Simple Granola

I’m not great with change and these last couple weeks brought enough new and different to last the whole year. In an effort to cope, I turn to familiar recipes. Foods that drown out the smell of disinfectant and fill the house with the comforting aromas of cinnamon and coconut. Recipes eaten all week long. At the top of the list is this simple homemade granola. It uses pantry ingredients and takes only the slightest effort.

While working at the Greenbean (God rest its soul) I made granola weekly. Having a soft spot for the rustic breakfast, I always looked forward to the task. The first time I made it, I was surprised to see dried quinoa as an ingredient. I’ve been hooked ever since. The quinoa adds such a nice little nutty crunch and a good bit of nutrition as well. I’ve made all sorts of granola recipes over the years, but have landed on this simple one. My family took to it once I started leaving out the dried fruit, which is fine with me.

We each have our own preferred method for eating granola. Mike adds milk, JP eats it plain or with vanilla yogurt, Kai likes it with plain yogurt and honey swirled together for a snack. I usually add sliced fresh berries or sliced bananas, along with plain yogurt for breakfast.

Ready to add it to your repertoire? I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Simple Granola

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped, raw nuts (prefer walnuts, pecans or almonds)
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons oil (grapeseed or olive oil)

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, nuts, seeds, quinoa, salt and cinnamon. Combine maple syrup and oil in a glass measuring cup and pour over oat mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix well.

Dump on to a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Roast for 30 minutes. Take out of oven and stir gently, moving the golden edges to the center and the center to the edges. Rotate pan and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Check granola and remove from the oven when the pan is uniformly golden brown and dry to the touch. Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container. Store on the shelf for a couple weeks.

Simple Mini Frittatas

I grew up liking eggs in all its forms: fried, scrambled or hard boiled. I like quiches, omelets, egg salads and deviled eggs. Doesn’t everyone? Apparently not. Neither my husband nor children liked eggs enough to actually eat them. Yet, recently eggs have become a regular feature of our weekend breakfast routine. How did this miracle occur? I wish I could take the credit (ok, I’ll take a little credit) but mostly it’s thanks to the kind people at Hilton.

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A couple times a year we pack our bags and leave our little enclave in PNW. More often than not, we stay at a hotel. For some reason the “no eggs” policy went by the wayside as we hustled down to the hotel breakfast buffet. Maybe it was the close proximity to the bacon and pancakes, but whatever the reason, eggs became one of those dependable foods that could be counted on no matter which city we were in. We ate breakfast egg and cheese sandwiches in NYC, mini omelets in LA and we shoveled down softly scrambled eggs in Paris. It seems that they can’t get enough home or away. Eggs are requested all.the.time.

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Now back home when the breakfast buffet isn’t an option. What to do? My solution? These mini frittatas. I honestly don’t quite remember where I found the beginnings of this recipe on the World Wide Web but I think the original version had more veggies and perhaps bacon. Through pure laziness, empty produce drawers and a need for these to resemble the simple egg dishes we’ve eaten over the years, I simplified.

I’ve also found that these mini frittatas freeze incredibly well. Just cool completely before placing in the freezer. Microwave for 30-45 seconds to rewarm. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Quick Cheesy Mini Frittatas

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions:

Liberally spray a regular sized muffin pan with cooking spray. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, cheese, and green onions until well combined.

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Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until the eggs are puffed and firm on the top. Let cool slightly (the frittatas will deflate) and take a small spatula to remove them from the muffin tin.

Serve or let cool completely and store in an air tight container for up to 3 days. Reheat for 20 seconds in a microwave.

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Spiced Applesauce

Raise your hand if you delighted in watching September walk out the door and October walk in. The tenth month is one of my utmost favorites of the year! Tart, crunchy apples piled high.  “New Crop” and “Local” signs calling my name at each turn. I like apples every which way. I eat them in my oatmeal for breakfast or spread with peanut butter for a snack. Last night’s dinner was a rendition of this sheet pan concoction that included bratwurst, brussel sprouts, potatoes and apples. My post dinner treat? Crisp, fresh apple cider served piping hot. Yet, one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy the season is by making applesauce. The apple chunks simmer just long enough to relax into a softer, slightly sweeter version of themselves. Adding a few spices to the pot round out the flavors and remind us that this applesauce is something all together different than the runny, bland variety.

Another reason I love October? My husband and I commemorate another year married. We gave up exchanging gifts or cards years ago but still take ourselves out for some delicious food and drinks. A quick search online informs me that the traditional gift to celebrate 18 years is porcelain. Surprisingly, toilets were NOT on any gift suggestion lists. Ha!

Also, I’m happy to say that my preschool cooking class is up and going again now that fall has begun. Last week we made this spiced applesauce in class. I know that applesauce doesn’t really need a “recipe”. The whole process in its simplest form is:

  1. Cut apples
  2. Add water
  3. Add seasoning
  4. Cook on medium until tender
  5. Mash

Yet, if I walked up to my 12 year old and gave him those directions – he would look at me with the most bewildered of expressions and (understandably) have a million questions. Though making applesauce is quite simple, if you want a walk through – I’m your girl.

Ready to get started?

Spiced Applesauce

Using fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick and star anise, this applesauce is lightly spiced and reminiscent of chai seasoning. Three pounds of apples creates a hearty 3-4 cups of applesauce. We ate it for most of a week. I like to check the bulk section for cinnamon sticks and star anise. This enables me to purchase exactly the amount needed and have the freshest products at a much lower price. Score!

Supplies:

Colander, cutting board, vegetable peeler, knife, bowl for compost, medium-sized stock pot (mine is 4 quarts), large spoon for stirring(I used a wooden one), liquid measuring cup, tablespoon, slotted spoon, medium bowl, potato masher

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds apples (I prefer honeycrisp)
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Steps:

Start with washing hands. Safe food handling is really important.

Prepare Apples:

  1. Put apples in a colander.
  2. Put the colander in a sink and run cold water over the apples to rinse off dirt.
  3. Transfer apples to cutting board.

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Cut & Peel Apples:

  1. Hold the apple firmly in one hand and the peeler in the other.
  2. Work the peeler around the apple, being sure to keep fingers out of harms way. I like to leave a little peel on each apple to add to the pretty color and chunky texture of the finished product.
  3. Set peeled apple on the cutting board and de-core by slicing the apple into quarters, leaving behind the stem and seeds.
  4. Chop each apple section into quarters.
  5. Put apple pieces into pot.
  6. Dispose of peels and core

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Prepare Ginger & Add Spices

  1. Cut a 2 inch knob off a large piece of ginger. The ginger should be firm and cream colored on the inside (not greenish).
  2. Slice the skin off with either the peeler or knife.
  3. Add ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise and kosher salt to the pot with apples.

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Add Water & Sugar

  1. Using a liquid measuring cup, fill with 1 1/2 cups of water. The most accurate way to measure liquids is to set the measuring cup on the counter and then crouch down to view it at eye level.
  2. Pour water into the pot
  3. Scoop three tablespoons of sugar into the pot with the apples, spices and water.
  4. Stir to combine.

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Bring to a Simmer & Cook

  1. Turn the burner onto medium and bring the mixture to a simmer. The liquid won’t cover the apples and that is ok.
  2. Once the liquid is bubbling, stir occasionally so that the apples at the top move to the bottom for even cooking.
  3. As the apples cook, they will turn opaque and soften. Keep going until it mushes easily with a fork; 15-20 minutes.IMG_1507

Strain & Mash

  1. Transfer apples using a slotted spoon, to a small mixing bowl. The one pictured is an XXL cereal bowl. Make sure that the ginger, cinnamon stick and star anise are removed and discarded. Keep liquid leftover from straining.
  2. Let cool for 5 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash into chunky applesauce.
  3. Taste! Add back in leftover apple liquid for a stronger spiced flavor or thinner consistency. I added a 1/4 cup liquid back into my applesauce, but there is no wrong answer here. IMG_1509

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Serve

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  1. Lots of options here! Spoon into ramekins and serve warm or cover and transfer to the refrigerator and serve cold. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 10 days.