Sunday, July 19, 2015

Homemade Granola

My latest obsession has been yogurt parfaits. On an impulse yesterday I decided to make some homemade granola. I looked at a few recipes to get some ideas and ended up coming up with a recipe that turned out better than I had hoped. It's so easy and delicious that I am planning to always keep some homemade granola on hand. 

4 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
dried cherries, or another type of dried fruit (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, and pecan pieces.

In a smaller bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt and mix well. Pour the wet mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat the oats evenly. Add however much dried fruit you would like (I used about 1/4 to 1/3 cup).

Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper or foil. 

Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes. Allow the granola to cool completely before digging in. 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homemade Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli

2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tbsp water

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined. Turn out onto floured surface. Add water until the dough comes together (mine took an additional 3 tablespoons - but add it incrementally). Knead for about 5 minutes. Form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, make the filling.

4oz goat cheese (softened)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
8oz finely chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)

Chop mushrooms and saute in olive oil. Drain excess liquid. Combine ingredients in medium size bowl. 

Making the Ravioli:
Take the dough ball out of the refrigerator and cut into quarters. Use one quarter section at a time, keeping the remaining dough wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter so as not to dry out. Cut the quarter section in half. Roll out each half to desired thickness. I used a pasta maker and did several passes, each pass setting the pasta maker incrementally thinner, until the sheet has passed through the thinnest setting. This make the ravioli thin and delicate, so as not to be too doughy. Lightly flour the dough between passes so it doesn't stick. 

Place one sheet over a ravioli mold. You can buy these online or in kitchen supply stores, but I just used a miniature cupcake pan which worked well. Gently poke the dough over each cup in the mold to make a little pouch for the filling. Using a tablespoon put in as much filling into each cup as will fit. Gently pat down the filling in each cup to remove air pockets that have formed. Place the second sheet on top and, holding the ends of the dough and the pan, flip quickly onto a lightly floured surface.  

Gently press down around the filled pouches for each ravioli to remove air pockets. With a ravioli stamp, or cutter, cut out the ravioli into your desired shape. Stamps or cutters are preferable to using a knife because they crimp the ends of the dough together, sealing the ravioli. This works better than pinching it by hand, and looks a whole lot more professional.

Once your ravioli are all made, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Boil ravioli for 3-4 minutes. Drain and serve.  

Vegan Chocolate "Cheesecake"

An old coworker gave me this recipe and it is one of my favorite "healthy" desserts as of late. It's pretty easy to make, but is best made a day in advance.

2 cups almonds
1 cup dates

3 cups cashews (soaked for at least an hour)
3/4 cup raw honey
3/4 cup coconut oil (should be in liquid form)
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional berry sauce:
3 cups frozen berries
1/4 cup honey

Place the almonds and dates in a food processor and process until fine. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.

Put all of the "cheese" ingredients in the food processor or a Vitamix (make sure the coconut oil is melted first) and process at high speed until very smooth. Adjust to taste.

Pour the mixture onto the crust. Tap the pan on your countertop a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Put the "cheesecake" in the freezer until firm, at least three hours but if possible overnight. 

Transfer "cheesecake" to the fridge for at least an hour before eating.

To make the berry sauce, blend or process ingredients until smooth, and adjust to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and spoon a couple of tablespoons onto slices when serving. 


Valentine's Day Mini Cheesecakes

My parents have always had a Valentine's Day tradition of surprising my brothers and I with gifts on the kitchen table the morning of Valentine's Day. There was something so special about running down the stairs to find wrapped gifts at each of our places on the kitchen table. Although I live across the country, my sweet mom has kept up the tradition by sending me a gift every Valentine's Day. A couple of years ago she gave me mini heart shaped spring form pans. It gave me the perfect excuse to bake some mini cheesecakes for V-Day yesterday.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used a food processor)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

Stir-In Options (for each 1/4 of batter)
Peanut butter - 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 1 tablespoon milk (or almond milk)
Chocolate chip - 1/4 chocolate chips

Other options from the recipe that I haven't tried:
Apple pie - 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup warm apple pie filling, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
New York cheesecake - 1/4 cup sour cream and 1 tablespoon flour
S'mores - 3 tablespoons chocolate chips, 1/4 cup mini marshmallows, 1 tablespoon broken graham crackers
Mocha - 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules mixed with 2 teaspoons hot water, 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. With a spoon press about 1/3 cup of the mixture onto the bottom of each of four mini spring form pan. 

Bake at 300 degrees for about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing at a low speed until just blended. Pour about 1 cup of the batter into each of the four spring form pans, unless you are planning to do a stir in option.

If you are doing the stir in option pour the batter into 4 separate small bowls. Add in the stir in ingredients, mix well and then pour into the spring form pans.

Bake at 300 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until the centers are almost set. Run a knife or metal spatula around the rims of the pans. Let the cakes cool before removing the rims of the pans. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.