Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Homemade granola is heaven

I'm making a variation of Ina Garten's Fruit Crunch Sundae for breakfast this morning, and the fresh granola smells heavenly coming out of the oven. I've substituted maple syrup for honey, since this is a trial run for a batch I'm making for Mom for Mother's Day (she's vegan and can't eat honey), and having made that substitution, I also changed out the nuts from almonds to pecans so the flavors match up a bit better. Other than that, it's the same, and my, is it lovely!

Fruit Crunch Sundae, via Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup pecan pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Vermont maple syrup
8 to 10 strawberries, small-diced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 pineapple, small-diced
2 cups plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, oil, and honey together in a large bowl until they are completely combined. Pour onto a sheet pan and bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring once.

Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple in a bowl. In 4 ice cream sundae glasses, layer first the fruit, then the yogurt, and the cooled granola alternately until you fill the glasses. Serve with a long spoon.

Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad

I made this for my nephew's First Communion BBQ, and it was a huge hit. I took the recipe straight from the Joy of Cooking; it's fantastically tasty, is great for occasions attended by people who have dietary restrictions, is remarkably easy to make, and travels well. I usually make it the night before to give the flavors a chance to meld in yummy ways.

[Yes, I know I should be posting pics of these creations; I'm working on it!]

Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad

Boil in water to cover for 1 minute:
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (cut from 3 ears of corn)
Drain and rinse under cold water. Whisk together in a small bowl:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Gradually whisk in:
5 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
1/4 cup snipped or sliced fresh basil
Toss with most of the dressing in a serving bowl:
3 cups cooked black beans (about 1 cup dried), rinsed and drained if canned
With the remaining dressing, toss the corn along with:
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup chopped red onions
Stir gently into the beans. Serve garnished with:
Fresh basil leaves

Monday, June 2, 2008

Aspirations of recreating the past

I would like to be a "lady who lunches"; I think it would be lovely to have the time and resources to have leisurely mid-day meals with good friends and excellent conversation, without worrying about what I'm neglecting by sitting there enjoying myself. However, I'd really only want to do such a thing if I could find other kindred spirits who lunch, and I fear such souls are scarce in my current environment. Being a lone lady luncher, while alliteratively satisfying, is emotionally empty and therefore unappealing to me, but I'd rather dine alone than lunch with ladies who are only so called because they are rich rather than refined.

I'm starting to think that my mother was correct when she said I was born in the wrong era. Ah, well.

Since I can't be one of the "ladies who lunch," I shall have to settle for being one of the "ladies who kick-ass in the kitchen at lunchtime." I made this pizza for lunch last Sunday, and it was awesomely tasty. I used the recipe for pizza dough in the regular old Betty Crocker cookbook, then layered on provalone, pesto, tomato sauce, pepperoni, and a mix of veggies I had roasted the day before (red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini, and sweet onions). I topped it all with a little shredded mozzerella, and voila! Spring-time goodness on a plate.