My son has started kindergarten and is in a tree nut-free school. He packs his lunch pretty much every day, and we’re always looking for new treats for him to bring for snacktime and lunch. His favorite dessert of late are these granola bars, but we decided to switch things up and create a new treat — introducing these energy balls! They’re sweet enough that he eats them after his lunch and we’ve started calling them chocolate cookie balls.
If you’re seeking a snack recipe for school (or home) that has no tree nuts or peanuts (read: no almonds, etc.), then you must try this! Please note that they have coconut, which can be another allergen, and sunflower seeds, which aren’t a nut. These take 5 minutes to make and only have 6 ingredients! Plus, they’re so easy to make, my 3-year-old daughter had a blast helping me.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my firstborn starts kindergarten THIS YEAR. I could (and should) write a full post on how fast time flies, how I’m not ready for him to go to real school (during a pandemic nonetheless) and also how amazing he is. So instead, I’m taking out my anxiety and emotions by baking and making sure we’re prepared and ready to start! One of the ways we are doing this is by making sure we have snacks, since FW has a morning snack he must bring every day. Snacks (and all foods) must be tree nut free, so that leaves out so many of our usual go-tos, like PB&J, or energy bites. Luckily, I found a recipe for granola bars that FW (and the rest of the family) enjoys, so this is going to be part of our new rotation.
If you’re seeking a snack recipe for school (or home) that has no tree nuts or peanuts (read: no almonds, etc.), then you must try this!
“We haven’t had Indian food in a while,” said B the other day. He was right – we were on a stint for a while where we were having Indian food as our go-to takeout or eat-out option on a somewhat (not daily) regular basis. And it’s true, I can’t recall the last time we both went out for Indian food. OR Thai food. BUT I’ve been on a going-out-to-eat spree and didn’t really want to continue it. Between traveling for work, lack of groceries and birthday / friend / etc. meals, I’m somewhat getting tired of eating out. Just ask B – I go eat to eat 4 times in a row and I’m sick of it.
Anyway, that’s why I decided to make some semi-Indian/Thai-hybrid dinner from what we had on hand in our apartment. OK, it’s probably neither (sorry if you are an expert in either cuisine) – it’s just a vegetarian curry dish. Anyway, we go to the West Side Market nearly weekly and tend to stock up on a ton of veggies from our favorite stand – and last week I had gotten tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, onions and more. Keeping this in mind, and seeing a few fun recipes online, I decided to recreate the Indian/Thai/Going Out To Eat food experience right from our apartment.
Eggplant and Squash Curry with Quinoa
Here’s what you need:
- 1 butternut squash
- 3 TBS olive oil, divided into 1TBS and 2 TBS
- 3 TBS cumin, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 red bell peppers, diced and seeded
- 1 onion (I used a red onion), sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium eggplant, diced into bite-size pieces
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 TBS curry powder
- 1 teaspon ground cardamom
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 can (1 ½ cups) chickpeas
- 1 c. quinoa, cooked according to package directions (typically with 2 c water)
- ¼ c unsweetened coconut
Here’s what you do:
- Reheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Peel and cut squash into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch squares. toss with 1 TBS of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and 1 TBS cumin.
- Place seasoned squash on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until squash is soft and starting to brown.
- While squash is cooking, heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped pepper, onion, eggplant, ginger and garlic. Add salt, pepper, curry powder, cardamom and 1 TBS cumin. Cook for 3-5 minutes, letting vegetables start to get tender.
- Cover the skillet and cook for 10 minutes or until eggplant is softened. Add in roasted squash, canned tomatoes in juice and chickpeas. Add another tablespoon of cumin. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
- Add in cooked quinoa and unsweetened coconut and cook for another minute.
Add in the quinoa and coconut …
- B thought this recipe was “so so” and when I asked him what he’d change he said “maybe a little less seasoning next time.” SO please use the curry/cardamom/cumin guidelines to taste – you can always add more as it continues to cook.
- B also doesn’t like coconut so I only added a handful to the final dish, and mostly on the portion I was eating – feel free to add more, and even some coconut milk if you prefer coconut curry to traditional curry.
- I have used the powdered red curry, which is spicier than the yellow curry I have. Thus I didn’t add any chili powder. If you like it spicy and you only have yellow (not-so-spicy) curry on hand, feel free to add some chili powder as well!
Some questions for you: Share your answers in the comments – mine are in italic!
- Do you ever just literally throw everything you have on hand into a dish to see what happens? Yes, too often. In this case I was actually kinda pleased with myself – it seems pre-thought out!
- What’s your favorite Indian food dish? I love Chicken Tikka Masala or anything Vindaloo.
- What’s your favorite Thai dish? Any thai soup, or pad ke mao and I love their spring rolls!
- How often do you go out to eat? How often do you feel is “too much?” I don’t know why, but after eating 3-4 meals out in a row I start to feel sick/gross. Even if I’m eating healthy, I just prefer homemade meals!
Got a sweet tooth? Love candy corn? Or do you just really like Halloween? Then these cookies are for you! They’re festive and perfect for this time of year. Even my husband, who typically is not a candy corn fan (and who has a “meat tooth, not a sweet tooth”), enjoyed these. Well he was able to eat one and enjoy it!
A note on the name. It’s just descriptive. Someone told me they’re also called Hello Dolly bars? Call them what you like – just bake them and enjoy!
Candy Corn White Chocolate Peanutty Bars
Here’s what you need:
- 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 cups Rice Krispies crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 3/4 cups white chocolate chips
- 3/4 cups candy corn M&Ms (if you don’t have these on hand feel free to use regular m&ms or extra white chocolate chips)
- 1 cup peanut butter chips
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 cup candy corn
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
Here’s what you do:
- Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.
- Prepare graham and Rice Krispies crumbs! Process both graham crackers and Rice Krispies into a food processor and grind until they make a smooth powder/crumb. You can probably use all graham crackers (or even better, a box of already made graham cracker crumbs) but I like using Rice Krispies to cut the sweetness. And then you can use leftover Krispies for Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats! But that’s a story for another day 🙂
- Mix crumbs with melted butter and combine until thoroughly moistened. Press crumb/butter mixture into bottom of pan.
- Sprinkle white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, candy corn M&Ms, peanut butter chips, peanuts, coconut, and candy corn over the top.
- Pour the can of condensed milk evenly over the top of the bars.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bars start to get darker brown at the corners. Cool completely before cutting into bars. I popped mine in the fridge to harden first and speed up the process.
- Enjoy! You probably won’t be able to eat more than one because they’re pretty sweet. But perfect for this sweet holiday!
Look at all that goodness that goes on bars! Peanuts, put butter chips, white chocolate chips, candy corn M&Ms … YUM!
Saturday night B went out to a beer/whiskey/cigar bar with some dudes and I decided to stay home and catch up on my DVR (how else would I know what happened to Kourtney and Kim in NY?), paint my nails and bake some cookies.
What did I bake? Special K cookies! I first had these cookies at B’s parents house and they have become a Carney family tradition and now make an appearance at quite a few family gatherings. I even sent some to my brother in a care package his freshman year. All in all, Special K cookies were a perfect end to a great day!
Special K Cookies
Here’s what you need:
- 1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 1 c brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbs vanilla sugar (1 package of purchased)
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 c. uncooked old fashioned oats
- 2 c Special K cereal
- 3/4 c sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 c mini chocolate chips
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix special K, oats, coconut flakes and chocolate chips. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugars until fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg is added.
- Stir in flour mixture slowly, mixing well.
- Stir in oat mixture and mix with wooden spoon until well blended.
- Make tablespoon sized scoops on greased baking sheets.
- Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.