Posts Tagged ‘make it from scratch’

This is a post I had started over on my personal blog a few years ago, but it just kept getting pushed further down the posting list until it was out of sight. Alexandra commented on my post last week about getting the recipe…. just the push I needed I guess.

I found this recipe back in 2010 over at Living on a Dime and I have been making them ever since then. This is what my husband has for breakfast every day. They make a great snack and they freeze well.  I always grab a few to take with me when I head out to run errands for the day. Having them with me keeps me from making a bad decision (fast food drive-thru) when I start to get really hungry.

I stack them in a pint canning jars to take in the truck.

I stack them in a pint canning jars to take in the truck.

The base of the recipe is great and then you go off in the direction you want to with your special ingredients. I substitute honey for the granulated sugar in this recipe. I know honey still has calories just like granulated sugar, but I am not focusing on calories here, I am focusing on my ingredients and where they come from along with the benefits of the things I add to them. Also, I think I am getting a healthier granola bar then the ones in the store that are full of additives and preservatives that I am working so hard to stay away from.

mixing up granola bars

Homemade Granola Bars           Adapted from website Living on a Dime

Cream together (I use my stand mixer or hand-held mixer)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

Add to mix (use electric mixer)
2 Tbsp. honey or corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Peanut butter (optional)

Add to mix (I still use that mixer)
1 cup flour
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Stir into mix

Add dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Add to mix
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal (I use an organic puffed rice or puffed millet)

Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. (I use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into pan.)

Bake at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes. (looking for golden brown – but not crispy

The bars will firm up as they cool.
Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting.
Makes 24 bars.

Here is what I add to mine:
Ground flax seed
Sunflower seeds
Raisins or died cranberries or dried apricots

Granola Bars - done

A few of my notes:

  • I don’t tend to measure the ingredients when I am making these up, other than there is always a 1 cup measure in each jar of flour that I have and 1/4 cup measuring cup in both my oatmeal and my puffed millet. I have found when using honey in place of the granulated sugar that I need to add more flour to the mixture. Since I am not measuring, my granola bars can come out either quite chewy gooey or quite firm and crunchy.
  • Another thing to keep in mind when using more honey in these bars, is that if you bake them at 350F like the original recipe calls for, they will brown and burn more quickly and the bars won’t be completely cooked, so I turn down the oven to 300F to bake them slower and a lower heat setting. They still brown up more, but they don’t burn as quickly.

I cannot count how many times that I have passed on this recipe and everyone that has made them has been thrilled with the results.

I make two batches at a time and always keep them in the freezer.

Do you make your own granola or granola bars? Feel free the share your recipe or a link to it in the comments.

Sincerely, Emily

Read Full Post »

One of the big things I’ve been hearing about the Real Food Challenge is the desire to make homemade pasta. I’ve been making pasta at home for 6-7 years. It’s my go-to quick meal when I’ve got company coming. Fresh homemade pasta is so delicious you don’t really even need to make a sauce for it. I often simply toss fresh pasta with some good flavorful olive oil and grated cheese, sometimes I throw an egg in there as well to thicken it up a bit. It’s quick, easy and best of all – people think it’s wonderful. They’re super impressed with homemade pasta not realizing it’s actually quite quick and easy to make.

It does take a few tries to master it though, rolling the dough can be a bit of a challenge until you get the hang of it. I’d highly recommend buying a pasta roller, it will come in handy not just for rolling/cutting pasta, but also for rolling out crackers & flatbreads. I bought a cheap one at a kitchen outlet store, I paid less than $20 for it, but I’d recommend investing a heavier duty model, like this one that gets great reviews at Amazon. I’m hoping to upgrade to one of these soon, mine’s not super great quality often pulls the dough in crooked, which is frustrating. Of course you don’t need a machine, plenty of people choose to do all the rolling by hand. I like using a machine.

Pasta is generally made from 2-4 ingredients. I’d recommend starting with basic egg and white flour pasta (some recipes also call for salt and olive oil, some don’t). You can use whole grain flour, but it makes the process a little more difficult and the end product different. I’d definitely recommend starting with white flour pasta until you’ve mastered pasta making and then move on to other flours and flavors. Paul Bertolli has a bunch of great ideas for using different kinds of flour (even chestnut flour) in his book Cooking by Hand. I really like making spinach pasta (as you can see by the photos) and cracked peppercorn pasta.

Pasta dough isn’t difficult to make, but there’s definitely a learning curve. You don’t want to add all the flour called for in the recipe or your dough might be too stiff, which makes it frustrating to work while rolling. I usually save out at least 1/4 cup of flour and often more when mixing up the initial dough. You want the dough to be smooth and slightly tacky, not tough and dry. I like to lightly dust my work surface while rolling it out, this helps incorporate the final flour into the dough, but keeps the dough smooth for easy rolling. You also don’t want your dough to be too soft, or it will be difficult to roll and cut in the machine. After making it too dry once and too wet once, you’ll figure out what the perfect balance is.

Rolling out the dough is fairly easy if you’ve kept it soft enough. Divide the dough in half and roll it out into an oval that’s about 1/2-1/4 inch thick. Then you’ll put it through the rollers on the widest setting. Do this with each piece. Then fold dough into thirds like a letter, roll to thin again and put through the machine. Do this 8-10 times until the dough is smooth and not too soft & tacky. After making pasta a few times you’ll get a feel for what’s the right texture for the dough.

After you’ve run the dough through the machine 8-10 times at the widest setting you’re ready to start thinning the dough. I usually roll each piece through then adjust the rollers. As the piece gets thinner it will get longer and longer and can become a bit unruly. Feel free to cut down to a more manageable size. I usually keep mine in one piece until I want to cut it, then I cut into shorter pieces. It’s a personal preference thing really, whatever you feel comfortable doing. It may be easier at first cutting it into shorter pieces, then as you get more comfortable with the rolling process you can keep the pieces long. Roll them to the desired thinness, I generally roll mine down to the thinnest or the second thinnest setting.

Next you’ll cut the pasta into whatever shape you want. You can make ravioli by using the sheets, you can cut them into spaghetti, thin or thick. I usually make thin spaghetti or fettuccine. Occasionally I make ravioli, but I find cutting the pasta in the rollers to be so quick and easy and I’m usually short on time.

Some cookbooks will tell you hang the pasta to dry on a rack, I never do. I usually toss mine with a little flour to keep it from sticking together if the water isn’t ready yet. Check it every so often, by tossing a bit to make sure it’s not sticking together. Feel free to dry it a little if you want, I just never wanted to buy a drying rack and I don’t really have room in the kitchen for it.

I won’t reinvent the wheel and add a pasta recipe here (perhaps later when I have some time I’ll do a post with my favorite recipes), there are tons on the web:
All Recipes – Making Fresh Egg Pasta
All Recipes – Video tutorial on making fresh pasta
Epicurious – Fresh Egg Pasta (this is very similar to my usual recipe)
Jaime Oliver – Fresh Egg Pasta

Have you ventured into making your own pasta yet? How’d it go?
Any tips & tricks for the rest of us?

Susy can also be found at Chiot’s Run where she blogs about organic gardening, local eating and all kinds of other stuff, like sugaring your maples.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: