granola: several ways.

granola

Pre-kids, my idea of a perfect Friday evening involved oats, Cat Stevens, and Sierra Nevada.  That reality no longer exists, but I come back to that serene-ness every time I’m in need of granola.  Which is often.  Grocery store granola will never be the same.

Inspiration comes from Ina Garten, Deb Perleman (a.k.a., smitten kitchen), and a cookbook gifted to me by a dear family friend.  Once you get your desired mixture of oats, oil and sweetener down, you really can make endless combos of your favorite textures and flavors.

And maybe with a little Cat Stevens in the background.

 

BASIC INGREDIENTS


2-3 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1-2 cups unsalted nuts (cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.)

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 TBSP to 1/4 cup canola or olive oil (or similar)

1/2 tsp (or to taste) coarse salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

zest of orange (optional)

AFTER BAKING, ADD IN…

dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, mangos, apricots, raisins, etc.)

cacao nibs

seeds, toasted, salted or not (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.)

 

Preheat oven to 300°F.  Combine oil, syrup, salt and other spices, if using. Add oats, coconut and nuts. Mix well. [SEE NOTE BELOW]

Spread on cookie sheet and bake 35-45 minutes depending on desired toasty-ness, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Stir in additional add-ins to taste.  Let cool and store in air tight container for a week or so.  The batch is large, so I usually freeze half so it keeps longer…

Serve with yogurt, fruit, dulce de leche, or by the handful.  You’ll be so happy with yourself when you do.

NOTE: You can combine everything listed above and have a delicious granola on hand.  Or, depending on your mood, select from above.  The more oil you have, the “crispier”, almost fried, the oats will be.  You can also toast the nuts separately and add in after baking the oats…but if you’re like me, that feels like too many extra steps.  Plus, I like all of the flavors mixed into every bite.

granola: several ways.

Dulce de Leche.

 

If you don’t speak a lick of Spanish, this means “sweet milk”.  It is literally milk and sugar that you boil for hours and then eat it on ANY THING you can think up, hope, or dream.  It will forever make me think of Patagonia and the Argentines who stole my heart.

This traditional recipe is adapted from epicurious.

INGREDIENTS


4 cups milk

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of sea salt

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Stir together 4 cups milk, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and cinnamon stick, if using, in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and thickened, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. (After about an hour, stir more often as milk caramelizes, to avoid burning.) Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Dulce de Leche.

Greek Tomato & Cucumber Salad w/ Farro

1507p98-greek-tomato-cucumber-salad-farro
Photo: Cooking Light, Randy Mayor

This is one of my favorite summer salads from Cooking Light!  It’s hearty enough on it’s own, but you can mix in a handful of spinach or baby kale, or serve alongside fish, chicken or hummus.  Add a piece of flat bread and a good white wine and you’ve got one delicious dinner.  Salud amigas!

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked farro
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large cucumber, cut into small chunks
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

To make dressing, combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl (through black pepper), stirring well with a whisk.

Stir in farro and the next 4 ingredients (through cucumbers), and toss gently to combine. Top each serving with feta cheese.

Greek Tomato & Cucumber Salad w/ Farro

Really, this is “The PERFECT scratch margarita”

Classic-Margaritas-with-Casa-Noble-Crystal-from-Miss-in-the-Kitchen
 

Taken again from my vegan cookbook, you don’t have to be vegan, or even close to it, to appreciate this delicious and quite perfect rita.  This is my go-to recipe for a rita nearly anytime the Tex-Mex bug bites…and that happens nearly once a week in our house.

INGREDIENTS:

Kosher salt, as needed
Lime wedges for wetting glasses and garnish
Lots of crushed ice (or just ice) for serving
4 oz. decent tequila (I use Patron Reposado…trust me on this one)
3 oz. Cointreau
3 oz. freshly squeezed limes (about 3-5 limes)
2 TBSP agave nectar
 

If you’re mouth is already watering, quickly, here is what you do:

Place a small mound of kosher salt on plate and wet the edges with lime wedge.  Roll the wet end of glasses in salt and fill them with crushed ice.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a shaker with small amount of ice, shake, and pour into the prepared glasses.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Makes TWO sneakily potent margaritas.

Really, this is “The PERFECT scratch margarita”

Homemade Red Beans & Rice

Red_Beans_and_Rice_large

This recipe actually comes from a vegan cookbook: Vegan Cooking for Carnivores.  I attempted Vegan-ism a couple of years ago and it lasted all of two weeks.  However, I have a new-found appreciation for meatless meals which we eat most of during the week.  Now here’s the kicker: I made this with real meat and chicken stock.  Sorry.  BUT, if you went the meatless route, it would be just a tasty, I’m quite certain.  Either way, you’re in for a delicious and totally comforting meal (even Maeve gobbled it up!).  Serve alongside buttermilk biscuits and this will be a dish worth repeating time and again.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups brown basmati rice (I used regular brown rice)

3 cups water

Two 15 oz. cans organic kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base (Or chicken broth)

2 Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage (or other vegan sausage)

2 Field Roast Italian Sausage (I used all chicken sausage)

1 TBSP high-heat oil (Safflower, Grapeseed, Canola)

1 large white onion, diced

Six celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 red bell pepper, minced

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS:

Rinse rice thoroughly.  Cook according to package directions and keep covered until needed (NOTE: Brown rice usually takes 40 minutes to cook).

In a blender, puree three-quarters of the rinsed beans in the 4 cups broth until smooth (mixture will be very thin and liquid-y).  Add remaining beans to the pureed mixture, but do not blend.

Cut sausage in quarters lengthwise then cut them crosswise into 1/8-inch pieces and set aside.

Heat a 4-to 5-quart stew pot over high heat, add the oil, and wait until it shimmers.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Add the sausage, chili powder, thyme, bean puree, and bell pepper, bring to simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Season with salt and pepper to taste (I actually only added pepper because the chicken broth and sausage added enough salt).  Serve red beans over rice, garnished with sliced scallions.  Enjoy amigas!

Serves: 6

Homemade Red Beans & Rice

Sourdough Kale Strata

kale-strata

I have become a BIG fan of strata dishes over the last couple of years.  They are easy, delicious and can be served breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I also love kale, so this dish was a happy marriage in my world.  I easily halved the recipe and it came out beautifully.  Leftovers are delicious, so it may be worth making the full recipe to have for lunch later in the week.

Sourdough Kale Strata (serves 8):

2 TBSP olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 bunch of kale, washed, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 tsp. salt
10 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
4 cups sourdough bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese, divided

……….

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes.  Add kale and salt and cook for another 2 minutes.  Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, milk, and pepper in large bowl.

Coat a 9×13 (or equivalent) baking dish with cooking spray.  Add kale mixture, torn bread and 1 cup cheese.  Toss together and spread evenly over pan.

Pour egg mixture into dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Cover strata with aluminum foil and let stand 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F (if refrigerated, let dish warm to room temperature BEFORE placing in oven).  Bake 35 minutes, remove foil and continue baking 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden brown around edges.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Salud mis amigas!  ¡Felíz nuevo año!

Sourdough Kale Strata

Fall Flavors: Tailgate Potato Salad

I discovered this delicious potato salad in one of my favorite cookbooks and quite frankly, this salad makes me giddy.  The combination of flavors embodies the season of fall and makes my heart (and taste buds) sing.  This is no ordinary potato salad.

The original recipe calls for baking the sweet potato, cooling, peeling, then cubing.  Boiling the potatoes, cooling, peeling, cubing and the same for the squash.  It takes a bit more time and I’m not sure it changes the texture of the potatoes.  Knock yourself out if you want to go that route; however, I’ve modified the recipe to be a little more time-friendly.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

1/2 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cubed bite size

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold or new potatoes, cubed bite size

1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed bite size

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 chopped parsley

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted

Dressing:

1/2 cup sugar (or less)

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

2 TBSP. grated yellow onion

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup to 1 cup canola oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add cubed sweet potatoes and potatoes and boil for 10 minutes.  Add cubed butternut squash and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until all veggies are just fork tender (too tender and they will just fall apart in the salad).  Drain veggies and set aside.

While potatoes cook, prepare dressing.  Combine sugar, mustard, salt, grated onion and 2 TBSP of cider vinegar.  Gradually add canola oil and remaining vinegar until well combined (you may consider reducing the amount of sugar here…it ends up being a very sweet dressing).

Place slightly cooled potatoes in large serving bowl along with chopped parsley.  Pour dressing over mixture and add the red onion, cranberries and walnuts.  Toss gently, cover and refrigerate about one hour.  Bring to room temperature to serve.  The salad keeps in the fridge for several days.

Serving Suggestion: Personally, I skip the refrigeration step and serve the salad warm over a bed of arugula and spinach, along with shaved Pecorino or other shaved hard cheese.  It goes splendidly with a glass of Chardonnay or dry Riesling.  Happy Fall dear friends!

Fall Flavors: Tailgate Potato Salad