Almond Maple Granola

Homemade granola is now another long awaited creation that I can check off of my list! This is definitely one that I will be making again. I have loved having a huge tupperware full of this good stuff to add to yogurt and fruit, top my ice cream off with, or (in most cases) just eat plain.

 

 

This recipe only took about 10 minutes to throw together and another 20 or so minutes to bake. I must have looked at 50 granola recipes before diving in, but looking back, one thing I learned is that it’s pretty hard to screw it up. In order to be successful you really just need a bunch of oaty/nutty/crunchy ingredients and then some sweet/liquidy/sticky ingredients to bind it all together. Measurements don’t need to be exact and you can let your creativity flow with this one.

 

I based my recipe off of this one that I found on the internet, but I improvised a bit. I threw in a container of apple-cinnamon applesauce and some molasses at the end to help bind everything together. I also went a little light on the honey/syrup combo because I didn’t want mine to come out to sweet. And of course I threw in some chocolate chips, because everything is better with chocolate 🙂

 

 

Almond Maple Granola

  • 4 cups rolled oats (I used original, not instant)
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • A few tbsp of chopped cashews
  • 1 small container (about 1/2 cup) apple cinnamon applesauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tspn vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil.

2. Combine oats, wheat germ and almonds in a large bowl.

3. Stir together salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon and vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir everything.

4. Add in the applesauce and molasses. Stir again.

5. Add in raisins and chocolate chips and mix.

6. Lay out granola on baking pans and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. ** The granola will continue to harden once it is removed from the oven, so if you think it hasn’t gotten crispy yet after 20-25 minutes, fear not! Take it out and it will still continue to crisp up**

 

 

 

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

I grew up on eggs. When I was little, I knew eggs by the formal names of “mommy eggs” and “daddy eggs”. Mommy eggs were scrambled (my mom makes the best scrambled eggs ever) and Daddy eggs are fried, over-easy. I didn’t know the terms scrambled or fried though, I just stumbled down in my one-sie pajamas and ordered Mommy eggs or Daddy eggs.

As I got a little older and smarter, I learned how to order my egg and cheese sandwiches at a real restaurant. It was always over-easy. I loved gooey eggs and got really upset whenever they messed up my order. My grandfather actually started a fast food chain in Connecticut and it was our second home as kids. Over easy egg and cheese sandwiches were eaten at least on a weekly basis.

When I went away to college, whenever I would come home, I would have breakfast with my Grandma. We would go to our local diner and sit and catch up. She always ordered the same thing: 2 poached eggs (sometimes 1), in a cup, with toast. Sometimes she’d throw in a blueberry muffin, grilled, if she felt like it. The woman knows what she wants. The poached eggs looked amazing and were new to me. They were so simple, so cute, sooo “over-easy”! I had to try this.

Eventually, I got on the poached eggs kick and started ordering the same thing as my Grandma when we went out to breakfast.

 

When I started going out to brunch more often during my years after college, Eggs Benedict became something I noticed popping up on all of the NYC restaurant brunch menus. On this snowy morning in NY, I decided to finally try out making my own poached eggs and working them into what has become one of my favorite brunch dishes: Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. I googled how to make poached eggs one last time and ventured into the kitchen with high hopes. I’d call this a success. The pictures speak for themselves, right?

Grandma, next time, breakfast is at my place. A poached egg with toast, coming right up!

 

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 pieces of toast, cut into circles if you’d like to make it feel like the real thing, or an english muffin. Toast or keep untoasted.
  • 2 generous slices of smoked salmon
  • 1/4 grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar because it’s all I had, which worked fine)
  • 2 tspn salt

1. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil with salt added. You want at least 5 inches of water in your pot, so adjust accordingly.

2. Once the water is boiling, add 1 tbsp of vinegar. Reduce boil to a simmer.

3. Crack your eggs into a small bowl. Gently drop the eggs from your small bowl into the simmering water. The whites should spread out but immediately begin turning white.

4. After 2-3 minutes, your eggs are done. You’ll know they are done when the whites are completely white and you can spoon out the eggs without anything falling apart. Take the eggs out and place them in a strainer to drain excess water. *If you don’t want runny eggs, keep them in the water for a few more minutes.*

5. While eggs are draining, place toasted bread or english muffin on a plate. Layer the eggs on top, then the freshly grated cheddar cheese, and slices of smoked salmon.

6. Cut into the eggs and watch the yolk drip out. Mush all together and eat 🙂

 

 

Homemade Pizza, Chicago Style

*Disclaimer: this is not “chicago-style” pizza, it is just pizza I made while in Chicago 🙂 *

One of my “dreams” for a long time now has been to make homemade pizza. Luckily for me, I have some great pals who pitched in and helped me fulfill this lofty dream of mine this past weekend.

Homemade pizza felt intimidating at first. What do you need? A rolling pin? Pre-bought dough? What toppings go well together? What do I cook separately and what do I just throw on the pizza? So many questions!

(pictured directly above, Udi’s Gluten Free crust for our Gluten Free friend!)

In the end, I found that the beauty of homemade pizza is that it is really hard to mess up and there is no black or white, no right or wrong. You buy some crust (or you could make it if you have some time and some patience… neither of which I typically have), some cheese, some veggies and maybe some meat. Cook the “longer to cook” veggies beforehand, as well as the meat. Otherwise, throw it all on there to your heart’s desire, wait 10 minutes, and then enjoy with at least a few glasses of wine, some friends, and in our case a roaring fire to warm us from the frigid Chicago night.

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Caramelized Onions

  • 1 bag of refrigerated pizza dough (we bought ours from Whole Foods- we asked the people who work at the pizza station and they brought it out)
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked (at 375, 10-15 minutes)
  • monterey jack cheese
  • your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • Bell peppers (optional)
  • Salt, Pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Once heated, place chopped onions in and add a little bit of S&P. Cook onions over low heat for about 15 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Be careful to keep the heat low so that the onions do not burn!

2. Meanwhile, spray a baking pan with cooking spray or lay down a couple of tablespoons of flour or cornmeal if you have it. This is so the dough doesn’t stick to the pan.

3. Now it’s time to shape your dough! Do whatever you’d like- if you like thinner crust, just spread it really thin in the middle and keep the edges thicker.

4. Pull apart the cooked chicken breast with your hands into shredded pieces. Gently toss the chicken in more barbecue sauce.

5. Now it is assembly time. Lay down about 1/2 cup barbecue sauce on top of the crust. Add caramelized onions, chicken, peppers (we added them to half), and top with a lot of cheese.

6. Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Margarita Pizza with Mushrooms and Spinach

  • 1 bag of refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup pasta/pizza sauce
  • 1 carton mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • S&P

1. Start by cooking the mushrooms, as they will take the longest.  Place them in a large skillet with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, S&P. Cook for about 15 minutes until the vinegar has been absorbed and the mushrooms are cooked through.

2. To cook the spinach, just sauté in little bit of olive oil for a few minutes.

3. Like mentioned above, shape the pizza dough into whatever shape you like. Add about a cup of the pasta/pizza sauce. Once the spinach and mushrooms are cooked, layer them on, and add slices of tomato and slices of the fresh mozzarella.

4. Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before slicing.

 

For your viewing pleasure… my friend Pat trying to shape the pizza dough like a true Italian. Sadly, we did not have any flour so this didn’t exactly work:

 

Oatmeal Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love dessert. Love, love, love. If I could eat ice cream all day, I probably would. Luckily, I found a cookie that I can eat all day. These cookies are healthy, at least about as healthy as a cookie can get while still tasting good. I had been wanting to create a “healthier” cookie for years now, and finally just forced myself into the kitchen and did the darn thing.

These are more like chewy granola bar – ish cookies, but what I love about them is that they are perfect for an afternoon snack, pre/post workout substantive snack, or dessert. They are sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth but also healthy enough to be an anytime snack. In fact, these cookies have NO sugar. They are made with honey instead!

Healthy Oatmeal Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups oats (I used quick/instant but either should be fine)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil because its all I had on hand, but you could use vegetable or canola oil. I also only used 1/4 cup olive oil and then used a small container of cinnamon applesauce to replace the other 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp Molasses
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (or 1 egg, but I used egg whites)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • A healthy dose of mini chocolate chips (maybe 1/3 cup)
  • *I didn’t add this in when I made mine but I think a smashed up ripe banana would be great to add to the mixture for some sweetness!*

1. Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together (honey and below). Then, combine all.

2. Cool the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.

3. I added just a sprinkle of dry oats to dry the mixture up a bit, and to make the cookies look oaty and pretty.

4. Drop by teaspoons or tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet, depending on how large you want the cookies.

5. Bake at 335 for 15-20 minutes, checking on them with love 🙂

I’d suggest these with an afternoon cup of coffee, as a bite to take with you before a workout, or of course, for a satisfying dessert. Enjoy! 🙂

Havana Moon Chili

I’ve always been intimidated by recipes. So many ingredients, so many lines of instruction, so much work for just one product. However, Havana Moon Chili was one of those recipes that encouraged me to just buckle down and give a recipe a shot. It was that good.

My mom made this over Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. I caught myself dreaming about this one day once I was back in the city and trying to figure out a way to persuade my mom to make me some and bring it to me in the city. Then it dawned on me that I could just make it myself! Imagine that.

This recipe is hearty, has a variety of interesting flavors, and is just “different” from its chili friends. Its’ unique ingredients are what drew me to this recipe and trust me, even when I, the amateur, made it, it did not disappoint.

I more or less followed the recipes that I found while searching for Havana Moon Chili on the internet, but made a few minor adjustments.

After making this chili, I separated it into several tupperwares and threw them in the freezer for the cold wintry NYC days which are on the horizon.

Served with a whole wheat roll & honey on the side, this was a comforting meal at its finest.

Havana Moon Chili 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • A few teaspoons of chopped garlic or 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of lean ground turkey
  • one 14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth
  • one 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 small case of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

1. Add the olive oil to a large soup pot or dutch oven. Stir in the onion and garlic, cook until soft.

2. Add the ground turkey (I used ground turkey, but you could also use beef/pork) and cook until brown. Drain off excess liquid (aka fat).

3. Add the vegetable broth (you could have also used chicken/beef broth) and the tomatoes, squashing each tomato by hand before adding it in (this is the best part!!). So fun.

4. Add in all other ingredients except for the olives and almonds. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer partially covered. Uncover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

5. Slice olives in half and add, along with the slivered almonds.

6. Cook for 5 more minutes. Enjoy!!