Wild Blueberry Granola

Let me be clear. I eat this for breakfast because it tastes good. And yes, it is good for you. So in case you’ve been pounding doughnuts for the last month, and now you’re turning over a new leaf in 2016, you’ll be happy too. Delicious food cannot be sacrificed.

I love giving homemade gifts, and though there was no shortage of sweets being created in my kitchen during the Christmas season, it’s also nice to give a gift that will be enjoyed guilt-free and might even make someone’s morning easier. So I gifted granola, and breakfast is served. The first batch was so yummy that I decided to make another to give to my friend Marion as part of her birthday gift. She’s an avid skier and I knew she’d probably enjoy starting her day with this before hitting the slopes.

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So here we are in early January, and I’ve heard from friends this week that their granola jars are running low. And just this morning I got a text from Marion that said: “Please help!!! This awesome granola is totally empty. I definitely need your recipe. At least before the 23rd (insert ski emoji).” Instead of attacking another pile of neglected mail from the summer of 2015, I grabbed my granola jar from the pantry, did a quick photo shoot, and bring to you the latest granola recipe from my kitchen. May your weekend be filled with granola and fun in the snow if you live in the northern hemisphere, or gorgeous sunny days if you don’t. Either way, it’s granola for breakfast.

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Wild Blueberry Granola

Note: This can, of course, be made with other dried fruit if you don’t have wild blueberries (I got mine at Trader Joe’s): cranberries, chopped apricots, cherries, or raisins if you’d like. Feel free to halve the recipe as it makes a LOT, but it goes fast, so don’t underestimate the other granola-eaters around you.

And if this hooks you on making homemade granola, you can mix it up and make my Cherry & Vanilla Bean Granola next time!

Ingredients:

  • 8 c oats (I like regular thick rolled oats, not quick cooking rolled oats)
  • 2 c pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 c wheat germ
  • 1 c pumpkin seeds (I used sprouted, raw, lightly salted)
  • 2 c flaked coconut
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c honey (use local honey if you can!)
  • 2 c dried wild blueberries (or other fruit)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the honey and dried fruit into a very large pyrex roasting dish (I used a 4 qt. dish which is 15 x 10 x 2 inches). I like to pour in the dry ingredients, then add the vanilla to the olive oil and whisk together before pouring over the oats to best distribute the vanilla. Stir well to incorporate the ingredients for even roasting.
  2. Roast, stirring every few minutes for about 30 to 40 minutes, until oats begin to look nice and golden. Take your granola out of the oven, add the honey and mix really well, then return to the oven and roast another 15 minutes, stirring a couple times during that period.
  3. Remove granola from the oven, and add your dried fruit and stir well. Let the granola cool for an hour, making sure you give it a good stir whenever you pass by. If you don’t, it will “set” with all that honey and you’ll have a tough time breaking it up. Once it’s cool, transfer to an airtight container and enjoy a delicious AND healthy breakfast!

 

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Oat & Flax Cakes

Happy New Year to one and all! I’ve been thinking about our human nature, and how as the calendar turns from December 31st to January 1st, all around the globe we are filled with hope and plans for the year ahead: for a healthier us, for more quality time with people we love, for the courage to create in some way, to make the year ahead one worth putting in the books. We were created with a desire to make each day count. So whatever goals you might have on your list, I have a healthy and delicious breakfast to help fuel you. My little people went back to school this morning, and as rough as it was (for me) to get up and get going, I was determined they left fueled for a big day back. So I loaded the pancakes with oatmeal and flax meal.

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Just google either one for endless major health benefits. Add some eggs, buttermilk, a little cinnamon, and you’ve got your calcium, protein, and a tasty hot breakfast. If you’ve been using a pancake mix, I PROMISE this is just as quick, and will taste SO much better (and no crazy preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients).

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Oak & Flax Cakes

Note: Serves 4. Feel free to double the recipe. If you have zero time in the morning, these can also be made ahead and frozen. Pull them out the night before to defrost, and slather with a nut butter and sliced bananas (Nutella anyone?!) if you need a breakfast to go, or a bit of powdered sugar, or wrap around a chicken maple breakfast sausage (Dave’s invention…so yummy), or enjoy hot off the griddle with some good maple syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup regular flour (or go for 1/2 and 1/2 with whole wheat if you want it even heartier)
  • 3/4 c (or so) oatmeal
  • 2 Tbsp. flax meal
  • 3/4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (if you’re at high altitude, use about 1/8 of a tsp. less)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • butter or olive oil for the pan

Preparation:

  1. Preheat cast iron skillet, griddle or heavy pan on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile…
  2. Add dry ingredients to a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk together.
  3. Crack in the two eggs, and pour in your buttermilk. Whisk all together until completely incorporated, and let rest for about 3-5 minutes to let the rising agents do their thing.
  4. Melt the tiniest bit of butter onto griddle (it should immediately melt but not be popping or burning, if it is, your heat is too high). Ladle the batter onto the griddle and allow to cook until bubbles almost form around the edges. With this heavier batter, it won’t be as bubbly as a typical pancake, so feel free to use a spatula to peek underneath to see how brown the cake is. Flip, cook, and repeat until you have fed all the hungry mouths at your house!

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Sloppy Joes

On any given Monday evening, you will find me in my kitchen, carefully preparing a delicious meal for my family…my lipstick fresh, wearing heels and a ruffled apron of course. As I serve the first course, my children nod and smile upon seeing their favorites: escargot simmered in butter and parsley from my window box, foie gras spread like butter over brioche toast, or micro-greens with shaved black truffle. I give them a few moments to digest and prepare for the next course and check on the sous-vide pork loin…ah yes, it’s done right on time. And won’t they be excited for their chocolate soufflés? Such haute bliss. Isn’t this what motherhood is about?

That’s a good one, right?

It’s more like, this:  It’s already 6:30pm, I’m still, sadly, in my “active wear,” no makeup in sight. What I really need is a shower. “Everybody wash hands! Dinner is ready. Hey, I said wash hands! Dinner’s getting cold. Julia, EAT. You can’t only have milk for dinner. Use your fork! Sofia, stop touching your feet. Go wash your hands again. That’s a great story, but I need you to EAT. You’re going to be hungry and I’m not giving you a snack at bedtime. No, it’s NOT spicy. Those green flecks are basil. You LIKE basil. It’s not going to taste good if you make that face while you’re eating it.”

Yeah, that’s more of what dinner is for us. If you imagine that this food-loving, world-traveling, art inspired mom has adventurous eaters, then you are wrong. Yeah, they like sushi, olives, and ripe French cheese. Big deal. I’ve got bigger plans for their palates, but sometimes, it’s not worth the effort or the fight. I’m learning. Which is why I broke down and made Sloppy Joes a couple of months ago.  And I served hot dogs the other night. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a (total) food snob. I’d eat beans, tortillas and potatoes all day and call them the most delicious food if they were cooked well. I love a good hot dog (when it can be found), and in case you’ve never read my true confessions, Home Depot sells the best bratwurst, which for some reason, taste especially delicious with Doritos Cool Ranch chips and a Coke in the back of my car, tailgate style. Yeah, that’s right. I just said that.

So when Sofia came home asking me if I had “heard” of Sloppy Joes (like she did with meatloaf a couple of years ago), I figured I needed to just man up…or woman up…and make this for her. Poor American children in my house aren’t getting the American experience even now and then. My mom made Sloppy Joes when I was a kid, and I remember liking them. So, I did a quick google search to see what the rest of the world thought should go into a Sloppy Joe, texted my mom who said “add a little vinegar!” and I put together the combination of ingredients that sounded good to me. It was delicious. It was quick. It was easy. And the children, they ate! And as sloppy as they can be, I actually had occasion to walk around a roller skating rink not too long ago with one of my Sloppy Joes tucked into my purse without incident. See? Not so sloppy after all. So when you next find yourself out of time, energy, and just want a yummy dinner without any kid-confrontations, you’ve got this to go to. Enjoy your dinner and the peace that comes with it.

TPSloppyJoes

Sloppy Joes

recipe by Stephanie Kunstle

Note: makes 4-6 adult servings. The key is to simmer this gently to marry the flavors and avoid burning the whole thing. Pour yourself a beer or glass of wine and you’ll be more patient.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (about a cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar (or another good vinegar)
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preparation:

  1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and add chopped onion, cooking for 2-3 minutes until it starts to soften.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add the ground beef, sprinkle generously with salt and some freshly cracked pepper, and then use a metal spatula to break it up as it browns for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and 1/4 cup of water. Simmer covered on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve by filling hamburger buns or use any favorite bread… I made some home fries to go with. Total comfort, kid-friendly food.

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