Tag Archives: Cook

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.


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Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

Pistachio Vanilla Wafer Pudding – Slainte!

 

Dear early 20’s,

I MISS YOU!!!

When I think of St. Pat’s I think of my college days, not too far behind, but behind enough to make me feel a bit of nostalgia. Ahhh – I really miss those days of bar hopping! We would spend the entire week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day just hopping from one bar to the next. I behaved, I promise… 😉

Now, since we’re no longer in college, and because we must act like responsible adults in front of our children, I am not going to present to you the best St. Pat’s drink I ever had… no, I am not going to do that… Ana is celebrating with us.

Instead,  I made a St. Patty’s green pudding that people of all ages can enjoy! Yippee! (sigh) 😉

Pistachio Vanilla Wafer Pudding

  • Thanks to J.E.L.L.O., I used Pistachio flavored Instant Pudding.

You will need:

  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) Pistachio flavored Instant Pudding
  • 1/2 tub (6oz.) whipped topping, thawed
  • 8 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
  • shavings of dark chocolate for garnish
  • chopped pistachios for garnish

Directions:

  • Pour milk into large bowl.
  • Add pudding mix and beat with wire whisk for 2 minutes.
  • Let stand 5 minutes.
  • Gently stir in whipped topping; combine.
  • Put half of the crushed cookies on the bottom of a medium-sized serving bowl, or two large glasses, then pour in the pudding mixture.
  • Garnish with the rest of the crushed cookies, chopped pistachios and shavings of dark chocolate.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

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Filed under Home, Sweets. Now. Please.

Asparagus Soup

Before I introduced solids to my daughter, plenty of family members and friends made sure to share some horror stories with me about their picky eaters. I soon found out that they were not lying.

Our prepping before dinner time went something like this:

Carrots? Waaaah! Peas?! Waaaaaaaah! Geez, Ana…Mother of … how about Pears?!? Smiles from ear to ear.

I soon learned that she was a fan of fruits, but veggies were going to take a bit of convincing… Or not.

I came home one day with some groceries, and in her usual manner, she began to take everything out of the bags. As she continued, she grabbed some asparagus and without any reservations, she just had a go!

I sat there and stared at her in disbelief. I then quickly took it from her because I had heard that asparagus should not be eaten raw. Even though I didn’t believe it when I heard it, when it comes to munchkin, I believe everything and anything. And I wanted to avoid a choking episode. Besides, have you ever tried raw asparagus? Um… I don’t like it. I love it when it’s cooked, but not raw.

Needless to say, and all parents can relate, I could not get over my excitement with the whole asparagus incident. And because I thought she loved the asparagus, I quickly got my ingredients together and started working on one of my favorite soups: Crème D’asperges.

Guess what? She HATED IT! My husband and I could not get enough of it and there she was making that ewwwww face at us. What the? The answer to that came a couple of months later…

We recently figured out that it wasn’t the vegetables that she didn’t like; she just is not fond of vegetables in a pureed form. She loves veggies so long as they are not mushy.

I wish kids could talk from day one – this guessing game sucks.

Asparagus Soup

(adapted from Epicurious)

You will need:

  • 2 pounds green asparagus
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream (I use a cup of 2% milk instead)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Directions:

  • Cut tips from 12 asparagus
  • 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.
  • Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

  • Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened.
  • Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

  • Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
  • Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl and return to pan.

  • Stir in crème fraîche, or a cup of milk, then if needed add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter.
  • Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips, or with mint. The cooked asparagus tips went to Ana. 🙂

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St. Trifun’s Day: Sausage Stuffed Eggplant

I mentioned in my previous post that along with St. Valentine’s Day, we also celebrate St. Trifun, the Guardian of wine and wine makers. As a matter of fact, St. Valentine’s Day is a fairly new phenomenon in many parts of the world, including Macedonia, but it has somehow grown to be celebrated amongst the younger generations along with St. Trifun.

In honor of St. Trifun, on the 14th of February a great celebration takes place in many city squares in Macedonia with a program that includes agricultural and cultural happenings, and the famous Wine Fair. The priests say a prayer, and the pruning season is symbolically marked with the pruning of the three church wine grapes.

Here’s a photo of our little grape vine in our backyard:

Pruning – February 14, 2011:

Throughout the day we prepare and serve Macedonian specialties, sing Macedonian songs, and taste delicious Macedonian wines!

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant is one of those specialties that we enjoyed last night for dinner. Made with our very own homemade sausage, lots of garlic, and a touch of Мајчина Душица – Mother’s Soul, or Thyme, as it is called in this part of the world.

You will need:

  • 4 eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 pound of sausage, your choice of sausage, but I recommend one with a bit of heat,  YUM – casings removed
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, chop, and set aside.

  • Season the empty shells with salt and pepper, and coat with some olive oil; set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.
  • Put in the sausage and garlic, and saute until sausage is evenly brown.

  • Mix in the chopped eggplant.
  • Season with parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Stuff the mixture into the eggplant shells and place them in a baking sheet filled with 1/4 inch water.

  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Take out and sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Serve with your favorite red wine.

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Filed under Home, Macedonian Cuisine