Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Granola Bars

This is my 500th post!
So we're celebrating with granola bars.

I know. We're wild and crazy.

The girls and I love granola bars. But I haven't had much luck making my own. I've tried a variety of recipes in which the granola bars are baked, but with no success. Crumbly, dry messes.

Then along came Judicial Peach's no bake granola bar recipe. It took a few tries to get it the way I liked it, but now they are a staple in the house.

The ratio to remember is about 3 cups of dry ingredients to 1 cup gluey ingredients. I tried the peanut butter/honey combo for glue initially and it is quite tasty. But I'm now addicted to almond butter/honey. I'm in some serious love with almond butter. It might deserve its own post.

If you've never made your own granola, try my recipe. It's awesome. If I do say so myself.

Granola Bars

4 cups granola (without the dried fruit added at the end)
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups natural almond butter (or peanut butter)**
3/4 cup honey

Put the chocolate chips in the freezer for a few minutes. (This will prevent melting later...although they certainly aren't bad with the chocolate melted throughout).

Mix the granola, raisins and salt.

Mix the almond butter and honey together in a small pan over low heat until melted and smooth. This doesn't take long, 3-4 minutes. Don't burn it. It does not smell nice and it's not fun to clean the pan.

Add the honey mixture to the granola mixture and mix thoroughly.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Line a 9"x13" pan with plastic wrap, and press the granola mixture into the pan.

Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Lift the granola bars out by the plastic wrap and cut into squares or rectangles.


**NOTE: I use all natural peanut butter and almond butter, meaning all it contains is mashed nuts and salt. Peanut butters such as Jiffy or Skippy have added oil, which may affect the way the granola bars hold together. It may be okay, but I haven't tried it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Buttered Rosemary Rolls

Today I have for you the best rolls you will ever make. My friend Leanne sent me a link to these just before Easter. I made them...and then made them twice more that week. They are that good.

Pioneer Woman is a genius. These rolls have it all. There's the bread (awesome texture). Then butter. Fresh rosemary. Coarse sea salt. All in a cast iron skillet.

And I learned two new things. First, I have been seriously missing out in having never used fresh rosemary. It smells divine and has a spectacular flavor.

Second. Scalding milk. In the past I have ran away from any recipe that required scalding milk...I was never quite sure what the right-before-boiling-point was. But it turns out it's not so bad.

To scald milk:
- heat it in a heavy bottomed pan over medium-low heat
- keep a-stirrin' so it doesn't form a skin
- and watch for it to steam AND form small bubbles around the edges (I've also seen the temperature 185 degrees thrown around, if you have a candy thermometer)
- if you do accidentally boil it, you should probably throw it out and start over. Supposedly, it can make the bread taste bad.

One more thing. You don't have to use a cast iron skillet to bake these babies. I fit as many as I can in my skillets, and then just use a glass baking dish.

Buttered Rosemary Rolls


2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 cups (plus 1/2 extra cup, separated) white wheat flour*
1/2 tsp (heaping) baking powder
1/2 tsp (scant) baking soda
1/2 TB (heaping) kosher salt
melted butter
fresh chopped rosemary
course sea salt

*If you use all wheat flour, throw 2 TB vital wheat gluten in the bottom of one of the cups, then fill it the rest of the way with flour. Half wheat flour/half white flour works great, and of course you can always do all all-purpose flour.


Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan.

Scald the mixture (see scalding instructions above). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When the mixture is lukewarm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in yeast. Let it sit for a minute and then add 4 cups of flour (and gluten).

Stir it up, cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising, stir in 1/2 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. (Pioneer Woman says: At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

Spray a small iron skillet (or glass baking dish) with cooking spray. Form small rolls and place in the skillet. Cover with a clean towel and let them rise 20-30 minutes. (I get about six rolls in my 9" skillet, 8 rolls in my 12" skillet).

After rising, liberally brush rolls with melted butter and sprinkle on chopped rosemary and coarse sea salt.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. The rolls should be a nice golden brown.

I believe I got 12-14 rolls from this recipe.

Adapted from:

Pioneer Woman Buttered Rosemary Rolls

Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Veggie Burgers

I've been trying my make a decent bean burger. I love the taste of America's Test Kitchen Chipotle Bean Burger, but the burgers always turned out crumbly and were difficult to cook without ending up with scrambled bean burgers rather than patties.

Then I came across Divine Dinner Party's veggie burger recipe, and it seemed like it would be worth a try. And I'm so glad I tried it. It made a beautiful patty, and cooked up like a dream. Tasty too!

I added my own variations to the original recipe. I used black beans rather than pinto, and added a healthy dose of chopped chipotle peppers. It made the burgers a bit too spicy for the girls, but they had the perfect kick for me.

Served on homemade hamburger buns made them fabulous.

Now to see if they hold up frozen and reheated...

Veggie Burgers

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups black beans if you cook your own)
1-2 cups rolled oats (as needed)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup onions finely chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 TB chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce


Throw all ingredients (start with only one cup of oatmeal) in food processor.

Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add more oatmeal as needed until the patties hold together well.

Chill mixture for about an hour, then shape into smallish patties (these are rich and filling, so don't make them too big).

Chill patties several hours (I was short on time, chilling for just an hour was fine), or freeze and save until needed.

Two ways to cook:

1) Broil patties 4-6 inches from heat about 10-15 minutes, until browned and heated throughout. This works well if your patties want to fall apart.


2) Saute them in a skillet in a bit of olive oil. Cook patties over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes a side, until crisp outside and cooked through.

The original recipe says you can pre-cook the burgers, then re-heat on the grill. I'm wondering if I can pre-cook the burgers, freeze, and then re-heat on the grill, straight from the freezer.

Serve on hamburger buns with melted pepperjack cheese, sauteed onions, lettuce, avocado and tomato. I always add a pinch of salt and pepper to the top of my tomato slice...never can you have too much salt.

They are irresistible.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homemade Hamburger Buns

About a year ago, I came across the idea of homemade hamburger buns. My first thought was , "No kidding? You can make hamburger buns?"

Well, someone can make hamburger buns. But that someone wasn't me. Not for lack of trying. All the recipes that exclaimed, "You'll never need another recipe for hamburger buns!" never quite worked out for me.

Until now.

I was browsing the gourmet burger section of a blog, and there was a link to a burger bun recipe. It was quick and easy and I also wanted to try their veggie burger recipe, so I thought I might as well give it a try.

They turned out great! I swapped out the white flour for white wheat and a bit of vital wheat gluten. And an added bonus, they were much faster than most of the burger bun recipes I have tried.

And another bonus...the veggie burgers turned out great too.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

2 TB active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 TB warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 cups (or less) white wheat flour
2 TB vital wheat gluten


Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast on top.

Gently stir in oil and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes to activate yeast.

Add the egg and salt. Add the vital wheat gluten and enough flour to make a nice, soft dough - start with 3 cups, and add more a tablespoon at a time. I used less than the 3 1/2 cups called for.

On a floured surface, knead dough until it begins to feel smooth and elastic, about three to five minutes.

Immediately divide the dough into eight pieces, and shape each into a ball.

Place dough balls on greased baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for them to expand.

Cover dough with a clean towel and let rise about 10 minutes in a warm place.

Bake rolls in a preheated, 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden.

Cool on racks and serve with your favorite hamburger or veggie burger.

*Adapted from Divine Dinner Party*

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Sunday started out okay, despite the return of gloomy, cold weather. It deteriorated fast. By 10:30 am, everyone (including me) had been sent to their rooms to regroup. Kitty immediately fell asleep, Boo found consolation in Angry Birds, and I pulled the covers over my head. J suggested a cheerful brunch to start the day over, so I headed over to two of my favorite food blogs and we decided on Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Annie's Eats and a German Pancake from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Both recipes were perfect, and the day brightened from there.

I adjusted the muffin recipe a bit to incorporate a bit more fresh lemon juice. The muffins were moist and had a bright flavor that I loved. Boo loved them too. She was left alone with the leftover muffins right before bed and eight mini muffins mysteriously disappeared....

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TB poppy seeds
1¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
8 TB unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 TB fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt

For the glaze:
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 TB fresh lemon juice


Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low speed, mix in half the dry ingredients, then the yogurt, then the remainder of the dry ingredients, beating each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter into muffin liners.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes for mini muffins, 16-18 minutes for regular muffins. Test muffins with a toothpick, let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze:
Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over each muffin while they are still warm. I did mini muffins and had more than enough glaze...they each got a generous glazing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

DIY Compost Bin

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...

...because I'm sure you all have been thinking through the long, cold winter about making your very own compost bin, just like I have.

And now the weather is perfect, so here's your chance.

I found these instructions and these to be very helpful.

Find a big plastic storage bin with a lid. Mine was a little dusty, so I cleaned it up a little. You know so it would be clean for all the composting.

Drill holes in the bottom, sides, and lid. You want air circulation. So they say.

Put some shredded newspaper on the bottom of the compost bin and then add some dirt from your garden until your bin is 1/3 to 1/2 full.

Now put the lid on and find a nice spot (shady, so your compost doesn't dry out) for your compost bin.

Don't compost things like meat, dairy, oils, lime and colored paper. Here's a nice list of things to avoid composting.

Great project. And even I finished it in one day. Okay, well one 24 hour period.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sara's baby shower

Sara's having a baby! And it's a girl - I love girls.

Since we all live in different states, and it's rare indeed that we all are together, we decided to have a baby shower for Sara the day before Em's wedding.

We were still missing a few of our girls (and we did miss you), but most of us were there...

Mom was nice enough to let me do the food, so I spent the morning making a horrendous mess in her kitchen (which J and Peter O. cleaned up for me, thanks boys). But out of the chaos came a lovely spread...

I really regret not getting individual pictures of the food, but considering everything that was going on, I'm glad I at least snapped this one.

Leigh-Ann made the fruit kabob bouquet, and it was the most gorgeous dish on the table.

I don't want to tell you what you should do, should run to the store and buy the ingredients for the ham and cheese sliders. I've looked at them a number of times on Annie's Eats, but had my doubts about the mustard sauce on top. When my food friend at Apron Appeal gave them a glowing review, I decided it was time to try them. They were so. good. I used Rhodes frozen dough for the slider roll, easy and yummy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tilapia with Cilantro Butter

Here's the thing. I don't like fish. I don't like to eat fish and I don't especially care to look at fish in aquariums either.

But I married a fish-lover.

So I'm learning to cook fish and trying to like it. It's an uphill battle.

I know that breading and frying makes just about anything palatable.

And I've found that tilapia is not so bad. I keep a bag of frozen fillets in the freezer, so I decided to give Tilapia with Cilantro Butter a try.

Who would ever have thought that I would go back for seconds, exclaim that I love fish, and be excited to make it again?

The sauce was incredibly tasty. The blend of cilantro, butter and lemon was a perfect combination.

And as a bonus, it's quick and easy.

Try it. You'll like it.

Tilapia with Cilantro Butter


For the fish:
1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon
ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon
ground red pepper
(6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray

lemon, quartered

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons
butter, softened
4 tablespoons
finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon
grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon

Mix the salt, cumin and red pepper together and sprinkle over both sides of fish.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Spray the pan and both sides of fish with cooking spray.

Cook the fish about 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer the fish to a platter and squeeze the lemon quarters over the fish.

Stir together the sauce ingredients and serve with the fish.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What is that bright thing in the sky?

I mentioned in my last post that it was sunny in California. For three days in a row. I don't think we've seen that since October. Not only sunny, but 88 degrees!

The girls got to Grandma's house, and
ran to the pool in the backyard with Tyler.
Did it matter that it was really only big enough for one? Of course not.

I hardly saw Boo for the first two days, she was so busy playing with Ty and Lucy. They played freeze tag, Duck Duck Goose, and generally ran wild.

Kitty ran with the kids a bit. She was delighted to spend the days outside and spent a significant amount of time walking the stones lining the garden.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Em & Nathan's Wedding

Last week we made a quick trip to California for Emily and Nathan's wedding. The wedding was beautiful. It was so great to see family that we haven't seen in far too long. And the weather was perfect.

The happy couple.

Beautiful bride.

Leigh-Ann, me, Sara, Em, Becca, Sabrina

The fountain was a hit with the kids. We are very lucky Kitty didn't dive in head first.

With my beautiful cousins at the luncheon.

The beautiful cake made by Saramarie.

Concentrating on the cutting of the cake.

And that, my friends, is the last sibling wedding on both sides of our family. Eight weddings in the last eight years.