Thursday, October 22, 2009

Catching Up: Granola Bars, Fig Cookies, and Acorn Squash

While I slacked off on updating this blog over the last few weeks, I must admit that my intentions were good. So good, in fact, that I have plenty of photo documentation of my food projects of late that I'd like to share. Check out a quick run-through of recipes and photos from October thus far:

Granola Bars from The Kitchn

Fruit and Nut Bars
Makes 8 bars

1/2 cup whole nuts - almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc.
1/2 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped - cranberries, cherries, figs, etc.
1 cup high-fiber cereal (like Kashi GoLean)
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons wheat bran (Didn't have this so I used a bit of wheat flour instead)
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare an 8x8-inch pan with oil or non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange the nuts on a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Allow them to cool and then give them a rough chop. Combine the chopped nuts, dried fruit, and cereals in a heat-proof bowl. Use your fingers to separate the fruit if it clumps together.

Reduce oven temperature to 300-degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and honey in a medium sauce pan and stir to moisten the brown sugar. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, swirling the pan once or twice to make sure all the ingredients combine. As soon as the sugar mixture comes to a full boil and the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat. This should take about 5 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in the vanilla, wheat bran, and salt. Be careful because the sugar will bubble up. Immediately pour sugar syrup over the cereal mixture and use a heat-proof spatula to stir everything together. Make sure the nuts, fruits, and cereals are evenly coated. Pour the cereal mixture into the pan and use the spatula or wet fingers to press the mixture into the pan as firmly as possible.

Bake 20 minutes for chewy bars or up to 30 minutes for crispier bars. Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. Turn out onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to divide into 8 bars.

Fig Cookies
(Makes about 4 dozen)

1 cup chopped figs (about 1/2 lb)
1/3 cup water
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook figs with water, stirring frequently, until thickened (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Blend well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into the creamed mixture. Stir in the cooled figs. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake 375 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks.

Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinagrette from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 4 servings.

2 (1 1/2 – to 1 3/4-lb) acorn squash
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red chile, including seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Halve squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends. Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Toss squash with black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in 2 large shallow baking pans. Roast squash, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

While squash roasts, mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile (to taste), cilantro, and remaining 1/4 cup oil until combined.

Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.

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