Sunday, October 27, 2013

Zoodles = Zucchini Noodles

I didn't believe them.  I really didn't.  I thought that all of the bloggers and foodies that gush about zucchini noodles and how amaaaaaazing and perfectly al dente and no one will ever know it's good for you were completely off their rockers.  Moment of humility here--they were right!!


These zoodles were a culinary surprise.  Perfectly dense, and certainly not mushy like I assumed they would be.  Their fresh flavor was perfectly complimented by a tasty ragu we put on top.  The best thing about the zoodles was that they were incredibly easy to make.  (Although, don't try to slice off your pinky finger in the mandolin slicer like I did.)  Slice, sautee, serve.  It's that simple.


I am looking forward to making them again.  Next time I would like to top the zoodles with a pesto, pea, and feta combination.  I also bet the zoodles would be great as a replacement for the pasta in a pasta salad. 

If you are a skeptic like I was, trust me.  The zoodles are worth making.  I promise.






Zoodles:

  • 4 zucchinis
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a glug or two of olive oil
  • a dash each of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Use a mandolin slicer to carefully julienne all of the zucchini.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the minced garlic and stir.  Make sure not to burn the garlic.
  4. Add the zucchini and stir.  The zucchini will begin to emit water, thus preventing them sticking and burning, but you'll need to watch.  If you have to, add a splash of water.
  5. Add the salt and pepper.
  6. Let the zoodles cook for a few minutes, while stirring regularly.
  7. They are done when they have reached your desired tenderness.
  8. Top with something delicious.  ENJOY!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Granola Clusters

I don't even know how or where to begin to describe my life-long obsession with granola.  The endless combinations of oats, nuts, dried fruits, and different spices are nothing short of exhilarating).  I also love granola because it can be enjoyed dry, with milk, or with any kind of yogurt (which is also nothing short of exhilarating).  My favorite thing about granola, however, is the crunch.

Clusters of crunch is what leads me steadfastly affirm that this granola is the best in the universe.  Not just a little bit of crunch, but a-whole-lotta crunch--medium-sized nuggets of crunch, in fact.  The clusters aren't gooey, sticky, oily, or so hard that they break your teeth.  The secret is a perfect combination of maple syrup and egg whites, of all things.  The clusters are the absolute perfect texture.

Sadly, I take absolutely no credit for the clusters of crunch; Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is the one to be honored, better yet, revered for this granola.  There is no doubt about the fact that the woman is a culinary genius.  What I love most about her though, is that she makes gourmet recipes easy and accessible to us common folk.  I am smitten with her kitchen.

Not only are the clusters in this granola incredible, but the hint of sweetness from the coconut as well as the wholesome nut taste from the almonds puts it over the top.  My favorite way to serve this little bit of heaven is on plain Greek yogurt topped with a large handful of fresh blueberries.  I also love it eat it plain.  I am sure it is equally delicious with dried cranberries or blueberries and served with milk.  So many options!!!  I better make it again to experiment.  :)

Make this granola now.  It is quick and easy.  It will change your granola life, I promise.




(Apparently I don't have any photos of the granola in the bowl....probably because I was too busy eating it.  Sorry folks.  It's that good.)

Granola Clusters:
Only slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen's "Big Cluster Maple Granola"
  • 3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 generous cup of shredded coconut (add more or less to your liking)
  • 1 very generous cup of whole almonds (or any other nut or combination of nut you would like and/or you can chop them.  I very much prefer the whole almonds)
  • 1/4 wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (a little less if you don't want to be able to taste any salt)
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white
  • any sort of topping you would like--fresh fruit, dried fruit, etc.
  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the egg white and whatever you picked as toppings.  Toss evenly to coat. 
  3. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy.  Stir into the granola mixture, distributing it throughout. 
  4. Spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet.  Pat down with a rubber spatula. 
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  I found that if I use a dark pan, I have to cook closer to the 40 minute side of the range otherwise the edges almost burn.  Watch closely. 
  6. About halfway through the baking time, use a large spatula to turn over sections of the granola carefully, breaking them up as little as possible.  I pretend that I am flipping granola pancakes in their little spaces.  
  7. Rotate the pan and put back into the oven to finish baking. 
  8. When the is evenly browned and feels dry to the touch, transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
  9. Cool completely.  (This is important.) 
  10. Once cool, break the granola into your desired size clusters.  
  11. Top with whatever you want, if anything, and serve with milk, yogurt, or just plain.
  12. ENJOY!  This stuff is nuts.  (That was an attempt at a pun.)
  13. The granola keeps at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 weeks. It keeps even longer in the freezer, if you’re the stockpiling type.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dijon Vinaigrette

Aside from a really good Caesar, I kind of hate salad.  Well, I like most of the ingredients, I just hate all of the processed salad dressings that generally go on top of a homemade salad.  Why smother all of those fresh veggies, nutrients, and goodness with the chemicals found in a low-fat, zero flavor dressing? 


For these reasons, I went on a mission to start making healthy and homemade dressings.  This was my first attempt, and it was a great success!  No more chemicals, metallic taste, weird separations, or artificial flavors.  This vinaigrette takes approximately three minutes to put together and lasts for a two or three salads.  Of course, you could change the proportions to make more, but since it is so simple and easy to make, I think I'll stick to creating it frequently.  I am also looking forward to experimenting with different kinds of mustards and also adding different spices. 

This dressing will adorn the perfect green salad to accompany your bowl of chili, red curry soup, or squash and sweet potato soup on these colder fall evenings. 


Dijon Vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of good quality dijon mustard
  • a pinch each of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except for the olive oil.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk together.
  3. Adjust for taste.
  4. Top your favorite green salad.
  5. ENJOY!