Monday, June 30, 2014

Maple Pecan Granola // Vanilla Crunch Granola

You may have noticed a less posts than normal last month since I've been off traveling! I just got back from an awesome Alaska/Canada cruise, then a Peru trip, and will be catching up. On tours, I eat huge breakfasts for energy for the day, and all the hotels had amazing cereal - especially granola of all types (cacao, brazil nuts, peanuts, quinoa, Andean cereal, and more)- I can't tell you how many bowls I ate daily.

Dad loves granola, even more than me. He's a sucker for sales as well, so his idea of a good buy can be ... interesting. If mom sends him to the grocery to buy milk, he'll come back with twenty items.

Dad: Guess what! Granola was on sale so I bought 10 lbs of it! 

This is why mom now sends the kids to do her grocery shopping instead.

I hate paying $5 for a pound of granola, so I finally got around to making it myself. It's so incredibly easy, but requires patience - baking low and slow is the way to go.

Maple Pecan Granola
You have to use real maple syrup - I can't go back to the fake stuff after eating the real thing in Canada.

Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces (or walnut pieces)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto sheet pans.

Bake for 2 hours, or until dry and crunchy*. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl.

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Vanilla Crunch Granola
Adapted from Delicious As It Looks
Nuts and coconuts - a winning combination! 
Ingredients
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions
Heat oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix together the oats and almonds. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar and salt into the water. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in canola oil and vanilla. Pour into the oat and almond mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spread mixture out on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours, or until dry and crunchy*. Remove from oven and let cool before breaking apart into chunks. Store in an air-tight container.

* length of baking time varies on how large the batch is

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches

Fried chicken waffles are a huge southern tradition and a popular brunch item. Hans, Steph, and I made these for Father's Day, and as always, mishaps just crop up amidst chaos.

Like after making all the waffle batter, finding out we don't have a waffle maker.

Chef Sherbet: Moooom! We can't find the waffle maker anywhere! In the garage, the laundry room, the kitchen, the guest room!
Mom: Hmm, where did I keep it? Call dad.
Chef Hans: Dad doesn't know, we called already!
Mom: Well, I suppose we'll just have to buy a new one then!
Frying the chicken was tricker than expected, so we ended up oven baking the chicken since the inside wasn't cooked yet when the coating was already black. Also, we discovered frying evenly is quite difficult when all your pans are warped.
Chef Hans: I can't fry the chicken without burning one side and leaving the other raw. 
Mom: Oh yeah, that cast iron pan isn't flat on the bottom. None of them are actually!

Of course, coordinating the waffles and the chicken so they finish simultaneously for freshness epically fails, so we have to re-heat the chicken and re-toast the waffles as dad waits so more, starving. On the plus side, the maple syrup mustard is literally foolproof.
After everything, Dad gets his rather belated Father's Day lunch, and we're able to eat. Finally. Adapted from the Candid Appetite and Ina Garten.

Bacon Cheddar Green Onion Waffles

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
3 large eggs, room temperature
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
6 slices bacon, cooked and diced
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
5 green onions thinly sliced
cooking spray, for waffle iron

Directions
In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and black pepper.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and pour into the dry ingredients (make a well in the center of the flour mixture). Add the melted butter and buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the waffle batter until just combined and still sightly lumpy. Add additional buttermilk if needed; stir until pouring consistency. Fold in the cooked chopped bacon, shredded cheese, and green onions.

Lightly grease the waffle iron with cooking spray. Cook until the waffles are golden brown and crispy (about 4 minutes). Continue cooking until all the batter is used up (makes about 12 waffles). To re-warm, place the waffles in an oven toaster until crispy.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Ingredients
5 chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise
1½ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon siracha sauce
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon each of salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper
canola oil for frying

Directions
Marinate the chicken in a large bowl with buttermilk and hot sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

In a baking tray combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper. Dip the chicken from the buttermilk bowl into the flour mixture. Pat the flour into the chicken, on both sides. Lay the coated chicken on a rack. Repeat until all the chicken is coated. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes to dry the coating.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two sheet pans with foil.

Heat about oil in a cast iron skillet and fry the chicken in batches. Cook for a few minutes on each side until a light golden brown and crispy. Remove the chicken from the oil and place on sheet pan. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

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Maple Mustard Sauce
Ingredients
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
3 tablespoons dijon mustard

Directions
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Will keep in refrigerator for 1 week.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Watermelon Lemonade

Watermelon was my favorite fruit growing up. Unfortunately, when you're living on your own, it's hard to eat watermelons since they're huge. I succumbed and bought a giant watermelon anyway. I don't like buying the small ones when the big ones are the same price. 

Hey, it's the principle of the matter.
Watermelon Lemonade lemon summer juice healthy cleanse
However, it was seedless. And regret is eating almost half an entire watermelon in one sitting right before bedtime, and having it be the seedless kind. I ended up with a significant stomachache.

Seedless watermelons aren't technically seedless but have little white seeds; only when it's fertilized do those hard black coats develop. Seedless watermelons can't be fertilized since they're treated with colchicine, which prevents fertilized watermelons from developing by duplicating their chromosomes. You also clone them, since seedless fruit are sterile and can't reproduce on their own (source and source). 
According to NPR, seedless watermelons are no less sweet and flavorful than the seeded kinds. I beg to disagree. 

But, seedless watermelons are definitely very convenient for making drinks. I wanted to make a refreshing watermelon lemonade since it's getting hot here in Texas, and I had a bunch of lemons. 

Can't get more summer-ish than this. After all, we need to Beat the Heat!
Watermelon Lemonade lemon summer juice healthy cleanse

Watermelon Lemonade


Ingredients
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white sugar, adjust to taste
1 cup ice cubes

Directions
Puree watermelon into a blender. Combine cold water, the lemon juice and sugar until desired sweetness to make lemonade. Add lemonade and ice cubes to watermelon and blend.

Add lemon slice to glass and stir before serving.
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