Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Crock Pot Improvisations No. 1

I've taken to using my crock pot quite a bit lately, with happy results.  Today's experiment was so good that I thought I should write it down before I forget, and that I might as well share it while I'm at it!  Tender chicken, sweet prunes, and salty olives make this one a win.

Chicken with Olives and Prunes
Ingredients:
1-2 T olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
15-20 prunes
10-20 olives (green, but I also added some kalamata at the end)
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. chick peas (dry)
salt

fresh marjoram or oregano

Layer the all the ingredients except the herbs in the crock pot.  Push the chick peas down into the liquid, or add a little broth or water for more liquid if you deem it necessary.

Cook as usual (I turn it on low when I leave for work, and it is ready when I get back ~9 hours later, but I'm sure it doesn't take that long).  Another option is to cook it overnight.

Serve over couscous and garnish with the fresh herbs.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Simple, Healthy, Granola

healthy granola

Many of my friends know that I have been making and eating my own granola for years (yes, they joke about it).  It has been my go-to breakfast for well over a decade, and I have been experimenting with recipes for the last few years.

What I want you to know about making granola is this: it doesn't need to be complicated.  If you mix together oats, honey, and some oil/fat, and bake it, you will get granola.  After that, it's only your imagination that limits you to the possibilities.

Other perks are: it's cheaper (depending on what you add, of course), and healthier (compare these ingredients to your box of granola)!

So without further ado, here is a recipe to get you started.  It's so easy you'll probably have it memorized after making it twice:

granola with apricots

Find a large pot/bowl, and gather all the ingredients:
  • 2lb (1 container) rolled oats
  • 1/2 lb (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 c honey (up to 1/2 c. more if needed)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. sesame seeds
  • 2 c. nuts/seeds (raw almonds, whole or chopped, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
  • 1-2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil (optional)
  • 2-3 c. dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots, figs, unsweetened cherries or cranberries, etc)
Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all the ingredients except the fruit together, stirring until everything is well coated in the butter and honey.  This may take a few minutes, but persevere because it is worth it.  Add more honey or butter if it doesn't look wet enough.

Spread on two large, ungreased baking sheets (with edges) and bake for ~30 min, checking and stirring every 5 minutes after the first 15 minutes (please don't burn your granola!).  Once it has started to turn a light toasted brown, take it out and place the pans on your counter (preferably on wire racks) to cool.

When it has cooled, add the dried fruit and store in jars or large ziplock bags.  Serve with yogurt and fresh (or frozen) fruit, or just on its own. 


Tips:
  • If you like chunky granola, don't stir it while it is cooling.  Experiment with adding more honey (before baking).
  • If you aren't going to eat it all in a couple weeks, store most of it in the freezer.  This keeps the moisture in the dried fruit from making the granola soggy.  This way it will also last for many months.
Have fun with different combinations!  Examples:
dried apples+walnuts+cinnamon, dates+pecans+coconut, apricots+figs+pumpkin seeds.

Credit goes to:
My mother for making it for me to eat in the first place
More-With-Less Cookbook koinonia granola recipe
This recipe on Smitten Kitchen

how do I make granola?