Holiday granola

Margaux says…

This time of year, when peaches are extra, super delicious at the farmer’s market (and those 4 lb boxes at Trader Joe’s! Yum!) my favorite breakfast is yogurt, granola and peaches. It’s really like a heavenly dessert for breakfast. Juicy, sweet peaches. Creamy, rich (whole milk, of course) yogurt. And crunchy granola, with tons of nuts and a hint of salty-sweet. I also have it for dessert sometimes, too (it’s great on ice cream!) And for a mid-day snack. We walk through one of those 4 lb boxes of peaches in about a half a week!

Holiday Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

The granola is just as an important ingredient as the peaches. It can’t be too sweet, too chewy, or too hard. Supermarket granola, even the best kind, always has a weird aftertaste to me, almost like a coating is left in my mouth. I really don’t like it. Thankfully, making your own granola is really easy. I have two recipes that I use, both from my Aunt Judy. I’ve already posted one, the original “crunchy granola,” that I make on a regular basis. It’s very cheap, quick and easy. I also use this recipe, which Aunt Judy calls “Holiday Granola.” It has a few more ingredients (more nuts!), and uses real maple syrup instead of honey and maple flavoring like the other one. My aunt makes it for friends and family members as Christmas gifts, which is how I first tasted it. It makes a perfect Christmas gift because of the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) and dried cranberries: it’s red and green. I prefer it to the “Crunchy Granola” recipe, but don’t make it as often because it’s quite a bit more expensive. But it is totally worth it!

Maple Pecan Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Holiday Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup large flake, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ, preferably untoasted*
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit blend (optional)**

* I’ve made this gluten-free by substituting flax meal for the wheat germ and had great results.

**I leave out the dried fruit during the summer because I don’t want it competing with my delicious in-season fruits. Totally your call, though. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Heat maple syrup, oil and salt together, stirring to dissolve salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in large flat pan (I use a large baking sheet and it fits perfectly).  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or more, until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Sprinkle dried fruit over granola and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers.

Note: I have subbed all sorts of nuts for the ones suggested, just sticking to the same measurements. In this last batch I swapped half the pecans for cashews, and in the past I have used chopped walnuts in place of pecans, pistachios in place of pumpkin seeds and an additional 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in place of sesame seeds. Just make sure all the nuts are raw and unsalted!

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Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

Margaux says…

I love making frittatas for dinner in the summer.  It’s a great way to use up random produce sitting in the fridge, it’s quick and easy, and it is best served at room temperature, which is great in summer.  I got the idea for this one from Skinnytaste.com, except this isn’t the skinny version.

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

We don’t have tons of tomatoes and zucchinis like some people, because we unfortunately don’t have a garden.  But I know that when you do grow those things, they are plentiful, so this is a great way to use it up.  And the Asiago adds so much delicious flavor to this dish!

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

2 medium zucchinis, cut into matchsticks

8 large eggs

3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1/4 cup chopped basil

salt and pepper

2 small garden tomatoes, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together eggs with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and Asiago cheese.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 10″ non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and turn up heat to medium-high.  Saute until zucchini is soft, about 2 more minutes.  Add egg mixture and let sit for a minute, then tilt the pan and loosen the edges with a spatula, letting uncooked egg slide underneath.  Cook until the underside is golden but the top is still liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the top of the frittata, sprinkle a little salt on them, and transfer to a center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake until the top is set, about 5 minutes.  If the top doesn’t set in that amount of time, turn the broiler on high, move the rack to the top position, and broil until the top sets, about 1-2 minutes.  Don’t overcook!  Remove pan from oven and let cool to warm.  Remove frittata from pan onto a large serving plate, or cut right in the pan and serve.  I like to serve it at room temperature, but it’s also good warm.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My dad is the family cook. You can find him in the kitchen most of the time, especially when my brothers were teenagers…I remember him telling me once that he is constantly cooking something; the minute something is done, the vultures descend and gobble it up, and he just starts cooking the next thing. I probably learned the most about cooking from Dad.

Dad

He even comes to our house and cooks (nice boarded-up window in the background, huh?  The pane just fell out one day and smashed everywhere.  It’s fixed now.)

Dad

Like any good cook, he likes to test things over and over and perfect them.  The first thing that I remember him doing this with was pumpkin pie.  We ate pumpkin pie for months (well, it was probably weeks, but in my child-mind we were eating pie every night for a year), which is no problem for me because I love pumpkin pie, until he got his own recipe just right.  Another time we were having all different kinds of stovetop macaroni and cheese…also no problem for me!  This winter he’s been doing quick breads…you can pretty much always find a loaf somewhere in his kitchen right now.  This one really stood out for me.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

I love the texture and earthy flavor the whole wheat gives to this bread.  It’s super moist and dense from the sweet potato and banana, and because of the oil you can refrigerate it without losing any of it’s texture.  It’s really great plain, for breakfast or a snack, and extra super good drizzled with cream cheese glaze for a dessert.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I hadn’t had this before Margaux made and posted it, but I love banana bread and thought the addition of sweet potato would be just that much better.  I made it this morning and both Randy and I loved it!  It’s not too sweet and, as Margaux has noted, has a great texture.  It’s silky and the whole wheat flour gives a slight crunch.  Delish!  I will definitely put this in regular rotation for the occasional Sunday morning treat.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Banana Bread

1 cup white flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 small sweet potato, mashed
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour (or use baking spray with flour) 9×5″ loaf pan (or two mini loaf pans like I used).

Sift together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, banana, sweet potato, yogurt, sugars and vanilla until completely combined. Add the oil and butter and mix until completely combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped walnuts with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan(s), bake for 45-55 minutes (I start checking at 45 minutes and kind of babysit it. It gets really dark and crispy on top, check it with a toothpick inserted in the center.) Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack completely.

AS Cook’s Notes: I used a 9×4 pan and it took 60 minutes in my oven.  I also did not pre-sift the flours before sifting with other dry ingredients.  I thought I would try this because it seems sifting is not found in many recipes these days, even though this defies everything I learned in 4H and from Mom/Granny. 🙂 I learned recently from the Julia Child cookbook I just got that sifting isn’t necessary with today’s flours.  I used pecans and added currants, which are standard additions in my banana bread recipe.

Cream Cheese Glaze

2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled bread.

Any extra glaze can be stored in the freezer until next time you make the bread, or to use on something else. Or you can put way more glaze on your bread than I did! 🙂

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Buddy was interested in what Randy and I were exclaiming about!  It was a new rhubarb recipe – a spin on the classic sour cream streusel coffee cake. We can’t get enough rhubarb here at S&SK, so when this recipe showed up last week on Pinterest, I ran right over to my friend Dianne’s.  I am lucky to have my pick of their beautiful ruby red rhubarb during the season.  Here’s how much we liked it . . . as we were eating the last of it, Randy asked if I would make it again this year.  This from a man who did not grow up with rhubarb and isn’t as wild about it as Margaux and I are!

Adapted from Relishing It

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease an 8-inch square baking pan

The cake batter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup yogurt or sour cream

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1 /2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

The rhubarb and the streusel

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 /4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened

pinch of kosher salt

Prepare the rhubarb by combining it with the orange rind and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Prepare the streusel by combining the remaining brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, the cinnamon, 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl.  Cut with a fork until crumbly.  Stir in the walnuts; set aside.

Prepare the cake batter.  First place 2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Whisk together to thoroughly blend; set aside.

Next, cream 1 stick of butter and the granulated sugar until creamy on high speed with a mixer.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on high speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined.  Add the yogurt and mix till blended, then the remaining dry ingredients.  Beat on low until just incorporated, being careful not to over mix.

Place half of the batter in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of the streusel evenly over the batter in the pan and then dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the streusel.  Smooth out with a spatula.  Place the remaining streusel on top of the batter.

Top all with the rhubarb mixture, being careful to drain of any liquefied sugar.  Press the rhubarb down into the batter a little.

Place in the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes.  Check the center for doneness with a toothpick at 50 minutes and continue baking according to doneness.  Let the cake cool slightly before serving either warm or at room temperature.

You can enjoy immediately, and it will last for a few days if  stored covered at room temperature.

Margaux says…
Happy Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, I don’t get to host Thanksgiving dinner yet. I suppose I could, but I don’t know that anyone would come besides my husband and son. And that would be a lot of food for the three of us. So until I get the pleasure, which isn’t going to be for years, I will make something ridiculously rich for breakfast (setting us up for a day of rich food, of course!).

This year I made a coffee cake from the November Bon Appetit. I heeded their advice and made it the night before, and I’m so glad I did! Not only was it ready to eat first thing in the morning, but the flavors had melded together into perfection overnight (full confession, we had some tastes last night before bed). This cake is absolutely delicious, and it will feed a crowd! I highly recommend trying it this holiday season for your overnight guests.

We had a hard time getting it out of the pan, and ended up breaking it in half, actually. It’s really hard to get it off the bottom and center tube of the pan. I was thinking that next time I may just leave it on the tube, which won’t make for a pretty presentation, but we won’t have a broken cake. My mom suggested cutting out a cardboard round that is the exact same size as the cake (or maybe an inch wider all around), sliding it onto the center tube, and inverting the cake onto it. I think that will probably work…you’ll just have to have someone help by holding the sides in place as you flip it over. If anyone tries this, let me know how it works!

Brown Butter, Ginger, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake
from Bon Appetit, November 2011 issue

Brown Butter

2 cups plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (possibly more)

Topping

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Cake

Unsalted butter (for pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (or I used sliced)

Grease a nonstick 10″ tube pan with removable bottom with butter. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brown Butter

Simmer 2 cups plus 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned bits form, about 6-8 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup. If needed, add more butter to measure 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (added butter will melt).

Topping

Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown butter (reserve remaining butter for cake). Stir until moist clumps form. Stir in ginger. Set aside.

Cake

Butter pan generously. Whisk all-purpose flour and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup browned butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and thick, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture just to blend.
Spoon half of cake batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Scatter 1 cup of topping over. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over, smooth. Add almonds to remaining topping; squeeze to form 1/2″ clumps and scatter evenly over batter in pan.
Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides; let cool completely. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

Spicy Ginger Soda

May 7, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This delicious drink is part of an article in this month’s Bon Appetit on making your own sodas.  My friend Tamzan made it for me when I was over at her place for lunch recently and we both went “Wow”!  These recipes were all without alcohol, but we began to speculate what kind of booze would work well.  The next day I saw this video from a fellow Minnesota food blogger in which he added vodka.  I served this drink (with vodka) to my book club last night, and we all agreed that it was delicious and refreshing!  I served it without alcohol at a family gathering for Mother’s Day the following week.  The good news is that it is equally delicious with or without alcohol!  I think we need to come up with a name for the drink when served with vodka – any ideas?

You’ll note that it starts with making a simple syrup which needs about an hour or so, so leave yourself time.  This recipe makes enough syrup for about 9 drinks – more than specified in the Bon Appetit article.

Margaux says…

We made spicy rum chillers with it, and it was delicious!!  Just add a shot of rum and a lime wedge to the basic drink recipe below.  It’s perfect for summer!

The Spicy Ginger Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons dried chili pepper flakes

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid into a jar and discard the ginger/chili pepper solids.

The Drink

Place ice in a 12-ounce glass.  Add 2 tablespoons of the ginger syrup and juice from a wedge of lime.  Add soda or sparkling mineral water to fill the glass and stir.  If serving with vodka (or rum or tequilla), leave enough room.  Add liquor to your taste – I used a little less than a shot.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe showed up in my Facebook feed from Food & Wine recently as part of a Moroccan menu.  It appealed to me for many reasons – I love Moroccan food, it has fruit and nuts in it, and it stated that it’s not too sweet.  It did not disappoint!  The recipe suggested to serve these with whipped cream, but we thought they were great without.  After seeing Margaux’s comments about the honey whipped cream, we’ll try them that way next time. As with many sweets, this was great in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea.  Moroccan mint tea would make it really authentic.

Margaux says…

I made these for a Sunday dinner dessert, and they were delicious!  I served them topped with honey-whipped cream, and drizzled with honey, to give them a little extra sweetness.  But I think that they are much better suited to brunch or breakfast.  I can’t wait to eat the one we have left over for breakfast with a cup of coffee!!  I think they could also be baked in a muffin pan, if you don’t have ramekins.  However, I wouldn’t use paper muffin cups for fear that a lot of cake would be left behind on the paper when unwrapping them.  Just do the same process of buttering and sugaring the muffin tin, and it should work just fine.  Mine took less than the 30 minutes to bake…I checked at 25 minutes and they were done.  I possibly could have taken them out at 23 or 24 minutes even.

To make the honey whipped cream, just whip 1 cup of heavy cream with an electric mixer on high speed, adding honey as you’re beating, to your desired sweetness.  I added about 1 tablespoon of honey, but you may want it to be sweeter, especially if you’re serving the cakes for dessert.

Ingredients

  • Butter and granulated sugar, for coating
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and sugar six 1-cup ramekins. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the confectioners’ sugar until dissolved. Stir in the dates, walnuts and oil, then stir in the dry ingredients.  I’m including a photo of what the “batter” looks like at this stage – don’t be daunted by how stiff it is.

In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. Stir one-third of the whites into the batter to loosen it, then fold in another third of the whites until incorporated.  This takes some muscle!! Lastly, gently fold in the remaining whites until just a few white streaks remain. Neatly spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins.

Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides to loosen the cakes and unmold them onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.