Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back to the rest of life...

I actually had time (or rather made time) to do some baking and cooking yesterday. We're trying to make the most of our grocery budget (and reduce it) so I dug through my recipes and the freezer and came up with: 1) Oatmeal fruit bars and 2) Baked extra lean italian meatballs.
Both used ingredients we already had, and are produce quick snacks and/or meals.

The oatmeal fruit bars are really easy. Here is the recipe:

Chewy Granola Bars

4 1/2 Cups rolled oats
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Cups mixed dried fruit, nuts and/or chocolate chips (I used apricots, cranberries and raisins).

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
2) In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in th 2 cups of mixed dried fruit.
3) Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

I wrap these individually and put them in the freezer (if they get that far!), to grab for a quick snack or to take in lunches. The best thing is, if you put in too much oatmeal, or overcook it, and it's crumbly, it makes great granola.

The thought of the meatballs, because I had a lot of extra lean ground beef to use up, and when we were in MA, we used to buy bags of frozen ones to add to different things (pizza, pasta, etc). I made them with the ground beef, chopped fresh parsley, pressed garlic, oregano, basil, kosher salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and (I know this is weird) some shake and bake. I used the shake and bake once for a recipe for burgers, becuase I couldn't find seasoned bread crumbs, and it really works well. They turned out SO good! Yummy.

It was VERY refreshing to spend some time in the kitchen. It has been way to long since I've done some baking or cooking, and way to much time eating convenience food.

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