Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sticking to resolutions with some healthy granola.

My New Year’s resolutions have come and gone. I know, it’s shocking how quickly I can fail. I’m not sure about you, but my list was a hefty one this year. I’m telling you, I was totally motivated writing that list while I was sitting on the sofa watching netflix and eating maple cashew brittle. I wanted to make things happen! The new year was going to be the best one yet! Then the new year arrived and I was still sitting on the sofa watching netflix, but this time I was eating my leftover deer jerky from my brother, Randy. I’m not completely blaming myself,  don’t worry. I’m partly blaming the Polar Vortex for my unmotivated self. It’s hard to get up and go when your home is so wonderfully cozy, filled with TV, books, old records, internet and a rad husband. In order to go outside you need layers, layers, and more layers. And that's just to take out the trash. It's so cold that when you throw a pot of boiling water into the air it turns to snow and ice. Oh, Minnesota. Sometimes you make living hard.

One resolution that we actually are trying to keep in this house is the “eating better” one. We both plan on living to be well in to our hundreds, which means I need to stop baking us cakes and cookies and start preparing some healthier options in the kitchen. Which leads us to this granola. I love granola, but have you ever looked at how much sugar and fat is in that tiny little bag?! It’s outrageous! This recipe I’m giving you for granola has no refined sugar, oil, or butter. Instead, it’s full of healthy seeds and nuts. Woo! It has a little less of a sweet taste, but it’s seriously good. I’m pretty confident when I say it’s our favorite granola. Ever. 

Healthy Granola

Adapted from The Earthbound Cook

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 ½ cups chopped almonds
½ cup ground flaxseed (fiber!)
½ cup white sesame seeds
1 ½ Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 12-ounce can apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup molasses
¼ cup honey
1 ½ cups golden raisins (or raisins or craisins)

Please put two racks towards the center of your oven. You’ll fill two pans with this recipe so you will have to bake them at the same time. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 

Put the oats, coconut, sunflowers seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, flaxseed, sesame seeds, and ground cinnamon in a very large bowl and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the apple juice, molasses, and honey. Whisk them until the molasses and honey dissolve. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir until the oats are coated.

Divide the granola between two rimmed baking sheets, spreading it out on the sheets. Bake granola until it is brown, dry, and fragrant, about 35-45 minutes. TIP: while baking, switch the positions of the baking sheets several times. Also, stir the granola each time you do that. Otherwise it will burn, or some will be undercooked. Watch it carefully the last ten minutes. Trust me on this one, buddy. 

After you take out the pans, stir in the raisins while the granola is still hot. Then let it cool completely on the baking sheets. Stir a few times while it’s sitting on the pans cooling. This granola will store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks! You can also freeze it up to 6 months. 

This tastes excellent with yogurt. Just saying.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Salted Honey Shortbread....and a wedding.

A new year has started, and I’m finally getting rest from the last one. I married my husband (!) in August and we traveled a bit after, which means we had an incredibly busy year. Planning. Planning. Planning. I honestly had no idea that a DIY wedding was that much work. Good thing we had a little help, by little I mean giant, enormous amounts of help. It shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that one of my favorite things to plan was the dessert table. And yes, we had an entire table devoted to our favorite desserts to share with the people we love, who all coincidentally also love treats. It worked out perfect. My mother and I made the items ourselves that were to go on the table, including our wedding cake that Jim and I forgot to cut and is now stashed in her freezer for our first anniversary. I bet that won’t be stale at all, guys.

I’m going to share with you one of my husband’s (!) favorite treats. It was actually the first item he suggested for our dessert table. The man I married LOVES this shortbread. I made this for the first time a few years ago and he immediately gobbled it down. The only way I got him to stop was by revealing how much butter was in those little bars. That little bit of information may have put a stop to the gobbling. This shortbread is a recipe that I will continue to make for as long as I bake. I’m excited to share it with you. 

 What I like about this recipe is that there is little effort that goes into this tasty treat. Also, the list of ingredients is seriously small. There are only five ingredients! As Ina would say, ‘How easy is that?!’. Yup, I’m officially quoting Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. Deal with it. Since there are so few ingredients, the ones you do need should be of quality. I buy my honey from a local beekeeper that sells his goods at the farmers market. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of honey, so the honey I use on my shortbread always changes to whatever looked interesting that week. Another thing to buy of quality is the salt. I use Fleur de Sel to sprinkle on this because it’s my favorite finishing salt, but you can use any sort of salt you would like. To each his own. Hope this recipe helps make your home as happy as ours. 

Salted Honey Shortbread

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup cold, unsalted butter cut into pieces
3 Tablespoons honey (your choice!)
1 teaspoon salt (also your choice!)

Grease a rectangular tart pan with spray or butter, I use the ladder. Seems to work best for me.  In either a food processor or with your mixer, mix the flour and sugar. Then add the butter and pulse or mix until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is sandy. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan with your fingers. Make sure it’s solid and compact. Refrigerate until it’s chilled, at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a fork, poke the dough evenly all over. Put the pan on a centered rack in the oven and bake until golden, for about 40-45 minutes.

Heat the honey in the microwave until warm, about 10 seconds. Pour the honey over the shortbread and spread it all over with a pastry brush and sprinkle with your salt. Put the shortbread back into the oven and bake it for about 3 more minutes. Take our the pan and let cool. Cut. Enjoy!