Chocolate Almond Oat Bars

choc almond oat bars pic with label

When I head out for a day away from home, whether its a day outside or an extra long work day, I like to make sure I have a healthy snack on hand for when I get home and am hungry. These bars are one of my best recipe creations in a long while. I have been making a lot of no-bake-type oatmeal cookies and almond butter-banana oatmeal lately, but I am excited to change up my oatmeal routine a bit. I was strongly inspired to make some sort of homemade bar that would taste like the CLIF chocolate almond bars that I love. I only buy CLIF bars occasionally as a treat because one, they are expensive, and two, I feel often feel guilty spending so much on one granola/protein bar of any type when I know I have the stuff at home and could make an entire batch on my own. So, this morning I played around with my no-bake oatmeal recipe and wound up with these delicious “CLIF-like” bars full of crunchy almond butter, subtle honey, cocoa powder, and oats. At 185 calories a piece, they make a great protein-packed and delicious portable snack.

Chocolate Almond Oat Bars

Yield- 6 bars

  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey + 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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1. Combine almond milk, margarine, sugar, and 1 Tbsp. of honey in sauce pan and boil hard, then turn heat down and continue a low boil for another minute.

2. Meanwhile, measure oats into a mixing bowl, along with cocoa powder and almond butter. Pour milk mixture into oats and stir gently. Add in vanilla extract and another tsp. of honey, and stir until combined.

3. Spray a 7 x 10 inch (or similar size) pan with cooking spray and press oats firmly into pan using the back of a spoon.

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4. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer until bars set. Cut into six bars. My bars held together well and ended up very close to the size of a normal CLIF bar, just thinner.

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After cutting, I placed the bars in a sealed container and will keep them in the freezer to hold their shape, just pulling out an individual bar as needed.

 



 

 

 

 

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Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs

Last night I got home rather late and debated whether I wanted to put the effort and time into making a “real” dinner for myself, as right now I am still cooking for one each night due to Joe’s work schedule during the winter season, but, I had a quick snack (almond butter and carrots are a new current fave!) and got to work, still managing to put dinner on the table at 7 pm on the dot. Inspired by this recipe from the Nevada Foodies,  http://www.nevadafoodies.com/pesto-mozzarella-stuffed-venison-meatballs/, I picked up some pepperoni on my way home from work and got stuffin’! This recipe would easily serve 4, especially with a salad on the side to go with. For us, we will have some tasty leftovers.

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 Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs Yield- 21 meatballs, 1 inch diameter

  • 3/4 lbs ground elk burger
  • 3/4 lbs ground venison breakfast sausage
  • 1 tablespoon dry pesto
  • 1/2 cup wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup+ 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, divided into (3) 2-Tbsp. portions
  • ~1/8 lb thick sliced pepperoni (approx. (5) 2-inch diameter slices)
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic salt
  • 2 cups dry rotini pasta
  • 1 tsp. butter (optional)

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If making your own breadcrumbs, process in food processor until you have about 1/2 cup. I keep a few frozen bread heels and bread slices that were going stale in the freezer in a ziplock bag and them process them in chunks as needed for breadcrumbs.

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In a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon or your clean hands, combine ground burger and ground breakfast sausage with egg white, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire.

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  Sprinkle in pesto and 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and mix into meat.

DSC01605 Cut pepperoni into bite-size pieces.

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Stuff each meatball with a piece of pepperoni.

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 Spray a baking dish (8×8 inch) with cooking spray & form meatballs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta.

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Drain water and sprinkle pasta with garlic salt and the last 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and stir. Add in a tsp. of butter, if desired.

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Set aside and keep warm.
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 Pull meatballs from oven and sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

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 Serve meatballs on top of pasta immediately.

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Jade, while eagerly helping me cook dinner in the kitchen, became very distracted by a barking dog on t.v. and ran over to check it out!

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Yup, there it is!

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Although the smell of the meatballs eventually brought her back to reality. Anyone else have a dog that checks out the t.v. dogs like this? I will say that while Jade will occasionally cock her head to the side at the t.v. when dogs bark or coyotes yip on the hunting channel,  this is the first time she has ever run to the t.v., and she is 11 years old!

Venison Sausage Breakfast Burritos for the Week

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Breakfast burritos are something I could eat daily, and appeal to me for any meal, not just breakfast. They are also great to take camping, just remove paper towel first and heat in tin foil over fire or on a camp stove.

???????????????????????????????As a matter of fact, this recipe is the perfect reminder of the full-circle aspect of hunting: harvesting, processing, appreciating, and consuming. The photo to the left is of Joe’s late whitetail deer whose meat is in these breakfast burritos. The image is of the reflection of the mount in the living room window with our porch in the background. It’s neat to be sitting on the couch and looking at the window in front of me and seeing the deer that is behind me reflected. This recipe makes five venison sausage breakfast burritos that are sealed up and frozen until ready to eat. High in protein, these burritos are a combination of crispy hash browns, onion, salsa, cheese, and eggs wrapped inside a soft flour tortilla, and make a complete breakfast any day. Make these on a Sunday and breakfast is ready for the week. All these burritos require is a minute and a half in the microwave while wrapped in their paper towel.

     You will Need:

  • 4 oz. Venison Breakfast Sausage- here’s a post on making your own
  • 1/2 cup frozen shredded hash browns
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (1/2 of medium onion)
  • 3 T. Medium Salsa
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, divided
  • 5 Taco-Size Mission tortillas (I use Mission Carb Balance)
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • Garlic salt + Pepper
  • 1 T. 2% Milk
  • Cholula hot sauce, four dashes, if desired
  • 5 Paper Towels
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Ziplock bags

Yield- 5 Burritos

1. Spray griddle or frying pan with cooking spray. Add hash browns and season with garlic salt and pepper. Spray the griddle and hash browns again with cooking spray to coat. Cook 3-4 minutes, add in a tsp. of butter.

DSC01568 DSC01569Continue cooking 5 more minutes, and in the meantime, dice the onion. Add onion to hash brown mixture.

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2. Brown sausage in frying pan while onions and hash browns cook another five minutes. Keep an eye on the hash browns and stir occasionally.

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3. While sausage cooks, crack eggs into small dish and add in 1 T. milk.

Beat eggs and add in  the Tablespoon of milk, 4 dashes of cholula, and a dash of and salt and pepper.

4. Once sausage is cooked, spray frying pan again with cooking spray. Pour in scrambled eggs and stir gently                                     over medium heat for about 1 minute.

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Next add in onion/hash brown mixture and salsa, stir into egg mixture.

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Cook another minute until eggs are softly set.

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5. Next step is assembling the burritos: First measure out another 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar. Set out a cutting board. Grab a roll of paper towels, 1 gallon or 2 quart ziplock bags, and aluminum foil.

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6. Lay tortilla on cutting board and spoon egg mixture into center of burrito in line and top with another pinch of shredded cheddar cheese.

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7. Pinch in ends of tortilla and roll.

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8. Set tortilla on paper towel and pinch in ends, roll again.

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9. Set inside piece of aluminum foil and repeat.

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10. Place tortillas in ziplock bag and place in freezer. They should last without freezer burn for months like this. I cannot say truly how long, because ours are always gone very quickly! When ready to eat, unwrap tin foil and place tortilla still wrapped in the paper towel on a plate. Microwave for 1.5 minutes. Remove paper towel and enjoy a savory and delicious breakfast any day of the week.

Approximate Nutrition Stats from Livestrong:

nutrition burritos

Slow Cooker Mountain Man Beans with Fluffy Cornbread

I made this dish basically using this recipe for “Cowboy Beans with Beef” from the Thrifty Recipes website. However, I scaled down the recipe to make enough for dinner for two with one serving of leftovers, and subbed in ground elk for the beef. Therefore, Joe came up with the idea that they are Mountain Man Beans (elk) rather than Cowboy Beans (beef). Makes perfect sense when you think about it!

I REALLY liked this meal, and it makes a good substitute for chili. I plan to make it again in the next few weeks. Plus it uses stuff one would mostly have on hand, and is filling, inexpensive, and nutritious. I came to the realization that healthy is a subjective term, so I am going to stick with the term nutritious : ) The cornbread recipe is my go-to, it is from the back on the Quaker cornmeal can and I simply substitute plain Greek yogurt for the vegetable oil, which results in a soft and fluffy cornbread. Nutrition stats for my cornbread recipe can be found on Livestrong.

Slow Cooker Mountain Man Beans with Fluffy Cornbread

Servings- 3

Mountain Man Beans

  • 2 slices bacon, cooked & torn into pieces
  • 1/2 pound ground elk or ground elk infused with bacon
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 -15-oz cans of baked beans (I used Bush’s onion baked beans)
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, drained

Cook the bacon and chop or tear into pieces. Brown the ground elk with the onion, garlic, and spices.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

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Dump meat mixture into slow cooker. Add in the bacon, beans and corn. Give the mixture a stir and cook on LOW for six hours.

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Fluffy Cornbread

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk + 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg

Spray an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients and then add in wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 until top just begins to brown. 

Cut cornbread into nine slices. Scoop up a bowl of beans and sit down to a delicious meal.

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Wapiti Wellington (aka Elk)

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  • 3/4 lb elk roast (back strap)
  • Marinade: 1 T. worcestshire, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp. Hi Mountain Elk Seasoning, 1/2 tsp. Cajun Campfire seasoning, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg

Marinade roast in a Ziploc 3 days in refrigerator using recipe above.
Pre-heat oven to 400.
Precook bacon until it is half-way done, but still flexible enough to shape around the roast.
Meanwhile lay the puff pasty and spread flat.
Wrap bacon slices around roast and place in center of puff pastry.

???????????????????????????????Fold puff pastry around roast and seal all seams.

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Beat an egg, and using a pastry brush (or a paper towel will work, too), spread egg wash over pastry. Using a knife, cut four 1/2-inch slits in the top to allow steam to vent.

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Spray an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray and place roast in pan.

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Cook for 30-35 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

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The combination of buttery pastry, bacon, and tender elk meat was delicious. Jade was certainly hoping I would drop a piece.

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Slow Cooker Wild Rabbit with Mushroom Sauce

This afternoon Joe & I went out on to the Shoshone National Forest to get our Christmas tree. For a $8 permit, we can go out into the forest and pick our own, which is even more exciting since this is the first tree of our own, ever! The past two years our rental was too small, and the three years before that we lived at Brooks Lake Lodge and got to enjoy the Lodge’s tree, but not one in our house.

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Despite the fact that is was only 7 degrees with a wind chill of -18, that has been the norm around this part of Wyoming since last Tuesday. Several days it never got above 0. Two mornings this past week we woke up to the house thermometer reading 46 degrees. Yeah…a bit chilly once the woodstove dies, even with the electric heat on. Anyway, we found a nice tree that we were able to get to through knee-high snow, and were only a short walk from the pick up.

On the way home, we called ahead for permission and stopped at a friend’s ranch to hunt for dinner for the evening. I have never eaten rabbit before, and Joe decided it was time that I tried it. After a five minute walk around the ranch’s scrap yard, one appeared. Joe has a lifetime small game license, so rabbit hunting can be done on the spur of the moment, like today. After harvesting the rabbit with his .22, he quickly gutted it and we headed home with the tree and dinner in the back of the truck.

From start to finish, here is how to do it yourself:

Slow Cooker Wild Rabbit with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 2

  • 1 cottontail rabbit
  • 1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ~1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
  • ~1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • ~1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  1. Skin, gut, butcher, and clean rabbit so that you have separated the front legs, back legs, and back strap.
  2. Place into slow cooker.
  3. Pour cream of mushroom soup over rabbit.
  4. Season with a few good shakes of garlic salt and chili powder, and a smaller shake of cayenne pepper. (I did NOT measure my spices, so please adjust according to your taste.)
  5. Pour 1/2 cup water over top.
  6. Cook for 4 hours on HIGH until meat is fork-tender.
  7. Serve with sauce from the crock pot over top.

Skin and gut the rabbit: First, remove head. Begin skinning by making an incision by the hock on the back feet and peel away fur downward toward neck until it is removed. 

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Once skinned, proceed to gut the rabbit like you would a large game animal, starting by making a cut through the center of chest cavity. Once animal is gutted, head home to prepare for cooking.

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Butcher the rabbit and separate it into pieces so that you have the rear legs, front legs, and back strap. Wash with cold water to remove any fur.

???????????????????????????????Place rabbit in slow cooker and top with can of cream of mushroom soup.

DSC01515Season with a good shake of garlic salt, chili powder, and smaller shake of cayenne. Add 1/2 cup water.

DSC01517Cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Serve immediately with mushroom sauce from slow cooker over top. 

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I though the rabbit was very good overall. It was also extremely fresh, and a nice meal for a Sunday dinner. The back strap was just a little bit chewy, but the back leg was very tender, like chicken, and I picked the bone clean. The mushroom sauce was flavorful but not overwhelming. For my first experience eating rabbit, it was a good one. 

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Hope you have a relaxing Sunday evening.

I would also love to hear from you if you have ever eaten rabbit, and if so, how you prepared it!