All this time I've been thinking that summer was going to be less packing and cooking and all I've done in between all the fun is pack and cook and pack some more.
Part of it is that I am a total goody two shoes about what we eat so I can't just swing by a fast food eatery and fuel up. There is a lot of fruit cutting, cooler packing, chilled salad making and thoughtful snack preparation going into every beach trip, camp trip and any other variety of summer day outings.
And then the inevitable wet-bathing suit drying, towel washing, sand shaking, tupperware washing unpacking that has to follow on the other end. I'm not complaining. I love to wear a bikini top instead of a bra. I'm just finding I have to be very organized even in the breezy, relaxed season of summer. I am more camp counselor with my kids than feet up on the back deck drinking wine kind of lady. (Although I am seriously looking forward to some of that during vacation right around the corner.)
As part of all the packing and preparing for long periods away from the house and out in the sunshine, I have also been baking in the early mornings before it gets hot so there are plenty of hearty snacks to keep us going. Here are two recipes I made this week. The pumpkin bread I've been making for years and is a big hit (and has vegetables!) and I think I promised to post the granola bar recipe a long time ago and never did. It is a perfect food for me to grab before an early morning bike ride.
Pumpkin Streusel Bread:
(from The Best of Cooking Light cookbook 2004)
1/4 c. chopped pecans
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 TBSP chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use half white, half whole-wheat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 plain yogurt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2. To prepare topping, combine first 4 ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.
3. To prepare bread, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine pumpkin and next 5 ingredients in a bowl and add to flour mixture. Stir until just moist.
4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5 loaf pan coated in cooking spray; sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
(I had to make adjustments for my kids by omitting pecans on top and raisins inside. But I can attest that it is more delicious to include them.)
(Unfortunately I cannot give credit where credit is due since I have no source for this recipe. I found it randomly on the Internet last year.)
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I reduced to 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
1/4 nut butter (peanut, sunflower, almond, cashew)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins or cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl mix oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and salt. In a smaller bowl combine honey, egg, oil, nut butter and vanilla. Add to oat mixture, mixing well. (You may need to use your hands to coat everything evenly.)
3. Press the mixture into a greased 9 x13 pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Store in an airtight container.
(For a crunchier bar use 1/2 cup of oil and omit nut butter. I like nut butter because it makes a softer bar and adds protein.)