Must try Granola

I have NO idea why it has taken me SOOOOOO long to make a batch of granola. Seriously; we all love it; we or more like; I buy it; Over the years I’ve bought all different kinds/brands. I have even gone so far as to write down the ingredients listed on a local company’s bag of my favorite granola. I am only slightly embarrassed to say that that was YEARS ago; literally at least over 10 years ago.
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So I would like to thank you all for getting me off my butt and finally pulling the trigger on not only buying the ingredients; which has been in my pantry for a couple of weeks now. Today is the day I make it happen. If I didn’t write a weekly food blog I probably would still be holding onto a piece of paper that says rolled oats on top of it. I am always looking for something yummy and simples to share with you all. So I finally made one of the easiest recipes on the planet. While you might have to buy a few ingredients that you probably wouldn’t have on hand the reward is pretty fantastic.
img_4888img_4889img_4890I also finally now know why it isn’t exactly the cheapest snack on the shelf. This recipe makes a lot of yummy granola. Keep it in an airtight container and it should last a few weeks. If it lasts that long; in my house if it makes a week and a half I will be shocked!
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Granola – preheat oven to 325’F

Ingredients
8 cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups wheat germ
1 ½ cups oat bran
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup honey
1 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions
Line two large baking sheets with something – Parchment, tinfoil and if you are lucky Silpat mat

In a very large bowl combine oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, coconut and the nuts.

In a medium saucepan combine salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for a minute and then pour over the dry ingredients; stir to combine. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes take out and stir; bake for another 10-15 minutes just till toasted. Once cooled it will be a little crispy. You can break it up totally or leave some a little chunky.

you can add raisins and or craisins if you wish

Adapted from Megan’s Granola – all recipes

Lemon Zucchini Tea Cake

The garden is winding down a bit, and I’m OK with it. It looks like my zucchini and summer squash harvesting days are over but they were very good to us this year. I am going to go on record today and say that I am all set with making zucchini bread for the year. I even had enough very large zucchinis to make a few Christmas present loaves; I know I know I know it’s way too early to be bringing that up especially since it was like 90 degrees out yesterday. But timing is everything I have everything on hand and I am a get it done kind of person.

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So with being “all set” with zucchini bread and sharing my harvest with family and friends I started looking for something a little different. I came across this recipe while perusing my New Hampshire Magazine. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a recipe and thought hey I have all or at least most of the ingredients on hand and decide right then to get everything out and make it or a resemblance of it.

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I have way too many lemons in the fridge, I asked my daughter to pick up a couple and she bought a bag UGH now what. Reading through the recipe I had everything except coconut oil. I have yet to get on the coconut “everything” bandwagon. I did have some applesauce in the fridge that I use in my zucchini bread recipe so why not use it in this one in replacement of the coconut oil.

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I tend to always break the rule of “no new recipe on guests” I seem to use that rule as more of a guideline and always try new things on people. This time was my co-workers; we were having a birthday graze day for one and I thought there would be other things to eat if this didn’t work out.

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This is my first one using their suggested amount of blueberries – we all felt every bite benefited from having a blueberry with it. Delish!!!

Well it worked out very nicely and everyone loved it, my family loved it so much and I had to use up some more of the lemons I’ve already made it again.

Lemon Zucchini Tea Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

¾ cup applesauce – or if you want coconut oil
1 ¾ cups shredded zucchini – drained
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Handful of fresh blueberries

In a stand mixer or use your hand mixer; combine the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color 1-2 minutes. Add the applesauce, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla beat until well combined another 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini, beat till combined; another minute. Sift the flour, soda, powder and salt. Add this mixture to create the batter and beat till combined; do not over mix.

Grease or spray your pan and add the batter, place in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Bake until your wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool, loosen the edges and invert the cake onto a wire rack to completely cool. Once cool, spread cream cheese frosting and top with some blueberries

I used 2-8” cake pans but could be made in one larger cake pan; it doesn’t rise like you would think as it is a denser kind of cake.

Cream cheese frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 16-ounce bag of powdered sugar (roughly 4 cups – I buy mine in bulk)

Buttermilk Waffles

In keeping with my recent theme of using up what I have on hand I had some leftover buttermilk. I bought it for a specific use of making a Texas Sheet Cake to bring as a little something sweet for the group of us that were cleaning out my uncle in-laws house that he has lived in for 56 years which the last 24 were alone as his wife had passed. He is still with us but will be spending his final years with a little more assistance and a lot closer to us so we can keep a better eye on him.
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Last waffle before I ate it

So what to do with your extra buttermilk, because I have never seen it in a smaller than a quart container and I have yet to use the whole thing in any recipe. You can make buttermilk biscuits as I did with the last bottle I had on hand or marinate some chicken in it which is always yummy. This weekend I wanted something a little different; I could have gone with the buttermilk pancake stand by but we all worked super hard yesterday and I figured waffles could be our little reward; and it was! This is a super easy recipe that felt like a reward but so doable anytime.
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Plus it made the house smell so sweet like vanilla and cream. I am currently sitting here at the island and the sun is shining so bright out there and I can see the 2 loads of laundry that I hung out and are swaying in the breeze it makes me want to go outside until I notice it is a whopping 30′ F out there brrr for April. Still not the right time for me to get out in the gardens; guess I stay in the planning mode but soon I hope.
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Back to the buttermilk waffles – they were a huge hit and I can prove it since there wasn’t any left over. I also wanted to mention that I do try capture what I am making in pictures to share with you all but on occasion(s) I forget to take the after photo of the pictures just before serving. I think the smell and anticipation of eating what I made I tend to forget that I need to take a picture to share. So I took a picture of the first waffle and the last one just before I ate it.
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Chemical reaction happening

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First waffle

1 stick of butter melted and cooled; or left on the counter till soft
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt only if you used unsalted butter above
Room temperature ingredients work best so take all your cold ingredients out about a half an hour before you want to begin or longer if you have the time. You can melt the butter and let it set aside while the other ingredients are warming up.
In a large bowl place all your dry ingredients and whisk to blend. In another bowl whisk the eggs till frothy, add the other wet ingredients to the eggs and beat into well combined; pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and with a wooden spoon stir all ingredients together till combined. Batter should be a little lumpy and have air bubbles from the chemical reaction between the buttermilk and the leavening powder and soda.
make sure your waffle iron is hot and if needed spray with non stick to help it a little. Enjoy!!!
Recipe
© 2016 Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved. http://www.food.com/419258 submitted by The Swedish Chef

Apple Butter Bars

Woke this morning to the ground covered in beautiful snow! I know it’s April and I know it won’t be sticking around so that is why I can say it is beautiful.Snow April 3rd

For the last 3 weeks I have been buying less groceries and using up what I have and I swear I have barely made a dent; at least in the freezers. I am even going as far as trying to find uses for those jars of “specialty” items that end up in the back of the fridge. If you are reading this I can bet you also have some of these same types of jars! I haven’t made it yet but there is a kimchi fried rice meal in my future.

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This morning I focused on the largest of the fridge jars; apple butter while I have nothing against apple butter it just isn’t in my repertoire; yet.

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Looking around the internet this morning I came across a sweet and spicy apple butter chipotle chicken thighs recipe that sounds promising; Well actually it sounds more than just promising, it has 10 cloves of garlic um yeah I am all over this and I will use up the chicken thighs from the freezer and I have a small jar of Chipotle peppers in adobo in the back of the fridge – perfect!

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It is a thick batter – spread it out with a knife or whatever you are using

I did have to remind myself it was 7am and we would not be eating dinner this early. Then I found an apple butter bars recipe; now we are talking! It looked simple enough and I had almost everything except for the apple pie spice but I figured that was just a combination of other spices and I am sure I must have them or most of them in my cupboard.

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The bars were delicious according to my husband and myself; kids weren’t home. I wanted to share them with you all just in case you have some apple butter taking up real estate in your fridge.

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I actually took 2 pieces out before I took my finished photo!

Apple Pie Spice which I doubt I will ever buy can easily be made with 4 spices you might already have sitting in your pantry. ½ teaspoon Cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon Ginger, ⅛ teaspoon All Spice and ⅛ teaspoon Nutmeg. You will only need a ½ teaspoon but it makes such a small amount I didn’t mind chucking the rest of it; remember I am cleaning out not creating more containers of stuff I use occasionally.

Apple Butter Bar

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup apple butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 cup chopped apples peeled

Icing for drizzling over (optional)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350’ F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. Cream butter and sugar then beat in egg and apple butter. Mix in half of the flour with the baking soda and apple pie spice. Beat in remaining flour, then stir in apples.  Spread into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or till toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool in pan and cut into bars.

To Make Icing: Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 1 – 2 tablespoons milk. Mix to drizzling consistency and drizzle over cooled bars – I didn’t use all of this, it’s pretty sweet so use your discretion.

 
recipe adapted from sidehill farm

Banana’s Foster Buckle

Firstly Happy Valentine’s Day -I hope everyone had or is having a nice day!

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So my vacation was amazing even though I had a sore throat for most of it and ended up coming home with strep throat; never had that before and it sucked! I would do it all again, minus the throat issue.

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Notice I kept my husbands favorite rum in the picture!

 

My job on the boat was galley cook; I think that is what it is called. I had 2 gas burners and an oven, a small sink and limited counter space. I was definitely glad I planned ahead of time. We rented a condo a few days in front of our sailing adventure and I had brought with me quite a bit of provisions. So I cooked up some breakfast sausage, Sweet Italian sausage; crumbled and in links, and a pound or so of bacon. I thought by doing this on land I would not have to stink up the boat. Well it ended up being just a plain ole good idea. We had limited water, limited propane and damn that kitchen was small. I never turned on the oven just so you know. We did have zucchini bread and pear bread but I brought them from my freezer from home.

We didn’t eat on board all the time but when we did have meals, I felt they were pretty darn good. We had spaghetti and sausage one night, I made a frittata for one of our breakfasts. We had a white wine and garlic penne pasta one night. Oh I forgot to mention we also had a BBQ charcoal grill off the back of the boat. While it sounds really cool, I knew it would be kind of a pain but we are here; it is there and we all wanted to grill the beef tenderloins I was making for dinner.

Let’s just say I was right, it was a pain lighting the BBQ; we did get it lit though and it was ready to go but I ended up cooking them in a fry pan on the stove; and if anyone is say diving near Marina Cay off of Scrubb Island; there is a grill rack on the ocean floor somewhere in the middle of all the mooring balls.

I must have missed cooking and baking or this ridiculously cold weather has sparked a fire under me. I have been doing nothing but cooking. Last weekend I made 2 different kinds of chili, I had meatballs and sauce on the stove top and make buffalo wings and 7 layer Mexican dip. mostly for the Superbowl; which wasn’t very super in my opinion.

This weekend I have 4 new recipes I want to make. Hopefully they taste as good as they sound. As I am typing this this morning I have a Banana’s Foster Buckle in the oven. It looked amazing and smells awesome, It should be done in a bit YUM!

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Cake

4 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350’F grease a 9×9 baking dish; line with parchment grease the paper – I only had waxed paper and was a pain but did the job. If you leave an over hang it help with removal of the bread.

In a large bowl or your mixer, add the butter and sugar combine. Add the egg, vanilla and milk and stir till combined. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until fully combined, it will be a thick batter.

Banana’s Foster

4 TBS unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3-4 banana’s cut up
2 TBS dark rum

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In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and sugar, melt and stir together. add the bananas and cook until caramelized.

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pour the rum and while being careful; catch a flame using one of those long handled lighter. Let the bananas and caramel flambe. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit.

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let there be fire

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, placed slightly cooled bananas foster on top and push them down a bit into the batter.

Bake for about 50 minutes; until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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It is delicious and tastes best with some vanilla Ice Cream – Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat ice cream in the morning. I read somewhere that Sylvester Stallone eats a pint of ice cream every morning, his logic is so he can burn it off all day. I’ll buy that!

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Recipe adapted by Cooking at Clark Towers from Carla Hall the Chew

 

 

 

Clean out the fridge frittata

I mostly blog the day my posts come out which is every Sunday. I am getting ready to leave for vacation and will be away for two Sundays and I was worried that I would not have Wifi where I am going so yesterday I wrote 3 blogs; just in case. Honestly I really want to be able to write while I am gone. How cool; for me anyway; to write while sitting on a beach or for one of the Sundays we are sailing with another couple on a 38’ catamaran which we are captaining ourselves. It sounds glorious and it might be, but I will admit I am a little nervous; we’ve never done anything like this before and only one of the four of us has ever sailed. Wish us luck!

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I was going to use one of the blogs I already wrote but inspiration struck this morning and I just can’t help myself. I am making my grocery shopping list and taking fridge inventory. I pulled out both vegetable bins and put them on the island. There was a summer squash and zucchini on their way out, half an onion, one lonely clove of garlic; not sure how that happened, some fresh thyme and a few scallions. I also took out a few of the leftovers in containers and had some leftover ham and extra chopped up cooked bacon and a frittata was born. My daughter said “haven’t you written about frittata’s before” Yes but I just felt compelled to do it again. Sorry if I am repeating myself but these are a great way to use up some less desirable or not enough for a whole meal items from your fridge. 

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I chopped everything up and starting building flavors in my cast iron skillet. You can see by the pictures I left my wooden spatula in most all the pictures, that is kind of a nod to my son; he made it for me when he was in middle school. I’ll have to show him the pictures since he was not here this morning to see me using it. I was pretty proud of my creation this morning and the look on my daughter’s face confirmed it; plus she took a picture of her plate and posted or sent it somewhere!

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This mornings Frittata

1/2 onion diced small
1 clove of garlic smashed and chopped
1 small summer squash chopped – I also peeled mine because it wasn’t pretty
1 medium zucchini – I peeled this one too again it was on it’s way out
1 small broccoli chopped
4 small tomatoes chopped
3 scallions sliced
chunk of ham chopped
crisped chopped bacon
2-3 sprigs of thyme stemmed removed and chopped
6 eggs – I only had 5 so that is what I used
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheese
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
I also put some siracha in a few spots just to add a little heat you can see it in the last picture, there’s not much but it adds a little love.

saute the onions just till softened, add heartier vegetables first and the tender ones last just so they don’t breakdown to nothing, the meat I used was already cooked so a quick toss around was fine for them, beat the eggs and milk together and and pour over the ingredients, add a little cheese and just a quick mix in. Top with scallions and a little more salt and pepper.  Cook on top for about 3-5 minutes and then place under the broiler with the rack a rung or two below the top to set the eggs and brown watch but it should take about 10 minutes.

Bon Voyage

Pear Bread

Last night was my annual Christmas party; it was a blast and I am not just saying that because I threw it but we always have so much fun eating, drinking and singing around the piano. Once we make it through all the usual festive Christmas songs out comes Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor show tunes and even Abba yes we rocked Super Trouper. We generally average around 50-60 people, some stay a couple of hours, most stay for several hours and some even stay the night. Last night we had a full house; there was a no vacancy sign out front (if we had one) for the tower 🙂 as you can tell SF I am borrowing your comment from this morning. Another comment from one of my overnight guests “I should blog about this” on how to throw an awesome party; thanks for thinking so BF.

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party aftermath photo

 

My best recommendation is prep prep prep as much as you can the day before; and finish everything off the day of the party and that includes having breakfast mostly completed before the party. No one wants to make breakfast for 12-15 people while nursing a little after party slowness. A couple of breakfast casseroles, a bread item and some fresh fruit as well as coffee and juice and voila!

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Here is a bread item that was a nice surprise for me. Sometimes I guess you can call it over prepping; I have a grand plan of making something different to serve a crowd and I just never get there, this past Thanksgiving it was poached pears, mind you for the first time and I just ran out of steam, time and ambition; it happens to the best of us. What to do with a dozen pears that you know were going to all ripen at the same time; you can only eat so many pears in a day. I personally am not a fan but my guys love them; but even they were done after day 2. I put them in the fridge to slow them down a bit but time was ticking. Poaching pears was out, now they were only good for a baked good or the trash or maybe the compost pile, yeah so far we here in New Hampshire are having a crazy mild December. I know I will regret putting that in writing.  If this winter is anything like last winter, we are in for some serious weather come January.

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I looked online to see what others had done with their over ripen pears and where I have seen many a pear cake recipe I have never heard of pear bread I figured why not? We love banana bread and zucchini bread. I was not disappointed, it was moist, flavorful and a bonus was I didn’t have to throw away any pears. I really didn’t have a backup plan if this didn’t work out. Our usual use for fruit on its last leg is to make a smoothie for breakfast but I didn’t even photograph my pears for you, they were pretty ugly.

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The bread was a hit with the family and I would make it again no questions asked. though I didn’t make this for this mornings breakfast; I would have if I had leftover pears.

Pear Bread – makes 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups finely chopped peeled ripe pears (about 4 medium)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions pre-heat oven to 350’
In a large bowl or your mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir into the egg mixture just till moistened. Toss pears with lemon juice stir pears and walnuts into the batter.

Fill about half way into 2 greased 9×5 in loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks. Freezes well too!

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photo prop silliness me and my girlfriend