Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

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So, I have never been a fan of oatmeal, it’s always been a little mushy-mushy for me. However, these days, I’ve been eating it a lot lately because I know oats are super good for you and it’s a hot, easy breakfast to make on these chilly Michigan mornings. Since I’ve been forcing myself to embrace oatmeal, I usually have it with a little maple syrup and maybe a few pecans or walnuts mixed in, for a bit of sweetness and texture. The other day, though, I was out of my usual mix-ins and opted for a spoonful of peanut butter…and it was so good! So, it got me thinking that peanut butter might just be a great addition to my favorite granola.

And, surprise, it totes was.

I mean, you can’t really go wrong with nutty, creamy peanut butter, crunchy oats, and little chocolate chips. Can you? I don’t think so.

[recipe]

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

I use both honey and maple in this recipe, though you could use just one sweetener if you like. The coconut oil can be subbed for olive oil, if you prefer. Also, chia seeds can be substituted with flax and the mini chips can be replace with whatever chip or chopped bar you like. 

3 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons chia seeds

scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Pour the oats, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon into a bowl.

On the stovetop in a saucepan heat the maple syrup, honey, peanut butter and coconut oil until the peanut butter and oil are melted and the mixture is nicely combined. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the oat mixture and stir to coat evenly. Scrape the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes so the peanut butter does not burn, until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool completely before mixing in the mini chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container for well over a week. [/recipe]

Apple-Honey Quesadilla and a Giveaway!

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Hi, frens! Let’s do lunch, okay?

I love, love, love going out for lunch…probably more than any other meal. It’s social and a nice break from the grind of the day-to-day. I mean, what’s better than a long lunch with a friend and some good conversation? Well, maybe lunch with drinks…

My love of lunching out can only be eclipsed by my apathy for making lunch at home. When I was a kid, my mom always made my lunch and packed it up real cute in my My Little Pony lunch box with thermos. As an adult, I really struggle with coming up with easy, quick, and wholesome lunches. Often I find myself snacking on popcorn or hungrily devouring a stick of string cheese…or, skipping lunch all together. That’s why when Catherine of Weelicious asked me to review her book Weelicious Lunches, I was all over it.*

This books is FULL of super easy, healthy lunches that appeal to the palates of children and adults alike! With over 160 lunch ideas, there’s something for everyone. I chose to share this Apple-Honey Cheese Quesadilla with you because I love a melty, cheesy, quesadilla any day and the addition of honey and cheese intrigued me. I love apples with cheddar, so the leap to a quesadilla wasn’t that far of a stretch. The sweet honey in combination with the rich melted cheese, tart-crisp apple, and crunchy tortilla is a total win. I added a few dashed of hot sauce to the honey to turn it into a sweet-spicy drizzle and it paired wonderfully with the cheese and apples.

To enter the giveaway use the form below and leave me a comment telling me what your favorite, easy, go-to lunch is! Giveaway closes Wednesday 10/2 at midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

[recipe]

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Apple Honey Cheese Quesadilla

From Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord

Aside from adding a few dashes of tabasco to the honey, I followed Catherine’s recipe pretty closely. 

1 Granny Smith Apple, sliced thin

4 whole wheat tortillas

1 1/3 cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

1 tablespoon honey, plus as many dashes of hot sauce as you like

Place half of the apples and half of the cheese on a tortilla. Drizzle with honey. Top with another tortilla and slide the quesadilla into a saute pan. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes each side. Cut into wedges and repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve warm with leftover spicy honey. [/recipe]

*I was provided with a copy of Weelicious Lunches free of charge to review. I was not compensated for this post and as always, all opinions are my own.

Apricot Almond Crunch Frozen Yogurt

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Summer! It’s here for real…I know I’ve been talking summer since the beginning of June, but it’s more than official now and this one is turning out to be more temperate and less hot/sweaty/dank hell…and by temperate I mean, hot and humid with just a smidge of hellishness. Which means more evening walks and weekend bike rides…you know, good stuff. The summers here in Michigan are an explosion of green. Things are growing all over the place and it’s beautiful.

But, harbored in all of that greenery are horrible, voracious mosquitos. Multiple species even, some with hideous, striped-tiger-bodies. UGH…I hate them. Like, HATE. A lot. And no amount of bug spray AKA poison-candy (that stuff smells like candy and death!) really keeps them from biting straight through our clothing. I’ve tried natural stuff and the stuff that makes me feel like I might actually die if I inhale. It seems none of them are really working. What kind of works is riding my bike or walking swiftly…no pauses…and it only works kinda, but better than the poison-candy aerosol. It didn’t so much work when my bike chain came loose a mere 2 miles from the car and Sean had to finagle it back on whilst getting mauled by a swarm of mosquitos. Oh, and we were downwind from the zoo so there was a really fun…aroma. We were SO CLOSE to being mosquito-bite-free, but alas it didn’t work out for us. What did work out was that this froyo was stashed in the freezer for when we got home. So even though I was covered in itchy welts and maybe a little more back-sweat than I am ever comfortable with, frozen treats saved the day. Like they do.

I mean, if you’ve been riding your bike for a few hours in the summer swelter and combatted mosquito attacks like a champ, walking into your cool home, flopping on the couch/floor/wherever with a pint of froyo is totally appropriate. Especially if that froyo is homemade and trashed-up with mix-ins. I live for frozen yogurt + mix-ins. Gimme the stuff from those froyo shops that sell it all by weight any day — Yogurt Beach in Reno, I’m looking at you. But, since I can’t pop into my favorite frozen yogurt place on the daily, I can make some at home. The apricots are roasted here, which makes ripe apricots taste even more apricot-y, and less-than-ripe apricots sing. I could eat the apricot swirl with a spoon. The almond crunch gets a bit melty once layered with the frozen yogurt and apricot swirl, but maintains its crunch giving this yogurt a TON of awesome texture. I cannot resist a good crunch. The flavors just make sense to me — tangy and creamy yogurt, heady and lush apricot, crunchy, caramelized toasted almonds, and a little sweet-floral honey come together to make a super summery combination that is just so, so good.

  [recipe]

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Apricot Almond Crunch Frozen Yogurt

Yogurt base adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

I roasted the apricots for the swirl, but if you dread turning on the oven in the summer heat, just cook the apricots on the stovetop until they are very soft. The recipes for the apricot swirl and almond crunch make a little extra, perfect for topping! 

For reference, I used this ice cream maker and these containers (I purchased these items myself and am not affiliated with either manufacturer). 

Apricot Swirl:

1 lb apricots

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon honey

Almond Crunch:

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sliced, toasted almonds

Frozen Yogurt:

1 1/2 cups strained, whole milk yogurt*

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

For the Apricot Swirl:

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Rinse the apricots, pat dry, and remove pits. Chop coarsely and toss with sugar and honey. Spread into a baking dish and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the apricots have released their juices, are soft, and become syrupy. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and scrape into a blender or deep bowl and pulse with an immersion blender (or blend in regular blender, being careful of the steam) until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Almond Crunch:

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Set aside.

In a tall-sided saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the honey, sugar, and enough water to moisten the sugar (a few tablespoons). Heat over medium high to dissolve the sugar, continue to cook until mixture boils, becomes golden, and reaches about 300˚F. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the salt and baking soda — warning, the candy will bubble up and expand quite a bit once the soda is added — followed by the almonds, stir to coat. Spread the candied almond mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool. Once cooled and brittle, break the almond crunch into pieces with a rolling pin or mallet.

For the Frozen Yogurt:

*As instructed by Jeni, I strained regular yogurt for this. I used a 2 pound container of regular, whole milk yogurt in a cheesecloth-covered mesh sieve set over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. I’m thinking you could use greek yogurt, though I have not tested it. I think that if you used a lower fat yogurt, the texture of the finished yogurt may be a bit more icy.

In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk. Set aside. Place the yogurt into a large, heatproof bowl. Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink basin or large bowl.

Combine the rest of the milk with the cream in a saucepan with the sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for a few more minutes, whisking or stirring, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk the hot milk mixture into the yogurt to blend. Stir the mixture over the ice bath until cooled — or alternatively, pour the mixture into a gallon freezer bag, zip the top, and place in the ice bath to cool. Once cooled, pour the yogurt base into the basin of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once churned, scrape about 1/4 of the yogurt mixture into a freezer container, drizzle however much apricot swirl you want (a few tablespoons), followed by some of the almond crunch. Repeat with the remaining  yogurt/swirl/almond crunch so you have several layers of yogurt, swirl, and crunchy bits. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours or until solid. [/recipe]