• Cherry Almond Granola

    If you know me then you know I love to snack. And what's a better snack than granola?! Homemade granola! I've been wanting to make this for a long time and finally had a weekend to do so. Making your own granola is easy , cost effective and super tasty. The best thing about making it yourself is you can put whatever you like in there! I used almonds, cherries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and oats (of course). Now this isn't a sweet granola which was fine with me but you could add more sweetener if you wanted. Several granola recipes use lots of oil and sugar but I found one on Sprouted Kitchen that used applesauce in place of some of the oil and less sugar. So I used that recipe as a guide, changing some things that suited me. This is very delicious and good for you. Take some with you to work, school or when running errands. It's a quick and healthy energy boost!

    Ingredients

    3 cups quick oats

    1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

    1/2 sunflower seeds

    1 cup whole almonds

    1 cup dried cherries

    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

    1/4 cup brown sugar

    2 tbsp olive oil

    2 tbsp honey

    2 tbsp cinnamon

    1 tbsp vanilla extract

    1 tsp salt

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degree. In a saucepan, on low heat, melt the brown sugar, applesauce, honey, olive oil and vanilla. Stir until sugar is dissolved and all ingredients incorporated. 
    2. In a large bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, salt, nuts and seeds. Slowly drizzle the wet mixture on the oat mixture and stir until all oats are covered. It should look moist, not wet.
    3. Spread the granola in an even layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes for even color.
    4. Pull out the granola and fold in the dried cherries. Let cool. Makes approximately 5 cups.

    This will make your house smell amazing while baking! Not only is this a good snack but it's also good for breakfast. Put some in your yogurt or eat it as cereal with some milk. If you like your granola sweeter add more honey/brown sugar. If you like it in bunches add more oil/applesauce or maple syrup. For a gluten free version, be sure to buy gluten free oats and for a vegan version use agave nectar or maple syrup in place of the honey.

  • Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

    It's cold! And when it's cold, I like things that make me warm. Muffins right out of the oven are one of my favorite things on a chilly morning. These muffins are too good and they're simple. It's a good way to use leftover pumpkin puree. The pumpkin puree keeps the muffins moist and eliminates the use of butter, keeping the calories low. The use of ginger, cinnamon and gloves give the muffins a sweet spiciness. And the cranberries are little pops of flavor and color. I made these on a weekend morning and ate them through out the week. Just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds. I was surprised how moist they stayed!

    Recipe comes from Cooking Light (November 2007). Makes 12 muffins. Each has approximately 190 calories. I made some adjustments from the original recipe. I cut out half the sugar and used whole wheat flour.

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

    1/2 cup granulated sugar

    1 cup canned pumpkin

    1/2 cup low-fat milk

    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

    2 tablespoons canola oil

    1 large egg

    2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped

    Cooking spray 

    Preheat oven to 375°.

    Combine flour, baking soda, and next 5 ingredients (though cloves); stir well with a whisk.

    Combine granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Fold in cranberries.

    Spray muffin pan with cooking spray. Spoon even amount of batter into muffin pan. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

    Stay warm with baking!



     

            

  • Creamy Penne with Goat Cheese, Mushrooms and Peas

    Sometimes I get bored with pasta. Pasta with tomato sauce, pasta with white sauce, I need something a little different at times. This dish was just that. The sauce is what makes this meal. It starts as a basic roux and with the addition of red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and goat cheese the sauce turns into something wonderful! It’s creamy and tangy. The penne, peas and mushrooms get perfectly coated. It’s delicious and comforting without being heavy.

    Ingredients

    9 oz of whole wheat penne

    8 oz wild mushroom blend

    1 cup frozen peas

    1 cup chicken stock

    2 tbsp of flour

    ½ cup half & half

    1/3 cup goat cheese

    ½ cup chopped onion

    ¼ cup chopped parsley

    1 tsp minced garlic

    1 tsp chopped thyme

    3 tbsp red wine vinegar

    ½ tsp Dijon mustard

    ¾ tsp salt

    ¾ tsp pepper

    1. Cook penne according to package directions.
    2. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Sautee onions and mushrooms until tender. Add minced garlic and thyme, cook 3 minutes.
    3. In the meantime, combine ¼ cup chicken stock and flour in small bowl. Add this mixture, remaining ¾ stock and half & half to pan. Bring to boil, cook 2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.
    4. Add peas, Dijon mustard and vinegar, cook 1 minute. Stir in goat cheese.
    5. Add drained penne to sauce and stir to combine. Sprinkle with parsley.

    I really enjoyed this dish. The sauce came from a Cooking Light recipe which I’ve made before but found it had too many steps, making it complicated. So I tried the same sauce with penne, goat cheese, mushrooms and peas but I streamlined it a bit, making it easier. The result was very tasty! So if you’re getting bored with the same pasta recipes you’ve been making, try a new sauce!