Granola Eater

I love granola. I love all types of granola, even boring granola – yes there are a lot of boring granolas out there and they usually cost an arm and a leg. Granola can elevate almost any breakfast item (oatmeal topping, muffin crust, as cereal) but my favorite is a yogurt parfait. If you’re a new reader, welcome to my granola obsession! I ran across a recipe in Bon Appetit that used an egg white in the mix, and no flour. This means to all of you gluten-ites, you’re free to eat this (as long as you get oats processed in a facility containing no gluten) and it contains a few less calories. It also has a lot more crunch than the recipes with flour. My mother in law’s recipe is still one of my favorites for a chewy granola. It really depends on my mood when I’m making granola if it will be chewy or crunchy. Lately, I’ve been on a crunchy kick.

This crunchy granola had cranberries, pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), flaked unsweetened coconut, walnuts, and pecans. It’s my favorite combination and I always have these ingredients on hand. Michael would be just as happy without the cranberries, bit I like the texture they add. Experiment until you find your favorite combination. You might be amazed at how satisfied you feel after breakfast.


Crunchy Granola
(altered slightly from Bon Appetit February 2013)

1 egg white
3 C old fashioned oats
1 C nuts
1 C unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 C honey (or agave)
1/4 C olive oil (or coconut oil)
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 C dried cranberries (add later)

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except cranberries until evenly coated. Spread onto the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes to cook evenly. It will be done when the oats are golden brown. Let it cool on the baking sheet and store in an airtight container.

Other Granola recipes you might enjoy:
Maple Pecan Granola
Almond Spiced Granola
Chewy Granola

Almond Spiced Granola

You know how much I like granola right? I like chewy granola and crunchy granola, and I like trying new recipes. I recently adapted a recipe from Whole Foods and though I may have cooked it two minutes longer than I should (I blame allergies for lack of smell) I’ve enjoyed it. It’s versatile because it is sweet and crunchy and no flavor is too overpowering.

If you are like me and feel ravenous before dinner, you can eat it by the handfull while rummaging through your kitchen for something to cook. You could also sprinkle it on muffins before baking, make a delicious yogurt parfait with seasonal fruits and agave nectar (or honey), use it as a topping for ice cream, make trail mix, or scoop it from a bowl filled to the brim with milk.

I like to eat yogurt wearing a toga, but you can wear whatever you like. Any way you eat it, I’m sure you will like it. Feel free to make it something you really love.

Almond Spiced Granola
adapted from Whole Foods

3 C old fashioned oats
3 T whole wheat flour
1 C slivered almonds
1 C pecan pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or equal amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
1 tsp almond extract (or substitute vanilla)
1/2 C honey
1/3 C canola oil

Preheat the oven to 275˚F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silpat. Mix the dry ingredients and nuts in a large bowl. In a measuring cup add oil, honey and vanilla and stir. Add the honey mix into the oats and stir to coat evenly.

Bake for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally to break up the larger pieces. Remove from oven when it’s light brown and fragrant. Cool on the baking sheet for 1 hour or until completely cool (it will crisp up if it seems too wet after baking). Store in an airtight container.

Beet Chips

When I was little, the only beets I knew were in a jar the fridge submerged in dark purpleish-red juice and they were gross. I don’t like pickled beets (Michael does). I don’t like many things pickled but beets are at the top of my list. It wasn’t until I moved to SF that I experienced beets in a positive way. A lot of restaurants jumped on the “beet and goat cheese” bandwagon, and I finally realized I loved roasted beets. Naturally sweet and earthy, how can you resist?

It’s hard to cook beets any other way, or make them different because beets always taste the same. I don’t  eat beets with goat cheese much anymore. The best beet salad I had recently was literally a pile of thinly sliced red and gold beets with a handful of greens, bleu cheese and candied walnuts from Chez Spencer. Yum. I often get tired of roasted beets. When this happens, I go in search of a new recipe. I’ve heard of beet cake, and beetloaf, but the most appealing were beet chips!

We had a little package of beet chips from Whole Foods in my office recently. One of my bosses set them out. My office likes to munch. If they had been normal potato chips, they may have made it past lunch, but the beet chips last a few days. They were thick cut and fried. Shame on you Whole Foods! You don’t have to fry all things to make them taste good. Instead, I sliced up a few beets with the mandoline, sprinkled them lightly with kosher salt and baked them until they were light and crispy. They are delicious and pretty. They also don’t taste as vegetal as the WF fried version. They are a great snack, and most likely an easy way to get kids to eat something different. Who would not try a purple chip?

The only unfortunate thing about beet chips is they shrink so much when you bake them. Almost by half. So, in order to feed a lot of people for an interesting party snack, you would have to peel and slice a lot of beets. Not bad if you have a little time and like pink hands.

Beet Chips
10 medium size beets peeled and sliced thin on a mandoline (or as thin as your knife can slice them)
2 T olive oil (optional)
kosher salt

Slice the beets and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or a silicone mat. Place the beets in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt. (also you can toss the chips in olive oil before placing on the sheet) Bake at 350˚ for 15-20 minutes. Most of the moisture should be gone. Let air dry until completely crisp. Enjoy!

Low-Fat Blueberry Coffee Cake

I use the Whole Foods Recipes app for my iPhone a lot. The format is great. You can search for foods on hand, or in a certain category (vegan, slow cooker, quick and simple…) which I find is a huge help for making quick meal plans. I have a couple other apps for recipes but this one I use the most. I keep recipes bookmarked in my “Favorites” tab and have a fairly dynamic collection. I finally made the time to try this recipe recently and am very happy with the results. 
I happened to be babysitting the day I decided to make this coffee cake and finished up the prep with a one-and-a-half-year-old on my hip. He seemed mesmerized by my one handed mixing, all the while educating him on each ingredient I was using. He also liked to peek in the oven window with me to check the progress. Thankfully, amid the distractions of the wee one running amuck in a non-baby-proof house, the coffee cake turned out stunning. 
The cake has a much lighter crumb topping than most coffee cakes (remember it’s low-fat) but the almonds help give texture. There is hardly any fat in the recipe, so the moisture comes from fat free yogurt. Michael says you can tell it’s low-fat but he is also not a big fan of blueberries. The girls in my office liked it a lot and I enjoyed it as well. I’d definitely make it again and recommend serving it to guests. It’s fast to put together and friendly for your summer bikini body. 

Low-Fat Blueberry Coffee Cake
from Whole Foods Recipes

2 C fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries divided
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 C plain non-fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 C sliced almonds

for the topping:
2 T whole wheat flour
1/4 C brown sugar
2 T butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside. Mix together the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl with your fingers until it you have pea sized clumps.

Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. Combine yogurt, eggs, and vanilla in another small bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Add half the blueberries and smooth into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter and add the remaining blueberries. Top with the almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and remove the sides of the pan. Let cool another 20 minutes before serving. Store covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

You can also use a standard 12 tin muffin cup with liners instead of the springform pan. Reduce the baking time to 22-25 minutes.

Healthy Zucchini Muffins

I recently found myself in the realm of unsatisfactory breakfasts. This usually means coffee and a mediocre scone or muffin. These pastries all too often are overly sugary or bland. I am a tough critic since making breakfast pastries is a favorite of mine, so I decided to stop being critical and make some breakfasts to take to work. Making muffins eases my objection to buying pastries you can make for two percent of the cost at a coffee shop.

I like to control the amount of sugar mostly – and the fat… well lets say I really miss it when I make a “healthy muffin.” I didn’t miss it so much this time which is the main reason I’m sharing these. You could also easily add some whole wheat flour for your daily manganese, fiber, tryptophan, and magnesium. Apparently, women who eat more whole grains also weigh less than women who eat refined grains (like a majority of breakfast pastries – or any pastries for that matter). I like the idea of weighing less and still eating these delicious muffins. I’m going to experiment more with the substitution of whole wheat in baked goods, and try making a lunch bread that includes wheat germ and whole wheat.

I like these muffins because they are a little less spice-cakey than most zucchini muffins. I posted about zucchini once before when I started a baking club. They weren’t the best recipe, but I like the idea. Just like carrot muffins, when you add a veggie to your muffin, you increase vitamin intake while decreasing the fat. Since these vegetables have such a high water content, you use less fat and don’t end up chewing forever on a dry muffin. I’m guessing you will be confused when you read the recipe below and see that I used melted butter instead of gobs of oil (and it’s much less butter than this chocolate chip recipe I know) but it makes for a nice crispy crust and the batter yields more than your standard 12 muffins. Sometimes I get annoyed by this, but I got to use my mini loaf pans for the extra… they are just so cute I couldn’t get mad at the excessive amount of batter. I also like that you fill up the cups entirely and the muffins bake up beautifully without spilling over the sides. pretty pretty.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Simply Recipes

3 C packed grated zucchini (you can mix yellow squash too) large grate with skins on works fine
1 stick butter melted and cooled
1 1/3 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 C flour
2 rounded tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly and add the sugar. Mix thoroughly then add the vanilla and cooled butter (you don’t want to scramble your eggs). Mix in the zucchini. Measure in the flour, soda and spices. Give them a swirl and mix into the wet ingredients until there is only a little flour visible. Add the walnuts and mix until evenly dispersed. Grease and fill muffin tin to the tops, or slightly over the top. Bake for close to 30 minutes, or until the muffins spring back slightly when pressed.  

My House is a Crepe House

For the month of June, my other blog, the Easy Bake cOven was supposed to make some crepe creations. I had a base recipe from Alton Brown that allowed for great experimentation. I have eaten quite a few crepes in my day, but never made one. I know someone with a special pan, but you can make them in a non-stick and burn your fingers too. At the exact moment a little pad of butter was singeing off my fingerprints, I was wishing for a giant crepe maker like you see at fancy crepe restaurants. Oh, you haven’t seen a crepe cooker before? (and I assure you this is the technical term “crepe cooker”) I’ll show you. 

Isn’t she a beauty? Yes, I agree that had I used those utensils instead of my fingers for flipping I may not have burned them. I should probably get a heat proof spatula… 

I don’t know why, but for some reason I just really wanted to make crepes this month. I have been so busy working the past couple of weeks that I haven’t baked much… and I feel like I am missing a leg. I don’t really have the energy to bake after a 11 hour day and I don’t even want to think about dishes. I’ve been falling asleep randomly on the couch at night while watching tv, or trying to keep my eyelids open while watching a movie, and thankfully our project deadline has passed. This zombie is ready for a long weekend! 

While I was so busy working, I completely forgot to prepare for Meatless Monday this week. So, M and I had a meatless Wednesday. I sort of snuck it in. He caught on at dinner. hehe. I made savory crepes for dinner, and sweet crepes for dessert (along with two cakes for my office). There is nothing like catching up on your baking in one day. 

For dinner, I stole some ideas from the new grilled cheese restaurant near my office. I made crepes with rosemary and basil in the batter, filled with sauteed mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, red onion, and fontina cheese. They were pretty delicious – and super easy! You can even make a bunch of crepes and freeze them for later – or prepare the batter up to two days in advance. You can also fill them with just about anything you might want to eat for breakfast. 

During this crepe-a-thon, I realized how handy the shredding blade was for my food processor. Not for anything crepe related, but for shredding carrots for the cake. they make longer shreds, but it didn’t seem to make a difference in the cake. Beats shredding those by hand with a standing grater! Everyone needs a food processor! 

Cuisinart DFP-7BC 7 Cup Food Processor

I finished my cakes and started on the dessert course. I had no liquor to add to the batter, but they were still tasty. Anything smothered in hazelnut and strawberries is ok with me. I didn’t use Nutella, I used the Italian counterpart Loacker, which is just as great. I sliced up some fresh strawberries and rolled up a crepe with more chocolate spread than necessary.

Results were great. If you haven’t ever made a crepe, you should try it. It is super easy, and the options are endless. See what the rest of the group made at the cOven

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

Very few things will get me out of bed at 7 am on a Sunday. (I don’t even get up this early for church.) One of those things is the World Cup… mostly because M and our friend B are crazy about this tournament and will wake up really early just to watch. If we didn’t live in a 700+ sq ft apartment with our bedroom open to the living room, I may have been able to sleep through it (thought it would not have been easy). I am a sucker for making breakfast though, and forcing those two to attempt to be quiet during any sports game is like trying to hide a triceratops in your bathroom. Not possible.  

If I had prepared in advance, I would have tried Alton’s overnight Cinnamon Roll recipe, but dinner and a movie last night nixed that opportunity. So, I searched for a while to try and find a dough recipe I could make and then proof in the fridge overnight. I found a few recipes for this, but didn’t have the desire to get up an extra hour early just to let the dough come to room temperature – then wait even longer for them to rise before baking. On with the search. I ended my search after I found a few recipes for quick cinnamon roll like biscuits. There were good reviews, so I thought I’d give it a try. 

I combined various ingredients from three different recipes to make the one below. I think they turned out well for quick cinnamon rolls. They are no match to the overly fatty cinnamon rolls sold in malls across the us, but I felt better eating more knowing that there is hardly any fat in the dough. 4 tablespoons of butter is nothing compared to the 2 sticks that some other recipes called for! They remind me a little of pillsbury rolls from the tube, but less greasy. I’d definitely make these again. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand anyways, and if I didn’t have buttermilk, I would use milk and vinegar instead. A great treat for overnight guests. This would have been a good Father’s Day treat too! Too bad we don’t live closer. Happy Fathers Day Dads! 

Cinnamon Roll “Biscuits” 

For the dough: 
3/4 C thick non fat yogurt (I used Mountain High)
1/3 C buttermilk
1/4 C sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract
2 C unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
1 T baking powder
1/2 t table salt
1/4 t baking soda

For the filling:
2 T unsalted butter, melted
2/3 C packed light brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 C chopped pecans (optional)

For the glaze:
2-1/2 oz cream cheese
2 to 3 T milk or buttermilk
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with cooking spray.

Make the dough:

In a food processor, combine the yogurt, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (don’t overprocess). The dough will be soft and moist.
Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and dust it with flour. Knead it 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×15 inch rectangle. If the dough springs back and will not stay in a nice rectangle give it a few minutes to rest and try again. 

Make the filling:

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border unbuttered around the edges. In another bowl, whisk the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and pat gently into the surface. Sprinkle the nuts over the sugar mixture if you are using them. Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

Using a 12 inch length of waxed dental floss, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces. (Slide the floss under the log, bring the ends up on top, cross and twist the floss to cut the dough). Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don’t worry if there are small gaps.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 25-28 minutes. Let the rolls sit in the pan for a few minutes before removing the side. Transfer the rolls to a serving plate. You can also use a round cake pan, or an 8 inch square pan. 

Make the glaze:

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 Tbs. milk, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. It should have a thick but pourable consistency, so add up to 1 Tbs. more milk if necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Pumpkin Waffles

I woke up Saturday morning itching to make something with the pumpkin puree defrosting in the fridge. My first thought was to make pumpkin bread, or muffins with a tried and true recipe, but it just didn’t sound as exciting. I thought about making pancakes, but M and I would probably rather have waffles when given the chance… so waffles it was. Pumpkin waffles. 

I remembered a recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen a while back and decided to give it a try. The result was pretty fantastic. They are not too sweet, and the taste and texture is much better than mix from a box. I was kind of amazed at the amount of waffles the batter made. I expected to get a few since there are two cups of buttermilk and flour, but I felt like I was cooking waffles for 30 minutes! Maybe my waffle iron is slow. I wouldn’t doubt it. I did turn on the oven to keep them warm while they were cooking. A great trick if you are serving them for your family and you want to eat at the same time. But it was useless because M and I each ate only one belgian style waffle. 

The only change to the recipe was using pumpkin I roasted and pureed in the food processor instead of canned. I have nothing against canned pumpkin though, it is one of the best canned vegetables you can by since it has the least added to it. I also toasted a handful of walnuts to add to the top. I think the walnuts are a necessity. A delightful crunch to an already tasty bite. Since the batter made so many, I froze the rest and am hoping they will make a good quick breakfast when the need arises. 

Pumpkin Waffles
Smitten Kitchen recipe

2 1/2 C flour
1/3 C light brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
6 T unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron or cooking spray
1 T per waffle of coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted 
Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. In another large bowl, whisk egg yolks with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.
In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks (they should fold over slightly when you remove the beater. Folk them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.
Spray your waffle iron with cooking spray and and spoon batter into waffle iron, spreading quickly. For a 7-8 inch belgian waffle, I used 3/4 C batter. Cook in medium high heat until there is almost no steam escaping.
Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Top with real Maple syrup and toasted Walnuts. 
To toast walnuts, spread them onto a cookie sheet and bake in your already heating oven for 10-15 minutes – or until fragrant. You can also spread them onto a skillet and toast over medium-low heat on the stovetop until fragrant and crisp. I like to taste them for doneness.