Archive for July, 2011
I am addicted to granola. I don’t keep it in the house because it doesn’t exactly “keep” because I love the stuff so much….and will decide to have it as breakfast, snack and another meal until it’s all gone. To avoid going on granola-overload, I tend to make a substantial but smaller batch to satisfy my craving. If you actually have self control when it comes to granola, feel free to double, triple or quadruple this recipe
I purchased buckwheat groats at Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage a couple weeks ago and didn’t notice they were the toasted groat variety until I got home. I was originially looking for the raw version to grind my own flour but came up with plan B with this granola. (Maybe I can use the toasted version in similar ways but until now, I have only experimented with buckwheat flour). If you have never had toasted buckwheat groats, they are crunchy and nutty, and would add great texture to any homemade bar recipe (granola, snack bar, protein bar) and I knew they would be a perfect addition to homemade granola! This recipe was inspired by Kath’s Buckwheat Granola over at her amazing blog, Kath Eats Real Food!
With this recipe, you only have to dirty ONE dish. How great is that? You can bake the granola in the same pan that you mix all of the ingredients – easy peasy!
I enjoy this lightly-sweetened granola plain, straight from the jar but also add it in almond or coconut milk as a cereal or in a yogurt parfait with chopped up fruit. This is a great base for granola so feel fee to substitute nuts, seeds, dried fruit to your liking as well as different spices and sweetener - Pecans, almonds, apricots, chopped fig, dates, flaxseed, cherries, blueberries would all be good additions or substitutions! If you are feeling extra indulgent, add some chocolate chips, chunks or cacao nibs for a chocolately treat!
Crunchy Buckwheat Superfood Granola
1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (feel free to add different seeds or nuts or a combo)
1/4 cup toasted buckwheat groats
1 tsp chia seed
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional but I love it)
dash of sea salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil (canola or grapeseed would work too)
1 Tbsp maple syrup (can sub honey, brown rice syrup or agave)
1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
Add-ins (or add your favorites!)
2-3 Tbsp goji berries, optional
2-3 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, optional
1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
2. In a loaf pan or oven-safe bowl, combine all ingredients except for the add-ins (coconut and fruit) and stir to combine.
3. Bake for one hour in the loaf pan or metal bowl, stirring every 30 minutes. Color should be golden brown.
4. Remove from oven and stir in the goji berries and coconut, which will slightly toast when you add to the hot ingredients. Stir every half our or so while cooling – the granola will clump together some. It’s ok if some of the mixture sticks to the bottom of your pan as well. Enjoy!
Let cool completely before storing if it lasts that long…
On Thursday, I was determined to clean out the fridge..well, at least that was my excuse so I could make room for a hefty grocery store run this weekend and my new delivered goodies from NutsOnline I discovered NutsOnline a couple years ago and I have never been disappointed with any of the items I’ve ordered…and I’ve ordered a bunch – from nuts, dried fruits, flours, snack mixes, baking ingredients, candy, chocolate, etc – they have it all! My latest order included 1 pound packages of teff flour, sun-dried tomatoes, unsweetened shredded coconut, cacao nibs, roasted/unsalted almonds, white chia seeds, a two sample packs of goji berries and turkish figs — YUM! You can expect some new recipes soon from this highly-anticipated online delivery!!!
Now back to the recipe — I had bits of leftover veggies and a half pound of chicken tenders I needed to use up. I was having a bit of a brain lapse and couldn’t think of anything really creative to make on the fly, so I shuffled through my old recipe binder from 4 years ago. Side note – I used to print off recipes I found online, write my own suggestions down after looking through the recipe reviews and organize them in 4-inch binder…unfortunately, I don’t have much time for that now and just bookmark, plus it saves trees! As I was thumbing through the “poultry section”, I came across a recipe for Chicken Bruschetta from Cooking Light that inspired this easy weeknight meal. I even found the original recipe online too, which can be found here at myrecipes.com.
This light meal is great served with garlic bread or with a side of garlic roasted potatoes. The vegetable topping is delicious served over broiled chicken as stated here or as I have made it in the past with grilled chicken, whichever you prefer!
Chicken with Balsamic-Bruschetta Vegetables
1/2 lb of chicken tenders (could use skinless,boneless chicken breasts, just make sure they aren’t too thick)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow squash, chopped (or use zucchini)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 plum tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
big handful of fresh spinach
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling (about 2-3 Tbsp)
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Combine garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Drizzle chicken with a tsp of oil and then sprinkle with garlic powder mixture. Place the chicken on a broiler pan, and broil for 5 minutes, flip chicken over and broil another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from pan, and keep warm.
3. Heat remaining 2 tsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, squash, and minced garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add tomato, onion, spinach, basil, and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 of pepper), then sauté 3 minutes. Serve the vegetable mixture over chicken; sprinkle with cheese and enjoy!
Serves 2 (could easily be doubled or tripled)
Happy Friday! Today I learned about patience. Let me explain a bit – I have always wanted to make my own almond butter, and I have attempted several times but always came up with a clumpy mess. After this morning’s effort though, I learned (once again) that persistence is key. I am learning life’s lessons from food…it definitely must be time for the weekend!
Making your own almond butter is quite simple actually: you need almonds, a food processor and as mentioned before, patience. I’ve heard others that use a Vitamix with success but I can’t speak for that high-powered blender myself. In a nutshell, you add the nuts in whichever form desired – raw or roasted/toasted – and then turn on the processor…stop and scrape the sides, turn back on…stop and scrape the sides again, turn back on…stop and scrape the sides yet again, turn back on. You will keep repeating this method over and over until you get the smooth consistency that you find in high-quality jarred versions from the store. It takes a little time for the almonds to release all of their oils and that’s where the perseverance plays a part My handy-dandy KitchenAid food processor was put to work and began to get heated at the base but don’t worry, this is ok!
This is the basic process for creating your own homemade nut butter. From there, you can then make different variations – raw, roasted, roasted and salted – as well as various flavors – chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, flax etc. If you want chunky nut butter, you can add in 1/3 cup or more of chopped almonds after desired consistency is reached.
I made roasted almond butter (as I prefer the deeper flavor to raw), and after successfully achieving the silky texture I so desired, I got a little carried away and decided to make a super combo of flavors. Let’s just say I went overboard in the experimenting department and added flax, chia seed, sea salt, vanilla, cinnamon and a little stevia to slightly sweeten. Is that considered overkill?
Looking back, I should have added these ingredients a little at a time instead of all at once. At first, it became a thick paste mixture, so I added some coconut oil to thin along with some almond milk. Turns out the chia, flax and almond milk created a caramel-like texture that made the almond butter flavor fade into the background and I was left with a delicious but sticky mixture that I used for a yummy dip for apple slices. Although it was a “happy accident”, I am not sure I will be recreating the same flavor combo using the same method as before…it was a lot of trouble for an apple dip : ) Next time, I think I will add either honey or maple syrup as the sweetener, use a teaspoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of flax and some vanilla and leave it be.
Homemade Roasted Almond Butter
2 1/2 cups raw almonds
1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out almonds. Bake for 8 minutes, stir and return to oven for another 7-8 minutes or until roasted and slightly fragrant (don’t them them burn!).
2. Remove sheet from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Place roasted almonds into bowl of the food processor and process for about 10-15 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl every 30-60 seconds as needed.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups (more or less, I kept tasting it!)
On a more serious note, I wanted to share the info about the The Great Fundraising Act in case you haven’t heard of it already. It’s an online auction and fundraiser to benefit Susan from The Great Balancing Act. A few weeks ago, 25-year-old Susan was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and the blogging community has rallied around her to help raise money for her medical expenses. The live auction will take place this upcoming Monday, July 25 – bake sale items are up for auction or you can make a monetary donation. Click here for more information and here to check out all the items up for bid, I strongly encourage you to take part if you are able!
And the muffin love continues…but this time in savory egg form! Lately, I’ve been on a sweet muffin kick but woke up this morning in the mood for veggies and protein for breakfast. This recipe was inspired by Rachael Ray’s Ham, Leek and Gruyere Baked Egg Cups – I saw her make these a while back on Food Network and was looking forward to making my own version…these did not disappoint!
With a different twist on a quiche or an egg scramble, these single-serving baked egg cups are portable and easy to take on-the-go. If you are tired of the same old breakfast shake, protein bar or sweet muffin, give these a try!
This recipe is flexible and can be tweaked to your liking, see recipe notes below for ideas on flavor variations. You could serve this high-protein dish for a light dinner or brunch alongside a salad and fresh fruit.
Italian-Style Baked Egg Cups
6 slices of nitrate-free turkey slices (I used reduced-sodium deli slices at Sprouts)
1 tsp coconut oil (butter or your favorite oil could also be used)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 small or 1 large garlic clove(s), minced
3-4 mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups of fresh spinach
2 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp parmesan, shredded
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 6 muffins cups (I used the silicone baking cups so I could bake in my toaster oven) and fold the turkey slices inside making a cup (depending on size of slices, you may have to fold in half).
2. In a small skillet, melt the oilt over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about one minute. Set aside to slightly cool.
3. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, add italian seasoning, eggs, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until eggs are combined.
4. Divide the spinach-onion mixture evenly and spoon into the turkey-lined cups. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the cups and top with shredded cheese.
5. Place the muffin pan (or silicone cups) onto a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven to 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before removing from pan and enjoy!
Makes 6 egg cups
Recipe Notes: You can easily switch up the flavors by using different meats, such as ham, bacon, canadian bacon, pancetta, prosciutto etc. Substitute different herbs and spices for the italian seasoning – a southwestern twist would be delish with taco seasoning or use greek seasoning for a change. Vegetables in this recipe can be replaced to suite your tastes as well as the cheese; goat cheese, feta, cheddar or cotija would all be yummy!