Make it from Scratch: Homemade Lara Bars

Cherry Pie Bars
1 c. (160g) dried, unsweetened cherries
1/4 c. (40g) dried, unsweetened dates
1/3 c. warm water (for soaking fruit)
1 c. (120g) almonds
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

Sunshine Bars
1 c. (160g) dried, unsweetened pineapple
1/3 c. warm water (for soaking fruit)
1 c. (120g) cashews
1/4 c. (20g) unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
dash salt

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars
1 c. (160g) raisins
1/4 c. warm water (for soaking fruit)
3/4 c. (60g) oatmeal (not quick-cook)
3/4 c. (90g) cashews
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

Blueberry Muffin Bars
1 c. (160g) dried, unsweetened blueberries
1/4 c. (40g) dried, unsweetened dates
1/3 c. warm water (for soaking fruit)
1/2 c. (40g) oatmeal (not quick-cook)
3/4 c. (90g) almonds
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

Chocolate Craving Bars
1 c. (160g) dried, unsweetened dates
1/3 c. warm water (for soaking fruit)
1 c. (120g) almonds
2 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1/4 c. (50g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

Soak the dried fruit in warm water for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather remaining ingredients and pour into a food processor. Drain the fruit and add to the food processor. Process for 30 – 60 seconds or until the mixture sticks together when pinched with your fingers. Pour into a loaf pan and press firmly into bars with a spatula. Chill for 10 minutes and then cut into 6 bars. Store refrigerated for up to two weeks.

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

260g (2 c.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
175g (heaping 1 c.) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
65g (1/2 c.) chopped nuts, toasted (optional)

175g (3/4 c.) unsalted butter
150g (2/3 c.) brown sugar
70g (1/3 c.) sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Add chocolate and nuts and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together both sugars and set aside.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and using a heatproof spatula, pour the browned butter into the large bowl with sugars.

Whisk butter and sugars until combined. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand 5 minutes, then whisk again for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny like a caramel, and is cool to the touch.

Pour in the flour mixture and chocolate and nuts all at once, and stir until just combined.

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out the cookie dough and tap into your hand. Roll the dough into a ball and then break each ball in half (like cracking open an egg) with both hands, and place each half onto a cookie sheet with its jagged side up. Bake 10-12 minutes, until they are golden brown and still puffy, and the edges have begun to set, but the centers are still soft. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Makes ~ 18 cookies.

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.

Sauteed Kale with Balsamic and Bacon

2 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 c. (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb. kale, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large skillet or saucepan, over medium heat, cook bacon and set aside, keeping the drippings in the pan. Add diced shallot and garlic and cook til done, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and chicken broth, and bring to boil. Dice bacon and return to the pan. Add kale and toss to coat, adding more broth if needed. Cover and cook for 5 mins, until kale is bright green and tender, tossing often with liquid. Serves 3-4. Or one of a veggie freak like me :)

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.

Bourbon Gingersnap Ham (Alton Brown's City Ham)

1 city style (brined) ham, hock end*
1/4 c. brown mustard
2 c. dark brown sugar
1 oz. bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
2 c. crushed ginger snap cookies

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you're using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you've made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don't worry too much about precision here.)

Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F.

Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean paint brush (clean as in never-touched paint). Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.

Insert the thermometer (don't use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.

Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.

*Cook's note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that's packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked "ready to cook", "partially cooked" or "ready to serve". Better city hams are also labeled "ham in natural juices".

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk honey, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper until combined. Then, whisk in balsamic vinegar. Gradually drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Store in a glass jar with lid. Keeps indefinitely in the fridge. Makes approximately 12 oz.

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.

Irish Grandmother's Shepherd's Pie

8 red potatoes, peeled
2 Tbsp. butter

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. grated carrots
7 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
6 oz. Guinness, extra-stout
3 Tbps. brown gravy mix, dissolved in 1/2 c. hot water
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper, to taste

Add potatoes to large pot of boiling water, and keep at a low boil until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain well and set aside in a large bowl.  Add butter to potatoes and allow to melt while you assemble the remaining ingredients.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat, until cooked through.  Add carrots, tomatoes, and parsley, and cook until carrots and parsley are softened, stirring often.  Add Guinness, gravy, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking and stirring often until thickened.  If mixture is soupy, add flour - a tablespoon at a time - to thicken.  Pour mixture into a 2-quart oven safe dish.

Using a potato masher or an electric mixer, whip potatoes and butter until creamy and fluffy.  Drop by spoonfuls onto the meat mixture in the dish.  Use a fork to drag the potatoes to the edges and to smooth the top, so that it covers all of the meat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Then broil for 5-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden, watching carefully so as not to burn.

* Note: Bo's mom didn't measure anything when she made this recipe (it feels more authentic that way anyway, right?), so we hashed out what the measurements would be for the ingredients above. So, make this as-is and then play around with the amounts as you like.

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.

Berry Almond Layer Cake for Pups!

1 3/4 c. (210g) almond meal
2 Tbsp. (42g) honey
3 Tbsp. (42g) coconut oil
3 eggs
1/3 c. (40g) blueberries or strawberries
approx. 1/2 c. (128g) natural peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat two 5" or 6" round cake pans with cooking spray.

Heat honey and coconut oil together in a small dish until coconut oil has melted.  Pour into a medium bowl with almond meal, eggs, and blueberries, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until cakes pass the toothpick test.  Allow to cool before assembling and frosting with peanut butter.

This printable recipe from A Teaspoon and A Pinch.