Stir Crazy

We’ve had a lot of snow here. Not as much as other places on the East Coast, but it’s been too much, too fast and we are all aching from the pains of it. My daughter is going stir crazy and driving me crazy, my husband is tired of shoveling and I’m tired of the constant anxiety of having to drive on potentially icy roads.
One way to ward of the winter crazies is cooking. Today, I mixed up a batch of breakfast bars, made English style pancakes to celebrate their holiday, and ended the day with mega comfort food – Macaroni and cheese with spinach and small white beans.
It was a busy day to be sure, but it went by quickly and that was really the aim.
I set out in search of Nutrigrain-like bars this morning after realizing last night that we were out. What I mostly found were crunchy granola bar recipes with jam in the middle. I wanted chewy, cakey bars that did not involve yellow cake mix (nothing wrong with it, but it’s not something we ever have on hand). So, I took a few recipes, combined the good stuff, left out the bad and added some things to make them (I hoped) the consistency that I wanted. I think I was pretty successful and I know, at least, my husband can’t stop eating them.
Breakfast Bars:
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup veg. oil
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup quick oats
10 oz of your favorite jam or preserves
Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
Grease a 9×13 pan
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
Add egg and veg. oil
Add dry ingredients until combined
Spread half mixture into bottom of pan (you can either spray some pan spray or cold water on your hands to help out)
Spread jam over that
Cover with the rest of the mixture
Bake for 30-35 minutes until jam is bubbly and top is slightly browned
Cool completely before cutting but be sure to run a knife around the edge while still warm
I imagine these will freeze very well, but can’t say for sure as this was the first time I made them!

Pancake Day! Pancake Day is always the same day as Fat Tuesday. The story is the British used to celebrate the last day before Lent by feasting on grease and sugar, just like most people do before fasting. While many people no longer fast for Lent (a Catholic tradition), most celebrate the day before it all happens some how!
Being a not very good reformed Catholic, I had no idea it was Pancake Day until I woke up this morning. So, not having much of a plan, I decided to whip up this recipe by Jamie Oliver. British pancakes are a cross between European crepes and American pancakes. This recipe delivered and I will be keeping it around for future official and non-official pancake days!
Lastly, my batch of comfort food gone healthy. I whipped a quick cheese sauce using leftover Velveeta, milk, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. I poured them over some mini wagon wheel pasta (about ½ a box), added a box of frozen spinach that had been thawed and squeezed of its water and a can of small white beans, also drained. Topped that breadcrumbs and more Parmesan, and viola! Comfort food that is (almost) healthy.


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