Thursday, January 26, 2012

Coconut Almond Granola

I have a hard time with snack foods. I don't want crackers, I want a steak or some leftover chicken noodle soup or pasta. Usually I reach for something a little more hearty than a handful of granola, but this is special granola. It has coconut and almonds, two of my favorite things. Add in some cinnamon (which you do!) and you've got yourself a yummy treat!

This recipe called for chia seeds, which I was all for using, but chia seeds are expensive! The brand is Bob's Red Mill and you can find them in the whole foods aisle. I didn't know if I would like the recipe, since I've never made granola before, so I didn't buy the seeds. A single batch of granola only calls for 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, which means a bag would last a long time. I might go buy the seeds for next time, since I'm sure I'll be making this recipe again and again. It's delicious, especially on Greek yogurt or even ice cream!

Coconut Almond Granola
*Adapted from The Vintage Mixer

3 1/2 cups coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened, depending on your taste
2/3 cup oats
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds (I left these out this time)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut oil (mine was in solid form, so I heated it in the microwave until it liquified)
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn everything with a spatula. Spread it back out and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until just golden.

Cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. This is good over ice cream, Greek yogurt, apple sauce, with milk, or just straight out of the jar!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Sourdough, Apple, and Shallot Stuffing-The BEST Stuffing Ever!

Hubby and I are very particular about our stuffing. We like lots of flavor and a bit of crispiness in our bread. For us, stuffing should be a wonderful side dish that can stand up to the rest of a holiday meal and be memorable in and of itself. This stuffing took me a while to perfect, but once I did, it became our favorite part of Thanksgiving. I make this dish all the time so that we get to enjoy it more than once a year because it's too good to eat just once. You can't go wrong with apples, shallots, herbs, and the delicious taste of sourdough bread!

Sorry for the picture; I never got a final one. But it's good and beautiful, I promise!

Sourdough, Apple, and Shallot Stuffing

2 large loaves sourdough bread (we use 2 large boules)
1 stick butter
1 or 2 shallots, diced
2 or 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt, to taste

Chop the bread into 1-inch cubes and set on cookie sheets to dry overnight or toast in a 350º oven for 3-45 minutes or until slightly crispy, but not browned.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it's melted, add the shallot and apple and cook until the shallot is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 4 1/2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add in the herbs and stir to combine.

Place dried breadcrumbs in a large bowl and gently mix. Add in the broth mixture a ladleful at a time and gently toss to coat. Taste as you to adjust seasonings. Add in salt to taste. If the breadcrumbs are still a little dry once you've added all the broth mixture, add more broth and toss again.

Pour stuffing into a large baking dish and bake in a 350º oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Apple Soup

 Fall is my favorite season and I have a hard time giving up the flavors that go along with it. This soup is the perfect way to capture fall in a bowl and I loved the way it made the house smell. The best thing about this soup was that it tasted even better the next day. The hubby loved it too! It was also filling and easy to make, which makes this a great soup. This one is in our permanent file, especially considering the fact that I have most of these ingredients on hand all the time too!

Pumpkin and Apple Soup
*Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup no sugar added applesauce
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 15-ounce cans pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
Fresh ground black pepper for serving

Heat a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the diced shallot, apples, and salt. Sauté until shallot is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, applesauce, white pepper, sage, thyme, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and until apples are very tender, about 5 more minutes.

Add the pumpkin and brown sugar and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until it's smooth or use a blender to blend the soup in batches. Add the cream to the soup and heat through over very low heat. Add more cream or water if necessary to thin it out. Remove from heat and serve with fresh ground pepper as desired.


Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

I love a recipe that makes the entire house smell like warmth and yumminess. I can achieve that with a great roast or baked dessert, but the best smell comes from any dish that includes cinnamon. This recipe for applesauce really sent the aroma of cinnamon wafting through our house. I was so excited to try this applesauce and it didn't disappoint!

This might be one of those recipes that I shouldn't mess with because it really was yummy as is, but I have a few changes I'm going to try next time. The first is switching out the white sugar for brown sugar. I'm also going to add nutmeg, cloves, and maybe a little bit of vanilla extract. I love that I have a great basic recipe though. I only wish it had made more! Once you mash it, the amount reduces by about half. Something to keep in mind for next time.
Emma helped Momma make applesauce! (Please ignore the clutter and mess in my kitchen. Having a baby and holiday time combine to make it impossible to keep my house clean!)

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce
*Slightly adapted from What Megan's Making

3 pounds of apples (6-9), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup apple cider or apple juice, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more as needed
Pinch salt
2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine apples, cider or juice, sugar, salt, and cinnamon sticks in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until apples are very soft and beginning to disintegrate, between 3-4 hours on low. Remove cinnamon sticks if using. Mash with a potato masher or immersion blender to desired consistency. Season with cinnamon and additional sugar to taste and adjust consistency with additional hot apple juice or cider as needed.

*Recommended apples: Jonagold, Pink Lady, Jonathon, Golden Delicious, Rome, Mcintosh, Empire

*Not Recommended: Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Braeburn, Cortland, Baldwin, Honeycrisp, Norther Spy

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cinnabon Frosting

 I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas this year from the Pioneer Woman's recipe, which I love. I do them in my bread machine, which makes it insanely easy. The only work comes from rolling and filling them, but that is a lot of work and it is messy. Once Christmas was over and all the rolls had been eaten, which didn't take long (boo!), I still had a lot of frosting left over. What to do, what to do? I felt too guilty just eating it with a spoon (which I could have easily done), so I made this cake as a vehicle for the amazing frosting.

If you're looking for a quick fix to curb a cinnamon roll craving, this is the way to go. The cake is delicious and easy, but the frosting. Oh the frosting. This IS the Cinnabon frosting. It. Is. So. Good. Make it and eat it with a spoon. Go ahead, I won't tell anyone!

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cinnabon Frosting
*From Life as a Lofthouse
*Frosting from CDKitchen

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, room temperature
1 package cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9x13 glass baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. In an stand mixer, add the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Once well combined, slowly stir in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

For the topping:
In a large bowl, mix the 2 sticks of butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together until well combined and creamy (I used an electric hand mixer). Drop evenly over the batter by tablespoonfuls and use a knife to marble/swirl it through the cake.

Bake at 350º for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out nearly clean.

For the frosting:
Beat cream cheese and margarine together in a large bowl with a mixer. Slowly add in all powdered sugar. Once all of the sugar is in the bowl, mix for AT LEAST an additional 12 minutes until light and fluffy. With about a minute left on mix time, add in the lemon juice and vanilla.

Frost the cake when warm or cool or serve the frosting on the side to be used on warmed cake.