I have often wanted to make granola but always thought the stuff from the store is good enough, why bother. Well now I get it. Before I even tasted the granola, I was won over while the granola was baking by the heavenly smells of the pumpkin spices, roasting nuts, and oats permeating through my house. This was enough to convince me that I will never buy packaged granola again! Give it a try and feel free to substitute types of nuts/dried fruit that you prefer and spices that you prefer or that are seasonal. Thank you to Jen Jones of Sweet Green Kitchen for the recipe. I only made very minor adjustments.
3 cups of rolled oats (I like thick old fashioned rolled oats)
1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup chopped raw pistachios
1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds, shelled)
1/8 cup flax seeds
1/8 cup ground flax
1/8 cup psyllium husk (ground)
1/8 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 -2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ginger or just 2 teaspoons cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons of coconut oil
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (I have read don’t use honey because the delicate enzymes will be destroyed by the heat)
1/2 cup of no sugar added, 100% fruit jam (apricot or strawberry is recommended)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup chopped dried fruit-sweetened dried cranberries
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a large 12″x17″ rimmed baking pan with parchment paper (or grease the pan). Set aside.
Mix the coconut oil, sugar and jam in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until well combined. Remove from heat and add vanilla and water, stir and set aside to cool slightly.
Mix all the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a large bowl.
Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until the dry ingredients are fully mixed with the wet. Add additional water if necessary.
Press granola mixture into the pan, press mixture down so it all sticks together. Press hard (with a back of a measuring cup for example).
Bake the granola in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the granola and re-press into pan. Cook for 10 more minutes and stir again adding the chopped cranberries and re-press into pan. Place back into the oven for 15 more minutes, but make sure not to let it burn, granola can be perfect one minute and burned the next!
Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan. It may cook a little longer after you take it out. When cool store in a large airtight container. Enjoy!
Notes: updated 11/9/17
Don’t add dried fruit right away, it tends to take on a burned flavor. I have had more success adding it in the last 15 minutes of cooking, although a lot of recipes say add it after cooking, but then it won’t stick to the granola and I like my granola chunky.
I have tried both cooking the wet ingredients and not cooking them and I see the logic in cooking them, the ingredients emulsify that way, but I am not sure the end result is any different. I re-wrote the recipe to include the cooking of the wet ingredients step, but I am still on the fence about this.
Overall cooking granola is pretty tricky! I am finding that it can burn very quickly, so cooking it low and slow is my mantra. I have experimented with cooking it at 280 degrees, but maybe that is too conservative, seems a little raw, so I think 300 is better.
It is autumn and that means pomegranate time! I love pomegranates but I hate getting the arils (seeds) out of them. I pretty much have avoided them unless I was willing to shell out the cash to buy the arils in a package. Then to be honest they are often slimy and not so great. But lo and behold I discovered recently that cutting open a pomegranate doesn’t have to look like something was butchered in my kitchen! I can’t believe I didn’t know this until a couple of weeks ago–how did I miss this? This would have saved my children and myself a lot of anxiety every autumn when they wanted my to buy whole pomegranates and I would try my best to avoid it or get really crazy with bibs and aprons and tons of paper towels to contain the flying red juice. Sorry kids! Click here for detailed instructions on how to accomplish this feat and keep your hands their natural color.
I got this recipe idea from the wonderful chef my husband hired for my birthday recently. She made this incredible little appetizer of crostini, grilled Haloumi cheese and pomegranate seeds. The flavors were so incredible and so autumn-like! So today I was trying to come up with an interesting salad with pomegranate seeds and then I thought about the warmed Haloumi cheese and voilà, this is what I came up with. Hope you all like it as much as we did!
Vibrant pomegranate, fennel, tomato, baby lettuce and Haloumi salad is full of wonderful autumn flavors .
Credit: adapted from Haloumi, Pomegranate and Rocket Salad on Taste.com.au
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
180 grams Haloumi Cheese, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
12 ounces of mixed baby lettuces
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, reserve some fronds for garnish
1 pomegranate, seeded (see this page for excellent instructions)
Mix first four ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking to emulsify it. Set dressing aside.
Place the greens and fennel slices in a large serving bowl.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pine nuts to the dry pan and toast for a few minutes. Careful they burn fast! Remove pine nuts and set aside.
Add a little cooking spray to pan and heat up again. Add the Haloumi slices and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until slightly browned. Remove from pan and place on top of salad.
Heat up the tomato halves in the hot pan for just a couple of minutes, adding a little salt and pepper and spread them on top of the Haloumi on the salad. Add the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and serve with the dressing on the side (or toss if you prefer).
As I was making my son breakfast I noticed that I had two perfectly ripe bananas. Too ripe for eating but perfect for baking, so I whipped up a quick batch of banana muffins. Yum! These are so delicious and quite healthy too with the whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour and almond meal, only a cup of sugar and wholesome bananas, eggs and yogurt. Try it for a quick breakfast with some fruit or a healthy snack.
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat, but use what you prefer)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, juice sweetened or unsweetened (watch out, these can have a lot of sugar added) or raisins
1/4 cup nuts of choice (I used pumpkin seeds today)
parchment paper muffin liners
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Combine flours and next 7 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
In a small bowl mix with a whisk the yogurt, oil, egg, banana and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the cranberries and nuts. Stir gently.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring just until moist. Will be pretty thick.
Spoon the batter into a muffin tin lined with parchment paper muffin liners. The parchment liners don’t require any oil, they are non-stick and are an incredible find! If you don’t have these then lightly spray your muffin tins with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
I usually freeze half the batch to put in a lunch box or enjoy at a later date.
Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!
Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata
1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.
So easy and so delicious! I got the recipe from Feed Me Phoebe and I have made it several times. The first couple of times I used Great Northern beans instead of Garbanzo beans and I have also used marinated artichokes instead of water-packed artichokes, but I think it is healthier with the water-packed artichokes. I have also added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach in the past, which I would have done today, but I am out of spinach! The hummus is great any of these ways. Below is the basic recipe, pretty much unchanged from Phoebe Lapine’s recipe.
Wow, ten days have passed since I last posted a recipe! My daughter was home for spring break and she was bored so she decided she would do a lot of the cooking, so Helpful! But she doesn’t follow recipes or want to participate in my blogging project, so I haven’t had much to post. Thank you again Melissa Clark and New York Times Cooking for this recipe! This is a very healthy and hearty vegetarian soup that can be bulked up further with lentils, grains or sausage (no longer vegetarian then) if one desires. We decided we just wanted a warm vegetarian soup that wasn’t too heavy, so we left it as is except we added a can of chopped tomatoes and some broth to the recipe.
1 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms such as shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc. medium dice
½ lb shallots, finely diced
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped (use a little less if dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
4 cups water
1 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth
5 ounces baby spinach
fresh lime juice, to taste (I cut one lime and served the wedges with the soup so people could squeeze in as much as they wanted at the table)
plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread out chopped mushrooms and shallots on a large lightly oiled sheet pan. Sprinkle vegetables with a little salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes and then stir. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have substantially shrunk and most of the liquid has evaporated. You can alternatively do this in the pot you are going to make your soup in by sautéing the vegetables.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil to just barely coat bottom of pot, after that is heated add the mushrooms and shallot mixture, tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice. If you like a little more spice, add a little more of all spices as I did. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in can of tomatoes including the liquid, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently for at least 20 minutes. I simmered for over an hour because I had the extra time. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes.
Using a blender or food processor, coarsely purée 1/2 of the soup and add back to unprocessed soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls with a squeeze of fresh lime, sprinkle of thyme and an optional dollop of yogurt. Enjoy!
The only one who usually eats pasta in this house is my son, and frankly he can eat enough of it for all of us if I let him! We call him a “pastaterian.” I came across a Food and Wine recipe entitled Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognesethat I based this recipe on. I changed several things, most importantly I added ground beef and a little chicken breast sausage to 3/4 of the the recipe to satisfy my son who was craving a meaty Bolognese sauce but still left lots of vegetables in to make it healthier than a traditional almost all beef sauce. I also left 1/4 of it vegetarian to satisfy my daughter. The original recipe also called for eggplant but since I added meat I left out the eggplant. Overall we all really liked how both the meat and the vegetarian versions tasted. I noted where you can add the meat or leave it out depending on your preferences. Note: The quantities may look large in the pictures because I doubled the recipe so I can serve it again for a kid party in a couple of days.
3/4 lb lean grass-fed ground beef –IF it will not be vegetarian.
1/4 lb mild ground chicken breast sausage —Note: This may be hard to find, at Whole Foods they made this up for me, just ask you butcher, or just use plain ground chicken breast or pre-made chicken sausage or lean ground beef. I think spicy chicken sausage would be really good except for my spice phobe… so I used the mild sausage.–IF it will not be vegetarian.
1 lb cremini mushrooms, small dice
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
fresh ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild white miso (this is surprising but turned out to be worthwhile)
one 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus grated cheese for serving
one 14.5 oz can crushed peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
3 thyme sprigs (or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I probably add more, but I don’t measure)
½ teaspoon sugar (or honey, to cut the tomato acidity)
1 package of fresh tagliatelle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (I think fresh is important here, dried basil really doesn’t taste the same, but do what you can)
In a small bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms, discarding any tough bits. Drain mushrooms, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms finely.
In a large pot (I like to use an enameled cast-iron casserole, it cleans up easily) heat 1–2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Add additional oil if needed and then add the ground beef if using, chicken sausage if using, cremini, shiitake and chopped porcini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and miso and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chunk of cheese, tomatoes and their juices, thyme, oregano, sugar and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and bring to a simmer.
Halfway cover the pot and cook over low heat so it simmers gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, about 1–1.5 hours. Discard the thyme and oregano sprigs (if using fresh herbs); season the sauce with salt and pepper and more oregano and thyme if needed.
In a pot of boiling water (salt optional), cook the pasta until al dente. Drain
Add the pasta and chopped basil to the sauce; toss to coat. Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese.
I love, love, love Spanakopita, but I seldom make it because it is such a pain to deal with the phyllo dough. I made it today because I planned on making Fennel and Feta Salad with Bacon and the only cow’s milk feta I could find (my preferred feta) was giant-sized, so I decided to make some Spanakopita along with the salad to use up some of the feta. Unfortunately I still have a lot of feta left over. I usually make this the traditional way in rolled up triangles, but today I was going to make it easier and less fussy by putting it in a 8×8 baking dish and then cutting it into pieces. At the last minute I decided that it tastes so much better in individual packets, so I tried something different, muffin tins! You can see from the pictures that I am not going to win any awards for my presentation, they don’t look very uniform or very pretty, but they do taste incredible! So, I will probably not make them in muffin tins again, probably go back to rolling up triangles or trying the casserole approach. I based this off of a recipe from the Kosher Gourmet, adding mushrooms and herbs to the dish and only used 1 pound of spinach/baby kale/baby chard mix since I was adding a bunch of mushrooms.
Servings: 6-8 depending on whether it is a side dish or a main course
1 pound fresh spinach (today I actually used 2/3 spinach and 1/3 mixed spinach, baby chard and baby kale)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, small dice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
6 large cremini mushrooms, small dice
1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), minced
1/2 cup cottage cheese
~6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Phyllo Dough – either thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using or thaw on kitchen counter for two hours.
Place the cottage cheese in a strainer over a small bowl and let it drain for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Working in bowlful batches, fill a microwave proof bowl with the spinach or whatever greens you are using and microwave for two minutes. Place cooked spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside and repeat until all the spinach is cooked and squeezed out. Chop up the spinach and place in a large bowl.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and chopped herbs and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Mix together the pressed spinach, drained cottage cheese, cooked onion mixture, feta, lemon juice and nutmeg. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together the eggs and stir them into the spinach mixture.
Lightly grease a 8″x 8″or 9″x 9″ casserole dish if making this the casserole method (highly recommended to save time!). Or if you are going to put in muffin tins grease those or if you are going to roll in triangles prepare a lightly oiled cookie sheet so the triangles have somewhere to land.
Unroll the thawed phyllo dough on a large work surface. If necessary, cut the pastry to 9- by 13-inch rectangles. Place plastic wrap over the phyllo dough with a damp dishcloth over the plastic at all times to prevent the thin sheets from drying out.
Casserole Method: Lay one sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush it or spray it with olive oil. Continue layering five more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry. Layer five more sheets of phyllo over the spinach, giving the top layer a final brush of olive oil. Lightly score the top layer of phyllo into eight squares with a paring knife. (This makes the pie easier to slice after baking.) …Or roll into traditional triangles or use the same layering technique in muffin tins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pie is golden-brown and the top layers of phyllo are crisp. Allow the pie to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze. Leftovers will need to be reheated in the oven to regain their crispiness.
What a wonderfully warming and hearty Winter dish, that truly exceeded my expectations (and I think my husband’s as well)! I haven’t attempted risotto in years, but I came across a roasted butternut squash risotto recipe and decided that it would be a fun project to make today. Be warned, this takes time, but not the traditional standing over the pot and stirring for hours kind of time. For much of the time the dish was minding itself in the oven baking, which is not too bad for risotto! I based this off of a recipe by Cookie and Kate, but I made a few changes: I added a little more water, I added shiitake and cremini mushrooms in the risotto, added crispy mushrooms as a garnish and I skipped the butter. I also roasted the squash whole before cutting it because I really dislike cutting into hard squash – so worried about cutting off a limb! Risotto with only a cup of cheese and no butter, as well as brown rice for added nutrition! Pretty healthy and still so creamy and comforting.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto
5 large cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (plus 2 more below for the garnish)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups of vegetable broth, divided
2 cups water, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1 tablespoon thyme
Crispy Mushrooms and Crispy Sage
2 cremini mushrooms, paper thin slices (if you are short on time skip this, it will still be delicious)
20 sage leaves
freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place washed whole butternut squash on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until skin starts to brown and shrivel. Turn once or twice while baking. Let cool until you can touch it long enough to peel it.
While squash is baking, heat a large dutch oven or pot on medium heat with some olive oil. Add chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes or until mushrooms begin to shrink and soften. Add some salt and pepper while cooking. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
Add 3 cups of broth and 1 cup of water to the onion mix, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice. Cover the pot and bake in the 375 degree oven for 60 minutes. It may seem pretty dry when you remove the lid but don’t worry you will add more liquid soon!
While the risotto is baking peel the cooked squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into a small dice. Place the diced squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes or until the squash begins to brown around the sides. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.
To make the crispy mushrooms and sage place the paper thin slices of mushroom and the sage leaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with olive oil and a little salt. Bake the sage for 5 minutes or less, you just want them a little crumbly. Bake the paper thin mushrooms for around 30 minutes, turning once, until they become crispy but not burned. Check them often. When crispy remove from oven and set aside.
Remove the risotto from the oven after one hour and place on the stovetop over medium heat. Pour in the wine and stir for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of broth, thyme and parmesan and stir vigorously for 3 minutes. Add more water if needed. You can keep it on low heat at this point if not ready to serve, adding water periodically to keep it from drying out and to keep the consistency creamy.
Serve in shallow bowls with a pinch of cheese, crispy mushrooms and sage. Tastes great with a dry chablis.
Note: This is actually an older post from my original Medium Blog site.
My daughter has gone back to boarding school and my husband has a work dinner, so tonight I am cooking for just my son and myself. I wandered up and down the aisles of Whole Foods for a while drawing a blank. I almost never go to the store without a list or at least a plan in my head for what I need. Today was different for some reason, I was just completely drawing a blank! After running into a friend who suggested I grab something in the meat department that is half-way prepared since there are only two of us (great idea!) I settled on a lemon-herb marinated piece of salmon (the hubby is not really a fish fan so this is a good thing to eat without him) and some really big and beautiful looking organic Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale). I decided I will also make some plain jasmine rice in my rice maker, to make things easy.
Below is the recipe for kale chips that I made out of the kale. They are a really yummy way to eat kale and my kids love them (but another thing my husband doesn’t care for). They are crunchy, a bit salty (depending on how salty you like them) and tangy from the vinegar. Yum, flavor explosion! Sometimes they are almost gone before the rest of dinner is made (but I have no idea where they go?).
Such an incredible crunchy way to eat kale. Delicious and healthy alternative to a potato chip when you are craving some crunch and savory flavors.
1 large bunch of Lacianto Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan Kale)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (Recently I have been leaving this out)
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash kale thoroughly and pat dry. Remove the center ribs so you just have the dark green leafy part. Slice the kale leaves in half.
Place sliced kale leaves in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice to coat the leaves. Add the salt and using your hands massage the ingredients into the leaves so they are all covered.
Spread the coated kale leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to start. I often use a silicon baking mat (Silpat) to bake these on.
After 7 minutes check to see if any leaves have become crispy (but still GREEN), if so remove them from the baking sheet and put in a serving bowl. Turn over the leaves that are still wet (most will still be wet) and return them to the oven and cook for a few more minutes.
Every 3 minutes (or so) re-check for crispy pieces, removing them from the baking sheet and putting the rest back into the oven. This may seem tedious, but the kale can burn quickly and then it is ruined (even slightly brown kale tastes burnt), it took me a few tries before I understood I needed to keep the heat LOW and check on the kale constantly so I don’t burn any of it. When it is all crispy you are finished!
May be served warm from the oven or at room temperature, but don’t make it too far ahead of time as it may lose its crispiness over time.