Category Archives: Snacks

Granola Energy Bars & Eating Lighter (in theory, if not in practice)

Nutrient and calorie dense. Also delicious!

Nutrient and calorie dense. Also delicious!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of an on-line baking group, cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. Today’s recipe is Granola Energy Bars. Hereafter christened Granola Extremely High Caloric Intake Energy Bars. Why? Read on, mes amis!

I started out using Dorie’s base of 2 cups of oats to 2 cups of dried fruit and nuts. And then I modified the recipe, because of course. Instead of pepitas (which I forgot to put on my shopping list and therefore did not have in the house), I just used more pecans. I used dried cranberries for the fruit, and then I used unsweetened shredded coconut to make it a tad healthier. I mean, you’re adding rice syrup — that should make it sweet enough! And then I mixed in a half cup of chocolate chips. Because sugar from chocolate does not count.

Pre-mixing! The benefits of the oats and nuts cancel out  the calories of the  chocolate and rice syrup, right? I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Pre-mixing! The benefits of the oats and nuts cancel out the calories of the chocolate and rice syrup, right? I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

I had read on the Baking with Dorie group site, that others had tried adding chocolate chips, but that they had melted, so I thought I’d let the butter/syrup mixture cool before adding it to the granola. Then I mixed it all up before adding in the chocolate chips just before pressing the mixture into the pan. Did this work? Um, no. I should have let the granola cool after toasting it, but I didn’t, so the mixture turned into a melty, chocolate tinged-and-tasting bowl of yumminess. Melty chocolate? A serendipitious kitchen win for me!

The chocolatey goodness, prior to melting.

The chocolatey goodness, prior to melting.

While I can’t give you the recipe, you can definitely check out the book from the public library. Or buy it! I’m definitely learning some new techniques while baking through this book, so despite my occasional frustration, it’s actually a good book.

I can give you the brief gist of things though: toast, mix, bake, squish, cut, and eat. Er, squish?

That’s right, squishing is integral to the…integrity…of the finished product. The batter/dough/granola-whatever-you-call-it, bakes up light and a tad airy, so you have to squish it all down with a spatula in order for it to stick together enough that you can cut it into bars when it’s cooled.

I cut mine and then decided to spread melted chocolate on top. (Who needs a reason to add chocolate? Not I!)

Chocolate makes everything better. It also hides a multitude of (slightly burned) sins.

Chocolate makes everything better. It also hides a multitude of (slightly burned) sins.

I calculated the calories in each of these bars. Are you ready for this? 365 calories in each leeetle bar. At least in my version of them. They might be choc-a-block full of nutrients, but they’re not a diet food!

The DH and I are trying to eat healthier this season, which means lots of salad. (I do like my salad.) It also means that I’m trying to cut down on the amount of baking that I do. These high-energy bars will have to last me for two weeks. Do you think it’s possible, given my love of midnight snacking? Just thinking about the lack of snacking makes me want to eat another bar. So if you’ll excuse me, off I go to nibble on a chocolate-infused granola bar!

Next Post: Rum balls. So much for healthy! Followed by bulgur salad, repentantly.  

Candy Confections: White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

Plated and ready to be devoured. At least what's left of it.

Plated and ready to be devoured. At least what’s left of it.

Creamy white chocolate in holiday colours with a sprinkle of crushed candy cane on top — what’s not to like? Just like my Customize-Your-Own Chocolate Bar, this would make for great Christmas gifts!

I thought this up after seeing variations on foodie sites, and whipped it up yesterday. Oh so good! I was hard-pressed not to eat it all last night, but managed to save most of it for a gathering of friends at my place today. Where it was all eaten! Down to the very last crumb. I think that means it was good!

Let’s make some! (Because I want more. Because it’s so good.)

putting it kind of together

Yes, it’s this easy. And crushing candy canes is fun!

White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

  • Belgian white chocolate wafers
  • green coloured chocolate wafers (a smaller amount)
  • red coloured chocolate wafers (a smaller amount)
  • candy canes

Choose a plastic container (I used a fast-food container — a plastic one, not a Styrofoam one). Melt the white chocolate in a mug or ceramic vessel in the microwave, using 15 second bursts, and stirring in between. Once melted, pour into the plastic container. Melt the red chocolate the same way, and drizzle if over the white chocolate. Do the same for the green chocolate wafers. Using a knife, swirl the colours together gently. Crush your candy canes with a mortar and pestle (or a baggie and a rolling pin) and sprinkle on top of the chocolate. Cool in fridge until chocolate is set. Turn over onto a clean plate, and smack the bottom of the plastic container until the chocolate comes out. Break into small pieces and eat! Or give away as gifts. Or serve to friends. (But it’s so good that you’ll want to eat it all yourself!)

Swirl and sprinkle. Marble-y goodness!

Swirl and sprinkle. Marble-y goodness!

As in the Customize-Your-Own Chocolate Bar post, I’m not giving quantities, because it really depends on the size of the container that you use. And on how thick you want the bark. My advice is not to make it too thick, because it will be hard to break. And remember, you can always re-melt the chocolate or add another layer!

This is such an easy recipe, you’ve got to try it! It looks fancy, but I always feel like I’m cheating by making it, because I’m really just melting chocolate, swirling, and sprinkling. It’s also not TOO peppermint-y, which I like. You could probably up the peppermint factor by adding another layer on chocolate and swirls on top, but I like it as is. If you make, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Next Post: Maybe a review of the Gingerbread Buche de Noel from the Cook-A-Long I’m in? Tasty seasonal fun!

Linking Up at Candy Plan Monday!

Candy Confections: Make-Your-Own Customized Chocolate Bar

Wrapped and ready to be gifted! Or eaten. By me.

Wrapped and ready to be gifted! Or eaten. By me.

I went on a weekend road trip with some friends last week, doing some cross-border Christmas shopping (I *may* have done some shopping for myself) in the Niagara/Buffalo area. My friends and I went into a shopping area in Niagara and saw a candy shop, which of course I had to go into. It was a make-your-own chocolate bar shop, with walls of chocolate and candy, as far as the eye could see. There were some children there, making their own chocolate bars, and I watched as the staff instructed them through the process. When I realized how simple it was, I couldn’t believe that people paid a premium for it.  So obviously I had to replicate it for myself!

This makes for a great last-minute Christmas gift, especially if you want to get children involved in gift-giving. They can choose the candy toppings, and actually help with the whole process, because it’s just so unbelievably simple. I also think this would be a great activity for a kids’ birthday party — the kids could go home with their own customized chocolate bar! Activity and loot bag in one!

Have I piqued your curiosity and/or appetite yet? Let’s get candy-making!

All you need: candy and chocolate wafers. And the willpower not to eat it all right away.

All you need: candy and chocolate wafers. And the willpower not to eat it all right away.

Make-Your-Own Customized Chocolate Bar

  • Belgian chocolate wafers (white, milk, or dark chocolate)
  • assorted candy
  • a plastic container

Melt the wafers in a mug in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring it each time you check it. When it is melted, pour it into your plastic container. (You don’t need a fancy chocolate mold — I used a mini Ikea food storage container. As long as it’s plastic, it’s all good!) Give the container a good tap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Sprinkle the candies on top. Place in fridge until chocolate is set. Turn container upside down and de-mold. Wrap in a cellophane bag. Keep in a cool place until eaten. Revel in your inner Charlie-And-The-Chocolate-Factory!

Customize away! And then eat the leftovers. #wastenotwantnot (especially in regards to candy!)

Customize away! And then eat the leftovers. #wastenotwantnot (especially in regards to candy!)

I didn’t provide any quantities in the recipe ingredients, because it really depends on the size of your plastic container and your personal candy preference. The combos are endless: white chocolate bar with malted milk balls; rice krispies in milk chocolate; the list goes on! What’s your favourite chocolate & candy combo? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: More candy confections! This time, Chocolate Candy Cane Bark!

Linking Up at Candy Plan Monday! And at Meal Plan Monday!

Tasty Tapas: Veggie Croquetas

Warm and crunchy and lightly seasoned!

Warm and crunchy and lightly seasoned!

Ok, finally I have a chance to post that last tapas recipe I’ve been writing about, my yummy Veggie Croquetas! I actually grew up thinking that croquettes were Dutch, as I had only eaten them in Holland, when I went there on a trip with my family. Apparently, though, a number of different cultures have their own version, and the Spanish version uses béchamel sauce (white sauce) as a base. So that’s what I did!

Croquetas seem to me to be basically a way to use up leftovers, so I tossed in some taco-seasoned soy meat (the same seasoned meat that I used for the Easy Empanadillas) with some mashed potatoes, béchamel sauce, and green beans from my freezer, shaped them into log shapes, and rolled them in bread crumbs, before frying them up in a frying pan of oil. Low-calorie, these are not! But they are tasty! Want to make some?

Let’s get frying!

Caveat Eat-or {sic}: I realized when writing this recipe that I have somehow misplaced the quantities that I used when making up this recipe. So I’m going to give you the basics for the béchamel sauce, and then leave you to add in enough of the remaining filling ingredients to your taste. Feel free to substitute in what you want — use up those leftovers! As long as the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when cooking, it’s all good.

Veggie Croquetas

Béchamel Sauce

  •  2 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. milk

Filling

  • seasoned ground meat (soy, baby!)
  • green beans, finely chopped
  • mashed potato

Coating

  • bread crumbs
  • enough oil to fill a frying pan an inch deep

Melt butter in pot, and add in flour, stirring to cook the flour. Slowly whisk in milk. Voila, you’ve got a béchamel sauce going on!

Making the croquetas: it's really not that hard.

Making the croquetas: it’s really not that hard.

Mix béchamel sauce with the seasoned meat, the chopped green beans, and the mashed potato, to form the filling. Heat oil. While oil is heating, form filling into small logs (or whatever shape you want!) with your hands and set aside. Roll each croqueta in the bread crumbs, making sure to coat thoroughly. Fry in the oil-filled frying pan until golden brown on each side. To cool and drain off any excess oil, set on a cookie cooling rack covered with a paper towel. Serve warm, or cold, and feel very Spanish and cultured!

Cooling them slightly on a cookie rack. The one on the right is shaped the best.

Cooling them slightly on a cookie rack. The ones on the left and the right are shaped the best.

And that’s the last of my tapas party recipes! To recap, I made Super-Fruity Sangria; Easy Empanadillas; today’s recipe, Veggie Croquetas; and my Caramel Toffee Flan. Was a fun and tasty time — I do love a good themed dinner!

Next Post: Hmm. Not sure! I have a Brandy Ball recipe that someone gave to me that I want to try out; two different fruitcake (what? I love fruitcake!) recipes that I might turn into a Christmas Fruitcake Smackdown; a recipe for chocolate-mint homemade oreos that I want to try out; and then I want to make a batch of cookies for the DH’s work. I have some bok choy that is starting to wilt in my fridge, but I’m kind of miserable with a cold right now, and craving comfort food, so the chocolate-mint oreos are winning! I’m thinking of dipping them in chocolate for that extra yumminess! What do you think? Let me know in the comments!  

Parmesan Cheese Crisps and Classy Snacking

Potato chips made out of cheese. Yes, please!

Potato chips made out of cheese. Yes, please!

I made these Parmesan Cheese Crisps last night when I had a friend over for dinner, and served them with wine as an appetizer. My friend doesn’t eat gluten, so I wanted something that was tasty, hearty, and gluten-free. Also, I was grating cheese to top the quinoa-crusted pizza that I was making, and I thought, huh. Cheese crisps. I wonder how hard they are to make.

The answer? EASY-PEASY! Two ingredients, two utensils, and you’re done!

Not sure what they taste like? Think potato chips made out of cheese. Yeah. That pretty much sold you right there, right?

Let’s get snacking!

Two tasty ingredients.

Two tasty ingredients.

Parmesan Cheese Crisps

  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/8th c. grated parmesan cheese

Grate cheese. Sprinkle mozzarella on an un-greased baking sheet, in thin piles about the size of the bottom of a water glass. Sprinkle a pinch of parmesan on top of each pile. Bake in pre-heated 450 degree oven until fully melted, it looks like lace, and the edges are starting to change colour. Take them out and quickly use a spatula to pry them off the sheet. Cool on a plate. If they get stuck on the baking sheet, pop the tray back in the oven to heat for a moment more, and then pry off the remaining ones. Eat and be classy! Makes 12 crisps.

Honestly, these are a super-easy, rather fancy appetizer/snack to serve, and really nice with wine. That said, I’m snacking on another batch right now, as I sit on my sofa and drink a glass of lemonade, and they’re just as tasty. Excuse me while I got eat one from the platter I set aside for the DH. *a minute later* Ah, that hits the snacking spot. *grin*

Next Post: The Chai Tea recipe I’ve promised. Good recipe for a chilly Sunday night, I think. Or a final tapas recipe, for Vegetarian Croquetas. Any preferences? Let me know in the comments!