Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch

Scrumptious Granola Clusters

We recently took a weekend visit to Northern Ohio. We wanted to spend time with family, watch our nephew play some amazing high school football, and enjoy the rolling hills and colorful treelined byways while visiting a few local Amish community shops.
When in Ohio, I try to take the opportunity to stop at Marc’s, a local discount store that can offer some amazing deals. It’s “hit or miss”, but I often stock up on coffee, staples and seasonal trinkets that are placed on entry area shelves listed at rock bottom, close-out prices. 
After carefully searching the bountiful shelves, I ended up buying a few color coordinated cutting boards, silicone trivets, and pin-striped double oven mitts to give as Christmas gift sets this holiday season. I often pair kitchen items with wholesome baked goods for a more personal holiday gift. I also bought large boxes of flavored k-cups, cereal, and oatmeal.
I purchased several boxes of this low-sugar cereal with this granola recipe in mind… Kashi Original GoLean has lots of fun shapes and textures nestled within the box.
I also use our own maple syrup to sweeten the mix and it’s sticky properties help to form the crunchy granola clusters. Pair this delicious granola with Greek yogurt and sweet crunchy apples for an awesome breakfast combination. What a way to start the day!
Scrumptious Granola Clusters
4 cups dry, sugarless breakfast cereal ( I use Kashi GoLean Original pictured above)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large, jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cereal, nuts and seeds. Stir to blend.
In a small saucepan, combine the oil, maple syrup and/or honey, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot mixture into dry cereal mixture. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will continue to crisp up as it cools.
Let the granola cool for 10 minutes before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the (optional) dried fruit. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, Chocolate, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Speckled Monkey Bars

Bananas have always been a staple ingredient for lunch bags/boxes in our household. When selecting fruit to add to my weekly shopping list, bananas always take center stage. I often choose far more than needed for a week’s worth of lunches as I love having a few extra over-ripe bananas to add to tasty quick bread and snack recipes, such as this one. These delicious bars have few ingredients and highlight some of my family’s favorite flavors. My three (not so) little monkeys have enjoyed these flavors for many years.

Speckled Money Bars

4 medium (over-ripe) bananas, mashed

2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9” baking pan.

Mix bananas with oats and peanut butter; add vanilla and continue to mix until well blended. Carefully, spread the mixture in prepared pan making sure to evenly distribute to the corners. Top with chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting into delicious squares. Wrap individually for a lunch bag treat or store in an airtight container.

Note: Lately, I’ve been using the Copper Chef brownie pan to make perfect portions while baking. Depending on your oven, you may have to reduce cooking time when using this pan. Cool completely before removing insert.

Posted in Brunch, Food, Gardening, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box, No-Bake

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

My daughter recently called to ask if I could share an easy appetizer recipe as she needed to assemble a quick item for a coworker’s going-away party. She had already looked through the recipes on my blog and couldn’t find one that she could easily make ahead of time and store in the fridge. My mind quickly turned to a simple recipe that I used to make when our children were young. I made this recipe for our annual St. Patrick’s Day Party when we lived in the southwest Chicago area. The yearly parade (and party) was always a fun event for all of the Irish families living in the neighborhood. Slices of pumpernickel cocktail bread are loaded up with a spiced cream cheese mixture and a thick slice of fresh cucumber. A quick sprinkle of dill adds a layer of flavor. Drawing the tines of a fork down the side of the cucumber before slicing, adds a unique design to the appetizer.

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix

1 (1 pound) loaf sliced pumpernickel party bread

2 English cucumbers

2 teaspoons dill weed or dill seed

Mix cream cheese and Italian salad dressing mix in a bowl until well blended. Draw the tines of a fork down the sides of the cucumber before slicing (Make sure to pierce the skin of each cucumber.) Spread cream cheese mixture atop pumpernickel party bread and top each slice with a cucumber slice. Sprinkle with a light dose of dill weed or dill seed.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch

Hearty Irish Scones

I’ve been making scones since I was a little girl. My parents were born and raised in Ireland so making scones was a weekly event. During the Lenten season, scones were a definitive staple on the dining table. My father worked for Trans World Airlines so traveling back and forth to Ireland during our summer holiday was a yearly event. Watching my grandmother make bread/scones was always mesmerizing to me. She used a huge ceramic Mason Cash bowl, and mixed everything by hand. None of the ingredients were measured very carefully. She would pour leavening ingredients into the palm of her hand before throwing them into the mix. She used an old china teacup to measure flour for the mixture. The teacup would be placed back inside the bag of flour for future use. The flour that she used was of a course, whole wheat texture. The hearty aroma and flavor were like none other and can’t easily be duplicated with our traditional American flour selection. I’ve often thought of purchasing the flour from available on-line sources but I can’t justify the cost. Hence, I offer this recipe as an alternative. Is it exactly the same as the old country flavor? Well, no…. But, it’s a close second and my family enjoys the hearty flavor of these beautiful scones. Served with a heaping helping of butter and homemade jam, this recipe is a winner.

Hearty Irish Scones

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup old fashioned oats + 1/4 cup for topping

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

10 Tablespoons (5/8 cups) butter or margarine

1 3/4 – 2 cups buttermilk

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt. Stir in oatmeal. Cut in butter with your fingers or with a pastry blender. Add raisins and mix; then add buttermilk and mix/ kneed just until dough comes together. If dough is too wet, kneed in extra flour; just until dough becomes less sticky.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface and gently shape into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Cut either into 2-inch circles with a biscuit cutter. Transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with extra oatmeal; lightly pat oats into surface. Bake 15-18 minutes, until browned on the bottom. If desired, you can flip scones to bake 2 more minutes to further brown the bottoms. Let cool or serve warm.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Brunch, Cake, Uncategorized

Simple Cinnamon Rolls

  

We were having dinner the other night and my oldest daughter reported that she would be attending a “study session” the following day. Her class had a final exam on the horizon and a group was getting together to study. This would be an early morning session so she said she wanted to be sure to stop at the store to pick up a coffee cake before the event.

To save her time, I volunteered to make a simple pan of cinnamon rolls that I was sure the group would enjoy. I knew that I had all of the basic ingredients on hand to assemble and bake them before leaving for work in the morning. A traditional cinnamon roll recipe can be quite time consuming, but with the help of this semi-homemade recipe, it’s a jiffy of a job.

I have to be perfectly honest, when I’m in a hurry, I often don’t have the time to wait for the rolls to rise before putting them in the oven… I simply preheat the oven after I have mixed the dough and prepared the rolls. It usually takes about 20-25 minutes to preheat the oven and clean up the kitchen. Then, I pop them in the oven and let them rise while they bake.

  

Simple Cinnamon Rolls

(Adapted from the Betty Crocker Recipe; Cake-Mix Cinnamon Rolls)

1 1/4 cups warm water 

1 package regular active dry yeast

1 box white cake mix

2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup store bought cream cheese frosting or glaze
Grease 2-9″ square baking pans with shortening or cooking spray.  In small bowl, mix warm water and yeast; let stand 5 minutes.

In large bowl, mix cake mix and 2 cups of the flour. Add water-yeast mixture; stir with wooden spoon until dough forms. Add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time, until it comes together in a ball. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until doubled. Meanwhile, melt butter in small bowl, and set aside to cool. In another small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough into large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with 1/2 melted butter; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Starting with 1 long end, tightly roll up dough into a log. Cut into 12 rolls. Brush with remaining butter.

  
Place rolls in pan(s); cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 30 minutes while you heat oven to 375°F. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; spread with frosting or with powdered sugar glaze found here.

  
  
Here’s the original recipe…

https://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/baking-tips/cake-mix-cinnamon-rolls

Here’s another great “no-rise” recipe that I often use. Delicious!

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/241917/quick-cinnamon-rolls/

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Food

Back To School Blueberry Bread

It’s that time of year again… Back to school!   This is a great quick bread loaf to bake in quantity and pop in the freezer for lunchbox treats throughout the year.  We recently visited our daughter who has started her clinical year at a hospital in Illinois.  I brought along an assortment of quick breads that I carefully sliced and individually wrapped for the freezer.  This way, she can take out one slice at a time and pack it into her lunch bag for a morning snack or a lunchtime treat. As I think back to all of the blueberry recipes I’ve made for the family, this one is surely a winner!



Back to School Blueberry Bread

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon peel

GLAZE:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar or 1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well. Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon peel.

Transfer to a greased 9X5″ loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Continue to cool on a wire rack.  

Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely before slicing.



Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch

Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal II



While watching a local PBS cooking show last Saturday afternoon, I was captivated by a recipe that was shared by Ellie Krieger.  After further investigation, a web search disclosed that the original recipe was actually written by an author working for the Washington Post. I quickly printed the recipe and looked forward to baking the dish this weekend.  My children would be traveling back from college for a quick visit and I was anxious to assemble the baked oatmeal for Saturday breakfast.  I doubled and adjusted the original recipe as I wanted to send back to school with my daughter a portion of the dish to be warmed up for weekday meals.  

This recipe did not disappoint.  On my goodness, it is absolutely delicious! While I changed up the recipe quite a bit, here is the link for the original recipe.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/morning-glory-baked-oatmeal/15077/

My recipe is posted below…



Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal II

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats 

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 cups unsweetened almond milk

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 large egg

4 tablespoons canola oil

3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups apples, cored and diced  

2 cups carrots, shredded 

1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13X9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix together the pecans, cinnamon, the brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, baking powder. Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, oil and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture, stirring to combine, then mix in the apple, carrots and raisins.

Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the pecan and brown sugar mixture.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden at the edges and just set at the center. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe first posted by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Casserole

Pumpkin Cobbler Spiced Bread Pudding

I often visit a local discount bread store during my lunch hour.  The outlet carries nearly expired items that I use for stuffing, meatloaf, and bread pudding recipes.

Recently, I spied a few loaves of Pumpkin Cobbler bread on the “reduced shelf” and quickly loaded the loaves into my cart.  After arriving home, I promptly froze the bread to have on hand for a quick Saturday morning bread pudding bake made with scrumptious cubes of pumpkin spiced loaves.  The crunchy streusel-like topping puts this breakfast treat over the top.  I drizzle a teaspoon of our delicious homemade maple syrup over the top of a warm slice for a bit of added sweetness.



Pumpkin Cobbler Spiced Bread Pudding

5 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups pumpkin cobbler or cinnamon swirl bread, cubed

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup cold butter, sliced into small cubes

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or spray with cooking spray, a 13 X 9″ pan. 

In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Place cubed bread in a large bowl and pour egg mixture over the top; gently mix and let sit for 10 minutes.  Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans over the top; dot with butter.   Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. 

If desired, drizzle with maple or vanilla syrup.  Serve warm.








Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Brunch, holiday, holidays

Pistachio Crunch Loaf



The holiday season is upon us and I am getting an early start on my baking for the upcoming Thanksgiving meal.  This week we will be traveling east to enjoy the holiday with my youngest sister and her family.  I have volunteered to bring all of the desserts so I have started baking and packaging some of our family’s favorite recipes.  It’s so much easier to bake ahead of time and then refrigerate or freeze the baked goods until just a few hours before the event.

This Pistachio Crunch Loaf is a long standing family favorite.  The festive green color comes from the packet of pistachio pudding mix added to the batter.  For an extra boost of flavor, try substituting the sour milk with pistachio flavored yogurt.  

It’s always fun to contribute an item (or two) to the family table over the holidays.  But, if you’re one of those people that always forgets your favorite platter or covered casserole dish when it’s time to go home, then here’s a great tip when traveling for the holidays…  

For the last several weeks, I’ve been purchasing decorative holiday tins of various shapes and sizes from local resale shops. (They range in price from about 50 – 75 cents.) I wash and dry them well when I get them home. This way I can pack all of my goodies into festive tins, stack them into reusable bags and conveniently store the tins when arriving at our destination.  When we are ready to bring out the treats, I’ll simply open all of the beautiful tins and lay them out on the buffett for guests to nibble on while enjoying time with family and friends.  The left-overs can be covered and stored in a cool dry place so we can continue to snack throughout the weekend.  No mess, no fuss!  If there is anything left by Sunday, I will leave the inexpensive tins behind without a thought.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Pistachio Crunch Loaf

1 package Pillsbury yellow cake mix

4 eggs

¼ cup canola oil

1 small package instant pistachio pudding mix

1 cup sour milk ( 1 scant cup of milk +2 teaspoons vinegar)

Sugar Mixture:

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8×4″ loaf pans.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs oil, pudding mix and sour milk. Beat until all of the ingredients are well blended into a thick batter.

Spread half of the batter into the greased loaf pans. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the batter, dividing it between the two pans. Repeat the layers, adding the remaining bread batter and the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Lightly swirl batter with a butter knife (optional).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should come out clean.  Cool loaves completely before removing from pans.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Food

Honey and Oat French Toast

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This weekend we visited campus to watch our daughter M run in the Purdue Half-Marathon.  The campus came alive early even though the sun hadn’t quite risen and the unseasonably cool air blanketed the town.  After the race began and all of the runners had left the parking lot, my husband and I headed into Lafayette for a bite to eat and to visit the farmer’s market.  We also wanted to cheer on the runners as they made their way to mile eight around the center of town.  

It’s a delight to visit the early morning market in Lafayette.  We made our way around to the booths picking up lots of freshly picked produce, earthy wholesome breads, and enormous honey crisp apples.  Right on schedule, M and others ran along side the market and we were able to get a few good pictures as she made her way back to campus.  



After the race, I shared my bounty with M as she lives in an apartment and always welcomes fresh organic produce for her weekly menu.  I asked her if she would like me to make her some French toast while she showered and changed into comfy clothes.  I had purchased two loaves of hearty whole grain bread that I would cut into thick slices for the dish.  Looking through her cabinets, I found that she had lots of savory spices but none that would work with the French toast.  I have always been a resourceful gal so I opened up one of her peach flavored tea bags (organic peach cobbler) and poured some of the mixture into the eggs.  I thought the peach flavor would pair well with the almond milk. 



 M also had a cylinder of rolled oats on the shelf so I opted to coat the bread to add a toasted crunchy texture.  A drizzle of honey added just the right touch of flavor to the finished product.  

Honey and Oat French Toast

6 thick slices whole wheat bread

4 eggs

2/3 cup almond milk

1/2 teaspoon flavored loose tea ( I used organic peach cobbler spiced tea)

3/4 cup rolled oats

Honey

In a shallow bowl or baking pan, beat together egg, milk, and desired spiced tea. Pour the oats into a separate baking pan, set aside. Heat a lightly oiled griddle of skillet over medium-high flame. Dunk each slice of bread in egg mixture, soaking both sides. Then coat the slices with oats.  Place in pan, and cook on both sides until golden. Drizzle with honey.  Serve hot.

M is planning a Halloween Party for her residents as she is a Resident Assistant so we made our way to the pumpkin patch to purchase pumkins later in the day… What a great time we had visiting Purdue this weekend.