Oatmeal Energy Bites

Oatmeal Energy Bites

Does this ever happen to you?:

Some time in September—because you are planning ahead—you diligently buy two bags of candy to give out at Halloween. (Naturally, you buy the good kinds, the chocolate kinds you actually like, because last year only four children and one group of ridiculous teenagers came to your door…and if there’s going to be leftover candy, you at least want to enjoy it, right?)

You carefully shove the two small bags of candy to the back of the tallest shelf in the pantry, and then you studiously ignore them for three weeks.

Then…one night, you open the Reese’s, because you are stressed, or emotional, or peckish…and before you know it, you have to go buy two whole new bags of Halloween candy.

And, to make matters worse, now you have awoken your sweet tooth, and it wants more candy!

After several days of an insatiable desire for dessert, I decided it was time to make a dessert I wouldn’t feel guilty eating, one that would even do a little good while it quenched my desire for Reese’s cups: peanut butter oatmeal balls.

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French Onion Mac and Cheese

French Onion Mac and Cheese

The weather is finally cool. Every time I look out the window, I can see a light drizzle of leaves falling from the maple in my front yard.

It’s FALL!!

Which, of course, means it’s finally time for heartier, creamier food. It’s time for mac and cheese.

And what could be better than topping our platter of cheesy pasta with darkly caramelized onions and crunchy breadcrumbs? Nothing, I think.

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Gianduia Date Balls

Gianduia Date Balls

I heard a terrible, terrible rumor a few weeks ago: apparently, we are about to experience a worldwide shortage of hazelnuts!

Gasp! The horror!

Before you run out and buy every jar of Nutella in the store (and don’t think I haven’t contemplated that), let’s try a healthier yet equally delicious version of the incomparable chocolate-hazelnut combination: date balls.

Have you ever heard of gianduia? Maybe you’ve seen this flavor nestled among other exotic-looking scoops (stracciatella…nocciola…) at a nearby gelato store. Gianduia is the original chocolate and hazelnut confection, made from hazelnut paste, cocoa, and sugar. Apparently, hazelnuts are enormously popular in Italy. Italians know the good stuff.

I absolutely love chocolate and hazelnuts together, and I’m really going to miss these date balls when the price of hazelnuts skyrockets!

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Salmon en Papillote with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Salmon en Papillote

I suffer from side dish apathy.

I have such a hard time thinking up side dishes to serve or including them properly in a meal! The result is that I hardly ever make side dishes unless I am going to a potluck. My cooking style tends more toward making all-inclusive, veggie-heavy, one-dish dinners.

So this month for the Secret Recipe Club challenge, I was actually a bit stumped. Michaela, of An Affair from the Heart, and I are about as different in the kitchen as night and day: she loves cooking meaty dishes and serving fruity desserts, and I avoid both of those things like the plague (my picky eating strikes again)! She readily shares tons of beautiful side dishes, and I can barely figure out where to put a side dish on the plate. (But lest you think I didn’t admire the beautiful centerpieces she makes when she entertains, you’d better guess again.)

When I came across a delicious side dish featuring summer’s best flavors—and a Bonefish copycat, how exciting!—I immediately plotted a way to turn the simple side into a whole meal.

Baking fish (or even chicken) in parchment together with a huge pile of vegetables is fast becoming one of my favorite ways to put a meal on the table. I love that the meal is contained in a neat little parcel, how all the flavors mingle together as the fish cooks, and most of all, that there is so little effort and so few dirty dishes involved!

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Caprese Paninis

Caprese Paninis

Sarah and I have been making lunches together for quite some time. And yet…we hardly ever make sandwiches. A classic lunch food, completely ignored!

I completely love sandwiches (what’s not to love about food layered between slices of bread?) and yet, I struggle to feel at all original or creative when it comes to making sandwiches at home.

But as I picked four bright red tomatoes off the vine growing in my front yard, inspiration struck: caprese salad inside a sandwich! Because what could be better than tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil all together?

This sandwich was super messy. Not going to lie about that. But it was also amazingly delicious and very simple!

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Farmer’s Market Panzanella

Farmer's Market Panzanella

Are you overwhelmed with tomatoes yet? Overflowing with bell peppers?

I really prefer to eat the bounty of summer produce I have been bringing in from my tiny garden and the farmer’s market raw. In their most honest and nutritious and juiciest form. But really…how many tomato sandwiches can one girl eat? (In case you were wondering…the answer is about four per week. Not that I’m counting.)

If we are going to keep up with the greedy volume of fresh fruits and veggies of the summer, we are going to have to get serious. And make a huge bread salad.

What? You don’t think bread should intrude further into salads than the occasional crouton!? Are you mad!?

This panzanella is seriously delicious. The crisped bread absorbs just enough of the tomato juices and sharp dressing to become luxurious, and the hearty base makes the whole meal toothsome and filling. You should make it right away!

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Tomato Cobbler with Gruyère Biscuits

Tomato Cobbler with Gruyere Biscuits

I am not going to wax poetic today about beautiful cherry tomatoes or caramelized onions or intensely cheesy biscuits.

I am just going to tell you to go make this tomato cobbler immediately.

Very hearty. Very flavorful. Very simple. Go!

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The Zucchini Anchovy Pizza

The Zucchini Anchovy

When I was a kid I was a complete bookworm. Also a pizza-holic.

(Imagine my delight when Pizza Hut started rewarding young readers with personal pan pizzas! I had no trouble with that task, none at all.)

But I digress.

I have a vivid memory of the first time I came across the concept of an anchovy: I was (naturally) reading a book in which some of the characters were ordering a pizza. Everyone was stating their preferences, and one person said they would eat anything except anchovies.

I asked my mom what that was, and when she told me anchovies were little fish that some people liked to eat on pizza, I blanched. Gross! Fish on pizza! Who would do that to themselves!? Don’t you people know that the only truly great pizza topping you could ever want is cheese with extra cheese?

P.S., I have no trouble admitting that I am still a bookwork and a pizza-holic. I still love me some cheese pizza. But…I guess I have expanded my palatte a little. You should, too!

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