Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baking Again..........

It is certainly good to be home!  I've been traveling for the last few weeks...living out of a suitcase...eating nasty food that I am NOT used to eating.  Don't worry...I didn't go completely crazy and eat at Taco Bell or anything like that but I usually do not eat out at all.   In general, I find restraunt food over salted yet under seasoned (unless you count all the msg thats hidden in marinades, sauces and dressings), too high in both calories and fat, under-inspired and over-priced.  But then again, I'm probably much more critical than most diners.

Of note, we did find this cool little diner off the beaten path in Franfort Indiana.  Shaggy's Diner...tres retro in an old store front, exposed brick walls, stone chess set (game in progress) at a table in the front window and guitar, chair and mike in the other front window niche.  Local art all over the walls of course.  The food was simple fare but very tasty.  The prices were definately retro...great deals.  I'd go again if only for the ambiance but the food was actually good.  Why do I feel like Guy Fieri all of a sudden?  Lord, I hope my mouth isn't that big.....

Greyhound Tavern in Fort Thomas, Kentucky...save your money.  Highly over-rated.  Old decor, old menu, old customers, old...old...old.  I was waiting for the aging servers with the lipstick lines all the way to the nostrils to come marching out of the kitchen bearing trays of iceberg wedges frosted with thousand island dressing and those nasty little jello salad squares with mini marshmallows and canned pineapple nesting on wads of wilted leaf lettuce.  It had the feel of a church pot-luck where everyone made the recipes on the Campbell's soup can labels and the vanilla wafer boxes.  And the service was abysmal at best...if I were that unhappy being a 65 year old waitress, I believe I'd hang up my orthopedic panty hose and QUIT!

In Columbus, Ohio we did enjoy a walk through the "Victorian sector" and dinner at Moody's...a trendy (and VERY BUSY) Italian resturant that had just the right mix of traditional and trendy cuisine.  We started with a cheese board sampler that came on a paper lined board with little accoutremonts such as salted honey and white truffle oil.  The bread was a little ordinary and would have been much better served warm but the olive oil and aged balsamic in which to dip it was stupendous...fruity and bold at the same time. 

I had the most amazing salad of baby arugula, sunchokes, marcona almonds, dried cranberries and shaved pecorino with a lemon olive oil vinaigrette.  We also shared a pot of mixed olives (there were 12 of us ok...I didn't eat this all by myself).  My pescitarian daughter and her boyfriend shared a roasted shrimp and pesto flatbread.  My oldest daughter and her boyfriend shared the enourmous stuffed veal meatballs with marinara and capellini.  My mother and I shared the most amazing flatbread pizza of caramelized onions, tellegio and crisped panchetta that was topped with paper thin strips of crisped potates and baby arugula. 

Afterwards we had to walk off dinner and check out the shops.  My oldest daughter, who lives in Columbus proclaimed that we MUST try the ice cream shop.  I can't remember the name...I'll have to ask her because if you are ever in Columbus you MUST go there!  I don't even LIKE ice cream and I was amazed.  I had a cup of Roasted Cherry Goat Cheese Ice Cream and it was truely one of the best tasting things I've ever eaten.  I paid for all that dairy later but for once it was worth it!

Other than those few eating establishments, the rest were a parade of chain joints....Cheesecake factory (which I personally find highly over rated), the ever present (and gut wrenching) Cracker Barrell to which I was dragged kicking and screaming, Ruby Tuesdays etc etc.  I had to come home and do a juice detox for 3 days.....

I did cook a couple of meals while at my brother's house but only because they live so far out in the boonies that there are no restaraunts.  I NEVER mind doing the cooking but my traveling companion (mom) feels that vacation means a vacation from cooking and gets downright offended if anyone suggests eating at home!  I have left her in Indiana...stuck off in BFE at my brother's place for the entire month of July.  I'll go back and retrieve after the wedding in Kentucky (my best friend's son) that I am helping to cater.

My poor kitchen!  I had to make SOMETHING today and I had some fresh medjool dates that were...well...they had become DRIED medjool dates.  I decided to cook them down in some orange juice and turn that into a date puree.  I knew I wanted to make some sort of bar so I just decided to wing it....my Whole Wheat Date Yogurt Bars are the result.  Sweet dates, tangy greek yogurt over a crust of oats, whole wheat flour, butter and a few other tasty ingredients become a wonderful dense and delicious bar cookie.

Whole Wheat Date Yogurt Bars

1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup organic rolled oats
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted organic butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups pitted medjool dates
1 cup orange juice
2 T orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt (fat free is fine)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup unbleached cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large cage free organic egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  Combine both flours, oats, almond meal, wheat germ, brown sugar and salt in container of food processor.  Add cubes of cold butter and pulse mixture until combined.  Mixture will hold together when pressed or squeezed.

2.  Grease and flour an 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Set aside 1/3 of crust mixture and press remaining crust into pan.  Set aside while filling are prepared.

3.  Place pitted dated and orange juice in a small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until dates are tender and most of the juice is gone.  Remove from heat and scrape into food processor.  Add orange zest and lemon juice; pulse until smooth.  Spread this mixture over the prepared crust.

4.  In a small bowl, combine greek yogurt, flour, sugar, vanilla and beaten egg.  Spread this mixture evenly over date mixture.  Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over the yogurt.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Cool before cutting.

Servings will depend on how large you cut the bars.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

These bars are chewy in the middle with a nice firm bottom crust and the yummy, tangy yogurt topped with buttery crumbs.

(c) copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet


  1. Those bars looks great! Nice and healthy. But I must say, I love Cheesecake Factory and Cracker Barrel! Not the best for you but so much fun!

  2. Yum Jilly! The inside looks so gooey and perfect. I've been meaning to make a date or fig bar soon-this is making me crave one right now.
    Glad your'e back too.
    p.s. I don't like eating at restaurants anymore. 3-4 times the food's cost for gmo garbage-no thanks (smile)!

  3. hi Jill
    looks like you found a good use for those dates!
    what a very health tasty combination of ingredients!Your bars look very good!
    thanks so much for sharing about your travels and dining exeriences!

  4. Hey Again Jilly,
    I commented here before reading your comment on my blog. I love the flax egg. In fact, I thought about calling it Jilly's Flax egg and putting a link on it to your site. I didn't ask you as I noticed you weren't posting. Next time I use it, do you want me to call it that with a link to you? I'd like to....only if you're okay with it though...
    p.s. I'm so disturbed and, frankly, pissed about this oil spill. I live on the beach. I'm so mad! I'm just venting this to you, as I know you live in Florida too...

  5. Thanks Rick, Stella and Dennis. Im so glad to be home (for a few weeks at least). Stella, you don't have to mention me about the flax egg...I don't care. Another vegan friend taught it to me years ago...it's just one of those things that you pass around if you know it.
    I was out at lighthouse beach on Sanibel last week (I only live 20 minutes from it)and the water is clear blue perfection, the beaches are pure white sand and I was just thinking how horrendous that this may soon be covered with oil. I can't watch the news about it anymore. Everytime they show those underwater photos with all that oil billowing up out of the well, my stomach hurts. Then these idiots get on there and talk about how they don't think ecological impact will be all that bad in the end. WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE KIDDING?? Im worried that these storms are going to whip this oil up onto the beaches. Once the eye starts swirling like that...it's going to be like a big toilet bowl and all the "crap" is going to stick to the sides (the beaches). Our wildlife is in dire circumstances.

  6. BTW...this recipe could be veganized fairly easily. Replace the butter with 1 stick of vegan margarine and 4 tablespoons cold (solid) coconut oil. Replace the egg with a flax egg and the greek yogurt with pureed tofu to which lemon juice has been added or omit the "yogurt topping" altogether and just sprinkle the reserved crumbs onto the date filling.

  7. glad your home, we missed your post...and your bars look amazing, whole wheat add such great flavor


  8. Glad you are back! I LOVE reading your blogs! I have been missing you on here and on FB. Your Date Bars look delish!

  9. Hey Jilly, I was thinking that these bars could probably be veganized pretty easily when I saw them. If the dates look good (or figs), I might try them. I can see them being good as a breakfast too with coffee!

    You know, my stomach hurts like that when i see the news footage. It's so disturbing and WRONG! Oh, and storms?!? You know how the storms are getting bigger due to the temp of the earth rising? Well, the water temp has risen too, which causes bigger storms like Katrina. My question is how is petrol going to affect the temperature of the water? I bet not positively.

    And, yeah, the wildlife damage is heartbreaking. We are starting to have sharks just hanging out near the shore, b/c they don't know where to go...first time I ever felt sorry for sharks (smile).

    Anyway, maybe they'll come up with a solution. Someone might for profit, you know? That seems to be what drives people. I'm sure a bunch of scientist and whiz kids are already brainstorming on how to clean it up and get rich while doing it!!!

    p.s. I know I'm cynical, JillyAn. I'm trying to not be, but it's hard. Don't let it hurt your day if you're picking up on it (smile).
    My Warmest, Stella

  10. No...I completely understand Stella. Im cynial about it as well because it COULD be stopped if they would just cap the friggin thing. But of course bp doesn't want to do that because then they can't use it anymore. It is ALL about the greed while our beautiful gulf waters fill daily with more and more oil and our shorelines and wildlife are being ravaged. Im very worried about what will happen with all these tripical storms. The gulf water temps were nearly 90 degrees in the shallow at Sanibel and only marginally cooler for miles off shore. It's a recipe for disaster.

  11. Hey Karen...it's good to be back. Although I did have surgery today and I feel like Ive been hit by a truck. I had to go to Radiology this morning for the placement of a guide wire into the lump (to make it easier to excise since it does not show up on mamo but the wire will). Low and behold, the did the ultrasound and ending up finding a SECOND lump which explains why I thought it had gotten bigger. There were two...side by side. we didn't get home until 6 pm and we had left at 8 this morning. Im wearing this surgical bra (sexy huh??) that is stuffed with an iced bag on the left side. The incision is about 4 inches wide and it looks like a big empty spot. Ugh....I guess I wont be doing any topless sunbathing for a while huh? LOL

  12. I feel so bad that after your trip you had to come home and have surgery again! I truly hope this will be the end to this and they got it all this time! Take it easy and get plenty of rest! I sure have missed you and your blogs!!


Wooohooo, yippeeee...I've got comments!

About Me

My photo
Fort Myers, Florida, United States