Sunday, September 18, 2016

Banana Granola

Hello! I hope you are feeling as sunny and warm as the bay area was today!

Even if not, though, this granola will bring the sun inside. Our whole house smelled like the most glorious baking for aproximately 6 hours. The granola was not even baking for an hour, but its fragrance lingered in a wonderful way.

My housemates and I hovered over the pan all morning, grabbing bites here and there. You can also make this delicious, crunchy, addictive granola to give away as gifts (I don't know anyone who wouldn't be thrilled with a bag of their own!). It's easy to make and a crowd pleaser.

The golden clusters are hearty from banana, oats, and slivered almonds, and indulgent with coconut oil, honey, and a long caramelization time in the oven! It's great over yogurt with banana and honey.

Also, this was my first time baking with coconut oil...I loved how it complemented the sweet, toasty flavors of this granola. I will definitely be using it again in the future!

Banana Granola
Yield: About 5 cups of granola

  • 3 cups rolled oats (no quick oats here--the texture is important!)
  • 1 cup (or more) puffed rice
  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds (I got mine at the bulk bins at Safeway)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) coconut oil
  • 1/4 (approx 85 g) maple syrup, agave or honey if not vegan
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, convection if you have it. Line a rimmed baking sheet (or two, if you have two) with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, puffed rice, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan or microwave container, melt together coconut oil, syrup/honey, and banana. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix well to combine. Spread on prepared baking sheet(s).
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the granola is well caramelized and mostly dried. Since there's more banana, it might take longer to dehydrate than normal granola, but stick with it.
  6. *Note: if you like more clumps, don't stir the granola, but be aware that if you only have one baking sheet like me, the edges will probably burn before the middle is dried out, so you might have to take the cooked parts out while you wait for the middle to dry.
  7. Serve with yogurt, honey, and more banana! handfuls...
A few notes:
The recipe did seem a bit sweet for my taste, so the recipe above is adjusted to have a slightly reduced quantity of sugar/honey.
I also love to include puffed rice in granola (I found it at whole foods, though I'm sure it's available elesewhere too--or try rice krispies!) since it lightens the mixture. Next time, I'd probably add some more, or change the ratio with oats, so use as much or as little as you would like!

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lickety Split Pasta

This is totally cheaters pasta. Or at least it feels like it. It's definitely not a long-simmered, lovingly-tended sauce made in a huge cauldron. It makes as many servings as you feel like having in your fridge left over, if you, like me, are cooking for one.

It's quick as a bunny, and flexible to what you've got on hand. Since I didn't use a recipe, here's what I did, not in recipe form (ingredient list at bottom).

Onions get sweating in a sauna pan. Now's a good time to add some dried oregano/red pepper flakes, too, if you'd like.

[boil water for pasta, put frozen peas into a bowl]

Italian sausage joins the party--take your pick of hot or mild, and your choice of meat. I went with mild chicken. Once it's browning, add garlic.

[add pasta to water, cook for a minute or two less than the suggested cook time--until al dente]

Deglaze with a bit of wine, if you've got it around. Then, in go the tomatoes and their juice. Absentmindedly crush them with your wooden spoon while you forget your woes.

[Drain pasta (reserve some pasta water, unless it's aggressively salty like mine was! Microwave the peas, too]

Dump pasta into pan with sauce, watering down as needed. Breathe in the steam. Enjoy the aromatherapy of cooking. Serve with grated (or shaved, with a vegetable peeler) parmesan cheese.

Hearty greens, such as kale or spinach, would be great added with the garlic (after the meat has browned a bit).

Ingredients: (amount for aproximately 2 large servings)

  • Pasta (5 or so ounces)--I used mini-penne
  • Half an onion--I used 3/4 because it's what I had
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Italian sausage--cook's choice
  • 1 14-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • A splash of wine--I used white
  • Frozen peas--but really, do what you want on this one
  • [greens, if desired]