mixed nut bars on the run…

Fall is in the air…leaves are turning crimson, mustard and golden…smoke fills the morning air and being outside to enjoy it all is a necessity.

And so is snacking. Healthy snacking.

I always have snacks. Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll confirm, I always have food and beverages on hand…one never knows when hunger will strike, right?

That little tummy grumble is inevitable (especially with busy little ones), so why not be prepared with a tasty treat?

Especially one which will not only satisfy any budget, but will also appeal to the desires of both sweet and savory lovers…everyone wins…

Plus, it’s easy and only requires the most basic of ingredients and a few minutes of your time.

You’ll need one sauce pan and one baking dish.

Simply melt and mix ingredients in sauce pan…

Spoon into baking dish and bake.

That’s it!

Easy clean-up too (no one ever seems to mention the clean-up part of cooking and baking)…

These little nuggets are way better than any store bought protein bar, you know all the ingredients (and most likely have them on hand), plus, you’ll save money baking these beauties at home, so why not whip up a batch for your favorite people?

Enjoy.

Mixed Nut Bars*

Print this!

ingredients

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 beaten egg

1/2 reaspoon vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup mixed nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, or peanuts, coarsely chopped

Grease an 8X8 inch baking pan; set aside.

butter and sugar

In medium saucepan heat brown sugar and butter over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.Cool slightly

melted butter:sugar

Stir in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking powder until just combined. Stir in nuts. Spread battter in the prepared pan.

nuts added

in pan

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars while warm; cool completely in pan.

baked

served

Want a little extra love in your nut bar? Sprinkle with grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips for the last few minutes of baking…

Everyone will thank you.

Enjoy.

*Better Homes and Garden’ New baking book 1998

fresh corn, basil and tomato tart…perfect for a maine lobster bake…

Michael (my partner) and Finn (my 3.5 year old son) were out for a few hours, helping a friend put together the necessary components for a lobster bake…

Seaweed. Rocks. Wood to build the fire (and maintain it for hours). A few canvas tarps. And most importantly, a dug space. A pot in the earth so to speak… in which to bake the lobsters, corn and clams.  A real Maine lobster bake.

Hot rocks layer the bottom of the ‘pot’ (a hole dug into sand or soil). Seaweed is dropped on top, creating steam…lobsters are placed on top of this, and then they are topped with another layer of seaweed and a few splashes of sea water…sizzle, sizzle, sizzle…

seaweed + steam

lobsters, corn + seaweed

Corn is layered next, followed by more water, seaweed and then finally, the clams…more sea water and more seaweed are added, and then the tarps are tossed over, covering the opening, thus creating a ‘lid.’

tarps

As the sun sets over the Atlantic, lobsters bake, in the ground, on an island…

sunset

freshly steamed lobsters, corn and clams

I digress…this (potluck) lobster bake, and the fact that Michael and Finn were out for a few hours helping organize the party, is what inspired me to try this recipe.

It’s a recipe I found some time ago…torn from a magazine I regretfully do not know (note to self, write down the month, the year and the title of the magazine, from which the recipe was removed…), and I had yet to make it…

Basil was in the garden, corn I could buy 6 minutes down the road at a local farm stand (my corn is not ready yet), I had eggs (from same local farm stand), cream and enough grape tomatoes to give it a go…I decided this is what I was going to bring to the potluck lobster bake;

A fresh corn, basil and tomato tart.

complete

Plus, I had one hour of uninterrupted time – something truly treasured – now that I’m a parent, and phenomenal lighting, so I prepped, photographed and baked this scrumptious tart in only 60 minutes.

Fun.

Gluten free? Just substitute flour with a gluten free flour and enjoy…

 Fresh corn, basil and tomato tart

Print this recipe!

Ingredients;

ingrediants 1

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs (despite only seeing one in the photo)

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup half-and-half or light cream

1.5 cups fresh corn kernels (2-3 ears of corn, depending on size) – steamed or boiled for 2-3 minutes

peel the corn 1

remove corn kernals

1/2+ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

chopped basil

1/2+ tsp. salt

1/2+ tsp. freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup freshly chopped tomato

fresh basil

spring of fresh basil for garnish

First the cornmeal crust;

What to do;

adding dry to wet 2

1. In a medium bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high for about 30 seconds.

2. Add sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. Beat until combined.

3. Beat in 1 of the eggs until combined.

ball is formed 3

4. Beat in cornmeal and flour, until ball begins to form.

5. Shape into disk with hands and wrap in wax paper and chill for 30-60 minutes or until easy to handle.

chilled dough + tart pan

Next, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

– Lightly press dough on bottom and up sides of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom…

press into pan and up sides

work dough towards the sides of the pan and then gently with your fingertips, force the dough upwards, along the sides of the tart pan,

even sides

keeping the thickness even all around and up to the brim. This is not as complicated as it sounds. The dough is so malleable, it moves upwards with ease…make sure you keep all sides uniform and to the brim (to prevent overflow, over the top of the crust, when filling).

crust close-up

– Line crust with double thickness of foil and bake for 10 minutes; remove foil and bake for an additional 6-10 minutes more, or until pastry is set.

While that is happening…

pouring cream

eggs + cream blended

– In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining two eggs and cream.

corn + basil added to eggs

blend all

– Stir in corn, basil and 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.

tart filled

– Pour over crust.

baked

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set. Let stand for 10-15 minutes. Remove sides of pan to serve.

complete

Top with chopped tomato and fresh basil.

top view slices

side angle view sliced

Makes 8 servings or more if sliced smaller…

tart with cucumbers

 Sliced cucumbers and lime are in the background – I brought a plate of these (cucumbers are plentiful right now) as well as blueberry crisp. Abundant summer fruits – love it!

Enjoy.

versatile swiss chard becomes a tart

I’ve found swiss chard to be one of the most forgiving greens to grow. Having said this, kale is also very tolerant. For me, the challenge with kale is that it does not have the ‘softness’ that swiss chard has thus is not so easily substituted for spinach…swiss chard on the other hand, is.  Swiss chard is versatile, easy to grow, nutritious and abundant this time of year…

swiss chard ready to cut

Granted, kale grows well into the cooler months and can easily be substituted for spinach or any dark leafy green, though there is something about swiss chard (at least for me) that I just love…perhaps it’s the red and green contrast or simply its abundance all spring, summer and fall…you can count on swiss chard to be there when spinach is not. I like kale  but I love swiss chard…

swiss chard

I plant swiss chard in the early spring and enjoy it all summer and into the late fall…

baby swiss chard

During the hot days of summer I rely on it to become my ‘spinach.’ Spinach bolts when the weather turns hot – swiss chard does not…one row will give nutritious greens for months.

I simply cut the larger, outer leaves, and more grows back! Plant seeds, water, nurture, cut, grow, cut, grow, cut…grow…

Enjoy it in recipes which call for spinach or swiss chard. Simply cut or tear the leaves away from the thick stem, chop and then steam, saute, bake or add to soups.

swiss chard piled on board

My personal favorite is a swiss chard and ricotta tart. I use two different recipes. The one below is an open faced tart. Both require basically the same ingredients; the difference – one is open faced and one is not…

This recipe is the simplest of the two as it only requires a baking sheet and one puff pastry sheet…I have yet to make my own puff pastry, though I so want to…but, until then, a store bought one (without the high fructose corn syrup) will suffice…

So buy yourself a packet of puff pasty and get going!

This recipe also freezes well…plan ahead, bake ahead…dinner or a delicious appetizer is served…

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Tart

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Ingredients;

1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry. One sheet thawed. Save remaining sheet for another project…

1 large egg beaten with one teaspoon water (for egg wash)

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

15 ounces ricotta cheese (one small container)

2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin, if you have it)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh, if you have it)

12 ounces fresh swiss chard (frozen works well too – be sure to thaw and squeeze dry) – spinach can be substituted or a combination of the two.

What to do;

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unfold one pastry sheet, pinching seams together, if necessary…and roll out to cover baking sheet. Fold over edges, just slightly, to create an edge. Brush with egg wash (if desired).

2. Prick bottom, all over with fork. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan over the bottom; place tart on lower rack in preheated oven, for 5-8 minutes, or until cheese lightly browns. Let cool a few minutes.

ricotta + pastry

3 .While baking, combine combine ricotta and next five ingredients.

ricotta ingredients

4. Chop and saute swiss chard, in a large skillet, over medium heat. Cook in batches if necessary. Drain excess liquid.

sautee chard

5. Spoon about 2/3 ricotta mixture onto the baked pastry shell and then top with swiss chard. Dollop remaining ricotta mixture…

toppings on pastry

6. Finish with parmesan.

7. Top with fresh basil.

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set, in 350 degree oven.

pastry baked

9. Cut and serve.

enjoy!

life last week…

Last week was my week to prepare for an upcoming art show in which we exhibited…hence, my absence here…

Michael (my partner) has been busy for the past few months designing and building new pieces to showcase. Below, the back of one club chair and the root is a table base – both of which sold (yeah!),

back of club + table base while I have been busy with all the other things involved with owning one’s own art based business, Designs Adrift…and planning for an off site show. Below, our booth…

right side show space 2013

The exhibition took place on Mt. Desert Island.

A very beautiful and picturesque area of Maine…to say the least…

Somes sound is absolutely incredible and Acadia National Park is not too be missed…

The tiny cottage in which we stayed was situated perfectly within Northeast Harbor.

A ten minute walk and we would be in town. And the 20 minute commute to the show grounds afforded us a luxurious drive past grand estates and then into the Somes Sound…a magical fiord…

The narrow, winding two lane road, where fog and mist intermix with brilliant azure skies and green covered mountains (East Coast mountains) on either side of it, holding boats of all types… reminded me of being on South Island, in New Zealand…

It was an incredibly beautiful commute, and one we fully appreciated…particularly after all the hours we had spent preparing for the show and all the hours we knew were ahead…

Collecting the wood. Designing and building each piece. Deciding what should be showcased and where. Laying out the space. Pricing. Wrapping each piece for travel. Loading the U-haul trailer and remembering to bring everything we would need (shame I didn’t take any packing/moving photos)…

And then there was the food.

Lunches were kept simple with salads

bulger + red pepper salad

(garden veggies abound at the moment),

garden veggies

breakfasts were oatmeal with yogurt and fresh blueberries (in season here now), homemade raspberry muffins

wild raspberries

raspberry muffins

and on our last morning we savored a delicious quiche.

Dinners were one pot meals – chili, mac + cheese (cheese sauce below)

chili + cornbread

mac + cheese sauce

and a side of cornbread, black bean and sweet potato tacos complete with guacomole and on our first night, haddock chowder and blueberry pie for dessert; compliments of my cousin who lives in Northeast Harbor…

she is the reason we were able to stay in this posh town, for four days in July, over a weekend…Cheryl (my cousin) has a friend who does not use her home on the weekends…hence, our incredibly affordable, beautiful and convenient accommodation…thank you Cheryl and Margaret!

Back to the food.

Everything could be made and was made days in advance (except for the oatmeal) and then frozen. Voila. Meals were served with the least amount of effort and clean-up. Love that. Granted it’s a lot of work up front, but the pay off was worth it. Plus, they were all dishes I’ve made a zillion times before, so no checking in with recipes – just prep and cook…

Appetizers were enjoyed and prepared fresh.

Olives, goat cheese, guacamole, chips, salsa, hummus and sliced tomatoes topped with fresh basil leaves and freshly sliced mozzarella, to name a few…

Doesn’t sound like we’re ‘skimping’ now does it?

Budget doesn’t have to mean scarcity.

For me, it means to live within your means.

So why not do it as well as you can…(:

enjoy.

the perfect pizza

Yeast free, thin and crispy pizza dough. Yum.

It takes little to no time to make this dough and it requires the most basic of ingredients (recipe below).

Flour, water, baking powder, salt and olive oil. That’s it. No waiting for the yeast to rise and then rise again…no.

Simply blend dry ingredients, make a well, add wet ingredients, mix then knead and roll.

What’s left to do? Bake and top with the delicacies of your choice.

Pizza made by your own two hands is not only budget friendly and versatile, it’s also forgiving and delicious. Top it with whatever you have on hand or go all out and intentionally plan your pizza party…

Perhaps your in the mood for a white pizza? Go for it. Maybe you want the richness of tomatoes, so you start with a red sauce base and build from there…can’t decide to go vegetarian or not – why not make one of each? (do pre-cook your meats). Veggie options are practically endless…here’s a few of my favorites – roasted red peppers, yellow peppers, sauteed zucchini, sauteed mushrooms,  smashed sweet potato (seriously good with goat cheese), roasted corn, artichokes, olives, spinach, swiss chard, kale, broccoli, (lightly sauté these greens prior to using), red onions, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted fennel, garlic.

One cheese or three cheese? Mozzarella is the classic cheese, but don’t forget about asiago, feta, goat, asiago or ricotta…or any combination thereof…

Lastly, finish with fresh herbs – basil, parsley, fennel or green onions – freshly cracked pepper (or spicy red pepper) and a pinch of salt.

Bake in oven at 425 F for 10-15 minutes or until cheese (or toppings) start (s) to melt and brown, just slightly.

Rest for 5 minutes, cut and serve.

Thin and crispy pizza crust

Print this recipe!

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups warm water + 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix dry ingredients.

1.dry ingredients mixed

Make a well in the center.

Pour in wet ingredients.

2.wet into dry

Blend with fork or spoon until a ball begins to form.

3.dough mixed with fork

Incorporate as much as you can from the sides and bottom of bowl with your hands…

4.mix with hand

Form into ball.

5.blended into ball

Add 1/2 teaspoon +/- of water if needed…sometimes I need more, sometimes I need less…not sure why? Perhaps begin with less and add as needed…if it ends up too wet, add a bit more flour…

Knead dough in bowl 2-3 times.

Move to floured surface and work/knead dough until elastic. A few minutes should do…

Toss a bit more flour out on the counter.

6.crust on floured surface

Place dough in center. Press down to flatten.

7.press flat with palm of hand

Finish to size using a rolling pin.

8.finish with rolling pin

Lightly dust pizza stone/dish with corn meal.

Carefully lift rolled and flattened dough onto cornmeal dusted pizza stone.

9. crust on stonejpg

Drizzle edges with olive oil – smooth into dough with hands.

10 crust with oil

Bake 6-8 minutes, or until lightly golden, in a preheated 375 F oven.

Remove from oven. Let rest 4-6 minutes.

Cover base with red sauce.

13

Add whatever toppings you choose.

11. ingredientsjpg

12 saute

14

Top with cheese – mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, feta, goat or ricotta

15

 Enjoy!
16
What’s your favorite pizza combination?

Do you have a fabulous recipe for pizza? Link up here…

Have a great weekend!

*fun fact – pizza stone picked up for free from my local transfer station

blueberry muffins

Looking for something to do on a rainy day?

Why don’t you bake muffins? Blueberry muffins!

They are super easy, yummy and perfect for breakfast or as a snack. They can be frozen for another day or enjoyed immediately, still warm, and slathered with butter… or given as gifts…what friend wouldn’t just love a dozen of freshly baked muffins?

So why don’t you get out your muffin tins and get going!

Blueberry Muffins

baked muffins:browned

Print this recipe From the Joy of Cooking – All About Breakfast & Brunch

makes 12 muffins

Assemble Ingredients;

assemble your ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum free)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs (don’t fret if you don’t have ‘large’ eggs – use what you have)

1 cup milk (or cream – you decide the richness)

2/3 cup cane sugar or light brown sugar (try not using white sugar)

4 tablespoons warm, melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1.5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Here’s what you need to do;

Grease or line with paper/silicone muffin cups for 12-cup muffin, standard muffin pan…

get your tins ready

Whisk together in a large bowl;

flour (2 cups)

baking powder (1 tablespoon)

salt (1/2 teaspoon salt)

Whisk together in a seperate bowl;

eggs (2 eggs)

milk (1 cup milk)

sugar (2/3 cup light brown/cane, white if necessary)

butter (4 tablespoons warm, melted butter)

vanilla (1 teaspoon)

wet:dry - sort of

Add ‘wet’ mixture to the ‘dry’ mixture, until just blended, moistened. Don’t over mix – batter should not be smooth…add the blueberries (1.5 cups), gently…

blueberry thief

add blueberries to batter

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Careful not to overfill or underfill – nearly to the top, without going to the top…Sprinkle brown/cane sugar on top.

in tins - topped with sugar sprinkle

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in a few muffins, comes out clean…

muffins cooling

Let cool 15 minutes on cooling rack before removing.

close-up scrumptiousness

Serve warm, with butter or as is…

muffin thief

enjoy the weekend!

(and the muffins!)

PS. The cooling rack and the cook book were picked up, for free, from my local transfer station…I just love that place!
(:

ripe red raspberry crisp

Yeah for sunshine, warmth and raspberries!

While fresh (and local) raspberries are still a few months away, I just couldn’t wait…it was warm, the sun was shining and we needed a sweet treat. What to do? Pull out some frozen raspberries and get mixing!

Simple. Delicious. Easy and versatile.

No raspberries? No problem! Just substitute fresh or frozen blueberries, peaches or apples and dessert is served in just 30 minutes!

Ripe Red Raspberry Crisp

Print this recipe!

A few cupfuls of fresh or frozen raspberries – enough to cover the bottom (and then some) of a pie plate or 9″ X 13″ baking pan.

1. frozen raspberries

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the bottom of whichever dish you choose to use. Pour raspberries to cover bottom…and then some…

2. raspberries + topping in bowls

Blend dry ingredients. Add egg and melted butter. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened.

3.crumble on raspberries

Pat mixture over raspberries.

4. top view raspberry crisp

Bake 35-45 minutes. Or until browned on top.

5.ready to serve

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, freshly whipped cream or simply on its’ own…

6.scoopful of crisp

7.finn with his slice

8. focused9.yum

Enjoy and have a great weekend!