Sunday, March 3, 2013

Easing Back with Blueberry-Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars

There's a Newf in My Soup! is happy to announce Denise and Trapper have moved into a new cottage in Coronado. It was touch and go there for quite a few months trying to find the perfect cottage and yard, but things always seem to work out. We had to downsize quite a bit and it has been challenging finding a place for the things we chose to keep. Charming, cozy, and little bit of rustic make our 600-square-foot house feel like home. Best of all, we're happy to be able to stay in Coronado. I have a nice kitchen with a gas stove and dishwasher again, and Trapper is thrilled with his large yard. It's peaceful with lots of grass, big shady trees, rose bushes and citrus trees...and alley cats and fence-walking possums to scare away with his big Newfy bark.

We're in a quiet corner of the island, and only 1/2 block from the bay. Picnics at I Street Park, which is also prime viewing for the Parade of Lights and fireworks, and walks along bay are all pluses. For weekday morning coffee, we now frequent Tartine, a little French bistro and bakery, and save Starbucks for the weekend.

I've neglected the blog for over a month - in part due to packing and unpacking, but mostly due to lack of energy and motivation. Transitions are difficult.  I haven't been cooking or eating right, and haven't felt much like writing. I did cook a few blog-worthy dishes in the past month, and even took the time to photograph them, but the blog posts remain unfinished, in draft. One was Mike Isabella's Eggplant Caponata and the other was Tasting Table's Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Oyster Mushrooms and Sunchokes with Creamy Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Pan-Roasted Local Sea Bass and Eggplant Caponata

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Oyster Mushrooms and Sunchokes

Both of those dishes truly deserve to have their own blog posts.  The Eggplant Caponata is sure to make an appearance at Concert in the Park this summer. If you haven't tried Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes), you need to do so. They're one of the "trendy" foods right now. I enjoyed a sunchoke soup while in Yosemite and they are fabulous roasted in this side dish as well.


To ease back into cooking and blogging, I decided to start with something simple and healthy. While sitting at Tartine one morning and browsing through the cooking magazines from the magazine rack, I came across several recipes, including this one, in the February issue of Food & Wine. I am in need of some energy to begin this new chapter in my life and while Tartine's warm scones are tempting, they are best resisted on most mornings.

These honey-flavored cereal bars with puffed rice and toasted oats, from Real Snacks by Lara Ferroni, make a great substitute for store-bought energy bars. They can be made with almost any mix of nuts and dried fruit. - Food & Wine

I chose to adapt the recipe to use the dried blueberries and sliced almonds I had on hand. I added lemon zest and cinnamon to intensify the flavor of the blueberries. I was unable to find puffed rice in two stores and used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Honey Puffs - a combination of buckwheat, triticale, rye, hard red wheat, barley, oats, brown rice and sesame seeds.

Toast the sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and rolled oats

After toasting, transfer to a large bowl

Make a caramel with butter, brown sugar, honey and salt

Add vanilla and cinnamon

Drizzle caramel over nut and oat mixture

Stir to evenly incorporate

Puffed rice or 7-Grain Kashi, blueberries and lemon zest

Stir in the puffed rice, blueberries and lemon zest until evenly coated

Scrape the cereal mixture into the parchment lined pan

Spread evenly, cover with another sheet of parchment and press down to compress

After a few hours, remove from pan and cut into bars

Blueberry-Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars
Adapted from Cranberry-Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars
Food & Wine, February 2013

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup flaxseeds
2/3 cup muscovado or dark brown sugar
½ cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups puffed rice cereal (I used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Honey Puffs)
½ cup dried blueberries
½ teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Spread the almonds, oats, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds on the sheet and bake until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, butter and salt to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved and a light brown caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.

Drizzle the caramel all over the nut-and-oat mixture. Stir in the puffed rice, blueberries and lemon zest until evenly coated.

Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, extending the paper over the side. Scrape the cereal mixture into the dish and spread into an even layer. Cover the mixture with a second sheet of parchment and press down to compress it. Let stand until firm, about 2 hours. Discard the top piece of parchment. Using the overhanging paper, lift out the cereal square and transfer it to a work surface. Cut into 12 bars and serve.

To store, wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and eat within a few days or freeze.

We promise to cook and blog more


Beegee said...

I have missed you both, great to see you back

Susy Slais said...

Yep, good to see you back! I love your blog and your recipes! It must be really hard to go through all of that without getting down sometimes. Keep up the good work but, most important, keep your chin up always!!! :)