Archives for posts with tag: cooking

Almost any homemade pizza dough recipe article will say that their pizza dough recipe is easier than ordering pizza delivery. Few things in this world are easier than calling and ordering a pizza — I am not going to lie. However, this pizza dough recipe I got from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook is very easy and fun for kids.

You need 5 ingredients:
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of water
Olive oil for greasing the pan
Toppings of choice

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1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add water to the dry ingredients and mix with a big spoon until incorporated with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix and don’t knead the dough. You just need to form a ragged mass shaped like a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least three hours or up to 12 hours.

2. When you are ready, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking pan or iron skillet. Stretch or roll out the dough and press it in the pan or skillet and add toppings. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.

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This is a super easy way to make pizza at home. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Oil an iron skillet. Press your favorite pizza dough into the skillet (I like Trader Joe’s dough). Add your toppings and cheese. Place in the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes and then serve.

I love Pad Thai.  I think I have cut out a million recipes for Pad Thai from various magazines over the years.  One day I was at the market and saw some rice noodles and I really wanted to buy them; but, I wasn’t sure what I would make with them.  Then, I noticed recipes on the back of two different boxes one for Pad Thai and and another for a stir fried rice noodle dish.  I thought I could follow the Pad Thai recipe on one box and add the homemade sauce on the other box.  Last night, I was dying for some Pad Thai.  I got the two boxes out, mixed the recipes, added the ingredients I had on hand, and presto — lazy person’s Pad Thai was born.  I call this a lazy person’s recipe because it is really easy to make and it includes ingredients you probably have at home already.

The first step is to soak 1/2 pound of rice noodles. I used a fairly thick rice noodle.  The box for the noodles said to soak the noodles for 20 minutes in hot tap water.  That didn’t seem to work; so, I added boiling water and let the noodles soak for 30-40 minutes.  They were still stiff when I took them out of the water; but, they loosened up a lot when I stir fried them with the veggies at the end.

Next, make your sauce.  The sauce is made of three ingredients:  fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  This is why I think of this as a lazy recipe.  Many Pad Thai recipes include tamarind paste and other ingredients that I know I will use once and then forget until they go bad and I have to throw them out.  If you like Thai food; then, fish sauce is a good thing to have on hand.  It adds a nice saltiness that is a bit like that secret briny salty flavor you get from melting anchovies into a sauce.  It is inexpensive, it doesn’t go bad, and it is a good flavor enhancer.

Then, stir fry your veggies in a bit of oil.  If you are using broccoli, snap peas, carrots or other long cooking vegetables then stir fry for a few minutes then add a 1/4 cup of water and allow the veggies to steam until they are tender.  If you are using baby spinach or other quick cooking vegetables you can add them at the very end of the recipe.  After your long-cooking veggies are almost done, add cubes of firm or extra firm tofu.

Add one to two slightly whisked eggs.  Allow the egg to firm up and then scramble it with a spatula.

Add your softened rice noodles. Stir fry the noodles until they soften.  Then add the sauce and stir fry for another minute.  Add fresh chopped cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, slices of lime.

Enjoy!  This isn’t the most authentic or most complex-tasting Pad Thai; but, it is easy and versatile.  You can add other vegetables.  You could take out the tofu.  You could add fresh mint, bean sprouts, chopped scallions or try other nuts.  Have fun!

Lazy Person’s Pad Thai

Adapted from Thai Kitchen & Taste of Thai recipes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

a couple of handfuls of broccoli florets

a couple of handfuls of snap peas, thinly sliced

4 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and dried and cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 pound of thick rice noodles

1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

1/4 cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

2 limes, sliced into 8 wedges

1.  Soak rice noodles in boiling water from 30-40 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Make sauce — mix fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl.

3.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and snap peas (or whatever firm vegetables you like — carrots, etc).  Stir fry for a minute or so.  Add 1/4 cup of water and let the vegetables steam in the water for a few minutes.  Add the tofu and stir fry it for a few minutes.  Add the eggs let them set for a minute or so.  Then, scramble the eggs with a spatula until they are fully cooked.  Add the noodles and stir fry them until they are just limp.  Add the sauce and mix it with the other ingredients for almost a minute.  Add cilantro and peanuts (and quick cooking greens like baby spinach — if you like).  Serve each portion with two lime wedges.  Note:  You could also add bean sprouts and/or chopped scallions at the end as garnishes.

I love the Pioneer Woman!  If you have not seen her blog, food network tv show, or cookbooks, I highly recommend that you check them out.  I like her recipes because they are good, easy, and she shows you step-by-step how to prepare the food.  On her blog she posted this recipe that she called, “Tortilla rollups.”  To me, they look like sushi if it were turned into a sandwich.  These are super easy to make, healthy, and really cute.  I am always looking for a quick lunch or snack recipe; and, this works well for both.  These take about 10 minutes to make and can be modified based on what you have in your fridge — as long as you have tortillas and cream cheese (or some other sticky spread like peanut butter, hummus, goat cheese, etc.).

So, first cut your veggies into matchsticks.  I used carrots, cucumbers, and turkey the first time I made these rolls.  I used carrot, cucumber, turkey, and avocado the second time.  Avocado was really good and held the roll together.

Spread cream cheese (or hummus, or peanut butter, etc.) on a large tortilla.

Place veggies, turkey, or whatever you have on the side of the tortilla.  The Pioneer Woman placed her filling in the center of the tortilla.  I tried that method and it worked as well.  The idea is to get a lot of filling into the tortilla (without breaking the tortilla) so that it is nice and round when you slice it into rolls.

Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can — like when you roll up your sleeping bag to try to get it back into that tiny sack it came  in — that tight.  At this point, The Pioneer Woman put it in the refrigerator for one hour.  I don’t usually have one hour to wait; so, I tried refrigerating it for 30 minutes — that worked well.  I also made one roll that I didn’t refrigerate at all — that worked as well.  But, if you have time, stick it in the fridge for a little while.  The roll is firmer and sticks together better if it has been refrigerated.

Slice into pieces.

Enjoy!  Feel free to improvise based on what you have in your fridge.  Let me know if you come up with some good combinations.

Sandwich Sushi

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

Soft cream cheese

Large flour tortillas (1 tortilla makes 6 rolls)

Turkey, shredded or thinly sliced length-wise

1 carrot (per roll), peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 cucumber (per roll), seeds scraped out and cut into matchsticks

1 avocado (per roll), sliced

Spread cream cheese on to a tortilla.  Add veggies and meat to the side or the middle.  Roll tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour.  Slice into 6 pieces.

This week the Edamamemonster visited a local preschool to do some cooking with a classroom of 2-3 year olds.  I tried to find a good recipe; but, it is hard to find a recipe that children this young can do by themselves.  So, I invented fruit pizza.  The idea is to spread some low-fat cream cheese on a tortilla, add some finely chopped fruit, and sprinkle with shredded coconut and/or sesame seeds.  Then, a grown up helper can cut the pizza into slices.

I used low-fat cream cheese (you could also use strawberry cream cheese or other flavors to add flavor and color).  I finely chopped strawberries, grapes, and watermelon.  I also put out blueberries.  The kids had a lot of fun!  They were really proud that they could make a pizza all by themselves.

The fruit pizza can easily become a fruit burrito by rolling it up.  This is a fun and safe activity for preschoolers.  I think older kids would also have fun making this healthy snack.

Fruit Pizza

Ingredients

Finely chopped fruit

Shredded coconut

Sesame seeds

Tortillas

Cream Cheese

Materials

Paper plates

Plastic knives

Saran wrap

Masking tape or stickers (to write names on)

Permanent Marker

Knife

1.  Put the cream cheese containers on a table with a plastic knife in each container.  Put the fruit into bowls and put them on the table.  Put the shredded coconut into bowls.  Put spoons in all the bowls so that the children can take the fruit, coconut, etc out and put it on their pizza.  Put a paper plate on the table for each children.  Place a tortilla on each paper plate.

2.  Let the children put the cream cheese on their tortillas and put fruit, coconut, and sesame seeds on their “pizza.”    Take a knife and cut the pizza into slices.  Put the child’s name on a sticker or masking tape on his/her plate.  Cover with Saran Wrap.

It is raining, it is cold, and I keep reading about hot pots on two of my favorite Japanese food blogs — The Japanese Food Report and La Fuji Mama.  I tried to make a traditional Japanese Sukiyaki with beef and vegetables.  I didn’t really like it.  I think I overcooked the beef.  Then, I decided to work with food that is more in my comfort range — vegetables, noodles, and tofu.  I found various recipes on the internet and looked around my kitchen and came up with this recipe.  It turned out really delicious.  And, it is very versatile; so, think of this as a good recipe to use to just clean out your refrigerator.  It also is good to make if you are cooking with people that have strong opinions about what goes into their meals (i.e. people on special diets, kids, etc.); because, you could make a couple of small pots of  this soup and let everyone put what they like in their pot.

I started by chopping and slicing all the vegetables I had in my refrigerator.  I think it is important to have some mushrooms (here I used fresh shiitakes) and some onion.  The other vegetables are optional and can vary based on what you have and what you like.

I also drained and cubed some firm tofu.  Soft tofu would also be good.  You can add any other protein you like. If you are using leftover meat that has already been cooked — add it at the end to just heat it up.  If you are using uncooked meat, add it at the beginning with the mushrooms and onions.

Boil four cups of water with four tablespoons of light soy sauce, two tablespoons of mirin, mushrooms, and onions.  Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  For extra umami, you can add a piece of kombu (dried seaweed).  The kombu is optional; but, if you can find some (Whole Foods, Japanese market, etc.) it adds a nice texture to the soup.

Add your the rest of your vegetables.  I also added some dried rice noodles.  Let it simmer until the noodles and vegetables are cooked.  Season with salt to taste.  Simmer for another minute and remove from the heat.

Enjoy!

I sprinkled a bit of shichimi togarashi on my soup.  Shichimi togarashi is Japanese seven flavor chili pepper.  It typically contains:  red chili pepper, black and white sesame seeds, orange peel, ginger, Sichuan pepper, and nori.  It really adds a lot of flavor to this soup.

I liked this soup so much that I made it again the next night.  I was out of fresh shiitake mushrooms; so, I used dried shiitakes.  I added a piece of kombu, udon noodles, and roasted chicken.  I soaked the kombu and dried shiitakes in warm water for about 20 minutes in the pot before starting the soup.  I kept the soaking water in the pot and took out the shiitakes to stem and slice them.  I returned the mushrooms to the pot with some onions (and the kombu that was left in the pot).  I simmered this for 5 minutes.  Then, I added my remaining vegetables, the pre-cooked udon noodles, and the roasted chicken.

A bit of shichimi togarashi sprinkled on top.  Delicious.  I am looking forward to further experiments using this basic formula.  This soup is quick, delicious, easy to make, and a good use of leftovers.

Slurp-o-licious!

Vegetable Sukiyaki

Note:  Feel free to substitute other vegetables, noodles, and meat into this dish.  If you are using meat that has already been cooked, add it at the end with the noodles to just warm it up.  If you are using raw meat, add it at the beginning with the onions and mushrooms.  Roasted chicken worked well in this dish.

Ingredients for 2 servings (you can double this recipe)

1 cup fresh or dried shiitakes (soaked in warm water for 20 minutes), sliced

1/2 cup of chopped kale (or bok choy or chard or nappa cabbage)

1/2 cup of sliced red pepper

1/2 cup of tofu (cubed)

1 small onion, sliced

a handful of dried rice noodles or udon noodles (or whatever noodles you like)

4 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoon of mirin

kosher salt

Shichimi togarashi (optional)

1 piece of kombu, rinsed, dried with a towel, and soaked in warm water for 20 minutes (optional)

Boil 4 cups of water with the soy sauce, mirin, mushrooms, onion, and kombu (if using).  Let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add red pepper, kale, tofu, and noodles.  Let simmer again until the noodles are soft.  Season with some salt.  Cook for another minute.  Remove from heat.  Remove kombu.  Season with shichimi togarashi.

I know this isn’t an authentic Mexican recipe.  The inspiration for this dinner came from the fact that my son would rather eat at Chipotle then eat anything I cook.  So, I decided to try to bring Chipotle home.  First, I wanted to figure out how they make their rice.  I was shocked when I saw my son scarfing down the rice at Chipotle; because, it has cilantro in it (yes, green things)!  I searched the internet and found the recipe ChipotleFan.com.  This website has (unofficial) recipes for all the food at Chipotle.  The rice recipe was basically a pilaf with a lot of lime and cilantro.  I took this information and just adjusted the rice pilaf recipe I make from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

I started by getting my chicken in the oven.  I rinsed the chicken, tied its legs with kitchen twine, and then lathered it with butter and a spice rub that I got from Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast.  The rub had chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, oregano, and kosher salt. I roasted it at 425 for an hour.  Many cooks and chefs believe that chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.  I have read various things regarding the temperature a chicken needs to be before it is considered done.  The U.S. government states that it must be 180 degrees at the thigh.  This means that the breast is way overdone.  Martha Stewart’s book says that the temperature should be 160 degrees at the thigh for the chicken to be done.  I have followed Martha’s advice and it has served me well.  You can also just cut into the chicken and see if it is cooked all the way.  This will cause the loss of some of the chicken’s juices and will lead to a drier chicken.

Back to the meal.  Then, I got to work on my rice.  I have a rice cooker; so, making perfect rice is really easy.  I just melted some butter, coated the rice in the butter, then added fresh lime juice, water, salt.  When the rice was done,  I added a ton of minced fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice and salt to taste.  I closed the lid and let the rice steam with the added cilantro and lime.  I highly recommend investing in a rice cooker.  I use mine several times a week for sushi rice, pilaf, etc.  It is the one way to make perfect rice with a minimal amount of effort.

To complete the meal — I chopped up some avocado, drained a can of pinto beans, added some pico de gallo.  I sprinkled some chopped cilantro over the plates for the adults.  This rice bowl was easy to make and delicious!  I like this kind of dinner with children; because, they can pick what they want to put in their rice bowl.  You can add different kinds of steamed or roasted vegetables to make this more nutritious and add some variety.  You can also use different types of beans.  A variety of color and texture can help to get a child  (or picky grown up) to eat a healthy meal.

Also — do not be afraid to roast a chicken.  I was freaked out by an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they made roasting a chicken seem like a feat that only Thomas Keller could pull off.  But, then I discovered Martha Stewart’s method and I have successfully roasted many chickens.  It is very easy and really delicious.  A good quality chicken roasted at home is a real treat.  Try it.  If you need help let me know.  I am an experience chicken roasting coach — I can walk you through it.

Mexican style roast chicken

Adapted from Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart

Chile Rub (optional)

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl:

1 tablespoon of chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine (tuck the wings under the chicken, if desired, for a neater presentation.  Place the chicken on a rack set in a roasting pan.

2.  Rub the chicken with butter.  Season with the chile rub or just salt and pepper  Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees (see note above regarding cooking temperatures) when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone), 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Cilantro & Lime Rice (for a rice cooker)

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups of long-grain white rice (such as basmati)

2 3/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 limes

1/4 cup or more fresh cilantro, minced

1.  Set the rice cooker for Quick Cook or regular cycle.  Place the butter in the rice bowl.  When melted, add the rice.  Cook, stirring a few times, until are the grains are evenly coated and hot, about 5 minutes.  Add the water, the juice of 1 lime, and salt.  Close the cover and reset for the regular cycle.

2.  When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, open the cover and add the rest of the lime juice and the cilantro.  Close the cover and let the rice steam for a few minutes.  When ready to serve, fluff the rice and add salt to taste.

Cilantro & Lime Rice for the stovetop

1 cup of basmati rice

1 1/2 cups of water

1 tablespoon of butter

2 limes

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or more to taste)

1.  Heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and add the rice.  Coat the rice in the butter and let it heat up for about 5 minutes.  Add the water and salt.  Bring the heat up to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and let stand cover for 5-10 minutes.  Add the cilantro and remaining lime juice cover and let steam for a few more minutes.  Add salt to taste.

To Make the Mexican Rice Bowl

Add some chicken, some rice, diced avocado, drained canned pinto beans, and pico de gallo to a bowl.  You can also add other vegetables or other types of beans.  Sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the top.

In my CSA box from last week I got a ton of green beans.  The first thing I thought of was these slow cooked green beans that I had at a middle eastern restaurant.  I know the current trend is to cook vegetables only until they are crisp.  However, slow cooking the green beans gives them a nice texture and allows the cumin and paprika to give them a rich flavor.  This recipe is very easy and really delicious.

The first step in any green bean recipe is snapping off the ends of the green beans.  Then, thinly slice a medium-sized onion and finely chop 4 cloves of garlic.  Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in  a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about one minute.

After the cumin seeds are fragrant, add the garlic and onion and some salt and pepper.  Cook until the onions are soft and light brown, about 12 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of paprika.  I used the sweet paprika but I think any type of paprika would be fine.  Let the tomato paste cook a bit; then, add 1 1/2 pounds of green beans, 1 28 ounce jar can of whole tomatoes with their juice, and 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed).

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook (half covered) until very tender about 1 hour.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.  You could let this simmer at low heat for longer then an hour.

Serve over steamed rice with a slice of lemon.  If you happen to have preserved lemons, a couple slivers of preserved lemon would be nice.  This is a dish that is so rich and satisfying that you don’t even notice that you aren’t eating meat.  I also like slow cooking because you can clean everything up while the stew is cooking and then you only have one pot (well, two if you cook rice) to clean up after dinner.  Also, while this is cooking, your kitchen will smell amazing.

Slow Cooked Green Beans with Cumin & Paprika

from Saveur

Ingredients

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon of paprika

1 1/2 pounds of green beans, strings removed

1 28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 lemons cut into slices for squeezing over stew at the end

1.  Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2.  Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

3.  Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.  Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 1 hour.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve on steamed rice and a slice of lemon.

I took a cooking class when I was in elementary school and the only recipe I remember from that class was the apple crisp.  It was so good!  Apple crisp is really the lazy person’s pie.  I am all for being lazy in this case; because, making a pie crust is extra work and adds a lot of extra fat and calories that aren’t really necessary to make this a delicious dessert.  In addition, taking the pie crust out of the recipe makes it very easy for kids to make the whole recipe by themselves (with their own little hands) with just a bit of adult supervision.

I got this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  I like this recipe because it works for many different kinds of fruit.  The book includes modifications to the recipe for stone fruit and berries.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then, add 6 tablespoons of butter (cut into cubes), 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 2/3 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl to make the topping.  My daughter mixed the ingredients with a metal pastry blender.  You can also use two knives to break up the butter; or, put the topping in a food processor.  You want the butter to be the size of a pea and incorporated into the other ingredients.

Then, you put your thinly sliced apples and pears in a bowl.  I kept the skin on; but, you can peel them.  Add a bit of lemon juice, grated lemon zest, sugar, cinnamon, and ground ginger to the fruit.

Put the fruit in your pie plate.  Or, if you have a toddler helping you, they can throw the ingredients in the pie plate (as long as most of the fruit ends up in the pie plate).

Crumble the topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake for about an hour and ten minutes.

I put the baked crisp into ramekins to make it look fancy.  You could add a bit of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or frozen yogurt on top.

Then, feel free to attack it.

Apple Pear Crisp (or Lazy Person’s Pie)

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Ingredients for Crisp Topping

6 tablespoons of butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks

3/4 cup of brown sugar

2/3 cup of flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Fruit

2 1/2 pounds of fruit — apples or pears thinly sliced (you can peel them if you like)

Ingredients for coating the fruit

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons of sugar

a pinch of ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Use your fingers or a food processor to work the butter into the rest of the ingredients, so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse, crumbly mixture.  The butter should be the size of a pea.  Do not work the butter too long; because, you don’t want it to melt.

2.  Toss the apples and/or pears with the rest of the ingredients listed under “ingredients for coating the fruit.”  Put the fruit in a pie pan and top with crisp topping.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Serve in small ramekins topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

I got the idea from Martha Stewart to make granola for the grandmothers this Mother’s Day.  This turned out to be a great project because granola is one of those things that just requires a lot of dumping and stirring.  It is a fun cooking project for the kids and you can get a bunch of photos of them making the granola that you can add in the package to grandma.  Add a cute bowl and a nice spoon; and, voila you have a great gift for grandma.

I used the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for granola and added some cinnamon and nutmeg.  But, really, the cool thing about granola is that it is oats, shredded coconut, honey, vegetable oil, and any nut or dried fruit and any spices that you want or happen to have around the house.  So, you can modify the recipe based on the recipient’s tastes.  The ingredients I used are:  canola oil, oats, almonds, honey, sweetened shredded coconut, dried figs, dried cherries, dried apricots, dried cranberries, cashews, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

This is super easy.  Just preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then, mix the oats, coconuts, and almonds in a large bowl.  Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl.

Pour the honey and oil mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread on a baking sheet.

Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown.  This will take about 20-30 minutes.  Granola cooking is really scent-based.  So, you want to stay by the oven while the granola is cooking.  When it is done or almost done it will smell like toasted nuts.  If you start to smell something burning take the baking sheet out immediately .

Let the oats, almonds, and coconuts cool.  Then put them in a bowl and mix in the dried fruit and cashews.  To complete the present, put granola in a nice jar, add a bowl and spoon, and a pretty napkin.  You can also include pictures of the children making the granola or use the pictures to make a Mother’s Day card.  Feel free play around with the recipe.  Dried mango, dried papaya, or dried apples would be nice.  You can also add some other spices like ground ginger, ground cardamom, allspice.  What mother or grandmother wouldn’t want a nice bowl of homemade granola for breakfast?


Homemade Granola

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  Feel free to experiment with different types of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  You can also play with the spices.  A bit of ground cardamom, ground ginger, ground allspice, or ground clove would be nice in this recipe as well.

Ingredients

4 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

2 cups chopped almonds

3/4 cups canola oil

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 1/2 cups small-diced dried apricots

1 cup small-diced dried figs

1 cup dried cherries

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together.  In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and honey.  Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated.  Pour onto a 13 X 18 inch baking sheet and sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on top.  Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.  Stay by the oven so you can smell the granola cooking.  If you smell the granola burning take it out of the oven immediately.

2.  Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally.  Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, and cashews.  Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.