Monthly Archives: July 2012

Honey Almond Granola

Granola is like a folk song–there are hundreds of versions out there but no single person owns it.

Ready for my yogurt

Ready for my yogurt

The first time I made granola I was struck by A) how easy it is and B) how amazing it makes my house smell. The incredible aroma is reason enough to make your own granola. It’s food aromatherapy. It also tastes pretty great. There is just enough sweet and a tiny bit of salty to balance perfectly. You will be eating granola by the handful when you try this stuff.

Never again will you be tempted to pay $7 for a tiny bag of artisanal granola (as IF).  Only schmucks need to fall for that trap. And if you are on a wheat-free diet you will wonder what they need the wheat flour for in those cereal boxes of granola at the grocery store.

This key to this granola is letting it cool completely to get it nice and crisp. And if you don’t feel like chopping dried apricots and pears, try raisins or dried cranberries or even dried cherries. Sometimes I add shredded coconut to the mix because someone in my house loves coconut.

Honey Almond Granola

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats (9 ounces)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds with skin (1/4 pound)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup tablespoons mild honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried pears, finely chopped
Homemade granola, meet dried apricots

Homemade granola, meet dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Oil a high-sided sheet pan or line with parchment paper or use a Silpat.  Stir together oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the veg oil, honey, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt  (or in a microwave) until just heated through. Don’t let it get too hot, it just needs to be warm enough to get all the ingredients to blend. Stir into oat mixture until all the dry stuff is coated.  Spread evenly in sheet pan and bake, stirring once, until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool granola completely in the baking pan on a wire rack. It will crisp as it cools so let it sit without stirring. When completely cooled add the dried fruit and mix it together in a large bowl. Store in an air-tight container.


Chipotle, Corn and Black Bean Stew

Around the time I realized that I had to give up dairy, I heard a radio interview with Isa Chandra Moskowitz promoting her cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance.  The interview went on to discuss how vegan food get a bad rap for being bland or having mysterious ingredients (what IS seitan, anyway?) She offered up tasty dishes that did not contain any animal products yet did not scream “vegan!” I bought it immediately.

Some of her recipes were too involved for my limited ability-limited by the baby on the boob mind you, not my cooking abilities. But many of her recipes have made it into my regular rotation of meals in my house. If you look in my freezer today, you might just find some Chipotle, Corn and Black Bean Stew.

If you must avoid spicy things I would definitely leave out the chipotle peppers. In fact, anyone handling a baby should avoid touching them. If you touch the inside of the pepper with your bare hand it will burn. Accidentally touch the baby with that hand and everyone is unhappy for hours.

 Chipotle, Corn and Black Bean Stew

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly slice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • a few dashes of black pepper
  • 2 chipotle peppers (canned), drained and chopped
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 russett potatoes cut into ¾ inch dice
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into ¾ inch dice
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 (16oz) can black beans
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, lightly packed torn into pieces stems and all
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime

In a stockpot saute the onions in the low over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper. Saute 1 minute more. Add the chipotles, tomatoes and water, stir. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Uncover, add the corn and beans. Thin with more water if needed. Cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Add the cilantro, lime zest and lime juice. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve.  (If you can wait an hour to eat it, it tastes so good when its had a chance to sit around and is gently reheated).

Tomato-Basil Quiche

A quiche cooling on the windowsill

Last weekend I went to the farmer’s market and got some farm fresh eggs, some basil and tomatoes.  Then I stopped by my friend Betsy’s garden and she pulled some onions for me. The obvious next step? Quiche! It tasted as good as it looked.

Many quiche recipes will call for whole milk or even a heavy cream but I used 2% milk because that’s what I had in the house. If gruyere is unavailable where you shop, Swiss cheese will do just as well.

  • 1 roll-out store bought pastry crust
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 oz gruyere cheese shredded
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 basket grape or cherry tomatoes halved
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450. Roll out the pastry dough and fit it into a 9” quiche pan pressing firmly into the grooves. Use pie weights of you have them to prevent the dough from puffing up in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the dough begins to look golden. Remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temp to 325.

Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the onion about 10 minutes, until softened. While the onion is cooking, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the milk, basil and most of the cheese (save some to sprinkle on top), salt & pepper and mix them all together. Add the onion. When the pastry has cooled, arrange the tomatoes cut side down. Pour the wet mixture over the tomatoes, sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

What you don’t eat you can cut into slices and freeze.

Turkey Burgers

These are not your ordinary turkey burgers. Sure you could take come ground meat, shape it into patties and call it a day. But with a few extra steps, you could turn simple turkey burgers into something amazing. This recipe makes enough for many meals for 2 or to feed a whole crowd. They are just as great made on the grill as they are in the pan.

Most ground turkey you buy in the store comes packaged in 1 1/3 lb containers. Why? No idea.  Buy 2 of them because if you’re going to bother to cook, make it worth your while by making enough to keep in your freezer.

Gluten-free tip:  Put some GF pretzels in a food processor or blender and use those crumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs.

Make ahead parts: you can cook the onion/garlic combo ahead of time and let it cool on the counter, loosely covered.

  • 2 2/3 lbs lean ground turkey meat
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic, reduce heat to low and sauté for 9 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

When the onion mix has cooled, add all the other ingredients. Mix well with your lean hands and shape into burgers. Depending on the size you should get between 8-10 burgers. Cook for about 5 minutes in each side over medium heat.


If you are freezing them, lay a square of plastic wrap on the counter. Spoon the meat onto the wrap, fold up the plastic and shape it into the desired size. Put into a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze.

Mother’s Helper sez: don’t forget to label the freezer bag! Once I took burgers out of the freezer to grill and thinking they were turkey burgers. It wasn’t until they were almost done I realized they were veggie burgers!

Cold Pasta Salad w/ Olives and Marinated Artichoke Hearts

This is one of my favorite summertime meals. Its so easy to prepare and it actually tastes better when its been in the fridge overnight. The corkscrew pasta does a good job of catching the dressing ensuring tastiness in every bite.  You can serve it as a side dish or as a light entrée all on its own.

What I love about this dish is that you don’t have to be exact about things like the amount of olive oil or lemon juice. And if you get a really good quality jar of artichoke hearts you may not need to add any extra olive oil-the oil in the jar may be tasty enough to use as a dressing for this salad. Open up the jar and have a taste-if it has a little zing to the flavor go ahead and use it as dressing. If the taste falls flat-drain the artichoke hearts and discard the oil from the jar. As for the lemon, it will help break down the red onion and bring out its sweetness but it’s a mater of personal taste as to how much lemon you want to add. I like things that have a snap of tart to them so I add the juice of the whole lemon.

  • 12 oz fusilli pasta*
  • 1 15oz can of white beans (such as canellini) drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of black olives, drained
  • 1 12 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts
  • ½ a red onion chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Cook the pasta as per the directions making sure to keep it a little as dente. Drain it, rinse it under cold water and set it aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the beans, olives, artichoke hearts, red onion and garlic clove. Add the cooked pasta. Add half the lemon juice, 1 1bsp of olive oil (or the oil that the ‘chokes were marinating in), balsamic, and salt & pepper. Once you’ve tossed it all up, let your tongue be the guide. Add more olive oil of it feels too dry. Add more lemon juice if you want more zip.

Add the fresh basil last.

If you let this sit in the refrigerator for as little as a hour you will be rewarded with a lively mixture of flavors. Works well as a make-ahead dish too.

*brown rice pasta works just as well for those who are wheat-free