Monday, January 17, 2011

Date Bars

Truth be told, before I made these date bars, I had never tried a date in my life.  I had been reading all about their health benefits, so I bought some for my son.  I cut them lengthwise and filled them with cream cheese for his snack.  I used them to sweeten recipes instead of sugar.  Then I stumbled upon a date bar recipe and began tweaking it.  They came out of the oven smelling divine, but I was a little hesitant to try them.  See, I am all for making my son try new things, but I can be a bit reluctant at times.  I had tried his cream cheese filled dates and was not thrilled.  They were way too sweet and had a strange texture.  Still, I was up for the challenge as these bars did smell quite scrumptious.

Okay, if we're being totally honest here, I had Jayden try them first.  I have a bad habit of making him the guinea pig.  He took one bite.  And then another.  He looked at me and said "deese are dood mommy".  Translation: these are good!  I summoned up my courage and grabbed a bar.  I took a small bite and was pleasantly surprised.  The date flavor was mellow and sweet.  The oats made for a chewy, crumby topping.  I was converted!  I may not eat dates by the handful, but I will gladly eat a date bar anytime. 

Dates are rich in iron and vitamins and minerals.  They are often referred to as nature's candy and can be used to sweeten desserts and drinks.  They can be a wonderful addition to smoothies and of course are great in baked goods like muffins and these bars.

Date Bars

1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c chopped, pitted dates
1 t vanilla

1 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 c room temperature unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 8x8 pan and set aside.

Simmer 1/2 c water and dates for 10 minutes.  Let cool and add in vanilla.

Combine flours sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Add diced butter and rub between hands until moist clumps form. 

Press half of the oat mixture into pan.  Spread dates over and then sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture on top.  Press down slightly.

Bake 40 minutes.  Cool on rack and cut into bars.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

My waffle iron is probably the least used kitchen appliance I own.  I love waffles, and I make pancakes all the time, but for some reason I don't pull out the waffle maker all that often.  We recently celebrated my husband's grandma's 87th birthday, and the whole family got together to have lunch and celebrate with her.  Her request for lunch?  Nothing other than her favorite meal- waffles.  She loves hers with whipped cream and strawberries.  That got me thinking, I needed to dust off the ol' waffle maker and start cranking out some warm, crispy waffles.

So this Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed and made my way downstairs.  I could hardly wait to sink my teeth into some crunchy, fluffy waffles.  My husband and son were both surprised to hear that we were having waffles for breakfast.  Jayden and I got to sample them first since hubby was taking his sweet time this morning.  One bite and I knew my waffle maker would be getting alot more use.  They were heavenly.  Crispy and fluffy- they had just the right texture.  I drizzled mine with pure maple syrup and thoroughly enjoyed every crunchy, sweet bite. 

I know alot of you don't think there is enough time in the morning to make a homemade breakfast.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  The trick is to plan ahead.  I mix the dry ingredients together the night before, that way all I have to do in the morning is add the wet ingredients and fire up the waffle maker.  You can have fresh, tasty waffles in 10 minutes or less.  These freeze well so they are great for those rushed mornings when you need a really quick breakfast.  Just pop one in the toaster on the low setting and you'll have breakfast ready in no time. 

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

1 1/2 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 T sugar
2 t non-aluminum baking powder
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
2 c well-shaken buttermilk
6 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil or spray for waffle iron

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Shake buttermilk well and pour into another bowl.  Add melted butter and eggs and whisk until combined.

Add buttermilk mixture to flour mix and whisk just until combined, don't overmix batter.
Spray or brush oil onto hot waffle iron and add 1/2 cup of batter into each waffle mold.  Cook waffles according to manufacturer's instructions until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer cooked waffles to a rack in the oven to keep warm.

If not using a belgian waffle maker, use 1/3 c waffle mix for each mold.