Health · Holidays · New Favorite

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Breakfast oatmeal in a bar or cake form is my favorite.  Most of this year I’ve been eating my Breakfast Oatmeal Bars, but a favorite fall flavor of pumpkin and maple is calling my name.  Daughter, Megan, told me about these bars and made a batch for me a few weeks ago.  They are absolutely delicious and the original recipe was posted by IowaGirlEats,  a website my girls and I love!

Since I didn’t have Pumpkin Spice, I made my own from a recipe on Taste of Home.

I like my breakfast bar with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit on the side with hot coffee! It doesn’t hurt to warm the Breakfast Bar for a few seconds in the microwave, either.  Healthy and delicious breakfast!

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

2-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided
1 cup milk, any kind (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  • Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to a food processor or blender then process until oats have turned into flour. Set aside. (Alternatively you could use a scant cup oat flour.)
  • Add milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups oats, oat flour, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then stir to combine. Fold in chopped pecans then pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set. Check on the bars at the 25 minute mark – if the edges are browning too quickly, place a piece of foil on top of the baking pan. Cool before slicing into bars then store in the refrigerator, or individually wrap bars in saran wrap and freeze.

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Gluten Free · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Fresh fruit salad in winter is a real treat. This recipe is delicious, combining several fruits including apples, kiwi, blackberries, pomegranate, bananas and Mandarin oranges. The dressing is fresh and tasty, delivering a nice side to compliment any meal.
IMG_7698

WINTER FRUIT SALAD WITH LEMON POPPY SEED DRESSING

Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. poppy seeds

  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Salad

8 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented (I used Cuties)
4 apples, diced
4 ripe kiwis peeled and diced
4 bananas, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1 large)
1-2 cups blackberries (I added to the recipe)

  • Combine all salad ingredients. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from CookingClassy.com

Family Favorites · New Favorite

Sangria, Mock and Not

Sangria reminds me of summer, tapas, and good times with friends.  It’s refreshing, light, fruity and delicious.  History states that Sangria was first served at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.  While interesting, I truly expected Sangria to be the drink of Spanish Royalty (or something equally impressive).

Mock Sangria

Nonetheless, it’s delicioso!  This time, I made a mock Sangria (without alcohol) as well as the real deal.  I enjoyed them both.

 

SANGRIA

1.5L of chilled red wine
3 cups prepared lemonade
1 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons brandy
2 cups chilled club soda
sliced oranges, limes, lemons, apples

In a large pitcher, combine the wine, brandy, lemonade, and orange juice.  Add the fruit slices and refrigerate until chilled.

When ready to serve, add the club soda.  Garnish glass with slice of lime (or other citrus)

MOCK SANGRIA

2 cups orange juice
1 cup white grape juice
1 cup cranberry juice
1 liter bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage
ice cubes
sliced lemons, oranges, limes

  • In a large pitcher, stir the juices together.  Chill.
  • When ready to serve, add the lemon-lime beverage and stir gently. Fill glasses with ice, then sangria then slices of fruit.  Enjoy!

Mock Sangria adapted from BHG.com

Family Favorites

Dutch Baby Pancakes with Fresh Fruit

Pancakes…not my favorite EXCEPT for the Big Dutch Baby Pancake with fresh, seasonal fruit.  I discovered this recipe in the early ’80s in my tried and true ‘Sunset Ideas & Recipes for Breakfast & Brunch’.    The pancake is easy to make, spectacular to serve and yummylicious to eat.

It was a surprise, the first time I made it, to see that the pancake rises as it cooks and collapses when taken from the oven.  Relax–it’s part of the fun!

The original Dutch Baby Pancake was served with powdered sugar and wedges of lemon, but I’ve never tried anything but the pancake with fresh seasonal berries and fruit.  Fresh strawberry in the spring is wonderful and brings excitement about the spring and summer days to come.  My absolute favorite is fresh peach and raspberry.  The combination of the peaches and raspberries are divine.  Today, with fresh Colorado Palisade peaches and fresh raspberries, our family with savor the summer’s sweet peach harvest until we can enjoy again next summer.

BIG DUTCH BABY PANCAKE

3-5 Quart pan (iron skillet, paella pan, or large skillet or round baking dish)
1/3 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk

  • Place butter in pan and set in a 425 degree oven.
  • While butter melts, mix batter quickly. Put the eggs in a blender or food processor and whirl at high speed for 2 minutes.
  • With motor running, gradually pour in milk, then slowly add flour; continue whirling for 30 seconds.
  • Or, in a bowl, beat eggs until blended; gradually beat in milk, then flour.
  • Remove pan from oven and pour in batter.  Return pan to oven and bake until pancake is puffy and well browned (20-25 minutes), depending on pan size.

After baking I use a spatula to assure the bottom of the pancake has not stuck to the bottom of the baking pan. Move to a pretty round plate or platter.  Fill with fruit, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Have a shaker or bowl of extra powdered sugar for those that may enjoy a little more.

To counteract the sweetness of the pancake, I serve with crisp cooked bacon.

You can serve is several ways. My favorite is filled with fruit:

  • Fruit:  Sliced fresh fruit (I like fresh peach/raspberry best); sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut into wedges and serve.
  • Powdered sugar classic:  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and squeeze thick wedges of lemon over at the table.
  • Hot fruit:  Glazed apples or pears served with sour cream or yogurt.  Or heat banana or papaya slices in melted butter or margarine over medium heat, turning until hot; serve with lime wedges
  • Canned pie filling/cherry or apple filling, add lemon juice and ground cinnamon to taste.  Top with yogurt or sour cream. Topping can be heated or cold.
  • Syrups
Family Favorites

Pound Cake…with strawberries for me!

Pound cake is one of the recipes I make ‘once in a blue moon’ but enjoy it as long as it is dense and moist. No dry pound cake will match up!

As you probably can see, cakes are often the base pedestal for the fruit I really want. Once again, strawberries and whipped cream top this cake. I truly didn’t realize until I started this food blog, that almost every cake I make MUST have syrup or fruit on top. Hmmm…this blog may turn into a self-realization confessional.

Pound cake with strawberries

POUND CAKE

3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 grated lemon peel
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Cream butter & peel; gradually add sugar, creaming till light, about 6 minutes at medium speed on electric mixer.
  • Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  • Sift dry ingredients together; stir together with egg mixture.
  • Grease bottom only of 9x5x8 inch pan; turn in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or till done. Cool in pan. Optional:  Sift confectioner’s sugar lightly on top.
  • Mandatory for me:  Fruit on top!
Nicaragua

Nicaragua … Tropical Food, Foliage and Fun!

My first full day in Nicaragua and I was almost bright-eyed and bushy-tailed…but could I use a cup of coffee! Not only was I going to have coffee but I was having organic coffee raised and roasted at Finca Esperanza Verde (FEV), made with certified mountain spring water. You haven’t had coffee like this at your local coffee shop! My coffee adventure was only beginning.

Path to Tucan Lodge
Tucan Lodge

As I walked down the path from our lodge, which I shared with five other wonderful women, I marveled at the views and the foliage, pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The covered, open-air, dining room at FEV overlooks a beautiful tropical forest allowing the diners to take in the view yet enjoy the fresh air.  Our tables were set, as they were the night before, with our name on a clothes pin attached to the napkin. The staff moved our napkin and clothes pin at each meal, giving us a chance to get to sit with everyone in the group. Genius!

We were served fresh, local fruit from the farm including watermelon, pineapple, papaya in addition to fresh local maracuya (passion fruit) juice.

Passion Fruit
Fresh Fruit, Coffee and Juice at FEV

Next we were served Gallo Pinto, fresh tortillas made by the staff over a wood stove, and scrambled eggs topped with crumbled cuajada cheese and pico de gallo. The farm-fresh eggs are from the FEV chickens! (Reminded me of home and the fresh eggs on our Iowa farm.)

Breakfast at FEV Day One

What a wonderful experience to eat local, eat fresh in the splendor of the tropics.

GALLO PINTO

3 cups of cooked rice
2 cups of cooked black beans
1 onion, finely chopped
1 chopped red pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons Salsa Lizano  (or Worcestershire Sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Fry onion, red pepper, and garlic in the vegetable oil, about 3 minutes.
  •  Pour in the beans and sauce, black pepper and seasoning. Let it cook for a few minutes, but keep it moist.
  • Pour in the cooked rice and mix with the beans.  Sprinkle with crumbled cuajada cheese.  Optional:  sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.

After breakfast, we were scheduled for a nature hike to begin to explore the gorgeous plants and flowers of the tropical forest and our first introduction to how coffee is grown.  Our guide took care to highlight local birds and foliage.

Coming from the high desert of Colorado, I was amazed at the plant life.  How can so many plants live on one tree?  This is the trunk of the Ceiba tree, which was a mystical tree in pre-Columbian cultures.  This photo captures the mystical experience of the tropical forest hike.

FEV Blue Trail photo

After a wonderful morning out, it was time to return to the lodge and lunch…what wonderful treat would be awaiting us?

Family Favorites · Holidays · My Roots

Fruit Bread your friends and family will beg for

Fruit Bread conjures up visions of old-fashioned fruit cake that is hard as a rock and entire communities have contests to see how far they can chuck the cake. NOT the case with this Fruit Bread recipe.  In fact, it is really a banana bread with chocolate chips and chopped cherries.  It makes a festive bread to give or to serve during the holidays.

This recipe originated with my Aunt Joyce.  When I was younger, she made it every Christmas and it quickly became a family, and personal tradition.  Each year I make several batches and give to family and friends.   I hope that you’ll try the bread and it will become one of your traditions!

FRUIT BREAD

Double or triple the recipe to make several loaves.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour (plus 2 T. if baking at high altitude)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup maraschino cherries
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs & beat well.  Sift baking soda & flour; add to egg mixture alternatively with mashed bananas.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.