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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Summer Night Pasta Salad

As I was preparing for a weekend get together with some out-of-town visitors, I picked up a tray of precut vegetables to serve with ranch dip for a poolside snack. The tray included an assortment of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and snow peas. While the vegetable tray was a big hit among our guests, having other sweet and delicious snacks left me with a few extra vegetables when it was time to clean up. …No worries, as I could always use the left overs for a big summer night pasta salad. In fact, using the precut veggies can really save time in the kitchen. Searching the fridge for other left over ingredients, here’s the impromptu recipe that I pulled together:

Summer Night Pasta Salad

1 pound fun-shaped pasta

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, sun dried tomato mix)

1 (16 ounce) bottle Marzetti Sweet Italian Dressing, or to taste

2 cups tomatoes, diced (sprinkled with a little salt, optional)

2 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped broccoli

1/2 cup chopped carrots, optional

6 ounces precooked summer sausage, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente, rinse under cold water and drain. Whisk together the Italian seasoning and Italian dressing.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pasta, vegetables, and sausage. Pour dressing over salad; toss. Sprinkle with mozzarella and refrigerate overnight.

Homestyle Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

This post goes out to all the folks that might be suffering from the effects of this year’s harsh cold and flu season…

My week began with a trip to urgent care as I woke on Monday with the symptoms of a bad flu. My chest felt heavy and I had a low hacking cough that shook my core every time it took a hold of me. After being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, I headed home with a supply of medication to help ease my discomfort.  I knew that a bit of rest and a pot of piping hot chicken noodle soup would certainly help me find relief.  

This is a quick and easy recipe that has become a family favorite over the years.  Chunks of onion, carrot, celery and chicken make for a hearty base while the steaming hot broth warms the throat and nestles down into the tummy.  Comfort food at its best. To save a bit of time, I often purchase a rotisserie chicken from the local grocer and shred up the juicy, well seasoned chicken before adding it to the broth.  My favorite stock base to use is L.B. Jamison’s.  I follow the directions on the back of the jar.  Perfect every time…  What a welcome recipe when you’re feeling under the weather.

Homestyle Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

8- 10 cups water

8 teaspoons chicken flavored soup base (or adjust to taste)

3 medium carrot, peeled and sliced

3 stalk celery, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

2 cup cooked noodles

Heat water to boiling, add soup base.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Add carrots, celery, onions, pepper, garlic, and parsley.  Simmer vegetables until tender.  Add chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep cooked noodles separate and add a small handful to each bowl of soup before serving.  This keeps noodles al dente.

Festive Cranberry, Pecan and Feta Salad

I recently attended a daylong training in Indianapolis.  A soup and salad lunch was served mid-day.  One of the local restaurants was asked to provide a bounty of fresh rolls, piping hot turkey chili and a fabulous cranberry and feta salad.  I passed on the rolls and chili but piled a healthy portion of the salad on my festive plate.  As I munched on the salad, I was reminded of a recipe that I used to make years ago and made a note to look through my cookbook collection to remake the dish for the Thanksgiving table (for some lighter fare.) Here is the version that I made… I don’t recall where the recipe originated, I have a handwritten note with the dressing ingredients loosely estimated.  We sure enjoyed this recipe. To save time, I’ve used a bottled raspberry vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing.  I have also added some freshly sliced pears to the mix. Super easy and delicious! Great for the upcoming holidays.

 

Festive Cranberry Feta and Pecan Salad

2 tablespoons raspberry or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar or the equivalent sweetener

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

6 cups mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix until sugar and salt dissolve. Slowly whisk in olive oil.  In a chilled  glass salad bowl, toss together the greens, cranberries, pecans, and cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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

Banana Streusel Swirl Cake

  The grocery store was packed with holiday shoppers yesterday.  The warm sun and mild temperatures brought people out in light jackets and cropped pants.  I’m so happy that Spring has arrived in our part of the world.  

Like many of you, I’ve been baking goodies for the Easter weekend.  The local grocer had a huge display of overly ripened bananas on hand so I picked a decent selection of fruit and carted it home with me.  I headed to my trusty file to find one of my spring-time favorites. This scrumptious Banana Streusel Swirl Cake is absolutely delicious. I hope you have a chance enjoy this crunchy, sweet, delicate cake made with pecans, cinnamon, mashed bananas, and a convenient cake mix.  Happy Easter, Everyone!

Banana Streusel Swirl Cake

Streusel:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cake:
1 package Yellow, Spice or Banana Cake Mix 

1 package vanilla instant pudding mix

4 eggs, slightly beaten

3-4 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup canola oil

1/4 cup water

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10″ bundt pan.  
For the streusel: combine all 4 ingredients and stir well.  Set aside.

For the cake:  combine all 6 ingredients and mix by hand or with a mixer for 2 minutes.  Batter should be thick and well combined.

Pour half the batter into bundt pan.  Sprinkle streusel over batter.  Spread remaining batter over streusel. Gently swirl the batter with a butter knife in a circular motion.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 25 minutes.  Loosen sides of cake from pan and invert on a cake plate. If desired, frost with glaze and sprinkle with chopped pecans.



Finger-Licking Pizza Roll

A sheet of Pillsbury crescent dough and a few spicy ingredients make this recipe a snap to pull together for a weekday dinner or afternoon snack. 

I’ve seen (and tasted) a version of this recipe posted elsewhere using a traditional bread dough loaf.  I found the dough to be dense and heavy… Frankly, the “dough to filling” ratio was a bit overwhelming.  

Here, I have used Pillsbury crescent roll sheets to bundle up the tasty Italian ingredients to make this undeniably delicious roll.  I just love the way the traditional filling sits within the light and flaky crust.  This Finger-Licking Pizza Roll recipe is incredibly hard to resist! 

Finger-Licking Pizza Rolls

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheets

1/2 6 oz. package pepperoni rounds

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup pizza sauce 

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Lightly flour counter surface.  Unroll dough.  With a rolling pin, flatten dough evenly to stretch dough to 13×9″ rectangle. Spread pizza sauce over surface.  Layer on pepperoni, overlapping rows. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. 

Starting with one short side, roll up rectangle; press edge to seal. Place cut side down on cookie sheet.

Bake 25-35 minutes or until roll is dark golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Slice roll into 3/4″ slices. Serve warm with leftover warm pizza sauce for dipping.