader Joe's brand unsalted creamy almond butter (2.1 ounces)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (1.7 ounces)
1/4 cup honey (2.7 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position oven rack in the center of the oven. Lightly spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Place the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss to combine and shake pan to spread out in an even layer. Bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes, shaking pan halfway of baking time. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the puffed millet cereal or quinoa pops, blueberries, apricots, cranberries and cooled oat mixture. Toss to combine and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the almond butter, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture bubbles lightly, about 2 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the cereal-fruit mixture. Mix with a spatula until no dry spots remain.Transfer to the prepared square pan. Press mixture down firmly with the back of a large spoon to make an even tight layer.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Remove from pan and cut into 8 bars.

Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and place them in a Ziploc bag. Store power bars in the refrigerator to keep them firm.

Yield 8 bars

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

I remember when I first watched Ina Garten roast Brussels sprouts on her show, Barefoot Contessa, aired on the Food Network in 1999. Since then, this have been my favorite way to enjoy Brussels sprouts. I like to roast a large batch of these Brussels sprouts so I can refrigerate the leftovers and snack on these straight from the fridge. I acutally crave for these.

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and outer bad leaves discarded
3 tablespoons olive oil (1.2 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

Place Brussels sprouts in a very large bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and ground black pepper. Transfer to a shallow baking sheet in one layer. Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the roasting pan halfway of baking time to brown the Brussels sprouts evenly. When done, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl.

Yield 6 servings

Overnight Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk

Overnight Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk
Adapted from theKitchn.com

A reviewer on theKitchn's website recommend tasting your dried apricots before proceeding with this recipe. The buttermilk in this recipe will give your oatmeal some tartness so if your apricots already tastes more on the tart side, you may want to omit the buttermilk and replace with regular milk/cream or decrease the amount of buttermilk and make up the difference with regular milk/cream. If your dried apricots tastes sweet, the tartness from the buttermilk will be a perfect balance with the sweet apricots.

I had tried this recipe using two types of dried apricots: Trader Joe's Turkish Dried Apricots and Trader Joe's Blenheim Variety Extra Choice Dried Apricots. The dried Turkish apricots are more moist, larger, more plump and brighter orange color vs. the Blenheim variety are less moist, smaller, less plump, and darker rusty orange color. Between the two varieties, I preferred the Blenheim variety. The Blenheim variety is more tart than the Turkish variety, but the Blenheim variety is more robust in apricot flavor. I liked to try the organic unsulphured dried apricots, but the dingy brown appearance looks unappetizing.

What I did, I used half the amount of buttermilk and half 2% reduced fat milk. (Another time, I omited the buttermilk and used 100% So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk.) I also increased the amount of brown sugar to1/4 cup packed. I don't usually add salt to my oatmeal so I decreased the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon. I slow-cooked my oatmeal for 8 hours. The oatmeal cooked up nice and creamy and the apricots were so soft and plump, it practically melts in your mouth. I ate my oatmeal with So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk. A sprinkling of some toasted sliced almonds will also go perfectly with the oatmeal. The original oatmeal recipe came from theKitchn.

1 cup steel-cut oats (157g)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (57g)
1/4 teaspoon salt (1g)
1 cup dried apricots, snipped or chopped into small pieces - See Note*
3-1/2 cups water (28 ounces, 794g)
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat buttermilk (113g)
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk or So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk (113g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract (2g)

*Trader Joe's Dried Turkish Apricots (167g) OR Trader Joe's Blenheim Variety Extra Choice Dried Apricots (111g). The two varieties varies in weight measurements.

Spray the slow-cooker insert (liner) with nonstick cooking spray or rub with butter. (If your insert has a nonstick coating, you can skip this step.) Mix the oats, brown sugar, salt and apricots. Pour in the water, milk and vanilla. Stir well. Cover and turn on your slow cooker to LOW temperature. Cook for 8 hours. Serve with So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk and toasted sliced almonds. If your oatmeal needs to taste sweeter, you can add additional natural cane sugar, brown sugar or honey to taste.

Yield 5 (8.4-ounce) servings, approximately 293 calories (not including the extra coconut milk, toasted sliced almonds, and additional sweetener)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Southwestern Chicken Quinoa Salad

Southwestern Chicken Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa (12.6 ounces)
3 cups water (24 ounces or 1:8.0 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (2.5 ounces)
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about one-half of a juicy lime)
1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper or to taste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
One-half of a store-bought rotisserie chicken (preferably Costco brand), discard skin, bones and visible fat, cut chicken meat into large chunks (about 12.5 ounces)
2 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup or 2.2 ounces)
2 to 3 slender stalks green onions, thinly sliced white and green portions (about 1/2 cup or 1.2 ounces)
1/2 cup fire roasted red peppers, chopped and drained (about 2 peppers or 3.6 to 4.0 ounces)
One 12-ounce jar Trader Joe's brand marinated artichoke hearts, drained, cut in half lengthwise, if artichokes are large
One 6-ounce can medium or large black olives, drained, cut in half crosswise, if using large size
One 4-ounce can Ortega brand fire roasted diced green chiles, drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (0.7 ounce)

Rinse quinoa well and drain. Bring water to a boil in a large-size saucepan. Add quinoa and lower heat to low heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, ground chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and ground black pepper. Whisk together with a whisk or fork until emulsified. Set dressing aside.

In a separate very large mixing bowl, combined the quinoa, chicken meat, shallots, green onions, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, black olives and roasted green chiles. Add the entire dressing and toss gently with a large rubber spatula until thoroughly mixed. Add the cilantro and toss well. Ready to serve or transfer to a large airtight container and refrigerate..

Yields 4 to 6 servings