Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blueberry Fruit Bars

Dessert Man loves Trader Joes blueberry fruit bars and eats one just about every day. We I do a pretty good job of keeping some in the house, even though we don't live any where near a Trader Joes.  (It is my job to stock up every time I visit Atlanta and Chicago) 

He got some bad news last week, when he realized  the cupboard was bare.  He had eaten every last one.  It would be a couple months until I could get to a Trader Joes again so we had to come up with Plan B. 

Make our own.

Before toasting
We pumped ours up with some toasted coconut and almonds.

After toasting

You want to  mix crust with a fork until it becomes crumbly and sticks together when you push on it.

The crust is just moist enough to press easily into the prepared 8 in square pan.  Lining it with aluminum foil just makes it easier to remove after baking and ensures nice, evenly shaped bars.

Because we are fans of peanut butter we had to try some as peanut butter and fruit bars, so we spread some out on half of the crust before adding the jam.  The heat from the crust, made is very easy to spread.

 After spreading the jam, the last step is to sprinkle on the toasted coconut and almonds.  This is where you can personalize the bars to your tastes and add you favorite toppings.

 Pulling the bars out of the pan by the foil gives you one nice square you can cut up into smaller pieces.  I cut mine up into 16 pieces.

This is what we came up with. They are not exactly like Trader Joes, but very good. This bar has a very crisp crust versus their softer crust and ours is open faced. I keep our in the refrigerator I like them cold.

Blueberry Fruit Bars with coconut, almonds and peanut butter

1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup blueberry jam ( I used Polaner All Fruit)
1/4 cup peanut butter 

Heat over to 350 degrees.
Scatter almonds and coconut on foil lined baking pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through.  Keep your eye on these, as they can burn quickly especially if your oven heats unevenly.  I cook them in my toaster oven so I can keep an eye on them, but it can be done in the oven too.

Line 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

Mix flour, sugar and salt in medium bowl.  Stir in melted butter and mix with a fork until dough is crumbly and sticks together when pushed.   Using your hands press dough into bottom of prepared pan. 

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and spread 1/4 cup peanut butter over crust.(If you're a peanut butter fan, you can always add more.) The heat will help it spread evenly.  Spread jam over peanut butter and sprinkle with toasted coconut and almonds.

Return to oven to bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool for five minutes and remove from pan using foil as handles.  Let cool to room temperature and cut into 16 squares.
At this point bars can be eaten, covered with foil and refrigerated, stored at room temperature, frozen, or any combination of these.

*inspired by Pam Anderson

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Atlanta Half Marathon in Review

In March I ran the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon with my daughter Cate.  It was a last minute decision for me, but the timing was perfect. Cate was coming in from Chicago, I was up for a road trip and was looking forward to running the race with her.

Here's a look back at the race through photos...

Pre-race fuel.
I am a fan of these Clif Crunch Bars and this is the newest flavor. 
It is fantastic, but not yet available in Orlando so Cate brought one for me.

We took Marta to avoid the traffic, but so did a few others.  This was a BIG race, about 15,000.  Both the half and full marathoners ran together for the first 7 miles.  

This was my seventh half marathon and I can still remember how I felt after my first.  I thought it was the hardest thing I had ever done.  I couldn't imagine ever doing another, and I was sore for days.  I never imagined I would grow to like them, but here I was running my third one this year. 

We were in one of the last few corrals, but because they had a rolling start it only took 10 minutes for us to cross the start line by the CNN Center.

 The race course took us through many parts of Atlanta starting with Georgia State University campus.

Mile 2 - Publix Mile

Publix was the sponsor of this race and supported us with bands and messages of encouragement along the way.

Mile 3- 
A view of the Atlanta skyline from the Jackson Street Bridge. 

The residents of the 4th Ward dressed up their neighborhood and cheered us on as we passed through.  I learned this is the part of Atlanta that Martin Luther King Jr. is from.

We ran through many nice neighborhoods like Inman Park, Atlanta's first suburb and the course was not crowded at all.
Mile 4

Mile 5

This is where we parted ways with those running the marathon.
Mile 7

This guy gave us a good laugh and we saw  him in the newspaper the next day for his creative idea.

Yes, this is a bunny on a leash.  His owner said he was happy, but he looks a little scared to me.

Generous spectators handed out croissants at mile 8.  We couldn't pass that up.

This course was SO hilly.  This was just one of many.

Georgia Tech went all out and had an exciting section with music, balloons and "special" GA Tech water, so they said.
Mile 12

We made it and we treated to my favorite recovery drink- Chocolate Milk!!

The race ended in Centennial Olympic Park where they had a post race party with a band.

Goodies from the race included this great tech tee and a treat bag from Publix.  

The day turned out to be much hotter than expected, but the course was shady until the last few miles. I ran Cate's race and her goal was to beat 3 hours, she shattered that by finishing in 2:44!  We had a great time running together and sharing the experience. This race was the perfect way to see Atlanta's historic neighborhoods and city parks and I would recommend it.  Great swag, great expo, great medal, great course, hills and all!  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Would Run to You

I caught this Nike running commercial  the other night and thought it was cute. The tune reminds me of the song from Juno.  I had no idea it was a commercial at first, but I liked it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sea Salt Soiree Chocolate Chip Cookies

I grew up in a Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie house and thought there was no better version. We used the recipe on the back of the bag of chips. But that was all I knew.  That was our go to cookie and we ate them a lot!  They always turned out the same - thin and crispy. 

I turned a corner in my cookie world when I found a recipe for thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies! Could this be true? I could make these in my own home? 

I now know what good chocolate chip cookies really taste like and I will not go back to thin and crispy. 
These cookies are outstanding! 

You can use what ever kind of chocolate you prefer. I have made them with milk, dark, white chocolate and a combination of them. But I am excited to share my latest twist on this recipe.

Ever since I tasted Ghiradelli's Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree chocolate at the Hot Chocolate race in Chicago, I knew I they would be perfect in this recipe. T

This is a dark chocolate with sea salt and roasted almonds. It is a nice mix of salty and sweet. I have only found it in 3.5 oz bars that I roughly chop to add to dough.

Ghiradelli chocolate does cost a little more than Nestle or Hershey chocolates, but it's worth it to me.  I searched for coupons and found one HERE for $1 off two bars of Ghiradelli. Or you can like them on Facebook to get a coupon too. 

Sea Salt Soiree Chocolate Chip Cookies (Thick & Chewy)
Makes 18 large cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 - 3.5 ounce bars of Ghiradelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree, chopped  (about 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In medium sized bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.  

Using either an electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until combined. Mix in egg, yolk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Stir in chopped chocolate.

Roll dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter. (The bigger the ball, the bigger the cookie will be) Holding ball with the fingertips of both hands, twist and pull apart into two equal halves.  Place each half - jagged side face up on cookie sheet. Leave enough room in-between each ball as cookies will spread when baking. 

Bake about 11-15 minutes until cookies are golden brown and the outer edges start to harden, centers will be soft and puffy.  Be careful not to over bake.

Cool on cookie sheets until able to remove without breaking.

Dough can be refrigerated up o 2 days or frozen up to 1 month. Frozen dough requires 1-2 minutes extra baking time.

Annie's eats via