joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

homemade granola bars.

Sometimes you have half a canister of oats because you made oatmeal cookies forever ago. Sometimes you also have almonds because your mom bought you a 9 pound bag of them. Sometimes you also have one and a half jars of honey because you found one in your pantry while you were moving. If you’re lucky you also have chocolate chips and coconut because you’re addicted to them. When the stars align and you possess all these ingredients it’s time to make granola bars. Better than store-bought granola bars.

Friends, there are so many granola bar recipes out there that it’s hard to sift through. Some of them have weird ingredients like wheat germ and flax seeds, but I didn’t want to have to buy anything for this recipe. I made it with things that were all in my pantry, which I call a huge success.

Granola bars are one of those things that you can make your own really easily. Dried fruit? Sure! You hate coconut? Alright. Raisins? Totally. Extra chocolate chips? Now you’re speaking my language. You can do whatever you want to make these just like you want them to.

The original recipe comes from The Sisters Cafe. I adapted it a little bit because theirs calls for krispy rice cereal, but I don’t have any so I just used some lightly crushed corn cereal squares that I’ve been meaning to make puppy chow out of. Next time I’m just going to omit them entirely though. I also added some almonds because I love chocolate and almond together. I also baked mine in a 9×9 pan instead of an 8×8 and it worked out fine. I would bake them a little longer than the time suggested though. I also toasted my coconut to bring out all the amazing flavors.

Make some granola bars. Take a road trip. Drive with the windows down and radio blasting. And then look for more jobs.

Granola Bars
adapted from The Sisters Cafe
makes 10 granola bars

2 and 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the coconut over that. Bake for 5-7 minutes until the edges get golden brown. Keep an eye on it though, because it can burn really quickly. Remove and cool slightly. Leave the oven on. Butter an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.
In a large bowl combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the oats, coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips and stir until everything is coated. Smoosh (technical term) into the buttered pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool in the pan completely before cutting.
When cool cut into 10 bars and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. Store in a cool place.

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peanut butter fudge.

This is a little bit about my life right now. I graduated college two weeks ago. I’ve been applying to jobs like a crazy person. Sometimes I forget to leave my apartment. I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix. Yesterday I watched 4 episodes of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and 6 episodes of Good Eats. I have a problem.
But I now feel like I know exactly what not to do while running a restaurant. So that’s good, right? Maybe that’ll come in handy someday. Yeah, probably not.

Anyway, this recipe is from Alton Brown. I haven’t had much luck making candies before; I just can’t get peanut brittle right. But this fudge recipe was actually pretty foolproof. And you all know that I love peanut butter (luckily, so does my boyfriend). Plus I’m driving to Michigan to spend the weekend with my boyfriend’s family and fudge is a great ice-breaker. At least, I hope so.

This fudge is really easy to make. There’s no stove involved, just a microwave. Which isn’t actually the best way to make fudge, but if Alton can do it we can do it too. This is also a sharing recipe. Don’t eat it all yourself. I mean, you can if you want, but I suggest sharing. You’ll make friends that way.

Make some fudge. Download the new She and Him album. Dance around your kitchen. It’s allowed.

Peanut Butter Fudge
recipe by Alton Brown
makes 1 8×8 pan of fudge

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound (about 3 and 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted

Butter an 8×8 pan. Cover the pan with parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.
Place butter and peanut butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cut slits in the plastic wrap to let the steam escape. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir gently. Place back in the microwave and heat for 2 more minutes on high.
When the 2 minutes are up, remove the plastic wrap and stir in the vanilla and powdered sugar with a wooden spoon. The fudge will get really thick so you may need to switch to a potato masher to combine everything. When the powdered sugar disappears, scoop into the prepared pan and smooth out with a non-stick spatula. Cover the top of the fudge with more wax paper or parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
When the fudge is firm, cut it into 1-inch pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

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chicken cordon bleu casserole.

Now that I can no longer call myself a poor-college student I’ve come to the realization that I have to support myself. That means food. That means spending money. Which I sometimes have an aversion to. Especially because rent is expensive. Real life, huh? That’s pretty scary.

Fortunately I was brought up by a woman who knows a lot about freezing meals for later. She’s a pro at casseroles. I learned it all from her.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Donna, who is also awesome. It runs in our family. It’s super simple to make and it is so delicious. This is definitely a crowd pleaser. You know all about chicken cordon bleu right? It’s just chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. This takes that and combines it all.

This easily makes a large 13×9 casserole or you can split it into two. I made two 8×8 casseroles and I’ll eat one and freeze the other one. We used to make these a lot and give them to people for meals. You can bake it halfway and then cool it completely and freeze it. When you’re ready to bake it, thaw it out and bake it the rest of the way. Easy as pie.

I ate half a pan of this by myself. No shame. At all. It was worth it.

Enjoy your last few weeks of school. Don’t freak out. Go outside, it’s nice out there.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
makes 1 13×9 pan or 2 8×9 pans

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed1 8-ounce package diced ham
10 slices Swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken
1 tube Ritz crackers (crushed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease pan.
In the pan layer the cubed chicken, diced ham, cheese, and cream of chicken. Top with crushed crackers. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and everything is cooked through. Serve right away.
If you are making 2, bake one halfway (25 minutes) and let cool completely before wrapping with foil. When ready to use, thaw completely and bake 20 more minutes.

Keep leftovers wrapped in the fridge.

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now playing. (4)

For Mother’s Day (which is Sunday, just in case you forgot) I got my mom an awesome present. We’re going to see Celtic Thunder in Chicago in October. Let me give you some backstory about this. My mom and I love Celtic Thunder. I don’t know why, we aren’t even Irish at all. We just do. It all started about 4 years ago when they were on the PBS fund raiser thing and we decided to get the DVD. Ever since then we’ve gotten every DVD they put out. It’s a little ridiculous, but I’m really okay with it.

So to thank my mom for all the things she’s done for me over the last 22 years of my life I decided to surprise her with tickets. We’re pretty pumped.

All that to say; this week I’m sharing Celtic Thunder with you! The first song is called Belfast Polka and it’s by the Celtic Thunder Band. They’re a pretty talented group of musicians.

The second song is called A Place in the Choir and it’s pretty awesome. It features all the guys and they are all great. Keith, the blonde tenor, is my favorite. But they are all really talented, so it cuts the cheesyness factor down a little.

Happy listening!

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things I learned in college.

Well, friends. It’s the end. My college career is over. Saturday was graduation. It’s crazy. I think I’m still in shock.
(that was a lot of little sentences that could have been covered in one. sorry English majors.)

IMG_1079This is me with a couple of my dear friends. Josh, on the end, graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Composition. I graduated with a BA in Music. Katelyn graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work. And Stephanie graduated with a BA in Social Science.

IMG_1101This is my boyfriend (!!!!!) Zack and I. He graduated with a BA in Psychology and is going to medical school in the fall. (there’ll be more about him later.)

So for the past 3 years at the end of the school year I’ve written a Facebook note about things that I learned that year. It’s always been in list form and it usually includes serious things and funny things. And they all pertain to something that’s happened that year.
So I bring you:
Things I Learned In College (Year 4):
-Sometimes life just sucks
-Even when it’s hard you have to trust that it’ll get better
-IT GETS BETTER. IT GETS BETTER.
-Your core group of friends are the ones that will keep you sane and keep you accountable. Love them and appreciate them
-Always be open to new friendships
-Spontaneous trips to Chicago are some of the greatest
-Don’t let people get away from you if you don’t want them to
-Awkward things sometimes lead to great things
-There are some things you can’t control. Get over it
-Sometimes roommates turn out to be just the people you need in your life
-Jazz Theory isn’t as scary as it sounds
-It’s okay to be broken because everyone else is too
-Learning to trust God is a lifelong process
-Senior recitals aren’t so terrifying after all
-You still need to practice after your recital is over
-Sometimes plans change because of one thing in your life
-Listen to someone when they compliment you
-Real life might not be so scary
-It’s okay to ask for help
-Sometimes your professors give you the best opportunities
-Don’t put off homework (yes, I still need this reminder)
-The best relationships come out of nowhere and change your life for the better
-Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but you still need to try your best
-When you get disappointed, you can cry for awhile, but then you have to keep going
-You accumulate a lot of stuff. And you have to move it all. Keep that in mind

So that’s just a little bit of my senior year of college. I’m still working on getting all moved in to my new apartment, but I’m excited about what’s going to happen over the next year. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you all posted.

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