Chewy Dark Chocolate and Apricot Granola Bars

chewy granola
Well, friends, I’m happy to report that my daughter, Eleanor, was born three weeks (almost 4!) ago and she’s doing amazing and we are surviving the sleepless nights and the toddler-sister adjustment without too many scrapes and bruises.  Life is certainly different than it was just a month ago.  But it’s also a billion times sweeter.  Here’s my new family (pics taken by my wonderful friend, Katrina):

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It’s remarkable how little time in the day I actually can get things done, which explains further why posting recipes took a very, very far back burner to everything else.  I also didn’t cook a single thing for two weeks.  It felt weird, but it was nice to have a break. We have remarkable friends who brought us dinner for nearly two whole weeks and then it was Thanksgiving and although we didn’t travel, we certainly cooked!  And a few of those recipes will come in the following weeks.  I wanted to post an easy and satisfying snack for my first post back, because that’s what I need in my new life, now, and honestly, I’m hungry all the time while nursing a baby around the clock.  I find myself insanely hungry when Eleanor wakes up for her 2 a.m. feed but too tired to go to the kitchen to find something and so I fixed that problem yesterday by making some truly crave-worthy granola bars.  Chewy, almost falling apart, no-bake, and filled with my favorite things – namely, dark chocolate, apricots and almonds.

I hope you enjoy these and I am looking forward to getting back in the kitchen around the baking-est time of the year.  🙂

Chewy Granola Bars

 

Chewy Dark Chocolate Apricot Granola Bars
makes about 16-24

2 cups puffed rice cereal
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup mix-ins (I used dark chocolate, dried apricots and some leftover trail mix that had almonds and raisins – you use what you can find!)
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Combine the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, salt and peanut butter and let it come to a boil for about a minute.  Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients (if you don’t want your chocolate melting, add it after you get everything else combined.  I didn’t care and it didn’t melt that much).  Stir until fully incorporated and then press in either a 13×9 greased baking dish, or like I did, a rimmed sheet pan (for slightly thinner bars).  Let it cool completely and then slice and store.

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Chicken Avocado Taquitos with Red Pepper Soup

chicken taquitos with green chili
These recipes jumped off the screen last Monday when I was looking for something quick, nutritious and slightly comforting to make for my family.  Both recipes come from the great world of Pinterest and they paired together like old friends.  The first was baked chicken taquitos and I improvised from the original recipe a bit and added avocado (because it improves nearly everything) and green chili powder instead of cayenne.  Both additions worked well and I’ll definitely make this recipe again!

The second recipe comes from a dear friend and fellow food blogger, Becky McGrew of Apronclad.com!  She made this roasted red pepper soup a while back and I have kept it in the back of my head as yet another wonderful soup to introduce new flavors to our little two-year old, Olive.  The soup made a wonderful dip for the taquitos and was obviously wonderful on its own as a starter/side dish for the meal.  It has some Italian herbs in it, which are awesome, but I think next time to match up a little better with the Mexican theme, I think I’d omit the basil and thyme and add in Mexican oregano and cilantro to finish.  Whatever you do, just make this soup.  It’s outstanding!  I didn’t mess with the recipe at all, so just go on over to Becky’s blog and get the recipe there, plus very nice step-by-step instructions!

chicken taquitos

Baked Chicken Avocado Taquitos*

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon green chili powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
8 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded mexican blend or cheddar cheese
1 large, ripe avocado
Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and spray heavily with cooking spray.

In a small bowl whisk together garlic salt, green chili powder, onion powder and cumin. Rub seasoning into both sides of chicken breasts. Spray a large pan or skillet with cooking spray and cook chicken over medium heat about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Chop chicken up into small cubes. Divide chicken evenly among all tortillas, spreading the chicken into a strip down the middle of each tortilla. Top chicken with about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and a few pieces of avocado. Tightly roll each tortilla into a taquito. Place end side down on prepared baking sheet. Spray taquitos heavily with cooking spray. Bake 10-15 minutes until tortilla edges begin to brown/blacken and cheese is melty. We dipped ours into the soup and also our favorite – Mexican crema!  Seriously, so much more flavor than sour cream!

*adapted from Creme de la Crumb

A Big Announcement and Some Serious Cravings

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So I’m happy to announce that we’re expecting a sweet little addition to our family in November!  I can’t imagine another baby in this house, but I am so excited to get to relive the squishy baby phase, again!  Nothing like it 🙂  I am also glad to finally announce it because this blog has been suffering from a lack of posts lately and it’s because NOTHING SOUNDS GOOD TO ME.  Truly.  I’ve not bought packaged snack foods in at least 5 years but lately, the ONLY thing that sounds good is potato chips, frozen egg rolls, bacon and eggs and popcorn.  Salt, salt, salt.  Sweets don’t go down too well and the thought of roasting a vegetable makes my stomach turn.  As a food and cooking lover, it’s been utter torture!  I peruse the pages of Tastespotting and Pinterest and say, “Ew, ew, ew, that looks gross, who would eat that?!”  I can not WAIT to get out of this trimester and into the next where I feel like cooking, again!

So for the next few posts, I’ll share some recipes and product reviews of things that make my crazy pregnant self happy and in a few weeks, I’ll get back to nice, wholesome, well-rounded meal posts.  For now, I give you a glowing product review of:

These chips!  They always sound like a good idea.  And remember:  I am NOT a chip-buyer unless there’s a specific need like an outdoor burger grilling party.  But these.  Super crunch, super flavorful and they are actually not loaded with preservatives, which makes me happy.  Just potatoes, oil and salt!  Win.

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These chips dipped into…
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THIS DIP.  It’s seriously the most delicious dip, EVER.  Go buy it NOW.  I’m not 100% sure on the integrity of the ingredients but I do not care and I will not listen to you if you tell me it’s bad.

To complete the salt-fest post,  I will tell you my little recipe for the best topping for homemade popcorn.  I have never been so excited by something as I have been about popcorn, lately.  It’s so sad what’s become of me.

We use this little gadget and love it:

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Over medium heat, add 3-4 tablespoons of oil.  We love using coconut oil!  Add a half cup of kernels and a tsp of salt and start stirring continuously until the kernels start to pop.  Once the popping has nearly stopped, dump out into a big bowl and top with browned butter and dried Parmesan cheese and more salt.  And then more butter.  I think I browned about 4 tablespoons of butter for the batch.  It.  Was.  The.  Best.  Ever.

Stay tuned for more crave-worthy posts to come!  Like this amazing Southern curry my husband made yesterday.  To die for.  See you soon!