Oh, man! I wish you could smell my kitchen right now. It smells like heaven!
Surprising enough, for someone who loves baking and most sweet things, I’ve never tested my hand at making granola. But the other day, I was sitting around with some friends and a bottle of wine (or two) and the subject of breakfast came up. (They all like to eat as much as me, so it’s obvious we get along). Two of them said that their go-to breakfasts involved yogurt, and one of them said she couldn’t imagine breakfast without her mom’s homemade granola. I’m more of an eggs and toast person myself, but the more that they talked about homemade granola, I knew I just had to try it.
Since I’m in love with this time of year, I decided to make a granola that matched the season. All the ingredients I used I had on hand, meaning that you know I’ll be making this one again.
There’s something wonderful about the aroma when you pinch off a few fresh leaves of the herb of your choice. I personally think it makes any meal better. But since I didn’t inherit my Dad’s green thumb (every plant I have tried to take care of has died), I usually buy my herbs from the store.
The problem with store-bought herbs is that I usually don’t use the whole bushel before they go bad … that is until I discovered compound butter. It’s super simple to make — especially with the herb scissors my brother recently gifted me (found here on Amazon) — and easy to store in the fridge until the cooking fancy strikes. And, since I love the cilantro-lime combination, I decided to play with those flavors here.
I realize that this is just one of many ways to use up your herbs. In fact, I’ve been wanting to try herbed ice cubes like our friends did over at the Halfsies blog, but haven’t got around to it yet. How do you use your leftover herbs?
Cilantro-Lime Compound Butter
4 Tbsp Butter, softened
1/2 Tsp Lime Zest
1/2 a Lime. juiced
Cilantro (to taste)
Rinse, dry and finely mince cilantro. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients until fully mixed. On a piece of wax paper, mold butter into a brick and tightly wrap. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until hard. Use to season your meals.
Peanut butter has been a staple in my diet as long as I can remember. Do you have certain foods that trigger memories? For me peanut butter never ceases to remind me of summer camp. My friend Jennie was perhaps even more obsessed with peanut butter than I was; she was deprived for most of the year living in Dubai and France where peanut butter isn’t really “a thing.” Summer in California was therefore the time to stock-up. One summer we stayed for several “sessions” at camp, and the night between sessions all of the staff had off, so we were pretty much left unsupervised. Jennie and I would sneak into the kitchen and steal a big jar of peanut butter, and host peanut butter parties amongst the redwoods. Oh the life.
Flash forward almost ten years (wow, are we really that old?), and Jennie is a nut butter aficionado. The last time I saw her I think she brought me a lemon-lavender cashew butter, and it was spectacular. In the past couple of years I’ve started making my own nut butters as well (although not usually as fancy as Jennie’s concoctions), and I always have a fresh jar of homemade peanut butter in the fridge. With a good food processor, nut butters are super easy to make, and infinitely healthier than store-bought which add tons of sugar and oils. There’s really no reason not to make your own once you learn how easy it is.
Despite being great on a piece of toast, peanut butter is a great post-workout protein boost. I eat it with bananas or throw a spoonful into a green smoothie. It’s also a great addition to an acai bowl, or great for baking. Whatever you use it for, I promise you’ll be hooked on homemade after the first batch.
Homemade Peanut Butter
2 Cups Shelled Peanuts, unsalted
2 Tbsp Honey
A Pinch of Salt
Optional: 1-2 Tsp Peanut Oil
Place peanuts in a food processor and blend until smooth. Note that this may take up to 5-7 whole minutes. Add honey and salt into the food processor until combined. Add the optional peanut oil for a smoother, silkier butter.
Greetings from snowy New York! I’m currently caught in my first real blizzard, and instead of running around the city grabbing supplies and food like other New Yorkers, I’m sitting calmly by my large window mesmerized by the snow falling down. I’m not sure what the normal protocols are for this kind of weather, but I’m certainly not doing what I am supposed to. I did, however, just throw a batch of my favorite granola in the oven to have something to munch on while I watch the snow. And granola will be the perfect snack if we lose power, right??
My roommates are well-aware of my insane granola addiction. I’ve pretty much been making a batch weekly, trying various combinations and eating it any time of day, including occasionally for dinner when I’m being extremely lazy. I think this recipe remains my favorite, with its strong vanilla and cinnamon flavors. It’s not overbearingly sweet, but just enough to get you hooked. To be completely honest I usually make it with dried cherries instead of cranberries, but given the weather I’m not about to venture outside just for dried cherries! Cranberries will have to do since that’s what I had in my pantry :).
Stay warm everyone on the East Coast, and good luck weathering the storm!
Cranberry Vanilla Granola
2 Heaping cups oats
1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
Pinch of salt
1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except for the cranberries or other dried fruit. Place evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring granola every 15 minutes.
I’m not really sure when I first tasted Nutella — probably during college at Hailey’s recommendation — but I know that at just one bite I was hooked. I’ll find just about any excuse to eat it. On toast? Yep. As a frosting substitute? Sure. By the spoonful(s)? Of course. I just love the stuff. Seeing as I’ll probably try to talk myself into eating it by the jar, I usually stay away from the Nutella aisle in the grocery store. (When you have a sweet tooth as big as mine, you need to take these extra precautions).
A little less than a year ago, I decided to remedy this situation by creating my very own chocolate-hazelnut spread. Not only is my take on this spread free of the extra sugars and oils and packed with protein, it is incredibly simple to make. I hope you like this delicious, nutritious, guilt-free take on chocolate-hazelnut spread.
2 Cups Hazelnuts, raw
1 Cup Organic Milk (we used whole milk as it was on hand, but any milk should do)
2-3 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the raw hazelnuts in a medium-sized baking pan, making sure the nuts are spaced evenly. Bake the nuts for around 10-15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so to ensure you don’t burn the hazelnuts. Baking the nuts helps remove the skin more easily and, in my opinion, enhances the nutty flavor. When your kitchen starts to fill with a wonderful hazelnut aroma, take the nuts out of the oven and cool completely. Once cool, place the cooked hazelnuts in between two paper towels and roll against a hard surface to remove the hazelnut skins. This works best one handful at a time. Once you are finished de-shelling your nuts, blend them in a high duty blender with milk until smooth consistency is reached. Place in a bowl and whisk together (we used a stand mixer) with cocoa powder and sugar. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed jar or eat immediately!
*Note: You do not have to remove all of the husk from the cooked hazelnuts, only that which comes off easily.
**Note: Depending on your blender’s capacity, your chocolate-hazelnut spread might come out a little gritty. Personally, I like it, as it reminds me of a chunky peanut butter consistency.
Check back soon for Hailey’s Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart.