How was your holiday? I hope you enjoyed every moment. I have to admit that we would have had a horrible time traveling back to our beloved Rockies if it weren't for kung fu panda, larabars, fruit leather (one for each tiny hand), mini oranges, and oreos. yes. oreos. Sweet baby Jane traveled much better during the day rather than in the evening (let's not talk about it), thanks to back to back viewings of her favorite movie and a reclined chair for naptime. It's always bittersweet coming back home, I think road trips help with the sweetness.
Have you made any new year resolutions? Over the past couple years I have come to the conclusion that instead of making big new goals every year I am more likely to achieve a handful of short term goals that I work on for a few months, then re-evaluate and keep on keepin'. My current list includes one relating to my vanity, another with my spirituality. One to increase my talents, and another my intellect. Some others include other people, which are the most fun. And of course, there's one about food. It's something that started years ago, and will continue on since it's one of those lifetime kind of goals, but that's for another day.
These are my version of a larabar. I know there about a bagillion interpretations of them out on the interwebs, because they're super yummy and contain ingredients you can pronounce like dried fruits, nuts and spices. I love how short the ingredient lists are. They're our favorite costco sample, and sometimes when we're having an unusually dramatic afternoon while in the middle of errands, this is my secret weapon make-a-toddler-happy snack that I open and feed to the drama queen in the middle of the store before buying. scandalous. We each got a larabar as part of our christmas stockings, but because they're kind of expensive to buy on a daily basis, I made up my own version for home. It will be fun playing with the plethora of flavor combinations our imaginations can make up.
Have you ever tried a larabar? which flavor is your favorite?
chocolate almond cherry bars
1 cup whole almonds
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 1/4 cup dates
1 cup dried bing cherries
Chop the almonds in a food processor until you have a mix of chunk sizes. Add cocoa and pulse once. Add dates and cherries and pulse until well combined. Line a loaf pan with wax or parchment paper, press fruit and nut mixture into the pan and press down firmly. Remove from the pan, cut into bars, and wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper, tie with string.
store in airtight container inside the refrigerator or freezer.
makes 8 to 10 bars
try different fruit and nut combinations using dried fruit like apples or pomegranate arils instead of the cherries, pecans and cashews instead of the almonds, and adding spices or juice like pomegranate or orange. you can even add substitute some of the almonds with coconut, or make layers of different flavors in one bar.
If you don't have a food processor, chop up the ingredients individually, then combine well (this is what I did = the almonds pieces were chunky). Use your hands or a mixer to combine them.
make sure the dates you use are fairly new as they will be softer and make your bars come together better.
There are a few things that could have happened if your bars don't stick together: your dates may not have been moist enough to make a proper paste (see above note); your almonds may not have been chopped or processed finely enough - you want them to be almost like almond meal, although if there are a few big chunks it's not a big deal (i like that, actually).
When I use dates I am either using whole medjool or deglet dates from the bulk bins at my local natural foods store. Medjool are a sweeter + moister variety, but deglet are cheaper. There are other varieties but those two are the main ones I use because they're available.
Any dried cherry will do, although I would double check the ingredients to see what they used to aid the drying process (sulfer dioxide, etc) I buy my dried bing cherries from Allred farms (they have a stand down the road) every summer, they sell them in various quantities around the end of the season, I highly recommend.
post.script. we were thinking about taking the train next year, anyone traveled by train before? I'm afraid it's more romantic as an idea rather than an actuality.