Category Archives: squares/bars

Nut Free (or not) Fruit-Sweetened Granola Bars

My friend asked me about 4 months ago if I knew any recipes for nut-free granola bars.  Since I am so remiss in getting around to whipping some up, I decided to post two delicious nut-free recipes.  In this case, the granola part of the bars needs to be made first as it provides the base for the fruit-sweetened bars.

Which means breakfast time and snack time are both covered!

I do not have much to say about these bars (aside from the fact that they are delicious!) other than they can be nut-free or not.  I did decide to add almonds for EPC and I, but a mix of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds would work just as well.

They are chewy, reminiscent of a Lara Bar, but with less structural integrity.  In response, I wrapped each bar separately and stored them in the fridge.

Oh yeah, they can also be made to suit vegans and Celiacs alike!

Seed and Dried Fruit Granola
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

6 cups of rolled oats (not quick oats) (for gluten-free use Only Oats rolled oats)
3/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of poppy seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of honey (substitute maple syrup for vegan granola)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
1 cup of  dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped apricots, and tart cherries

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F
  • Heat a large pot over medium low heat.  Add the oats and stir until fragrant, about 5 minutes
  • Add the seed mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Pour the roasted oats and seeds into a large (9X13) casserole dish and add the cinnamon, oil, honey and maple syrup.  Stir well to mix
  • Take 1/3 of the mixture and spread out on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (this step is optional, but it produces a more crunchy and darker granola which offers a nice contrast to the lighter cooked granola in the casserole)
  • Put the casserole dish and the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes stirring halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven and stir in the fruit.

This makes about 7 cups of granola.  When cool, store in an airtight container.

Fruit-Sweetened Granola Bars
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 1/2 cup of mixed dried fruit.  I used about equal amounts of raisins, apricots, and apples
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups of Seed and Dried Fruit Granola
1 cups of seeds or nuts of your choice. I used almonds.

  • Add granola and seeds or nuts to a large bowl
  • Put the dried fruit mixture, oil and water into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Scrape the fruit mixture in a small pot and warm on the stove top.   When hot pour over the granola mixture and stir well to coat.
  • Line a 8 x 8 square pan with cling wrap and press the mixture into the pan.
  • Cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours until firm and slice into 12-16 bars.

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Better than good! Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

It was cold this  weekend – alternating between rain, snow, and the barest hint of sun.  In fact, the weather last weekend was rather crummy as well, but I was in Calgary having fun with my best friend, so I didn’t notice.

The cold wet weather made it the perfect weekend to stay indoors and make something delicious.  Trying to  compensate  for the depressing state of affairs outside, I guess.

So, I made some fudge.

Some pretty darn amazing fudge, I might add.

But, it isn’t really fudge, at least not in the true sense of the word. There is no milk or butter to be found, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t chewy, sweet and absolutely delicious.

EPC has named it “The Best Treat of the Year”.

The main ingredients are peanut butter and honey.  A mix of nuts, seeds raisins and coconut plus some carob powder  give this fudge its body and rich taste (I am sure that cocoa would work too).

I found this recipe in Lenten Cookbook: a collection of vegan/vegetarian recipes.  It was put out in 1998 by the Ukrainian Women’s Association Olha Kobylianska Branch from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Since its first printing in 1998, it has been revised and printed four times – undoubtedly a popular cookbook.  I was lucky to get the last one in stock at a local Ukrainian church when a coworker picked one up for me at one of their popular Friday night perogi dinners.

I thought it might be fun to take a look a cookbook that was put out to give church members some vegan and vegetarian options during fasting days.  Without a doubt some of the recipes are a little strange, containing such delights as non-dairy topping and canned tomato soup.  Cool whip is certainly vegan, but YUCK!    And canned tomato soup, well, I hate when recipes ask for a can of any kind of soup to masquerade as a sauce.

Aside from a few questionable recipes, there is a section featuring traditional Ukrainian recipes that contains at least four recipes for borsch, plus recipes for buckwheat Kasha and potato pancakes.

Regardless of how the other recipes turn out, this fudge recipe is worth its weight in gold.

Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

1 cup of natural peanut butter (please don’t use Kraft)
1 cup liquid honey
3/4 cup carob powder
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped cashews (or nut of your choice)
1/2 cup raisins

  • In a saucepan over low heat gently heat, but do not cook, peanut butter and honey until blended
  • Add carob powder and mix well.
  • Stir in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, coconut, chopped cashews and raisins.
  • Line a 9 x 9 cake pan with plastic wrap and fold in mixture.  Press into pan and flatten with a spatula.
  • Chill for 2 hours before slicing.
  • Makes 16 large squares, but I cut them in half.

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Carob Cashew Brownies

They look like chocolate brownies don’t they?

Well, they’re not.

These brownies are made with carob powder instead of chocolate.  Carob is a chocolate substitute and although it does not taste like chocolate, it does give you that familiar sense of chocolate.  I am sure this is not hard to imagine when you take a look at the photo.  I have offered carob chip cookies to my friends and find that their similarity to chocolate chips often means that dissimilarities go unnoticed.  Like chocolate, carob also comes from a seed pod, but rather than coming directly from the seed it comes from the pod itself.

I have been eating carob for years.   The nice thing about carob is that it is caffeine free, is safe for people with chocolate allergies and is also safe for pets.

Not that you are going to go feeding these brownies to your dog.

Another interesting thing about them is that they are oil, dairy and egg-free.  Despite this, they are moist and chewy.  And as my husband says, “they don’t taste like a traditional brownie, but they are delicious”.  He really means it.  He has had a hard time keeping his hands off them.

They are sweetened with concentrated apple juice and honey and kept moist by canned crushed pineapple.  When I saw that the recipe had one cup of pineapple I was reluctant to give them a try.  It seemed like a strange combination, but it works.  The pineapple keeps the brownies moist and chewy without making them taste too “pineappley”.

Again, like the majority of the sweet treats I post on Cookbook Cooks, these brownies make for a healthy snack and are good way to shift from refined sugar and carbohydrate baked goods to something that will satisfy your sweet tooth without putting you into a sugar coma.

Carob Cashew Brownies – from The Shoshoni Cookbook by Anne Saks and Faith Stone

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or 1 cup white flour plus one cup of whole wheat flour
2/3 cup carob powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple juice concentrate
1 cup canned unsweetened crushed pineapple and juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of raw cashew pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 350C
  • Oil a 8 x 12 baking pan
  • In a large mixing bolw combine flour, carob, baking powder and salt.
  • Blend honey, applesauce, juice, pineapple, and vanilla
  • Add dry ingredients to wet and stir in the nuts.
  • Pour into the pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.


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The Sopranos and Lorna Sass: Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping

What a busy weekend!

Last night I did not get a chance to blog about the delicious recipes I made to close out Lorna Sass month, because I was too busy watching season three of  The Sopranos to waste any time blogging.  Ok, I guess that watching TV doesn’t really qualify as busy, but it definitely took up a lot of time!

I am sure that after 12 hours of The Sopranos my world view is a bit skewed, but fortunately my recipe choosing abilities were not harmed.  Actually, it likely has more to do with the fact that I went with a sure thing.  None of Lorna Sass’s recipes have failed me yet.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had ordered Lorna Sass’s Complete Vegetarian Kitchen to augment her collection of pressure cooker recipes in Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure and, well, it arrived on Friday.  Perfect timing.  I would have no trouble squeezing in a recipe from Complete Vegetarian Kitchen before the month’s end.  I decided to go with something a little different and choose the Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping.  It was really delicious, fun to make, and lovely to look at.  The combination of black beans, red peppers, carrots and cilantro beneath a vegan cornbread crust made for a bright and colourful meal.

I cooked up the beans and vegetables in my cast iron skillet, poured the cornbread batter over and threw it in the oven.  It turned out great!  I have made chili topped with cornbread once before, but the cornbread was a bit soggy.  I think the stew-like mixture beneath was too moist for the cornbread to fully cook.  On the other hand, this cornbread was light and fluffy and the smattering of corn kernels throughout the topping was a nice surprise.  To give you some idea of how delicious it was, EPC ate half the pan last night!  I couldn’t believe it.  To say the least, he really enjoyed it.

As you can see, even though I was glued to the TV, this weekend was not a total loss food-wise.  In addition, I took a break from The Sopranos to make stewed apples and strawberries in my pressure cooker.  This recipe on Lorna’s blog inspired me.  I intended making it with just apples, but the strawberries I had bought that morning were not that great, so I figured I would get better use out of them if I added them to the apples.  The strawberry gave the apples a bit of kick and colour, but did not take away from their tartness; the blend of apples and strawberries was a wonderful combination.

I used a few cups of my stewed fruit to make some apple strawberry bars, in the same tradition as date squares.  A simple oatmeal crust, slathered with stewed fruit topped with remaining oatmeal crust crumbs.  They were delicious.  I brought the majority of the squares to share with my coworkers, which they greatly appreciated.  The stewed fruit that did not make it into the bars will be a nice treat in my lunch bag this week.

You will have to excuse me, but after watching 12 episodes of the Sopranos this past week I couldn’t help but think that they really should put out a cookbook featuring the great-sounding recipes that get feasted upon in each episode.  For a lark I googled Sopranos cookbook today and guess what I found?

Who would have thought.

Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups firm cooked black beans
1/4 cup of water
1 small red pepper, diced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste

For the cornbread topping

1 1/4 cups of yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup of soymilk powder (I used skim milk powder)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of corn, fresh, frozen defrosted, or canned
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup water
1/3 cup corn oil

  • Preheat oven to 375°C
  • In an 8-10 inch cast iron skillet, heat the oil.  Saute onions garlic until tender.
  • Stir in the beans, water, pepper, carrot, celery, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt.  Saute for a few more minutes and then remove from heat and set aside.
  • For the cornbread topping, combine cornmeal, flour, soy powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the corn kernels.
  • In a small bowl whisk maple syrup, water, and corn oil together.
  • Add the wet to the dry and stir until just mixed.
  • Pour topping over the bean mixture.
  • Bake on the middle rack for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cornbread comes out clean
  • Cut into wedges and lift out with a large serving spoon.

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