Tag Archives: Baking

Chocolate Granola

Granola

I have an obsession with breakfast food. Cereals and crunchy granola, in particular. I eat a bowl of either one every morning, and another bowl of either one (sometimes I mix ‘em up in the same bowl) for a late night snack.

I also love eggs, bacon, crepes, pancakes, French toast… oh sorry, this post is not about any of these.

Back to my granola. I love it.

Granola

I mix it up with a bunch of dried fruits, I sometimes add in chocolate chips, and there are times when I use it to dress up my ice cream. Yep. I’ll take granola any way that I can.

The chocolate granola that I make came about because of my husband. He doesn’t care for breakfast, but he cares a lot for chocolate. This was the best way that I could get him to eat his needed amount of fiber for the day. I’m such a good wifey.

granola

Chocolate Granola

You will need:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried fruits (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 325.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, cocoa powder, walnuts, almonds, wheat germ, ground cinnamon, salt and dried fruit. 
  • In a small saucepan, pour in the water, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Pour the honey mixture over the dry ingredients and toss together until all ingredients are coated.
  • Spread onto the baking sheet and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally so the mixture browns evenly.
  • For a crunchier granola, bake it for a few minutes longer; the browner the granola, the crunchier it will be.
  • Place on a wire rack to cool.
  • While the granola is still a bit warm, break up some of the larger clumps.
  • Once the granola has cooled, store in an airtight container.
  • Serve with milk, yogurt or even ice cream and some fruit.
  • Keeps in an airtight container for weeks.

granola

One more thing you should know about granola; it keeps you “regular”. I’m not even going to try to find a fancier way to convey that message. It is what it is. Smile

Add just one other thing; Store-bought granola can be high in fat and calories. (And in price!) Create your own so that you can control the amount of fat, calories and sugar.

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Filed under Home, Sweets. Now. Please.

Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches with Herbed Goat Cheese Served on Focaccia Bread

Remember those tasty, squared little focaccia samwiches from my focaccia bread post?


If you are entertaining at home this weekend, these mini samwiches (I love calling it a “samwich”) are something that you will want to serve. They are crunchy, creamy and delicious.

Serve them at your next party, or you can just stick them in your lunch box; they are great any way that you want to enjoy them.


You will need:

  • 1 homemade focaccia bread, cut up into squares
  • Red Peppers, 1 per sandwich (my bread recipe should yield 8 to 10 sandwiches)
  • baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • Herbed goat cheese spread

For the goat cheese you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package (3 oz.) of goat cheese


Directions:

For the Peppers:

  • To roast the peppers, preheat the broiler and line a sheet pan with parchment paper, or grease it lightly.
  • Cut peppers in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds and stems.
  • Place peppers cut side down on the sheet pan.
  • Broil for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Peel when cooled.

For the Herbed Goat Cheese Spread:

  • In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the goat cheese, mix well.
  • Coat the goat cheese with the mixture, press the mixture into the cheese with a fork and combine well.
  • Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If you have the time, prepare this a day ahead; the longer it sits, the better it tastes.

Assembling the Sandwiches:

  • Spread the herbed goat cheese on two squared slices of focaccia.
  • Layer the portobello mushrooms on one slice, then follow up with the roasted pepper.
  • Cover with a slice of focaccia, and serve.


32 Comments

Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

Honey Ginger Cookies

I needed to make  a quick trip to the grocery store last night, and as I was rushing through the aisles I literally ran into an old acquaintance and knocked down the cereal box that she was holding.

After the, “I’m so sorrrryyy! OH HI!! How are you!?”, we got into a catch-up chat and at one point during the conversation I asked her if she was following Lent.

Verbatim: “Are you following Lent?” Her response, “No!? What channel is that on?!?”

Before I allowed myself to LOL, I listened to my question in my head and it still sounded correct. I proceeded – with a chuckle – to rephrase my question and then we LOL-ed together. 🙂

Lesson learned: I’m not Grammar Girl. (I still don’t know if I worded that question correctly, and “LOL” has become a part of my every day lingo…)

…And speaking of Lent… here’s a batch of cookies that I make every year during Lent; they are mildly sweet, incredibly soft, and extremely tasty.

Honey Ginger Cookies

You will need:

  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup of Sprite

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 350.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, sugar, baking soda, and ginger; mix and set aside.

  • In a separate mixing bowl combine the honey, vegetable oil, and sprite.

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until you get a shiny cookie dough.
  • Put the dough in the fridge for about half hour.

  • Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick with a rolling pin.
  • Get a round cookie cutter to cut out your cookies and place the cookies onto a silpat mat or ungreased baking sheets.

  • Bake in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Let stand on baking sheets for a couple of minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
  • Serve with a cup of coffee or tea.

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Filed under Home, Macedonian Cuisine, Sweets. Now. Please.

Macedonian Pastry Shop: Tolumbi

Before I continue with today’s post, I would just like to show you a picture of our weekend that was filled with fun, music, food, and love. Lots of love. And it was one of the reasons why I was missing from the blogging world for a couple of days; My daughter, Ana, was one of eight flower girls at my best friend’s wedding!

The beautiful bride, me, and Ana

Congratulations Julie and Riste! I wish you a lifetime of happiness, health, and lots of kids! I love you!

Onto the Tolumbi (Toe-loom-bee)!

A Macedonian Pastry Shop, or a Слаткарница – Slatkarnica (Slaht-car-knee-tsa), is a spot for, first and foremost, excellent sweets, then a great cup of espresso or cappuccino, accented with a yuppy decor, good looking chairs, sofas, and a delicious conversation.

This is my favorite Pastry Shop/Cafe in my hometown of Bitola, Macedonia.

photo credit

Moreover, a Macedonian Pastry Shop does not serve just Macedonian pastries; you can find a variety of delicious sweets, from tiramisu to eclairs and macarons, to baklava and ravanija.

Even though we Macedonians make use of the great variety of fruits, nuts, and spices that are cropped all over the country to prepare our traditional desserts, there are also desserts that are produced in Macedonia but are typical to all the countries from the Balkans and beyond. Such a dessert is the tolumba, which is believed to have Turkish origins.

Tolumbi are one of the most sought out for desserts that can be found inside of the fridge at any local pastry shop in Macedonia. This is a delicate pastry dough which is dropped into hot oil, soaked in a sugar syrup, and enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea.

To keep it light, I do not fry the tolumbi; mine are baked. There is a slight difference in texture (no crunch :(), but for the sake of healthy eating, some things have to be compromised. The good news is that the delicious taste is still there.

And I should tell you that my mother just about murdered me when she saw that I baked the tolumbi. She was beside herself, “How dare you mess with the classics… Tolumbi are always fried!”, was her response. Oops…

Tolumbi

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs

For the Syrup:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 slices of lemon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder together, set aside.
  • Mix the water, sugar, oil and salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil.
  • Add in the flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan.

  • Transfer the mixture into another bowl and allow to cool.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the cooled mixture.
  • Place portions of the mixture in a piping bag with a wide star shaped tip.

  • Pipe out the mixture onto a baking sheet, each cookie should be about 4 inches long.

  • Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

In the meantime prepare the syrup.

  • In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water, and lemon slices.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow to completely cool.
  • Place cooled syrup in a deep bowl.
  • Place the cooked tolumbi into the syrup and let them sit in there for 30 minutes.
  • Remove tolumbi from the syrup and drain.
  • Place on a plate and serve.

Fried Tolumbi:

  • Pipe the mixture into a saucepan containing hot oil, cutting the tolumbi to about 4 inches.
  • Cook until golden in color.
  • Cook 4 to 5 tolumbi at a time depending on the size of the saucepan.
  • Place the tolumbi into the cooled simple syrup and let sit for 30 minutes.

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Filed under Home, Macedonian Cuisine, Sweets. Now. Please.

Apple Walnut Cake with Simple Syrup

Monday morning. Hubby is at work, munchkin is taking a nap, and I am in the kitchen… Where else would I be? But, today’s kitchen duty is special; I am following a recipe to the “T”! Why? Because it’s my mother-in-law’s recipe. And you know what that means: it better be the best apple cake that I have ever made! 🙂

Fortunately Unfortunately, my in-laws live across the oceans, rivers, mountains, and seas, and they will not be able to taste my creation. But, don’t worry, their son is here and he will definitely know if this cake is like Mama’s, or not. We will find out soon. Munchkin and I are going to surprise him by taking a piece of this cake to him at work. He will be so excited!

And through the magic of the internet, soon is here (lunch with daddy was fun!) and the verdict is in: He loves it! In his own words, “Not quite like my mom’s…it must be the different climates, environment, oven (bla bla bla)…but I love it! It might even be better than mom’s!”. Cha-ching!

The only thing I did different was the addition of apple slices on top of the cake. Maybe that is why he thought it was better? Shrug

The cake really is delicious. Moist, light, and sweet. Thanks for the recipe, Mama!

My Mother-in-Law’s Apple Walnut Cake

You will  need:

  • 3/4 cup instant wheat grits
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 4 apples, grated

For the Simple Syrup

You will need:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar

Garnish:

  • 1 apple, quartered then thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, excluding the apples and walnuts.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  • Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir in the apples and walnuts.
  • Mix it all together until well blended and let stand for about 20 minutes.

  • Put the mixture in a 9×13 cake pan and bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

In the meantime prepare the simple syrup.

  • In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow to completely cool.

When cake is done, let it cool for a couple of minutes.

  • Cut the cake into bars while it is still in the pan, then pour over the cooled simple syrup (see the bottom of the recipe for tips on simple syrup).
  • Let cake stand on the counter for 30 minutes so to absorb the syrup.
  • Lastly, cut an apple into thin slices, toss them in a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, then arrange them on top of the cake. Drizzle a bit of the syrup on top of them.

About simple syrup:

If the cake is cool, you need hot syrup.

If the cake is hot, you need cold syrup.

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Filed under Home, Macedonian Cuisine, Sweets. Now. Please.