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Sunday
Jul032011

Mom's nutty granola

This is Week #26 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I talk to my husband about almost everything I make in the kitchen. "Guess what?! I'm making fruity ice cubes tonight!" He doesn't make me feel weird for being an obsessed foodie. Ok, sometimes he makes fun of my incessant cookbook-perusing, but it's all in good fun. A few days ago I made this granola recipe and I hadn't had a chance to tell him about it. The following morning he saw it on the counter and ate a big helping. It was cute how pleasantly surprised he was about finding it. I will admit that I'm not the hugest granola eater myself, but this stuff is good. Really really good. It is packed with flavor and nuts. I have many ideas for it in the very near future.

My first idea was to put it into a fruit parfait, which I will write more about in another post. My husband ate it as cereal. And we have also been snacking on it.

It is super easy to throw together.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss together:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds

1/2 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds (I used walnuts in place of these)

1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup wheat germ

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 tablespoon of hot water.

Whisk in:

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Stir the liquid into the nuts and coat thoroughly. Spread the mixutre onto a large, rimmed baking sheet.

Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until it is nearly dry. Turn off the oven and prop the door open halfway. Let the granola cool in the oven, stirring often.

Toss the granola with:

1/2 cup raisins

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Thursday
Jun302011

Grilled vegetable salad

I saw this recipe in my new Cooking Light: Way to Cook cookbook (thanks, hubby!) and knew that I had to make it pronto. Sometimes I wonder if I was wired incorrectly because the way I feel about veggies is the way most people feel about chocolate. I always wished Willy Wonka's chocolate factory was instead a vegetable factory filled with broccoli trees, green bean grass, mushroom benches and carrot juice rivers. Aaahhhh, heaven!

I basically enjoyed this entire salad by myself because my husband won't touch anything that has mushrooms in it. His loss! Those mushroom benches wouldn't last long with me in the room.

 

Light your grill and turn the heat to medium.

Prepare the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Set aside.

 

Prepare the salad. Coat the following ingredients with cooking spray:

8 ounces asparagus, trimmed

2 (4-inch) Portobello mushroom caps

1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded

Place the veggies on the grill (also coated with cooking spray) and grill for 4 minutes on each side or until slightly blackened.

Remove the vegetables from the grill and let cool. Cut veggies into 1-inch pieces.

Add the vegetables to the bowl with the vinaigrette, along with:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Toss gently to coat and sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese.

Feel free to replace or add veggies based on what is fresh and available. I also had the thought that this salad would be delicious when tossed together with pasta. Too bad I had that thought after it was all in my belly. Next time!

 Click here for a printable recipe!

Saturday
Jun252011

Strawberry chicken salad

 

I was on strict bed rest for the last four months of my pregnancy with Sammy, which ended just over a year ago. Here are some things that remind me of that particular period of time: lots of staring at the walls, watching Mystic Pizza or Can't Buy Me Love on tv when my contractions got out of control and I had to lie on my left side, the many many books I read, eating hummus, eating ridiculous amounts of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, the dinners my wonderful husband served me every night because sitting at the table was often too much activity for me to handle, and...the delicious strawberry chicken salad that I made myself for lunch almost every single day.

It was one of the only trips off the couch that I allowed myself. And it was always worth it. I fell head over heels in love with this salad. I still adore it, even though it reminds me of having my butt glued to the couch for months on end.

I have only ever made this recipe as a single serving, and here is what I do..

Put as much green leafy lettuce (use a variety of different kinds, or just romaine) as you want onto a big plate.

Top the lettuce with:

10 strawberries, hulled and halved

4 oz. grilled or baked chicken breast, cut into strips

1 tomato, cut into chunks

Toss everything together.

Sometimes I throw a handful of feta cheese over the top, if I'm feeling crazy.

My two favorite dressings to top this salad with are Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette and Newman's Own Lighten Up Sun-Dried Tomato. Both are DELICIOUS and both are very low in calories.

And when you are finished with the salad, don't do anything silly like eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I would ever know about such gluttony.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Thursday
Jun232011

Grilled corn with mango-habanero butter

This is Week #25 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

The weather in Minnesota is always unpredictable, but we have had an extra dose of unpredictability this year. One day it feels like we live in Florida, the next we are in Alaska and the next Seattle. If you like variety, we're your place! Yesterday was a Seattle day, but I refused to let that keep me from lighting up the grill.

This grilled corn turned out absolutely delicious despite the weather. And the mango-habanero butter I slathered all over it? Oh my dear goodness was it good.

 

Start out by making the butter.

In a small saucepan, combine:

1 mango, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup mango nectar (or mango juice)

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 habanero chile, seeded (I used 2 habaneros and it was spicy, but not over-the-top)

Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the mango is very soft, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Strain the mango puree into a small bowl and let cool, about 30 minutes.

Wipe out the food processor. Add the cooled mango puree along with:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons packed cilantro leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Puree until smooth.

Scrape the mango butter into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Pull the husks from 8 ears of corn down to the base of the stalks, leaving the husks attached. Discard the corn silk.

Using butcher string, tie back the husks. Fill a large bowl with cold salted water and submerge the ears of corn for about 10 minutes.

Drain the corn but don't pat it dry. Grill the corn over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until tender and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Transfer the corn to plates, spread with the mango-habanero butter and serve!

My husband and I each devoured 2 ears of mango-buttered corn within minutes of removing them from the grill.

We are thoroughly enjoying the butter, even today. It adorned our toast this morning, and I plan to put it on a sandwich in just a bit. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn with Mango-Habañero Butter

Possibly my favorite way to enjoy an ear of corn. This butter is DELICIOUS! (Source: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010)

Serves: 8

Total time: 1 hr, 45 min

Grilled Corn with Mango-Habañero Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mango nectar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 habanero chile, seeded
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ears of corn
Instructions:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the chopped mango with the mango nectar, honey and habanero chile. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the mango is very soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Strain the mango puree into a small bowl and let cool, about 30 minutes.
  2. Wipe out the food processor. Add the cooled mango puree along with the butter, chopped cilantro and salt and puree until smooth. Scrape the mango butter into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Pull the corn husks down to the base of the stalks, leaving the husks attached. Discard the corn silk. Using butcher string, tie back the husks. Fill a large bowl with cold salted water and submerge the ears of corn for about 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the corn but don’t pat dry. Grill the corn over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until tender and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Transfer the corn to plates, spread with the mango-habañero butter and serve.

 

 

Sunday
Jun192011

Fruit cubes

First, I would like to thank you all for the sweet well wishes and prayers for my brave boy. His surgery was a complete success! We could not have asked for a better outcome. Here is a photo of him, ONE WEEK AFTER OPEN HEART SURGERY. Freakin' amazing, if you ask me. I'm so proud of this kid.

This same brave boy has always had textural issues with food. He has gotten much better about trying new things, but he still will not put a strawberry or blueberry (or any fruit, for that matter) into his mouth. I have always been a bit bummed about this because the kid is missing out! I love fruit. I always have. It is one of the many reasons why I love summertime.

So I love that my one-year-old adores fruit as much as I do. He could eat a tray full of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries at every meal. And oranges, bananas, pears...you get what I'm saying.

We have plentiful amounts of berries in our fridge these days. I always figure our chubby Sammy will certainly eat them. I peeked in the fridge yesterday morning and saw an overabundance of berries. I wasn't certain that Sam could eat that many, so my creative juices started flowing.

I squished blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into the squares of an ice cube tray. I filled in the gaps with water and stuck the tray in the freezer.

Once they were sufficiently frozen, I plopped a few of them into a glass of water. They were so pretty! And they added such a nice fruity flavor to my cold, refreshing drink. Once my water was gone and the cubes had started to melt, I popped the berries into my mouth and enjoyed a few slightly crunchy yet delicious pieces of fruit.

This would work great with any type of fruit. Oranges, pears, pineapple, apples, lemons. Get creative! It's summer! And warm!

Isn't summer wonderful?

Fruit Cubes

Spruce up a pitcher of water without adding a ton of calories or sugar!

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Jun 19, 2011

Serves: 6

Total time: 5 min, plus 1 hour freezing time

Fruit Cubes

Ingredients:

  • Handful of blackberries, rinsed
  • Handful of blueberries, rinsed
  • 4-5 large strawberries, hulled, sliced and rinsed
  • Handful of raspberries, rinsed
Instructions:
  1. Place the fruit into an empty ice cube tray (use two trays, if needed). Pour water over the tops of the fruit and freeze for a minimum of 1 hour.
  2. Add the fruit cubes to a glass or pitcher of water, with additional fruit, if desired.