Monday, August 30, 2010

Cherry Almond Granola

Please ignore the terrible turquoise color cast in this picture. I didn't have a chance to edit it I am not very good at editing. :/

The husband loves sugary, kiddie cereals; His eyes light up when Cocoa Pebbles, Cap'n Crunch, and Lucky Charms go on sale at the grocery store, hoping that I'll throw a box or two in the cart. I, on the other hand, didn't eat those types of cereals growing up, so I never developed a taste for them. In fact, I think most sugary cereals are disgusting and hate buying them for the husband.

What I did eat as a kid was Cheerios, Rice Krispies, shredded wheat (not the frosted kind!), oatmeal and granola. Now as an adult, I don't have time to sit down for breakfast, so I usually eat in my car while I drive to work or I eat in the teacher's lounge once I finally get there, so I like food that is easily portable and doesn't require a lot of dishes or utensils. One of my favorite breakfasts is granola stirred into low-fat or Greek yogurt.

My inner hippie wanted to try her hand at making homemade granola; I scoured the internet looking for recipes and found a ton! Eventually, I decided to just use the basic ideas from two different recipes, and add in the flavors I wanted, creating my own Cherry Almond Granola.

Cherry Almond Granola
Source: inspired by Annie's Eats and Alton Brown, among others
Printable Recipe

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups puffed rice cereal
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the oats, rice cereal, cherries, coconut, and almonds in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredient mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine, ensuring the oat mixture is evenly coated.

Pour the granola onto two baking sheets (I lined mine with parchment to make cleanup easy), spreading into an even layer on each sheet.

Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until nearly dried. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom every time you stir, as well, to ensure they both cook evenly.

Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container or ziplock bag.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tequila Chicken Burgers

I was recently searching for some black bean burger recipes when I found this chicken burger recipe on Cara's Cravings. I love this blog because she keeps her focus on healthy, flavorful food and I have yet to be dissapointed with anything I've tried. So when I saw these burgers I decided to put the black bean burgers on the back burner for a bit and make these instead.

The husband and I were both really happy with the way they turned out as well, though I think next time I might add a bit more salt and some dried crushed jalapeno (or some of the jalapeno ribs ans seeds) for a touch more heat. The burgers were incredibly moist and filling and they were a great way to use chicken without tasting boring.

I'm thinking about making a big batch of these burgers, then freezing them individually for quick weeknight dinners, or easy-to-grab lunches, once the school year starts up again, especially once my Masters program begins at the end of September.

Tequila Chicken Burgers
Source: adapted from Cara's Cravings

Printable Recipe


4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
4 green onions, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
dash of lite soy sauce
1 shot tequila
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup plain oatmeal

Turn on the broiler to High. Spray a sheet of foil with non-stick spray and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until chicken is ground.

Form into 4 uniform patties. Set each patty on the foil and broil for 10-12 minutes, flipping over halfway through.

I served my burgers on sandwich thins with tomato slices and Dijon mustard.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry

This is the second summer I've planted a little container garden on my patio. We don't have much: a tomato plant, a dying crook-neck squash plant, a Meyer lemon tree, and two boxes of herbs, including basil, oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme.

I planted in June rather than April or May this year, and we had really cool weather this spring and early summer, so most of my plants haven't been too prolific this year in their offerings. In fact, my basil plant was yellowy, with only a few bug-eaten leaves for most of the summer.

But then the heat hit in mid-July and all of a sudden it's like someone transplanted a new basil plant into my garden over night. The leaves are large, vibrantly green, and sweetly fragrant. I have to keep on top of it daily now to stop it from flowering.

Other than the usual pesto, I wasn't sure what I wanted to make with all my basil (though I've been dreaming about basil ice cream), until I came across a recipe for Chicken and Basil Stir Fry. I made a few minor changes, including adding broccoli (the husband's fav stiry fry ingredient), crushed dried jalapeno and salt and pepper and upping the amount of basil. Overall this was a good dish, though I would have preferred it to be a bit more spicy and the sauce a bit thicker, though I did double the sauce ingredients (which is reflected below).

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry
Source: Adapted from Casual.Concotions
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup chicken broth
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 small head of broccoli, cut up
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into wedges
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut into small pieces
2 cloves minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped fresh basil, plus additional for garnish
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried jalapeno, optional (you can sub cayenne)


In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, fish sauce, ginger and brown sugar. Add the corn starch and whisk until cornstarch and sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

In a wok heat the oil over high heat until it is hot. Add the bell peppers and zucchini and stir fry for 1 minute. Add jalapeno and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds.

Add the chicken and stir fry until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Stir in basil and green onions and stir-fry until the green onions are just wilted.

Whisk the sauce mixture in bowl again and pour into pan. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil and thickens slightly.

Serve over rice, if desired.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pomegranate Semifreddo and Blueberry Sorbet Bars

First off, I apologize for the long delay in posting!! My laptop was at the Apple store, undergoing repairs for the past several days, and since all my pictures are stored on my laptop, I couldn't post. Also, I recently decided to delete a TON of pictures out of my iPhoto application, hoping it would help speed up my slooooooow computer. In my purging, I deleted photos of several dishes I had not yet blogged....and iPhoto was the only place I'd stored those particular photos. *sigh* That is just like when I decide to clean my house and then throw away, or otherwise misplace, papers that I actually need.

Ok, without further ado, the creamy deliciousness that is pomegranate semifreddo and blueberry sorbet. Another blogger made a similar creation, using completely different flavors recently, adapted from a recipe in Gourmet. I instantly looked up the original Gourmet recipe and decided with my flavor changes, this would be a great dessert for my dad's birthday dinner. He loves blueberry desserts, but I didn't want to make something ordinary, like a pie, so I set out to make this cool concoction.

Semifreddo is Italian for half-cold and refers to any chilled or frozen desserts, including cakes, pies, ice cream, and custards (thank you Google and Epicurious!). The semifreddo in this dessert is a frozen creamy delight, not really ice cream, but not a custard either. I just called it yum.

When freezing your dessert, make sure your pan or container lies flat in the freezer or the contents will slide, making for an uneven, though still deliciously edible, dessert. I used frozen blueberries for the sorbet, as that's what I had on hand, but I bet this would be even better with fresh! Also, the sorbet in this dessert is modified from the blueberry sorbet I made previously; either one would work well here.

I'd recommend making this a day in advance in order to give it enough time to fully freeze; I made mine just a few hours before my parents came over for dinner and it wasn't fully set once it was time for dessert. We ate it anyway, but I would've liked it to have been perfectly ready.

What flavor combination would you use for this dessert?

Pomegranate Semifreddo and Blueberry Sorbet Bars
Source: Semifreddo adapted from
Gourmet, Blueberry Sorbet adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Printable Recipe

Blueberry Sorbet Ingredients
4 cups blueberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar + 1-2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Limencello

Semifreddo Ingredients
(14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
cup chilled heavy cream
blueberries and/or pomegranate seeds for garnish, optional
Sorbet Directions
Line a 9 X 9 pan with plastic wrap.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Strain the mixture to remove the skins and seeds (you definitely want to do this unless you want all your guests to wind up with blueberry stuck in their teeth!).

Freeze in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer's directions.

Smooth into the 9 x 9 pan and place in the freezer, ensuring it is on a level surface.

Semifreddo Directions
Whisk together condensed milk, lime juice, and pomegranate juice.

Beat the chilled cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then gently fold into the condensed-milk mixture.

Spread over the blueberry sorbet, smoothing the top. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours, ensuring the pan is on a level surface in your freezer.

Cut into bars and garnish with fresh blueberries and/or pomegranate seeds, if desired. Keep remaining portions in the freezer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guacamole Salad

The husband and I recently invited my parents over to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday. All 4 of us a big fans of babyback ribs, so I immediately planned to BBQ 3 racks of ribs as the main course. But when it came to the sides, I wasn't sure.

I didn't want to go the traditional route of corn and potato salad, so I kept browsing recipes until I hit upon this guacamole salad. I knew it would be the perfect pairing to our ribs. It was really really good! I bought my avocados a few days before making the salad in order to give them time to get ripe; they were perfectly smooth and creamy, with that faint bacon-y taste that Hass avocados sometimes have.

I added a roasted passilla pepper to the mix to give everything a smokey flavor and tie the salad into the main course. I loved the way the whole things turned out and even at a bowl of the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Guacamole Salad
Source: adapted from Pink Parsley
Printable Recipe


1 passilla pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 jalepeno, seeded, minced
zest of one lime
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground dried jalapeno (you can sub cayenne)
2 ripe Hass avocados, cut into large chunks


Roast a passilla pepper until the skin is blackened. (I roast mine over the flame on the stove). Let the pepper cool, then peel off and discard all of the charred skin. Deseed the pepper and cut it into large chunks.

Combine the first 7 ingredients, including the roasted pepper, in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olve oil, salt, pepper, and dried jalapeno. Pour this dressing over the salad and gently toss, coating all of the vegetables.

Add the avocado just before serving.

Toss and taste before serving; you may want to add a bit more salt at this point.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blueberry Sorbet

I was craving a sweet treat recently, but didn't want to indulge in the full fat ice cream I usually make. I opened the freezer to see what I had on hand and saw several bags of frozen fruit: strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and mixed berries. I know, I know, we're in the thick of summer and all of those are summer fruits. But I didn't want to go to the store to pick up fresh fruit, so I stuck with the frozen, which is picked at the height of ripeness anyway, so it makes a fine substitute.

Anyway, I digress. Looking at the big bag of frozen blueberries I decided to go with a blueberry sorbet, and of course, turned to my ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop. Alas, the tome doesn't include a blueberry sorbet recipe, but it does have a simple blackberry sorbet that I decided to modify, using the ingredients I had on hand. The original recipe calls for fresh lemon juice to help contrast the sweet flavor of the fruit, but I was out of lemons. So I used vodka. Ok, ok, I know what you're saying. Vodka is not acidic like lemon juice, but I was going to use it anyway, since the alcohol content helps keep the sorbet from freezing rock hard.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was cut the sugar down a bit; blueberries are naturlly sweeter than blackberries, so I didn't need to use the same amount of sugar as called for in the original recipe. Oh well, live and learn, right? The final result wasn't TOO sweet, but I think it would be better with a bit more tartness. Which the lemon would have provided. :)

Blueberry Sorbet
Source: Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Printable Recipe

4 cups blueberries
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vodka

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

You can strain the mixture if you want a completely smooth sorbet, but I left mine unstrained.

Freeze in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer's directions.

Transfer to a storage container and store in your freezer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken and Mushroms in a White Wine Sauce

Summer break is a great perk of teaching. After waking up at 6am all school year, I relish sleeping in until 9am every morning. Even then, I set my alarm or I'd easily sleep much much later.

Once I finally do roll out of bed, I usually settle into the couch with my laptop and check out my favorite websites, one of which is Annie's Eats. She always has such beautiful pictures, so even if I'm not too interested in the recipe I love seeing her photography.

I haven't blogged too much this summer, mainly because the husband and I have been eating a lot of stuff that I've made several times before. I feel like we often find a new dish we love, but then never eat it again because I want to make something new to feature on my blog. But then a few days ago, Annie's Eats posted a recipe for Chicken and Artichokes in White Whine Sauce, served over rice, that looked especially good. A quick browse through the recipe and I saw I had nearly all of the ingredients, except for the artichokes, and that it wouldn't take too long to make, so I quickly decided to cook it for dinner that night.

I didn't want to run out to the store, so I just omitted the artichokes, and I used two large portabella mushrooms, rather than the baby bellas the original recipe called for. I also doubled the sauce ingredients, as I planned to serve the chicken over fettucini instead of rice. And my last change was using 5 or 6 boneless chicken thighs in place of the breasts; that was an unintentional change (I thought I grabbed breasts from the freezer), but the results were great.

I loved this dish, though the husband thought it was just ok. He felt like the wine flavor was too pronounced, but I disagree. I felt like it was a good balance of flavors, though I did add a sprinkle more salt at the table.
Chicken and Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Printable Recipe

2 servings dried fettucini noodles
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de provence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
5-6 small, boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 portabella mushrooms, quartered, then sliced
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken broth
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Bring a large stockpot of water to boil on the stove. Once the water comes to a boil, add the fettucini noodles and cook until they are al dente, about 12-13 minutes.

In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine the flour, herbs de provence, salt and pepper and stir with a fork to blend. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture.

Coat the chicken thighs in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.

Add the butter to the same skillet and warm until melted. Add the mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms and they are tender, about 5 minutes.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the white wine, chicken broth, and reserved tablespoons of flour; whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the skillet, cooking until it is warm and slightly thickened.

Return the chicken to the pan to warm through and cover with sauce. Serve the chicken over fettucini with sauce spooned over the top, and garnish with grated Parmesan as desired.


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