a recipe: granola

Do you ever feel like you go through phases with food? You’ll make something four weeks in a row, start thinking of it as routine, and then switch to something new? That’s granola for us. We go through phases with it. I’ll make it a ton, and then go a few months without making it once. Lately, it’s been happily put back into my weekend baking routine. We scoop it onto greek yogurt for breakfast and snacks, and Mike takes the occasional scoop directly into his open mouth for those moments when snack desperation strikes. It’s a sweet, but not too sweet, and crunchy, but not bone-crushing treat.

img_6651This recipe is customizable in a hundred ways or more, but this base is a great place to start. Dried coconut, flax seed, raisins, dates, and peanut butter are all things that we sometimes, but not always throw in. This time around we kept it simple and basic. So good.HOMEMADE GRANOLA

What you need:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups mixed nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (like vegetable or coconut)

What to do:

+ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

+ Mix oats, nuts, and salt in a dutch oven or large baking pan.

+ In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, maple syrup and oil.

+ Pour over oat mixture and stir.

+ Cook for 45 minutes or until oats are toasted, stirring every 15 minutes.

+ Let cool and store in a covered container. Will keep for about 2 weeks.

**If adding any dried fruits, or chocolate chips mix in after your granola has cooled. Coconut, peanut butter and flax seed can be added to the granola before baking.

Also pictured are cream cheese carrot cake muffins – recipe here! What have you been making on repeat lately? Anything good? I’m on the hunt for some new fall recipes to put on rotation.

easiest cookie recipe in the world.

cf794850-3de6-438b-b8f3-762a45108a69I have six days left of school, and I am dragging myself through them by the skin of my teeth. The end of the year is my biggest time of the year other than the beginning of it. With 40+ teachers and 800+ students, there are thousands of materials that need to be returned before teachers or students can be “cleared” to leave school. Computers, textbooks, headphones, library books, etc are all in my school’s library system. And as you can imagine, teachers that were given these materials back in August have a hard time tracking them all down come May! And then you have the kids who checked books out a week ago – they have a hard time tracking those books down too. 🙂 I’ve been the nagging bad guy all this and will be next week too. But it’s okay! I can do it! Summer is almost here!

f73eeec5-c423-41cc-84f0-02b527e918ea

But in the meantime, cookies, nightly happy hour, my happy baby, and copious venting to my husband are the only thing that are getting me there. Not just cookies, but the easiest cookies that I have ever made. Three ingredients! three! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t! I was browsing Pinterest the other day for after school snacks, and stumbled upon this recipe that fit the bill for after, before and in-between school snacking. Follow the instructions for Peanut Butter Cookies all done in about 15 minutes!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

Here’s What To Do:

Set oven to 350. Mix ingredients together until creamy (with an electric mixer is easiest). Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to put impressions on cookies both ways, and to smush them down. Bake for 10 minutes! Recipe makes about a dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

an adaptable recipe for muesli.

567296ba-4125-465d-a075-19fdfdadb081I’m one of those people who wakes up in the morning and immediately needs something to eat. I’m the person to whom ‘brunch’ really means ‘second breakfast’ because I couldn’t possibly wait until 10am to eat for the first time. I’m married to a non-breakfast lover (other than hearty breakfast potatoes topped with an egg and the occasional french toast on weekend mornings), so I’m left to my own devices during the week. Cereal and oatmeal are all fine and good, but they’re a little uninspiring, right? And while oatmeal fills me up for the morning, it takes a little bit of time to make it when I’m in a rush in the morning. If I have cereal, on the other hand, I find myself snacking by 9am.0e77466b-90f4-48fc-9ce5-df53ec7ff3f4 Muesli is hearty, healthy, filling-me-up-for-the-long-haul goodness. If you haven’t had it before, muesli is very similar to granola, sans sweetener, oil and oven. Essentially, you just throw a bunch of oats, nuts, and dried fruits into a jar, mix it up and leave it on the counter to last for weeks. Did you hear me say that there’s no oven required? With the heat of summer coming our way, you just may find yourself reaching for this recipe as well. I mixed up a giant 12 cup batch in one of my gallon sized jars the other day that will probably last until the end of the school year. All ingredients are dried pantry goods, so there’s nothing that will go bad before then as long as I keep the lid screwed tight to keep staleness at bay. When you’re ready for your bowl of morning muesli, just scoop some out into a bowl, pour over your desired amount of milk, add a dollop of yogurt if you feel like it, and add any sweetener. I like a sprinkle of brown sugar best, but maple syrup or honey are yummy options too.

c142cc68-2c52-44e4-a609-f0d5737188a3

Like I said in the title, this is easily adaptable. Don’t like nuts? Add more oats or seeds. Put whichever dried fruits you like best in. I’ll give my recipe for a gallon, but you can easily adjust up or (more likely) down.

Here’s What You’ll Need: 

  • 8 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds roughly chopped (I used pistachios, pecans, almonds and pepitas)
  • 2 cups dried fruits (I used cherries, cranberries, and blueberries)

Or the formula to remember is: 4 parts grain + one part nuts + one part dried fruits

Here’s What To Do: 

Are you ready? This is ridiculous…Mix it together, put it in a jar. That’s it! And when you’re ready to eat it, just scoop however much you’d like into a bowl, pour over a little milk, a scoop of yogurt and sprinkle some sweetener over. Mix and enjoy!

a recipe: anything granola bars

I’m staring down the tunnel of testing season at school. Which means tomorrow I’ll either be quietly locked away in my office finishing up my collection development plan for the end of the year or I’ll be suddenly called to do my duty and proctor a test for third grade should some teacher call out sick (I did hear that one third grade teacher has hand foot mouth disease so I’m fearing the latter). Testing season in the elementary school brings with it both stress and anxiety for both teachers and students in the morning and then the extreme, almost delirious relief of the afternoon when the tests are over for the day (only to know that section two comes the next day). A combination of both celebration and the camaraderie of doing something no one wants to be doing for the day. I have a hard time mustering up any real emotion about it either way. All I’ll be thinking about (in addition to the spending of my library budget – Fiction? Nonfiction? Graphic novels? Dare I throw it all at picture books?) is Charlie giggling hysterically over toes tonight before bed. I mean hysterically. Toes!

On to the real topic for today. I discovered the best recipe for granola bars a few weeks ago. I loved them so much I’ve made them twice for us, once for the neighbors across the street who just welcomed a new baby and I’m planning another batch to be whipped up this week. They’re quite possibly the easiest thing because they are an “anything” recipe. Whatever you happen to have on hand you can throw in. Those are my favorite kinds of recipes. Flexible and forgiving. I’ve been playing around with an “anything” bread (or maybe some would call it cake 😂) that I’ll share when I get it just right. But today I wanted to put his here for my own future reference and yours when the mood may strike.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/4 maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mix-ins of your choice (I used dried tropical trail mix here)

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper or foil.

Place oats and nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Place them in a large bowl.

Combine syrup, butter, and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat until butter and sugar are melted.

Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Pour over the oat and nut mixture.

Mix in any of your extras, saving chocolate.

If adding chocolate, let mixture cool for about fifteen minutes then add.

Use a rubber spatula to press into your pan. Chill for about two hours then remove from pan and cut!

I hope you try them! So yummy.

a recipe: caramel corn with a kick

b2a843d7-e759-403d-993a-eb065b1ad7f6Nights these days are ruled by routine. Doing the same thing every night makes Charlie a happy baby, and it makes me feel like a more put together human. Every night this week, after Charlie is all snug in his bassinet with his sweet breaths going in and out as even as a metronome, I make my way to the kitchen to do my final nightly ritual of bottle washing, getting bottles ready for the next day, putting together my own lunch, snacks, and filling the coffee for the morning. But first, before all these very necessary duties, I unscrew the giant jar of this caramel corn sitting on the counter for a sweet victory snack. Victory because we’ve made it through another day. And you guys. This caramel corn. It seriously does have a kick! It’s so unbelievably good. It’s like a sigh of relaxation at the end of a long day. I still have things to do, but my most important task is slumbering like an angel in the next room.

c11842ea-9e1b-4402-871c-a7aca17b3ef5Mike snatched a great big taste test of this caramel corn when it was freshly coated, still warm and malleable from the melted caramel and he almost died. I kid you not. Both of us are lovers of spice, but the cayenne in this may knock your socks off if you’re not careful. The rest of the batch was pretty tame having just a bit of warmth at the back end, so he must have gotten a little non-mixed in cayenne bite. That’s what happens when you sneak a bite before it’s ready. I only die of happiness every time I take a bite. I discovered this Smitten Kitchen recipe when Deb shared it on her Instagram the other day. She can do no wrong in my book. I want to make every single thing that comes out of her kitchen. I’ve never been disappointed by yet, but I don’t know how anything that involves sugar and butter can be a bad thing.

98a11843-a5c9-4db1-8192-2f5de35a4e1aI haven’t been keeping myself to only nightly nibbles of this stuff. It turns out that half a cup of kernels makes a lot of popcorn. I put bits in little jars to take to school as a bright snack at my very unglamorous desk. I put Mike’s in a large jar to have for the whole week at his more glamorous desk. He has the self control to make it last all week. I need portion control. Also, anything in tiny jars just makes me happy to eat. All about the eating experience here.

d8ddf025-5dd2-4581-8c75-09011dc48fb6

**A note about the cayenne: just leave it out if you’re not sure about some warmth! I used only 1/4 teaspoon which really isn’t much.

Here’s what you’ll need: From Smitten Kitchen’s archives.

  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like spice!)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Here’s what to do:

Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas and two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or a thin slick of oil.

In a large pot with a lid, coat the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.

Have the two large baking sheets ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking-soda mixture if using (the mixture will really bubble up).

Quickly pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use your spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together (Deb says as if you were tossing a salad) until the popcorn is coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm if you can. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.