Posts tagged ‘spring’
Man oh man is this stuff tasty. I have had a craving for some good, healthy granola ever since returning from Florida. I have had some early mornings lately and my breakfasts have been, well… sad. An afterthought. Something to hold me over until lunch. After a day off, I decided that I couldn’t continue to neglect my favorite meal for much longer! Since oatmeal takes too much time in the morning and hot breakfasts on increasingly warmer mornings are sounding less appealing, the thoughts of granola came to my mind.
Now I may have mentioned this in other posts before, but homemade granola simply cannot be beaten… once you get it right. It is harder than you’d think to get the wet to dry ratio to give you just enough crumbles and clusters! Too far one way and the granola is dry and lifeless, and too far the other and the result is tacky and hard to store! Once that problem is solved, the combinations of granola goodness become endless. Even better, you can control the amount of sugar you add so you can avoid the cloying sweetness that plaques many store-bought varieties. This batch of granola essentially served as a spring cleaning for my pantry, using up bits of bulk good items bought for other purposes and since forgotten. I will post how I made it below, and then write out what I think is a pretty good bare-bones builder for a make-your own granola!
Question: What are your favorite fruit & nut combos for granola?
Spring Cleaning Granola
based on a friend’s favorite granola recipe
(note: makes a very large batch, recipe can easily be halved)
6 cups oats
1/2 cup lightly salted sunflower seeds (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the wet ingredients)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 cups chopped peanuts
3/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup mixed in and 1/4 cup reserved
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried fruit (I used a combo of dried blueberries and chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds)
Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.
Bare-Bones Granola Builder
3 cups oats
1/2 cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia, walnut)
1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, coconut)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar)
2 tbsp brown sugar
Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves)
Pinch of salt (if nuts not salted)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond or anise, if you want to try something fancy!)
1/2-1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries)
Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.
Nothing screams springtime like fresh ingredients and brightly colored veggies. As soon as the first warm day hits, I am craving salads, slaws, and anything on a grill. These fish tacos fit the bill perfectly! My boyfriend and I recently returned from an amazing Florida vacation, where we visited my grandparents and extended family, explored Ybor City in Tampa, and replenished our Vitamin D levels on the beach.
All of the sun kicked my veggie cravings into overdrive, and so I jumped at the opportunity to make a fun lunch for my grandparents!
Fish tacos seem to have become rather trendy these days, and come in several varieties. My requirements for a good fish taco are as follows: good grilled fish, not the fried stuff. Traditional corn tortillas, not flour. Avocado, in some form. Lots of cilantro. And a good, tangy, fresh cole slaw. Hold the mayo.
Simple, right? Still, many places don’t hold a candle to this homemade version. This recipe was inspired from bits and pieces of many that I have read, taking my favorite parts from all. Feel free to do the same with mine, or try out my version to let me know what you think!
16 corn tortillas
1 lb white fish fillets (use what is local to your region – I have used Cod in NE and tilapia in FL both with great results)
spices: paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper
1 small head purple cabbage, finely sliced (you can also use green, but the color makes these fun)
1 bunch scallion, whites discarded
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lime juice (I used from a bottle, but fresh is always fun!)
3 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
1 jalapeno, finely minced (use 2 if you like more heat)
for avocado cream:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp minced cilantro
Assemble slaw first. Slice cabbage and scallions finely, then mince garlic and jalapenos. Combine with lime juice and minced cilantro. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Combine and refrigerate while preparing other components to allow flavors to combine.
Next, combine avocado, greek yogurt, and remaining cilantro in a food processor. Combine until very smooth. Cover in a small bowl and refrigerate.
Wrap corn tortillas in foil and place in oven to warm while cooking fish. Alternatively, place tortillas individually on a warm griddle after cooking fish for a crispier taco.
To prepare fish, begin by washing filets and patting dry. Season both sides with aforementioned spices according to taste. (More cayenne for the spice lovers, more paprika and chili powder for a deeper and sweeter flavor.) Salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add fish filets but do not crowd the pan. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until fish is flaky and cooked through.
To assemble tacos, take warmed corn tortilla and spoon avocado cream across the bottom. Top with slaw and a small piece of fish. Fold in half and enjoy immediately!
I love any opportunity to get dressed up, especially with a little direction and style advice from my Italian friend Miriam or my more fashionable sister! I can make myself presentable on most occasions, but appreciate the girly advice when it comes to shoes, make up and accessories for fancier affairs. Last night, my friend Miriam hosted another of her fabulous cocktail parties – at which a dress is mandatory. (She has been known to pull friends into her closet and magically transform them with some article of clothing that was in hiding.) This time, she made a pre-emptive strike on my
plain student wardrobe by giving me a bag of hand-me-downs, in which was a fantastic aqua dress. It was a perfect fit, and my favorite color! How could I say no? ;)
The spring cocktail party was so much fun! Despite having a random assortment of friend groups, everyone was able to mingle over food and drinks. Miriam is an excellent cook and made some great hors d’ouvres of herbed ricotta dip, cheese platters, crostini with goat cheese and prosciutto, and pears with arugula and prosciutto. She also had some great new Trader Joe’s finds – my personal favorite were cassava chips! Not only can she cook, but she is also an excellent bartender. She always chooses two themed drinks for her parties, and the theme was fruity and light for our lovely spring affair. She pulled me into the kitchen where we mixed up batches of Grapefruit Cosmopolitans and Raspberry Martinis, and discussed plans for my trip to visit her in Italy this summer! My roommate from college and I will be in Italy for about a week after we visit another friend in Bosnia and Croatia. It looks like we will get a chance to see Venice, Bologna (where Miriam is from), Cinque Terre, and Florence while we are there. I am too excited to even begin to express it in words!
We taste-tested both drinks before offering them around to everyone – just had to make sure they were safe! Miriam used frozen mashed raspberries to give the martini a muddled effect, and the jam added just enough sweetness to make the drink really pop. The grapefruit cosmo was my personal favorite – a light, citrusy, and perfect spring drink. Both were nice and fruity and not too strong. Definitely give these drinks a try for your end-of-the-semester or start of summer parties!
Question: What is your favorite spring/summer drink?
Adapted from Real Simple
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 tsp lime juice
Mix all ingredients, except Prosecco, together in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, top with Prosecco and serve.
Adapted from Real Simple
1 tsp raspberry jam
1 tsp mashed raspberries (can be frozen or fresh)
4 oz cranberry juice
1 1/2 oz vodka
Mix all ingredients together in a shaker over ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a raspberry.
It is Wednesday morning… know what that means? Recipes and pictures from another fantastic roommate dinner! We have both been free three Tuesdays in a row – we are on a roll! Think we can keep it up for a fourth? As we enjoyed our experimental “risotto” and snacked on watermelon for dessert, I helped my roommate list out the recipes that she knows well and feels comfortable with. She is relatively new to cooking and is good at the ten things she knows how to make, but feels like she is stuck in a rut. We brainstormed ways for her to become more adventurous in the kitchen, which gave me inspiration for a blog post! (I cannot promise when this will happen, but sometime soon, I hope to write some ideas that we came up with as advice for beginner cooks. If you have any specific questions or things you would like addressed, comment below!) We also decided that roommate dinners from now on will morph into quasi-cooking lessons to help expand her recipe repertoire. I am looking forward our little experiment.
I called dinner Barley and Bean “Risotto” because it is loosely inspired by the traditional Italian rice dish. I love the creaminess of a well-made risotto, but wanted to find a way to make it a little more whole-grain-healthy (Arborio, the traditional risotto rice, is a short, white rice variety – not a whole grain!) I had seen some recipes for barley or farro risotto instead, and so I decided to experiment. The end result was delicious, but not quite a risotto. The barley is a little chewier than rice, but still a really unique and great texture. I would definitely make this again, especially because it is a great way to clear out some of your sadder-looking leafy greens. The greens I got as part of my Boston Organics box last week were unidentifiable – kale? chard? collard greens? Doesn’t matter! Throw whatever you have on hand in!
Watermelon reminds me of spring and summer, just like the flowers in bloom all around Boston! There are a few pictures of pretty tulips in Kenmore Square to brighten your day :) Our watermelon dessert was a gift from our upstairs neighbors. They are funny people – friendly and chatty when they want to be, but unpredictable in their mood. Anyway, I am glad to at least know my neighbors – the last apartment I lived in was so transient that I lived there for 2 years without knowing anyone in my building other than my roommate. To thank them, we made a little card to tape to their back door. A simple papercraft, but hopefully another step in building a relationship with them.
Question: Are you comfortable in the kitchen? What are some things that draw you to cooking, or prevent you from experimenting in the kitchen more often? These questions are meant for you guys! Comment below to let me know your thoughts on cooking, and things you would like to see on my blog that might help you become more comfortable making healthy and home-cooked dinners!
Barley and Bean “Risotto”
1 cup dried white beans (or 1 can of white beans, drained)
3 bay leaves (if using dried beans)
2 small onions
1-2 tsp minced garlic, depending on your taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup barley
1 can tomato soup (not condensed kind, and better if low-sodium)
1 can vegetable broth
2 bunches of leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc.)
1 tsp basil
Cover white beans with water. Add bay leaves and boil for about 10 minutes, and then reduce heat and let continue to cook until beans are soft – about an hour.
Chop the onion and saute with garlic and olive oil. In a separate pot, bring tomato soup and vegetable broth to a low boil. When the onions are soft, add the barley and stir until well coated. Add about 2/3 cup broth mixture. Allow barley to cook until liquid is absorbed, like you would do for a traditional risotto. Add another 1/3 cup of liquid and allow to absorb. Continue this process until all of the liquid has been added to and absorbed by the barley. (This process should be done slowly while stirring pretty constantly so the barley has time to cook all the way). Drain the cooked beans and add to the barley mixture. Add the rinsed and chopped greens (they will be voluminous at first but they’ll cook down!) and turn down the heat. Season to taste with basil, salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan.