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

Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

Firstly I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy Holiday!

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Time has a way of clicking by pretty quickly. We are coming up on closing out 2016 but we still have a little time to enjoy not only our family and friends but some yummy food!
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These last couple of months of the year people seem to bring out some of the oldies but goodie recipes. The traditional family ones they either grew up with or started themselves years ago. I tend to mix the two a bit; or at least try to a little. Turkey for Thanksgiving, Roast Beef for Christmas. Generally the same sides that go with both and yummy gravy.
img_4817I don’t think it will come as a total shock that I have a total “life envy” of Ina Garten. She seems down to earth, her recipes have never failed me and she has a “party barn” in the Hamptons; well hers might not be a party barn but that is what mine would be if I had one in my swamp.
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Last week my husband was in the room when Ina was on The Chew and she made a Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad – it sounded so delish that my husband said “we” aka known as just me; should make that. Having yesterday off I had plenty of time to get a lot of things done so why not have something different for Christmas Eve dinner.
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It was given an 11 out of 10 so I have to share it with you and I think you should totally make it to try it for yourselves. It might sound a little tedious but it really isn’t. Roasting the carrots is the longest part and the oven is doing most of the work anyway.
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Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad
Preheat oven to 425’F

2 pounds carrots
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup pure maple syrup
⅔ cup dried cranberries
⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic (grated)
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese
⅔ cup marcona almonds (roasted/salted)
1½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare carrots to 1 inch wide and 2 inches long – because they are roasting at a high temperature you don’t want them too small.

Place in a medium bowl with the olive oil, 1 tsp salt and pepper toss together. Using 2 sheet pans (they need space you don’t want them to steam) Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once until the carrots are tender. Transfer all of the carrots to one sheet pan and add the maple syrup. Toss and roast for another 5-10 minutes just till the edges caramelize. Watch them. Once out set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then set aside for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
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Place the arugula in a large dish, add the carrots, cranberries in their juice, goat cheese crumbled, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss and serve at room temperature.

 

Recipe – Ina Garten the Chew epsiode

Maple-roasted chicken and acorn squash

I found another one-pan dinner that I think you need to try; super easy and very tasty and did I mention only one dish? Over the last couple of weeks, I have attended a couple of events where I have run into some blasts from the past if you will. I am finding it very humbling when they come up to me and the first words are “I love your blog, or “I am enjoying reading and seeing all your food” “I want to come to a class or can I just come to dinner” “I made this weeks and it was awesome; thank you” I am enjoying writing and sharing my love of food and new recipes that I don’t even think of who is actually reading my words so I am just very grateful when someone I know mentions they read and enjoy I truly thank you!

 

One such compliment was from my sister-in-law who came to visit a couple of weeks ago. I love when she comes up; she is smart, funny and loves food AND wine. Some of my favorite attributes in company; well she is family she’s not company.

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I love that she would much rather cook in than go out to dinner; she watches me, takes home recipes and notes and  I know she goes home and makes what she takes with her because I have gotten a few texts with minor questions. I love it!

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This is one dish that I threw together kind of last minute as I wasn’t sure if we were staying in or going out. My girlfriend KP can attest to this indecisiveness. She was here one night when the wine was flowing and we still needed to eat, going out was not going to be an option, I mentioned the wine right? So we threw together a delicious meal and a phrase we still kind of use today “my sous chef sucks” long story short, the veggies were not cut into uniformed pieces.

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I need to admit that acorn squash was never on my radar; I bet it has to do with it being green. I know the inside is not but the outside is DARK green. I know I am evolving as an adult and green is no longer an issue but I never really knew what to do with it. I have already bought it twice in a month so I could make this dish. From making it a couple of times, I want to mention to leave the squash I larger pieces, when I made it chopped up it got too mushy.

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Maple-roasted chicken and acorn squash

1 medium Acorn squash
4 Carrots, chopped
1 medium Onion
6 Chicken thighs bone in skin on
½ cup Maple syrup
1+ tsp Kosher salt
½+ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
sprig of fresh Rosemary stem removed and chopped

Preheat oven to 450’F

Cut squash lengthwise in half; remove seeds, cut each half crosswise into ½ inch slices; throwaway ends.

Place squash, carrots and onions sprinkle with some of the rosemary, salt and pepper in greased 13×9 baking pan. Season both sides of the chicken with remaining rosemary, salt and pepper place skin side down over the vegetables. Roast for 10 minutes.

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Turn chicken over; drizzle with maple syrup; roast another 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 170’-175’ and the vegetables are tender.  If you find that the vegetables could use a little more time, remove the chicken to a plate cover loosely with foil and return the pan to the oven while the chicken rests.

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Adapted from taste of home magazine

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful Mom’s out there!!!

I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to blog about today, last night at dinner my daughter texted me an early; at least for me; Happy Mother’s day; since she is 13 hours ahead of me it was technically already Sunday for her.

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A few weeks back she sent me a cinnamon bun recipe that I just “had to make” so I thought why not make them for myself tomorrow for breakfast; she immediately wrote back that she would also make them but for her dinner and we could Skype and eat them together.  Oh my how flipping cute is that, at least that was what I thought last night while at my nice dinner out with my hubby sipping my very chilled Cosmo.

I gathered all the ingredients and turned on my computer, let Abbi know I was online, finally, and off we went. Since she has made them a few times before, I kept showing her my dough,” is what it is supposed to look like”? It was actually a lot of fun “baking with my daughter” this morning.

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I did have to tell her that I totally loved dough that was kneaded in my kitchen-aid versus by hand. She doesn’t have this luxury in her apartment in Japan, she was less impressed by this, though she did brag that she is well practiced in the art of dough making, she even had to point out that she can make dough wearing a black shirt and it would still be black when she is done, at this point I looked down and yup had flour all over me. I always make a mess, but I clean up real well…

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Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour + extra flour if needed – I needed 4 extra tablespoons

1 cup buttermilk – warmed 1 minute in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (I had to make my own as I didn’t have any on hand) – 1 cup of milk, 1 tbs of lemon juice let sit a few minutes.

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2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast

2 tbs canola oil

2 tbs granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

Filing

½ cup unsalted butter, very soft

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

3 tbs cinnamon

2-3 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

Glaze

2 tbs butter

2 tbs maple syrup

½ cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9×13 inch casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all dough ingredients and knead for about 7 minutes, or until dough is soft, smooth, and has come together in a firm mass. If hand-kneading, you may need to knead a few minutes longer.  Note – Dough should be smooth, not overly sticky, and fairly easy to handle. If your dough is still wet, add 1 Tbs of flour one at a time until it comes together.

Turn dough out onto a silpat or cooking sprayed work surface, I have an awesome pastry mat I use lightly floured

Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle that’s approximately 9×14 inches

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Spread butter in an even layer over the surface of the dough, leaving about 1/4-inch margins around edges; set aside.

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In a small bowl, add sugars, cinnamon, and stir to combine. Evenly sprinkle mixture over the buttered dough. Sprinkle chopped bacon over cinnamon and sugar.

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Starting with the 14-inch side, roll dough up into a tight log

Make approximately 1-inch slices with a pastry cutter, or a sharp knife or even unflavored waxed dental floss.  You don’t want to squish the rolls too much, I used my pastry cutter I didn’t mind how they looked – kind looks like my kids made them when they were younger

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Place rolls into prepared pan.  Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until cooked through and set. Watch rolls closely so you don’t burn them.

Making the glazed – over low heat melt the butter and maple syrup together; Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup powdered sugar

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I do have to share with you all that it didn’t go as smoothly as it could have; I missed a step and had to unroll my dough as I forgot to add the bacon. Shit happens in the kitchen; at least my kitchen.

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recipe adapted from: beccabakes.com

Snacks from the past- Poop Cookies

I am pretty sure afterschool snacks have evolved over the years and some are far healthier that what I used to eat.  When I was growing up, for a spell, we had a housekeeper that also made the most delicious homemade cookies & sugar cinnamon doughnuts for when we got off the bus.  It was for a very short period in our lives, but it was very memorable.  After she was no longer with us we had to fend for ourselves and made due with whatever was in the house; which at times was not much.  I recall eating sardines on saltines, buttered bread cut up in a bowl with maple syrup. I do not have fond memories of either of those but when you go from rags to riches back to rags you figure some things out.

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I do have some fond memories of a couple of afterschool snacks and have shared them with my kids & others.  I really have no idea where my favorite snack came from.  I can’t imagine that I came up with it; but who knows I have always been pretty creative; or at least I want to believe that I was/am.

My favorite afterschool snack was a peanut butter and fluff grilled sandwich.  Don’t knock it unless you try it.  While I know this is not a healthy snack and it shouldn’t be an everyday snack.  If you like peanut butter and fluff I encourage you to try it at least once.  It is made exactly like a grilled cheese just different fillings.  My daughter doesn’t like fluff and my husband is not a fan of peanut butter but my son loves them and makes them on occasion. I recall sitting around one night surrounded by family not sure how they came up but they are so easy to whip up; I made several of them; sliced them up and handed them out. They were a hit!

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The other is a cold bean sandwich; simply buttered bread, beans done!  I am pretty sure this one came from my parents. I remember my dad putting thinly sliced raw onions on his, he loved cold bean sandwiches. Again might not be for everyone one but it is pretty darn good.  I posted that I was eating a cold bean sandwich on FB a few years ago and it definitely stirred up a response.  Some people loved them others not so much.  Same goes in my house the kids and I like them my husband does not, but his brother does.  He was one of the ones that commented on my FB post.

After reading this I hope you reminisce a little about snacks from your childhood.  If they were noteworthy share them!   I also wanted to share a recipe that I made as a child and still make to this day and it is pretty easy for kids to make if you allow them to use the stove top.

Poop Cookies (not sure why my family called them this but we always have)

2 cups sugar

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup milk

3 TBS cocoa

3 cups oatmeal

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup peanut butter

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter, milk and cocoa.  Bring to a full boil over medium heat, boil for 3 minutes (do not skip this step) remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper.  Let them set until firm.  If you skip the boiling step they will not set up.  Trust me I’ve done it, my son has done it.  Just be patient and let the mixture boil for a bit.

Guacamole & Sweet and Salty Wings for the big game

We are the typical New England sports fans – we watch the Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins – Neither one of us enjoys watching Basketball on TV but we did get to a playoff game once years ago and it was amazing to be in the old Boston Garden, that place was rocking – I can safely say that as we had nose bleed seats and saw the dust coming off the rafters when the fans were jumping & yelling!  So it was pretty sad that the Patriots couldn’t pull off the last win to get to the Super Bowl – the game was super ugly and they definitely deserved to lose – very disappointing!

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Whether we stay home or head to a party I always make some guacamole, this year we are staying in to watch the game so I am also going to make some Sweet & Salty Wings and an extra-large Italian Grinder to cut up and share.  For dessert I am going to make some Chocolate Mousse for the first time.

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Guacamole – Base your measurements on how many avocados you have

4 ripe Haas avocados

1 small onion chopped

2 small tomatoes diced and seeded

1 lime juiced

2-3 cloves of garlic crushed

1 TBS Cilantro

4-5 shakes of hot sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chop onions pretty small, dice and seed tomatoes, crush garlic add all to a medium bowl, cut avocado in half remove seed and add meat to the bowl.  Juice lime and add cilantro.  Stir and breakdown some of the avocados – I like to leave them a little chunky.

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24 Chicken wings – tips removed and wings segmented – bake at 400′

I like to bake mine – it makes me think they are slightly healthier…

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3-4 slices of bacon cooked crispy

½ Cup real Maple Syrup

Kosher Salt

 

 

Wire rack and sided baking sheet – sprayed with non-sick cooking spray

Single layer, not touching (they can a little but you want the wing to crisp up) Bake for 20 minutes, turn and cook for another 15 or until cooked through. Place on tray of choice.  Chop up the crispy bacon into small pieces, and sprinkle over the chicken. Heat the maple syrup till warm and pour all over – serve warm, you will need wet wipes of some sort but they are worth it!

Garlic Herb Crusted Center Cut Pork Loin

Super busy weekend AGAIN…I am not complaing – just tired and stuffy today!

Dinner out at MT’s in Nashua Friday night, I am going to try my hand at making their yummy sweet and salty wings.  They have no breading on them, they are baked not fried and they have maple syrup with a bacon crumble on top. They are simply divine!!!

Bought some new skis at our local mountain ski swap; ran to Nashua again for material, I have a baby shower coming up this weekend and I am going to make large versions of receiving blankets. Everyone loves them; at least that is what I keep hearing!  Off to VT (supposed to leave at 2, I didn’t get home till almost 3) to our good friends to have dinner and see their newly built addition. It looks great by the way; it looks like it has always been there; not an afterthought which can happen with addition’s – Nice Job!!!!

Someone; and I won’t name names; had a little too much wine to drink Saturday night, the next morning after we all woke up and the coffee had been made; this particular someone disappeared; he was found sleeping in the car with his sunglasses on covered with a blanket – kind of funny!!! Only because it wasn’t me… You should have seen the look on his face when we mentioned we were going to breakfast at Sugar and Spice, priceless!  He did feel better after eating, but it took a little while! The maple syrup for my buttermilk pancakes (they make their own) reminded me of the wings from Friday night.  Food full circle for me – when I have time; hopefully soon; I will be writing about sweet and salty wings.

After breakfast we rushed home for my husband’s Uncles 86th b-day party. By the time we got home tonight I was exhausted and thanks to my son; he gave me his cold; my head is very foggy!  Forgive me if I do not make any sense today!

Another weekend without grocery shopping and the only thing that I could make quickly was a center cut boneless pork loin. Probably doesn’t sound like a quick simple thing to fix but since I still have some herbs in the garden that have not been lost yet to the weather, and thanks to the harvest this year, we have potatoes, garlic and beets – Voila!  Garlic and Herb crusted pork loin, mashed potatoes and Beets!

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2-4 lb center cut pork loin patted dry with a paper towel

pre heat over to 450′

2 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Tsp freshly Cracked Black Pepper

2 Tsp fresh Sage leaves chopped

2 Tsp fresh Rosemary chopped

5 minced garlic cloves

2 TBS olive oil

Mix the above (salt thru olive oil) in a small bowl into a paste

place pork in a low sided roasting pan – cover with paste mixture – place in over for 20 mintues, lower heat to 300′ and continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes – an instant read meat thermometer should reach 145′.  Everyone’s oven is different so a meat thermometer will be one of your best tools, these times are what I used for my 4lb loin. Tent with tinfoil and let sit for 10 mintues before slicing – YUM!