Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

Easy Homemade Granola

homemade-granola-recipe
I love making homemade anything instead of buying store brand if I can. Most recently I tried a new granola recipe that is delicious! It’s adapted from the cookbook Baked and is very easy to make. A perfect topping to yogurt – the perfect healthy snack!

Easy Homemade Granola

2 cups rolled oats

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

3 Tablespoon, plus 1 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup whole almonds (I used sliced almonds)

1/3 whole hazelnuts

1/3 cup golden raisins (I used regular raisins)

1/3 dried cherries (the cherries add a nice tartness, but any dried fruit would work)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325Β°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I sprayed the pan with cooking spray instead).

2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.

4. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them (I used a wooden spoon): Gather up some of the mixture in each hand, and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

7. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

8. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container. The granola will keep for 1 week.

 

Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Just Do It

startingblock

The Nike slogan is all too appropriate when it comes to setting and meeting goals. I’ve recently started writing a new book after several stutter starts with a separate book that I finally decided to set aside for the time being. While it’s sometimes difficult to start over or make changes in your life, sometimes the only way to begin is by just doing it. Instead of waiting until tomorrow or a special occasion or when the mood strikes. So instead of waiting until tomorrow to eat better, exercise more, write that book, mend those fences, begin today! πŸ™‚

 

Acorn Squash Risotto

Β  I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that are both vegetarian and healthy – as those two are not always synonymous. A friend of mine gave me this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorites. I tweaked the recipe to be both healthy and vegetarian. It’s perfect for this time of year when squash are abundant and as it’s a heavier dish that warms you through and through during these increasingly cooler days.

Below is the original recipe, plus my changes in parentheses. I like to serve it with fresh salmon and grilled asparagus.

Acorn Squash Farro Risotto

1 cup farro (I use risotto)

4 cups water, divided

2 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp discarded (I add an extra squash if making it for company)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream (I use non-fat milk)

2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (I love the tang this sharp cheese adds so I use the full amount, but obviously it can be decreased if desired)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, finely chopped (shallots add such a great flavor I normally use 2 or 3 depending on their size)

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded (dry works fine too)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I use veggie stock)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the farro and 2 cups of water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well and reserve. (I never do this…)

2. Preheat the oven to 400ΒΊ. Place the squash halves cut sides up on two foil-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before scooping out the insides into a medium bowl, taking care to leave a 1-inch boarder of flesh all around the edges. (I only leave an edge on the squash I serve the risotto in, scooping out the entirety of the other halves.) Add the heavy cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the flesh in the bowl; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sire in the reserved farro and thyme leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is toasted and fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed. Combine the chicken stock with the remaining 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of the mixture to the farro, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cook through, about 1 hour. (I add the mixture all at once and turn up the heat and it cuts the time in half.) Stir in the reserved acorn squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the finished risotto into the reserved acorn squash halves, top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.
Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Delicious Pumpkin Bread

Β  I found this wonderful recipe in a Runner’s World magazine that touted it as a great post-run snack. I love everything pumpkin (See also: Pumpkin Beer, Pumpkin Chili, and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies) and can’t resist this tasty treat!

(Note: This recipe makes two loaves, but feel free to cut back on the sugar by 1/2 or 3/4 cup if so desired.)

 

Pumpkin Bread

Dry Ingredients
3Β½ cups flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1Β½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1Β½ cups of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned, plain pumpkin

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350Β° F.

Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, slightly beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the eggs and stir well. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir just until evenly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips (if desired, I normally add 1/4 cup to one of the loaves).

Coat 2 bread pans evenly with cooking spray. Pour half of the mixture into each pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Summer Baking – Lemon-Glazed Zucchini Bread

  Despite the heat, I still love to bake during those hot summer months. I especially love making delicious treats that include in season fruits and vegetables. Summer is the time where New Jersey shows that it truly is aptly named “The Garden State” with farm stands and farmer’s markets in abundance everywhere you turn. I get spoiled buying all my produce at these places: carrots, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes of all shapes and colors, blueberries, peaches, cherries, and freshly made jams of all flavors. Yum!

Yesterday after a quick trip to my local farm stand to get some zucchini, I decided to make a recipe I found in my Cooking Light cookbook. Not only did it come out moist and delicious, but it’s high in flavor too – who knew zucchini and lemon would pair so well together?

Lemon-Glazed Zucchini Bread

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup finely shredded zucchini (approx. one medium-sized zucchini)

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/4 cup canola oil

2 Tbsp grated lemon rind

1 large egg (got this farm-fresh too!)

Cooking spray

1 cup sifted powder sugar

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

 

1. Preheat oven to 350Β°

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in center of mixture. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, rind, and egg in separate bowl; add to flour mixture. Stir until just moist.

3. Spoon batter into a n 8×4″ loaf pan (I used a 9×5″ and shortened the cooking time by 10 minutes) coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350Β° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove loaf from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

4. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice; stir with a whisk. Drizzle over loaf.

Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Eat & Run and the Allure of Vegan Living

  I recently finished Scott Jurek’s new memoir, Eat & Run. I love reading memoirs, especially ones that center around sports or athleticism of some kind. Jurek is a renown ultrarunner (ie. running longer than a marathon distance, 26.2 miles). He’s won many events he’s entered such as the Western States 100, Badwater (135 miles through Death Valley), and the Hardrock 100. In his book, Jurek chronicles his adventures and passion with ultrarunning and the people that most influenced him on his journey to ultra-greatness.

What’s even more impressive than not only finishing, but winning all these races is that Jurek does it all on a plant-based, vegan, diet. No meat. No dairy. Nada. Wowee! Before Eat & Run, I read Finding Ultra about another ultrarunner named Rich Roll. He also competes at an elite level while basing his diet completely on plants. Both these men make compelling arguments for living a vegan lifestyle. They also both impressed upon their readers how simple and, more importantly, profoundly healthy it can be, Jurek even includes recipes at the end of each of his chapters. But when I see a pancake recipe that calls for seven (SEVEN!) different types of flour, I’m a little hesitant that this is the lifestyle for me.

I’m a vegetarian, so perhaps I’m a little unjustly judgmental here, but I’m not sure I could ever convert 100% to a vegan diet. While I don’t eat a ton of dairy I definitely eat enough of it that it would be a big change for me. As I read these books I contemplated making the switch, but at the end of the day between the time it would take to find and learn how to make non-diary meals, the hassle of not having as broad a menu selection when eating outside my home, and knowing that I buy 99% of my dairy at local or family owned farms, I don’t think it’s worth it to me. But that’s really the crux of it, while it’s not right for me I can see why people would chose to switch to vegan living and I give them props for taking the time and energy to live what many deem a healthier lifestyle.

Happy Running! πŸ™‚

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

This past week was a great one for reading on my porch. Sunshine, warm breezes, the smell of spring, ahhh… So while I got a little distracted and had to go off and play disc golf every once in a while, it was a great week for springtime reading.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Β  Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach – Felton Reinstein is used to being called Squirrel Nut and being an outsider. But one day he wakes up and realizes he is really, really fast. Soon he’s playing football and being one of the jocks. But Felton realizes it won’t fix everything that is wrong in his life. At some point he’s going to have to stop running and face bigger issues that are going on in his life. Adolescent angst and running? This is going to be a great book. πŸ™‚

 

 

Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos – The winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Dead End is marketed as the entirely true and wildly fictional story about a kid named Jack Gantos. (Not sure what that means, but someone clearly thought they were being clever…) The story sounds extremely entertaining however with small town eccentricities and exaggerated obituaries. I’m listening to this one on CD and its narrated by the author. A great motivation to drive to work!

 

 

Β  The Great American Ale Trail by Christian DeBeredetti – As a beer lover I’m constantly on the lookout for new books that center around the craft of beer making and enjoying. I also love road trips, so while drinking is driving is never good, this book is perfect for when I reach a destination and am looking for restaurants and brewpubs that serve unique craft beer selections. And more often than not, places that serve good beer, serve good food too. I’ve already taken note of breweries and/or brewpubs around my area to visit and can’t wait to try them out.

 

 

Hope you’re enjoying this spring weather as much as I am. Happy reading! πŸ™‚

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

Another amazing weekend! Not only did I get to go to my favorite trail for my long run, but I also went to NYC to watch the half marathon. Members of the American Olympic running team, Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher, participated as well as other amazing runners from around the world.

We got front row spots right along the finishing chute and were able to see the runners sprint (SPRINT!) past us then run back within touching distance with the flag of their countries draped across their shoulders in a victory jog. Incredible. I felt a runner’s high just from watching. πŸ˜€

I have to admit, I’ve been too distracted by bright and shiny cookbooks to finish any of the novels I posted last week. I love cooking and I wanted to integrate more seasonal ingredients into my dishes and find more fun vegetarian recipes to try. Here are some of the books I picked up this week:

Β  Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon – First, this cookbook might sound a little gassy, but it is chock filled with dips and stews and salads that are filled with healthy goodness that look and sound delicious! Second, how can you not read a book by someone named Crescent Dragonwagon? I mean, really.

Β  Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons – A perfect start to more seasonal cooking, this cookbook offers a wide selection of dishes that make use of the freshest ingredients in every season. While this book offers a selection of meat based meals, it also has recipes like Roasted Baby Spring Vegetables and Banana-Rum-Coconut Cookies. Yum!

Farmstead Chef by John Ivanko & Lisa Kivirist – Highlighting foods that can be homegrown or farm fresh, the authors are the owners of the Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and want to bring their passion for eco-friendly foods to people everywhere. This cookbook has recipes from pancakes to breads to pizza, pasta and sandwiches.

Β  Welcome to Claire’s by Claire Criscuolo – A collection of favorite recipes from Claire’s Corner Copia, a vegetarian restaurant in New Haven, CT. Some of the 350 recipes include: Spicy Thai Sunflower Noodles, Summer Tomato and Basil Quiche, and Grilled Cheese Florentine. I may need to run to the grocery store soon!

Despite all the healthy, fresh ingredients found in the pages above, all this food makes me happy I run regularly! πŸ™‚

Happy reading!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

Tis the season for some great books! Despite my busy schedule, I’ve been reading some amazing books. It’s a great variety right now too, so they’ve been keeping me entertained. πŸ™‚ Hope you’ve been reading some great books and enjoying this season of giving.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley – If you haven’t read any of Bradley’s marvelous books yet, you must pick them up! His protagonist is eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, poison aficionado and amateur sleuth. It’s remarkable to capture the innocence and perfect tone of an eleven-year-old and still make her seem sharp and savvy so the targeted adult audience won’t lose interest. Not only are the English mysteries divine, but Flavia’s character is so unique that I’m sure you’ll devour these books as I have.

Habibi by Craig Thompson – The illustrious author of the autobiographical graphic novel Blankets has given the world another gem. Six years in the making, this tome was illustrated and written by Thompson and captures many stories at once: love, Christianity, Islam, history, action, suspense, and depth of character. I don’t know much about Islam, so the story that Thompson weaves is both magnificent and informative. Beautiful.

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane – I’m listening to this on CD and it’s a lot of fun. The narrator is British, but does a wonderful American accent in addition to his array of British ones. This novel is about a young Sherlock Holmes which Lane successfully captures. Sherlock has a strong group of mentors that guide him in his early deductive skills and a web of mystery that captures his curious mind. Definitely worth reading!

One Sweet Cookie edited by Tracey Zabar – My library was fortunate enough to host a cookie program featuring Tracey Zabar as well as Tina Casacelli who owns the bakery Milk & Cookies and recently penned a cookie book of the same name. It was a fun program plus there were cookies for everyone in attendance which were amazing! Today I tried two of these recipes and my fiance tried two separate ones for our annual Christmas cookie day o’ fun. While two turned out great (the Thumbprint cookies and the macaroons), two absolutely flopped! These recipes were sent in by renown bakers and pastry chefs and supposed to be home baker friendly, but although we each followed our recipes to a T they flopped. The Snickerdoodles were too solid and the Flourless Chocolate Cookies were too runny. Blech! While I’m sure there may be other good recipes, I think I’ll switch to a different cookie book for my next batches.

Happy reading!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

The weekend was quite Fall-y so I spent a lot of time outside enjoying the weather (in between rain showers) and snuggling up with a good book at night. We also were able to go to a Cider Mill in Chester, NJ, to pick pumpkins – for future Halloweenie fun – and nosh on fresh, warm pumpkin cider doughnuts. Delicious! πŸ™‚ A perfect autumn weekend.

Didn’t get a lot of writing done on my novel this week, but did get to read a lot of graphic novels. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

Β  My Boyfriend is a Monster by Paul D. Storrie – A great little graphic novel with fun illustrations about a girl and her Frankenstein-ish boyfriend. There are three others in this series so far – My Boyfriend is a: Vampire, Faerie, and Zombie. This is the first one I’ve read and I’m definitely enjoying it for it’s witty writing and fun storyline.

 

 

 

Β  Revolver by Matt Kindt – This was a great graphic novel with an intriguing plot. Sam is a loser living an average life with no aspirations or drive. But then when he goes to sleep one night he wakes to find the world in mass chaos with bombs and diseases ravaging the world. He is forced to change overnight and fight to make sense of this turn of events. But then the next day he’s back in the original world. His days continue alternating until Sam finally has to decide which world he wants to live in permanently. I really loved this graphic novel. It was thought provoking and I’ve been ruminating about it every since I turned the final page.

 
Β  Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) by Jason Shiga – I especially loved the unique, quirky illustrations colored in either blue or red. When two friends are separated by a new job and a journey from CA to NYC, Jimmy decides to leave his bubble of sci-fi and life with mom and take a bus to visit Sara. He is wowed by all the new wonders that the city presents, but isn’t sure NYC is for him. A fun take on relationships and what constitutes as risk taking.

 

 

 

I love reading graphic novels because they are so interesting, quick reads, and vastly different from one another. I need to bone up on my comic knowledge to prepare for my trip to NYC Comic Con next week. πŸ™‚

Happy Reading!