Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

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Our society loves options, and I admit, I do too. When I’m home in Maine for the summer, I love that I have 4 local ice cream parlors within a 3 mile radius from my house, have a variety of beaches to choose from, and have what seems to be an endless amount of options for day hikes available. I love to mix and match my exercise activities-maybe I’ll run, go for a long walk, swim, bike, or attempt to do yoga. I may switch from reading a book to a magazine to a newspaper in the same day. And, along with everything else, I like options with my food as well. This fruit and nut granola bar recipe, gives you full freedom with whatever dried fruits, nuts, seeds, or sweeteners you so choose. You don’t even have to keep them in bar form if you don’t want to. I often crumble them up into yogurt as granola. The point is, you have options with these bars; embrace them!

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Steamy Pork Buns

steamy pork buns

If you’re wondering if steamy pork buns are the same thing as steamed pork buns, they are. Steamy pork buns got their name when my boyfriend, Nathan, misread an email from me. He kept calling them this for a good 6 months before I corrected him, but the name stuck. Whatever you want to call them, there are fewer meals that are more fun for me to make or more frequently requested by Nathan (he captured the beautiful picture of the steamy buns above in return for two buns). It’s like creating a giant dumpling, involves making dough (which I love), and uses hoisin sauce (my asian kryptonite). Better yet, they freeze beautifully-just steam them straight from the freezer for a few extra minutes and you have dinner ready to go.

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Hot Fudge Sauce and Homemade Brown Sugar

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This hot fudge sauce would be more accurately titled if it was named hot sludge sauce. This is a deep, dark, and glossy mud pit, one that I would only ever want to wade through if I had my Bean boots on. With only about 10 minutes of prep and total cook time, this dessert is a no-brainer for a fast crowd pleaser. There’s nothing better than the warm contrast of fudge to a heaping bowl of ice cream. Top with sprinkles, add nuts or whipped cream, or eat it plain if you like. Anyway you choose, I promise that it will bring you to your happy place.

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Lamb and Coconut Curry

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One of my biggest pet peeves with ordering out curry is the minimal chunk to sauce ratio. I feel like I only get a few chunks of meat and vegetables floating in an enormous sea of sauce. For those of you who avoid soups and stews due to their lack of “fillingness” (i.e. my brothers), the abundant chunks of lamb, potatoes, and rutabaga are sure to leave your stomach taut and soul warm. I know that there are a lot of spices in this recipe, but if you do any sort of ethnic cooking, you should have most of the spices on hand. I think that making your own curry sauce, instead of using a pre-made spice powder, makes it taste more authentic. Serve this curry over a bed of rice, topped with kale, cilantro, or parsley and a side of naan.

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Bison Chili with Ancho, Mole, and Cumin

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One of my favorite parts about winter in New England, is the thick hearty soups and stews that accompany it. They’re particularly inviting after a cold commute back from work or school or after a long day of snowshoeing or skiing. My Montana-bred friend suggested that I use bison instead of the traditional ground beef found in most chili recipes. If ground bison is hard to find, beef or lamb make great substitutes. I always top my chili with a sprinkle of cheese, diced jalapeños, and sliced avocado over a bed of brown rice.

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