Playgroup Granola Bars

Friday, May 31, 2013

I didn't make up the catchy name, but these have caught on around here! I have been experimenting a lot with different granola bars because the kids love them so much, and I have a hard time spending big bucks on granola bars from the store that are filled with a ton of (mostly unwanted) ingredients.

The nice thing about these is that they hold together very well. Once cut and cooled, we can grab a bar on the way out the door without the threat of being showered with granola crumbs by the time we reach our destination. :)

These don't fall apart in our hands!

Playgroup Granola Bars (source:

2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. brown sugar (I have cut this down to a scant 1/2 c. with no problem)
1/2 c. wheat germ
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 c. flour (I used whole wheat)
3/4 c. raisins (I like to use 1/4 c. raisins and 1/4 c. chocolate chips instead)
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. honey (I've used agave too, still great)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. vegetable oil (I fill a 1/2 c. measure almost full with unsweetened applesauce, then fill to top with oil)
2 t. vanilla
*my additions
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. millet (this is awesome! Adds a subtle crunch to each bite)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan (note: I have a 9x13 baking sheet that I highly recommend getting if you make granola bars a lot).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt (chia and millet if you are using). Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well; the batter will be sticky and thick, just keep turning and stirring until all the flour is incorporated. Lightly oil (I use non-stick spray) your hands and pat the mixture evenly and firmly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Dreamy Avocado Mayo

Monday, May 27, 2013

This is a great spread for sandwiches. (It's pictured here on top of Karma Chow's recipe for Chickpea Fillets). I made a batch and froze cookie-scoop sized dollops (much like my trick for freezing tomato paste). I pop one out when I know we are going to have sandwiches for supper. Though it definitely does not taste like mayonaise, it has a great flavor. The olive oil tones down the flavor of the avocado to give the spread its own distinct, yummy taste.

scoop servings out with cookie scoop onto a plate to freeze

store the frozen hunks until you need one!

Dreamy Avocado Mayo (Karma Chow)

2 ripe avocados
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 t. maple syrup or agave nectar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
juice of one lime or lemon
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. water

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients together and blend until smooth and creamy. Store in a tightly covered container for two days (or freeze like I mentioned above!).

Cranberry Pecan Granola

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Oh wow, this recipe is exactly what I've been looking for in granola! Perfect crunch and flavor, but with no oil! The ingredients can be varied (the website that had this recipe had a few different versions, with the same basic recipe), but I have to say, there is something about cranberries and pecans together that makes me very happy.

The bad thing? I can't stop eating it! I ate half the pan while it was cooling. If I can control myself and keep some around, this is great with a little milk in the morning. Very filling. Or it's great to eat a large spoonful when you need a quick bite for an almost-growling tummy. Or two spoonfuls. Or, three...well, try not to finish it all in one day.

I'll be making this often! (and hopefully making the servings last!)

Cranberry Pecan Granola (from
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Meaure the oats and puffed rice into a large bowl, set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until very smooth.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over cereal and stir until evenly coated. Spread mixture on the prepared cookie sheet in an even layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven, stir the pecans into the granola, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown and crisp.
  6. Remove granola from the oven, toss with the dried cranberries, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Semolina Pizza Dough

Friday, May 17, 2013

I had never heard of semolina flour until I found this recipe online, and since I'm a sucker for trying any kind of pizza dough recipe, I was instantly intrigued. It was a big hit! It was the closest pizza dough we've eaten so far that had a similar texture to frozen pizza. The kids ate it all, without leaving any crusts on their plate, so I took that as a sign that this just may be their favorite.

Note: I do not have a stand mixer, and I did it all by hand. It's a little harder to knead than regular dough, but worth the effort.

Semolina Pizza Dough (

2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar
1 3/4 cups semolina flour
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Corn meal-for spreading on pizza peel

1. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, combine yeast and 1 cup warm water. Add a pinch of sugar and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add semolina flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Mix the ingredients until combined.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Next, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix until combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes on medium speed.
4. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Form dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover pizza dough with a damp towel and set in a warm area to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
5. After the dough has risen, cut the dough in half. Take one piece of dough and punch it down on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle. Place the pizza on a pizza peel or pan that has been generously coated with corn meal. 
6. After topping your pizzas, place one pizza in the oven-directly on the pizza stone, if using one, or on the oven rack. Bake for 10-15 minutes (400-450 degrees) or until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and bake the second pizza.

Chickpea Fillets

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

These take a little work, but not too much. I generally shy away from recipes that contain a ton of ingredients, but this list is mostly herbs if you look closely. I will make these when I have leftover rice in the fridge. They taste so good! Freezable, and make a great sandwich. You could also serve them with mashed potatoes as a great main dish.

Chickpea Fillets (adapted slightly from Karma Chow)

2 T. olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced (save the green parts for salsa!)
1 t. dried thyume
1/2 t. dried marjoram
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or three cups cooked)
1 c. cooked brown rice
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion poweder
1/2 t. dry mustard powder
1 T. Braggs Aminos or soy sauce
1/2 c. bread crumbs

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and green onions until translucent and soft. Add the thyme, marjoram, oregano, and basil. Stir to release the flavor of the herbs. Saute for a few more minutes and then transfer to a large bowl.

In a food processor cup, combine the chickpeas and the rice. Process until well combined. Transfer to the bowl with the sauteed onions, garlic, and green onions. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, Braggs, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and the bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix well to combine all of the ingredients into a 'dough'. Form the mixture into 8 'fillets' or patties. If baking, heat the oven to 400 degrees, place the fillets on an oiled baking sheet, and spray with olive oil (handy mister is great for this job!). Bake until golden brown (approximately 20 minutes), flipping halfway through. You can also brown the fillets in a nonstick skillet with olive oil.

Zesty Oven Baked Fries

Friday, May 10, 2013

These fries are a family favorite. They are so, so good! I use my mandolin to cut the potatoes into nice, even thin fries. I have to use two baking sheets, and switch them halfway through. I broil each baking sheet full of fries for just a minute or two at the end of the baking time for a little extra crisp.  YUM!

Zesty Oven Baked Fries (source:


    • 4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
    • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat oven to 450°.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients and combine with potatoes, tossing to coat.
  4. Drizzle with oil, tossing again to coat.
  5. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

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