I don’t really care for sweets, but every morning, I have a Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bar with my one cup of coffee. It breaks the fast and isn’t bad for me. I’ve shopped around to try to find a suitable organic brand alternative, but they’re expensive to try them all and that makes it hard to switch.
Well, now that I’m a Pampered Chef (independent) consultant, I get to try out all the products I would like! So, when I got the Snack Bar Maker Set recently, I set out to replicate those granola bars that had their grips in me for so long.
Let’s just say there will be a certain amount of trial and error, but I got something (22 somethings) that I will enjoy until I get to try another batch!
I had Joolies already, because I use one in my smoothie every (weekday) morning. I suppose you could use other kinds of dates (are there other kinds?). The goal here is to sweeten without using sugar.
I popped the dates, (homemade) almond butter, coconut oil, agave, salt, and a cup of oats into my kick-ass Blender and puréed everything together. It had to work a little harder than I think it wanted to, so that’s a consideration I need to make with the next batch. I’ll probably use fewer dates since I’m adding other sweet things later.
I cleaned out the blender and got to work mixing in the chia seeds, chocolate chips, dried cherries, and muesli.
It looked pretty good at this point! Since I needed to clear the counter to make focaccia dough, I scraped the ingredients into the bar pan and tossed it into the freezer. Incidentally, this filled the silicone tray of exactly 12 bars.
After 15 minutes in the freezer, I took them out and they were way too squidgy for me. Bendy. Loose. Not granola bar-like.
I scooped them all back into the bowl and added almost all of the rest of the bag of Bob’s Muesli. Mind you, at this point, I’m mentally calculating how much these suckers are going to cost, and how long it’s going to take to amortize the savings. But, can one really put a price on healthy, non-preservative-filled choices?
I filled the tray again, and this time, left them in the freezer overnight. This was mostly due to not wanting to be in the kitchen anymore, but also because there wasn’t any reason to not do this.
The next morning, I was pleased with the results! I could eject them out of the tray easily, and placed them between waxed paper pieces, and since I had so much more “dough”, I was able to fill nearly an entire second tray.
I have enough for nearly a month now and, while they might still cost more per unit, they’re not GMO and I know precisely what’s in them. They’re a teensy-bit sweeter than I would like, so I think I can leave out the cherries (or replace them with raisins) once I run out of those, which will bring the cost down significantly. I’ll probably also cut the number of dates in half and increase the nut butter and coconut oil a smidge.
Back when the #SaferAtHome thing was new (or novel, if you will. Get it?), I called up a couple of friends on Zoom whom I hadn’t seen in a month. They told me about some YouTube channel called the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, where those lucky geniuses get my dream job, which is to make and taste and try and challenge themselves with food every day!
I watched 100 episodes with wide eyes and unclenched jaw, learning, absorbing, buying more kitchen gadgets because THAT SPATULA HAS TO WORK SO MUCH BETTER.
While all of the chefs are unique and have their own quirks, some of the chefs have a niche that they’ve turned into a sideshow. Carla Lalli Music (what a fun name!) does this back-to-back thing where she talks another person (celeb, singer, drag race winner) through making a dish in about 20 minutes without either of them being able to see what the other is doing. Claire Saffitz painstakingly recreates foods (think pop tarts, ramen packets, tater tots) in a gourmet way (it IS Bon Appétit, after all). And, Brad Leone has “It’s Alive!”, a show where he ferments, pickles, and otherwise ages foods (miso garlic paste, giardiniera, etc).
After seeing his giardiniera video, I bought the equipment and got cookin’ (or waiting, really). After I had the finished product, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I don’t eat red meat, even if it’s been processed, smoked, or cured to the point of being shaped into a tube. But, I *do* have the occasional turkey deli-meat sandwich. So I made this for dinner and dubbed it the Hot Turkey Leone.
Grab your turkey slices and heat a skillet to medium. Pile the turkey loosely onto itself, making the piles roughly the size of the bread you’re using.
Since the turkey is cooked, and this step is really all about the cheese, you can put your cheese on top of the piles shortly after this assembly. Then, add 1/4 c water to the pan and cover. This helps everything stay moist and helps the cheese melt quickly.
While the cheese is melting, prepare your bread. Toast it if you want, but the mayo is not optional.
Don’t tell Brad, but I did scoop out some of the bread. It was too much even after I did that. Cover the lid with your giardiniera and shredded lettuce.
Carefully shimmy the turkeycheese onto a spatula and then over onto your bread bottoms.
It’s easiest to put the bottom on the top, upside down, and right-side-up it for serving. Eat alone or with your favorite potato-based side.
I can get a little, how you say, obsessed with things. Diving whole-hog into projects and buying supplies to supplement my already busting-at-the-seams kitchen implement storage space. So, when it came to getting the proper supplies for fermenting after watching Brad Leone make giardiniera, I hesitated.
For about one day.
I’ve already amassed several gallon jars from back when I made kombucha on the reg, but I didn’t think I wanted to make GALLONS of giardiniera at a time, especially since I don’t typically eat smoked or cured meat sandwiches. So, I decided to do two things: a) buy a half-gallon kit, complete with two lids and an airlock (also a weight) and 2) since I could open a general store with the number of jars in the house, I also bought a kit for mason jars.
The task is relatively simple. Measure, chop, mix, wait.
The video has all of the ingredients, but I’m going to list the seasonings and instructions here, mostly for my reference in case I lose the notes on my fridge door. These measurements are for a 1-gal container, so I’ve had to halve and halve again for my vessels.
enoughveggies to fill the vesselcauliflower, celery, carrots, white or yellow onion, red pepper, etc.
66gsaltnot the big flaky kind
Spices and Seasonings
Smash your garlic first. Apparently, this releases something called "allicin", and that's good for you.
Cut the veggies up into a size with which you might use in a stir fry.
Add water and salt into the vessel and give it a good shake to dissolve the salt.
Add all of the spices (but not the sugar and white vin.) into the vessel.
Add your veggies to fill mostly to the top. Twist on lid and give a good shake. Place ceramic weight into container to keep veggies submerged. Cover with air-lock lid. Put on top of fridge or somewhere out of the way and wait about five (5) days.
Mix in sugar and white vinegar and give a good stir or shake. Re-bottle into smaller jars to give to friends or put into fridge as-is.
This is my first foray into video. It didn’t take very long to record, but it took a long time to edit, and I think the sound is kinda awful and now I know why people have their ingredients premeasured (the clinking and clanking annoys even me if you can believe it!).
We’ve been trying Imperfect Foods for a couple of months now and I’ve found it to be convenient and I like seeing what the “imperfections” are and then getting mad that people don’t know that misshapen sweet potatoes taste exactly the same as regular ones. It can be a bit of a game, too, figuring out the savings over Woodman’s since there’s a shipping cost involved. Anyhoo, that link up there will get us both $10 off if you sign up.
Why did I tell you about that? Because I had a head of broccoli from Imperfect that needed to be used up and a craving for antioxidants. Weird, I know.
The picture above contains only a few of the actors in this delicious musical. I added garlic powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, a little almond butter, and another carrot (the one looked lonely).
To start, the diced aromatics go into some heated coconut oil until translucent. I then added all of the spices and seasonings, including some agave nectar, along with a tablespoon of that delicious bouillon (the vegetarian style is as good!) along with about a cup of water. This results in the magical concentrate of a germ-killing concoction.
It doesn’t look super pretty, but the best things are not.
To this, add a can of coconut milk. I’m not really sure the tastable difference between light and regular, but I had a can of not-light and used it happily. The solids that hang out at the top of the can will melt eventually. I find it looks like a barista trying to make a latte.
Once the seasonings, spices, flavor, and milk are melded together, add the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
After it’s got a good simmer goin’ on, turn the heat down a bit, cover, and set a 10-minute timer.
Serve, eat, enjoy, relish, share, comfort, be.
Coconut Curry Veggies
Packed full of germ-fighting spices and vegetables, you'll feel amazing (at least) while eating it!
I use the n+1 theory with garlic cloves. I eyeball chopped onions and grated cheese, but I weigh pasta.
I have many kitchen gadgets, but the Pampered Chef Deluxe Air Fryer is my favorite. Shoot me a message if you want to know how to get one!
If you like funny-looking carrots or perfectly-edible but slightly-dented sweet potatoes, check out Imperfect Produce and save $10 on your first box!
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