June 28, 2011

No Bake Monkey Balls! (Guest Blogger)

Today's post is brought to us by none other than Ms. Evonne Noble!  There are two stories here: 1) what are Monkey Balls and 2) who's Ms. Noble?

The building next to where I work has a popular to-go lunch spot called Juicy (formerly called Juice It but that's another story).  They have rice bowls, salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies, and Monkey Balls.  Monkey balls look like the picture above and are made of oatmeal, bananas, pb, and dried fruit etc.  Ms. Noble does not call them Monkey Balls, she prefers Oatmeal Balls or Balls of Goodness :) Insert token balls joke here...

Evonne Noble and I have had several chapters together.  First, we taught high school math together for only one LONG year.  During which we helped each other find careers outside of teaching.  She went on to become an actuary.  In our latest chapter together we work together again!  She's with a different team but we're on the same floor and can and do make frequent coffee runs together.   It is so fun to work together again!  

The two stories came together when I was gabbing with a new hire in the company kitchen one day.  She was talking about Monkey Balls and said now that she has a recipe she won't have to buy they at JuiceIt (just can't call it Juicy).  They sell them for $2 a ball!  I asked for the recipe and she said she would email it but didn't know my name.  When I told her she said, "Oh you're Lisa CurlyHair!  The recipe is from Evonne! Don't you know her?"  The rest is now published history.

Monkey Balls are like but even better than Clif Bars.  They keep in the fridge for the week and are super filling. The oatmeal "Cooks" overnight in the fridge.  TRY THEM and you will fall in love!

Basically you can mix/match with whatever you like or have on hand.  I play around by changing the amount of sweetener or proportions of ingredients.

The overall steps are to mix the wet ingredients with the protein power, mix the dry ingredients separately, then mix all together very thoroughly and make into balls.  Finish by wrapping in saran wrap to keep moisture and flavor; freeze/refrigerate to set.

Wet Mixtures - Mix approx. equal parts glue, sweetener and protein powder
-Glues: Peanut Butter, almond butter, cashew butter, any butter!, or try a banana (or combine those!) - FOR MONKEY BALLS USE AT LEAST 1-2 BANANAS which will both provide some sweetener and some of the glue

-Sweetener - honey, agave, rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.  I try to do less sweetener so I prefer more like 1 cup almond butter to 1/3 or 1/2 cup agave to 1 cup protein powder.  You can always make it with less and then add more to the final product before you form the balls.

-Protein power  - use any flavor you like but vanilla or plain go well as a base unless you want a more chocolate feel, then go chocolate. I have never tried chocolate.

Dry ideas - I think having more oats or oat-like flakes as a base works best for consistency, but you can up the nuts and other ingredients to a texture/flavor that you like.  If you want you can put the dry stuff in the blender for a smoother, more dough-like ball, but I like the full oat/flake look and feel without extra blending/chopping.

-other rolled grain flakes: spelt, emmer, barley, rye, kamut, etc
-rice cereals (like kashi or rice crispies)
-crushed nuts: peanuts, almonds, macadamia, pecan, walnut etc
-seeds: sunflower, sesame, pumpkin
-chocolate chips, other treat chips (butterscotch, etc)
-dried fruits: raisin, cranberries, chopped dates, chopped figs, etc
-wheat germ
-flax seed (use ground, whole seed you body does not digest and get the nutrients!)
-spices:  cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, you name it!

You can test out to see how wet/dry you like your balls (ha!) but around a ratio of 1:2 for wet to dry ingredients is what I like. So, for the above example of 1 cup almond butter, 1/3 cup agave and 1 cup protein powder, I'd put in about 2-3 cups of dry ingredients like oatmeal, spelt flakes, wheat germ, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut.

FYI - if you heat the butter to soften it and make it easier to mix, WAIT and add chocolate chips or other meltables until later (maybe even chill the mix first). I made the mistake of adding chocolate and the bars were slightly warm and then instead of nice chips I had chocolate goo.  Still tasty but not my desired outcome

I have also made baked energy bars - below are a few recipes I tried:
Power Bars –  http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/video-big-sur-power-bars-recipe.html

Peanut Bars (replace with almonds or other nuts?) http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001402.html

June 24, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 06.19.2011

We haven't had a Sunday pizza in a couple weeks.  Lately, we've been working on the yard, including taking out our crappy aggregate concrete patio pad and replacing it with flagstone and new steps.  C is shoveling as I type!  The last few weeks have been filled with prep work going to various stores to price things out and pouring through the internet for ideas and how-to tips etc.  Frankly, we've been eating whatever is close by.

June 16, 2011

Custom Coffee Table Part 2 (Guest blogger!)

Today's post comes from the artist himself, Chris.  It is cool to watch him in his element.  He is truly talented!  Major bonus -  I get to enjoy the end product in our home as well.  Enjoy,  Lisa

The inspiration for the table came from two directions, the first a table that was friendlier to our little guy and second, working with wood is so much fun.  Making a coffee table seemed like a great project to embark on.  Our old table was a behemoth with nasty corners on the top and bottom; perfect for little people to hurt themselves on as well as for adults to stub toes, scrape ankles, etc.  At some point in our past it was a good idea and useful; no longer though.

Lisa already provided pics of the place where we picked up the wood, the pieces we bought, and the finished product.  By the way the sawyer we go to is a great down-to-earth guy.  We will continue to go with him for other projects.

June 11, 2011

New and Exciting Recipe Index!

I was talking with my friend and colleague, Bakhos, the other day.  He asked me if I posted recipes and two things occurred to me

1)  Clearly Bakhos just started following my blog since I haven't posted a recipe in awhile but usually totally post recipes.

2) I need a recipe index!

I will admit, at first I hesitated starting this task.  It turned to be extremely gratifying to see all the recipes I've posted in 10 months.  Plus, I loved seeing the evolution of my posts and revisit favorite recipes of mine.

Lately, I have been cooking but not well-documenting.  My beloved camera is in the shop. Sniff sniff.  It should be ready any day but has been several weeks if you can believe it. Yes, you're right, I should call to find out what's taking so long first thing Monday.

Looking for that one recipe you saw last month?  Check out my new and exciting Recipe Index!  Thanks for the inspiration Bakhos!


June 9, 2011

Custom Coffee Table

Last summer I had this crazy idea we could tile wood from the fireplace mantel all the way up to the ceiling.  I must have seen pictures somewhere or something.  I'm not sure where I got this idea in my head.  I looked on Craigslist for reclaimed wood and found this guy that sells reclaimed wood.

We went down their and got unfinished flooring wood and - surprise! - a huge chunk of maple to use as a mantel.  C ended up knocking out the brick fireplace and replacing it with stone and putting the wood mantel on top.  After all that the idea of tiling wood above seemed over-the-top crazy busy.  Need any unfinished wood floor boards?

Back in May I asked C what he wanted for his birthday and he said he would like to make a coffee table to match the mantel.

June 6, 2011

Alki Beach

When I told my students six years ago that my soon-to-be hubby and I were packing up and moving to Seattle here's what Charlie shouted, "Why Seattle?  It has the highest suicide rate in the nation!"  His comment was met with mixed reviews from fellow students to which he defended, "It rains like all the time there!"

Gotta say, it certainly does rain a lot in Seattle.  It is more of a drizzly, cool, cloudy-like climate rather than stormy rain.  Most of the winter the rain doesn't bother me.  About April I start watching the forecast for sun and wondering where the rain "off switch" might be located.