Grab & Go Cranberry Crunch Bars

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a healthy on-the-go snack

Healthy On-The-Go snacks are an essential for busy families. Whether you are a mom waiting on dance class to let out or a student suddenly having a snack attack during a long lecture, or just need a tasty break from work, having a handy, grab & go energizing snack can be a game changer.

However, quality store-bought snack bars can be expensive and what’s more sometimes filled with unappealing ingredients like preservatives and excessive sweeteners. Let’s try making our own. As you know, I love a great product and a good recipe challenge, so I have entered into the Cape Cod Select Blogger Recipe Contest.

With premium cranberries as the foundation this recipe is the perfect mix of nutritious superfoods. Protein packed roasted nuts add crunchy flavor and seeds add fiber and heart-healthy fats. Between the cranberries, dates and touch of brown rice syrup there is a perfect balance of natural sweetness. What’s more, both kids and adults will love them as the perfect breakfast on the go, mid-afternoon desk snack, or pre-workout fix. Bake up a batch to have on hand throughout the week.

Bonus: the recipe comes together quickly with things you may already have in your pantry. Toss one of these cranberry crunch bars in your lunch box, brown bag and backpack and be ready any time a snack attack strikes. Don’t ever need to be “hangry” again. ❤

Grab & Go Cranberry Crunch Bars

  • Servings: 10 to 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/4 cups Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries

8 pitted dates, finely chopped

¼ cup brown rice syrup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups assorted unsalted, roasted whole nuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup puffed rice cereal

¼ cup roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon chia seeds

Heat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or foil leaving a slight overhang. Spray with non-stick spray. Finely chop cranberries in a food processor. In small saucepan, over medium heat, combine cranberries, dates, brown rice syrup, butter and salt. Stirring, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture is quite thick. In a large bowl, toss nuts, cereal, and seeds. Add cranberry mixture and stir well to coat the nuts, cereal and seeds. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Chill in pan in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cold. Using the edges of parchment, lift from pan and place on a cutting surface. Slice into bars or squares. Wrap individually in parchment paper or foil and store in the refrigerator.

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Bacon Potato Roses

Next time skip the flowers and chocolate and make this delicious and surprisingly easy side dish for the love of your life. Truth be told I am not a huge bacon fan, but husband just adores it. If I am going to eat it, it has to be the meatiest looking package I can find. Choose “center cut” sliced bacon for this recipe. Lay two strips of bacon down slightly overlapping on one end.

Oscar Mayer center cut bacon is perfect

Now the only other thing you need to buy are some good old russet potatoes because I am pretty sure you already have cooking oil and assorted spices in your pantry. Right? Okay let’s do this thing. Thinly slice your peeled potato on a mandoline and toss with just enough oil to coat ( a couple of teaspoons). Season with salt, pepper and whatever floats your boat….garlic powder, smoked paprika, rosemary…it’s all good. Now lay those potatoes on top of the bacon, slightly overlapping each other, and aligning one edge of the potatoes with the edge of bacon.

Let’s roll

Rolling it up really is as easy as it looks. Place each in a muffin cup and bake at 400F for 45 minutes. Cover the top loosely with foil to prevent over-browning and continue to bake another 15 minutes to insure fully cooked bacon on the inside. That’s it.

Certainly if you want to gild the lily (I mean rose) sprinkle with some grated cheese or fresh snipped herbs. For the record 1 good size potato made 5 roses.

stop and smell the roses and love each other

Ramping It Up

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There is a saying that the month of March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but I think it better applies to April here in Pennsylvania. Should I mention the chilly weather we’ve all been NOT enjoying?  For a very long time it has felt like spring would never come. Finally, that snow and ice of those first few weeks have melted into a sense of calm like a warm spring shower.

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By the 4thweek in April there is a noticeable change in the landscape. Clearly, the sun shines brighter, the grass is greener and the warm temperatures beckons one outside to the garden and forest beyond. It’s rejuvenating and ramps up the mood.

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Yesssss it is ramp season. Ramps, aka, wild leeks are prized by chefs and can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild onion flavor and complement everything from pesto to quiche. I think it’s no happy accident that they are in season at the very same time asparagus is rising from the ground. They really do complement each other in flavor.

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If you are fortunate enough to find a lush patch of ramps don’t be greedy. Clip just what you need and leave the rest to rejuvenate the patch for years to come. Take care of the earth and it will take care of you. Last week was Earth Day and many of my neighbors participated in a local clean-up of litter. Why do people litter? Anyway, it brought back a memory of William and I joining forces so many years ago. He was a good keeper of the earth.

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Here are a few ways to enjoy the freshness of spring ramp greens.

  • Add a few leaves to your favorite pesto mix for another layer of flavor
  • Chiffonade a few leaves and add to an omelet
  • Saute ramps with garlic and olive oil for a side dish
  • Chop and add to risotto
  • Delicious raw in slaws and salads (maybe not fruit salad)

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Ramp butter is fantastic on top of a burger or basted over a steak. Melt it in pasta with a bit of parmesan and pepper for a heavenly good dinner. Compound butters are super easy to make and pretty much keep forever in the freezer. I’m hoping to make enough to get me through until next season.

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Ramp Butter

10 fresh ramp leaves, stems trimmed, roughly chopped

pinch of coarse salt (I use a large grain Celtic sea salt)

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon champagne honey or Dijon mustard (Saucy Mama brand preferred)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

Place all ingredients in food processor and let it rip until the ramps are finely chopped and the mixture is a glorious  fresh green color. Form into a log in some plastic wrap and store in freezer. I just slice of what I need when I need it.

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 ❤