Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homemade Granola 101

A couple of weeks ago, I bought an expensive bag of granola at the farmers market. It was $8 a pound - yes, I am insane for paying $8 for a bag of granola. I thought I could make it last by just sprinkling a handful on top of my regular cereal or yogurt. My husband, however, had other ideas. I think he used half of the bag in his first bowl of cereal. I almost fell down with shock when I realized how quick that bag of granola was going to last us.

I made granola years and years ago, I knew I could make granola cheaper than $8 a pound. I went out and bought a few ingredients to whip up a huge batch. I spent about $4 in the bulk foods section of the grocery.
This granola recipe is easy, healthy and delicious. It makes about 8 cups of granola and it will keep nicely in a sealed container for a couple of weeks.


3.5 cups of old fashioned oats - do not use quick cooking oats!
1 C whole almonds
1/2 C wheat germ
1 C unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 C of pumpkin seeds or flax seeds (I used pumpkin seeds)
1 C dried fruit (I used 1/2 C dried cranberries and 1/2 C dried, chopped apricots)
1 T cinnamon
1 T vanilla
1 t salt
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 C honey
2 T maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients. Stirring to coat well.
Pour onto the baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Watch this closely because the nuts will burn.

Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Serve with milk or yogurt, or by itself as a snack.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Millie's Yeast Rolls

I have been eating these rolls for years. My mom has been making these for as long as I can remember. Be it a major holiday (Easter, July 4th, Christmas, etc.) or an exceptionally cold day on the farm, my mom would whip up a batch of rolls. These are especially good straight out of the oven when the yeasty, warm, steamy roll is really fresh. Also good the next day with a bit of butter, jam and a cup of tea. Because there are no preservatives (yah!), the rolls only stay fresh about 48 hours, but don't worry they won't last that long.
The great thing about these rolls is that they are fool proof - no kneading required. You only need to allow for the time to let the dough rise, that is all. I most recently made these on Thanksgiving Day. I tend to make them on major holidays or just because. They are also good with a ham or brisket.
This recipe yields a dozen good sized rolls.

Millie's Yeast Rolls

1 C. milk
1/4 C. shortening (use Crisco)
1/4 C. sugar
1 egg
1 packet of yeast (I use instant rise)
1/4 C. warm water
3 - 4 C bread flour - do not use all purpose flour, use bread flour
3 T. butter
1 t salt

In a large mixing bowl, place the sugar, shortening and salt. Warm up the milk in the microwave and pour into the mixing bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast packet over 1/4 C warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let sit for a couple of minutes, you should see the yeast start to react and bubble a little bit, might start to look gluey.
*Make sure the milk mixture has cooled down. Then add the yeast mixture, 1/2 C bread flour and the egg.

Beat until smooth. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough (less is best, use about 3 - 4 C flour or less). You want the dough to barely be moving off the sides of the bowl when you stir it. Don't overwork the dough or beat it too long.

It should look spongy but not too stiff.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel and place the bowl in a warmish spot and let rise for at least 1 hour or until the dough doubles in bulk.
Picture above is of the dough after the first rise. It should double in size.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan or two pie plates with nonstick spray. Flour your hands and punch the dough down. Using floured hands and a large spoon, divide the dough into 12 rounds. Place each roll onto the greased pan. Cover the pan with more plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let the rolls do a second rise for about 45 minutes.
Dough after the second rise.

Preheat oven to 400. Melt about 3 T butter, drizzle over the rolls and then bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 - 15 minutes. Tops should be golden brown.

Serve hot from the oven with plenty of butter and some good jam. Heaven!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beef Vegetable Soup

When I was growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere Ohio, beef vegetable soup was a staple in the winter. I ate bowls and bowls of this stuff over the years. I make it the same way my mom makes it, my grandma before her and my great grandma. This was the first recipe I made when I was a poor college student. I would splurge when chuck roast was on sale and make a pot of soup and eat it all week.

This is true comfort food. I have a few standard ingredients I always put in the soup, but the rest of the stuff is just what I have on hand. I clean out the vegetable bin in the fridge and add whatever I think will taste good.

The soup starts out the day before as a pot roast in the crock pot. I usually cook a 3-4 lb chuck roast in the crock pot with carrots, celery, onions, garlic and a can of beef stock. We have roast for dinner and I use the leftovers for soup. Even if I a not going to make the soup right away, I freeze the leftover roast, including pan drippings and cooked vegetables for soup making later.

The soup pairs well with crusty bread or homemade yeast rolls. It is even better the day after you make it, as most soup is.

Beef Vegetable Soup

1 - 2 lb cooked roast and any veggies (from leftover pot roast), chopped into smallish chunks
about 32 oz beef broth, either homemade or store bought
14 oz can stewed tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
3 celery stalks, chopped
bag of frozen soup vegetables (I buy the soup medley mix)
small head of cabbage, chopped
small white onion, diced
1 bay leaf
pinch of Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence
salt/pepper to taste
any other misc veggies you want to add
(broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, etc, I clean out the vegetable bin and add what I want to use up)

In a large stock pot, place the meat, all of the vegetables, the stewed tomatoes, bay leaf, spice, salt & pepper, beef broth and enough water to just cover the vegetables.

Heat the pan to boiling and then turn the heat down to low. Cover and let simmer on low heat for about 2 hours.
Don't worry about the soup pot looking crowded with too many veggies, they will put off liquid as they cook and shrink down. Season to taste and serve. Makes excellent leftovers and can be frozen for future use.This recipe makes a generous amount of soup. At least enough for 8 -10 servings. Freezes well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

White Chocolate, Cranberry & Ginger Cookies

I have had cookies on my mind all day. I started thinking about what kind of cookie I was gonna make at 10:30 this morning. I was leaning towards chocolate chip but I'm making a Kentucky Derby pie tomorrow for a pie off, and I'll get my chocolate fix then. I decided to be reasonable and make recipe from Eating Well. I first made these cookies when I was big into Weight Watchers last year, no pun intended. These cookies don't taste like a healthy cookie, but since you are not using butter, they are relatively low in fat and calories.

These are excellent with a cup of tea or still warm with a glass of milk. The crystallized ginger gives the cookies a nice little spicy bite. The recipe makes 2 dozen small cookies. I made my cookies a bit larger and got 14 good sized cookies out of the recipe.

White Chocolate, Cranberry & Ginger Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned (not instant)
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli white chocolate chips)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crystallized ginger

Preheat to 375°F.
Whisk flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger in a small bowl.

Whisk egg, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir to combine.

Add oats, white chocolate, cranberries and crystallized ginger; stir just to combine.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden around the edges, about 11 - 12 minutes. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Souped Up Tiny Apple Crisp

This is an easy dessert to throw together after work. It can serve one person very generously or two people. I had some leftover Kraft caramels and I got creative on the topping.

If you have one apple and a few ingredients, you could enjoy this warm from the oven with minimal work. I usually don't even measure the ingredients, just eyeball what I need and throw it together.

Apple Crisp

1 large green apple, peeled and chopped fine
3 T butter melted
1/4 C flour
1/4 C oatmeal
1/4 C chopped walnuts
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg

10 Kraft caramels
1 t half and half

Preheat oven to 375
Spray a small baking dish with nonstick spray.

Peel the apple, chop it into small little bits and put in the bottom of your baking dish. Melt the butter and mix the flour, oatmeal, walnuts, spices and salt in. The topping mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle all over the apples.

Caramel topping (optional): Unwrap the Kraft caramels and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Add the half and half and microwave until melted, about 45 seconds or so. Stir well and pour over the top of the apple crisp.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before serving it with a big scoop of vanilla.

Makes 2 servings or 1 gigantic serving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bacon & Asparagus Quiche

I usually make a nice breakfast on Sunday. Whenever I ask Mike what he would like for breakfast, he always says bacon and eggs. Under no circumstances would Mike ever agree to eat anything containing spinach, zucchini or asparagus. So the first time I made this I had to get up early and get it in the oven before he had time to object. I've been making this for a few years now, so I don't have to sneak it into the oven anymore. He even eats seconds.

Quiche is really easy, you can use virtually any ingredient in it and it will turn out fine. Serve it with fruit for breakfast or some lightly tossed greens for lunch. Also, leftovers reheat beautifully.

Bacon & Asparagus Quiche

10 asparagus stalks, trimmed, chopped into bite sized pieces and steamed tender crisp
5 bacon slices, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 unbaked pie crust (I just use a frozen Pet Ritz pie shell)
3 eggs
3/4 C. half and half (I use FF half and half)
1 C shredded Swiss cheese
salt and pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook bacon, crumble and set aside.
Steam the asparagus until tender crisp. I steam it in the microwave - takes about 3 minutes. Drain and set the asparagus aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg until well combined.

Into the pie shell sprinkle the bacon and asparagus. Add half of the cheese. Pour on the egg mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes until the top looks a little puffy and golden. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.