Counter Action: Banana–maple granola

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Yes, it’s still Sugar-Free January.

Yes, I know maple sugar is technically a sugar. My dad’s a diabetic, and people are forever coming up to him at church potlucks and saying, “I know you’re diabetic, so I made these cookies especially for you. They have no sugar, just maple syrup.”

Pro tip? Don’t be that person. Google is your friend.

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Further pro tip: Do be the kind of person who thinks ahead in December, and specifically resolves to give up all refined sugars in January except for maple syrup.

See, I’m taking care of you. We all need a little diet-cheating now and again, and if that cheat is all-natural and comes from a tree, all the better.

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This was the break room today — arrgh, so tempting.

This granola will make your house small aaahhh-mazing. It’ll make your boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) nose twitch and heart soften. You’ll sit down to hot bowls of granola, straight out of the oven, and wonder how you both got so lucky.

Granola: It’s what’s for dinner.

Banana–maple granola

(Modified for Sugar-Free January from Minimalist Baker)

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick kind)
  • 1 c. chopped nuts (whatever you have on hand; I used a mix of walnuts and pecans, but sunflower seeds or honey-roasted peanuts would be nifty too)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 overripe banana, smashed

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Turn out onto baking sheet (lined with parchment paper if you’re like me and don’t like doing the dishes). Spread evenly over baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F 25–30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring once or twice to break up clumps. (Unless you like clumps. Clumps can be good too.)
  4. Serve straight out of the oven with milk and fruit, or room-temperature with the same. Enjoy!
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Counter Action: Taco tater-tot casserole

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There are some recipes that are all fancy and pretty and lovely. Those are the recipes you trot out for birthdays and baby showers and in-laws. Things like cherry–almond muffins, and grapefruit–olive oil tarts, and chocolate–tahini challah buns.

Wait. Why are all of my examples sweet things?

Dang Sugar-Free January. It’s got me all muddled up. Last week I ate a freakin’ banana and it was almost too sweet for me.

A banana. I know. Send help.

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“Ba-na-naaa …”

This taco tater-tot casserole is not pretty, but boy howdy, is it yummy. In fact, those are the two reasons I never got a picture of it: I couldn’t figure out a way to pretty it up, and a whole 9″x13″ pan disappeared in about two days.

I know. I have a problem. But when it’s a cheesy, meaty, spicy, filling, hot-dish problem … that’s a problem I can handle.

So, no picture today. And no written recipe, either, since I wouldn’t add a thing to the original. Instead, please enjoy the very pretty picture above of Castelmezzano, Italy, and then go on over to The Girl Who Ate Everything and check out the original recipe for taco tater-tot casserole.


Image credit: Castelmezzano from 12019 and minion from Alexas_Fotos, both on Pixabay.

Counter Action: Pomegranate–chocolate pie

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Do you ever think of something, get excited by how innovative it seems, and then learn that it’s been done before?

I remember learning about McCarthyism in middle school, and realizing with glorious excitement how similar it was to the hysteria surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. Someone should write a book about that, I thought immediately. Someone should write a book with those two historical events in parallel. You can imagine my frustration when I discovered, some years later, that a brash young upstart named Arthur Miller had already done that.

Similarly, a few years after that, I was delighted to find out how deliciously pomegranate seeds paired with dark chocolate. I have discovered something amazing, I thought. I have discovered a bold new flavor combo that no one has ever tried before.

Oh, the insolence of youth. Not only was I not the first one to try this, but Trader Joe’s, I quickly found out, had already released a pomegranate chocolate bar.

But no matter. Just because something has been done before doesn’t mean we can’t try to improve upon it, right? That’s what I attempted to do with this pie. The slight tartness of the filling … the mouthfeel of the whipped cream … the sweet saltiness of the chocolate crust … if you’re looking for a bold dessert to bring to a party, I’ve got just the thing.

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Pomegranate–chocolate pie

Ingredients:

  • Pre-made 9-inch Oreo cookie pie crust
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice
  • Whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and/or pomegranate seeds to garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and pomegranate juice. (Would a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder add even more depth of flavor? Try it out and let me know!)
  2. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15–20 minutes, or until the middle of the pie stops jiggling.
  3. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and/or pomegranate seeds. Serve with coffee.