Monthly Archives: February 2013

Homemade Granola with Fruit and Nuts

Homemade raisin almond granola

A while back I taught you all how to make your own yogurt.  I recently also shared this how-to with updated photos on the Grand Rapids Cooking School Blog.  Now that you know how to make your own yogurt, wouldn’t it be great if you knew how to make your own granola to eat with that yogurt?  Granola is a great breakfast and a great snack but is often so expensive to buy in stores and is often much higher in calories than it needs to be.  The good news is that it only takes about 40 minutes (only 10 minutes hands-on) to make a large batch of granola.  Not only is it considerably less expensive, it is so much tastier and you can put anything in it that you want.

Below is a basic granola recipe that can be easily adapted to suit your needs.   For the oil, you can experiment with olive oil, coconut oil, or canola oil.  For the sweetener, you can try maple syrup, agave, or honey.  For the fruit and nuts, try any combination that you like.

If you are still not satisfied with your options (I thought I had perfected granola until my sweetie begged for clumpy granola), read on past the recipe to learn how to make CLUMPY granola!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled oats (be sure not to use quick oats)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I switch it up depending on what I have on hand.  I have used raisins, dried apricots, currants, cranberries, or diced prunes–I bet dried blueberries would be great too!)
  • 1 cup nuts and seeds (I usually do a mix of chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, and raw sunflower seeds…but any combination of nuts and seeds will work!)
  • 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • ½ cup real maple syrup, agave, or honey if you aren’t vegan
  • Optional:  sesame seeds, flax seeds, coconut flakes…anything else you want to add!

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°
  2. Mix together oats, cinnamon, salt, nuts and seeds in a big bowl.  Please note:  I have added fruit to the mix at this point mostly with success…but due to burning the fruit a couple of times during the baking process I now choose to add it at the end!

Granola in bowl 3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt until smooth.

4.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until all dry ingredients are well coated. Spread mixture onto two oiled baking sheets (make sure they are rimmed sheets!).Spread evenly and press down firmly into a single layer with a spatula.  You can leave an empty space in the middle of the pans to create another “edge” to prevent an uncooked middle.

Granola Spread Out in Baking Sheet

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes until granola is golden brown and crisp at the edges. You can bake it to your preference.  One time I made the granola lightly browned:

Golden Brown Granola

And the next time I baked it a little longer:

Browned Granola

6.  Add fruit to the granola while still warm.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet before eating and at least 30 minutes before storing (allow to cool completely).  Store in an airtight jar.

Finished Granola

Now, since you’ve been so patient, I’m going to tell you the secret to making clumpy granola…egg whites!  I’m not sure yet how to make a vegan clumpy granola but so far, as a non-vegan, egg whites are doing the trick for me.  If you want clumpy granola, mix 2 egg whites into your wet mixture before adding to the dry.  When you bake the granola, be sure not to stir it while baking.  This will break up the clusters.  When the baking is complete, allow to cool completely before breaking the granola into nice big chunks.  There will be some chunks and some free bits too.

Now enjoy your amazing homemade granola and yogurt!

Homemade Granola and Yogurt

Cabbage or Collard Greens Stuffed with Lentils and Rice

Cabbage Rolls Stuffed With Rice and Lentils

Welcome to Food Matters Monday!  This week, Keely Marie chose the recipe for us–stuffed cabbage rolls!  Keely Marie has some really great food on her blog–a couple of my favorites are her homemade naan (so brave–I haven’t tried making my own naan yet because I’m afraid I’m going to ruin it…) and her take on the polenta cake we all made a while back.

The stuffed cabbage recipe in the Food Matters Project Cookbook has meat in it and I’m a once-in-a-while meat eater (and a never ground beef eater) so chose not to include it in this recipe.  Wanting to stay with Bittman’s approach, though, I headed to my cookbook collection and grabbed his How To Cook Everything Vegetarian book.  And there it was.  A vegetarian version.  This reminded me of stuffed grape leaves quite a bit.  With the advantage of being able to use only pantry items I already had.  I always have cabbage on hand and ended up having collard greens on hand to test (with great results!).  The filling reminded me of mujadarrah, one of my favorite dishes, and one I will make when I know I’m going to have a busy workweek ahead of me.  Mujadarrah is basically rice and lentils with cumin, topped with fried onions and plain yogurt.  It was all I could do to not use the lentils and rice to make mujadarrah today and knowing this, I made extra so I could make the dish tomorrow!

If you prefer, you can also “deconstruct” the dish, serving it as a lentil/rice/cabbage bowl with some crumbled feta and a drizzle of olive oil.   Equally delicious, though not nearly as fun to eat.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage with Lentils and Rice

I’m so glad I got to try this recipe because now I know that I can use cabbage and collard leaves to make cool “burritos” with any variety of fillings.  I’ll take this healthy option over a flour tortilla any day!

Cabbage or Collard Greens Stuffed with Cumin-Scented Lentils and Rice; adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Cookbook

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for garnish
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup brown, white, or Basmati rice (I used short-grain brown and Lundberg Farms is my favorite brand)
  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large cabbage or collard greens, see below for preparation
  • Feta, Gruyere, Fontina, Gouda, or mozzarella cheese slices or butter (optional–leave out the cheese and this recipe is vegan)
  1. Put the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil.
  2. If you’re using brown rice, add it to the pot along with the lentils.  If you’re using white or basmati rice, add the lentils and cook them for 5 minutes, then add the rice.  Turn the heat to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover, and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed (you don’t want it completely dry), 25 to 30 minutes.  If there is excess liquid, take the cover off, turn the heat to high, and boil it off, being careful not to burn the bottom.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, use a thin-bladed sharp knife to cut a cone-shaped wedge out of the bottom of the cabbage, removing its core.  Pull off 8 to 12 large, untorn leaves and put in a steamer above a couple inches of salted water.  If you are using kale, simply Cover and cook until the leaves are just flexible enough to bend.  Make a V-cut in each leaf to remove the tough central stem.
  4. To stuff the cabbage or kale leaves, put a leaf, curved side up, on a counter or cutting board.  Put 1/4 cup or so of  filling in the center of the leaf, near where you cut off the stem.  Fold over the sides, then roll up from the stem end, making a little package.  Don’t roll too tightly — the mixture will expand as it cooks.  Skewer the rolls with a toothpick or two to hold them together or just put them seam side down.
  5. Put the cabbage packages in the steamer and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Top with a slice of cheese and run under the broiler until bubbly if you like or drizzle with olive oil or melt a pat of butter on top.  Sprinkle with herbs and serve.

Migas Breakfast Tacos

Oh migas!  Where had you been all my life?  I’m about to let you in on one of the best breakfasts. Ever.

Migas Breakfast Tacos

My boyfriend spent a few weeks on the road recently and about two weeks of it was spent in Austin, TX.  I tried to contain my jealousy as he told me about his daily breakfast fix of migas tacos from Maria’s Taco X-Press.  Up until recently, I had enjoyed migas only once or twice.  A deli in Kalamazoo, MI serves it as side dish and it is quite yummy but nothing in comparison to this Tex-Mex version, cooked up with eggs and cheese and served in warm corn tortillas.

After listening to my sweetie lament the loss of his new favorite breakfast, and being a good little foodist, I suggested my best solution…make them ourselves!  A quick search found a recipe from none other than Maria’s Taco X-Press and we set about whipping up our first of many migas breakfasts.  The only differences?  A little bit of cheese (I hear they are heavy-handed with it down in Austin–everything is bigger in Texas!) and instead of wearing tee-shirts and sunglasses in Austin we were bundled up in sweaters, leg warmers, flannel, and shearling boots to brave the frigid January-in-Michigan temps.  Maybe in July we’ll get that Austin feeling as we tuck into our probably fiftieth migas breakfast.  At about 3 or 4 times a week, we are establishing  a lifelong habit!  And I’m alright with that.

Migas Breakfast Tacos

First, add the onions, tortilla chips, and peppers to a hot pan with one teaspoon of oil:

Cooking Tortilla Chips, Onions, and Peppers

Add tomatoes and cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or just until onion is translucent.

Cooking Migas...Tortilla Chips, Tomatoes, Onions, Cilantro, Peppers

Add eggs to skillet, and cook, without stirring, 1 to 2 minutes or until eggs begin to set on bottom…the full recipe is below!

Adding the eggs to the Migas

Served with my homemade Habanero hot sauce…..yes, ma’am!

Migas breakfast tacos with habanero hot sauce

Migas Breakfast Tacos; adapted recipe from My Recipes, as shared by Maria’s Taco X-Press in Austin, TX

    • 1/3 cup lightly crushed tortilla chips
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (during the winter months, use canned chopped tomatoes, strained)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño peppers (for a less spicy version add green bell pepper instead).  I also add a couple tablespoons of hot salsa verde sometimes.
    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • Pinch of salt and pepper
    • 2 (8-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
    • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded 2% reduced-fat Mexican four-cheese blend
  1. Sauté tortilla chips, onions, tomatoes, and peppers in hot oil in a medium-size non-stick skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or just until onion is translucent.
  2. Whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper. Add to skillet, and cook, without stirring, 1 to 2 minutes or until eggs begin to set on bottom. Gently draw cooked edges away from sides of pan to form large pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until eggs are thickened and moist. (Do not over stir.) Spoon egg mixture into warm tortillas, and sprinkle with cheese; serve immediately folded into corn tortillas with sliced avocado and plenty of hot sauce.  I love mine with my homemade Habanero hot sauce but Valentino or Topatio are also fantastic!

 

Paella with Lots of Vegetables

Vegetarian Paella

Welcome to Food Matters Monday…your weekly reminder that you are what you eat!  This week the awesomely adventurous foodie (and fellow oatmeal lover), Meg, from Fledgling Foodie, chose the recipe, a “pared down” paella with peas, clams, and chorizo.  Meg actually lived in Spain for four months in college so has a leg up on the art of paella making (and eating!) because she knows what a good paella should be.  I’ve only had paella once, at a wonderful Cuban restaurant named Cabana Nuevo Latino in my old neighborhood in Queens, NY (there are five locations and I have been to two–one in Forest Hills, Queens, and the other in Delray Beach, FL–I’ve been to both!).  I just had a couple of bites from my friend’s plate and that is what I picture now when I think of paella, a generously sized dish of crisp-bottomed rice, soaking up a saffron-tomato broth with seafood intermingled in it all.  Six years later, I finally got around to trying my hand at paella for the first time, thanks to the Food Matters Project.

Paella with Vegetables

I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite things about the Food Matters Project is that it forces me to try new things.  I don’t get too excited about rice dishes (I’ve had risotto rice sitting untouched in my pantry for two years–Gordon Ramsey would be so disappointed!).  Paella never really popped out at me as a must-make dish.  But the FMP pushed me to try it and I’m glad I did.  I bought saffron for this dish and (gasp!) it was my first time using saffron.  I think saffron is an acquired taste (do you all agree?) and it was probably what I liked the least about the dish.  Otherwise, I found the paella to make for a hearty main dish, a good side dish, and overall, a healthy way to eat a ton of vegetables.  Oh, and though the saffron wasn’t my favorite flavor, the color it imparted was marvelous!!!

My version is a vegan version and also gluten-free.  It was very easy to pull together and I listened to Lynn on the Splendid Table while making it and wished I could pick her brain about what she thinks makes a good paella!

I made mine in a dutch oven and was able to achieve the crispy rice bottom that is characteristic of paella.

Making Paella

If you haven’t tried paella yet, I say go for it!  I think it would taste great with some shrimp, mussels, and chorizo.  To see what everyone else came up with, head over to the Food Matters Project website.  To get the original recipe with clams, chorizo, and peas, head on over to Meg’s blog!

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Paella with Lots of Vegetables; adapted from the NY Times

  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups short or medium-grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small summer squash, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen lima beans
  • 1 cup shelled fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Crush the saffron threads between your fingertips, and place in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon warm water, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or a paella pan. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, peppers and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about three minutes. Add the tomato paste, paprika and rice. Cook, stirring, for one minute until the grains begin to crackle.  Be very careful to keep an eye on the pan during this phase so you don’t burn the rice!  I burned my first batch :(.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they cook down slightly and smell fragrant, about five minutes. Stir in the saffron with its soaking water. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the stock, zucchini, summer squash, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer without stirring until the liquid has just about evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the peas. Continue to simmer until the rice is dry, another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

Oatmeal Griddle Cakes

Oatmeal Griddle Cakes

Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  I’m excited to be hosting this week and excited to see what everyone else comes up with.  I’ve included the original recipe below–for variations on the recipe, head on over to the Food Matters Project site and look through the comments.  To see visuals of all of the oatmeal griddle cake recipes, head on over to Pinterest for some eye candy!

I had a roommate that ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast and I always made fun of her.  “What are you, 80?”  Fast forward 3 years…I eat oatmeal almost every morning.  Who’s laughing now, right?  It never ceases to amaze me that I never get sick of oatmeal.  But truth be told, my oatmeal is often not the same from day to day.  One day I may have oat bran with dates and walnuts, the next, baked oats with blueberries and almonds, the next, steel cut oats with apricots and coconut.  Thanks to the Food Matters Project, I now have yet another way to get my oats fix:  oatmeal griddle cakes.

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These griddle cakes easy to make and reminded me a bit of spaghetti pancakes in that I was able to take leftovers and reinvent them into something soft on the inside, crispy on the outside (if you’ve never tried spaghetti pancakes, I encourage you to try–take cold leftover spaghetti with marinara and fry it in a pan with some olive oil until crispy on the bottom.  Flip over and cook until crispy on the other side.  Ahhh…..college memories are flooding back).

The griddle cakes are quite unlike what I would have expected before making the recipe.  Rather than turning out cakey like pancakes, they were soft and slightly sweet oatmealy goodness on the inside and crispy on the outside.  Served with butter and a blend of molasses and maple syrup, these made for a healthier alternative to pancakes…but still allowed me to get my fix.

Oatmeal Griddle Cakes with Maple Syrup and Molasses

Oatmeal Griddle Cakes; from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used gluten free all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used gluten free all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk and needed to add about 1/8 extra becasue the mix was quite thick)
  • 2 cups cooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Molasses or maple syrup, for serving (I blended 1/4 cup maple syrup with 1 tablespoon molasses and 1/4 cup agave nectar)
  • Optional:  I cooked sliced apples with a small amount of water until soft to serve on top
  1. Heat the oven to 200° F.  Combine the flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk; stir in the cooked oatmeal and raisins until just incorporated.  Add the oatmeal mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently; don’t overmix.  The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if not, add either a little more milk or whole wheat flour as needed.
  3. Put a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.  When a few drops of water dance on its surface, add a thin film of vegetable oil and let it get hot.  Working in batches, spoon the batter onto the griddle or skillet, making any size pancakes you like.  Cook until bubbles form on the top and pop, 2 to 3 minutes; you may have to rotate the cakes to cook them evenly, depending on your heat source and pan.  Carefully flip the griddle cakes and cook until they’re browned on the other side, a couple of minutes more.  As they finish, transfer them to the oven while you cook the remaining batter.  Serve drizzled with molasses or maple syrup and topped with cooked apples if you like.

What Lies Ahead…Goodies Ready for Posting!

Hi friends!  It’s been a busy little while for me but I have still been cooking up some goodies to share with you.  I’ll be working on writing up the recipes and posting these over the next few weeks but I wanted to give you a preview of what lies ahead…

Parmesan Polenta With Roasted Root Vegetables and Pistachio Goat Cheese:

Parmesan Polenta with Roasted Root Veggies and Pistachio Goat Cheese

Triple Ginger Cookies:

Triple Ginger Cookies

Homemade Marmalade:

Marmalade

Pureed Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Soup With a Hot Honey Drizzle:

Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Soup with a Hot Honey Drizzle

Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp

Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp

Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  Yes, I know it’s Tuesday but for my sake, let’s pretend it’s Monday.  This week has been a doozy already between work ramping back up and searching for a car after mine decided to slide off the road in an ice storm two weeks ago.  Eek!  Thank goodness for this week’s Food Matters recipe.  This week Camilla from Culinary Adventures With Cam chose a warming and comforting recipe and if she was standing here now, I’d hug her and we’d eat cardamom scented pear crisp together.

This recipe is quite basic–just your typical fruit crisp–until you get to the last ingredient:  cardamom!  I’ve used cardamom extensively in Indian cooking but have never thought to use it in a dessert until now and certainly didn’t realize how many other cultures use cardamom, both in cooking and for other purposes as well.  Cardamom is used often in Scandanavian cooking as a spice in baked goods such as stollen and spice cookies.  Cardamom can also be found extensively in African cooking.  Not only that, but the ancient Greeks and Roman’s used cardamom as a perfume!

I also just learned about it’s medicinal qualities.  Among other things, cardamom is great for digestion problems (heartburn, intestinal issues, loss of appetite) and cold symptoms (cold, cough, sore throat).  Let’s just say cardamom is my new favorite spice.

I made my crisp gluten-free using brown rice flour as a substitute for the wheat flour.  Other than that I stuck to the recipe exactly and served it warm with vanilla ice cream.  Mmmmmm!

To see what everyone else made (there are always many variations), click here to go to the Food Matters Project website and read through the comments.

Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Project Cookbook

  • 4 tablespoons butter + some for greasing the pan
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 lbs pears, cored and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  1. Heat the oven to 400°. Grease an 8 or 9″ pan with a little bit of butter. Cream the butter, oil and sugar together, using a mixer or fork. Stir in the nuts, lemon juice, oats, flour, and salt, until combined and crumbly. You can make the topping ahead of time, if you like.
  2. Put the pears in the prepared dish, sprinkle with cardamom, and toss to coat. Crumble the topping over all. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is starting to brown, 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately, or at least while still warm.