crispy oat, nut & date bars

 

I have had a huge bag of pressed dates sitting in my pantry since my craze with baking date filled oatmeal cookies. I had a craving for the sweetness of dates but didn’t have the time commitment today to make the cookies – so pie pie and I experimented in the kitchen a little today while the boss was napping…and oh man these are actually amazing. They are so tasty I think if you had someone taste them blindfolded they might even think there is some sort of chocolate in there.  Even as we were tasting them, I asked pie pie if she thought we made junk food or good food…and she looked at me with a cute sheepish smile and replied “junk food” and I reviewed our ingredients again with her and she said…”good food??!”.  It is packed with nuts, dates, some oats and rice crispies, and for richness yes there is butter & brown sugar…but not lots.  My husband came home from work and popped one into his mouth and then said “mmm..what is this? is it bad for you?” and pie pie happily told him “no! it’s good food!” hahaha, after which he proceeded to eat a few more. If you or your family are like us (sweet tooths!) then this recipe is a must try!  You could certainly eliminate the brown sugar too if you prefer, as the dates are quite sweet.

Oh – and just realized – they are gluten free, for those who can’t eat wheat!

I also recommend making a double batch because these will go fast…

prep: 10 min     cook: 5 min     yield: 9 squares

what you need:

  • 1 cup pressed dates
  • 1 cup crushed mixed nuts (we used unsalted Kirkland brand of mixed nuts)
  • 3 tbsp (not packed) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine dates, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.
  2. Crush nuts in a bag with a rolling pin (perfect task for your kids!)
  3. Once butter is melted and dates are loosened, remove from heat and mix with a fork to work butter and sugar into the dates.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix using fork or spatula, until everything seems evenly combined.
  5. Press firmly into a 9×9″ pan and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and storing in an airtight container. Instead of squares you could roll them into balls (also a fun task for kids) – don’t be scared to press them in your hands firmly to make sure they stay together in a ball form. Enjoy!

pie pie, my lil’ kitchen helper

boss woke up from her nap to a healthy fun snack!

 

pecan crusted chicken fingers

 

nutty & crunchy with a honey dijon dipping sauce

When I looked into my pantry this afternoon and realized I didn’t have panko (Japanese bread crumbs) – I knew there was no way I was leaving the house again with pie-pie and the boss. We had just spent the whole morning at mommy baby yoga, braving a Costco shopping trip (super fun loading and unloading that with the two of them!), and our weekly visit to the library.  It seems like our Monday mornings are jammed packed (I can’t help it! I just want to get everything done in one shot) but then I just love getting to chill, bake, and play at home all afternoon with them. So with the no panko situation, I considered blending up some bread to make breadcrumbs, but then I saw a bag of pecans in our pantry and thought it might be pretty delicious to coat chicken with this buttery and rich nut.  Actually – I guess this makes this recipe gluten free (again, I’m not on the train but hey, cutting refined wheat and subbing in something with more nutrition is always a win). They really turned out and the kids got to help out by smashing the pecans into little bits:)  We will definitely be making these again, and will probably buy less panko!

juicy and tender inside

prep time:  30 minutes   bake time: 15 minutes   yield:  serves 4

what you need:

  • 3 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
  • 3 large eggs, plus a splash of milk
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tbsp raw honey
  • 3 tbsp dijon mustard

what to do:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor (I used my ninja) – blend oats and 1 1/2 cup pecans, until fine. It might stick together a little bit due to the fat in the pecans, sort of clumpy. Just use your fingers to break it apart a little and it will be okay.
  3. Place 2 1/2 cup pecans in a ziplock bag and smash it up roughly into smaller pieces – use a rolling pin or heavy pan (be careful don’t smash your tile!). You could use your food processor and pulse just 1-2x, but make sure you have nice good sized pieces for crunch and a chunky texture.
  4. Set up your prep station – you’ll need 3 shallow dishes.  One for the fine pecan mixture, one for 3 eggs (beaten well with a fork, with the milk), and one for the bigger pecan pieces.  Place your lined baking sheets near this.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 F (or 400 F if you have a convection oven).
  6. Cut up your chicken into long strips – about 4 per chicken breast. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  7. Keep in mind you want one “dry” hand and one “wet” hand. This will prevent your fingers from getting coated themselves with the mixtures.
  8. Using your “wet” hand, place one piece of chicken into the fine pecan mixture. Use your “dry” hand to coat all over, then drop into the egg mixture. Use your “wet” hand to roll it around, making sure it’s coated well with the egg. Drop it into the larger pecan pieces. Use your “dry” hand to roll it around and pat the pecans into the chicken to make it stick. Place coated chicken strip onto the baking sheet.
  9. Repeat step 8 until all your chicken fingers are coated and ready to bake.
  10. Bake in the centre rack for 15 minutes (timing may depend on how thick your chicken is). While this is baking – mix the honey and mustard together to make a quick dipping sauce.
  11. Remove from oven and serve immediately with honey dijon sauce.  Enjoy!

    photo credit – by piepie

 

 

we ate it over baby spinach tonight, to get some greens into our bellies

 

 

 

flourless banana bread

 

no flour!

oatmeal (and chocolate) goodness

By no means am I a gluten free cook or am I on the gluten free train.  But I do agree that too often we turn to wheat (it’s so frustrating that grab and go snacks are usually packed with white flour and refined sugar).  Recently I met a holistic nutritionist who told me she made pancakes with ground up oatmeal, because oatmeal has more fibre and just has that edge on nutrition versus all purpose flour.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Banana bread is one of my favourite things to make, and I’m always tweaking it, and I make lots of different ones.  This one was made with ground oatmeal instead of the usual flour, and it turned out perfectly!  My kids ate it up (see them below) and my husband didn’t notice any difference at all.  It is moist, stays together, and tastes like a good ol’ banana loaf.  I will admit that the slight difference I found is that the loaf is more delicate, so be very gentle and take care when transferring it out of the loaf pan and onto the cooling rack, then again transfer it lovingly from cooling rack to the serving plate or cutting board.

Note: Recently we found a local source for farm fresh chicken and duck eggs (the cutest 12 year old boy takes care of these animals and runs his business) – for this recipe I happened to use a duck egg – which I think has a slightly bigger yolk and, as I am told by the farmer, makes baking a bit fluffier.  If you can, try a duck egg (I’ve seen some at our local asian grocer).  Otherwise, go for an extra large chicken egg.

what you need:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 2 cups finely ground oatmeal (I used my ninja blender)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • a large handful (or more) of dark chocolate chips
  • 1 duck egg (or extra large chicken egg)
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (or 325 F if you have a convection oven).  Lightly butter a loaf pan (I have a silicone one and love it, I place it on a cookie sheet for stability).
  2. In a large bowl, beat bananas well with coconut sugar until light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes).
  3. Combine oatmeal flour, salt and baking soda in a small separate bowl.
  4. Add butter, vanilla and egg to banana mixture and beat to mix well.
  5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and using a spatula, fold/stir to mix evenly.  Try not to overwork the mixture.
  6. Pour half the batter into the loaf pan, then sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top. Top with the rest of the batter, then bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, transfer loaf onto a cooling rack.  Slice and enjoy!

baby’s salmon & lentil rice porridge (aka congee)

a complete meal for baby

a complete meal for baby

Rice porridge (otherwise known as congee or muai) – is the boss’ favourite meal. When my mom visits she always makes a big pot of it for her and it’s gone within a couple of days.  I know other babies like it too, because I usually bring a jar of it with me just in case I’m in need of something to feed the boss and her little friends try a bite and want more! It’s actually also one of my favourite meals (see slow cooker congee). The great thing about rice porridge is that the combinations are endless – and to me, as long as there is some protein, some veggies that bring sweetness, fibre, and good nutritional value – then that’s perfect! Traditionally the base of congee is white rice, but in this recipe I substituted half with lentils, which gave a bit more texture, fibre and nutrition.

You can also make this same recipe in the slow cooker – place all ingredients in the cooking vessel and set on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

prep: 10 min   cook: 1 hour   yield: about 12 mason jars

what you need:

  • 1/2 cup dried red lentils
  • 1/2 cup short grain rice (I used a mix of brown and white)
  • 6 asparagus
  • 1/2 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup green peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 portion of cooked salmon (about 4 oz or so) – I used left over BBQ’d salmon from last night’s dinner
  • 5 cups of water

what to do:

  1. Rinse rice and lentils well, then drain.
  2. Place rice, lentils and 5 cups of water in a medium or large pot. Cover with lid and place on high heat to bring to boil.
  3. While you are waiting for your water to boil, prep vegetables by washing thoroughly, trimming asparagus ends, and peeling sweet potato. Chop sweet potato and asparagus into small baby bite size pieces (about the same size as the peas). Set aside.
  4. Flake salmon using your fingers – I like to use my hands to do this part to ensure that any fish bones get removed.
  5. prepped  Once your water comes to a boil, add the prepped bowl of salmon and veggies to the pot and then lower the heat to medium-low for a simmer.  It will need to simmer away for about 45 min – 1 hour, but set a timer for 20 minutes to come back and give it a good stir. You will know it’s ready when most of the water is absorbed and it is an oatmeal type of consistency – don’t worry if it seems a little soupy, as it cools down it will thicken even more.congee
  6. Remove from heat and remove lid, then allow to cool before transferring to storage containers. I use mason jars and glass containers, so it was okay that it was still warm when I transferred it.DSC_0608

*If you are enjoying it yourself or serving it to an older child/toddler, feel free to season it lightly with a little bit of salt & pepper, or a tiny drizzle of soy sauce on top.  When I eat this, I also like to top it off with chopped green onion and cilantro for garnish. Enjoy!

the boss

like clockwork, the boss eats a whole jar at 5am!