Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Absolute Best, Most Delicious Granola Ever!

Last August, my Mother-in-Law gave me a book: Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers. This was a perfect gift, mixing my favorite hobbies of cooking and eating good breakfasts into one book! No recipes in this book have been losers, and several have been big, big winners (cheese-and-marmalade french toast sandwiches, banana-brown butter waffles with dulche de leche, tomato and basil scramble with fresh mozzarella, mushroom omelet with fontina and thyme, eggs blackstone with roasted tomatoes, and sticky-sweet pecan caramel rolls, to name a few). One of the most re-requested recipes though, is the Maple-Coconut Granola with Yogurt and Mango. In fact, I make a double batch of it every week--Kara has it for breakfast every day. I love it, my kids love it, my wife loves it...it's just a solid recipe.

Those of you who know me may find it interesting that I enjoy a recipe with so much coconut in it, as I have had several bad experiences with coconut and have developed something of an aversion to it. But you honestly can't even taste it in this recipe, no joke. So here's the recipe as it is printed:

Ingredients
3 cups (9 oz/280 g) rolled oats
2 cups (10 oz/315 g) coarsely chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts
1 cup (4 oz/125 g) shredded dried coconut flakes
1 cup (4 oz/125 g) hulled, unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz/105 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (5 1/2 oz/170 g) pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
1/2 cup (3 fl oz/80 ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cupos (9 oz/280 g) raisins

For Each Serving
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz/75 g) Maple-Coconut Granola
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (3 oz/90 g) peeled, pitted, and diced ripe mango
Honey for drizzling

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Lightly oil a deep roasting pan.
2. Add the oats, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds to the prepared pan. Mix well. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, and cinnamon until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well with your hands until the mixture is thoroughly moistened.
3. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes and being sure to move the granola from the edges of the pan to the center, until it is noticeably crisper, 45-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. Stir in the raisins. (The granola can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)
4. For each serving, combine the granola, yogurt, and mango cubes in a bowl. (Or layer the ingredients in a parfait glass.) Drizzle with honey and serve at once.

Alternate Ingredients
When I made this the first time, I did it exactly according to the directions. But after the second or third time, I started to tweak it and have found that a good recipe has gotten even better! The cooking directions remain the same, but I have tweaked the ingredients:

(mix these thoroughly together in a large bowl)
6 cups old-fashioned oats
4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (I almost always use pecans now, but almonds give it more crunch)
2 cups shredded dried coconut flakes
1 cup hulled, unsalted raw sunflower seeds (it was sunflower overload before)
(mix these together in a small bowl)
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark doesn't seem to affect the taste much)
1 cup pure maple syrup (spring for the good stuff, you'll be glad you did--Meijer and Kroger sell it by the quart, and that's how I go)
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the wet into the dry and combine well.

After baking, add 2-3 cups chopped dried cherries. Raisins are okay, but the cherries are great! Chop them, though, because they're a little on the large size when they're whole.

Serve with vanilla Greek yogurt.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Quiche

It's been a tradition for the last 14 years or so that I make a quiche for Christmas breakfast. Usually, I make the classic Quiche Lorraine with bacon and swiss, but I've been known to throw in a curveball every now and then with a quick quiche (using Bisquick in the filling) or a hash brown quiche. This year, Kara has specifically requested Lorraine, but since we've got a lot of ham left from a few days ago I figured I'd also make a ham and cheese quiche too.

Here are the recipes I plan to use, both culled from AllRecipes.com, one of my favorite idea spots.

Ingredients
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Place bacon in a large skillet, and fry over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then chop coarsely. Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion into pastry shell.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper. Pour mixture into pastry shell.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Allow quiche to sit 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.


Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup canned mushrooms
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can ham, flaked
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Beat together flour, salt, half-and-half and eggs in a medium bowl.

Place Swiss cheese flat in the pie crust. Arrange spinach evenly over Swiss cheese, then cover with mushrooms. Pour the flour and egg mixture over mushrooms. Cover with flaked ham and top with Cheddar cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven 45 to 55 minutes, until surface is golden brown.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baked Bacon

I love bacon; I mean, who in their right mind doesn't? But it's such a mess to cook! There's avoiding hot popping grease, cleaning up splatters, smoking oil, and the burnt-on bits left in the pan.... The remedy? Baked bacon.

Blasphemy, you say? No, it's bliss. Here's why: no popping messes, no cooking in batches, no flipping, no scrubbing pans afterwards, no muss, no fuss. Oh, and all the bacon is done at the same time!

Baked Bacon

Ingredients
1 lb of bacon

Directions
Place a rack on a large cookie sheet (do not attempt this with a "rimless" cookie sheet unless you want a horrible mess in your oven! Bacon grease will spill out all over everywhere! If you don't have a rack, use aluminum foil that has been crinkled and then mostly smoothed out. If you don't crinkle the foil you'll have sticking issues. Even if you do have racks, you might want to put foil under the rack (between the rack and the sheet, not between the rack and the bacon) to prevent grease from burning onto the pan.

Lay out your bacon on the rack in a single layer. I had to use two sheets and two racks to fit one pound of bacon. Slide the bacon into a cool oven.

Set the oven to 400F and cook bacon for 17-20 minutes. Check for doneness--you might go as long as 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the bacon and the speed at which your oven heats up. Be careful not to overcook; there's a fine line between crispy bacon and dried hunks of meat-that-was-formerly-bacon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mrs. Hobbs' Banana Pudding

You might not have strong feelings either way about banana pudding, and normally I wouldn't have strong opinions on it either; however, today I was forced to come to grips with a new way of thinking. This banana pudding, as some of my elite friends might say, r0x0rz. The sour cream in the mix might sound surprising, but it adds a texture and tang that boxed pudding along can't touch.

Mrs. Hobbs' Banana Pudding

Ingredients
3-3.4oz boxes Jello French Vanilla Instant Pudding mix
1-16oz tub Kraft Cool Whip
2-12oz boxes Keebler Vanilla Wafers
1-8oz tub Breakstone's Sour Cream
6 to 9 bananas
3- cups 2% milk

Directions
Mix instant pudding and milk until well blended. Add Cool Whip and sour cream, mix thoroughly. Cover bottom of four quart casserole dish with pudding mixture. Add a layer of vanilla wafers, and a layer of banana slices. Repeat the layers and top with crushed vanilla wafers.

Chill and serve.

Best when prepared one day and served the next.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Surprise" Cookies




These cookies are a huge hit every time I make them! Fillings I have used:
  • The Teeny-mini candy bars (Snickers work really well!)
  • Rolos
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Mint Kisses
  • Mini Hershey bars (not as easy, since these are larger than, say, Snickers)

"Surprise" Cookies

2 sticks softened butter
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. snickers minis

1. Combine butter, pb, & sugars on low until fluffy.
2. Slowly add eggs & vanilla until combined. Then mix in flour, salt & soda.
3. Cover & chill 2-3 hours. (If you're in a rush, it won't kill you to make them right away.)
4. Unwrap minis.
5. Remove dough, divide into 1 T. pieces & flatten.
6. Place mini on dough.
7. Form ball around mini.
8. Place on greased cookie sheet & bake @ 350° for 10-12 min.
9. Let cool on rack or wax paper.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Cape Skinner

Last year, I was given two identical knife kits by a fellow Scouter. They are comprised of a through-tang blade, a guard, a pommel, and a block for the handle. For months they sat on my workbench as kits, but a few months ago I was inspired to start on one.


I decided to make it ergonomic, which involved a lot of trial-and-error sanding with my Dremel--pretty much the whole thing was done with my Dremel using sanding drums or engravers.

A great big thank you goes out to John Sharp, who donated the leather, rivets, tools, and expertise for making the sheath.

This knife will be given to the Scout who completes the most Merit Badges between now and February. I hope it inspires them to work hard!

I *just* may be a little bit crazy

In addition to working lots of hours at my "real job," being Scoutmaster, Den Leader, Father of three, Husband of one, Crossfit junkie, and having more hobbies than you can shake a stick at, I have decided to add one more thing to the mix: The Paleo Challenge.

My gym is having a one month challenge (starting today) to stick to the Paleo Diet: Meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Kara and I are going to try it for a month and see how it goes--she'll be diligent about blogging it and I won't, but I will keep an "analog" journal.

Anyone who knows me will probably be gaping in amazement right now. One month without bread? Yeah. I know. But I'm only half doing this for me--if I bake fresh bread, it'll make it that much more difficult for Kara to keep to her goal. So we're doing this as a team, and it'll be great. :)

What's for breakfast?

Thick-cut deli meat (maybe cajun roast beef today)
Strawberries and grapes
Dry-roasted almonds