Cranberry, Chocolate, Walnut Energy Bars

A group of my favorite recreational runners participated in a half-marathon today. The group is made up of some truly amazing and phenomenal people– some of whom ran their first ever mini today! What a great accomplishment. Because I wasn’t able to join them, I sent them off with a batch of homemade energy bars. I mostly followed this recipe.

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I got a lot of the ingredients from the bulk section of our local co-op, Bloomingfoods.

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I didn’t include sunflower seeds but added more walnuts and chocolate chips. I made a double batch for the runners.

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After baking the bars and letting them cool for a half an hour or so, I put them onto a cutting board, cut them into bars and then put them into the fridge to stiffen up.

So far, reviews were good. Hopefully they helped propel the group through the course today. When I do this one again, I think I’ll add a teaspoon or so of salt. Otherwise, I think they were pretty yummy and full of natural energy boosters like sugar and carbs! 🙂

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Stacey’s Veggie and Tilapia Bake

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This is one of Stacey’s specialties and one of my favorites. She starts by sauteing a large white onion chopped up, two garlic cloves diced and a handful of baby carrots chopped. She cooks these in olive oil and a little bit of lemon juice until they’re soft. She then puts 2/3 of this mixture in the bottom of a baking dish along with some olive oil. Then, she’ll sprinkle some seasonings on top of them: cumin, salt and pepper and some creole seasoning to give it a special “zing.”

On top of 2/3 of the veggies and seasoning, she places 4 tilapia filets and then puts the extra third on top of the fish. She put a few slices of tomatoes, zucchini and lemons on the top of that. Then, she adds more of the same seasoning mix because tilapia can be a bit bland.

Then she covers the whole dish with foil and bakes it at about 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Keep an eye on it as Stacey often improvises when it comes to the temp and time in the oven. 🙂 You just want to make sure the fish is cooked. When it’s flakey and opaque it’s ready to serve up and enjoy!

“Beefy” Vegetable Stew

This warm comfy dish is the perfect answer to the chill that has crept into the air lately. A colorful veggie cornucopia makes this recipe super healthy. At the same time, it’s one of the most filling and comforting veggie dishes I’ve ever had. It also has the feel of a beef stew for those who like veggie stuff but miss the meat.

"Beefy" Veggie Stew

“Beefy” Veggie Stew

The best part– all these yummy veggies! Note: my sous chef, Gus, photo-bombing while performing his ritual quality inspection.

I mostly followed this recipe. I didn’t prepare ahead of time, however. So, after putting everything in the crock-pot late in the afternoon, I realized it was cooking too slowly to be ready for dinner.

"Beefy" Veggie Stew

“Beefy” Veggie Stew

So, I sped up the cooking process by transferring everything to a soup pot on the stove (not pictured). It cooked for about an hour/hour and a half before putting in the cornstarch and cooking for 10 more minutes. I had the stove set to low- so it was barely simmering. I used chicken stock, like the recipe suggests. However, I’m sure you could use veggie stock instead. I also included a package of seitan to give a beefy texture to the stew.

Instead of parsnips, I added a peeled and diced sweet potato and some halved brussels sprouts I had on hand. I also added 5 cloves of chopped garlic and a bay leaf. I added a lot of salt and pepper too. I think pepper gives the stew an earthy and spicy flavor. I think, if I were to do this again, I’d include some shitake mushrooms and more brussles sprouts. I think I’d also ad some red wine, soy sauce and worcestershire sauce to make the broth deeper in flavor. I think I’d also cut back on the potatoes a little bit. 2-3 would definitely be enough for me.

"Beefy" Veggie Stew

“Beefy” Veggie Stew

We paired it with a delicious IPA brew: YUM! It was so savory and filing. There is tons leftover- YAY! What a great recipe for fall. We’ll definitely do this one again!

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup with Jalapeno Bread

It’s cold, rainy and, if you’re like me, you have more faith in the spiked cider on the stove on game day than your fantasy football team. Yep, fall has arrived in the Midwest. Stacey was out raking leaves yesterday while I roasted up some veggies to pulverize into a warm flavorful soup. I mostly followed this recipe. I didn’t have bell peppers though, so I used these smaller ones (not sure what they’re called) of varying colors.

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup

I used veggie stock instead of chicken and a white onion instead of red. I also liquified the soup up with a handheld blender after the hot soup tried to escape from the regular blender through the lid and my hand. I would recommend just using a handheld blender to begin with if you have one. $%^&$%^! Once there are no more lumps in the soup, taste it to see what spices need to be added. I put in quite a bit of salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup

Earlier in the afternoon, I put a loaf of whole wheat bread in the bread machine along with about 4 chopped up jalapenos from my grandmother’s garden. Here’s the recipe for my go-to whole wheat recipe (in this case I just added the jalapenos before starting the machine). Note: I exclude the dry milk.

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Bread

Viola! This was a super yummy, colorful and healthy diversion from the cold dreary situation outdoors! Enjoy!

Travel-Inspired Skinny Shrimp Curry

So, we’ve been traveling to places near and far (Perhaps not coincidentally I just typed “fat” instead of “far” 🙂 )- from Florida, to Michigan, to Chicago and most recently to northern England. We enjoyed some amazing food in all of these places. While in England, we had the most amazing curry. After returning home, I tried to recreate it in a… ahem… healthier form.  Ok, so the skinny/IndianA version definitely wasn’t as good. It was still tasty though and helped remind us of being out exploring the world. I followed this recipe mostly. I didn’t have cardamom pods so I used 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom instead. Instead of using coconut milk, I used soy milk and a teaspoon of corn starch. It made the sauce a little thin, but the flavor was still spot on. I would cut the lime juice called for in the recipe in half and add a jalapeno. Also, make sure your spices are new/fresh.

Here’s what it looked like cooking:

Skinny Shrimp Curry

Skinny Shrimp Curry

Instead of the delicious basmati, I served it over brown rice- still yummy AND good for you, people! I finished it off with a wedge of lime. Oh, and be careful not to eat the cloves and allspice nuggets!

Skinny Shrimp Curry

Skinny Shrimp Curry

Veggie Lasagna

Recently, my dear colleagues and friends David Nemer and Jen Terrell came over to chat about our work on the Social Informatics Blog. To get our creative juices flowing, I put together a smokin hot pan of baked veggie lasagna. To start, I chopped and sauteed a small yellow squash, a zucchini, an eggplant (with skin removed) and onion, about 4 cloves of garlic and a yellow bell pepper. I’ve made this dish many times and put different veggies in each time depending on what I have on hand. This is what they mine looked like. Cook them until they soften but not so long that they are mushy. They will go into the oven still and bake for a while.

Lasagna Veggies

Lasagna Veggies

From here, I put some marinara sauce down in the lasagna pan, placed some no-bake noodles in a layer covering the bottom. Then, put about half of the veggies. Then, some ricotta cheese over top. Then, I put down a box of frozen spinach (thawed and drained). Then, more sauce, more noodles, more veggies and top it all with shredded mozzarella cheese and some dried oregano, basil, thyme and red pepper flakes. I will usually spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and put the sprayed side down over the top of the lasagna while baking it. I bake it at 375 or so for about 45-50 minutes. When it is bubbly, the cheese is gooey, and you can’t resist the yummy aroma any longer, it’s done!

Lasagna

Lasagna

Pair it with a local brew and some of that devilishly delicious/life threatening garlic bread out of a freezer bag, WHOA. This combo is a sure-fire recipe for collaborative genius.

Bailey’s Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Cup Frosting

Bailey's Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Cup Frosting

Bailey's Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Cup Frosting

For our good friend Beth’s birthday last week, Stacey and I made this cake thanks to a tip from the birthday cake fairy (Jen) who let us know what Beth’s ideal cake might look like. We took some liberties; including the philosophy I strictly abide by which states that all desserts should include booze. So, what started as a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, turned into a Bailey’s chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting topped, as you can see, with peanut butter cups. The reviews on this cake (now the second one I’ve made from scratch — See an earlier post called Kahlua Chocolate Cake for the first one) were pretty good. Somehow the cake seemed a little dry. I may have cooked the cake too long. I’m not sure. This is the recipe we followed for the cake and this is where we drew our inspiration for the peanut butter frosting. We added a little Bailey’s to what the the cake recipe called for. This probably goes without saying. 🙂 Happy Birthday to Beth. I’m sure I speak for others when I say that I hope we can help you celebrate your birthday again in years to come!