June 20, 2012

Om nom nom. Cookie Monster.

Monday night was an incredible night for me in the kitchen. Actually, I all around felt pretty incredible. I got home from work and jumped on my exercise bike. Stationary bikes are nice because you do whatever you want while you're on it and still work out. Usually I read but I used to watch TV. Lately, though, I've been rocking the audio books and games on my phone and I've found that I'm consistently working harder than I did when I read. It's pretty much like procrastinating while burning calories and suddenly I have way less excuses for not doing it. I am most certainly not complaining.

So after my little work out I went straight into the kitchen. Normally Karl's home on Monday's so I come home from work and make dinner, but this Monday he was at a men's golf and BBQ so I was on my own. It was glorious. I made stir fry for Tuesday's dinner (because I normally head out to yoga and don't have time right after work) thinking that I'd take some for lunch later in the week, too. Well, today I left my stir fry on the table. Lunch is not going to be as fun as I was hoping.

So I stir fried away and made these granola bars. I wasn't totally stoked on them initially because as much as I love peanut butter it's not what I'm really looking for in a granola bar. But I gave them a go and they were definitely more successful than last week's attempt. I actually still have a bunch of last week's granola sitting on the counter. I keep meaning to throw it in baggies and into the freezer.

This week I actually made bars. Of course, I didn't read the recipe after it said to put them in the over for 20-25 minutes and cut and removed them from the pan once they'd cooled. I really need to read things through. The one I removed was pretty crumbly although less so than what I'd made the week before. I feel like I'm making progress. After that I checked my recipe and realized that I was supposed to let the bars cool in the fridge for a couple hours before cutting them. So I stuck them back in the fridge and there they remain. They're still kind of crumbly but are in big enough chunks that I can pick them up and eat them with my fingers. Mostly.

They don't really look anything like the picture, but since the recipe is so flexible with what kind of nuts you can use that might be why. I also didn't measure out the fruit or coconut properly so that might have something to do with it. Ounces confuse me and I was too lazy too look up a conversion so I eyeballed the dates and coconut. I think I may have subbed prunes for dates, I'm not really sure. They looked vile but taste great in the bars and that's all I really care about. I also didn't use dried cherries, opting for cranberries in stead. I hate cherries.

So all things considered, I enjoyed the bars but still feel like there's room for improvement. When I think granola bar, I think something that can hold its own shape in a baggie, not something that need to be in  a container and cleaned up with a fork. I'll get there eventually, I'm sure. I'll probably try this recipe again, maybe with almond butter (which is totally new to me, in case you were wondering; I've never tried it in my life) or actual measurements. Like shot glasses for my ounces. Maybe these granola bars just needed more wine. There was a distinct lack of wine in my Monday night baking, now that I think of it.

Once the granola bars were done the stir fry was pretty much done so I stuck it in a giant bowl to cool and put it in the fridge much later. Stir fry really isn't very exciting.

After granola bars came muffins. To be totally honest, every time I've made muffins recently it's been with the same mix I get from Home Sense. It's gluten free and has evaporated cane juice in it. The first time I made them I didn't add anything and they were really lacking. Even with peanut butter on them they didn't seem quite right. I bought them again to prove to myself I could make them better and, sure enough, I worked some serious muffin magic. Half were raisin, half were dark chocolate chip, and they all had some cinnamon and nutmeg in them. Night and day, I'm telling you.

Monday night was the third time I gave them a go. I basically mimicked the time before but was too lazy to make the raisin ones Karl had requested before. Since I hadn't been explicitly asked to make him raisin muffins again, I figured I'd go all out. Instead of just adding cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate chips, I also added a fair amount of cocoa powder to make them double chocolate. They were a fair bit thicker and wound up looking a bit like poop (coils and all) once they were cooked but tasted fine. I was impressed.

When I bought the mix after work it was the last one in the store. I was hoping to buy a couple because I love the simplicity of it all. At $7 a bag I think they're a little pricey but if I was making them from specialty ingredients I'd probably be looking at around the same price range. It's just so nice to be able to make something so quickly! Besides, it makes it so that I can do more baking than I otherwise might.

Because I'm clearly a glutton for punishment and baked goods I also made myself a solitary cookie for dinner. More or less. Initially planning to relax with my cookie and a glass of wine I wound up with a big glass of milk instead. Call me a traditionalist.

Ever since I last made the single cookie recipe delicious by modifying the heck out of it I decided to try and modify the crap out of it too. Confused? I have almond flour and coconut flour in my cupboards as well as stevia, xylitol, and erythritol, all alternative sweeteners. I figured why not try to make a gluten free, sugar free cookie (minus the dark chocolate chips, naturally)?

So I did! I used almond flour because I'd just run out of coconut and have read that coconut is super dry and needs eggs to keep it together. Since my recipe didn't call for eggs I figured why not just go all out there and use my crazy expensive almond flour? I used stevia instead of sugar out of sheer curiosity. I've heard that it doesn't have a great after taste and really wanted to be able to identify what that was. I'm just so curious!

Once all the ingredients were together I found that my cookie was a lot smaller than usual. I think almond flour is finer than the regular stuff and, of course, I was missing two tablespoons of sugar so things were slightly more compacted. I didn't want to rip myself off, though, and as it was almost 9 pm I was ready for a hefty cookie, so I added in some quick oats to beef it up a bit. I was not disappointed.

The resulting cookie was totally fine. A little more stevia might have been a good idea but other than that it was perfect. There was no strange after taste, no weird textures, and it really did go down so nicely with my big glass of milk.

Monday night success!


  1. FYI, there are fluid ounces and there are weight ounces. It might be a little silly to measure a couple ounces of prunes in a shot glass :P

  2. I know, right? Between the fluid ounces and the weight ounces I'm never sure what they're going for so I don't even bother. And if I was a really serious cooker I'd bust out the shot glasses. Not silly at all so long as no one's watching.


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