Easy Granola

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm not exactly a breakfast person.  I'm a "get me some coffee and wait" person.  It takes me a bit to get in the mood for food or normal brain function in the morning.  I'm not crabby or mean, I just need a little more time than normal to wake up and get going.  I'll never be (nor do I really like) those perky right out of bed people.  Honestly, I have a tendency to skip breakfast all together at times.  Knowing breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I'm trying to improve on that.  I want something quick and easy if I'm going to make this goal happen.  Enter.....Easy Granola!

Having a batch of this on hand, does not only help me create a quick and easy breakfast, it's tasty too!  I add mine over a bowl of yogurt.  It could really be a delicious snack for any time of the day.  I'm thinking of taking some along the next time Izzy and I go on a hike.  Yes, even easier would be buying pre-made granola but I get much more satisfaction knowing exactly what is in my granola and I can omit or substitute ingredients depending on what I have on hand. 

I got my recipe from Whole Living Magazine.  Not an issue comes in the mail that I don't tear out a page or dog ear a tip or recipe to try.  They also have recipes, tips and great articles on their Whole Living site.  What I liked about this recipe, it was easy to change ingredients and double (or triple) to stock up.  On a side note, I love these containers.  Oxo makes all different sizes.  I use them for many dry ingredients like flour and sugar.  Now I have one to store my granola too!

Easy Granola (inspired by Whole Living’s Basic Healthy Granola)

1 ½ cups regular rolled oats
¼ cup flax meal
¼ cup unsalted soy nuts
¼ cup sliced almonds
½ cup dried pineapple
½ cup dried papaya
¼ cup dried blueberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. apple juice
2 Tbs. orange juice
2 Tbs. maple syrup
2 Tbs. honey
½ tsp. orange zest


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking-oil spray or line with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl combine oats, flax meal, soy nuts, almonds, cinnamon.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl combine pineapple, papaya and blueberries ; set aside.  In a glass measuring cup combine apple juice, orange juice, maple syrup, honey and orange zest.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Spread the mixture on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and stir and break up any large chunks.  Add dried fruit mixture and return to oven.  Bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  When completely cool, store in airtight container.

Give it a try for yourself.  Remember, ingredients can easily be changed up based on your tastes.  Try replacing the almonds and soy nuts with walnuts and sunflower seeds.  Add some dried cherries in place of the other dried fruits.  For a sweet touch, you could stir in chocolate chips once cooled.  The possibilities are endless!  Enjoy!

A Glimpse At Home (Tasty) Sweet Home

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sorry I haven't baked in a while, I promise I'm not giving up on cupcakes!  With the weather warming up there is just so much more on my plate outside of the kitchen.  I love this time of year as the various plants in my yard start to bloom.  I stand back in awe at my somewhat green thumb capabilities.  When I bought my house just about 6 years ago, the yard was a blank canvas.  I've tried to add mostly flowering plants, they just make me happy.  Most of these are in the front yard and in plain sight from one of my favorite spots, the front porch.  Unfortunately this year, there are some big projects I need to accomplish. 

First thing I my "to do" list is wash the front of the house.  I love the covered porch but the rain just doesn't get to that dust and dirt.  I didn't realize how dirty it was until I looked at this picture.  The next major project will be painting the railings and step risers.  I will need the perfect day with ample time and good weather, wish me luck.  Thankfully the porch itself is no maintenance decking, no work there!  The wicker furniture needs a fresh coat of paint too.  I'll be adding a few flower pots soon, even though I have flowering perennials planted about, I usually do a few planters with annuals for some extra color.  I can happily report I have already purchased some new cushions for the wicker furniture and have made a bright wreath for the front door out of fabric scraps.  Those were easy tasks to complete and get off my list, check! and check!

1.  I can't remember what this flower is called and have misplaced the card that came in the pot.  Anyone know what it could be?  2.  I planted two day lily plants a few years ago, one red and one pink.  They have really multiplied, can't wait for them to bloom!

3.  I love my rose bush, even though I have no idea what variety of roses it produces.  It has a crazy amount of buds on it this year, I just love it!  4.  I have two hydrangea bushes out front too, one on either side of the front porch.  Each bush has several of these buds that I can't wait to see bloom.  These plants were the first thing I planted when I moved in and they have been giving me pretty purple bouquets ever since.  5.  This row of tiger lilies is a new addition as of late last summer.  I had the chance to transplant these from a neighbor's yard when they had to remove them for basement wall repairs.  They seem to have survived the winter, only time will tell if they bloom.

Well, that is a sample of what I have growing in my front yard.  I will hopefully share some progress on the front porch with all of you soon.  Having a yard to maintain can be a lot of work but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm proud of my yard, weeds and all!  Any green thumb I have is by accident so I welcome any gardening tips/tricks you may have.

I'm sharing this post with others showing off their gardens at Jennifer Rizzo.  She's hosting a garden tour link party.  I can definitely find some inspiration for my yard there!

Favorite Things Friday {#2}

Friday, May 18, 2012

Welcome to Favorite Things Friday!  In this second edition I'm sharing some of my current favorite things via Instagram photos.  These aren't fancy, latest and greatest items.  Just things that brought me joy this week. 

#1  Time With Family
I love this picture if Izzy playing with her new giant frisbee.  The frisbee sadly is no longer with us after just a few days (it really wasn't meant for dogs).  This was taken at my parent's house.  Izzy and I like spending my days off of work here, nothing beats time with the ones you love.

#2  Stumble Upon Finds

I stumbled upon these pretty candies at the grocery store the other day.  I was instantly drawn to the gray and yellow, such a pretty combination.  I think these would make great decorations on some future cupcakes.  Each came in the two different sizes and there were other colors, may be going back for more !

#3  Garage Sales

I love a good garage sale, you never know the treasures you will find.  I was lucky enough to be able to pre-shop a garage sale this week before it even started.  A wonderful friend of my sister's thought of me when she had some Fiestaware dishes ready to put in her garage sale.  I've been collecting  Fiestaware for several years so I was happy to add these to my collection.  I also picked up some cooling racks, stainless mixing bowl, linzer cookie cutters and a cupcake stand!

#4  Re-Purpose Items

I have a very small kitchen so when I can re-purpose and create storage, I'm happy.  This old pasta container made for great storage of the odds and ends leftover cupcake liners.  And with it looking cute, it's o.k. to leave out on the counter for decoration!

#5  Sentimental Hand-Me-Downs

One of my favorite cookies as a kid was Ranger Cookies.  My Mom would make them from my Great Grandma Emma's recipe (her recipe in her writing).  I never got to meet her but as a kid I loved looking at this recipe card and hearing stories from my Mom about her.  I was in the mood for the cookies recently and needed my Mom to give me the recipe.  She didn't just share the recipe, she gave me Grandma's recipe card!  I'm pretty sentimental so having this recipe card in my collection makes me so happy!  I'll bake up a batch and share them here on the blog soon.
I'll be sharing my Favorite Things Friday over on Life Rearranged too.  Check out some other great blogger's weeks via Instagram.

life rearranged

Homemade Ice Cream? Yes, Please!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Last week on my facebook page I asked the question, "What appliance/gadget do you have that you rarely use (if ever)?"  The answers ranged from waffle makers to sno cone makers.  Everyone has something like that.  The gadget that sits in the box it came in, maybe used once.  With summer coming and the weather getting warmer, I decided to dust off my parent's ice cream maker and make a sweet treat.  I've never made, let alone had rhubarb ice cream but it was a flavor that sounded good for this time of year.  As you know, I just made easy rhubarb sauce.  I figured this would be the easiest way to incorporate rhubarb flavor into the ice cream.  If you have an ice cream maker, I suggest you give this one a try!

Rhubarb Ice Cream  makes 4 quarts

4 cups Half & Half
4 cups Heavy Cream
2 cups Sugar
1 tbs. Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
3 cups Rhubarb Sauce (this is how much I happened to have left, use more for more rhubarb flavor)

Place first 5 ingredients in ice cream can and stir well.  Stir in rhubarb sauce.  Insert dasher into can and cover.  Place can in bucket and surround with alternating layers of ice and rock salt until you reach the top.  Attach motor and plug in.  The machine really does all the work.  How easy do we have it!  This is where my Dad informed me that as a kid he had to take turns with his siblings turning the crank by hand!

Each ice cream maker may follow slightly different directions but most are this easy.  Makes you want to make your own ice cream, doesn't it?  If you have a maker, dust it off and give this a try.  If you've ever thought about getting one, I highly recommend it.  The hardest part is the waiting.  Once it is done turning in the machine (about 45 minutes in ours) you still need to freeze it until hard (overnight is best).  Well worth the wait! 

I ended up making more rhubarb sauce which made an excellent topping on this ice cream.  If you like rhubarb, this is a must try.  I really feel bad for anyone that doesn't have their own ice cream maker.  I can't wait to see what other flavors I can make this summer.

Easy Rhubarb Sauce

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We had unusually warm weather in March making my rhubarb ready for a small harvest already in April.  While I was happy to have the fresh rhubarb, my fist attempt of baking with it was a  major fail.  I won't bore you with the details but the cupcakes were a sunken soggy mess.  Oh well, the great thing about having rhubarb growing in your backyard is being able to pick more!  This time I stuck with making an old stand by, rhubarb sauce.  It really is so easy and so very yummy.  Yes, you can do the usual strawberry rhubarb bars, crumble or cake but this sauce is one of my favorites. 

I'm not sure this can really be classified as a "recipe" but here goes anyway.

1.  Chop trimmed rhubarb stalks into pieces, enough to make 4 to 6 cups.  No need to be exact, chop and dump in a saucepan.

2.  Add 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and a splash of lemon juice.  Again, don't feel tied down to the amounts.  Adjust to your taste, you really can't ruin this sauce.

3.  Cook on medium-high heat stirring often to help break down the fruit.

4.  The sauce is done when there are no big chunks left and the sauce begins to thicken.  Now is the time to taste and add more sugar if the sauce is too tart for you. 

That's it!  Isn't that easy?  Now, I know some of you are asking, what do you do with rhubarb sauce?  I eat it just like this.  That's what my Mom used to do, serve it as a side dish just like you would apple sauce.  The possibilities really are endless though.  Serve warm or cold over ice cream, pound cake, or yogurt.  Or just enjoy the sauce as is.  Enjoy!

I have a few more rhubarb ideas in mind and will share them here soon. 
What do you like to make with rhubarb? 

Check my "Linking Up" page to see where I will be sharing this post.