Have you ever wondered why your homemade granola doesn’t give you joy? Why you don’t eagerly look forward to throwing it into your yogurt every morning? I am willing to wager that it’s because you made it too complicated. And you didn’t use enough coconut. Coconut is the surprising key to everything.
This granola just fills me with nostalgia. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, but it just brings me back to the afternoons I spent at my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because there was always a chocolate chip Chewy bar waiting for me when I walked in the door after school…maybe it’s just because my grandparents were and are awesome, and so is this granola. I eat a cluster almost every time I walk by the container. And I have to admit that I am so greedy for this granola that I hide it from my preschooler. Sshh. Don’t tell.
You know the phrase, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread”?
This is the best thing since sliced bread. (And then, you can slice it and butter it…and the irony will only make it more delicious.)
I can’t stop baking this peasant bread! I convinced myself a few weeks ago that it was worth it to buy a second set of Pyrex bowls, and then I immediately baked bread three days in a row. This peasant bread is so easy and so airy and so chewy and so wonderful, you may never buy bread in the store again.
There really is nothing that quite compares to the amazing smell of fresh bread wafting through your house. Except maybe that first warm bite, as the bread is still steaming…you can’t tell me that doesn’t make your mouth water.
Do you know what mothers of newborns need?
(Aside from more sleep, looser clothing, and a cadre of friends who volunteer to bring them food for several weeks—thank you friends!!)
Mothers of newborns need meals that require almost no effort to put on the table. Things that basically cook themselves while we attempt to entertain rambunctious 2-year-olds and nurse our handsy infants for (seemingly) hours, simultaneously.
New moms, meet black bean ragout!
I have been making this simple black bean ragout for years…pretty much ever since the Smitten Kitchen cookbook arrived on my doorstep. It may not be the most beautiful dish (hello, soupy black water), but it is a quick and easy (and inexpensive…) life-saver. (Assuming I have my wits about me around noon or so to dump all the ingredients into the crockpot.)
I absolutely adore this black bean dish. It’s so simple and versatile! Dave and I have decided that our favorite way to eat these black beans is inside of burritos, but we also enjoy them crostini-style on garlicky bread and tossed into scrambled eggs with salsa for some extra protein in the morning! You could even potentially eat this as a soup. The possibilities are nearly endless.
This past weekend, my nephew came to stay with us. He is just 3 weeks younger than Jake, so they have been lifelong buddies! Actually, they are about as different as can be: Jake loves animals and M is crazy about vehicles; M is a quiet daredevil and Jake is cautious but loquacious.
And my nephew is deathly allergic to dairy.
So I had just finished scrubbing the kitchen and hiding all the cheese when I realized that I hadn’t yet baked anything for the March Secret Recipe Club challenge! Happily, Jessie of The Vanderbilt Wife had just the recipe for me to try: sweet breakfast rolls made with coconut! This recipe is even related to my very favorite cinnamon bun recipe, so I knew it would be a winner. Given that I had been in a panic about how to serve breakfast without any milk or butter already, I was so happy that these rolls swept in and saved the day!
This chili is stupendous. It really is. And I absolutely love that it’s basically a complete meal in a bowl! It’s got whole grains, protein, veggies, flavor for miles…
I’m not going to go on and on about it, because you should really just grab some pots and spoons and make it!
Does this ever happen to you?:
Some time in September—because you are planning ahead—you diligently buy two bags of candy to give out at Halloween. (Naturally, you buy the good kinds, the chocolate kinds you actually like, because last year only four children and one group of ridiculous teenagers came to your door…and if there’s going to be leftover candy, you at least want to enjoy it, right?)
You carefully shove the two small bags of candy to the back of the tallest shelf in the pantry, and then you studiously ignore them for three weeks.
Then…one night, you open the Reese’s, because you are stressed, or emotional, or peckish…and before you know it, you have to go buy two whole new bags of Halloween candy.
And, to make matters worse, now you have awoken your sweet tooth, and it wants more candy!
After several days of an insatiable desire for dessert, I decided it was time to make a dessert I wouldn’t feel guilty eating, one that would even do a little good while it quenched my desire for Reese’s cups: peanut butter oatmeal balls.
I heard a terrible, terrible rumor a few weeks ago: apparently, we are about to experience a worldwide shortage of hazelnuts!
Gasp! The horror!
Before you run out and buy every jar of Nutella in the store (and don’t think I haven’t contemplated that), let’s try a healthier yet equally delicious version of the incomparable chocolate-hazelnut combination: date balls.
Have you ever heard of gianduia? Maybe you’ve seen this flavor nestled among other exotic-looking scoops (stracciatella…nocciola…) at a nearby gelato store. Gianduia is the original chocolate and hazelnut confection, made from hazelnut paste, cocoa, and sugar. Apparently, hazelnuts are enormously popular in Italy. Italians know the good stuff.
I absolutely love chocolate and hazelnuts together, and I’m really going to miss these date balls when the price of hazelnuts skyrockets!
Are you overwhelmed with tomatoes yet? Overflowing with bell peppers?
I really prefer to eat the bounty of summer produce I have been bringing in from my tiny garden and the farmer’s market raw. In their most honest and nutritious and juiciest form. But really…how many tomato sandwiches can one girl eat? (In case you were wondering…the answer is about four per week. Not that I’m counting.)
If we are going to keep up with the greedy volume of fresh fruits and veggies of the summer, we are going to have to get serious. And make a huge bread salad.
What? You don’t think bread should intrude further into salads than the occasional crouton!? Are you mad!?
This panzanella is seriously delicious. The crisped bread absorbs just enough of the tomato juices and sharp dressing to become luxurious, and the hearty base makes the whole meal toothsome and filling. You should make it right away!
I so want to tell you about how awesome this pico de gallo is, and how I grew some of the tomatoes and all of the green peppers.
But first, I have to tell you that while I was making this delicious, amazingly fresh summery salsa, my son was eating crayons.
CRAYONS! I cannot get the child to eat a fresh fruit or vegetable to save his life, but crayons are yummy. What!? And he was so sneaky about it, too, just sitting in his chair and pretending to color quietly whenever I poked my head in to look at him, and taking huge chunks out of yellow and green as soon as I turned back to chopping.
Motherhood, friends…motherhood. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Warning: I am about to get a little dorky.
You know how professional chefs on cooking shows are always saying things like, “And then we add a little honey for a touch of sweetness” to perfectly savory dishes? Um, why would I care if my salad is sweet—it’s not dessert…
They are aiming for presence and balance of the five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (savory). (Okay, spicy isn’t one of the sensory tastes, but it’s pretty important to throw heat into the mix, too.) Balance is a key trait of delicious food, which trained chefs learn early on. Another key trait of excellent food is diversity of textures: creamy, soft, chewy, crisp/crunchy.
I know this. You probably know this. Well balanced food is hard not to love!
So there is really no explanation for the doubts I had when I first found this recipe. I was just so skeptical…but thank God I followed it to a T, because folks, this wheatberry salad is simply perfect. There is no other word for it. Don’t you turn your nose up at adding chopped dates or think about skipping the pickled shallots. The first mouthful will win you over, no question.