Honey-Sweetened Almond Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Healthy, honey-sweetened, salted almond chocolate chip granola bars. Keep these bars on hand for traveling or whenever hunger strikes! - cookieandkate.com

I basically survived on granola bars in high school. Pre-packaged, too sweet, milk chocolate granola bars at lunch and before volleyball practice. Every day. Naturally, I’ve been pretty burnt out on granola bars for the past ten years.

Then my friend Sara (whom I met through the blog) texted me the ingredients list for a granola bar and requested that I recreate them. I trust Sara’s taste in granola bars and thought I’d better give these a shot, so I stopped at the nearest Kaldi’s Coffee shop to pick one up.

granola bar ingredients

I made it out to my car before peeling off the packaging. One bite and I was hooked. This granola bar was unlike any other granola bar I’d ever encountered. I tasted honey, sea salt, dark chocolate, oats and cinnamon all at once—each flavor teetered on the edge of overwhelming the others yet somehow the sum was perfectly balanced. I immediately added the ingredients listed on the back of the package to my grocery list and headed to the store.

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12 Favorite Kale Salads (plus, how to make the best kale salad!)

12 totally delicious kale salad recipes, plus tips on how to make the best kale salad ever. cookieandkate.com

I counted up the number of beloved kale salad recipes on this blog the other day and came up with an even twelve. Kale salads are my favorite so I decided they deserve a dedicated post!

Why do I love kale salads so? Well, for one, dressed kale salads keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, unlike most salads made with more delicate greens. Since they store well, they are a great pack-for-lunch option.

How to chop kale salad

Secondly, kale salads are packed full of nutrients and fiber thanks to the kale and complementary produce. Did you know that just one cup of kale offers over two times the amount of Vitamin A you need in one day? It’s no wonder I feel like Wonder Woman after I eat a giant kale salad.

Last but not least, kale salads are perfect for when you’re in the mood for a big meal but don’t want to feel weighed down afterward. They’re especially great during the holidays—whether you’ve overindulged in cookies or just need a hearty option to offer vegetarians, kale salad is the answer.

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Caramelized Sweet Potato, Red Pepper and Feta Frittata

Sweet potato, red pepper and feta frittata — perfect for breakfast, brunch or breakfast for dinner! cookieandkate.com

This frittata concept has been lurking in the back of my mind for months. I’ve just been waiting for sweet potatoes and bell peppers to come around again. I try to eat seasonally so it really pains me to pass by red bell peppers (my loves!) at the grocery store during the off-seasons, when those peppers are flown in all the way from Chile or Holland.

sweet potato, cilantro and black beans

When I’m not too busy grumbling about self-imposed produce deprivation, I’ll admit that eating seasonally really is the way to go—I’m generally so busy getting my fill of cranberries in the winter that I don’t have time to miss blueberries, and I’m always scrambling to meet my butternut quota when spring rolls around, and oh, how I love those blood oranges in February that electrify dreary winter days. I appreciate them all the more thanks to their limited availability.

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Homemade Pumpkin Chai Latte

Creamy pumpkin spice chai lattes made with real ingredients (only 90 calories!) - cookieandkate.com

I was sitting on the couch the other day while visions of pumpkin muffins, warm chai lattes and falling red leaves danced in my head. “Pumpkin chai lattes!” I exclaimed. “Why haven’t I had one of those?! Do those even exist?!” Sometimes inspiration strikes out of nowhere.

Then I consulted google, as food bloggers do in this situation, and yet again, I wasn’t the first person to come up with this brilliant concept. If you want one right now, you can order one at the Starbucks nearest you.

pumpkin chai latte ingredients

Regardless, I set out to create my own ideal pumpkin chai latte. I wanted a creamy, maple-sweetened latte made with real pumpkin and plenty of warming spices. I wanted a treat that I could enjoy in the morning (made with regular chai tea) or evening (made with decaffeinated chai rooibos tea). I wanted all that without a bazillion calories—not because I am a calorie counter, but because I don’t like to drink my calories.

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Quick Pickled Peppers

Quick-pickled peppers recipe - cookieandkate.com

If I had to characterize the past week in two words, they would be: pepper problems. These peppers gave me all sorts of trouble! I’d made these quick-pickled jalapeños a couple of times already, but these locally grown peppers were way spicier than the others. Just one little nibble of raw sliced pepper made me feel like one of those silly, red-faced cartoon characters with steam shooting out of his ears.

Then, when I was rinsing the sliced peppers under running water in an attempt to cool down their spiciness, the pepper fumes made me cough-cough-cough-cough-cough. I had to use my shirt as a nose mask to get through it. So beware pepper asphyxiation. (I know I sound dramatic right now, but I’m serious.) I’m still recommending them because none of my other batches gave me such trouble.

jalapeños

The final result, though, is totally irresistible. Fresh, spicy, with a light sweetness thanks to the bell pepper and honey, and a nice, crisp crunch. You’ll see in the photos that I made a control batch with plain distilled white vinegar and no bell peppers, but I so prefer the gourmet version with honey that I’m going to insist that you go with that one.

Really, it was only a matter of time after pickling radishes that I turned to peppers. I’ve always loved pickled jalapeños, but lately I’ve been frustrated by store-bought varieties that are sliced too thick (they overwhelm the other flavors) and taste way too salty (again, overwhelming the other flavors). Not to mention, many pickled jalapeños contain food coloring and preservatives in addition to vinegar, which I’d just as well avoid.

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Roasted Red Pepper Tortilla Soup

Roasted red pepper soup with a Tex-Mex twist - cookieandkate.com

This soup hurts my eyes. It’s so very red! That’s just one of several reasons why you should not make this soup. Also problematic: it’s expensive. Organic bell peppers are not cheap and you’ll need quite a few of them for this recipe (unless you are growing bell peppers now, in which case, goldmine! I’m so jealous.).

Furthermore, roasting and peeling bell peppers is no fun. The process ranks pretty highly on my mental “least favorite things to do” list. It’s time consuming, tedious and makes my fingers burn because I never learn my lesson and wear gloves (clearly a personal problem). Lastly, this soup takes a full hour or longer to make, so it’s definitely not an I’m-starving-where’s-dinner kind of option.

red bell peppers

Why should you make this soup, then? It’s outrageously delicious, that’s why! Hands down the best red pepper soup I’ve ever tasted.

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