Multigrain Granola

It’s so hard to find a good granola or trail mix when you don’t like fruit. Growing up, I was constantly chewing the yogurt off of the yogurt-covered raisins, or meticulously picking out the dried cranberries and holding them in my hand to throw away later.

So imagine my dismay when I got wind of the Greek yogurt craze: thick, creamy, fat-free yogurt (yay!) mixed with granola (uh-oh) and berries (danger!). I avoided the berries altogether and managed to find a granola that consisted entirely of oats and nuts…and a lot of high-fructose corn syrup. So I made a mental note that I’d better find a way to make my own granola.

As you probably know, granola is incredibly versatile. As I was searching the interblags for recipes, I came across so many different combinations that honestly, it took me 2 weeks to decide on what ingredients I wanted to include in my own version and buy what I didn’t already have. I knew I wanted something more complex than just rolled oats and almonds–surely there is something better out there for us fruit-haters!

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Creamy Hummus

This last week has been one of the most stressful weeks in my memory. I had two final projects due at the very beginning of the week (gah…30-page papers!), and I had to give quizzes to my students…then they had a meltdown about the quizzes, so I had to improvise my subsequent lessons so I could help them return to a calmer, more confident place. Anyone that knows me knows that I worship planning. Improvising freaks the crap out of me (yikes…maybe teaching is not my calling).

I also made many failed recipes recently: caramel sauce (I decided to refrigerate it so it would set faster…which caused it to bec0me extremely hard, more like toffee) followed by caramel candies (way stickier than I thought…ultimately a great, stretchy, sticky mess), golden gazpacho (is it supposed to taste like you are eating a grainy, raw tomato?), and last-minute microwave brownies (I know…that sounds like a horrible idea…and apparently when you halve the recipe, it actually IS a horrible idea). How frustrating! I keep trying to make great foods, but they are not coming out as intended!

However, I did have one minor success this week: Creamy Hummus!

I actually made a small gaffe on this recipe, as well (note to self: don’t start cooking 3 minutes after waking up). I made a double recipe of this hummus to serve to my students on quiz day…but in my sleepy stupor, I forgot to add the cumin! I actually didn’t notice this when I was sampling the hummus during school, though I thought the garlic was stronger than I remembered from the previous time I’d made it. Fortunately, none of my students (even those that grew up eating hummus regularly) noticed!

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Zucchini Ricotta Galette

I have mentioned previously that I am obsessed with several other food blogs, one of which is SmittenKitchen. About six months ago, when I was trolling through Deb’s archives, I discovered a delectable vegetarian entree called a galette, which could also go by the name of crostata or even “rustic tart.” I was, in a word, smitten.

The first galette I tried was a spicy autumn variety with butternut squash. The galette was an immediate hit with my husband and his meat-loving best friend, so I knew I would have to try some of the other variations posted on SmittenKitchen. Thus, I am bringing you a lighter and brighter filling that fits the spring weather. Last weekend, when I announced that I was making a galette for dinner, my husband practically started drooling.

Although delicious, the Zucchini Ricotta Galette is a once-in-a-while kind of meal. For one thing, it is loaded with cheese, but the biggest kicker is that it takes about 2 hours to make! I only ever make it on weekends, often when I am procrastinating other chores. It’s worth the wait, but it’s not a low-maintenance meal by any stretch.

That being said, please do carve out some time to make yourself a galette! Serve it with a nice, colorful salad. I promise, you will be happy if you do…

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Breakfast for dinner!

Yesterday I went to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house for dinner and games. And it was glorious…because we had breakfast for dinner!

I made zucchini bread at the last possible second…which is a good trick, since it bakes for an hour! It is really more of a cake than a bread–it’s moist and sweet, but not too sweet, which makes it ideal for breakfast. Despite its name (and like most similarly named treats), this isn’t a particularly healthy breakfast, but it sure is delicious.

Zucchini bread is very easy to make, and I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand. I love bringing this to friends, because it requires almost no effort and it’s always well received. When I brought a batch in for my students recently, they devoured it in 10 minutes flat and were quite surprised to discover that the “green stuff” in it was a vegetable!

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Dad’s Poached Eggs

I’m not really sure when Easter was reduced from celebrating the life and resurrection of Jesus to dying eggs with vinegar…and even further to stuffing plastic eggs with sugary treats…but I think that slippery slope has had an everlasting effect on Americans. Eggs and Easter are alliteratively associated (haha…ya like that?…I’m an English teacher, give me a break. Okay, I’ll stop).

So a few days ago on Easter, I woke up very early so that I could poach myself and my husband some eggs for breakfast before church.

When I was growing up, one of the most exciting breakfast treats was my dad’s poached eggs. This was a collaborative effort between my parents, and it was a highly elusive breakfast, because my mom had to make bread AND then my dad had to decide to poach some eggs, all in the same weekend. But when it happened, it was so great! In fact, I like this breakfast so much that it’s what I requested on the day I got married. (Weird, right? You’d think I’d go for chocolate chip pancakes given my choco-obsession…)

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White Bread

Growing up, there were few pleasures so simple as eating a fresh slice of my mom’s white bread spread with butter. The bread would release whirls of steam when she cut into it…the butter would instantly melt into the warm surface…and my slice would be gone in about 10 seconds flat.

Apparently, when my mom and dad got married, she made sandwich bread every week, rather than buying Wonderbread at the store. Unfortunately, waning free time (er…and probably the neediness of two small children) ultimately demanded she stop this tradition, but we still lucked out every now and then. In fact, my favorite thing about snow days was that my mom would make several loaves of bread and my brother and I got to enjoy the most delicious sandwiches EVER for a week or so.

By the way, in case you don’t know anything about snow in Richmond, VA, where I grew up, let’s just say that the mere prediction of snow causes mass insanity among the natives. Everyone simultaneously panics–no one would dare risk their lives driving in snow–and races to the store to buy every loaf of bread, gallon of milk, and carton of eggs in existence. Because naturally, the 1 inch dusting of snow that covers the lawns and trees and just maybe the streets of Richmond will prevent anyone from buying such commodities ever again.

My mom is much more sensible than that, having grown up in Long Island, and so she contents herself to fill the house with the most delicious smell that was ever created: fresh, homemade bread.

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Zesty Wheat Scones

I have been on a mega scone kick lately. It all started a few months ago when I got together with several of my work friends for brunch. I brought cinnamon swirl scones…and loved them so much that I made them again the next day. And then I made scones again the week after that. And then it was clear that I was obsessed.

I first became interested in scones after a trip to England a bit over a year ago. I had seen several references to scones with clotted cream on cafe menus, but somehow I never managed to try them (maybe because the word “clotted” doesn’t strike up a lot of confidence within me…). But when I began my recipe project, making the perfect scones was high on the list. I tried to make clotted cream, too, but after several lengthy and failed attempts, I gave in to the cold truth that the right kind of cream (unpasteurized) is simply not sold in the U.S., and you can’t make proper clotted cream without it.

The good thing that came out of all that disappointment was a fantastic recipe for scones, compiled from a lot of reading and several different recipes.

Scones are a great treat for any time of day (as I proved to myself repeatedly during my manic scone-making phase); the only problem is that they are not exactly the healthiest baked good on the block. So when I was tasked with bringing snack to one of my MEd classes, I decided to tinker with the scone recipe I usually make and try to improve its health factor.

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Spring Mix Salad

It’s the time of year when I start thinking a lot about my waistline (er…actually, when isn’t it that time of year?). I’ve been going to a lot of events lately where I eat a lot of carb-rich foods (also known as: my favorite). If you are anything like me, not only are those calories difficult to resist, but also they head straight toward creating a muffin top. Not cool.

So, take a break with me! Enjoy the simplicity of vegetables.

This is a salad I like to eat for lunch. It reminds me a little of a restaurant appetizer because of the large chunky tomatoes and how few ingredients there are total. You can easily increase or decrease the quantity depending on how hungry you are or how many people are eating with you, and it will still only take 5 minutes! I love how I feel after eating something light like this for lunch. And, if you are particularly hungry, this salad goes great with a slice of whole grain bread and a bit of cheese or some Greek yogurt.

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Nana’s Blondies

When I was in middle school, I used to stay at my grandparents’ house after school. Now, before you jump to conclusions, my grandparents weren’t the spoiling type; they were a little more like my parents with extra experience. I diligently did my homework, they tolerated my endless hours of clarinet practice, and my grandfather taught me HTML so I could create my own webpage about how much I loved Hanson. Yes. You read that last thing correctly.

My grandparents are pretty much amazing (well…whose grandparents aren’t?). I could wax on about all of their creative genius accomplishments, but instead, I will tell you about Nana’s blondies.

My grandmother was very involved with outreach and local charities. She used to bake for church events and local food banks. And for me 🙂 The first time she gave me a blondie for my afternoon snack, I couldn’t even figure out what it was. All I knew was that it was chewy and caramelly and buttery and full of butterscotch chips, and I had to have another one. (Yes…I did often sneak seconds…maybe in that respect, my grandparents were the spoiling type, because they never said anything.)

It wasn’t until years later that I even heard the term “blondies,” and when I asked my grandmother for the recipe, she firmly denied ever having made such a treat.

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Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Spring is such a funny season…one day it’s 70 degrees and sunny, and the next it is 40 degrees and raining cats and dogs. This week has been exactly that. And on a cold and rainy day, there is nothing better than a bowl of hot soup in my belly.

French onion soup has long been one of my favorites; it’s so rich, and the fact that it’s topped with a layer of cheesy bread is just divine. But, I’ve been a vegetarian (well…pescetarian) for about 7 months now, which meant that my old standby recipe for French onion soup was no longer an option.

So I set about finding a new recipe that I could serve to friends who were coming over for dinner. A lot of online commentaries mentioned miso as the key ingredient to a vegetarian version of this soup, but since I hate miso, I really wanted to get a recipe that didn’t call for it, since it would probably be better balanced. The one I found, from an old issue of The Vegetarian Times, turned out perfectly!

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