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liberal granola

August 10, 2010

Sometimes I think to myself, ‘Ya know, I really don’t get made fun of enough for being a vegetarian and going to art school and having ridiculously long hair and having a strange infatuation with Janis Joplin. I should really seal the deal with something like making my own granola from scratch.’ But I hear that granola is totally socially acceptable these days, and perhaps even embraced by all different walks of life – so I strongly encourage you to make this, because it is in fact delicious. And so much better for you and cheaper than that stuff they sell at the grocery store. People tend to think granola is a health food by default, which is really not true at all. Most granolas that you buy at the store have so much sugar and fat in them that you might as well be buying Coco Puffs. I will tell you right now, I am extremely particular about the food I buy. If it comes in a package, you should probably think twice before eating it. So after a lifetime of scrutinizing nutritional labels on cereal boxes, I finally said ‘duh! why don’t I just make this myself’ (okay, sorry, ending rant. no offense to anyone who does like coco puffs). But besides any of that, the cool thing about making your own anything is that you can change it up to suit your preferences. Some of these pictures are from the first time I made this granola with almonds, some of them I made with pistachios. You can use whatever you want. (hooray diversity!)

Granola However You Want It!

3 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds (or any other type of raw nut)

3 Tbsp ground flax

1/2 cup shredded coconut (if you can find unsweetened, use that, and increase the maple syrup to your taste, but I usually can’t so this is done with sweetened)

1 tsp cinnamon

4 1/2 Tbsp egg whites

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey or agave)

2 Tbsp Tavern on the Green Meyer Lemon Olive Oil

1/2 cup raisins (or any other dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, flax, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt, maple syrup and olive oil. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 30 min or until toasted and golden brown. About 15 min in, stir the granola a bit and add the coconut. After cooled, mix in the dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

oh yeah, and then I baked this peach cobbler…

August 5, 2010

Included in the exciting barbeque fare of last weekend was this peach cobbler I threw together. And when I say threw together, I don’t mean it in the way a girl says “oh this outfit? Just something I threw together!” when she actually spent days dissecting the difference between a plain white tee from Urban Outfitters and a v neck from American Apparel (HUGE, let me tell you…). No, I mean this in the sense that I was like “hey, I need a dessert quick, I haven’t gone food shopping in a while, and oh look! a pile of almost overripe peaches!” I feel like this dessert was a bit of a lame milestone for me because it’s the first time I’ve baked something without a real base recipe (does that make me sound like a looser? probably). I mean, when I cook, I never use recipes – I just throw things that I like together in a pot. But baking is intimidating because it’s more of a science and I don’t know about you, but I failed AP Physics. And you know what? This actually wasn’t a total fail (I mean, it was gone by the end of the party, what more can I say?) but if you’re going to make this, there are a couple of adjustments I would suggest:

– either increase the amount of peaches or decrease the amount of cobbler topping. Who knew biscuits grew that much in the oven? I didn’t… obviously.

– use a deeper dish – I believe the one I used was 13 x 9 and it definitely should have been 11 x 7 or even 8 x 8, the ratio of peach to cobbler was way off

– actually go out and buy buttermilk – like I said, I threw this together, and all the biscuit or cobbler recipes I saw called for buttermilk, which I clearly don’t have lying around, so I researched substitutes and found that going half milk half plain yogurt is supposed to work, and it tasted fine, but I just have a feeling that authentic buttermilk would be better, especially because it was 1% milk and fat free yogurt, and let’s be honest… fat is what makes desserts delicious

so without further a due, here is the somewhat failed…

Peach Cobbler

filling ingredients:

6 peaches, pits removed and sliced into eights

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. amaretto

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

topping ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour

4 1/2 Tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

4 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together all of the filling ingredients and pour into your baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a pastry cutter, cut in butter until the size of peas. Whisk together yogurt and milk and pour into flour mixture. Stir until dough forms. Spoon onto peach filling in six mounds and sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake 30-45 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

don’t even try to tell me I’m not the best friend ever

August 3, 2010

Last weekend one of my friends wanted to have a barbeque in her backyard and invite all our friends. Sounds fun, chill, even easy, right? “Only…. wait. I’m a vegetarian. Hey meat eating brother – wanna grill things for me? And oh yeah, I don’t really bake. Hey best friend – wanna make some desserts and side dishes and dips and things for me?” Yes, yes, of course I will. (p.s. I’m the best friend, not the meat eating brother) I mean, who am I kidding? I love being the one people come to for this sort of thing.

Garlic Eggplant Hummus

about 2 cups eggplant chopped into 1 in. cubes

1/2 red pepper chopped into 1 in. pieces

1/4 red onion chopped into 1 in. pieces

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. Tahini

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp Tavern on the Green Garlic With Rosemary Olive Oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss chopped vegetables with olive oil and roast in oven until soft (about 20-30 minutes). Once vegetables are cool, combine with all the other ingredients and pour into a blender. Mix on high until smooth (add some water in if you think it’s too thick).

Lemon Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp tahini

1 Tbsp Tavern on the Green Pepper with Lemon Olive Oil

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp tyme

salt and pepper to taste

Same deal. Dump all of those things into a blender mix on high until you reach your desired consistency. Easy!

Roasted Tomato Salsa (kinda based on this, but also… kinda not really)

about 4 cups grape or plum tomatoes, whatever you have, red and yellow, or whatever you have, chopped  into 1 in. pieces

I medium white onion, chopped into about 1 in. pieces

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

salt to taste

Preheat broiler. Place all ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly charred (about 10 minutes). Allow to cool. Peel garlic and place all ingredients in blender. Pulse until evenly chopped. When I did this, I thought it was way too watery – so then I put it through a strainer to get some of the liquid out, but you can skip this if you want.

seriously the most amazing chocolate cookies ever

I couldn’t be more wholesome right now if I tried

July 25, 2010

One of my close friends from home just left for Argentina this week for a study abroad program next semester (apparently they start school really early there? Which only adds to my freaking out about how quickly the summer is going…) Anyway, we decided to throw her a going away party and thought that it should be super patriotic themed, so that she could, ya know, get her fill of America while she still can. And when I say we decided upon this, I mostly mean me, seeing as how no one else really got the memo and I was the only one who baked a cherry pie with patriotic ornamentation and got dressed up in stars and stripes and whatnot. Let’s top this all off with the fact that I own a legitimate picnic basket, that I decided to break out just for this occasion. haha. Clearly…. I’m really into theme parties.

Well, I will tell you this much, regardless of anyone’s stance on patriotism, everyone loved this pie (thanks Smitten Kitchen! you’ve always done me well), especially my friend Ali, who I’m sure is eating some amazing dulce de leche in Argentina right now.

what to do with an inordinate amount of tomatoes

July 23, 2010

My mom and I have a fairly unique/ unorthodox relationship. And when I say that, I mean it in the sense that I do all the dinner cooking, apron wearing and Martha Stewart watching, while she eats popsicles for lunch and has facebook mobile on her blackberry (I say this in the most loving of ways, of course haha). But anyway, she gets really excited when I come home for the summer because it means that I cook her dinner all the time, and I guess because she doesn’t really cook, she’s very easily impressed. Soooo when I had a large quantity of tomatoes from our back yard and an eggplant from the farmer’s market that needed to be used up, I just put them in the oven for a little bit and then mixed them in with some pasta and cheese, and my mom was BLOWN. THE HELL. AWAY. I think it might just be attributed to how local and fresh everything was (I am a bit biased, I always think my tomatoes taste better than any others), but to be honest, this was really good.

Tomato Eggplant Mozzarella Pasta

(about 2 servings)

3-4 cups cherry tomatoes

1/2 medium sized eggplant

1/2 red onion

1 cup white beans

2 cups whole wheat pasta

about 2 oz. mozzarella cheese

1 Tbsp. Garlic and Rosemary Olive Oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Cut up eggplant into about 1 in. square cubes and thinly slice onion. Toss together with cherry tomatoes in olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes (after about 15, mix in the beans and stir vegetables). Cut up cheese into small cubes. When vegetables are done, toss together with pasta and cheese. Yum!

tomato season is back with avengence

July 21, 2010

Not bragging or anything, but these all came straight from my backyard. I’m going to be eating exclusively tomato based meals for as far as I can see into the immediate future. More on that to come.

Tavern Direct Summer Barbeque

July 14, 2010

Last week we had this lunch-business-meeting-type thing, and accordingly, all of the food was made with Tavern Direct products. I can’t say that I have recipes for any of these, because I didn’t actually make any of them, but they’re all pretty much self explanatory:

watermelon and blueberry salad with mint and Fig Balsamic Vinegar

grilled peaches with Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar

grilled chicken with Asian Lemon Marinade

Strawberry Cake and Blueberry Bars

July 9, 2010

This post clearly would have been perfect for the 4th of July – I mean, look at all that red, white and blue! But of course I don’t really have my act together, so… better late than never I guess.

I actually made this strawberry cake for Father’s Day. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told this story about how my grandma won my grandfather over with her amazing strawberry shortcake recipe. Consequently, I’ve been obligated to make this favorite dessert for him every year. When I was younger, we would buy a boxed pound cake and a carton of strawberries at the supermarket, pretend like we “made” this awesome dessert and call it a day. But since I’ve gotten older and more particular about my baked goods in past years, I’ve wanted to make everything from scratch. So last year I made totally authentic strawberry shortcakes for everyone – the kind that are like biscuits, (like this) because apparently, that’s how it’s done traditionally (or so Martha says, and I would never cross her). So anyway, I go to all this trouble to make cute, individual little cakes, and I bring them out, and my whole family is like “What are these? biscuits? This is weird. We want regular cake.” So I’ve learned my lesson – I’m making exclusively plain, inauthentic cake for my family from here on out. (Consequently, do you think this whole strawberry shortcake deception means that my grandparents’ marriage was a fraud all these years?!)

recipe from Martha Stewart

The blueberry bars are from the 4th of July. Every year I visit my friend in Rhode Island for the 4th, because they get REALLY into the holiday there. It’s basically a town-wide, week-long party. Her parents cook really awesome authentic Mexican food for us the whole time we’re there, so I wanted to bring something so I didn’t feel like such a moocher. These are probably my favorite thing to bake in the summer, cause it’s blueberry season and they’re sturdy and portable – ready to go cross country partying!

recipe from SmittenKitchen

Lemony Summer Panzanella

July 9, 2010

Being a vegetarian at a barbecue can be a tricky endeavor on its own. Unfortunately, I have also been sentenced to suffer the plight of a vegetarian who has a serious aversion to mayonnaise, consequently ruling out nearly all picnic fare for me. “Oh, you don’t eat hamburgers? Well we’ve got some pasta salad over here. No? Well why don’t you try the potato salad? Tuna salad? Alright, pickles it is then!” No. Mayo. Gross. Get it away from me. So I’ve always been looking for barbeque-type sides and salads that aren’t quite as lame as just lettuce, but also aren’t as (bleck!) mayo-infused as potato salad. This is where summer panzanella comes in.

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that is often referred to as a “leftover salad” because you can pretty much throw in anything that you want to use up. Traditionally, it’s mostly composed of toasted hunks of bread, tomatoes, olive oil, and other assorted vegetables. You can mix and match according to what you have lying around in your fridge.

Here’s a question: what is the ratio of bread to vegetables that determines a salad’s status as a panzanella vs. chopped salad with croutons? I may have crossed that boundary. Feel free to use more or less bread based on your preference.

Lemony Summer Panzanella

(makes 2 servings for one very hungry teenager/ probably about 3-4 servings for normal people)

2 cups day old bread, cut into approx. 1 in. cubes

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup cucumber, chopped into 1 in. cubes

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp. Tavern on The Green Pepper and Lemon Olive Oil

juice and zest from 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400° and arrange bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned (approx 15 min). Whisk together lemon juice, zest, olive oli, and salt and pepper. Toss vegetables and beans together in a large bowl and pour lemon and oil mixture over. Stir together and let sit to allow tomatoes to release their juices. Stir in bread cubes and parmesan cheese. Leave in the refrigerator at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.