Monday, November 22, 2010

Homemade Granola, Because I'm Like That


It's true, I do actually make my own crunchy granola. I guess some stereotypes are real; like people who have home births make their own granola and such.

Anyway, I think homemade granola is SO much better than the store bought variety. Plus, I like to know exactly what is in my food. Call me crazy, but many cereals out there even the "natural" kinds have a very long list of ingredients that I cannot pronounce. So I make granola.

I adapted this recipe from the recipe in one of my most favorite cookbooks, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Do you have this book? I know I've shown it to you before. There are so many great, healthy recipes in this book. If you don't have it, I'd recommend getting it for sure. Unfortunately I lost the first edition of this book and now only have the newer edition, which is still great, but a few recipes from the first recipe were left out that I miss.

But I digress.

Back to granola. This recipe is my standby recipe. I'm experimenting with others and I'll let you know if I come up with anything good. But if you want an easy, reliably good recipe this is a good one:

Honey Coconut Granola

4 cups oats
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c coconut oil (can substitute another oil if you need)
1/2 c honey
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat pven to 325 degerees.

In a large mixing bowl, combing oats, seeds, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.

In a small pan melt coconut oil, honey and peanut butter together. Stir to blend. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour oil mixture over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. (I usually use my hands to do this)

Spread on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and bake until granola is dry and golden. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Remove when golden brown and let cool before storing in an airtight container.

You can eat with whole milk yogurt and berries for a nutritious breakfast or snack. Alternatively, you can use as a topping for ice cream or whatever you can dream up! If you want to add dried fruits you can do that too, just wait until granola has cooled and then mix in fruit.

It's always good to have something new up your sleeve for breakfast. Hope you and Drew like it!


Monday, November 1, 2010

This is What Happens When You Have Children


My brain is mush. After having two children my logical mind seems to have left me. I used to have a nearly photographic memory. I never needed to write anything down. I kept my schedule in my head. I always remembered people names.

And I keep thinking I've still got it.

But the reality is that I don't. All this to say that when I interrupted our Butternut Squash series with the chicken chili recipe, I completely forgot how I made that third butternut squash recipe. You know, the Mexican-inspired one. So, we'll have to get to that another time when I experiment with those ingredients again. Darn! That was a good one too. But I just can't remember exactly how I did it.

So instead, I thought I'd share another easy soup recipe that I know by heart. I figure when it's fall going on winter you can't have enough soup recipes. This one is super easy too, it can be made really quickly with just a few ingredients. I love simple food like that--recipes that leave you to taste the food in its natural state. No need to doctor it all up with a bunch of spices and flavors. Anyhow, I'll quit rambling and get to the recipe...

Potato Leek Soup

3-4 leeks, washed and chopped
1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin
4 tbsp butter or good olive oil (butter will taste richer)
1 box of vegetable broth
approximately 3 cups of water
salt & pepper

Saute leeks in butter for 1-2 minutes, add potatoes and let simmer for 1-2 minutes more with the lid on. Add veggie broth, water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to boil then turn heat down to simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are falling apart. Take pot off heat and use a potato masher or a large spoon to roughly mash the potatoes. Alternatively, you can blend the soup. Serve the soup with a splash of cream if you like.

Now that's a recipe I can remember! Hope you like it too.

Miss you,

Butternut Squash, Interrupted


I interrupt our Butternut Squash series to bring you that yummy Chicken Chili recipe you've been begging asking me for. This recipe was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for chicken chili, but I changed it to fit what I had on hand (and to add beans, which I think all chili should have). What I love about this recipe is that you actually roast the chicken before adding it to the chili itself. Boy, does this ever give it a rich taste! You won't be sorry you took the extra time and effort to roast the chicken. Seriously. It was so good.

I think this will be a good fall and winter recipe to have on hand. You mentioned it was getting colder in Illinois so this should warm you right up! I served this with some gluten-free cornbread and salad for a nice hearty dinner.

Roasted Chicken & Black Bean Chili

2 yellow onions, chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp salt, or to taste + more for chicken
2 28oz cans of whole fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained (Muir Glen brand)
1 large can of black beans
2 whole organic chicken leg/thighs, bone in, skin on*
Freshly ground black pepper
Corn chips, cheddar cheese and/or sour cream as topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rub chicken with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast chicken for 35-40 minutes, until just cooked. While the chicken is roasting, cook the onions over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomoatoes by hand or in the food processor and add to pot. Add black beans. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken has cooled, separate meat from bone and skin and cut into 3/4 inch chunks. Add to the chili ans simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat before serving.

*In the last two recipes I've specified purchasing organic chicken. Personally, I think meat is something we should not skimp on when it comes to buying organic. And with pasture animals like beef, lamb, buffalo, etc--we should opt for the organic, grass fed option. Anymore, if I can't get the best meat (organic and grassfed) I just make a vegetarian dish instead. Not only is this the healthiest option for our bodies, it really is the best option for the environment, the animals and our economy. But that's a whole other post. In the meantime, you should really see Food, Inc. Make Drew watch it too!

Stepping off soapbox now.

Hope you love the chili as much as I did. Wish we could share a bowl together! Soon enough, I'm sure.

Love you,