Sabriel’s Energy Bars

spiritofahunter_coverFrom Spirit of a Hunter

Commercial energy bars tend to taste like sawdust. I was happy to discover these. They’re easy to make and convenient to carry while backpacking.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup of your favorite crunchy cereal
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ (or ground flaxseed)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or vanilla powder)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 X 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread the oats, cereal and sesame seeds out on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the apricots, raisins, almonds, wheat germ, and protein powder. Mix well.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown rice syrup, stirring until bubbly. Mix in the almond butter and cinnamon. Pour into the dry ingredients and quickly mix together and transfer to the prepared pan. Press the mixture into the pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Cut into 12 bars and wrap each one separately in wax paper; store in the refrigerator.

Valerie’s Favorite Birthday Cake

From Pull of the Moonpullofthemoon_cover

Valerie and I share a taste for chocolate and this is also my favorite birthday cake recipe. Good quality chocolate makes a huge difference. I love the 60% cocoa dark chocolate for melt-in-your-mouth sinfulness. Don’t eat this cake too late at night, though. All the caffeine will keep you awake!

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened (no substitutions)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat over to 350° F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans. Line bottoms with wax paper. Grease and flour paper.

Heat milk and coffee in small saucepan until small bubbles form around the edge. Add to cocoa and whisk until smooth. Whisk in yogurt. Cool.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Beat butter in mixer bowl until light. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. At low speed, gradually beat in dry ingredients alternating with chocolate mixture. Beat at medium speed two minutes. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 25 minutes, until tops springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack. Remove paper and cool completely, right side up.


4 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons butter, softened (no substitutions)

Heat chocolate, sugar and cream, stirring constantly, in saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Transfer to mixer bowl, and place in larger bowl of ice water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold and thick. Remove from ice bath. Gradually beat in butter at high speed; beat until fluffy and stiff enough to hold its shape.

Place one layer on cake plate and spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with second layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting.

Makes 12 servings.

Tex-Mex Tuna Fajitas

Detour_coverInspired by Detour

See also Lorraine’s One-Bowl Brownies from Detour

I didn’t grow up eating spicy, so when we first moved to Fort Worth, even the mild salsa was too hot. But over the years we lived there, I learned to love the taste of chili, cumin and jalapeño peppers. Now that we’re back in New England, I like to revisit this taste I learned to appreciate.

  • 1 pound ahi tuna, cut into strips
  • 1 packet of McCormick’s Mesquite Marinade
  • 1 onion, cut in rings
  • 1 green pepper, cut in strips
  • Tortillas, warmed
  • Salsa
  • Shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • Sour cream

Prepare the marinade according to instructions. Add tuna. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Grill onions and peppers. Grill tuna. Warm the tortillas. Put everything on the table and let everyone fill their tortillas with whatever they want.

Serve with saffron or Spanish rice and green beans for a complete feast.

Lorraine’s One-Bowl Brownies

Detour_coverFrom Detour

See also Tex-Mex Tuna Fajitas, inspired by Detour

I know, that’s two brownie recipes. But as Sierra’s T-shirt says, “Chocolate Heals All Wounds.” There can never be enough brownies around.

  • 1 bag (12 oz) of dark chocolate chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil.

Combine 1 cup of the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Whisk in sugar, then eggs. Stir in flour and salt until smooth. Fold in 1/2 cup of the chopped nuts and the vanilla. Transfer batter to the prepared pan.

Bake brownie for 23-25 minutes.

Finely chop remaining 2 tablespoons of nuts.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips over the hot brownies and return pan to oven for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the melted chips until smooth to form frosting. Top with finely chopped nuts. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm chocolate. Cut into squares. Store at room temperature.

Sylvie’s Yule Log

From my December 2005 newsletter

I like decorating the tree with the collection of mismatched ornaments accumulated over the years, each with its own special memory. I love to bake the few special treats that have come to mean Christmas to my family—my mother-in-law’s Cinnamon Sticky Buns, my mother’s walnut bread, a variation of my mother’s Yule Log and ginger star cookies. And I love that Christmas is my family’s own holiday. Others are welcomed to visit, but we stay home.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 10 X 15 X 3/4” pan, then cover with a piece of wax paper that fits the bottom. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Using a mixer, beat the eggs in a bowl until thick and pale yellow. While continuing to mix, add the sugar gradually. Add the water and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients while beating at the lowest setting of the mixer. Spread the batter on the prepared pan. Bake 12 minutes. Immediately turn over a dishtowel sprinkled with cocoa. Remove the wax paper. Roll the cake, starting with the narrower side. Cool on a rack with the cake’s edge on the bottom.

Chocolate Cream Frosting

Mix 2 cups of whipping cream, 1/2 cup of cocoa and 1/4 cup of chocolate liqueur or strong, cold coffee. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Unroll the cake. Spread half the chocolate cream on the cake. Reroll the cake. Cut a small slice from one end of the cake. Garnish the top of the cake with the rest of the chocolate cream, saving a few dollops. Make “wood grain” on the “log” with a knife edge. Using the slice of reserved cake, make a couple of branch nubs and place on either side of the cake. Frost nubs with the leftover chocolate cream. Decorate with toasted almond slivers.

Alexa’s Favorite Scones

mslongshot_coverFrom Ms. Longshot

While growing up, Sundays were the special food days. Pancakes or waffles for breakfast and a “dress-up” dinner, either at home or at my grandparents’ house. I make these scones often as Sunday breakfast treats. And of course, I can’t help myself, I play with the ingredients, adding nuts, substituting different dried fruits for the raisins—or even cinnamon or chocolate chips.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon walnut oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Melt butter in microwave.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in raisins and make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

Combined the melted butter, egg, yogurt and oil and add to the dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead several times to form a ball. Pat the ball into an 8-inch circle and cut into 8 wedges.

Place the wedges on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Transfer to rack and cool slightly. Serve warm.

Serves 8.

Luci’s Country Apple Tart

prideofahunter_coverFrom Pride of a Hunter, The Seekers, Book 4

The first time I made this recipe I misread two teaspoons of lemon juice as two tablespoons, and I was worried about the results. But the extra tartness added something extra, and I’ve made it with the extra lemon since.

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pound tart apples (2-3), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar (reserve 2 tsps. for crust)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pie crust (homemade or 1/2 of a 15 oz. store-bought package)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into six pieces

Preheat the oven to 450˚ F. Grate 1 tsp. of lemon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice from the lemon. Set aside. Toss the apples with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon peel and juice.

Place the piecrust on a rimless baking sheet lightly dusted with flour. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll the pastry to a 13-inch round. Heap the apples on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Scatter the butter on the apples. Fold the pastry border back over the apples to make an uneven rustic edge of about 1 1/2 inches, leaving the slices in the center exposed. Sprinkle the reserved sugar on the pastry border.

Bake 12 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 425˚F and bake until the apples are softened and bubbly and the pastry is golden brown (12-15 mins. longer). Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Liv’s Orange Date Muffins

eyeofahunter_coverFrom Eye of a Hunter, The Seekers, Book 3

Muffins are such versatile things. You can pack them with nutrition or make them decadent. This recipe is a bit of both :).

  • 3/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 orange, unpeeled, cut into eight sections
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Put dates and 1/2 cup flour into the bowl of a food processor with a cutting blade. Pulse until the dates are chopped uniformly. Add the pieces of orange and pulse again. Add the orange juice, eggs and butter and pulse until a homogeneous mixture forms.

Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the food processor. Pulse until all the ingredients are wet (don’t overmix).

Drop mixture into prepared muffin tins. Fill to just below the edge. Bake in a 400° F oven for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 big muffins.

Peter’s Potato-Broccoli Frittata

Personalenemy_cpverFrom Personal Enemy

This is a quick, easy, healthy recipe. Serve with a salad and you have a light evening meal.

  • 1 1/4 pounds potatoes (3 medium-large), peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 oz chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen)
  • 6 green onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large, ovenproof skillet, cook the potatoes in the oil over medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes, until they are tender and lightly browned.

Add the broccoli (thawed, if using frozen) and the green onions, cover the skillet and cook the mixture another 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and the whole eggs with the Parmesan, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture and cook the frittata for about 5 minutes, pushing the ingredients occasionally with a spatula to allow any uncooked egg to make contact with the skillet.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are set on top.

Francine’s Almond Coffeecake

Aroseatmidnight_coverFrom A Rose at Midnight

My family complains that I never make the same recipe twice. What can I say, I like to fiddle. I’ve made this recipe with dried cranberries or dried cherries in place of the raisins or changed the almond extract to lemon extract, the cinnamon to nutmeg, and the raisins to dried blueberries as variations.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds

Lightly grease an 8” square pan. Heat oven to 400° F.

For cake: Sift first five ingredients in a bowl, stir to blend and make a well in the center.

In a small bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and almond extract, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir only until flour is moistened. Gently fold in currants, then pour into prepared pan. Lightly dust with cinnamon.

Prepare topping: In a small bowl, cut butter into fine pieces, add brown sugar and almonds. Sprinkle evenly on top of batter.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Makes 9 servings.