Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easy Homemade Granola

I went to make myself breakfast the other day, I was picturing an amazing yogurt parfait with my leftover frozen mango and berries. However.. The man I live with decided to empty my cupboard, and no granola was to be found!

I had to improvise.

2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole almonds

In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

Bake for 10 min at 325, and flip with a spatula. Return to the oven at 5 min intervals, stirring each time until the granola is nice and crisp.

Serve with homemade yogurt, with some maple syrup drizzled on top, and fresh fruit to personal flavor.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easy Chicken

I love making chicken.. but an issue I always tend to have is that it dries out. So... I came up with this.

Double handful of mushrooms
1 red onion

1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp sage
4 cloves garlic
splash lemon juice
couple glugs of Red Wine Vinegar

Chop up the mushrooms and onions, toss them into a mixing bowl.

Throw the coriander, sage, garlic, and lemon juice into a mortar, and bash it all together with a pestle. Once it's good and mashed up, toss it into the onion and mushrooms. Drizzle some vinegar on top, and give it a good toss.

grease your pan with some olive oil, and put the mushrooms in. lay the chicken pieces on top.

Get some wax paper wet, and lay it over the chicken. Put it in the oven at 350 for about 20 min.

Smells SOOOOO good when it comes out! Serve with roasted potatoes and carrots.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easy Peasy Pickles!

I got an amazing deal the other day, greenhouse grown Ontario baby cucumbers for 2 dollars a pound. I sent my boyfriend to pick up 3lbs.

Then.. I had to pickle them. I was slightly worried because I've never actually made any kind of pickle before. It's something my dad does almost every weekend, and while I know the theory.. I've never done it in practice. So here we go. Basic Dill Pickles.

3lbs pickling cucumbers (cut a small slice off both ends)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 tbsp sugar

for each jar:
2 tbsp dried dill ( I used seed)
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp mustard seed

Basically, put your seeds and garlic at the bottom of a (still hot) sterilized jar, pack your cucumbers on top, and fill with boiling brine. Put a sterilized lid on top, and wait for the POP of success.

The garlic apparently normally turns blue.. I thought it was the strangest thing to see. But apparently it's normal, so I'm sticking to it. Make sure you wedge the cucumbers in such a way that it prevents them from floating and poking out of the brine.

Wait about 4 weeks before sampling, to make sure they've pickled properly.


It's slightly awe inspiring how many eggs I'm going through now that I'm trying to eat healthy. I can't keep them in the fridge, and I used to watch them go bad on a regular basis!

My attempts at improving my diet are going really, really well. I've got 3 jars of pickles all set up, my garden planted, my spinach just beginning to pop out of their shells. I'm normally not a huge fan of spinach, and it's not a food I remember my parents regularly shelling out when I was a kid.

But.. I find I really like baby spinach with a bit of salad dressing, and I'm sure it'll taste great braised a little bit. They're growing so well, and I'm so proud of them. The only difficulty is keeping the kitties away from what looks like a litter box!
The basil.. Oh the basil. One of my favorite fresh herbs to cook with, and one of my greatest growing defeats. Turns out it's pretty delicate, and couldn't handle how cold the nights got here in Toronto last summer. As soon as I moved the plant indoors however, it did just fine. Never quite exploded like the mind though.

I bought this plant for 2 dollars yesterday from a little greenhouse down the street, and as usual, I'm in love. Fresh basil has a flavor that really pops out of a dish, and as such goes great with flavors like tomatoes, cinnamon, or even just the leaves tossed into a garden salad. (planted my garden mixed greens yesterday.. Can't wait for them to grow!) The stalks shouldn't be wasted, stir fry them into any dish for a nice basil flavour with a crunch.

Basil is a delicate herb, as I've already mentioned. The one I'm growing is a "Sweet Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, which lends itself beautifully to pasta, salads, or pesto. This is the variety most of us recognize from the grocery. The flavor is so much more intense if you raise it for yourself, the ones the supermarket raises are never really exposed to the elements, and don't develop the same flavor. Mine grows quite well in pots, and it LOVES some heat. The nights NEED to be above 13C, or the plant will suffer.

Don't cook it for very long! Or the flavor will be ruined! The flowers have a lovely scent as well, and should be planted next to tomatoes to provide their neighbor with some aphid protection.

My personal favorite basil recipe is a Jamie Oliver creation, and it just never tastes the same unless made in summer with fresh basil.

Slice up a red onion, and saute it with a bit of olive oil, a tsp of cinnamon, and the couple stalks of basil, with the leaves set aside for later.

When the red onion smells wonderfully sweet and have gone transparent, add a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tuna (if you can, used the tuna that's packed in oil)

You're done! Let that simmer for about 20 min to develop the flavors while you make your pasta of choice. Just before serving, sprinkle the reserved basil leaves on top of the dish.

Magnific. Best way to enjoy basil.