Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Favorite Kitchen Tools

"I've got gadgets and gizmos a plenty...." -my girl Ariel


Errrmmm, moving on.... Here are a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets/tools!  I figured I should start making some notes on what I like and don't like to use on the regular and tell all 10 of you about it!!! Which, by the way, thank you for humoring me by reading this blog.

I'll start with the big stuff: These are the mac-daddy kitchen essentials. Technically, you don't need these but they sure do make life a lot easier when cooking for your fam.

1. Kitchen Aid Mixer. LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY COLORS THEY HAVE NOW. Y'all know what's up with this. I use this at least 3 times a week for pizza dough, pasta dough rolling and mixing, any excuse I have for using it, I usually do. I'm really interested in the ice cream maker attachment for it. Can you imagine!?!?!? I'd really be hurtin for a personal trainer then.


2. Food Processor - This hefty guy makes hummus, date bars, sauces, etc. It's the bomb. I use this weekly for my hummus (way cheaper than store bought) that I take to work (will post recipe soon). This chops veggies, slices potatoes, and so much more. There are some neat attachments I haven't tried yet, but my hibernation begins during winter when I only leave the house for work, groceries or wine, so that's probably a good time to try them out, right? I will report back. 

Image via google

3. A Great Set of Knives A great chef, myself, should always have a great set of knives. We have this set of Henckels. The key to a great, efficient knife is keeping it sharp. When you have a dull knife, you will know, that crap is majorly annoying. You technically should get your knives sharpened every few months or so. Which reminds me....

Also, I know these aren't the best of the best kind of knives around - but they work great for us and we try to take good care of them- which reminds me again....need to get these sharpened...

Image via Bed Bath and Beyond

4. A Non-Stick Pan. Seriously, one of the better "As Seen on TV" items I've encountered. I've said before, we are suckers for any "As Seen on TV" items.  This pan cooks eggs like a DREAM. Omelettes, no problem. Pancakes? Check. This is a great pan for $20. I'm sure there are *better* pans out there, but this one fits us just fine!
As Seen On TV Orgreenic 10" Ceramic Interior Non-Stick Fry Pan
Image via Target
5. Spider This guy is a dream for deep frying, pasta retrieval, grabbing veggies from boiling water, etc. I recently picked this up after a marathon browsing session at Williams-Sonoma. I could spend days in there, just can't spend all the monies. Boo. But, for $15, I had to have it.

Image via Williams-Sonoma

*update: I realize I say "like a dream" alot. I'm not even sorry about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars

These 'granola' bars are so. freakin. good.

These are inspired by the Paleo Mom Chewy Granola Bars. I have changed some ingredients to accommodate an almond-free diet. I actually think these turn out better using peanut butter since there is more oil in PB than almond butter to hold them all together.  Also these are *technically* not granola bars, more 'nut bars'.

I recently made these without coconut flakes and coconut oil adding cranberries and golden raisins instead and they were super delish. So, if you have a coconut allergy, these will still work. Nut allergy? Erm, not so much - but you can check these out and be just as satisfied.

This recipe is adapted from the Paleo Mom. She has great paleo recipes that are fairly easy to make and are really delicious.

Recipe: Makes 12-15 bars depending on how you want to cut them:

1/3 pepitas - roasted and salted(shelled pumpkin seeds - I found these in the bulk section at a specialty grocer) pulsed
1/3 c sunflower seeds - roasted and salted
1 1/2 c walnuts - chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 c garbanzo bean flour (trust)
1 tbsp ground flax seed + 1 1/2 tbsp water (mix and set aside to make a "flax goop")
1/3 c coconut oil (coconut free use red palm oil) melted
1/4 c peanut butter
1/4 c honey
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c Enjoy Life chocolate chips
2 c coconut flakes (coconut free use 1 c dried cranberries, 1 c golden raisins - or any dried fruit you prefer chopped up)

Preheat the oven to 325.

Mix together flax seed and water  in small bowl and set aside to make a "flax goop"
Pulse pepitas in food processor or magic bullet a few times to break them up, set aside - if you don't have a processor or magic bullet, just use a knife and

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, flax goop, coconut or palm oil, and honey.
Add garbanzo bean flour and baking soda and mix into paste.

Add in the nuts, coconut (or dried fruit), seeds, chocolate chips and stir together. I use a wooden spoon and use some arm work with this - make sure you mix very very well.

I buy the aluminum 9x13 pans  at the grocery store to put these in, but you can use your own 9x13. You will want to spray non-stick spray into pan first, then spread evenly. I use a piece of parchment paper and use my hands to press down on the mixture to make it stick together and flatten.

You will bake these for 22 minutes. After you get out of the oven, let cool on stovetop or in fridge. They will harden better in the fridge and make it easier to cut into bars.

Try not to eat all of them at once. These are killer.