Crunchy Olive Oil and Maple Granola

I have quite a few granola recipes on this site. This makes sense when I think about the fact that of everything I bake and cook I make granola the most frequently of all. I have been making some kind of granola every 2-3 weeks for probably at least 4-5 years now. I ALWYAS have granola in the pantry. To be honest, I can barely eat a meal without finished it with a bite (or two...or three...) of granola. It's my little sweet treat. Needless to say, I love granola!

I usually go in spurts; I'll find a good recipe and make it for months and months without trying something new. I get on a roll where I love what I'm eating and have no desire to stray from it. Well, this granola is my current favorite. Earlier this year, I can' even remember when, I was looking for a change. I found a recipe on Food52 for olive oil and maple granola. I took this recipe for inspiration and then completely changed it to suit me! It was a good base recipe to build off of to create my very own recipe, a recipe I've been absolutely loving! The finished product is super crunchy and deliciously sweet, but not so sweet as to make you feel like your eating dessert. It's just the right balance of sweet and savory, and an absolute joy to eat. Every. Single. Day. 

I cut back quite a bit on both the sugar and the fat from the original recipe because I like to keep things just a bit lighter. Not that the original recipe was super sugar-y or oily, but I just wanted to a bit less. I also cut back on the nuts (first, because they're expensive, second because they are super high in calories) and replaced them with more oats. I then added in some wheat bran (or you could use oat bran) for more nutrition, and coconut flakes instead of chips. The final product is my very own favorite, personalized granola. I highly recommend checking it out. And make some of your own adjustments. To fit your very own wants and and needs.

I recently took this recipe and made a few different variations of this recipe. One was mocha (with cocoa and espresso powder) and another was pumpkin spice (add in a bit of pumpkin and some of your favorite fall spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice). I also sometimes switch things up and add a bit of melted butter or coconut oil in place of some of the olive oil. All of these spin-offs have turned out great as well. Granola is so forgiving that it's a blast to experiment with!

 
 


Crunchy Olive Oil and Maple Granola
Inspired by Food 52
Ingredients

  • 4 cups (320 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (30grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (15 grams) wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup (75 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large bowl place the oats, coconut, salt, almonds, walnuts, bran and brown sugar. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and olive oil. Pour over the oat mixture, stirring well, until everything is evenly coated and no dry pockets remain. 

Pour the granola onto the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake the granola for 45-55 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and toasty. Towards the end of baking time check the granola more frequently to ensure that it is not over-browning. 

Remove from oven and let cool on the pan. When completely cool, transfer granola to an airtight container for storage. 

 

Brown Sugar Cranberry Oat Muffins

These brown sugar cranberry oat muffins have been on the breakfast menu this past week, and it's been a wonderful week. If you haven't already noticed, I eat a lot of muffins, and this recipe was a winner. The muffins are chewy, buttery and sweet, and the flavor of the brown sugar really shines through as a perfect foil for the tart cranberries. The oats make them hearty and delicious. It is a wonderful combination. The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is that the muffins baked up quite flat. I love muffins with beautifully domed muffin tops, and these definitely did not deliver on that front, but I can forgive them because they are so tasty. With so many yummy oats in the recipe, it's probably difficult to add a lot of lift to the batter. But regardless of what they look like, these muffins are a wonderful hearty breakfast, and a great way to start the day. 

The original recipe called for crème fraîche, but that is not something I usually keep in the fridge. It sounds absolutely wonderful in these muffins, but I just went with some plain Greek yogurt instead. Maybe the muffins would dome a little more if I used the crème fraîche? But who knows. The yogurt worked just fine though. You could probably also use sour cream for a little bit richer muffin. I also cut back a little on the sugar and they were plenty sweet. I find that in most muffin recipes I can cut back on the sugar a little without any real change in the final product. 

Finally, I made 16 muffins out of this recipe like it said to do, but they didn't end up being huge. I think you could definitely make 12 if you wanted with no problem. Just a little bit bigger would be nice. 

Brown Sugar Cranberry Oat Muffins

Adapted from 

Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cups (1.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (180 grams) rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup (5 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup (I used 2 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries, roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 16 standard muffin cups with paper liners, or butter or oil the cups.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, stir together the oats, yogurt, milk and butter until combined. Add the eggs, then the brown sugar, and stir until combined. Gently stir the flour mixture into the oat mixture. Fold in the cranberries.

Fill the prepared muffin cups to the rims (~65 grams per cup). Sprinkle some oats over the muffins if desired. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 21-23 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then unmold the muffins onto the rack and let cool slightly. 

Yields 16 muffins, approximately 191 calories each

Warm Brown Rice, Sweet Potato and Roasted Cabbage Salad with Tahini Yogurt Dressing

This is one of those meals that I wasn't really planning on being anything extra special or turning out as well as it did. That is one of the things I love so much about cooking, coming up with new combinations that surprise me with how good they are. Taking a couple of ingredients that I have never really put together and creating a whole new dish out of them that just works, at least for me anyways!

The other night I just happened to have a few leftovers and random ingredients hanging out in my fridge and thought I better use them up or freeze them before they went bad. I had a general idea about what I was going to do with them, but it sort of evolved as I went along and turned into this wonderfully warm and filling salad, perfect on a rainy and chilly spring night. Sweet and creamy baked sweet potato combined with chewy brown rice, and roasted cabbage, topped with pecans for nuttiness and some dried cranberries for sweetness. A quick dressing of tahini and yogurt finishes the whole thing off and brings it all together. 

I decided to use zaatar for flavoring this salad. I've really been liking zaatar recently. If you don't know what zaatar is, it is a really nice mixture of dried herbs (dried thyme mostly I think), sesame seeds and sumac that is used in the Middle East. If you haven't tried it before I highly recommend it. But this is not a recipe that is set in stone so if you don't have any zaatar go ahead and use something else, you're favorite herbs or spices, whatever you have on hand. I also thought this would be good with a Mexican twist, using chili powder and cumin and throwing in some fresh cilantro, yum! Switching out different dried fruits and different nuts would also be be fun to play with. Cooking is just a great way to let your imagination go wild, so go ahead and have some fun!

Warm Brown Rice, Sweet Potato and Roasted Cabbage Salad with Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients 

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (or 1-1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice)
  • 2 tablespoons Zaatar spice mix
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Plain yogurt
  • Tahini

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potato on a baking sheet and baked until tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato. Set aside until cool enough to handle. 

Thinly slice the cabbage. toss with a little olive oil and some salt. Place on a baking sheet and broil until starting to wilt and char, stirring occasionally to evenly cook. This can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how charred you like your cabbage, and how hot your oven gets. 

While cooking the potato and cabbage, sauté sliced onions in a pan over medium to low heat until very soft and tender. When onions are caramelized to your liking, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 

Cook the brown rice according to package instructions. Or even better, if you have some leftover rice use that in instead. Add the cabbage and brown rice to the onions and garlic mixture. 

Cut the cooled sweet potato into bite sized chunks. Add to the sauté pan along with the zaatar and cayenne. Give the whole thing a nice stir, adding some water to the pan if needed. Drizzle tahini over the whole mixture to taste and add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt. Stir again to combine well. Taste and season with salt if needed. 

Spoon salad into bowls and top with pecans and dried cranberries. 

Sour Cream Banana Bread

Sometimes that going back to the basics is just what I need. There's something amazingly comforting to me about a slice of good old banana bread, plain and unadulterated. My mom used to make it all the time growing up, and it was always a favorite. She never seemed to stick to the recipe and ended up adding way more bananas then it called for. This meant she always had to bake it for way longer than the recipe said, and even then it didn't seem to quite cook through. But that was okay with everyone, we all love the slightly gooey top part of undercooked banana bread, yum!

I had a little bit of sour cream left over a little while back and was looking around for some way to use it up. I can never let things like this go bad, it seems like such a waste, and it gives me an excuse to bake. What a problem, I HAD TO bake something! I found this banana bread and it was the perfect way to use up the little bit of sour cream I had left - only 1/4 cup needed. Other than this, the recipe is pretty basic; butter, flour, sugar, eggs. It turned out a simple, yet wonderful bread that used up my sour cream, as well as some of my super ripe bananas. Broiled in the oven until the edges are just crispy and then smeared with a little peanut butter, topped with some cinnamon sugar, breakfast is served, and it is oh so delicious. 

Like I said, nothing fancy about this bread, but this doesn't make it boring. If you're looking for something to jazz it up a bit you could try adding some nuts, or chocolate or even dried fruit, whatever you want. That's the best part of baking, taking a recipe and making it your own. I chose this recipe to use up some sour cream, but I have no doubt you could also replace the sour cream with some yogurt and it would be just as delicious, and a little bit more healthy! So whatever you want to do, just try it, it's worth it!

Sour Cream Banana Bread
Adapted from Fork vs Spoon
Ingredients

  • 2 cups All - Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1+ ½ cups of mashed bananas (about 2 to 3 large over ripe bananas)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extractα

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2inch loaf pan or line loaf pan with parchment paper. Set side.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine mashed bananas, sour cream, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir to combine.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and lightly combine, folding the wet into the dry. Continue to mix until everything is just combined, don't overmix. The batter will be thick and chunky. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Place loaf pan in preheated oven and let bake for 55 to 65 minutes until golden brown and tester comes out clean with few crumbs attached.

Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes before removing from pan and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Cobbler Bars

October is here, fall has officially begun, the weather is getting colder by the day, the trees are finally changing color, and I even pulled out my winter jacket to go to the farmers market yesterday morning! Fall recipes are everywhere, and pumpkin is the main topic on seemingly every food blog. Before I jump on the band wagon with some more fall-ish recipes, I have one more more summery bar that I just had to share. I saw these blueberry cobbler bars a few months ago, and knew I had to get them made while blueberries were still around. A sweet, buttery crust covered in a sour cream custard and tons of fresh blueberries, finished off with more buttery crumbles. It's a quick and easy recipe, full of freshness and reminiscent of summer. If you have any summer blueberries floating around your freezer that just want to be used, this is the perfect opportunity. 

With the butter crust and topping, and sour cream in the custard filling, these bars are quite rich so you don't need to cut them very big at all. But cut into cute little bite size squares these bars are a fun and delicious snack to bring you back to those mid July days full of fresh berries and fresh flavors. 

Blueberry Cobbler Bars

From 

Tidy Mom

Ingredients

Crust & Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, chilled

Filling

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8-oz fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

Directions

For crust/topping:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 or 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment & give a light spritz with cooking spray. Set aside. 

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and add to the flour mixture. Using a fork for pastry cutter, cut the butter in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture to use as the topping & set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of prepared pan, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

For filling:

Whisk the eggs in another medium bowl. Add the granulated and brown sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, and vanilla extracts. Whisk well. Gently fold in the berries and pour the mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the filling. Bake 45-55 minutes. Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting & serving

Blueberry Mango Parfait

Blueberry season is officially in full swing here in Michigan, and I'm loving it! They are so good, and so good for you, a great combo. I also like that they aren't too expensive, and they last for a while in the fridge. I love raspberries and blackberries but it seems like you have to eat them in a day or they start going bad. I bought some blueberries at the farmer's market on Saturday and they made it until Thursday, and still looked really good. I only had to pick out a few bad ones here and there over the week, but the majority lasted just fine, they probably would have made it a whole week if I hadn't eaten them before that. 

One of my favorite ways to have fresh fruit for breakfast is in a parfait. All it takes is a couple of different types of fruit, yogurt and granola. It is super easy and absolutely delicious. I almost feel like I'm eating dessert for breakfast, just how I like it! This week I picked up a couple of mangos at the grocery store and made a couple of blueberry mango parfaits. Let me tell you, it's a winning combination. The tartness of the blueberries mixed with the sweetness of the mango is a wonderful mix, and the colors are so beautiful too! I think everyone should try it out before blueberry season has ended, trust me, you won't regret it. 

I'm partial to my plain, homemade yogurt, but you can use whatever kind you like. Whatever brand you get, I strongly suggest trying out plain yogurt instead of the flavored. There is so much sugar in the flavored yogurts it's kind of ridiculous. It takes a little getting used to the plain yogurt, but if you mix it up with some fruit and granola you won't even miss the added sugar. And as a bonus, plain yogurt is good for so many different things, from salad dressings and sauces, to baked goods, it's a great thing to always have on hand. If you need a little sweetness, add your own sugar, it will still be way less than what is added to the kind from the store. 

I'm also partial to homemade granola. It is so easy and cheap to make, and it tastes so much better than store bought. There are so many recipes out there, you are sure to find one that you like. I'll be sharing my current favorite recipe soon, so stay tuned! 

Blueberry Mango Parfait

Ingredients

A handful of blueberries

1/2 a mango, cut into bite-sized chunks

1/3-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

A handful of granola

Directions

Grab a tall glass and starting with a little yogurt start layering; yogurt, granola, fruit. Repeat until you've used it all up. Top with an extra sprinkle of granola. Grab a long spoon and dig in!

Peach and Blueberry Parfaits

Simple pleasures:

            -Finding a new bakery to love

            -A sandy beach and a good book

            -Warm fires and cool nights

            -Sunsets and ice cream

            -Heirloom tomatoes

            -Peaches and blueberries

            -Homemade yogurt and homemade granola

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my week.

To me, simple is best. Breakfast really can't get any better than this. So fresh, so sweet, so delicious. August is being very good to me this year, I'll be sad when it ends. But until it does, another parfait please!

Parfaits are really so simple to make, and yet look elegant and classy, especially in a fun glass! No recipe required. All you need is some yogurt, granola and fruit, whatever's in season. Start layering; yogurt, fruit, granola, repeat until you reach the top. Nothing else to it!

Bakery Style Muffins

When it comes to muffins, there are just muffins, and then there are real muffins. I'm sure you know what I mean, some muffins are short, flat and to be honest, rather ugly, not that this means they don't taste good, but let's be honest, it's more fun to eat something beautiful. Then there are the real deal; tall and handsome muffins with those perfectly domed tops, slightly crispy edges and a dense yet tender crumb that will never be confused with a cupcake. This is the kind of muffin I pine after. It's surprising how difficult it can be to find a recipe for this type of muffin, however, I think I've finally done it. These muffins were gorgeous and delicious, true muffins with the perfectly rounded top, exactly what I've been looking for.

What's interesting about this batter is that it doesn't use any milk or other liquid. The dairy is all yogurt, and a lot of it. This makes the batter super thick, almost like pancake batter, and helps create that beautiful mushroom top that doesn't overflow the muffin tins or flatten out too much. For this go around I made half of the mushrooms just plain, so I could really taste the muffin as is. For the other half, I tried swirling in some homemade strawberry rhubarb jam for a little added sweetness. I topped both with some coarse sugar for a little extra crunch.

The results were simply marvelous. The plain muffins were very nice, simple, slightly sweet and perfect as a basic muffin. The jam swirled version was also quite wonderful, a little extra sweet and sticky, the jam brought the muffin up just a notch. I would definitely do it again. Since the batter was so thick and my jam was really thick, it was difficult to actually swirl in the jam,  it mostly just stayed as a blob, but that was okay, it turned out really well in the end. This recipe comes with several delicious looking variations that I hope to share with you all soon.

Bakery Style Muffins
From Food.com, originally from America's Test Kitchen
Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

Directions
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375 F (or 450 F for mini muffins). Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternating 1/3 at a time, beat in the dry ingredients and yogurt until a smooth, thick batter just forms.

Spray 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or coat lightly with butter. Scoop batter evenly into cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes for the large muffins (and 10-12 minutes for the mini muffins). Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve warm.