Cherry Chocolate Almond Coconut Oatmeal Bars

Running after-school errands the other day, I decided to dash into World Market to have a look around.  They usually have capers for a good price, so I moseyed over to the food aisles.  Capers were nowhere to be found, so I snagged the next best luxury–a lusty looking bar of dark chocolate studded with almonds and dried cherries, wrapped in bright red paper.  Slipping it into my cart, I told myself I’d save it for a special occasion to share with friends.  Or, if that didn’t transpire then I’d at least savor it bit by bit over the course of a week or so.

The following day, I was busy on the computer all morning and when I went to rifle around for something to eat for lunch, there it was–THE TEMPTER.   All it took was one bite… and rather than letting those little fat and calorie numbers on the wrapper ruin my indulgence, I concentrated on how seriously rich in antioxidants this “meal” was and how the almonds were protein and calcium, the cherries were fruit and a dose of vitamin C, and really, I should do this more often!!

Despite the horrible blood sugar drop later that day, creative inspiration ensued.  I wanted to recreate that same flavor combination, but in the form of a more wholesome treat and make it gluten and dairy-free, so that my son and anyone else with food allergies could enjoy.  There was even an insanely delicious jar of Central Market’s Organic Morello Cherry Jam sitting in my pantry just begging to be showcased in some divine concoction!  The following recipe is what I developed, loosely basing it on Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe for Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars in one of my favorite baking cookbooks, Baking, From My Home to Yours.  These bars are scrumptious!  Just sweet enough, the oat/nut base is the perfect toothsome platform for the tangy cherries and melted chocolate.  The coconut provides additional texture and adds another flavor dimension that is out of this world.  I highly suggest you go make these for someone you love…right now.  GO.

Recipe for Chocolate Cherry Coconut Almond Oatmeal Bars:

yields:  12 rectangular bars                       total cooking time:  40 min.

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Summer Send-off Shrimp Pasta

Having spent twenty consecutive summers in Dallas, I always know that I’m going to turn into August is going to be a firey, angry beast forcing us all to seek air-conditioned comfort indoors, preferably with a cool drink and tolerable company. Well, the past few weeks have been especially brutal, because even if it was necessary to be running around in the gawdawful heat, the threat of being taken out by tiny little ninja warrior mosquitoes rendered every errand a life or death event.

This past weekend, though, we were granted a reprieve. Fall fluttered in and Dallasites were set free. Every restaurant patio in the city was bustling, families filled the playgrounds, and the scene at White Rock Lake reminded me of a sexier, multi-cultural, barely clothed version of this:

So, now that I’ve caught a glimpse of Fall, I’m ready to throw summer a great big giant “thanks for everything–it was great, now be on your way” send-off.

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Provençal Chicken Thighs

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Ever since I was a precocious little girl in North Carolina with big pouffy pigtails, I have been completely obsessed with food and cooking. While the other neighborhood kids were racing bicycles, I would be nestled in my “pioneer fort” deep within the bushes of our residential front yard stirring a pot of twigs and dirt. With one eye looking over my shoulder for anyone who might threaten my mission, I would harness the sun’s rays and intently produce smoldering leaves with my magnifying glass. Pure six-year-old exhilaration, friends!

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