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 350 degrees F. 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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Tips for Baking with Kids

Its the holiday season and the good vibes are flowing. Family time is supposed to be magical, especially baking in the kitchen together. I really want this to be true, don’t you? Yet, often the magical memory- making feels lost under frustration and extra spills to clean up.

How can we make this fun for them and us? Well, I have some tricks for you that I’ve picked up while teaching Little Chefs.

The key to success? Planning ahead:

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Allow for extra time.

The extra “helping” hands are not the fastest way to bake, so pick a time to bake together when both you and your child have time to spare. Another option is to break the project into multiple days. Such as making the dough one day and baking and decorating another day.

Be choosy with the recipe.

Pick a familiar recipe. Your attention is on helping your child so it’s not a good time to try something new. Also, pick a recipe that both you and your child enjoy eating. Looking forward to the finished product is half the fun and can work as good motivation.

Do the prep work.

Get all the ingredients out and organized. Read through the recipe and have each ingredient matched up with the measuring spoon needed. Get bowls, whisks and spatulas, and any other tools out and ready to use.

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Enjoy the process.

Like most aspects of parenthood, baking with kids is a balancing act of letting go of perfection. Yes, the cookies may not be perfect and the floor will have more flour on it than when you started, but that wasn’t the point anyway. The more I cook with my kids, the more I enjoy it for what it is: time spent together.