Everyday Granola

We have a foreign exchange student Marie who ate boxed cereal every day, until she one day tried this granola. Then she never ate boxed cereal again. It is her specialty, and we’ve adapted it from the (awesome) Smitten Kitchen cookbook. We almost always double this recipe and make it on two foiled cookie sheets.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened (oops, we use sweetened) flaked coconut
1 cup walnuts, coursely chopped (sometimes we chop slivered almonds for variety)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cup dried cherries (we don’t measuare)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients but the egg white and dried cherries. Whisk the egg white in small bowl until frothy and stir into granola. Spread in a single layer on cookie sheet lined with either Pammed foil or parchment paper. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown. Once cool, sprinkle on dried fruit and put in airtight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for longer.

Everyday Brownies

I love these brownies, because they are quick and easy and can be made in one pan. I make them often and sometimes vary them up with marshmallows or caramel.

1 4-oz Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Break the chocolate bar into a few pieces, and put it in a pan with the butter on low, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove the pan from heat, and let cool to room temperature (you can speed it up in the fridge if needed). Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt (I do this with a sifter on a paper plate), and slowly fold it into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 2-inch squares. Makes 16

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cherry Pistachio Pesto

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For Brussels Sprouts
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For Pesto
1/2 cup toasted, salted pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 cloves roasted garlic (I fake roast mine in the microwave with a little olive oil and water)
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 cups olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Cut off the end of the brussels sprouts, and cut them in half lengthwise. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

On a baking sheet, spread the brussels sprouts evenly and roast for 25 minutes, until you begin to see a bit of browning on the brussels sprouts. The interior should be fork tender.

Place the pistachios, cranberries, garlic and parsley into a food processor and process until very finely chopped. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spoon out the pesto into a bowl and stir in remaining olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. The pesto should be slightly sweet and salty.

Check for seasonings on the brussels sprouts, and salt if needed. Spoon approximately 1/4 cup of Cranberry Pistachio Pesto on top.

Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

Dulce De Leche-Filled Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

I made this recipe for the first time on Thanksgiving 2013 – it’s a winner!

Makes about 24 sandwiches (48 cookies)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (I used a mix of Dutch and non-Dutch, and it worked!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (13.4 ounces) dulce de leche, located in the grocery baking or ethnic aisle or World Market (or make yourself)

1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined, then beat in the flour.

2. Divide dough in half; cover and chill 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle. Shape each portion of dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap cylindrical rolls in plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or until firm enough to slice.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

4. Spread dulce de leche on one side of half of the cookies, using a rounded tablespoon on each cookie. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing together lightly to make a sandwich.

Adapted from a recipe in Seattle Times

Cherry Pistachio Brie

I used to make something similar but in puff pastry, but I think the puff pastry was unnecessary, and this is prettier. I served it at the inaugural book club for my neighborhood, and it was all GONE!

1/2 cup  snipped dried cherries (ideally chopped with scissors in a little bowl)
1/4 cup  cherry preserves
1 tablespoon  Cognac or brandy
1 round  Brie cheese
1/2 cup  pistachios or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Crackers

Put brie on a piece of parchment paper and put on low for 3 hours or high for 1 1/4 hours. (This makes the brie soft but not melted – fabulous tip!)

In a bowl combine cherries, preserves, and Cognac or brandy. (You can do this early in the day too.)

Transfer brie to a serving platter. Spoon the cherry mixture on top of cheese.

Just before serving, sprinkle pistachios on top of cherries. Serve with crackers.

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Overnight French Toast

I can’t believe this recipe hasn’t been on the blog before now. I’ve made it a zillion times. I found it originally at epicurious.com, and it really saved me Christmas 99 when I was sick and had in-laws in town for 8 days. I made it twice, using different fruit and nuts each time. It is unbelievably easy and perfect for someone who isn’t a morning person. With the fruit and maybe some bacon (which you could cook on a rack in the oven at the same time), you have a complete breakfast.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1-2 T. sugar or cinnamon sugar12 3/4-inch-thick French bread slices
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2-4 T. Grand Marnier (optional, but add whatever looks right)
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup

Place melted butter in bottom of heavy large baking pan with 1-inch-high sides. Sprinkle sugar or cinnamon sugar over butter (to caramelize). Arrange bread slices in pan. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, syrup, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt to blend in large bowl. Pour mixture over bread. Turn bread slices to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Top with fruit and/or nuts if desired (such as dried cranberries, sliced almonds, walnuts, and/or pecans, or you could top with fresh fruit after baking instead). Bake French toast 10-12 minutes, until golden. Turn bread over and continue baking until golden, about 5-10 minutes longer. Transfer cooked toast to plates and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, passing maple syrup.

White Trash Margaritas

My business partner Jeremy shared this recipe for a different margaritas. I hear people call them beer-garitas. I did make a couple tweaks to the recipe, and I thought they were really good and easy!

In a large glass pitcher, combine –

  • One can of frozen concentrated limeade (keep the can!)
  • One limeade can-full of 7up (Glad you kept the can? Oh, and I used Fresca)
  • One limeade can-full of blanco tequila (YES. A WHOLE CAN. I WANNA SEE “SURFACE TENSION” KEEPING IT IN.)
  • Two full bottles of cold Corona (we used Corona Light)
  • One shot of triple sec
  • Squeeze a fresh lime or two in there, then toss the whole thing in. Looks festive.

Stir, and serve over ice!

Grilled Corn Poblano Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette

Here’s another recipe from my fabulous weekend at my freinds’ Brad and Kirk’s lovely lake house. We served it with carne asada, cowboy beans and a big bowl of guacamole – it was all so good! This salad was fresh and delicious.

3 ears corn, shucked
1 poblano chile
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped canned chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup slivered sweet onion, rinsed, patted dry

Preparation

  1. 1. Heat grill to high (450° to 550°). Rub corn and poblano with 1 tbsp. oil. Grill both, turning occasionally, until poblano is mostly blackened, 5 to 10 minutes, and some corn kernels have browned, 10 to 20 minutes. Let cool.
  2. 2. Cut corn kernels from cobs into a large bowl. Peel and seed poblano, cut into 1/2-in. pieces, and add to corn. In a small bowl, whisk remaining oil with lime juice, chipotle chile, and salt.
  3. 3. Stir avocado, cilantro, and onion into corn mixture along with chipotle dressing.
  4. Note: Nutritional analysis is per 1/2-cup serving.

Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin

Is it just me, or is it sometimes shocking to believe that a recipe is from Cooking Light? This dish definitely doesn’t seem light, but who am I to argue with cheesy, sausage-y goodness?

I had this for brunch at my friend Brad’s lake house in the Hudson Valley. It may have been that it was such a beautiful setting, really fun friends, or just an overall great time.But we served it with biscuits and homemade jam, cherry tomatoes with goat cheese, and fried eggs. And it was perfection.

In case you’re wondering, yes, that is a record player in the background. My friends are just that cool.

Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)

2 (4-ounce) hot turkey Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups chopped onion
4 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan, and sauté for 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan; drain. Wipe pan with paper towels. Melt butter in pan. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes and salt; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in sausage and broth. Remove from heat. Spoon potato mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with cheese. Cover and bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with thyme.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

I have something serious to tell you today. I’ve updated my favorite pancake batter. If this doesn’t sound earthshattering, well you don’t know how seriously we take our pancakes. Lately my son has been claiming mac and cheese as his favorite food, but I know that’s just because he’s not thinking about breakfast. Pancakes reign supreme in our household.

These are better than you can get in a restaurant, and you can make them in less time than it takes to get you there. Whip these up for family and friends, and you’ll get rave reviews. Double it if you have more than 3-4 people (or big eaters). And don’t mix the wet with the dry ingredients until you’re ready to cook, for maximum fluff factor. If you never want your guests to leave, serve with Sugared Bacon.

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted

cooking sprayCombine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray (I wipe it off with a paper towel immediately, so the first batch looks as good as the last). Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.