Apricot & Coconut Granola

DSC03913

Granola is one of those foods that I pass in the grocery store and pick up like I’m going to buy it, and then set it back down.  I always talk myself out of it because I know I can make it at home.  The problem is that I never actually get around to making the granola.  Making granola isn’t not complicated and the ingredients are customizable.  Get after it!  For maximum crunchiness and zero burned spots, stirring this every so often in the oven is key.  Chewy and tangy apricots meet sweet coconut and crisp almond slivers.  They’re held together by a mixture of brown rice syrup, honey, olive oil and warm spices.

More nutritious, easy and a dang good breakfast, my granola beats the pants off it’s store bought cousin.

Apricot & Coconut Granola

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliver almonds

¼ cup whole flax seeds

3/4 cup dried apricots, sliced

3 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons brown rice syrup

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

DSC03897

Pre heat the oven to 400°F.

Line a 9×13 pan wil foil.  Add oats, almond and flax seeds to pan.

In a small sauce pan, combine the oil, brown rice syrup, honey and spices.  Place over low heat for 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a syrupy consistency.  Pour the warm mixture over the oats in the pan.  Mix together with a large spoon until all ingredients are uniformly coated and sticky.

Place pan in oven and stir mixture every 10 minutes to ensure even crunchiness.  The granola should take 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir in sliced apricots.  Allow granola to cool completely before storing in a container.

DSC03899

Advertisements

Brown Butter Banana Bread

DSC03818

My literary heart fills with glee at the title of this post. I love a good alliteration. Besides having an awesome title, this banana bread also tastes awesome. If you’re not on the brown butter train, get on it! It adds depth, and nuttiness to this bread that plain butter won’t. Oats add texture and cinnamon and nutmeg add warmth.

For months, I’ve been trying to perfect my banana bread recipe and you know what the secret is? Butter. Oil doesn’t give the bread the moistness it needs like butter does. Plus, butter tastes better, especially browned!

Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker’s Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread.

Ingredients:

6 ounces unsalted butter

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup oats

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup buttermilk

1 ¼ cups mashed bananas, about 3-4 medium bananas

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside

Melt butter in a small pan. It will start to crackle and foam as it gets hotter; once this stops the butter starts to brown. Swirl the butter in the pan to prevent it from burning and when the butter turns brown and starts to smell like nuts, remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl to prevent butter from continuing to cook. You should end up with about half a cup.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla extract, buttermilk, bananas, and cooled brown butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until the top in golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

DSC03838

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

DSC03809

We’ve made it, us 9 to 5-ers.  It’s Thursday and we’re on the home stretch, inching closer to Friday.  Here’s some weekend inspiration for you-chai spiced cinnamon rolls.  Treat yourself, since you made it through the work week and all, and take a little while in the kitchen to whip these up.  These rolls use a traditional cinnamon roll dough, but the filling is made with some non-traditional ingredients.  Cardamom, ginger, black pepper, a little sprinkle of nutmeg and of course cinnamon all make for a warm and slightly spicy roll.  Drizzle with a little lemon icing and you’re on your way to a perfect weekend breakfast.  I bought the leftovers to my coworkers on Tuesday and it made for a happy weekday breakfast too.  Here’s to the weekend and it’s leisurely breakfasts!

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • ¼ cup warm water.  (Slightly hotter than bath water.)
  • 1 package of active dry yeast ( 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 – 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1-2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar

Glaze:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 – tablespoons milk

DSC03797

Method:

1. Combine the yeast and warm water in a mixing bowl.  Set aside and allow to stand until yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Add ½ cup flour, sugar, milk. eggs, butter and salt.  Using the paddle attachment, mix until throughly combined.  Exchange the paddle for the bread hook.  Put your mixer on low speed and half a cup at a time, add the remain flour.  (I used all 2 ¼ cups of flour, but it’s super dry where I live.) The dough is ready when it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and forms a uniform ball.

3. Place dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise until double it’s size, about 1 ½ hours.  While the dough is rising, combine the filling ingredients, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper and brown sugar.  Reserve melted butter.

4.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll it to a 16 x 12 inch rectangle, or something close to that.  (I just eyeballed my measurements.)  Brush with melted butter and then sprinkle filling on.  Roll up into a cylinder, starting from the longer end of the dough.

5.  Cut the log in half, then cut the halves in half.  You should have four pieces now.  Cut those four pieces into four pieces.  Arranged in a  greased cake pan, or in a rectangle pan,  so that the buns are touching.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size again.

6.  Uncover and bake rolls for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on the top.  Combine glaze ingredients, powdered sugar, and lemon zest.  Add milk slowly, until the glaze runs off a spoon.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the rolls.

 

DSC03799

 

DSC03811

Experiments With Oat Flour: Raisin Walnut Muffins

I did some baking last weekend and experimented with oat flour.  I have a massive bag of steel cut oats and I am slowly working my way through them.  Lately, I’ve taken an interest in using alternative flours in baking.  My interest doesn’t stem from a gluten allergy or intolerance, but curiosity as to how different grain flours react in the baking process.  Since many alternative grain flours don’t contain gluten, the texture and taste of the baked good changes dramatically.

I started off pretty safe with these muffins and only replaced half of the wheat flour with oat flour.  I didn’t want to end up with flat, pancake muffins.  Whole wheat, stone ground flour was my choice for the other flour.  Usually, I do half all purpose, half whole wheat flour when I bake, but I was trying to create a pretty healthy muffin.  I’m on a constant quest to make a muffin that will stick with me for a while.

These muffins had a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and walnuts.  I really liked the taste, but I thought they were too dry.  I used butter for the fat in this recipe, but I might try adding applesauce or full-fat yogurt to add some moisture to these.  Otherwise, they turned out pretty well.  They were almost the height of my usual muffins with wheat flour.  So, no recipe yet, but expect some more experimenting this weekend!  I’m also trying to work out an oat pancake recipe.

Anyone have any tips for working with alternative grain flours?

Barrel Aged Gin

I’ve got a new love and it’s been aged in a barrel.  Am I the last person on Earth to hear of barrel aged gin?  I didn’t even know you could put gin in a barrel.  But, somebody is, and it is so right.  My good friend introduced this to me last night and I was so pleased with it’s flavor.   It has a ever slight maltiness and smokiness to it.  It’s a very subtle flavor as it spends such a short time in the oak barrel.

Old Tom Gin was created by Ransom Spirits to be historically accurate to the way gin was made before Prohibition.  This gin has incredible flavor, the typical juniper berry, but also lemon peel, coriander, cardamom, orange peel, and angelica root.  Paired with that small bit of malt from the barrel,this gin has a flavor that is unlike your normal, run-of-the-mill gin.

We had ours with tonic which was delightful.  I tried a little on the side without tonic too, and I couldn’t stop talking about how much I liked it.  I said it tasted more gin-y to me, and my friend laughed at me.  If I enjoy this, it would lead me to believe that I could work my way up to liking bourbon or whiskey, which is aged in a barrel for much longer.  Baby steps, people.  I’d like to try making some whisky cocktails with this gin, just see what kind of flavor it would have.  Maybe a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

We had gin and tonics with a little pre-dinner snack: marcona almonds, dried cantaloupe and two different kinds of salami.  Marcona almonds are almonds that are grown on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and are shorter and sweeter than almonds here in the us.  Also, the dried cantaloupe is super tasty and I may need to go buy another box today.

It was a fun night and I got to try some new, delicious gin.  Thanks for the new addiction and a lovely day, Elaine!

Layered Nutella Pumpkin Bread

I really like it when baked goods turn out the way I want them to.  I came up with this idea after two days of thinking what to do with my leftover pumpkin.  Usually, when I come up with ideas and get really excited about them, the fail horrifically.  Much like the first time I tried to make gnocchi.  Or the time my sister and cousin and I made a chocolate cake and accidentally put an entire cup of baking soda in it.  But, that’s a story for another time.  I’ll let you imagine what happens to a cake when there is that much baking soda in it.

I’ve seen versions of this loaf swirled with Nutella, but I like the look of the contrasting colors.  When I took the loaf out of the pan, I was pretty disappointed to see that the outside was all one color.  But, when I cut into it, I was rewarded with a pretty layered loaf!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Nutella

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  5. Divide the batter into separate bowls.  Mix Nutella into one half.
  6. Spread one batter into a greased loaf pan.  Then drop the second batter on the top. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The Nutella adds a very subtle rich, chocolate flavor that I quite enjoyed.  The warm spices in this loaf pair nicely with the chocolate as well.  This loaf is not one of the faster ones I’ve put together because of the separating of the batter.  It’s worth it to make it though; it’s like a small surprise when you cut into the loaf and there’s two layers of flavor.  Enjoy!

Honey and Millet Banana Bread

During the Great Achilles Tendon Accident of 2012, a huge bunch of bananas in our fruit basket went to that- too- ripe- to- eat stage.  Luckily, anyone with any sense knows that those bananas are perfect for banana bread.  So, banana bread I made.  This is not a traditional banana bread by any means, but it is my favorite one to date that I have made.  My recipe is adapted from this recipe and inspired by Joy’s millet banana bread.

 

Honey and Millet Banana Bread

3 medium bananas

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup raw millet

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Mash bananas in bowl or mix with paddle attachment on a mixer.  Add honey, eggs, oil and mix together.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined.  Over mixing will result in a tough loaf.
  4. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  The loaf is done with a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Notes:

  • The honey turns this loaf a very dark brown.  Do not be surprised when it comes out this color!
  • The oven temp is low because breads with honey in them brown quicker.  If the top gets too dark before it’s done, cover with foil.
  • The millet will not cook all the way in the loaf and that’s ok!  The millet adds a pleasant crunch to this loaf, similar adding nuts.

I’m already thinking of a way to make this loaf vegan, but I was already making a lot of substations in this recipe; I wanted to be sure it turned out.  The honey is an excellent addition in place of sugar.  It adds subtle floral undertones that sugar cannot.

Plus peanut butter and you’ve got yourself breakfast!