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.

granola

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

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Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

I thought it would be fun to dye some eggs naturally this year. It’s amazing what you can do with items in your refrigerator or pantry. I decided to try Turmeric, brewed Coffee, and Red Wine Vinegar. They all turned out lovely and since eating a hard-boiled egg for breakfast in the morning is a regular occurrence of mine… eating a pretty hard boiled egg is even better. 

How to hard boil an egg:
Fill a medium pot with eggs and cover with about one inch of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let stand for ten minutes and put in an ice bath. Keep refrigerated for 3-4 days. 

I have no specific recipe for the dyes I used. I added 1 tsp of vinegar to the coffee and used about 3 C water and 2 T of turmeric and 1 tsp vinegar for the yellow eggs. I like how bright they turned out with speckles, but I also really like the grayish-purple the red wine vinegar created. Check out Bon Appetit for some guidelines on other natural dyes.  

If you’re not into chicken eggs, try Martha’s Chocolate Truffle Eggs even though they are so gorgeous you won’t want to eat them. Oh, who am I kidding, any kind of chocolate no matter how pretty must be eaten immediately! Happy Easter and Happy Egg Dyeing. 

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween! I don’t have kids, and I’m thankful San Francisco doesn’t put an age limit on dressing up. Michael and I went with some friends on Wednesday to an underground restaurant/costume party at a “haunted” house in Alamo Square hosted by Stag Dining Group. We paraded through a gigantic house-turned boarding school-turned artist studio/event rental complete with a larger than life size painting of Michael Jackson in full Thriller get-up. Oh, and loads of gorgeous glitter paintings. Yes, I said glitter and gorgeous in the same sentence! Artist Rene Garcia Jr. is a genius with glitter. My limited experience with glitter involved a bottle of Elmer’s Glue….

We jumped from dark rooms into dark hallways to scare other diners in a creepy empty top floor, and walked through a staged “Haunted House.” We also drank some interesting cocktails by Cocktail Lab complete with basil seeds and rum that look and feel texturally like you are chewing on eyeballs. They also made a “Hannibal Lecter;”a whisky sour with chianti poured over a spoon on top to keep the colors separated, which I liked much more than the first.

The chef’s behind the Stag Dining Group created a great menu for the night:
Crab Puffs – Togarashi, lemon
Roasted Beets & Carrots – goat cheese mousse, preserved lemon-honey vinaigrette, rye crumble
Squid Ink Chowda – lobster, kabocha squash, clams
Baby-Back Ribs – smoked maple glaze, apple celery root slaw
“Drumstick” – dark and stormy brownie, rum ice cream, waffle cone 
I can’t complain much about the food, only a little about the timing. It was fun and provided a good test run of the costumes. 
Saturday I spent a majority of the day decorating the house with spider webs and fake plastic spiders for our grown-up Halloween party. I also tried a new recipe for sugar cookies. They are super soft and puffy and very much like the kind you buy in the grocery store… you know, the round ones with sprinkles coordinating with every holiday. The recipe is great. The cookies are not overly sweet and pair well with the buttercream frosting. I prefer buttercream on cookies as opposed to royal icing decorated cookies – the buttercream tastes so much better. The recipe I tried came from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen and I didn’t change a thing (except on the second batch I rolled them a bit less than 1/4″). The general consensus was good and Michael really liked them. I believe his exact words were, “Those cookies are the Bomb!” Then we laughed and high-fived. This is the key to a good marriage. 
Hopefully I’ll get to hand out some candy to neighborhood kiddies this year since we have a front door! I think I’ll refrain from my creepy Black Swan costume as well… no need to terrify the little ones. 

Happy Halloween!

Apple Fritters

I’ve always enjoyed apple season. We used to go and pick apples at Stephenson’s Orchard as a family when I was young. My sister and I would climb the trees to get some of the best apples from the tops. I have fond memories of blue rimmed heart shaped sunglasses during these adventures. Yeah 80’s. I don’t think you were supposed to climb the trees but we were little and probably light enough it didn’t matter. We picked a ton of apples, mostly Jonathan apples, and stored them in a fridge in the garage. I miss the convenience of having an extra fridge or freezer. I don’t know if the orchard still exists for picking in the Kansas City area, but the restaurant that had some of the best apple desserts does not. I was always fascinated by their caramel apples, and still am to this day. I’ll be making my own soon so don’t fret. I also have a special place in my heart for fried dough balls filled with apple chunks. 



I picked a variety of recipes for the month of September for the Easy Bake cOven blog but I chose to make the fritters first. I usually get around to making quite a few of the recipes but these were calling me. Michael asked why I bought so many apples at Trader Joe’s when we got back from our NYC trip, my response was baking. It’s usually baking when I buy an excess of one particular ingredient. Unless butter is on sale… 



I don’t fry things often. Sometimes Michael and I will make tortilla chips if we’re out and have nothing but corn tortillas, but this is the extent. Desserts are excessive to start and I feel worse eating something fried. Doughnuts fall in this category. I love doughnuts but don’t have them often. Guilty pleasures. I really enjoyed these little fried dough balls. Simple and quick yet small enough you don’t feel bad eating a few. 



Apple Fritters
Pioneer Woman
I halved the recipe and it made about 2 dozen ping pong ball sized fritters. 


2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
3 T sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 C milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 T melted butter
2 whole granny smith apples peeled and diced
powdered sugar for dusting

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Melt the butter in a large liquid measuring cup and add the milk, egg and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until little flour remains. Add in the apples and stir to combine. 


Heat a couple of inches of canola oil over medium heat. I kept my oil temperature around 325˚F and the fritters took about three minutes each. Using a small cookie scoop, drop a few blobs of dough into the hot oil, don’t overcrowd or your oil will not stay consistently hot. Flip them over to insure even golden brown and test your first batch to make sure they are evenly cooked. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar for eating. 

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.

a fight with french macarons

I’ve needed a good reason for years to try making macarons, French macarons. They are finicky, crisp-shelled, chewy-centered sandwich cookies, and usually better from a professional. I am no Pierre Herme, and there are bakeries everywhere dedicated solely to making these delicious bites. They are one of the most artistic cookies you can imagine with endless flavor combinations and they scare me.

I’ve been drooling over some of Tartelette’s recipes for a long time and finally decided to use macarons as the recipe of the month for the Easy Bake cOven blog. I hoped two months to try macarons would be enough time, but even I didn’t succeed in my own deadline. Summer scheduling is always difficult, and I’m guessing some people detest the idea of turning on their oven on a blistering summer day (even a mere 280˚F). For me, the oven is always welcome on our cold, depressingly foggy summer nights. I intended to make these on the last day possible (August 31) and post at the last minute, but I didn’t. I came home that night to a messy kitchen and decided I should probably clean instead of make mess upon mess. We are nearing the end of September… and I have nothing to show!

I attempted the macarons on a Sunday hoping to donate them to a bake sale. They looked like they should, feet around the edge and a crisp shell. The problem I had was that they stuck really bad to the parchment. I tried scraping them off gently but most of them mushed into a half moon. I have no clue why this happened – every new recipe is an experiment right? I’m guessing it could be two things: too heavy of a batter or I left them too long to dry before baking. Because I don’t know the answers, I quickly enrolled myself in a class from Baking Arts here is SF. Putting birthday money to good use. I took a class from Richard before and learned to make some of the most delicious chocolate truffles. I trust that this class will cure my horrible first experience and I promise to share everything with you mid October after my class.

I did rescue them somewhat… and turned my crumbs into “pistachio cacao nib balls” dipped in dark chocolate. Not my best by any means but it was good to avoid wasting a tasty cookie.

Now I will keep telling myself, “Failure is the only opportunity to begin again more intelligently” -Henry Ford. 

image from bisous ciao macarons, pure art
Incredible inspiration! 
I must visit here during my nyc trip in just over a week!


Lebovitz’s Mint Ice Cream

I finally let Michael eat the last scoop of ice cream this week. Mid August, I warned him I needed one scoop to photograph for the blog and he reluctantly put the tub back in the freezer and went for vanilla instead. He reminded me a few times that I needed to take photos so he could eat it, and I reminded him that I needed good light for a good ice cream photo. I also needed to be home before 7 with nothing else to do on a weeknight to make this happen. August was a busy month.

I tried a new recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I think he is currently traveling around San Francisco and I’m resisting the urge to stalk him. I might have to visit Smitten Ice Cream soon though because he gave it a pretty good review on his blog… ice cream via liquid nitrogen. hmm.

I chose real mint ice cream. Why would I do such a thing you ask? Well, I have a garden now… you could say I’m developing a green thumb, and I’m growing mint. Mint is an easy plant even if you have a black thumb. Just beware as it is likely to take over areas of your garden unless confined to a pot. My mint is weird. It has smaller leaves and when it gets tall the leaves start to turn purple (this may mean my window box is too small). I used it anyways, even some of the purple, and it turned into a very refreshing ice cream. I added chocolate chips of course because mint needs the best flavor companion possible and I was a bit nervous about the strong fresh mint taste. If all else failed, at least the would be chocolate.

I liked it, I think Michael liked it too. He ate most of it anyways with bits of leftover cake that I didn’t make into cake pops. My preference is still peppermint extract flavored ice cream, but this one was nice for a change, and nice to be able to use something I’ve grown in a recipe.

Mint Ice Cream
The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz

 1 C whole milk
1/4 C sugar
2 C heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
2 C fresh packed mint leaves
1 C roughly chopped chocolate (mini chocolate chips work well too) my addition

Heat milk, sugar, and 1 C cream in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add the mint leaves and steep for one hour. This means stir them up and cover with a lid. Go do some sit-ups since you’ll be eating this later, and and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Make sure you push leaves against the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Lebovits says your cream will be a lovely shade of emerald, but mine was barely green. Warm this mix back up on meduim heat.

In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Once the milk is warm, slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, to the eggs and then return all of this to the pot and continue to heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir constantly and try not to let anything burn to the bottom.

In another bowl (more dishes please!) add the remainder of the cream and set the mesh strainer on top (remove leaves). Pour the minty custard through the strainer again to eliminate scrambled eggs in your ice cream and stir into the cream. Place over an ice bath to help cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least four hours. You can add green food coloring now.

Prepare the ice cream according to your machine manufacturer’s recommendations. Be sure you’ve frozen your bowl for as long as required or your ice cream will never get thick. Freeze again for a few hours until it’s scoopable, about 4 hours.

Ice cream takes a while, so it’s best to plan ahead if your’re making it for an event!

Happy Churning!

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!

Almond Anise Biscotti

My elementary school art teacher taught me the word “kick”. No, she didn’t kick us… but she did teach about “short-lived obsessions.” This is the best I can do to describe a “kick” if you haven’t heard it in context. She was a little wacky as all fantastic elementary art teachers should be and she would announce each time she had a new kick. Her kicks were ever changing and comprised of colors, animals, or even words. But my kicks tend to revolve around an ingredient, or type of food. I’ve been on muffin kicks and homemade bread kicks, but not until recently have I been dreaming of biscotti. I’d say it’s a kick in the making.

I had this biscotti recipe bookmarked for a really long time. I’m guessing about a year. Strange as it seems, I was a little perplexed by biscotti. They are basically twice baked cookies if Italian origin and you enjoy them with your coffee. It’s like an adult version of cookies and milk. M really likes biscotti, especially if it has a hint of anise. I have not had many biscotti in my day which may be the reason I never made them until now. I used a recipe only slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan. They have cornmeal, which gives them a chewy factor along with the crunch. When I make the next batch, there are some proportions I should follow versus following the recipe so closely. The cookie should be a little higher and thinner. I argued that I followed the 3/4 inch direction, but M says higher and skinnier. I’ll also try a completely different flavor combination too.

Short and fat, or tall and skinny, they taste nice.  They are not overwhelmingly anise-y or I’d have left them all for M. I think I’d take it up another two notches or use anise oil next time for a more intense flavor. Dipping in chocolate is a necessity, and M found by accident they are delicious frozen. I hope to share more biscotti recipes with you soon… especially if this kick really evolves into something tangible.

Almond Anise Biscotti
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours

1 1/2 C  + 2T flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C yellow cornmeal
1/2 C butter
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp anise seed
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 C sliced almonds
1 drop anise oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Mix flower, baking powder, cornmeal, salt in a medium bowl.
In a mini food processor or blender, mix anise seed with half the sugar. Blend until the seeds are broken up and the sugar starts to smell faintly of anise.

Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and anise sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and make sure to scrape the bowl a few times. Add extract and mix in. Mix in the flour on low speed until almost incorporated. Add the almonds and mix until incorporated.

On a silicone mat lined baking sheet, form the dough into a 12″ long log. Alternately, you can make two 12 inch logs side by side. Log should be about just over an inch high. Bake 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board. Slice the dough into 1/2 inch pieces – no need to discard the ends! Set them back on the baking sheet with a little room in between each (top should face up). Bake for 15-20 more minutes or until the edges are golden and firm. Cool on a rack and store airtight.

For the Chocolate
Melt 6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.
Dip half of the cooled biscotto (singular) into the chocolate and set on a silicone mat or parchment to harden. Store in an airtight container or freeze. You can also leave them out if you really want them to get crunchy – they will last a week or so without freezing.

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers



I’m going to tell you first that I don’t really like cheese flavored snacks. I was never a fan of goldfish crackers until they made the parmesan cheese flavor – and even those I would never buy. I don’t like cheez-its either. Yellow cheese and I are not great friends. I have eaten more recently (meaning the past 5 years) in an attempt to be less picky and compromise on sandwich cheese with M. After all, we don’t need to store multiple cheeses in the fridge or they get moldy too quickly. I like most other cheese, even the smelly ones. I’ve also grown to like bleu cheese, thanks to our good friends at Williamson Winery. It will be hard to forget Bleu cheese on top of Irish Cheddar with a little drop of honey. mmmm. 


Now that you know my history of cheddar cheese dislike, you may be asking why I chose to make cheese crackers for the Easy Bake cOven recipe of the month…. I could have made home made oreos or pop tarts. Home made graham crackers should have come before goldfish crackers as well! Fortunately for me, there was a block of neglected cheddar cheese in the fridge calling my name. It started to look a little frosty on two edges so I cut those pieces off and put the rest to good use. (yeah yeah, but all cheese is mold right?)


M and I eat a lot of crackers. They are a good snack to pack with lunch, and are good to munch on when we get home from work if we won’t be cooking for a while. The whole wheat version of a goldfish cracker was pretty tasty. They puffed like goldfish (though I wasn’t as interested in creating an exact replica as Smitten Kitchen). They had a nice crispy exterior, and as Nicole mentioned when she picked the recipes, you can control every ingredient that goes in. 




The recipes we used all came from Smitten Kitchen. The version I made using 100% whole wheat flour. I don’t know that I need to try these with all purpose flour, but I imagine the AP flour version tastes slightly more like the original. Give them a try yourself! They are quick and cheap to make, and your children may love them! 



Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers


1 1/2 C cheddar cheese coarsely grated
4 T butter
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse a couple of times to incorporate. Mix for two minutes or until the dough forms a ball and sounds like it might break your machine. Immediately roll into 1/8 inch thickness (if I did these again I’d make them slightly thinner). Cut with any shape cookie cutter as long as it is easy to eat. (I used a 1 1/2″ biscuit cutter). Place on an ungreased cookie sheet as close as 1/4″ and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Cool on the pan for 30-45 minutes. Remove and store air tight.