Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fabulous Homemade Granola

Lately, I've been loving granola.  I can't get enough of it.  I love sprinkling it over greek yogurt and fresh blueberries for a healthy, yummy snack.  Or, it's equally as mouth-watering by the handful.

So, I got to thinking...Why don't I come up with my own recipe for the crunchy, satisfying goodness that is granola?  This recipe was the fabulous result.  It's perfectly sweet, thanks to a combination of light brown sugar and wildflower honey.  Sliced almonds, roasted sunflower kernels, and sesame seed also make an appearance.  Plus, a smattering of ground cinnamon only adds to the wow factor.

If you're a granola fan like me, you will really love this recipe!  It comes together easily and is ready in a flash.  Store it in an air-tight container, and you've got a snack that will last for days (if it doesn't disappear faster!).

Bon appetit, my friends!

Homemade Granola

3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup roasted sunflower kernels
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey, preferably wildflower
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl. 

In a separate small bowl, vigorously whisk together the honey and canola oil until well combined.  Pour over the dry ingredients.

Using your hands, thoroughly mix the granola until the honey mixture is fully incorporated, lightly squeezing as you go.

Press the granola into an even layer on a large silicone-lined baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown; stirring every 10 minutes to promote even browning.

Cool completely;  granola will harden as it cools.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Easy Lemon Blueberry Jam + An Itchy Berry-Picking Experience

Blueberry season.  

Those two words make me incredibly happy.  

I literally wait all year until glorious summertime, when I can get my hands on heaping gallon-sized buckets of the little spheres of blueberry goodness.

This year, Brad and I got adventurous and took a short drive to a nearby blueberry farm, where I excitedly picked berries to my heart's content.  After almost 2 hours of hand-picking the finest berries, we had TWO gallons to lug home with us.  Visions of blueberry jam and countless blueberry desserts were swimming through my head.  I was thrilled...


Have any of you ever had the unfortunate experience of practically being eaten alive by little demon bugs called chiggers/red bugs?  Oh my dear...Over 40 of those little buggers got a hold of me and had quite the snack.  At first, I thought they were simply mosquito bites, but OH NO.  Brad and I were both itchy, scratchy messes.  The thing that's so bad about chiggers is that you have no clue they've bitten you until it's too late.  Once you start itching, they are long gone.

Was it worth it?  That's a hard question to answer because the berries are so incredibly delicious, but those little demon bugs sure made their presence known.   After 2 weeks, the bites still haven't gone away completely.  However, we will be enjoying these two mountains of blueberries for a LONG time, so I'm a happy camper.  Next time, I'll just be sure to cover myself with about 10 layers of bug spray before we venture out into the blueberry bushes!

This mouth-watering blueberry jam is one way I put those berries to good use.  The rest are either snuggled away in the freezer, or have been turned into other desserts.  This recipe is easy, yet is packed with the sweet flavors of summer.  The tart lemon juice is the perfect addition to the sweetness of the fruit.  Y.U.M.M.Y.

Bon Appetit, my friends (and don't forget the bug spray)!

Easy Lemon Blueberry Jam

6 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon

Place blueberries in a large bowl and crush them with a potato masher or fork, to release their juices.

Next, pour the crushed blueberries into a large saucepan, over medium heat.  Add the sugar and lemon juice.  Stir until all ingredients are mixed well, and continue to cook over medium heat for 25-35 minutes, stirring often.  Be careful not to let the mixture bubble over, and lower heat as needed.

Once the desired consistency has been reached, carefully pour the jam into mason jars or other heat-proof, covered containers.  Place in the refrigerator (jam will continue to thicken as it cools).


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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Delicious Peach & Blackberry Cobbler

A warm cobbler right out of the oven possibly screams "Summer!" better than any other dessert that I can think of.  They are easy to put together and are a wonderful way to showcase summer's bounty of fresh fruits.  My personal favorite always involves peaches, and this particular recipe adds fresh blackberries to the mix.  

Speaking of blackberries, I was pretty excited to discover several blackberry bushes on one of our nightly walks with the pup, very close to our house.  I have to give my hubby, Brad, a special thank you, because he hand-picked the blackberries for this dish!  After all, food always tastes better when you pick the fruit yourself.  :)

I've made a lot of different cobblers throughout my dessert-making adventures, but this one is definitely going to be my new go-to recipe.  It was inspired by a Paula Deen dish that I tweaked here and there.  My secret ingredient is cardamom, in addition to the traditional cinnamon.  It adds a scrumptious depth-of-flavor that I love.  I also used buttermilk and substituted half of the white sugar for brown sugar.

I have to admit - I've made this cobbler THREE times over the past several weeks.  I took it to a family get-together recently, and then it was requested again at our July 4th celebration.  I wanted to make sure that there was plenty to go around, so I made 2 dishes of it for the holiday.  And you know what?  It's already all gone...This stuff doesn't last long!

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Blackberry Peach Cobbler
Adapted from:  Paula Deen

4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
1 cup blackberries
1 cup white sugar
 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar 
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk  

Extra sliced peaches & blackberries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the peaches, blackberries, 1 cup white sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and water in a saucepan and mix well.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Whisk together 1 cup brown sugar, flour, and buttermilk slowly to prevent clumping.  Pour mixture over melted butter.  Do not stir.  Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup.  Batter will rise to top during baking.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Garnish with fresh peach slices and blackberries.

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