Archive | Recipes

FullSizeRender

Sharing Summer Meals

When the weather outside is sizzlin, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time slaving in a hot kitchen. I generally don’t have a big appetite for heavy meals and meaty dishes, and I like to keep summer food prep a little more simple. My daughter, Nicole, and I recently tried out this yummy recipe for vegetarian tacos. Although I’m sharing the recipe below, I was thinking about how enjoyable the actual process of creating a meal is when you do it with someone special. I have so many fond memories of cooking or baking with my mom, grandmother, children, friends and husband. This past Christmas Eve, our family was in several different locations, so my hubby and I decided to make a special dinner together at home, and we had a wonderful evening. There are so many memories to be made right in your own kitchen! Now, back to the tacos. There was a little prep required, but with some cool background music, a little wine, and great conversation, dinner was on the table in no time. I love how versatile this recipe is too!

Vegetarian Tacos

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 poblano pepper, diced

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tabs. fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

Sea Salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1/2 lb. medium carrots, cut into 3″to 4” sticks

1 tsp. ground cumin

8 whole grain tortillas (you can also use taco shells or flour tortillas, your preference)

Toppings:

Sliced avocado

crumbled goat or queso fresco cheese

chopped cilantro

sliced black olives

radishes

broccoli slaw

salsa

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add onion, pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chili powder and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add black beans and 1/3 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir occasionally until thickened. Mash beans with the back of a spoon or potato masher until thick, then stir in lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toss carrots with cumin and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast turning occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes, until carrots are tender. 

Divide beans and carrots between taco shells or tortillas. (We warmed our tortillas in a pan.) Finish with toppings, a squeeze of lime and enjoy. We made a tossed salad as a side. 

Enjoy and have a great week!

~May

“I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.” Maya Angelou

Continue to this post

FullSizeRender 3

Last Minute Dessert Ideas

Now that school’s out and summer is here, we are all enjoying the warm temperatures and longer days. Summer is definitely the season for last minute backyard get togethers with family and friends. Since I love to bake, dessert is usually what I bring to these social gatherings. For a planned event, I love to browse through my recipes to find something perfect depending on the season and number of guests. Sometimes though, if it is a last minute potluck, I often don’t have the time to plan and shop, so I depend on some staples that I always try to keep in my pantry.

Recently, I made a chocolate loaf cake. This is a great dessert for a smaller crowd, as it’s quick,  easy and you can dress it up several different ways, depending on what’s in your fridge.

Chocolate Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt, room temperature

1 2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

1/2 cup hot coffee (or hot water) I always use coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream butter and both sugars until combined, about 2 to three minutes.
  3. Add in eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between each addition.
  4. Next add vanilla and sour cream or yogurt.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.
  6. Add half the dry ingredients to the mixer and incorporate, then add the rest and mix just until combined- don’t over mix.
  7. Add hot coffee or water and beat on high for one minute.
  8. Fold in chocolate chips by hand and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out mostly clean
  10. Place the cake on a cooling rack and cool completely.
  11. Once cool, loosen edges with a knife and remove cake to cutting board.

 

If you have to leave before your cake has cooled, simply bring the cake in the pan to your party, and cut it there, otherwise you can wrap in foil as you would a loaf of bread. I had some fresh raspberries in my fridge, a carton of whipping cream, and a bottle of ghiradelli chocolate sauce so I tossed them in a bag, and off I went. I individually plated each dessert, and voila. Doesn’t it look pretty? This also works well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream  drizzled with chocolate sauce, a chocolate ganache, or simply dust with a little powdered sugar and if you have an herb garden you can add a sprig of mint.

Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-4 tablespoons milk

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. After the cake has cooled, remove from pan and drizzle with ganache. Allow it to firm up before slicing. (about an hour)

Pantry essentials for the baker

Flour

granulated sugar

brown sugar

powdered sugar

baking soda

baking powder

cocoa powder

semi sweet chocolate chips

pure vanilla extract

graham cracker crumbs

active dry yeast

For the Fridge

butter

eggs

milk (or almond milk)

plain greek yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt)

frozen berries and fruit ( great for a last minute cobbler)

There is so much you can do with a few basic ingredients and a little imagination.

Have a great week!~ May

Where there’s a whisk, there’s a way.

Continue to this post

FullSizeRender 3

Kale Chips

I’m sure you all know by now that Kale, the green (or purple) leafy vegetable that is part of the cabbage family, is all the rage at the moment, and has been enjoying popularity for a while. What I remember as a garnish at salad bars can readily be found at our favorite grocery or farmers market. It’s low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants and nutrients such as folate, magnesium, iron, and vitamin K. We eat it in salads, soups, stews, as sides and blend it in smoothies. I personally love kale and eat it often. Recently, a friend who was going to be traveling, gave me a bag  so it wouldn’t go to waste while she was out of town. Add that to a bunch I had just purchased, and you have a lot of kale! Not too long ago, I experimented with kale chips and since I had so much, I decided to try them again. I discovered if you cook them at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, they crisp up better.

Ingredients

1 bundle or bag of kale

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Rinse and dry kale, removing any large stems and tear into bite size pieces.

Place in a mixing bowl, add oil, salt and toss with hands until the oil and salt are well distributed. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 15 minutes.

With a spatula gently mix the kale on the cookie sheet, and bake 5 to 10 minutes more until kale is crispy and light brown. It can burn quickly so keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

If needed, add a little more salt and enjoy immediately as a snack or a side. I find that they’re best eaten right away, however you can store them in an airtight container for a day or two.

I gave you a basic recipe but if you want to play a bit, you can use different oils such as avocado or coconut oil and try different seasonings. I’ve used seasoned salt, garlic salt, chili powder and cumin, and love the flavor.

Have a great week! ~May

Lettuce raise a little Kale

Continue to this post

Pantry Dinners

Pantry Dinners

We were out of town the end of last week for the Easter weekend.  We returned home Monday evening and the last thing I wanted to do after a 10 hour road trip was head to the grocery store.  So, we are punting this week with no fresh groceries.  In order to feed us without resorting to eating out, I am thinking pantry meals.

If you have chicken in the freezer, Chicken Tacos are a great pantry meal.  Some chicken, taco spices, cheese and your slow cooker makes for an easy dinner.  If you do not have tortillas, do burrito bowls over lettuce or serve it as chicken nachos with chips.

Similarly, if you have ground beef in the freezer instead of chicken, you can make Slow Cooker Beef Tacos.  I am sensing that Mexican food is a good pantry meal.

We are also fans of all of the frozen burgers at Trader Joe’s.  Our favorites are the Grass-Fed Beef Burgers, the Turkey Burgers and the Chicken Lime Chile Burgers.  They can go right on the grill from the freezer and are ready in around 10 minutes.  Add some frozen veggies and you have a full meal.  I regularly serve mine on lettuce rather than a bun.  A guacamole topper on the Turkey or Chicken Burgers is delicious.

Breakfast for dinner is always a good option for a pantry meal.  Scramble up some eggs and toast or get fancy and make an omelet with all the leftovers in your refrigerator.  If you like to have a sweet dinner, pancakes are always delicious.

Because I just ate it for lunch, tuna salad can also be tasty for dinner as well.  A can of tuna, some mayo and mustard all mixed together then add in some celery and a little salt and pepper.  Serve on a nice crusty roll or on top of a mixed green salad for a light dinner.

Pasta seems to live in everyone’s pantry and it can be mixed with so many things.  Once again Trader Joe’s has pantry items you can keep for just these situations.  They have great marinara sauce.  However, I like pesto on my pasta or even just a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese.  If you want to add in some protein, try some leftover chicken or look for the frozen grilled chicken strips.

Appetizers for dinner can make a great pantry meal.  I often keep a few frozen appetizers in my freezer also all from Trader Joe’s such as mini chicken tacos, mozzarella sticks or lobster shrimp bites.  If we are really pinched, I can warm a few of these up and enjoy them as a meal.

Finally, not the healthiest of options, but often when I am home by myself for the evening, I plan on a dinner of cheese and crackers.  I try to plan a little ahead of time and have some tasty cheeses in my fridge like an aged cheddar, a brie or a blue cheese.  Then I indulge in a few fancier crackers such as Mary Gone Crackers or water crackers or even some crusty bread, pour myself a glass of wine and sit back and enjoy. –June

 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Continue to this post

Peppermint Bark

A Sweet Holiday Gift – Peppermint Bark

Since this is the time of year for gift giving, we thought it would be fun to give the gift of a sweet holiday treat. Homemade peppermint bark! May does a lot of baking during the holidays and has always given tins of homemade cookies as gifts to family and friends. However, if you’re not a baker, or don’t have the time to bake, we have a great DIY that is fun, festive, doesn’t take a lot of time, and most importantly-it’s delicious!  You can make this with your kids or with a friend. May and June spent a few hours in May’s kitchen last week making these great little gifts.

INGREDIENTS -PEPPERMINT BARK

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a 9×12 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate (use the method you prefer, either double boiler, or microwave – cook 30 seconds in a heat-proof bowl, stir and repeat until you have a smooth consistency.
  3. Pour the melted dark chocolate on the parchment paper, spread the chocolate out until it is about 1/3″ thick. You can do this by hitting the pan on the countertop repeatedly, or maybe you could use a spatula to spread the chocolate.

4. Melt the white chocolate, using the steps above. After the chocolate is smooth, pour it on top of the dark chocolate – trying to make the layers the same thickness. (it’s best to do this step while the white chocolate is still very soft — I’ve had them separate when I broke them into pieces, I think the layers “stick” together better if the white chocolate has not hardened).

5. Unwrap the starlite mints, or peppermints of your choice and put them into a heavy duty ziplock bag. Using a hammer or meat tenderizer – crush the mints then, while the white chocolate is still melted sprinkle on top.

6. Let the chocolates harden in the refrigerator for 2 hours, then break the candy into pieces. This needs to be stored in the refrgerator if you live in a warm/humid climate.

Since the peppermint bark is so pretty and festive, we thought some simple clear packaging would look best. You can wrap the peppermint bark in cellophane and finish it off with a cute bow, or place it in a mason jar and decorate the lid. We also tied on some cute ornaments which can be hung on the gift recipient’s tree.

We hope you have a great weekend and if you’re in the Midwest, stay warm. ~ May and June

“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” 
― Heather Wolf

Continue to this post

img_4789

Holiday Baking

During the holiday season, you can almost always find me spending my free time in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies. As a child, I loved helping my mom and grandma bake cookies, and for several days, I was dusted in flour. I continued the tradition with my children as well, and smile at the memory of my flour coated boys standing on their step stool decorating snowmen and reindeer. It must be genetic. The warm aroma of cinnamon, molasses, butter, and sugar fills the house which is such a treat on cold winter evenings.  Although I occasionally toss in a new recipe here and there, my family has their favorites and for the most part, we stick to our familiar cookie playbook.

This year, however, I decided to add a new recipe to our repertoire. I love to watch cooking shows and recently, Giada De Laurentiis baked a pan of almond biscotti. Biscotti are an Italian almond biscuit which are twice baked, oblong, and with their crunchy texture, they are ideal for dunking into your favorite hot beverage. They are not overly sweet which makes them a perfect holiday treat if you’re having guests for tea, or just want a little afternoon pick me up. They are also a great cookie for gift giving. I have always loved them, but they are a little drier than most cookies, which can take a little getting used to.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds

18 ounces white or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat sugar and eggs with an electric mixture until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in flour and beat until just blended. The dough will be sticky. Stir in almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

img_4781

Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, space dough evenly apart and form into 2 ( 9 by 3 inch) logs.

img_4782

Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise into 3/4 inch thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, 20- 25 minutes.

img_4783

Let cool completely. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the pan does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip the end of each biscotti in the chocolate. Transfer the dipped biscotti to a wire rack, set over a baking sheet, until the chocolate has hardened. Store in airtight container.

img_4787

These are such a pretty addition to your holiday cookie tray. Enjoy!

img_4789

~May

“First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie-dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.” Elf

 

Continue to this post

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Happy Halloween! I hope you all are enjoying this fun day of Tricks and Treats, especially if you have little ones. It has been a few years since I had trick or treaters at home, but what hasn’t changed is the need to keep dinner simple.

img_0262

Halloween Throw Back

I always like to make a quick and easy dinner on Halloween, so that I’m not trying to prepare a meal as I’m running back and forth to the front door. I actually made this soup yesterday, and having leftovers tonight, but this recipe is so easy, you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry, and it won’t take long to make. This recipe calls for four cups chicken stock which you can pick up at the store, or you can use homemade which I prefer. There is pasta in this recipe which you can omit, or if you want a gluten free option you can substitute. This soup does have a cream base, which can be altered if you don’t do dairy. After a little experimentation, I found that coconut cream works well without really altering the flavor. You can also substitute with a non dairy milk, however the soup will be a little thinner. With that said, here’s the recipe.

Tomato Soup (Serves 4-6)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3 cups yellow onions (I use Vidalia or sweet) chopped fine

1 Tablespoon minced garlic (I use two large cloves)

4 cups chicken stock

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste ( I start with 1 Tbsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper)

1/2 orzo pasta

1/2 cup heavy cream

I start by boiling water in a medium pot and adding the orzo, cooking for about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Chop and add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until light golden brown.

img_4728

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

img_4731

Stir in the cream, add orzo, and continue to simmer for 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Grilled Cheese Croutons

We all know that tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches go hand in hand. I love mine on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread with Manchego cheese, however the rest of my family enjoys a more traditional grilled cheese sandwich. You can serve your sandwich on the side, cut it into cubes and scatter over your soup, or dunk your sandwich. Either way, it’s delicious!

img_4735

img_4738

Have a fun and safe Halloween! ~May

IMG_1928

“Soup is cozy.”

A.D. Posey

Continue to this post

Squash: a healthy Alternative

Squash: A Healthy Alternative

As the season gets cooler, my hunger for heavy comfort foods increases.  However, the fastest way for me to gain weight is to indulge in carbohydrate rich foods.  So I have found over time, that roasted vegetables, especially squash, can satisfy some of that craving and still let me fit into my pants.

There are a lot of different varieties of squash to try.  I have found some of them are more squash-y then others and do not agree with my palate.  Butternut squash is a favorite.  The problem with butternut squash is that they are usually very large and both the skin and the squash are difficult to cut through.  I am sure I am going to cut my hand or amputate a digit when I prepare butternut squash.  Trader Joe’s often comes to the rescue because they sell it already cubed.  Butternut squash is much more enjoyable if you have not had to make a visit to the emergency room before eating.

My recent discovery is delicata squash. I discovered it a few years ago and it seems to be in abundance in the grocery store right now.  The season is somewhat short so if you see them pick up a few.  The beauty with delicata  is that the skin does not have to be removed and the vegetable, while firm, is easy to slice.  My favorite way to eat delicata squash is roasted in the oven.  It is really very easy.  I usually make a few at a time and since my husband refuses to eat squash, I have some to last a good portion of the week.  It is delicious as a side dish but I also add it to salads to make them a little more hearty for the colder weather.

Roasted Delicata Squash

Preheat oven to 425

Lightly wash two delicata squash with cool water

img_2251

Slice the ends off the squash.  Then slice vertically for two halves.  Slice each half into one inch slices.  Each slice should look like a smile.

img_2252

Coat squash with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Line squash on a baking sheet.  I like all of my slices to face the same way so I have smiles and no frowns.  You can also line the baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper to make clean-up easier.

img_2254

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until lightly brown and caramelized.  I like mine even a little more cooked and will let some pieces get a little burned.

Eat as a side dish or add either hot or cold to salads.

img_2255

 

One thing about the change of seasons is pulling out some recipes that are old favorites or new tastes.  –June

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” –La Rochefoucauld

Continue to this post

img_4636

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice?

Tis the season of all things pumpkin.  There is a proliferation of pumpkin products in the store.  When and how did this happen?  I blame Starbucks and the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I remember the good old days when pumpkins simply meant carving a jack o’lantern a few days before Halloween.  You had to dig the cold slimy guts out of the pumpkin and toss it on the newspaper set under the pumpkin carving station on the kitchen table.  If your mom was particularly ambitious, she rinsed the “guts” off the pumpkin seeds, soaked the seeds in salt water, and roasted them in the oven.   At Thanksgiving you ate pumpkin pie.  And other than the pumpkin making an appearance as Cinderella’s carriage or as the head of the Headless Horseman in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a pumpkin was neither seen nor heard from further.

img_4651

I walked through Trader Joe’s a week ago and counted (and took pictures) of more than 35 pumpkin flavored products.  You cannot enter the store without being assaulted by pumpkin products. To get all Forrest Gump on you, here is a brief list of the pumpkin products I encountered and I am sure I missed one or five or fifty:

  1.  Organic canned pumpkin – for baking and cooking all the pumpkin recipes you find on Pinterest
  2. Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix – the radio spot for this suggests adding chocolate chips which sounds rather delicious
  3. Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix – so those that cannot eat gluten do not miss out on all the pumpkin funimg_4649
  4. Pumpkin Cream Cheese – to spread on a plain bagel so you get the pumpkin taste you may otherwise miss
  5. Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage – for those that avoid dairyimg_4638
  6. Pumpkin Body Butter – cause you want your skin along with your breath to smell all pumpkin-y
  7. Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps – covers a major Thanksgiving food group too
  8. Pumpkin Tortilla Chips – I almost bought these and realized they added cinnamon and nutmeg which to me, ruins a good tortilla chip
  9. Pumpkin Pita Crisps – in case you don’t like the pumpkin tortilla chipsimg_4637
  10. Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds – because the flavor of a simple pumpkin seed couldn’t be left unadulterated and needed to be jazzed up with more pumpkin flavoringimg_4640
  11. Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn – inexplicable
  12. Pumpkin Spice Chai – in case you prefer chai over coffeeimg_4642
  13. Pumpkin Spice Rooibos – a no-calorie pumpkin option
  14. Pumpkin Bread Pudding – I have no idea what this is, since I don’t think I’ve ever eaten bread pudding
  15. Mini Pumpkin Pies – when you are not hungry enough for a whole pie
  16. Pumpkin Cheesecake – this may be a good Thanksgiving dessert if you don’t like pie
  17. Pumpkin Macarons – it seems that the French would feel that pumpkin is a little pedestrian to be added to a macaronimg_4643
  18. Pumpkin Ice Cream – how many people eat ice cream in the Fall?  It’s cold out.
  19. Pumpkin Panettone – I only see Panettone at Christmas time but I guess they have figured out a way to extend the season by adding pumpkinimg_4644
  20. Pumpkin Seed Brittle – my dad made peanut brittle and I think he would consider pumpkin seed brittle sacrilegious
  21. Pumpkin Spice Coffee – I like this but Tom will not let me make flavored coffee.  He acts like I am trying to kill him.img_4645
  22. Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal – does it make your oatmeal orange?
  23. Pumpkin O’s Cereal – like Cheerios but with pumpkin
  24. Pumpkin Toaster Pastries – pop-tarts
  25. Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s – the knock-off oreo with pumpkinimg_4647
  26. Pumpkin Shaped Sugar Cookies – these are cute
  27. Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins – not sure if these actually contain pumpkin or they are just shaped like pumpkins
  28. Pumpkin Spice Cake – this is probably yummy cake with cloves and cinnamon (I think)
  29. Pumpkin Flavored Dog Treats – we don’t want our four legged friends left out, and in fact our pet store also has a pumpkin spice latte for dogs.  Gatsby has not yet imbibed.img_4648
  30. Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix – sneak a little pumpkin in under the maple syrup
  31. Pumpkin Butter – so you don’t have to make your own
  32. Pumpkin Soup – orange soup that I hope doesn’t taste like pumpkins smell
  33. Pumpkin Soup Crackers – to pair with the pumpkin soup?img_4650
  34. Pumpkin Greek Non-Fat Yogurt – combo of the Greek yogurt trend and pumpkin trend
  35. Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal – you can use it as a mix-in for pumpkin greek yogurt
  36. Pumpkin Cereal Bars – if you are tired of the strawberry flavored ones
  37. Pumpkin Biscotti – these are my favorites and I stock up because once they are sold, out that is it until next year
  38. Pumpkin Shaped Pasta – there is a fall harvest pasta sauce that has butternut squash in it that you can pair with this pasta

I wonder how the pumpkin growers are keeping up with this demand?  This ubiquitous plethora of pumpkin products led me to do a little research. Interestingly, pumpkins are native to North America and are in the winter squash family.  This means that in the past, pumpkins were grown to help sustain a family through the winter.  Over 1.5 billion tons of pumpkin are grown in the United States each year and surprisingly 95% of the crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois, with the majority near Morton, Illinois.  And the Nestle/Libby Plant there processes 85% of all of the canned pumpkin in the world.  I am intrigued now to go visit Morton, Illinois and see all of the pumpkins growing in the field.

img_4636

You may love or hate the pumpkin products, but I do not think they are going anywhere.  So if you cannot beat them, you may as well join them.  Enjoy the Fall and find yourself a great pumpkin treat, or make your own. – June

There are three things that I’ve learned never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.

– Linus, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Continue to this post

img_2199

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

I have already expressed my dislike about the season of Fall.  However, the one good thing about Fall is that you can get the slow cooker out of the recesses of your pantry to make dinner.  Here is a confession.  Part of the reason I don’t like to make dinner is because I am tired by dinner time.  The beauty of the slow cooker is that I can optimize my most productive time of the day, morning, to prep dinner.  Then voila! When I am at my lowest energy point of the day, dinner is already cooked and just waiting to be served up.  Plus it makes your house smell delicious all day.

Once the temperatures cool down, my slow cooker gets used at least once a week.  I often make the meat for chicken tacos in the slow cooker but sometimes what really sounds good, is the comfort of ground beef tacos.  In the past, I have always made the ground beef for tacos on the stovetop, but that means cooking at dinnertime instead of prepping it in the morning and letting my slow cooker do the work.   I found a really great recipe on Skinnytaste.com for slow cooker beef tacos that I thought I would share.  I have made my own tweaks to the recipe due to my personal preferences.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

2 pounds lean ground beef

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 small can of tomato sauce

1/4 cup of water (or more if you like your taco meat with more sauce)

1 bay leaf

Toppings

Flour or corn tortillas or taco shells

Lettuce

Shredded Cheese

Diced tomato

Guacamole

Sour Cream

  1.  Brown the beef in a large nonskillet skillet over high heat, breaking it up into small pieces.  Once it is brown drain fat.  Add onion, red bell pepper, garlic and dry spices, cooking for 2-3 minutes until soft.  Transfer to slow cooker along with the tomato sauce and water.  Add bay leaf.  Cover and cook on high 3 hours or low 6-8 hours.  Discard the bay leaf.
  2. Heat the tortillas or taco shells for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Top with meat and your choice of toppings.

I also love slow cooker meals because we always have enough leftovers for several lunches and maybe a dinner or two.  I often make this or another slow cooker meal on Sunday to cut down on cooking during the week.  Here I used the taco meat to make a taco salad for lunch the following day.

img_2199

So dust off those slow cookers and enjoy having dinner already done at dinner time.  It could almost be as good as having your very own live-in chef (ok probably not).  And if you have any great slow cooker recipes please share. –June

The smells of slow cooking spread around the house and impart a unique warmth matched only by the flavour of the food. -Yotam Ottolenghi

Continue to this post

IMG_0340

Roasted Shrimp

We have had a busy summer to say the least, and I have often found myself scrambling to decide what to make for dinner that is quick and easy, yet still feels like a little effort has been put into it. Our local paper recently had a a roasted shrimp recipe by Ina Garten, that sounded perfect. Now, I have several of Ina’s cookbooks, a la Barefoot Contessa, but had not tried her roasted shrimp. I love the versatility!!! You can make the shrimp with pasta, place it over quinoa or brown rice with seasonal vegetables, or even toss it into your favorite salad. It is also great with cocktail sauce for a yummy appetizer.

Roasted Shrimp

2 pounds (12-15 count) shrimp (see note)

1 Tablespoon good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and devein the shrimp, if necessary, leaving the tails on. ( I did not have the tails on for this particular batch ) Place shrimp in large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat.

IMG_0332

Spread shrimp in a single layer on cookie sheet. Roast 8 to 10 minutes, until firm and cooked through. That is it!! The shrimp come out perfect and of course I had to sample a few right off the pan.  You can also roast the shrimp on the grill in a basket, just keep your eye on it so you don’t over cook. Also, if you use smaller shrimp, be sure to shorten your cooking time.

IMG_0335

I had some fresh broccoli in the fridge that I coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it right  along with the shrimp, and served over quinoa.

IMG_0340

 If you are looking for a quick and easy dinner, give this roasted shrimp a try and don’t be afraid to experiment with some great seasonal sides.

Have a great week!~May

You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimpshrimp soup, shrimpstew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. –Bubba (Forrest Gump)

Continue to this post

IMG_4360

It’s Blueberry Season

The months of July and August mean that it is blueberry season here in the northern Midwest.  There is nothing like the taste of fresh blueberries ripened on bushes, instead of in those little plastic containers on the shipping truck, followed by the grocery store.  The ones that are picked fully ripe are much sweeter and for lack of a better description, taste “blue.”  Because I would have to drive some distance to pick my own blueberries, I take advantage of the local farmer’s market which has Michigan growers bring them in for my pure enjoyment.

While I love to eat fresh blueberries by the handful, they are a great fruit for baking.  When we first moved to our house, our neighbor brought us a blueberry pie that was absolutely delicious.  Blueberry crumble is also delectable and much easier to make then a pie.  However, my favorite thing to make with blueberries are fresh piping hot blueberry muffins.

It has taken me awhile to find a blueberry muffin recipe that I love.  Many are too heavy or too oily.   This recipe ,which I found from The Pioneer Woman, is light and moist because of the added yogurt, which means less oil (and less fat and calories) in the mix.  It also has a yummy caramelized sweet topping, made from turbinado sugar (you can also use brown sugar), sprinkled on top of each muffin. Don’t forget that step of sprinkling the sugar because it takes the muffins from good to great.

I have made some tweaks to the recipe so I included my recipe below but if you want to check out the original, I have linked to it above.

IMG_4360

 

Blueberry Muffins

3 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Heavy pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 generous cup plain, unflavored yogurt (throw in extra if you want)
2 1/3 cups fresh blueberries
Capful of Vanilla Extract
Turbinado sugar or brown sugar

Preheat oven to 385 degrees.

In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, capful of vanilla, egg, and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients and stir to a count of 10.

Add blueberries to mixture and stir 3 times.

Add mixture to muffin pans lined with foil muffin liners (you can also butter the muffin pans if you don’t have the liners). Sprinkle turbinado sugar or brown sugar over top.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

 

IMG_4359

Serve warm with a little butter.

IMG_4358

 

You can also reheat these.  I often take about half of them and put them in a Ziploc freezer bag and put them in the freezer.  A few seconds in the microwave to defrost and maybe a minute in the toaster oven.  You can enjoy blueberry muffins made with those bluest of blue summer berries into the winter months when the snow is flying and the temperatures are frigid, and taste the warmth of summer on your tongue.

Enjoy. –June

I may never be happy, but tonight I am content. Nothing more than an empty house, the warm hazy weariness from a day spent setting strawberry runners in the sun, a glass of cool sweet milk, and a shallow dish of blueberries bathed in cream. When one is so tired at the end of a day one must sleep, and at the next dawn there are more strawberry runners to set, and so one goes on living, near the earth. At times like this I’d call myself a fool to ask for more…  -Sylvia Plan

 

Continue to this post

IMG_0166

Green Smoothie Mornings

Have you noticed lately that green smoothies seem to be taking the world by storm? You can select from a wide range of yummy choices at Jamba Juice, or even your local supermarket, sipping on your greens as you shop. I personally prefer making my smoothies at home, where I have a little bit more control over what’s going into them, making them perfect for my taste buds every time. I’m really enjoying morning smoothies right now because we have such an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in season.

I love smoothies because you can drink in a ton of your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, it’s easy, versatile, super delicious, and you are really packing a punch when it comes to nutrition. You are also getting a good dose of fiber, which as we age becomes oh so important.

I don’t have one recipe to share with you because my smoothies are a little different every time I make them, according to what is in my fridge. However, I can give you a list of some ingredients so you can make your own perfect smoothie. We make ours in a Ninja, which is also great for frozen margaritas by the way, but you can use a regular blender as well.

IMG_0159

Liquid: I usually use almond milk, but you can use coconut water, coconut milk, water, or even green tea. Try to stay away from fruit juices because they have a lot of added sugar.

Greens: I love to add kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, avocado, basil which is in season right now, and mint. Some other add ins are broccoli, parsley, and collard greens.

Fruits and Veggies: Oranges, apples carrots, pumpkin, fresh ginger, pineapple, peaches, really whatever is in season. I also like to freeze really ripe bananas, and add them to thicken the smoothie and make it super cold. You can also use frozen fruit or even ice.

Protein Powder: I found a great plant based protein powder from Whole Foods, called Vega protein and greens. You have a choice of flavors and it has 20 grams of protein. There are lots of options for protein powder, so do your research and see which one works best for you.

As add ins, I put in a teaspoon of chia seeds, as well as a teaspoon of flax meal.

IMG_0165

IMG_0166

Just blend, pour, and you are ready to start your morning!

In life, much like smoothies, you get out what you put in it. Bolthouse Farms

Have a great week. ~May

Continue to this post

IMG_4219

Piña Colada Pops

Now that the weather has turned hot and steamy, I’ve been doing less baking, and focusing more on treats that are cool and refreshing. I love slicing up watermelon and eating it cold from the fridge, and of course it isn’t summer without a pitcher of iced cold lemonade. I was recently looking in my pantry, and thought it would be fun to try a popsicle version of a Piña colada. You just need a few basic ingredients and of course, popsicle molds, and you’re all set! I got my popsicle molds from Amazon, but they are readily available at most stores such as Target and Walmart.

Ingredients: (makes 12 popsicles)

1 can unsweetened coconut milk

12 oz. pineapple juice.

1/4 cup chopped pineapple

1/2 cup toasted coconut

12 popsicle molds

IMG_0321

To toast the coconut, preheat oven to 350 degrees and spread coconut out on un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Keep your eye on the oven, because the coconut browns quickly.

IMG_0325

Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir until well mixed. Pour into molds and freeze for at least three hours. When you’re ready for a treat, pop off the top of the mold and enjoy by the pool, or relaxing under the shade of a backyard tree in your hammock. The girls loved these and said they taste “just like summer”.

IMG_4219

I love making my own popsicles because you can experiment with all kinds of wonderful fruits in season, and control the sugar. Freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice is really refreshing with chopped fresh fruit. If you like green smoothies in the morning, make a little extra and pour the leftover into your molds for a late afternoon or after dinner treat.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” -Charles Bowden

Have a great week! ~May

Continue to this post

IMG_0184

Make Ahead Mini Frittatas

Spring is here and along with the warmer temperatures and beautiful blooms, it is also the season of brunches.  It usually begins with Easter, followed by Mother’s Day, and of course we’ve officially entered the season of weddings and bridal showers. I love brunch. It is such a wonderful combination of tasty dishes, sweets, and of course it’s not brunch without a refreshing mimosa cocktail.

This past weekend, my mom and I hosted a bridal shower brunch for my soon to be daughter in law. Even though our day was anything but spring like (crazy snow on and off all day!), inside it was warm and cozy and we had wonderful time celebrating such a lovely young woman. I tried out a new dish that I wanted to share with you all that was yummy, and the best part is it can be made ahead of time, and re-heated before serving.

A frittata is an egg based Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche and often includes additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses, vegetables and even pasta. I also had several quiches on the table and included the frittata for those guests with gluten sensitivities. Instead of making one large frittata, I put the egg mixture into muffin tins, making individual portions. I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks for entertaining, Ina Garten’s Make it Ahead.

IMG_0169

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pans

1 1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, washed and spun dry

4 ounces sliced Italian prosciutto, coarsely chopped ( I omitted to accomodate vegetarian diets)

8 ounces fresh baby spinach

2 1/2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese

8 extra large eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a standard 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil, including the top of the pan. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large (12 inch) sauté pan. Add the leeks and sauté for 3 minutes, until tender. Add the prosciutto (if using) and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, breaking it up with a fork. Add the spinach, tossing with tongs, then cover the pan and cook for 3 minutes, tossing once while it cooks, until the spinach is all wilted. Off the heat, stir in the basil and lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes. Divide the mixture with tongs among the 12 muffin cups, leaving any liquid behind. Sprinkle the Fontina evenly on top.

In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, beat the eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together with a fork. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the filling in each cup, filling the muffin cups to the top. Sprinkle each frittata with the Parmesan cheese.

IMG_0170

Bake the frittatas for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned on top. If you insert a toothpick in the middle, they should feel firm. Cool for 5 minutes, remove with a small sharp knife onto a serving plate, and serve hot or warm.

IMG_3689

IMG_0184

** Make it Ahead:

Bake the frittatas, then cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day. Reheat for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

**Note: Make sure you thoroughly grease your muffin tins. I made these ahead of time, and it was tricky getting them out of the pan.

Have a great week! ~May

Continue to this post

IMG_3619

Irish Soda Bread

In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish heritage (while a lot of my ethnic heritage is German, I do have a bit of Irish since my mom’s maiden name was Kelly), I recently made some Irish Soda Bread.  I have made this recipe for a number of years and found it to be one of my favorites after making a few tweaks.  Unlike a lot of Irish Soda Bread recipes, it is not dry and crumbly and does not contain caraway seeds.  Instead it is a sweet bread that makes a delicious toast for breakfast.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup unsalted butter melted

1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup and a handful of raisins

IMG_3617

(If you can find jumbo raisins or baking raisins they work best as they don’t get too dehydrated upon baking)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 to 10 inch cast iron skillet or a large baking sheet.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center.  In a smaller bowl, combine melted butter, buttermilk and egg.  Add the liquids to the dry ingredients, pouring it into the well and stirring to form a soft dough.  Add raisins and mix lightly.IMG_3616
  3. IMG_3614Transfer batter to skillet, shaping into a ball.  Or, with lightly floured hands, shape it into a ball on a baking sheet.  Slash an “X” across the top (it wards off the devil).  Bake until set, 50 to 60 minutes.

IMG_3613

 

Toast and enjoy with some Irish butter.

IMG_3618

Happy (almost) St. Patrick’s Day.! –June

IMG_3619

(He does not look too pleased to be “Leprechauned”)

 

 

 

 

Continue to this post

IMG_3578

Slow Cooker Chicken

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and for those of you in the midwest, warmer temps! Spring is in sight!! I have a wonderful recipe for you today. It’s become a favorite in our home and is healthy, delicious, and oh SO EASY!!  I discovered this great cookbook, while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Health Bridge. In a nutshell, this radio show is an East meets West discussion on overall health and medicine. The show is hosted by Dr. Pedram Shoji, a specialist in health and spirituality, whose guests are informative professionals in the field of medicine and nutrition. Abel James, who currently hosts the #1 health podcast, was a recent guest discussing his new book, The Wild Diet. After hearing a lot about the yummy recipes in the book, I had to buy it and try them out for myself. Although the book is called The Wild Diet, there really isn’t anything diet about it. It’s all about eating high quality, fresh and wholesome foods, which is what I’ve been doing all my life, thanks to a health conscious mom.  I know there are so many diets out there right now, but I don’t really follow one specific food plan. I’m pretty much an everything in moderation girl, and love to try out new recipes. This book has great meal recipes that also include desserts and delicious smoothies. He also incorporates a section on basic nutrition and how to shop for healthy food. So, enough talking- here’s the recipe. Oh and one more thing, all of these recipes can be prepped ahead of time for convenience .

IMG_3578

Slow-Cooker Chicken

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken

1 large white or yellow onion

  1. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt.
  2. Clean the chicken and pat dry. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken and under the skin
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze if making later in the week (allow a full day for thawing in the refrigerator).
  4. Peel the onion, slice into thin rounds, and place in a storage container with a tight fitting lid for up to 1 week.
  5. Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the sliced onions.
  6. Place the chicken, breast-side up on top of the sliced onions. (No liquid is needed since the chicken will make its own juices.)
  7. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone and the skin is a little bit crisp.
  8. Plate the chicken and top with the slow-cooked onion slices, or place them on the side.

IMG_3530

Although sides are included in the book, I like to roast whatever vegetable is in season with diced purple fingerling or sweet potatoes. I also like to use the chicken bones to make my own broth for sipping or as a base for soup.

IMG_3559

Fresh roasted green beans and fingerling potatoes

Here’s a quick broth recipe:

Place chicken bones in slow-cooker and cover with water. Add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and cook on low for 12-15 hours. Strain and keep in the fridge for up to one week. You can also freeze and use at a later date.

Enjoy!

~May

Continue to this post

IMG_3452

Superbowl Appetizer

This Sunday is the big Superbowl game.  I am not a huge football fan but I am married to one.  My husband loves professional football.  His team is not playing this year (he is a Buffalo Bills fan and they have not been to the Superbowl since they lost it 4 times in a row in the 1980s, but they have his heart so he stays a fan), but we will still watch the game.  The Super Bowl is a good excuse to have a little party during a time of year when there is not much reason to get together with family and friends, and make some fun appetizers and other food.

I recently made these tasty mini taco bowls as an appetizer for a party.  I think they make a super Superbowl snack.

Mini Taco Bowls

Ingredients

1 lb. of ground beef

Taco seasoning (see below)

Grated cheddar cheese

Tostito Scoop tortilla chips

Sour cream

Diced green onion (optional)

Sliced black olives (optional)

Taco Seasoning

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp sea saltIMG_3451

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the ingredients to make the taco seasoning (you can also use a packet of the premade taco seasoning, but I have discovered that many of the them contain MSG and/or sugar and are higher in sodium, so I combine my own and it is really easy and much healthier).  Brown the ground beef in a skillet breaking it up into little pieces.  Once the beef is browned drain off any excess grease and add the taco seasoning and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water (you want this meat to be a little drier then you might when you make regular tacos).  Simmer the meat and the taco seasoning until the water is almost absorbed.  In the meantime, line up unbroken Scoop chips on a cookie sheet (you want the chips that are unbroken so they form a little bowl, and there are a lot of broken chips in a bag so this step can be a bit tedious).  Put a small amount of the meat in each chip (this gets a little messy and you’ll probably end up with meat that falls between the chips, and that’s ok).  Sprinkle the grated cheese on the top of each chip and put in the oven until the cheese is melted (about 10 minutes).  IMG_3449

After the chips come out garnish with sour cream, green onions and black olives as desired and serve.

IMG_3452

Will you be watching the Superbowl on Sunday?  Are you hosting a party or attending one?  If so, share your favorite Superbowl party dishes.  –June

Continue to this post

IMG_3423

Black Bean Brownies (Gluten Free)

Yes, you read the title correctly. Black bean brownies. Please stay with me because they are actually quite good! In fact, as I’m writing this, they are in the oven baking, and the house smells like brownie heaven. I know, I know. It’s the beginning of the new year and we’re all watching our weight, but are we really not going to enjoy a little treat every now and then? With that said, I have always been a very healthy eater, and that will continue, but the fact remains that I love to bake. So, when my mom came across this “healthier” brownie recipe in our local paper, we had to give it a try. This recipe comes from Chef Sigy Rafalovitz, aka “Chef Sigy”, a chef at a private learning academy in the area. There, she prepares two meals and snacks to the students. She introduces them to healthy eating and there’s even an organic garden on the property, where the children of the academy take part in maintaining the garden and harvesting vegetables! This recipe is super easy and I feel it’s a healthier alternative when you just need to have something a little sweet and fudgy (and it’s gluten free!).
Black Bean Brownies
IMG_3413
 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 15.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup carob chips or chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 pan; cover with parchment paper. Put all ingredients in food processor, and mix until smooth.
IMG_3414
Pour mixture into pan. Sprinkle carob chips/chocolate chips on top.
IMG_3416
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not over bake. Store in a covered container.
IMG_3423
 
These are yummy when they are warm out of the oven with a little vanilla ice cream, or on their own. Enjoy and have a wonderful week.
~May
 
Continue to this post

IMG_3149

Good Morning Granola

Happy Holidays! I hope you all enjoyed making memories with friends and loved ones last week. No white Christmas for us this year, but no complaints about the above average temperatures either. I’m sure if you’re like us, you’ve been indulging a bit more the last few weeks. As much as I love all the goodies, I’m ready to get back to more sensible eating.

I’ve always enjoyed a good granola. It’s a healthy comfort food for me, and I love its versatility. It makes a great breakfast with a little almond milk and fresh berries. We love to sprinkle it over greek yogurt, and it also makes a great snack on its own. The problem is, the store bought varieties can be rather pricey and contain a lot of unhealthy fats and sugar making this high protein superfood, not so healthy.

So, I decided to do my own spin on it. I’d like to share a recipe that I’ve had for years and tweaked along the way. This recipe can also be made gluten free. Prepare yourself though. While baking, your house is going to smell heavenly.

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats ( gluten free, if desired)

1/4 cup flour (coconut flour, or other gluten free option)

2 Tablespoons flax meal

2 Tablespoons chia seeds

3/4 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup raw walnuts

3/4 cup raw pecans

3/4 cup raw pepitas

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of cloves

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 3/4 cup dried cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, flax meal, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pepitas, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
  3. In a small saucepan, add coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract and heat on low, stirring frequently until coconut oil is completely melted. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well until oats are completely coated.IMG_1805
  4. Spread the granola evenly on the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Gently stir granola and add cranberries, if using. Return granola to the oven and bake 15 minutes longer or until granola is a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and enjoy for 7-10 days.

IMG_1810

IMG_1811

This batch makes about 10 servings.

Trail Mix

As I stated earlier, this recipe is very versatile and also makes a great trail mix with just a few adjustments.

For the trail mix, I omit the oats and add 3/4 cup raw mixed nuts. I bake for the same amount of time and after the mixture comes out of the oven, I let it completely cool then add 1 cup of dark chocolate chips and half a cup of unsweetened coconut flakes and mix. The girls love taking this to school for a snack.

IMG_3149

Enjoy!

~May

Continue to this post

© 2016 May Meets June. All Rights Reserved.