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.

mango bread from the backyard tree that keeps on giving. and giving. and giving.

fa1658cf-68c1-4f77-936c-a4877f726f2bI’ll be honest with you. Mango season has gotten a little bit away from me this year. We have a mango tree in our backyard which made me feel all kinds of romantic love for our house when we were looking to buy. The mango tree and the white brick built-ins scattered around made me have newly-wed visions straight out of a 1960’s romance. Call me Audrey Hepburn, but I imagined Mike and I picnicking under the mango tree on a red checkered blanket, sipping wine and munching on frozen mango bits all summer long.1876169f-88df-47c7-a2b6-c0ea326263c1Naive, Hoosier-born, first time Florida home-buyer that I was, I had no idea that 1. I’m allergic to mangoes, 2. no one goes outside to picnic in the summer in Florida (ha!), 3. how annoying and messy it is to cut up a mango because of the massive pit in the middle, and 4. if I did or did not like mangoes – I had never tasted one before! I was pretty sure I was going to like them though. Luckily, I do like mangoes. And after I broke out in hives all over my body during our first mango season, I discovered that I either had to thoroughly wash my hands after handling the skin, or wear rubber gloves. I also watched a very helpful video on how to properly cut mangoes to get the most fruit from around that giant pit. Click here to watch a similar one if you have lived that struggle too.dba643e8-dc83-4291-ac6a-e5dacb744420I still do love having a mango tree in the backyard and can’t help but dream every now and then of picnics under the shade of the tree in the summer. It also turns out that Charlie loves mango which is an amazing plus, but mango trees, like any fruit tree or  plant, take dedication if you want to actually eat the fruit. When one ripens – they’re all about ready to ripen. Last week we had a total of 36 mangoes waiting patiently on the windowsill, the kitchen island and the grill outside. That’s on top of the 19 mangoes I cut up and froze last weekend! Seriously.  The storms we’ve had rolling through lately have had them dropping like juicy grenades from the sky.ca148d4c-126f-4637-9191-9549f2d9d0fc

I’m running out of room in the freezer! You all know my love of carbs, so I hunted down the best looking recipe for mango bread that I could find, and it’s a winner! I love that this one uses pureed mango rather than chunks as I don’t love that chunks of fruit tend to sink to the bottom of breads. It also put a dent in the mangoes lined up on the windowsill while giving us the yummiest bread to munch on inside our lovely, air conditioned house with white brick built-ins, not on a picnic blanket under the mango tree where your very life is at risk of being taken out by a  mango grenade from above, swarms of mosquitoes, or hyperventilation due to Florida humidity. All jokes aside – try the bread. It’s delish.

I adapted the recipe slightly from this one – less sugar in my recipe (our mangoes are super sweet!), and canola oil instead of the avocado suggested. I also left out the rum for my little 7 month old man (who woke up from his nap during the baking of this bread) who has happily been gobbling this bread up.8686ebbe-37e7-4199-a713-391f8534df37The recipe calls for 3 cups of mango puree, which used about 5 of our medium-sized mangoes. You may have to adjust slightly up or down!c9388a7d-d4f1-4e0b-acc9-2554b6baabe3Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola or any neutral oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups mango

Here’s what to do: 

Set oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, baking soda, & ground cinnamon). In another bowl – I used a kitchenaid mixer – mix the rest of the ingredients (sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and mango). Add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Freezes well if you don’t want to eat both loaves right away!

 

the friday post – vol. 12

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Ahhhhh Friday! And ONE WEEK LEFT OF SCHOOL! I could not be more thrilled. I had my last classes in the library today (movie week!), and it feels good. Even if you work a “regular” job, I’m sure you’re celebrating this Friday especially because hello long weekend! We don’t have anything special planned which will make it feel even more relaxing.

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It’s been so rainy lately that we have these sweet little mushrooms popping up all over the garden! The rain has been fantastic for my herbs and the grass, but not great for our enjoyment of the great outdoors. It’s raining as I write this and I’m feeling like this weekend may be a cozy and peaceful one with pitter pattering on our rooftop.

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I made Ina’s chicken parmesan this week with a side of garlic bread from my loaf of no-knead bread. It was especially good. Mike emphatically stands that it’s not really chicken parmesan because it doesn’t have a red sauce. He thinks it’s really just a salad with breaded chicken which is totally fair. But still delicious. I had this recipe on the menu this week for my *new* recipe, but we didn’t get around to it because of a few extra after school events! It’s getting shifted to next week and I’m still excited about it.

It’s officially rosé wine season, and I have jumped right on the bandwagon with my whole heart. So refreshing! Such an easy summer bevvie! I want to try this recipe for rosé sangria which sounds amazing. I may just have to host a happy hour so I can try it. 🙂

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Everything is blooming around us right now! Trees, flowers, bushes! I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m noticing all of it especially much this year. We had our jasmine vine on the front porch in bloom a couple weeks ago, and now it’s the roses. What’s next, I don’t know!

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I’m so looking forward to a quiet weekend at home with my two boys (plus Wendy) , lots of snuggling, too many belly laughs, and happy hours every night. 🙂 What are you looking forward to this weekend? Something wonderful, I hope!

xx, em

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!

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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.

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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: crunchy fridge pickles

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On Saturday afternoons we don’t even have to think about what we’re having for dinner. Just like we eat pizza on Fridays, on Saturdays – we have burgers on the grill. There are few things more satisfying than burgers on Saturday. It makes the weekend feel like a holiday, even if it isn’t. Especially if we’ve spent the afternoon at the beach. We always pick up a big, juicy red tomato (it’s always tomato season in Florida) from the market on Saturday morning along with the rest of our veggie haul for the week. If there’s corn, then we’ll pick that up too to throw on the grill. If there isn’t any corn (unlike tomato season – it’s actually not always corn season) then we’ll slice up a couple potatoes to throw in the oven coated with olive oil, garlic salt, and generous grind of black pepper. Grabbing our plates with our burgers ready to dress, I pull out the holy grail of toppings. The fridge pickles. Burgers, in my opinion, are made by their toppings, and one topping that we can’t go without – are pickles.

It’s a not-so-secret love in my life. Pickling things. I’ve pickled most things that people are in the habit of pickling – onions, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, even asparagus. We eat them piled on sandwiches, burgers, tacos (pickled red onion or radishes- yum), and straight from the jar (pickled green beans or asparagus with a cold beer –  yum). Pickles just taste like summer to me, and when you live somewhere that actually is summer year round – you eat a lot of pickles. I grew up loving Claussen’s pickles, and while I spent a few years using a heated pickle recipe, around last year, I found an even easier way – no heating required. This recipe reminds me so much of Claussen’s. It’s a riff on Deb’s for Refrigerator Pickles, and by far the best and easiest I’ve found.

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A note about my pickling habits: I don’t pickle in bulk. I like to do small, one jar at a time, 10 minute sessions. This means that I avoid processing jars for hours over a boiling pot of water, and I’m not spending hours slaving over the cutting board. We only make what we’re going to eat within the next couple of weeks (or days).

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Fridge Pickles

Makes 1 pint sized mason jar.

What you need:

  • 2-3 small cucumbers (we prefer Persian cucumbers, but many like Kirby the best!)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • pinch crushed red pepper

What to do:

Slice cucumbers to desired size. Add vinegar, salt, and other seasonings to mason jar. Add cucumbers. Fill to the top of the “Freeze Line” with water. Screw on lid, and shake vigorously.

Put in the front of the fridge, and shake again over the next few hours whenever you open the fridge. You can eat after an hour, but they’re best after 6-8 hours.

*Will keep for 3 weeks, but if you’re anything like us, they won’t last that long.

** We’ll use the brine for two batches of pickles. Once you eat the first batch, just slice up a couple more cucumbers, put them in the same jar, and refrigerate. Enjoy!