Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fruit & Nut Granola

I love having granola for breakfast!  I remember always wanting to have some granola whenever we had it in the house as a kid, it seemed like the kind of food grown ups ate, sort of like Grape Nuts only way better! The biggest down fall to granola is the really yummy stuff is sort of expensive, especially if it has lots of fruit and nuts, just the way I like it!  That's fine though, they can keep their expensive granola because this stuff is so simple to make at home! It takes almost no time and the joys of making it yourself is you know exactly what is going into it and you can customize your ingredients depending on your tastes!  Like I said, I love mine with lots of fruit and toasted nuts so I tend to use quite a bit of them in my recipe.  Feel free to adjust this to your tastes and try out different ingredients like coconut and various seeds, nuts and fruits.

In a medium bowl combine your oats and sunflower seeds.

Roughly chop your pecans and almonds and 

add to the oats.  Lightly sprinkle on sea salt if using.

Mix well to combine.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the honey, oil and vanilla.

Stir until completely combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the oat mixture.

Stir until evenly coated.

Spread onto a silicone line baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 300 F.

Lightly mix in dried fruit.  Bake another 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before removing for clumpier granola, mix well for smaller, smooth granola.

Scoop into jars or air tight bags to store.

Fruit & Nut Granola
Makes 3-4 cups

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans
sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used raisins and cranberries)

Start by preheating the oven to 300 F.

In a medium mixing bowl, add in the oats and sunflower seeds.  Roughly chop the pecans and almonds and then add to the oat mixture. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt if you are using unsalted nuts for a little bit of dimension in flavor. Stir well to combine.  In a smaller bowl, stir together the honey, oil and vanilla until well mixed.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir well until evenly coated.  Spread the mixture out on a silicone mat lined baking sheet or lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the granola and lightly mix in the dried fruit.  Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  This allows the fruit to get a little crispy without drying out all the way or burning.  Keep and eye on your granola at this point because it can quickly go from deliciously toasty and crunchy to burnt!  If you want a chunkier granola, which is what I prefer, allow it to cool completely before removing form the sheet to store.  If you would like a smaller, smoother granola, mix the granola now to break up the clumps.  Store at room temperature for up to a week or two.  It will keep a bit longer in the fridge, up to three weeks is about as long as I've been able to keep the stuff around!  It works great as breakfast over yogurt or with milk or as an afternoon snack! Who knows, I might take a jar to keep in my desk...Enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

French Toast Bread Pudding

Good morning!  I just love starting Sundays with a freshly made warm breakfast!  There is just something about sitting down with the family and having a yummy meal together that just makes my day.  Maybe it is because it is the last day of the weekend and I always start Sundays hoping that I will just be able to sit back and relax, and if the season is right end it with a football game!  It rarely works out that way, especially during the school year, but one can always hope!

This morning we started our day of with French Toast Bread Pudding!  I love this recipe because it is quick to throw together and bake the next morning and because it is a great way to use up old bread, particularly if you made it yourself and cannot bare the thought of throwing it away when it starts to go stale!  For this morning's bread pudding we used up the leftover Choereg bread we made for a Girl Scout event last week and it worked out great.  Since Choereg is sweet, it lends itself to being made into something like this.  You can of course use any bread that you would like in the recipe, I think an egg bread tends to work best but anything you have on hand will do!  Also, you will notice that I made a fairly small bread pudding.  Since my husband doesn't eat sweets and it is going to be just my daughter and I eating this, I halved the recipe that I used.  Please fell free to double it and use a 9"x13" pan instead!

Start by choosing your bread, anything you have on hand.

Gather the rest of your ingredients.

Cut or rip your bread and add to your baking dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together your eggs, milk, 

vanilla, sugar

and cinnamon!

Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.

Be sure that every piece of bread gets coated, using your hands if necessary.

Cover with foil

and place in the refrigerator to sit overnight.

In the morning, loosely chop your pecans

and sprinkle over top of the bread pudding.

Top with a drizzle of maple syrup,

recover with the foil and bake as directed below.

Top with an additional drizzle of maple syrup and dust with powdered sugar!

French Toast Bread Pudding
recipe adapted from
recipe as written below serves 4-6

6-8 ounces of bread, any kind will do
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup sugar (may be cut if you use a sweeter bread)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
drizzle of maple syrup
powdered sugar

Start by greasing a baking pan big enough to hold your bread pudding.  Next, rip or cut the bread into 3/4-1" pieces.  (I prefer mine cut because it looks prettier!)  Place the bread pieces in the baking dish and then in a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread pieces, being sure to make sure all the bread is coated.  You may need to use your fingers to turn over pieces of bread in the egg mixture or press it down until it is well coated.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator to soak overnight.  In the morning, lift the aluminium foil and sprinkle on the pecans and drizzle on some maple syrup.  Turn the oven on to 350 F and place the bread pudding into the oven with aluminum foil still on.  Let cook for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of your bread pudding.  When the timer goes off, remove the foil and let cook another 20-30 minutes until the bread is hot, puffy and golden brown.  Scoop onto plates and top with additional syrup and dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trefoil Raspberry Streusel Bars

It's almost time for my favorite time of the school year!  Girl Scout cookie season!!  It comes at the perfect time, far enough away from January that you don't feel too guilty for giving into those adorable little faces in their sharp little uniforms that will greet you at the exit of every major store in your community starting on the 28th.  In effort to help kick off the season, Girl Scouts of Western Washington is again hosting an annual recipe contest, and I have been selected as a finalist!  Be sure to head to their website and vote for me!  Tell your friends!

While of course Girl Scout cookies are delicious in their own right, they also can be turned into gloriously decadent treats.  I always have a leftover box or two of most of the flavors in my freezer year round but I especially love to keep some Trefoils on hand because they make the most delicious cookie crumb crusts for any dessert.  A personal favorite of mine is raspberry streusel bars.  I just love the combination of the smooth butter cookie and the sharp bright raspberries combined with almonds and brown sugar...seriously drool-worthy!!

The best part of this recipe, besides the Girl Scout cookies of course, is the simplicity of it and how easy it is to have your own little scout help in making them!  My daughter is in 2nd grade and I think she would almost be capable of making these herself!  They are as much fun to put together as to eat and they are often a favorite of mine if I have some extra raspberries and berry jam sitting around.

Place one whole sleeve and a quarter of the second one in a small food processor.

Ground to a fine crumb.

Add in 4 Tbsp. of butter, a couple at a time and combine completely.

When done, the mixture will resemble wet sand.

Pour this mixture into a square baking dish

and press evenly out to the corners.

Make sure it is completely flat and bake bottom crust for 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned.

While the bottom is baking, put the rest of the cookies into the food processor and run with 2 Tbsp. of butter until it is the same consistency.

Combine the remaining cookie crumbs with the oats,

almonds and 

brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add in the last 2 Tbsp. of butter and mix in with a fork, leaving some larger chunks for the streusel topping.

Combine the raspberry jam and raspberries in a separate bowl.

When you remove the bottom crust from the oven, 

spread the raspberry mixture evenly over the whole crust.

Top with the streusel topping

being careful to also distribute this evenly.

Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

Cut into 9-12 bars and enjoy!

Trefoil Raspberry Streusel Bars
makes 9-12 bars

1 box of Girl Scout Trefoils cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup sliced/chopped almonds
3/4-1 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Start by placing one and a quarter sleeves of the Trefoils cookies in a small food processor until ground to a fine crumb.  Add in 4 Tbsp. of the butter and mix until completely incorporated.  Pour the mixture out into a square baking pan and press until evenly spread over the bottom being sure to cover all the way to the corners of the pan.  Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.

While that is baking, place the remaining cookies into the small food processor and run until about the same consistency as before.  Pulse in 2 of the remaining Tbsp. of butter until mixed.  Place the cookie crumbs, the oats, brown sugar and almonds into a mixing bowl and stir until combined.  Add in the last two Tbsp. of butter and mix with a fork until combined, leaving some larger chunks for the streusel topping.  Combine the raspberry jam and raspberries in a separate bowl for the filling.

When the bottom crust is done baking, spread the raspberry filling in a nice even layer and then top with the streusel topping, being sure to spread it evenly and leave some chunks to help the topping stay.  Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly then cut into 9-12 squares and enjoy.