Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Homemade Granola

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I was so excited to take a break from studying to meet up with my friend Nannette on Monday. We met for sushi and had a great time catching up; it had been far too long. It was truly great food and great company.

When I got home, I made a small batch of granola and I wanted to share the recipe with you. I'm not a huge fan of store-bought granola, as I really like to control what goes into my food (especially the sugar content). This granola has no added sugar, it's gluten free, and vegan; everyone can enjoy it! I love to sprinkle this granola over yogurt for a tasty breakfast or as a snack.

Homemade Granola


1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh fruit, chopped (I used blueberries)


Preheat the oven to 350* and spray a 9" x 9" pan (or a loaf pan) with non-stick spray. In a food processor, pulse 1 cup oats, raisins, oil, water, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Empty the contents into a mixing bowl and add the remaining oats and fresh fruit. Press the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If you like a soft and chewy granola, bake for a shorter time and if you like more of a crunchy granola, bake longer :)

Let the granola cool completely and enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Update

The island was blessed with such beautiful weather last weekend. Though I spent most of the last few days studying, taking exams (just one more to go!), and working, I made sure to take time and sit outside. Besides, studying outside in a beach chair is so much better than at a table indoors!

My mom spent a lot of time in her garden. She's been working especially hard this year, as some sort of creature keeps pulling her plants out of the ground. She continues to replant them, hoping that they will remain intact- determined that the garden will yield plenty of peppers, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs :)

Milo and Indie enjoyed the sunshine and played in the yard for most of the weekend. They're always ready for any opportunity to go outside, explore the yard and all the smells, and chase squirrels up the trees!

For dinner Sunday night, Chuck grilled up some awesome chicken, I sauteed squash and zucchini, and my mom roasted some red potatoes. The potatoes were super simple to prepare. All she did was cut the potatoes in eighths, drizzle them with some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss them with some fresh rosemary from the garden. It was such a delicious, yet easy dinner (aka my favorite type of dinner).
How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Apple Pie with Crumble Topping

Happy Saturday, everyone! I've been super busy, as the end of the semester is fast approaching and the island is becoming more alive and populated. I took one exam last night and another this morning; so far, everything is going well. The two most difficult ones are saved for last... I'm about to really knuckle down with my studying for the next one, but I wanted to first share my apple pie experience with you.

Chuck loves apple pie. I have known this for quite some time and while he may have hinted several times that it is one of his favorite desserts, I have never made it for him. Sure, I have bought the frozen apple pies which require no effort whatsoever, but store bought desserts are always trumped by the fresh homemade ones. This week, I decided I was going to finally make him an apple pie. It only took four years...

I don't have a go-to prized apple pie recipe and neither does my mother, so I relied heavily on Google. I found a recipe that used store-bought crust so that I could cheat a little, and head to the grocery store to get Granny Smith apples.

I carefully peeled, cored, and cut the 3.25 pounds of apples that the recipe called for. I defrosted the pie crust. I added in the additional ingredients for the pie filling. I soon realized that whoever wrote this recipe had no idea what a deep-dish 9" pie pan could actually hold and that they had never actually used this recipe or that they had a serious typo in stating how many pies this recipe would make.

I should have known better. It should have been clear to me that 6 very large apples couldn't possibly fit into one pie pan, but I'm a stickler for following directions (mostly), so I didn't question the recipe. I couldn't even fit half of the pie filling into the pie shell. Thankful that I cheated and bought the pie crust already made (because it came with two shells) and that I didn't only make one from scratch, I turned my apple pie into two apple pies. I guess this makes up for my lack of apple pie baking over the years... The crumb topping was the same way (definitely not for just one pie), only it could have easily been enough topping for four pies. Remind me to never use a recipe from a source that is not tried and true!

After all the pie drama was over and the pies were in the oven baking, the kitchen was filled with the amazing scent of cinnamon, apples, and buttery goodness, and I was in heaven. Because I only used Granny Smith apples, it was a little more on the tart side, but it was still very good and in my humble opinion, much better than the frozen ones.

So, if you're wanting to make an apple pie two apple pies, here's how to do it:

Apple Pie with Crumble Topping

For the filling:

3 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (or a mix), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick
2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes


Preheat oven to 350* and thaw two-9" deep dish pie pans as directed on the package.

Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and coat the apples. Add the filling to the pie crusts and bake for 40 minutes. (Cover with foil if the crust is browning too much.)

While the pies are baking, prepare the filling. You can either add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse, wet sand, or you can use a pastry cutter to get the same results.

Remove the pies from the oven and sprinkle the topping (as much or as little as you like) over the pies. Return pies to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the apples are very tender and the topping is golden brown. The filling should be bubbling at the edges.

Cool until warm, about one hour.

Do any of you have stories of following recipes that didn't turn out as planned? Was your recipe ruined or did it turn out well?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Pretty Perfect Day

Hello, all! I hope you are all having a lovely day. I was so thankful when the sun finally decided to come out yesterday. It ended up being such a gorgeous and enjoyable day. Chuck and I went skateboarding around my neighborhood and through the village. I haven't used my board since last year, so I wasn't sure if my legs would remember what to do... they remembered and it was a ton of fun. We definitely need to break out our boards more often.

Because the air temperature was so warm, we decided to drive to the sound to dip our toes in the water. It was actually very bearable and felt surprisingly nice. It reminded us of summer days spent on the beach so we decided to get some Shock Top to take home and enjoy.

Dinner time was nearing by the time we got back to the house and chicken was on the menu. I bought two small all-natural whole chickens for less than $2 each at the grocery store yesterday; I love it when expiration dates are near and the markdowns take place! I 'm always intimidated when cooking a whole bird, so I kept it simply by roasting them in the oven with some butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It was delicious!
I served an edamame, feta, and cranberry salad along with the chicken and it also did not disappoint. My friend Mary Beth gave me the recipe for this salad. It's super simple and delicious. All you need is a frozen bag of edamame (I cook mine first, then cool it), feta cheese (I use reduced fat), dried cranberries, and a bed of romaine. I ate my salad with a drizzle of light balsamic vinaigrette, but it is perfect as-is. The kitty thoroughly enjoyed chasing a dropped edamame bean around the kitchen. Apparently, she never learned not to play with food.

I have a busy week ahead of me (finals, etc.) so I may not post for a while, but I hope beautiful warm weather has found you, wherever you are.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Blondies

We were so spoiled with such beautiful weather last week and I can't wait until the sun is shining again. This yucky weather makes me want to sleep and eat- that's about it! Baking is something that always seems to lift my spirits and brighten my day.

I made these blondies for my family on Monday night after an easy dinner of my homemade turkey chili and classic grilled cheese. We are a big fan of comfort food in this house! These blondie bars were really easy to make and everyone seemed to enjoy them.

If you're family doesn't really care for snickerdoodles, I would recommend omitting the cinnamon-sugar topping. Without the topping, these are still great blondie bars. You can double the recipe and bake it in a 13" x 9" (just bake a little longer) and you can use different chips instead of white chocolate (dark, milk, semi-sweet, butterscotch, peanut butter, mint, etc.).

White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Blondies

I found this recipe here.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, mixed together


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8" x 8" baking pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl (or stand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Beat in the salt, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the flour until combined and stir in the chocolate chips. The batter will be very thick like cookie dough.

Spread and press the batter into the pan. (This is much easier to do if you spray your hands with non-stick spray!) Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.

Bake for 28-30 minutes (I used a 9" x 9" pan and mine were done at 20 minutes), or until bars are lightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting.

Makes 9 bars. Enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day

After a long break, I'm back to the blogging world... The focus of this blog is shifting quite a bit. I'll be focusing less on recipes and what I cooked for dinner every night and more on my life in general. This way, I can better share what's going on in my life with those that mean the most to me. While I don't plan to post daily, I do plan to post regularly. So, if you still want to follow me and my posts, please do so!
Happy Earth Day!

How are you celebrating Earth Day? Or did you even know it was Earth Day? I wanted to do something "green" for the entire month of April to celebrate (like giving up paper towels), but I clean houses for a living so that was not going to happen. After this rain and windy/yucky weather goes away, I'd like to plant a few trees/plants to celebrate.

If you don't do anything else today, turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shampooing your hair. Turn off the lights when you leave a room and keep small appliances unplugged when they are not in use. I'm definitely guilty of using too many plastic bottles, but until our drinking water on this little island improves, I will continue to purchase bottled water. Hey, at least I recycle them.

Here are some other things you can do to minimize your ecological footprint: