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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Almond Granola

I love granola as a snack on its own, with yogurt, on salad, sprinkled over pancakes...the list goes on. This is adapted from a Cooks Illustrated recipe - I like it because it's easy and not too sweet. You can always vary the amount of sweetness and ingredients but here's the way I like it:

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark will do)
4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 cups rolled oats (don't use the quick stuff!)
2 cups slivered almonds
1/2 dried coconut
2 cups raisins (craisins also good, or any dried fruit)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment.

2. Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the oil. Fold in the oats and the rest of the ingredients.

3. Transfer to baking sheet and spread into a thin, even layer. Using a metal spatula, press down on the granola until it's very compact.

3. Bake until lightly browned, 40 - 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

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Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce

As many of you know, we went to the Greek islands on our honeymoon last year. The beaches were lovely, the people were warm and friendly, the Ouzo was, well...Ouzo, but the GYROS, oh man!! In Santorini we had a little corner spot that we liked to hit up on our way back from the beach. An appetizer, before our hors d'oeuvres of olives, cheese, and wine, before dinner. Yes, lots of eating. Anyway, the buttery grilled pitas with the greasy seasoned chicken oozing with cucumber yogurt sauce and fresh tomatoes were just about heaven. I found this recipe online as I was looking for stuff to do with cukes. This tzatziki sauce is just about spot-on.

Gyros:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/4" strips
2 tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tsp dried oregano
1 onion, thinly sliced
A little olive oil for the saute
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Tzatziki: 
8 oz Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber grated and squeezed to remove all water
2-3 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional: 1 clove garlic (use garlic press)  

Serving:
8 pitas
Fresh lemon juice
Diced tomatoes
Feta
Lettuce  

1. Place chicken and other gyro ingredients in a large freezer bag and marinate a few hours or overnight.
2. Mix the tzatziki ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and set aside in the fridge.
3. Heat large skillet to medium high and saute the chicken in a little olive oil with onion until chicken cooked through (remove chicken if onions need to cook longer - they should be soft).
4. Heat a separate pan to medium high heat and drizzle a little olive oil in the pan or lightly spray the pitas with Pam or other spray oil.
5. Heat each pita until it's warm and soft, keep closed tightly in tinfoil until ready.
6. Assemble the gyros by loading the chicken, onions and other serving ingredients onto the pita (not as a pocket but they should be soft enough to fold around the insides like a taco). Spoon the tzatziki on top and you're ready! 

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Cheesy Artichoke Dip

I'm a sucker for artichoke dip and this is the best I've come across. It's a miracle recipe actually - a miracle that something so easy can be sooooo loved by those who eat it and a miracle that these three ingredients can actually taste so good. Kinda like mom's crab dip, it's kinda better not knowing what's in this. Whatever you do, don't tell people as they're eating it. I like to say that it's a secret recipe.

Thanks to Jenny Brokaw for recipe, as she says "it's hardly a recipe..."

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese - I've used grated Asiago and it's almost better!
1 cup light mayo - yes, use the light! Otherwise, it's greasy
1 can drained and chopped artichokes

Mix together and bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned on top (if you can wait that long!). This is great served with crackers, tortilla chips or thinly sliced and toasted baguette.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Carrot and Jalapeno Salad

Growing up we had a huge garden. I think I took it for granted when I was younger - I wasn't that interested in vegetables and it really only seemed cool when we ended up with the odd zucchini that grew to the size of a small baseball bat. Now that I'm older and love to cook, I'd love nothing more than the garden we used to have. Unfortunately, our tiny backyard doesn't get any sun so I'm stuck farming on my front balcony. We've had some success with potted tomato plants but this year I added a pepper pot. We have more jalapenos than we know what to do with. So I've branched out beyond the salsa and guac and found this recipe. I was really skeptical about it (I'm not a huge carrot lover) but the ingredients seemed interesting so I gave it a shot. LOVE it!! It's modified from a recipe out of the Herbfarm Cookbook - a wedding present from my old roommie and dear friend Per. This is delicious and healthy - a great lunch salad. Don't be worried though - the salad isn't spicy, as long as you de-seed and devein your peppers.

**Be warned - when chopping your jalapenos - wear gloves. No matter how hard you try, you WILL put your finger in your eye and deeply regret it. I skipped the gloves when making this the last time and my finger tips burned for days!

4-5 large carrots - sliced using a rolling cut (very small wedges). Note - if using larger carrots, you might want to blanch the cut carrots to soften them up a little. Fresh from the farm smaller carrots are a little more tender and sweet and don't really need the quick boil.

2-5 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 lime - zest and juice
2 TB olive oil
2 tsp honey
2 TB chopped cilantro
2 TB chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cup cold cooked brown rice (optional - I think it gives this salad a little more umph)
1/2 tsp salt

1.Combine all of the ingredients and let marinate for at least an hour. This salad gets better with time!! Print Friendly and PDF