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looks store bought, tastes homemades, are homemade – Granola Bars

I love granola bars, however, I hate all of the preservatives that you find in all the store bought bars. A few years back, I found a great easy recipe to make your own granola bars. Personally, I think these have way more taste then the ones you would buy in the store. They look exactly like store bought, but tastes way better and does not have all of the “junk” that a store bought bar contains!granola_bars2_web

This recipe allows for a lot of variety in the ingredients that you use. Which is awesome, because you can use the same recipe over and over again! They are also very easy and fast to make!

Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup chopped nuts – i like to use walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews – but really any selection works

1 cup sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut

1/2 sunflower seeds

2 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal – rice krispies works just as well

1/3 cup flax seeds or wheat germ

1 cup raisins or chopped dates – or use any dried fruit you prefer

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1 – combine the first 4 ingredients and place in a 13 x 9 x 2 -in baking pan and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees Celsius. take out and stir every 5 -7 minutes.

2 – in a seperate bowl, combine crisp rice cereal, flax seeds and raisins, add the dried baked ingredients to this bowl – set aside

3 – combine brown sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium – high heat, stir frequently. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla extract, and mix well.

4 – pour this syrup mixture over the dried ingredients mixture and stir until well coated. only pour have the syrup mixture and then add the milk and then finish with the rest of the syrup mixture.

5 – quickly spread this mixture into the 13 x 9 x 2-in baking pan, and press down to evenly spread out the mixture. Let the mixture sit and become firm.

this recipe makes about 36 bars

These granola bars are also very chewy, if you want to add some chocolate, add about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips when you are adding the milk. However, I think adding the chocolate takes away from the healthy aspect of these bars!

However, these bars are to be made unique to each persons taste, so have fun and add your favorite ingredients!

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Update: Obamalicious!

Rajdoot is the Obama of Indian food restaurants in Calgary. obamaI don’t know if the newly elected president has even eaten at Rajdoot, but if he ever does I bet he would say that the food is Obamalicious and that the service is Baracktastic!

I Obomapoligize for all the Barackisms, but how can i write a post the day after the first African American President is elected without making some reference to him?

That being said, It’s not that far fetched to imagine Obama visiting Rajdoot because the restaurant is frequently visited by many movie-stars such as, Anthony Hopkins. anthony_hopkins1501

But don’t worry average Joe the Plumbers like you and I can also dine and receive the same great service as Obama or Anthony Hopkins would.

I was first introduced to Rajdoot when my brother treated my family to the best indian food I had ever had. My bro had just got back from India and said that the food at Rajdoot tasted just like the food he had in India.

Well he was right. You know your Indian food is good when you have one bite and you start to sweat! Part of the reason the food tastes so good at this restaurant is because they cook the food in authentic clay ovens. The servers at Rajdoot are friendly and attentive and they don’t hesitate to bring you lots of foreign beer to go along with your meal! beer

Rajdoot is very accommodating for large parties because the restaurant has a separate room which can be booked through their website.

In addition to the menu, customers can order off the large buffet which contains a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes.

All in all I give Rajdoot a strong Obama win over McCain! ( Read as 5/5)

Well I can’t wait to go back to Calgary next week and chow down with my family at Rajdoot! Maybe Obama will be there and i can get his autograph!

Update: So I made it to Rajdoot the other day and no I did not see Obama or Anthony Hoppkins, but I did enjoy a delicious meal with my family. I think next time I go I will try the buffet.

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UPDATE: Vegging Out?*

When I was growing up my family lived in a small farm town in northern Saskatchewan. I was constantly surrounded my animal livestock, in particular, cattle. Because of this I became very disturbed by the ethical concerns with eating the animals that I saw every day. So when I was sixteen I decided to become a vegetarian.

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It was hard at first, even though I felt it was the right thing to do. I had to get used to the taste and texture of tofu, which for anyone who eats tofu knows it can take some getting used to. My family was thoroughly annoyed with having to cook two meals, one with meat and one without. But after awhile I adjusted and enjoyed my new lifestyle.

I had joined PETA when I became a vegetarian, and with PETA’s influence I decided to become a vegan after about four months. But that didn’t last very long. I was very malnourished and began to get really sick. I was tired and fatigued all the time and I started to get migraines and back pain. My doctor told me that I could either eat some meat again or else.

I decided that I would start to eat chicken and fish again, but I still did not want to eat beef. Partly because I still felt bad for the cows and partly because after not eating it for awhile I didn’t really like it anymore. I actually didn’t eat red meat again for 2 years after that.

I understand that there are millions of people who practice vegetarianism and veganism everyday (about 4% of North America via) and do not have the problems that I did. I went into it unprepared and uninformed. So if you are thinking about starting a vegetarian or vegan diet then it’s important to learn for my mistakes and educate yourself before you start.

 

 

1. Start the easy way. Take your favorite dishes that you used to cook before you became a vegetarian and try cooking it in a veggie friendly way. Try using tofu or a soy meat alternative instead of the meat that used to be in it and add in extra veggies for more flavor and texture.

2. Buy a Vegan Recipe CookBook. Most likely being a vegetarian means that you’ll have to cook for yourself more often then not. Look for a cookbook that fits your taste and lifestyle, or search for great recipes online.

3. Don’t Push Yourself. You may feel really tired and hungry when you first start off eating this kind of diet. Remember that a lot of vegan/vegetarian food will have less calories then what you would have eaten before if it had meat in it. So you may have to eat a little extra to feel full or get all the nutrients you’re used to.

4. Get support from your friends. Try to get your friends to understand your choice. It will be harder to keep it up, especially if it’s hard at first, if your friends aren’t going to be willing to try your food too or eat at a veggie friendly restaurant.

5. Do not compare yourself with other vegetarians. If you are looking for inspiration from people who have been vegetarians forever then you may feel like a failure. People who have been eating this way for a long time are used to it so of course it’s easy. If this is something you really want then it will get easy for you too. Take their advice if it fits your lifestyle, and if it doesn’t then find someone else to help you that you mesh with.

6. Timing matters. Your ability to stick to the diet may completely depend on when you start it. Starting in the summer is good because of the variety of fruit and vegetables that are available. However, in the summer people tend to be traveling a lot and so it can make it hard if you are not going to be somewhere where you will have access to veggie friendly food. Winter is good because of this reason, that likely you will be home a lot and could cook for yourself. On the other hand you may not be able to get all the fruits and vegetables that you want. Figure out what will work for your lifestyle before you start. (via)

 

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Being a vegetarian or vegan can be a very rewarding lifestyle with many benefits. There are many celebrities that use the diet as a way to maintain their hot bodies, including Brad Pitt, Carrie Underwood, and Alicia Silverstone. Regardless of what reason you are going veg always consult your doctor or a nutritionist before starting to make sure that they inform you of the right supplements to take. That way you won’t end up sick like me.

 

UPDATE: When I wrote this blog I had to think back on my own personal experiences about being a vegetarian/vegan. Even though it may seem like I didn’t have a very good experience because I got sick, I really loved being a vegan.

Since we’ve been doing this blog I heard about a book called Skinny Bitch, which is actually a book about veganism. It is a really informative book and explained me a lot about how veganism helps the environment and your health. That book combined with reliving my experiences through this blog helped me make the decision to become a vegan again. It hasn’t been very long, but so far I’m loving my new lifestyle and feeling healthier then ever.

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Chocolate…. Caramel….

A few years ago at Christmas, I made this Chocolate Caramel Candy. This was the most amazing, sweet, crunchy candy  square I have ever had. However, I can no longer eat it, because it is a very rich square. My stomach can no longer handle my sweet tooth addiction 😦 squares1

This is a very sweet and crunchy bar, it reminds me of a Snickers bar, however this one is way better. It has marshmallow center with peanuts topped with caramel which is layered between chocolate. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  So, if you are one with a sweet tooth, this is for you!

One down side to this recipe, is that it takes awhile to make, because you have to let the different layers sit. Also you have to melt and mix every layer, so it requires you to either do lots of dishes or have lots of pots. Either way, there are dishes to do! BUT, the hard-work is all worth it

Chocolate Caramel Candy (Taste of Home, Dec/Jan ’98)

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup butterscotch chips

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Filling:

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1/4 evaporated milk

1- 1/2 cups marshmallow creme

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1- 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

Caramel Layer:

1 package (14oz) caramels

1/4 cup whipping cream

Icing:

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup butterscotch chips

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 – combine the first three ingredients in a small saucepan; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Spread into a lightly greased 13 in X 9 in X 2 in pan. Refrigerate until set.

2 – For the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Add sugar and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir them together and add the peanuts.  Spread over the first layer and refrigerate until set.

3 – For the caramel layer, melt the caramels and whipping cream over low heat, stirring occasionaly until melted and smooth. Spread over the second layer – the filling. Refridgerate until set.

4 – For the icing, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Spread over the caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, to ensure everything has set.

Store this dessert in the fridge. This makes about 8 dozen 1-in squares.

There is lots of work involved in making this square, but it is a crowd pleaser and won’t disappoint at the all important Christmas parties coming up.

Enjoy !

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Shh!… My SOUFFLE is rising*

So for any of you who have been reading my blog consistently you know that I have been trying to focus on how to help you make your eating life classier. Some how I ended up with very lavish and expensive taste in all aspects of my life, so I think that what I eat should be no different. 

We’ve covered almost all the bases over the past few weeks. What to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, where to eat out, and what diets to go on. Now it’s time to discuss dessert. 

And the classiest dessert I can think of is souffle. 

A souffle is a classic French dessert. It is a mixture of milk, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, and also some other flavorings like chocolate, cheese, or pumpkin. Now when you hear that you may think that that pretty much sounds like a cake. And it is pretty much a cake, but when you combine those ingredients while using specific techniques then you create a completely different creation. 

The key to a great souffle is egg whites. The egg whites gives the souffle a mousse like consistency and also helps with it’s signature rise.

 

 

A souffle may seem hard to make, but trust me it’s not as complex as it may appear. It gets messy yes, but not hard. I made a souffle for the first time this past weekend for my sister and her husband. I was really nervous because I had never seen one being made so I didn’t know what it should look like at the different stages or if I was doing anything right. But I followed Martha’s recipe, and as always she led me to a delicious ending. 

 

souffle2

 

Martha’s Chocolate Souffle:

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, 1/2 stick

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 cups whole milk

6 large eggs separated, plus 2 large egg whites, all at room temperature 

1/4 all purpose flour

8 ounces chocolate (Martha says bittersweet, I used milk chocolate, or you could use white chocolate and that would be really good)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Salt

Caramel Anglaise 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. with the rack in lower third. Place six 10-ounce ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush inside ramekins with butter. Dust with sugar, and tap out excess. Using kitchen twine, secure a strip of parchment paper around each ramekin so that parchment extends 3 inches above rim. Chill in freezer 15 minutes (up to overnight).

    2.  Bring milk almost to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; set                     aside.

    3.  Put 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until pale, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour. Add                 about one-third of the hot milk in a slow, steady stream, beating until just combined.

     4.  Pour yolk mixture back into pan with the remaining milk. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until thick, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in      chocolate, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. The souffle base can be made a day ahead and refrigerated,           covered, until ready to bake the souffles.

     5. Put egg whites and a pinch of salt into a large copper bowl. Using a balloon whisk, beat until foamy. (Alternatively, beat egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar instead of the salt in the bowl of the                  electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.) Add 1 tablespoon sugar, and beat until soft peaks                form. Add remaining tablespoon sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.

     6. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Gradually fold in remaining egg whites.

     7. Carefully pour batter into prepared ramekins on baking sheet, filling to just below rims. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Remove parchment. Poke a           hole in top of each, and pour in caramel creme anglaise. 

 

Remember to always serve these immediately. Although it is a bit of a wives tale that loud noises and the slightest movement will make a souffle fall, they are very delicate and will fall within 5 – 10 minutes of coming out of the oven. Bon Appetit!

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