Category Archives: Snacks

Chewy Cherry Coconut Granola Bars

chewy cherry coconut granola bars

Let’s talk about weaknesses. Not to sound like a job interview, but I think it’s important to own up to what we struggle with. I’ll go first.

Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m bad with measurements, math, and grey areas.

Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

cherry coconut granola bar cut

Measurements: I cannot eyeball anything to save my life. I boil water for pasta and it takes 20 minutes because I completely fill the pot just to make SURE I have enough water. If I don’t do this, I never have enough water. Girl can’t win.

Math: I hesitate to even share this, but when I go to a restaurant, I take a long pause before filling out tip and calculating the total on my dinner tab. Sometimes I pretend I’m just having trouble deciding what percentage to tip. I’ll ask my dining mate, “How much are you tipping? 15%? 20%? I guess the server was pretty nice…” just to buy myself a bit more precious time. Once it’s all said and done, I sometimes need to cross things out and start again. As a reminder, I’m almost 27.

Grey Areas: Herein lies the heart of my personality. When I like things, I LOVE them, and when I dislike things, I despise them. For instance, it’s well known among my friends that purple is my favorite color. This is general knowledge not because I talk about it regularly, but because all the accessories I own are purple. In college I would literally walk down the hallway with a purple shirt, purple scarf, and purple backpack, holding my purple phone, without even realizing/caring how ridiculous I looked. Another recent lack of grey area can be seen in my newfound love for Revenge. Once I started watching it, I pretty much only stopped for sleep and work. I even watched it at the gym on my phone. This is my life.

cherry coconut granola bar stack single

As I’ve hinted before, my food phases echo this black and white thinking as well. For instance, I’ve made a variation of this granola every week since I posted that recipe. I eat it for breakfast, I eat it for a snack, I think about it when it’s not around. This past Sunday, things got real when I found myself making both granola and granola bars within the span of four hours.

cherry coconut granola bar sauce

I argue that I had a completely legit excuse, of course. The boy’s weakness is remembering to eat food, which is pretty ironic since he’s with me, and I eat all the time. I’ll come home and ask what he’s feeling like for dinner, and his response will be, “Oh yeah, I am kind of hungry. I haven’t eaten anything today.” What? How? Why?

cherry coconut granola bar before baking

I figured I’d make eating as easy as possible by providing a quick snack option. With these granola bars, he needs to only see the tupperware (which I’ve placed in the middle of the kitchen counter for easy access), open the lid, lift the bar to his mouth, and eat it. He may call me a hippie for my granola obsession, but at least I’m a persistent one.

cherry coconut granola bars

Aaaand fine maybe I wanted a new afternoon snack for this week. These granola bars combine all of my current obsessions: oats, almonds, almond butter, coconut, and dried cherries. It took all my strength and self-discipline to leave out the white chocolate chips I had just purchased, but I did it, and it turns out they weren’t even necessary. These are sweet, chewy, and have a bit of a tart punch from the cherries. I also love the THICKNESS of these bars. None of those willy nilly itty bitty bars for me. No thanks. If it’s 3pm snack time, or if I just have a hankering for oats, which has happened a lot lately, this right here is exactly what I want.

cherry coconut granola bar stack vert

I ate one while I took pictures, I ate one yesterday a half hour before lunch to avoid the angry hunger effect, and I ate one for dessert last night after an absurdly huge falafel sandwich. I also have one sitting in my desk drawer just in case the craving hits. Always prepared.

Now the real question: Has the boy embraced granola bars as a potential daytime snack? Like, before we eat dinner at 8pm? Yes! He even said I should make more (MORE) for his next deer camp trip because he needs quick food for when he’s up in a deer stand all day. Look at him planning ahead with food. I’m so proud.
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No-Knead Whole Wheat Pretzel Rolls

whole wheat pretzel rolls

I have a bit of an obsession with pretzel rolls. As in, it’s borderline embarrassing. One summer when I lived with my parents, we used to frequent a restaurant that had a different type of bread basket every day of the week. Each time I set foot in those doors I wished and hoped and dreamed that it would be pretzel roll day. In fact, as soon as we sat down my dad would immediately say to the server, “Well, we know what Katie’s thinking…do you have pretzel rolls today?”

This conversation would be fine if I was referring to me at the age of 10 or younger, but nope, I was 18 when this started happening. Yes, I was a college student, home for the summer, so obsessed with pretzel rolls that her dad asked if they were available as soon as we were seated.

My fascination with the salty, airy rolls has only grown since then. I see pretzel rolls on a menu, I do an internal victory dance. I see pretzel rolls at the grocery store, and they’re immediately in my cart, without any memory of me even placing them there. Sadly, the grocery-store variety has failed to meet my high pretzel roll standards. After two recent disappointing purchases of spongey white bread with a misleadingly darker crust yet NO actual pretzel flavor, I decided to make my own pretzel roll dreams come true. Sure, I saw the danger in this choice, since I lack self control where pretzel rolls are concerned. For this reason, I chose to make them with whole wheat flour. Balance, baby. Salty, yeasty, chewy balance.
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Peanut Butter Nutella Granola

peanut butter nutella granola

I’ve mentioned before that I go through ridiculous food phases. For instance, in high school I would eat an Asiago bagel with plain cream cheese for lunch every day. And I mean literally every day. For the past two years, my phases have been concentrated on breakfast; Until recently, I’ve eaten old-fashioned oats with almond butter and honey every single morning. I’d bring it to work, I’d eat it on the weekends, I’d feel sad when I went out to brunch instead of having my oats at home. It was kind of sick, really.

The thing about these phases is that when they stop, they STOP , and are replaced with an aversion. In an instant I’ll be left without a go-to meal.

After my almond butter oatmeal phase abruptly ended, I was left scrambling for my next big breakfast thing. Enter Greek yogurt, fruit, and granola. Simple? yes. Expensive? ugh, yes. Greek yogurt is already twice as expensive as regular yogurt (because they need to use twice the milk), fruit is never cheap (especially if you try to buy organic), but granola? Why does granola think it should be so expensive? Get off your high granola horse.

Since my food phases are long-running and borderline obsessive, I knew I needed to cut the cost of at least one of the three elements of my new breakfast equation. So, here it goes…

Dear expensive boxed granola: You’re too into yourself. We’re done.

Dear Homemade Peanut Butter Nutella Granola: This is the start of something real and lasting. Can’t you feel it?

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MN State Fair Fried (Baked) Pickles

Minnesota state fair fried oven baked pickles stack 2

When I was a kid, August brought with it a wave of conflicting emotions. The excitement of an annual family beach vacation was offset by the paralyzing fear of returning to school, yet there was always one aspect of August that tilted my mood ever-so-slightly in the positive direction: The Minnesota State Fair.

While I was growing up, my family would go to the fair at least twice, but usually three times each year. Sure, us kids loved it, but the multiple journeys were mostly because of my mom. She grew up near the fair, and still transforms into a giddy kid as soon as she walks in the gates. This giddy kid then leads our hungry family from food stand to food stand, trying what’s new but mostly running to our tried-and-true favorites: cheese curds, mini donuts, and fried pickles.

If you’re not a Minnesotan, you may think, “It’s a fair, big deal,” but no no no, not so fast. This isn’t just your average fair. It’s an opportunity to observe variety. Variety in food, variety in courage (I mean WHAT are those people in that bungee ball even THINKING?), and variety in people. Oh me-oh-my the people watching is fantastic: The mullets, the puffy 80s bangs, the 60+ woman in a halter top, the fanny packs…it’s just everything you’d ever want to watch while stuffing your face with fried pickles.

Since I can only make it to “The Great Minnesota Get Together” once this year, I thought that I’d try to bring a bit of the fair home. Maybe I couldn’t take the people watching home with me (which is good…things could get weird real fast), but I could try my hand at homemade fried pickles. When I say “fried” I mean baked, because deep-fried pickles should probably be limited to once, twice, or three times a year, but breaded and baked pickles should be just 20 minutes away year-round, right?

…right?

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Club Cracker ‘Who-Done-It’ Toffee

Chocolate peanut butter toffee 5

I love digging into a good book, or at least a “good book” by my standards (more on that later), but sleep tends to get in the way. I come by it honestly; when I lived with my parents I remember walking by their room at night and seeing my dad with his mouth open, his lamp still on, and snoring loudly with an open book sprawled on his face. Obviously I fall asleep in a much more refined, ladylike fashion than that description (totally), but the point remains the same: it takes me a while to finish books.

For my mom, the line never seems to blur between reading and sleeping, possibly because of the books she chooses. While I go for what we will kindly call “popular fiction,” aka Harry Potter, Twilight, and more recently, Fifty Shades of Grey, my mom loves the who-done-it, murder and mayhem types that I can’t read because I scare easy. A few summers ago, we were sitting outside when I looked over and saw my mom reading, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Between hearty laughs, I asked my mom what in the world she was holding. A recipe book? A murder mystery? A joke?

After my mom made a recipe from the mystery book, my sarcasm and mockery fell down to my foot, which I promptly stuck in my mouth. The book may not be my cup of tea as far as genres go, but man oh man, the author makes a mean toffee.
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Baked Cream Cheese Jalapeno Wontons

Cream Cheese Jalepeno Wonton

When all my siblings were still living at home, Chinese takeout night happened every now and then…and by that I mean like once a week. We’d devour our absurdly huge mounds of food, possibly watch a movie or play a game, and then wrap up the evening with a little brother-sister-sister argument over who would get the final wonton after the other eleven were gone (yes, we bought two orders of six…every time). Now that I’m a refined adult (yeah, that) wontons have sadly gone all-but missing from my life. Until recently, that is, when the boy and I found ourselves at a restaurant that served jalapeno cream cheese wontons. In all my childhood wonton-consuming years, I had never thought about mixing anything with that smooth dollop of cheese. I mean, that’s just crazy. Crazy brilliant, of course.

My memory of these jalapeno wontons lovingly remains in the back of my mind always, but this week it catapulted to the front when the boy asked if we could make them for dinner. At those words, I magically appeared in a grocery store with cream cheese, wonton wrappers, and jalapenos in my cart, and ambition in my soul.

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