Honey Almond Sunflower Seed Granola

I had always written granola off as one of those things that is really hard to make.  Why else would they sell so much of the premade stuff? WRONG!  Granola now goes in the same category as spaghetti sauce: it is very easy to make it homemade, slightly cheaper to make it homemade and tastes much better when it is homemade!  The other perk is that you have complete control over what goes in your granola.

I googled “Almond Granola” (because I had sliced almonds and oats) and found these instruction on ehow.com.

The only alteration I made was with the nuts.  I only had a 1/2 cup of sliced almonds, so I added 1 cup of unsalted raw sunflower seeds.

Honey Almond Sunflower Seed Granola

Preheat the oven to 300 F.  In a large bowl combine:

4 cups oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/4 tsp. salt

In a small bowl mix together:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil

Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add:

1 tsp. Vanilla

Pour the honey liquid into the large bowl of oats. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Spread granola mixture on to a baking pan. Make sure the granola is spread out evenly so that it will not burn. Bake for 35- 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely on the baking pan. Crumble and store in an airtight container.

My favorite thing to do with granola?  Parfait!  Vanilla yogurt with canned peaches are the best.

I have read that you can make granola using applesauce and apple juice as the sweeteners instead of  honey and brown sugar.  Has anyone made granola this way before?  I think I would like to try this healthier version to see how it tastes.  This recipe was almost too sweet/candy tasting.

Chicken Saltimbocca

You know how Rachel Ray likes to say, “Yum-oh” when she tastes something she really likes? I couldn’t help but to cry it out when I tasted this Chicken Saltimbocca.   Honestly, I am rather annoyed every time I hear her use this phrase.  Almost as annoying as when she calls extra virgin olive oil “EVOO”.  But it seemed like the only appropriate explicative when I put this warm, melty and savory chicken in my mouth.  The best part is that it took less than 20 minutes to make.

I found this recipe in a cookbook from Williams-Sonoma,  Simple Suppers.  It was VERY simple to make.  I made one adaptation because I did not have fresh sage.  Instead, I subbed dried herbs de provence.

Chicken Saltimbocca

Prepare the chicken: Preaheat the broiler.  Using a sharp knife, cut 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make 8 pieces total.  Place 1 piece between 2 sheets of waxed paper.  Using a meat pounder or the flat bottom of a heavy pan, lightly pound the chicken until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Repeat with the remaining pieces.  Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with 1 tbsp. herbs de provence.  Pat the herbs firmly so it adheres to the meat.

Cook the chicken: In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tbsp. of butter.  Add the chicken and cook until golden on the underside, 2-3 minutes.  Turn the chicken and cook until just opaque throughout, about 3 minutes more.  Top each piece with 1 slice of fontina cheese and 1 slice of prosciutto. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and place under the broiler to crisp the prosciutto and melt the cheese, about 1 minute.

Make the sauce: While the chicken is in the oven, add 1 tbsp. butter to the pan. Add 2 minced shallots and saute until softened, about 1 minute. Ad 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook, stirring to scrape up the brown bits on the pan bottom, until the sauce is slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes.  Squeeze in about 1tsp. lemon juice and stir.  Divide the chicken among dinner places, spoon the sauce and shallots over the chicken, and serve immediately.

Carrot Nut Bread

Carrot Nut Bread is wonderful because it tastes very similar to carrot cake, but you don’t feel as guilty eating it. Carrot Nut Bread doesn’t have the word “cake” in the title and it’s not smothered in cream cheese frosting.  You can actually taste and enjoy the flavors of the carrot, nutmeg and cinnamon.

I adapted this recipe slightly from the Joy of Cooking recipe to include nutmeg, slightly more cinnamon and contain less sugar.  I recommend using a food processor to grate the carrots.

Carrot Nut Bread Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 5- inch loaf pan.
Whisk together:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Blend well in a large bowl:

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Stir in the dry ingredients. Blend with a few swift strokes:

1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups walnuts

Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake until the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Honey Lime Cilantro Tilapia

When Marc and I found tilapia on sale at the grocery store, we made a resolution to eat more fish.  Neither of us dislike fish, but we don’t love it.  We really want to try to eat more of it.

This was the first time I have ever cooked any type of fish and it was honestly very easy, especially since I used tin foil pouches to bake them in.  Easy clean up!

I scoured the internet for good tilapia recipes and ended up improvising my own.  There were so many recipes, but none of them really looked amazing.  I saw one that had lime in it and decided to run with it.  The flavoring ended up being perfect, but both of us are still adapting our taste buds to seafood.  I think the next time I make tilapia, I will try a breaded recipe to make the fish flavor a little more subdued.

The rice was my favorite part of the meal by far.  So simple to make!

Honey Lime Cilantro Tilapia Recipe

Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl whisk together:

4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
the zest of one lime
the juice of one lime
handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Create two pouches out of tin foil.  Place into pouches, individually:

2 Tilapia Fillets

Spoon the seasoning into the pouches, covering the fillets. Seal pouches and bake for 10 minutes.

Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

In rice cooker or small pot combine:

1/2 cup white jasmine rice
1/2 cup brown jasmine rice
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups water

Simmer until all water is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Add to rice:

zest of one lime
juice of one lime
generous handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Stir to combine well. Serve warm.

Lazy Meals

Hi everyone.  I haven’t posted in a few days because our meals have been highly un-impressive.  I got so excited when I started this blog last week that I was cooking up a storm and posting all the time and then I burnt myself out.

What have we been eating?

Spaghetti

Homemade Pizza

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Baked Potatoes

Here’s some pics of the stuffed bell pepper and a baked potato:

Our secret to the best baked potatoes: run the skin in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Our toppings of choice: cheese, chives, bacon.  YUM!

The stuffed bell peppers are filled with raw meatloaf mixture and topped with a ketchup & worcestershire sauce and baked.

Better posts to come…I am attempting my first tilapia recipe tomorrow!

Brownies Cockaigne

Oh man!  Looking at this picture makes me salivate.  Brownies are one of my favorite desserts.  Chocolatey chocolate goodness! About two years ago when I got really into baking, I set out to find a good recipe to make brownies from scratch.  I tried several recipes and I was disappointed to find that the boxed mix actually tasted better.  Just this summer,  I found this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Hallelujah!  A delicious brownie recipe!   They taste even better than they look.  Now Marc begs for them.  Do yourself a favor and go home and whip up some “Brownies Cockaigne”.  Just try not to eat the WHOLE pan by yourself, though you will be tempted.  Share with a friend.

Brownies Cockaigne, from The Joy of Cooking

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a baking pan lined with foil. Melt in a small saucepan:
1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

Let cool. If you don’t, your brownies will be heavy and dry. Beat until light in color and foamy in texture:
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt

Gradually add and continue beating until thick:
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla

With a few swift strokes, stir in the cooled chocolate mixture just until combined. Even if you are using an electric mixer, switch to a wooden spoon for this. Stir in just combined:
1 cup all purpose flour

Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Bake about 25 minutes.

Tastey Toast

My friend came by this afternoon because she had just arrived at the airport that is five miles from my house.  It was great to catch up with my old roommate and show off our new place to her.  I made lunch for us: lentil soup and toast with caramelized onions.  The lentil soup recipe I don’t have perfected yet, so I am going to hold off on posting the recipe.  If anyone has any tips for yummy Lentil Soup, please give me a hollar!

BUT I was pretty proud that I was able to improvise an amazing hour’derve from items in my kitchen that needed to be used up.  These items included: Cracked Wheat Sourdough bread from Trader Joe’s, sliced black olives, Feta cheese, a large white onion

Tastey Toast Recipe

Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil

Add:
1 large white onion, sliced

Sprinkle with:
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. herbs de provence

Stir constantly for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add:
1/4 cup Merlot
1/4 cup water

Stir occasionally, scraping the pan to dissolve browned bits until the onions are soft and brown and all liquid evaporates, about 40 minutes.

Turn the oven on to broil.  Slice bread into smaller pieces and place on baking sheet.  Top with:
feta cheese, crumbled
slice black olives, coarsely chopped
caramelized onions

Broil on high for 3 minutes, until bread browns around the edges. Serve immediately.

My only regret is that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product to share with you all.  Try making it for yourself and see just how beautiful it looks when it comes out!

Chicken Soup with Parsley Quick Drop Biscuits

Today was a lazy Sunday for the two of us and I could think of nothing better than  Chicken Soup for dinner.  It is delicious served with warm biscuits or matzoh balls. I chose Quick Drop Biscuits tonight.

Here is a recipe for chicken soup that I have improvised through trial and error over the past two years. It was inspired by the chicken soup that my father in law serves, but is not a replica. He seems to have a special touch with this dish, so I would never pretend to copy it. Instead it was an inspiration to create my own delicious chicken soup. One day, I will get him to teach me his secrets.

Chicken Soup Recipe
Heat in a large soup pot over medium-low heat:
3 tbsp. butter

Add and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, 5-10 minutes:
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium celery rib, diced
1 large onion, diced

Stir in:
3 cups shredded cooked chicken, picked off a whole roasted or rotisserie chicken
1 parsnip, washed but unpeeled and cut into large chunks
2 celery ribs, sliced into medium pieces
2 carrots, washed but unpeeled and sliced into medium pieces
12 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 35 minutes. Stir in:
1 whole bunch of curly parsley (not the flat leaf Italian variety), long stems removed
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Return lid and simmer until parsley wilts, about 10 minutes.  Serve piping hot.  This soup is excellent as leftovers.  Just reheat and serve again and again.

Warm, doughy, flakey.  Bliss.  This biscuits are a favorite of my childhood.  My mom used to whip these up and serve them with butter and honey for breakfast, but these biscuits are for suitable for any meal and easy to make.  You  just plop them down on the pan, without the hassle of biscuit cutter.

“Quick Drop Biscuits” from The Joy of Cooking

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Sift together into a large bowl:
1 3/4 cups all- purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the size of small peas:
4 to 6 tablespoons chilled butter or shortening

Make a well in the center. Add all at once:
1 cup milk
1 handful of coarsely chopped parsley*

Stir the dough 1 scant minute. Drop walnut size dabs of dough from a spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

* The parsley is an addition that I made to this recipe to create a more savory flavor to go along with the chicken soup.

Today I ask you, the reader: What recipes do you love to cook at are inspired by your family members?

Almost Taboule Salad

For lunch, I took my inspiration from the Taboule Salad Recipe on the back of the Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Cous Cous box.  It is not a true Taboule Salad, but it is truly delicious.

For years I have stuck to boring basic lunches: mostly sandwiches or heating up leftovers.  But I have found that lunch can be  a meal truly enjoyed instead of just a rushed meal.  Though this Taboule  Salad looks like it would take a long time to assemble, it only took me a total of 15 minutes.  Depending on the sandwich, it can take me as long as ten minutes.   Spending an extra five minutes leaves my husband saying “You shouldn’t have!”  One of the beauties of cous cous is that it is ready in ten minutes flat: five to boil the water and five to let it cook.

Enjoy!

Almost Taboule Salad Recipe

(modified from recipe on back of Trader Joe’s whole wheat cous cous box)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup boiling water

1 1/4 cup cous cous

1 whole lemon

6 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Butter

1 Zucchini

1 handful pine nuts

Sea Salt to taste

Fresh ground pepper to taste

small amount of Parsley for garnish

Pour cous cous into large bowl and set aside.  Set water to boil.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Cut zucchini into slices.  Sautee zucchini slices in skillet of butter for 4 minutes, making sure that they don’t become too mushy.  Remove zucchini from heat.  Pour boiling water into bowl of cous cous.  Zest the lemon and add to cous cous.  Add juice of the lemon and the olive olive.  Stir gently.  Cover cous cous and let sit for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, roughly chop parsley for garnish and toast pine nuts in the buttery skillet.  Fluff cous cous with a fork and salt and pepper to taste.  Add zucchini, pine nuts and parsley.  Serve warm or chill in fridge for later.