Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vanilla Spice Granola

Here's an idea for a holiday gift from your kitchen: granola! It's a nice change from cookies and fudge -- not that there's anything wrong with those, of course but I like to mix it up. 

Granola is easy to make and you can make a lot at a time so there's plenty to share with all of your friends. Here's the version I came up with this year.

Vanilla Spice Granola

8 cups regular rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup flavorless oil (safflower, canola, etc.)
1 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped raw walnuts
1 1/2 cups sliced raw almonds
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray or lightly oil two large baking sheets with oil.

In a large mixing bowl, stir oats, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together. Pour the oil mixture over the oats but leave a couple of tablespoons of the liquid in the small bowl. Stir the liquid into the oats until they are coated. Divide the oats between the two baking sheets and spread to an even layer in each pan. Bake 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets about halfway through so it bakes evenly.

Mix the nuts and coconut with the remaining maple syrup mixture until coated. Add to the baked oats. Stir them in and move the browned oats around the edges into the center. Spread the mixture again in an even layer and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the granola is a light golden brown. Cool completely. If you like add a couple of cups of raisins or dried cranberries or cherries.

For gifting--make sure the granola is completely cool. Transfer into plastic bags that you can tie with festive ribbon--or place into pretty jars or tins.

This makes about 11 cups of granola (or more if you add fruit)

Friday, December 06, 2013

BONUS RECIPE: Chickpea Noodle Soup

Robin Robertson was kind enough to share a recipe from her new book One-Dish Vegan. 

Chickpea Noodle Soup
Recipe © 2013 by Robin Robertson and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press

 Gluten-free option | Soy-free| Serves 4

This comforting, versatile soup can be altered easily to suit your taste. For example, vary the vegetables according to personal preference, or substitute seitan, tempeh, or different beans for the chickpeas. As the noodles cook in the soup, they will absorb some of the broth, so you may want to add a little more broth before serving. Alternatively, if you have leftover cooked pasta from another meal, you can just add it when ready to serve instead of cooking the noodles right in the soup. To make this soup gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta and, of course, make sure that your vegetable broth is gluten-free.

·          2 teaspoons olive oil or 1/4 cup water
·          1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
·          2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
·          1 celery rib, thinly sliced
·          3 garlic cloves, minced
·          1 teaspoon dried basil
·          1 teaspoon dried thyme
·          7 cups vegetable broth, or more if needed
·          4 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
·          4 cups coarsely chopped stemmed kale or cabbage
·      3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
·          1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
·          Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·          6 ounces uncooked linguine, broken into thirds
·          1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
·          2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

 1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, then add the basil, thyme, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

 2. Add the green beans, kale, chickpeas, and tomatoes with their juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

 3. Stir in the pasta, peas, and parsley. Simmer until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve hot.

Friday, November 29, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: One-Dish Vegan

I absolutely love meals that can be served out of one bowl and have all of the important nutrients right in that dish, so Robin Robertson’s new cookbook, One-Dish Vegan was right up my alley. The book contains over 150 hearty soups, salads, and entrees that really are complete meals. As is usual with Roberson’s recipes, they are drawn from cultures all over the world. You’ll find everything from Senegalese-Inspired Red Lentil Soup to Louisiana Red Beans and Rice to Turkish-Style Stuffed Eggplant with Walnut Sauce. And for chili lovers, she has a whole chapter devoted just to chili with selections like Tequila Sundown Chili, Devil’s Food Chili and Orange-Scented Chipotle Chili.
We tried the Cauliflower Comfort Casserole made with layers of butternut squash, potatoes, cauliflower,  greens, and walnuts covered in a white bean sauce and it was absolutely delicious (though you might want to allow extra time because I needed to bake this quite a bit longer than the recipe indicated). We also loved the Lentil and Butternut Soup as well with its complex array of spicy, sweet, and savory flavors. My daughters have asked for the Fettuccini with Creamy Cannellini Tomato Sauce next and it is simple enough that I think they will be able to prepare it themselves.
All of the recipes in the book have clear, easy-to-follow instructions. Although many of the recipes are fast and easy to make, there are more complex dishes too that will take more than one bowl or pot to prepare them—but I think you’ll find those worth the effort. I just love that these recipes are so healthy and made with whole food ingredients and there is enough variety to suit pretty much any taste. This is a great book to use during the busy holiday season ahead, and would make a wonderful gift as well.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Preview from Robin Robertson's newest cookbook

Just made the Cauliflower Comfort Bake from Robin Robertson's new cookbook, One-Dish Vegan. Layers of butternut squash, russet potato, cauliflower and greens covered in a garlicky white bean sauce and sprinkled with walnuts. Yum!

Full review of the book coming soon!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Best bread for French Toast

Okay, I just made the best French Toast that I've ever made . . . maybe even the best French Toast I've ever eaten. I made it with Trader Joe's Cranberry Walnut bread. It's kind of a European-style loaf--not sweet at all. I let it sit out in the bag for a couple of days after I bought it to dry out a bit. Then this morning sliced it a little thick and made French toast. I'm not trying to advertise for Trader Joe's or anything but this was too good not to share.