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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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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peanut butter pancakes for one.

You don’t need me to tell you that peanut butter and pancakes are one delicious combination. You probably also don’t need me to tell you that after sleeping for 10 hours all you need is pancakes. You really don’t need me to tell you that when the only thing you have to do is pack up your apartment the last thing you want to do is pack. I think we’ve all been there.

These pancakes were inspired by Joy the Baker and her Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes. I still don’t know how I feel about the bacon part. But peanut butter is my jam. I also threw some chocolate chips on the warm pancakes and let them melt. Perfect.

Pancakes are sometimes made for sharing. But these aren’t. These are all for you. All of ’em. You have permission not to share. Unless you really want to and you really love the person you’re sharing with. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.

Sleep in. Make some pancakes. Smother them in maple syrup. Then start your day and enjoy the sunshine.

Peanut Butter Pancakes
makes 4 small pancakes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1 spoonful of peanut butter

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate slightly larger bowl whisk the buttermilk, egg, oil, and peanut butter together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until most of the lumps are gone. Let sit for a few minutes.
Heat a griddle over medium heat. Grease griddle with butter or nonstick spray. Using a 1/4 cups measuring cup, pour batter onto the hot griddle. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side and then flip onto the second side. Cook until the pancake releases from the griddle and is golden brown. Repeat for all the pancakes.
Serve warm topped with chocolate chips (optional) and maple syrup (also optional).

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oreo balls. and lasts.

This week has been full of lasts. Last week of classes. Last two presentations. Last rehearsals. Last day of work. Last class party (Jazz Theory, of course). Last oboe lesson with my teacher. Last homework assignments turned in.

Two days ago I pick up my cap and gown.

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I’m still partially in denial about this happening. But it is.

We had a party in my Jazz Theory class to celebrate the fact that we all passed. And because we could. And it was awesome. All we did was eat food, watch jazz videos, and talk about our lives. That’s how to spend a last class period.

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I made Oreo Balls. They were delicious. Want to know how to make friends? Feed them Oreo Balls. Done. A stranger becomes your best friend. (but only until the snacks are gone. that’s the catch.)

These are just crushed up Oreo cookies and cream cheese covered in chocolate. That’s all. You barely need a recipe. You don’t even have to turn on an oven. Glorious.

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Make some Oreo balls. Share them with new people. Share them with old friends. Stop and enjoy what’s happening around you. Be thankful.

Oreo Balls
from Kraft Recipes
makes approximately 48 balls

1 package Oreo cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature4-6 squares semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate, melted OR 1 package milk chocolate chips, melted

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. Place all the cookies in a gallon sized plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, finely crush the cookies. This could also be done in a food processor. In a large bowl mix the crushed cookies and the cream cheese with a spatula until the cream cheese is mixed well into the cookies. Form into 1 to 2-inch balls and place on the cookie sheet. Freeze for about 10 minutes or until set. Dip the balls in the melted chocolate using a fork to get a somewhat even layer and place back on the cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator until set.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge until the disappear. Give them about 10 minutes.

(Note: I’m pretty sure Oreo is copyrighted or trademarked or something by Nabisco. Just so you know. That’s not mine.)

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now playing. (2)

You know what. I’m declaring Spring. It’s just here and everyone can deal with it. That’s how I feel right now.

This week I’m going to share some awesome music that reminds me that Spring is here (even if we can’t tell yet).

This first piece is Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland. He’s one of the most recognized American composers of the 20th century and I adore his music. I even wrote a research paper about him for one of my music history classes (super nerdy…I know). Appalachian Spring was written as a ballet and tells the story of a pioneers living on the prairie and making their lives. This piece is 29 minutes long, so I don’t blame you if you don’t listen to the whole thing, but it is definitely worth it. This piece is gorgeous. Love it.

The song that I’m sharing with you is called What I Wouldn’t Do by A Fine Frenzy. I discovered A Fine Frenzy awhile ago when they had a song free on iTunes to download. I have two of their albums and haven’t listened to them for awhile but this song is in a movie that I recently saw and got super excited to listen to them again. This is off their second album, Bomb in a Birdcage, and it’s adorable and great. This version is live and acoustic, and I almost like it better than the original. I get really happy whenever I listen to this song and I hope you enjoy it.

Happy listening!

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chocolate chip pecan pie.

Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

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I know you’re all probably still full from your delicious meals that happened this afternoon (I know I am!) but I have to share this pie with you. Have to. It’s delicious and easy. Literally dump, stir, bake. So dang good.

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This recipe comes from my dear Aunt Karen. I love her. She’s my dad’s sister and she’s one of the strongest women I know. She’s a crafty person like I am, quilts like a boss, and also loves her cats. Love her.

I’ve been meaning to make this pie for awhile, and I finally got a reason: Easter dinner with some dear friends that haven’t been together in a long time! Em, Ang, B, RaeMa, and I got to spend a weekend together and it was glorious. Ang flew in from North Carolina, RaeMa took a bus from Kansas City, and Em drove from Chi-town. The only one of us missing was Muff-Muff. We hung out at B’s apartment for the weekend an ate food, knitted, watched movies, and swapped stories. (Sidenote: these aren’t their real names, just nice ones we have for ourselves.)

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(Ang, Em, RaeMa, Joy, and B)
I love these women. They are encouraging and real. They build me up and make me a better person. We laugh together and cry together. I hope everyone has friends like these.

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(Em and I rocking our Easter dresses)
Make some pie, watch Pitch Perfect too many times, hug your friends. Be happy.

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Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted and cooled
1-6 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1-9 inch frozen pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Spoon into unbanked pie shell. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center of the pie is set. Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream.
You can also make this a day ahead an warm up in the oven at a low temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

(P.S. I wrote this blog post on my phone. So that happened.)

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lasagna soup.

Soup. Day 2.
(aka: I realized I haven’t made anything with pasta in it in a couple days…)

We had a snow storm yesterday. We’re on Spring Break. Spring. Break. Nature is super weird sometimes. My dad’s school had a snow day. Those lucky kids. Apparently they closed all the offices at my college as well. Of course we would have a snow day over a break. Of course.

I’ve never really been a big soup person, which sounds crazy after two soup posts in a row, but it’s true. Also, I don’t know if I’ve every posted 3 days in a row. That’s what happens on a break where super cool parents buy all your ingredients. (Word.) But this year has been a big soup year for me. It started last summer when I was living at school and my boss at the time and her husband had all their student workers over to watch the Marvel superhero movies and eat food. The night I went we had soup and watched Thor. We had delicious soup and fantastic company. What more do you really need?

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Creamy soups are my favorite. Broccoli cheddar is a big favorite. Preferably from Panera, but I won’t (usually) be picky. We used to have this restaurant in my town called the Dollar Diner where you could get anything for $1. It was great. Not a super awesome date place though. Trust me on that one. They had all these different soups and lasagna soup was one of them. That was my first experience with this kind of soup and unfortunately it wasn’t a super great one. Oh well, live and learn.

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I’ve been wanting to recreate this for awhile and finally found a really good recipe. I halved and changed it a little bit because I made it for my parents and I (little brother hates soup). But it is amazingly delicious. You can use any kind of pasta you want, I used ditalini and it was the perfect soup pasta. There’s so much flavor in this broth and the noodles soak it all up and become extra delicious. And there’s a cheesy surprise in the middle. It can’t get any better than that. Unless you add garlic bread. Yeah. Now it’s better.

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Make some soup. Play in the snow. Knit some stuff. Have family time.

Lasagna Souprecipe adapted from a farm girl’s dabbles
serves 3-4 people

for the soup:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 14-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups pasta

for the cheese:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the sausage, break it up into bite sized pieces, and cook until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chopped onions and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and stir well. Cook until the tomato paste darkens, about 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and vegetable stock. Cover soup and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook 3 minutes under the time the box says.
While the soup is cooking, make the cheesy center. Mix ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Place a dollop of the cheese mixture into each bowl. Ladle soup over/around cheese and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately.

If you have extra, store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat on the stove over medium-low heat.

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turtle cookies.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in my life. Lots of things have been happening since mid-February. Midterms got in the way. I started going to a Zumba class to make a fool of myself in public. March showed up. Spring showed up for a few days and then left again. We had a snowstorm at school. And now it is Spring Break and I get to bake and knit and hang out with my cat to my heart’s desire. I also have a long list of things to do, but they probably aren’t gonna happen until Friday or Saturday.

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Big news! For graduation my awesome parents got me a stand mixer! I’m so excited about it that I can’t even put it into words. It’s ‘imperial gray’ which is one of my favorite colors. It’s so pretty and gorgeous and I am in love with it. (That’s cool, right?) I made cookies with it tonight. They were awesome. So was the mixer. I’m in love.

Sometimes instead of paying attention in class I write recipes. Two and a half hours is a long time to sit in class and not do anything, so my mind tends to wander. Or I fall asleep. It’s just real life. I can’t stay awake that long talking about….stuff that I can’t remember right now. It just happens and I feel no shame…okay. Maybe a little shame.

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These cookies are delicious. I thought of these cookies in my night class. There was also soup on my brain that night. That’ll come later this week. My family has this awesome cookie that we use all the time. My mom found it in a magazine forever ago and we just adapt it to different things whenever we want to. The chocolate cookie base is awesome by itself; cakey and chewy. But when you add things to it and it takes this cookie over the top. This one includes pecans, caramel bits, and some milk chocolate chips. Eat one right out of the oven and you will know. Amazing.

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When we lived in this tiny town there was this store called Country Cupboard. We used to go there all the time to buy Beanie Babies (because they’re awesome). They sold all these handmade candies and one of them was called the Mississippi Sliders or something like that. It was caramel and pecans covered in chocolate; basically a turtle. But my 12 year old self loved those things because I felt like such an adult for liking something so fancy. These cookies aren’t exactly fancy, but they take me back to those simple days where the only concern was which Beanie Baby to pick out. Now there’s real life to worry about. Scary stuff, man. I’m just going to eat a lot of cookies until everything seems okay.

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Make some cookies. Make a fool of yourself at Zumba. Get coffee with one of your best friends. Don’t fall asleep in class.

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Turtle Cookies
adapted from Quick Cooking 2000
makes about 3 dozen cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups caramel bits (or just chopped caramels if you can’t find bits)
1 and 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until fluffy then add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir well in between each addition. Fold in caramel, pecans, and chips with a spatula. Using a medium sized cookie scoop spoon onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-11 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. After baking cool on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then move to a cookie rack to complete cooling.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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