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Apple butter oat bars

As promised, I present to you the recipe for these amazing little apple butter oat bars I made in my frazzled cooking bender yesterday.

Apple butter oat bars

It sounds like I’m not the only one around here that is craving the flavors of fall already. I’m desperately longing for pumpkin butter, warm applesauce, baked apples, kabocha squash, hot cider, and all the other delicious foods we only get to eat around the winter holidays.

I made these same bars last week in another cooking frenzy but with strawberry jam and almonds instead. They were definitely yummy, but I’m just so over all the bouncy summer berries and very ready to break into the firmer fall fruits. Biting into one of these made me feel like I was wearing a fuzzy sweater and snowed in on the couch with a big warm blanket and a cup of hot tea.

Apple butter oat bars stack

Apple butter oat bars

This quick and simple dessert or snack is not too sweet and features the warm flavors of cinnamon and apples.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter (room temp.)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup apple butter

Cooking Directions

  1. Cream together butter and sugars in a mixer.
  2. Add egg and mix to combine.
  3. Whisk together flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.
  4. Add dry mix to wet in three parts, mixing gently between each addition.
  5. Fold in oats by hand and divide mixture into two equal parts
  6. Press half the dough into a buttered and floured 9x9 baking pan and top with the apple butter.
  7. Pinch off small pieces of the remaining dough and dot all over the top making sure to get all the way around the edges.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.
  9. Let cool in pan, turn out onto a cutting surface, and cut into bars.

These aren’t too heavy on the butter and sugar either. It wouldn’t be naughty for you to pop one or two for breakfast, with a rich cup of coffee or herbal tea. Just enough sweetness for a morning pastry.

Apple butter oat bars

I intended on sending half of these to work with Jeff to keep me from eating all of them, but I don’t think I can part with them!

What foods do you most closely associate with fall?

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Toasted seaweed and brown rice onigiri

Onigiri are the quintessential Japanese snack food. In essence, they’re little more than compressed rice, but with the addition of spices and other mix-ins they can become exciting in their endless permutations.

Row of onigiri

These are great to make with leftover rice from a meal to avoid waste, or you can do what I did and make a whole batch just for snacking. :)

First, you need rice. I made 2 cups of brown rice using a rice cooker. If you’re not using a rice cooker, I would suggest using this sushi rice recipe. Since this is brown rice instead of the white rice used in the recipe, soak the rice first for an hour and then cook it for an hour.

I put the rice in a wide baking dish to cool off while I applied a seasoning of salt, mirin, and rice vinegar. Then I added the seaweed on top.

Mixing seaweed into brown riceSeaweed brown rice

I used a mixture of 4 things in this seaweed seasoning: dried arame, dulse, nori-kome furikake, and black sesame seeds.

arame, dulse, furikake, black sesame

Make sure to soak the arame until pliable, at least 15 minutes. Then just mix it all in evenly and get ready to mold the rice into tight little triangles!

Run your hands under the faucet to get them soaking wet. This will keep the rice from sticking to your hands. Scoop up a full handful of rice and compress it into a ball. Don’t give it your worst death grip, just press enough to keep it together.

Now the fun part. With the ball of rice in your left palm, cup it so that your fingers and palm make the flat sides or “faces” of the triangle while forming your right hand into a peak shape to make the top of the triangle.

Form hand into triangle

Press all over in this position, then rotate and press again. Once more and you should have the signature triangle onigiri shape!

Press into triangleTurn and press again

Now that you have all of your onigiri formed, you can choose to eat them as-is or toast them like I did. Lightly spray a non-stick pan with a flavorless oil such as canola and add the onigiri.

Toast onigiri

Flip them once they get to a golden brown, about five minutes on each side. Not too much longer than that or they’ll get a crust on them that’s hard as a rock.

Toasted onigiri

That’s all there is to it. You can store these in the refrigerator for a very long time, just keep them covered to keep them from drying out. They make great additions to school lunch boxes and are a tasty vegetarian sushi alternative.

Onigiri textureSeaweed and brown rice onigiri

You can put any seasonings you want in these. If seaweed is not your thing, try flaked salmon or crumbled bits of hard boiled egg. Throw in leftover used tea leaves or eat them completely plain, dipped delicately in soy sauce.

Toasted seaweed and brown rice onigiri

A healthy snack of brown rice seasoned with seaweeds.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. nori-kome furikake
  • 1 tbsp. dried dulse flakes
  • 1 handful crushed and soaked arame seaweed

Cooking Directions

  1. Cook brown rice in rice cooker or on stovetop.
  2. Mix together salt, rice vinegar, and mirin. Pour over hot rice and toss to coat.
  3. Add in soaked arame, dulse, furikake, and black sesame. Toss to combine.
  4. With soaking wet hands, pick up a handful of rice in your left hand. Form your right hand into a peak shape and press on top while pressing on the sides with your left hand. Rotate 2 times to form a triangle.
  5. If desired, toast the onigiri in a lightly oiled pan until lightly browned on both sides.

Onigiri bite

Delicious and healthy!

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Bar Exam: Odwalla Sweet & salty almond

I was a little nervous to buy this Odwalla bar because I’ve had one of their bars before that I was not a fan of. This one though was from their line of “chewy nut bars” that I hadn’t heard of, so I figured I could give Odwalla one more shot.

I will however, continue to be totally creeped out by Odwalla’s weird bird mascot. He looks like a soulless man-eating daggar-beaked pterodactyl sent straight from hell to poke my eyes out. ┬áSeriously, look at how recklessly he rides that bike downhill with those face protrusions pointed straight toward certain calamity! Think of the children! ­čśë

Odwalla sweet & salty almond bar

I couldn’t get a good shot of the ingredients or nutritional information because the font was white on an orange background, very hard to read.

It has 220 calories, perfect for a satisfying snack. Only 8 grams of sugar in this one which is fantastic. I’m pretty happy with the size of this bar too, it really fills up every inch of the packaging it comes in so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Odwalla sweet & salty almond unwrapped

Appearance: As you can see, there are tons of whole oats and large pieces of almond all glued together with a shiny golden lacquer.

Odwalla sweet & salty almond side

Texture: You’d think it would be crunchy with the candy-like coating and huge almond pieces, but it is actually chewy as advertised. It’s flexible and bendy and not too sticky in your hand.

Odwalla sweet & salty almond bite

Taste: If I had to describe this flavor in one word I would choose “golden.” It has a buttery, honeyed, freshly baked sweet dinner roll kind of flavor. It reminds me a lot of caramel popcorn with it’s balance of sweet and salty. The almonds are roasted and flavorful and taste like those hot candied almonds you can buy at fairs. Incredible.

Odwalla sweet & salty almond close-up

Overall, I am so impressed with this bar. It tastes pretty sinful for being full of such wholesome ingredients. This is one I’m sure I’ll buy again, especially since Odwalla bars are very affordable.

Do you prefer chewy or crunchy bars?