Sunday, November 4, 2012

Berry Shortbread Bars

As an active member of various organizations, I often have to prepare a dish or light bite for socials and other networking events. With an over-flowing freezer and the need to clear some space, I pulled out a bag of frozen berries and decided to make a shortbread based bar, but incorporating a little granola (i.e. granola bars) to make this a quicker, easier, and more fiber-full treat. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. 

Berry Shortbread Bars


1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 1/2 chewy granola bars

3 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp nonfat greek yogurt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar or substitute
1 cup whole wheat flour


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  • Start by making the crust. In a medium bowl, stir together the 1 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, crumbled granola bars, and salt. I used the kashi vanilla almond bars because they are awesome and the flavor will not overwhelm the filling. An oat and honey granola bar would work also. Cut in the 1/2 cup sour cream until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg and vanilla together; stir into the crumb mixture until a dough forms. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Note: If the mixture is too sticky, add a little oatmeal and mix in until combined.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, prepare the blueberry mixture.
  • Combine the 1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute and nutmeg; sprinkle over the blueberries. Add the lemon juice. Set aside.
  • Make the topping: In a medium bowl, cream together the 5 tablespoons butter and brown sugar until smooth. Alternatively put in a mini food processor to make this even faster. Lastly, mix in the flour, so that the mixture is crumbly like streusel. Sprinkle over the blueberry layer.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until browned. Cool before cutting into bars.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moroccan Pickles: Using surplus home-grown goodness

I planted my first garden this year, or should I say my mom planted my first garden. I called will a "help me" plea. I didn't know how to use the hard-clay soil in North Carolina. I was use to the soft soil of Massachusetts. She was excited to visit and to help. I was thrilled and I have been reaping the benefits since. We decided to plant several herbs, including scallions, green onions, basil, thyme, and more. For the vegetables, I insisted on lettuce, so, of course my mom planted three different types, 4 heads of each. So you get the idea, when I would be satisfied with one or two plants of each vegetable or fruit, she went all out and doubled, sometimes tripled, the number. It has been terrific and so far controllable (however, this is only the beginning of the harvest season).

With extra herbs on hand, extra vegetables, I decided my first try at quick pickles using the recipe from Joy of Cooking plus several additional seasoning. Think Moroccan Sweet Pickles:

Moroccan Sweet and Spicy Pickles:

1 tbsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp Harissa
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
3 cloves garlic
black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I prefer Stevia + Splenda)
2 dashes of garlic powder
Surplus veggies (I used cucumbers, green onions, scallions, zucchini)

Recipe: see the Joy of Cooking

Importantly, make sure to pre-clean and sterilize your mason jars before pickling. I usually do it the day before to have it ready for the process.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut Zucchini Bread

In an aim to use zucchini and celebrate spring, I decided to use a few surplus items in our house (greek yogurt, dried cranberries, walnuts, dark chocolate chips) to make a hearty and delicious snack. I love the finished product. Apparently my husband does too, as after a few days a huge loaf has been devoured. I know he was training for a marathon and everything but still, we both love this recipe. 
Try it yourself and let me know what you think. 
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook


  • 2 large eggs or egg whites
  • 1/3 cup low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 1 small/medium zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, greek yogurt, oil, sugar or sugar substitute, and vanilla until smooth.
3) Add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, mixing until well combined.
4) Stir in the zucchini, oatmeal, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and nuts.
5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
6) Bake the bread for 55 to 60 minutes, until the loaf tests done (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, save for perhaps a smear of chocolate).
7) Remove the bread from the oven, and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pan onto a rack.
8) Cool completely before slicing; store well-wrapped, at room temperature.
Yield: one 9" x 5" loaf.
By the way, don't blame me if you can't stop eating this one.