Easy Date Bars and Fresh Spinach and Berry Salad with Glazed Pecans

you-don-t-have-to-go-home-but-you-can-t-stay-hereThese were the last words I heard from the loud speaker the other night as the pool was closing. I don’t know how I managed to hear the manager as my ears were clogged with water, but I found myself chuckling at these closing remarks. As I was passing him on my way out, I asked him what he meant and he said this was a quote from the Blues Brothers. It seemed to have great irony to me, as I often escape from my home to have a brief respite at the pool.  I won’t go into the myriad of reasons I feel the need to escape to the pool, but alas, I can’t stay in it forever.

I continued to think about this quote and realized this may have divine implications for me.  God doesn’t want any of us to stay “stuck”,  he wants us to give all of these things over to Him and put our trust in Him to deal with the messes that come up in life.  I do know that when I find quiet time away to connect and hand my life over to Him (again), it is easier to go back home and carry on.

Easy Date Bars

Recently, I had a chance to use the new handheld mixer I ordered from Kohls.com, since my other one, circa 1990, had passed on.  My assistant chefs couldn’t get the box open quick enough. We made scrambled eggs for breakfast, which to my surprise and delight, was devoured even by my pickiest eater. The more I work with children, especially my own, I am finding the best way to broaden their food horizons is to involve them in every step of the process, from the shopping (or growing), to the preparation and serving.

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Scrambling some eggs up on the way to swim camp… our swim star hard at work!

We are enjoying baking together this summer. I find it is a great teaching opportunity in both reading and math. We are also learning how to improvise, such as in the date bars when I only had cake flour and smart balance margarine left.

We are enjoying the fruits of our labor and sharing them with others, which is an important lesson for all of us!

Easy Date Bars

I’ve been planning to make these for a few weeks to use up some leftover pitted dates from another class. These are also great addition to vegetable smoothies that need some extra sweetness. The chopped dates, water, sugar and Smart Balance margarine simmered in a pan for 10 minutes while we measured out and mixed our dry ingredients.

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After the wet ingredients simmered and cooled, they were added to dry ingredients and poured into a pan to bake for 20 minutes.  My lovely assistant below showing the batter in the pan

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These bars smelled absolutely heavenly as they baked and both kids and our neighbor were anxiously counting down with the oven timer.

 

After they cooled, I mixed 1 Tablespoon of warm milk to a cup of powdered sugar to make some icing. Sprinkles were suggested in recipe as an option, which I skipped. These bars were tasty, even without the icing. This step could be skipped if you are watching sugar/calorie intake.

As I mentioned earlier, I substituted cake flour for all purpose. Cake flour is lower in protein, which yields airy and light baked products. The end product was delicious but a little crumbly. When I have a chance to bake this again, I am going to experiment with a 25/75 mix of whole wheat/all purpose flour for a chewier/higher fiber content.

Thanks for this easy and delicious recipe to Barb S! I’m looking forward to making these again as an alternative to the granola bars my kids love to snack on.

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Helping glaze the date bars

Fresh Berry and Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans

In my quest to use up and clean out my fridge/cupboard contents, I thought this would be fun to try out. Julie posted this recipe earlier this year, as I realized after the fact

The pecans were easy to sautee, even using margarine since we were without butter and cooled quickly on parchment paper. I have to admit we snacked on them a bit before the remainder made it to the salad!

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I am a big fan of eating and mixing fruits and veggies together, even in a salad. This recipe helps compliment some fresh berries and spinach. It happened to be one of the few hot evenings we had this summer and we all found this dinner salad refreshing!

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Anxiously awaiting his delicious salad for dinner!

 

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