Friendly Food Snobs

sweets

mango coconut almond granola

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I love to shop for food. Fruits and vegetables. Salt. Wine. Cheese. Meat. If we are travelling and I spy a spice store I will run to it.

This week I was shopping at my local health food store Evergreen. I was about to throw a box of granola in my cart when I glanced at the price, and then the price of a bag of organic rolled oats. Show’s over. Time to try making granola.

One bite of this and I was a convert. Except for the dried mango, I had all the other ingredients in my pantry. Great tossed over plain yogurt. Or eaten by the handful. You could easily swap out the mango for some raisins or any dried fruit you have on hand.

mango coconut almond granola

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cup rolled oats
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup unsalted sunflower seeds (optional)
½ cup unsalted pepita seeds (optional)
¾ cup shredded coconut
½ cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 – 1/2 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you prefer)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt + tiny pinch nutmeg
1 cup chopped dried mango

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except for the mango. Tumble onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet or large glass baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Stirring every 10 minutes to ensure it browns evenly. In the last 5 minutes add the dried mango. Let granola cool for at least at hour before packaging. The texture crunches up as it cools. Store in airtight container for 10 days or freezes well.

Chocolate and salted caramel pecan squares

salted-caramel-chocolate-pecan-squaressalted-caramel-chocolate-pecan-squares

If you don’t like chocolate and caramel, just stop reading right now.

These squares are the stuff dreams are made of. Salted caramel swirled with chocolate spotted with pecans on a shortbread crust. You’ll curse me for this recipe.  Their saving grace – they freeze perfectly.

Chocolate and salted caramel pecan squares

Ingredients:
Shortbread base
1/2 cup soft butter (1 stick)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch salt

Caramel filling
2 cups whole or halved pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk (I always use the latter as it’s a pantry staple around here)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 or 1 teaspoon salt depending on how salted you like (I prefer 1 teaspoon)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil. Spray lightly or very lightly butter.

Combine all crust ingredients and using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut butter into dry ingredients until small lumps form.

Press mixture into pan and pack down firmly.

Evenly sprinkle the pecans on top as well as the chocolate chips.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, cream, and heat on high for 1 minute to melt. (You can also do this in a saucepan over medium heat) Once warm, whisk until mixture is smooth. Then return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 minute on high power. Truth, I rarely use our microwave at all, but I do for this recipe.

Remove bowl from heat source and whisk until mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and salt.

Evenly pour that caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans. You’ll want to lick the bowl here and just do it. Totally worth it.

Bake in the middle of oven for 30 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling.

Here’s where the magic happens – you must let the squares cool and set for at least 3 hours. I often make these at night, and let them cool for an hour, then wrap well and store in fridge overnight. In the morning lift out of the pan using that clever foil and then slice with a sharp knife. These are decadent so I like to cut squares quite small. They freeze well for up to four months.

Sweet + Salty Roasted Cocktail Nuts

sweet-salty-roasted-cocktail-nuts-1sweet-salty-roasted-cocktail-nuts-1

The recipe was inspired by perfect cocktail nuts I ate watching the sun go down on a surfing trip to San Jose del Cabo. [Sidebar: Cabo is a gorgeous and special place to visit if you can. I used to live in BC before calling Toronto home, and all the sailing and surfing and delicious food reminds me of that peaceful west coast way of life].

The best place to eat is a little farm to table oasis in the dessert called Flora Farms. Neil and I told each other stories, sipped California wine and hibiscus martinis while waiting for our table and inhaled munched on these cocktail nuts. Sweet and smoky and salty. They are divine.

When suitcases were long unpacked back in Toronto I began dreaming of these nuts. . Recipes from travels are some of my favourites because they evoke great memories.

sweet + salty roasted cocktail nuts

Ingredients:
3 cups of nuts (1 cup each unsalted almonds, cashews, pepita seeds)
½ cup maple syrup
½ tablespoon fleur de sel
¼ tsp each chipotle powder and chili powder (less chili if you don’t like spice at all, but these really aren’t too spicy)
a few turns fresh ground black pepper

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix everything together. It’s sticky business and I find it easiest to use a spatula and stainless steel bowl. Tumble onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 mins just until cashews start to brown. Give the pan a shake and stir halfway through. Let cool on the pan. If stuck together, break up to form delicious little clusters. Highly addictive with a cold drink in hand. Store sealed in a container for up to two weeks. Taste even better the second day.

coconut peanut butter protein balls

coconut peanut butter protein balls
Coconut Peanut Butter Power Balls
Coconut Peanut Butter Power Balls

Small, raw and delicious. These little balls are packed with goodness, flavour and protein. I like to store them in the freezer to nibble on when craving something sweet. 15 minutes to make from start to finish…the hardest part is waiting for them to set in the fridge or freezer. These are a staple made at least twice a month in our house. Hope you like them as much as we do.

coconut peanut butter protein balls

Ingredients:
6 medjool dates chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
pinch sea salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or omit to make less sweet)
3 heaping tablespoons peanut butter or any nut butter
1 heaping tablespoon goji berries
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut for rolling

Combine everything in a bowl. Wet your hands and form small balls. Roll in the shredded coconut. Let set in the fridge or freezer for 1 hour before eating. Makes 12.

 

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