Ultimate Energy Bars

On Tuesday, I’m taking a 30+ hour bus trip to Orlando, Florida with my college Newman Center group. It should be a really fun time! Not sure about the 30 hours on a bus part, but I’m sure we’ll make the most of it. In preparation, I thought I should make something edible to share on the bus ride down there. So I decided on something semi-healthy, energy bars.

Recipe adapted from Vegan Energy Bars Recipe

Energy Bars

2 cups quick oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup crushed dark chocolate mini candy bars
2 tablespoons flaxseed
1-1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut flakes, pretzels, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, candy bar pieces, and flaxseed.
3. Mix together peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl, then microwave on high for 1 minute.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
5. Generously grease a 9X13 inch pan and pour in mixture. Press into the pan – bars should be 1 inch thick (or so).
6. Bake for 15 minutes, rotating pan at the half-way point.
7. Let cool, refrigerate, cut into approx. 12 bars, and enjoy.
You may also wish to just turn the mix into granola, in which case, you can simply let cool and crumble.

I just got back from my week in Florida. Sadly, there’s still plenty of snow on the ground here in South Dakota, and it’s about fifty degrees colder. Oh well, I enjoyed the warm weather while I was down there. Oh, and a little follow-up on the energy bars: they were a HUGE success! Everyone loved them!

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Cranberry Pretzel Macadamia Bars

For holiday get-togethers, my godmother nearly always brings strawberry pretzel dessert. I love the sweet and salty taste of it. I was looking for a recipe where I could use up some pretzels, dried cranberries, and macadamia nuts left over from my holiday baking brigade. So when I found this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try. I made a couple adaptions to the recipe. First of all, I didn’t have quite enough pretzels so I crushed up some saltine crackers and threw them in. Secondly, I added some coconut to the recipe and sprinkled it over the pretzel crust along with the cranberries and macadamia nuts.

This recipe was adapted from Land O’ Lake’s Cranberry Pretzel Macadamia Bars.

Cranberry Pretzel Macadamia Bars

Crust Ingredients:
2 cups finely crushed pretzels
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 egg whites, beaten

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup white baking chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Heat oven to 325°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over edges.

Combine pretzels and brown sugar in medium bowl; stir in 1/2 cup melted butter until well mixed. Stir in beaten egg whites. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 8 minutes; sprinkle cranberries, coconut, and nuts over hot, partially baked crust.

Combine 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Pour evenly over cranberries, coconut, and nuts in pan. Continue baking for 18 to 20 minutes or until caramel layer is bubbly and golden.

Place white baking chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power), stirring occasionally, until chips are melted and smooth (45 to 60 seconds). Drizzle over bars. Cool completely. Lift bars out of pan using foil ends; cut into bars.

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Red Pepper Lasagna

One of my dad’s specialties is lasagna. He never follows a recipe so it always turns out different, but it’s always awesome! Up until now, I’ve never tried making lasagna. I guess I’ve always been too scared that it wouldn’t compare to my dad’s lasagna. So when my younger sister, who I share an apartment with, suggested that we make lasagna tonight, I was all for it since we would be making it just for us(and our boyfriends, but they would never even think about complaining). We found a recipe to use in Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Italian magazine. We made a few changes to the original recipe, but the final product still turned out great! Here is the recipe we followed.

*Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Red Pepper Lasagna

Red Pepper Lasagna

1 lb. Italian style ground turkey
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into thin strips
1/3 cup margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups milk
9 lasagna noodles
2/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
2/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9x13in pan; set aside. For meat sauce: in a large saucepan, brown turkey. Drain fat. Stir in diced tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, and ¼ tsp. salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 min; stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in roasted peppers; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, for sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, nutmeg, and ¼ tsp. salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. *You may need to add more flour.
3. To assemble, arrange three of the noodles in the prepared baking pan. Top with 1/3 of meat sauce, then 1/3 of the white sauce, and lastly, 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layering noodles, meat sauce, white sauce, and cheese two more times, making sure the top layer of noodles is completely covered with sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
4. Cover pan with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more or until edges are bubbly and top is lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

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