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Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’

Growing up, Sunday mornings meant cold cereal. We looked forward to those mornings because our parents made them special. We never ate cold cereal any other day of the week, just Sundays before church. The rest of the week Mom cooked us pancakes, waffles, hash-browns and eggs, applesauce oatmeal, Scottish oatmeal, Cream of Wheat or breakfast burritos. I laugh now, remembering that we thought the processed, boxed cereal beat out the other homemade treats. Strange kids. Now I prefer any other option, including oatmeal, but with that silly thing called a job, I find few mornings with time for measuring cups, sauté pans or even boiling water. I just don’t like getting up any earlier than I need to! So, I typically make the most important meal of the day a bowl of granola. But, have you ever read the ingredients on a box of the stuff? And the healthier options just get me even further into debt. My version below includes olive oil, flax seeds, maple syrup, all my favorite ingredients! I added applesauce to reduce the fat content (plus, the applesauce really helps to create wonderful clumps, the best part!), and used maple syrup and honey as the sweeteners. And I know with every bite exactly what I am getting.

Granola - Before baking

I love that you can really make a granola recipe your own, as long as you keep the proportions of liquid to dry ingredients correct. Feel free to experiment! That is the best part of cooking. I didn’t add dried fruit to mine because I just don’t like it that much, but definitely add some if you are a fan!

Cinnamon-Almond Granola

3 cups rolled oats

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 cup Scottish oatmeal (you can substitute quick oats, or just add more rolled oats. Do not use steel-cut oats)

1/2 cup golden flaxseed meal

1/2 cup golden flax seeds

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1/2 cup applesauce, very smooth (I used my recipe and pureed the applesauce in a food processor. Chunky applesauce is yummy, but doesn’t work as well as an oil substitute!)

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, spices, salt, coconut, Scottish oatmeal, flaxseed meal, flax seeds and almonds in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Thoroughly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Spread the granola evenly on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. The granola should be very golden brown when done. If you like it extra clumpy, as soon as you remove it from the oven, place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the granola and press down firmly and evenly. Remove the parchment and let the granola cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Granola - After baking

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When did pizza turn into a greasy pile of cheese, soggy dough and too many low-quality toppings? Such a beautiful concept turned ugly by millions of crappy restaurants and cheap chains. Trader Joe’s to the rescue! Wandering through the aisles, I spotted gooey balls of whole wheat pizza dough. I couldn’t help but put a couple in my cart, along with a bag of arugula, some heirloom grape tomatoes, a log of mozzarella and a bottle of olive oil. I love planning dinner this way. I don’t need a recipe or website for help, just the inspiration of fresh and inviting ingredients. Okay, maybe I cheated a bit. I can make pizza dough, and better pizza dough than they sell in stores. But, I try to avoid my nemesis (flour) at home where no dishwasher (human!) awaits to sweep up my mess. Pathetic, yes. Lazy, definitely. But, after a day of cooking for other people, sometimes I need a shortcut. At least this shortcut includes whole wheat flour! Healthier, and tastier. My first attempt did not turn out the way I planned. Do not attempt new recipes while starving! I sprinkled cornmeal on my baking sheet, but did not grease the pan, or line it with anything. Stupid, stupid, stupid! The smell of garlic and roasting tomatoes wafted through my apartment as I attempted to scrape the pizza off the baking sheet with a spatula. I succeeded, partially. The crispy part of the crust remains stuck to the pan, and the pan still sits in the sink taunting me. “Do not even attempt to clean me! Only failure awaits you!” The top of the pizza tasted wonderful, but did not include the contrast of a crispy crust. My next try included lining the baking sheet with foil, and greasing it liberally with pan spray. The result: a perfectly crispy crust topped with sweet roasted tomatoes, melting mozzarella with just enough of a caramelized crunch, and pungent arugula for a fresh contrast. So good I ate it three days in a row. Freshly made each time, of course.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula Pizza

Yields 2 servings

1 tbsp cornmeal

1 lb pizza dough (you can find this in most grocery stores, or you can make your own! I prefer whole wheat dough)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

8  slices of mozzarella from an 8 oz log

16 grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup arugula, cleaned

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

flour (I used whole wheat)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray generously with pan spray, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of cornmeal. Heat the pan in the oven while you assemble the pizza. This will help crisp the crust. Meanwhile, sprinkle a cutting board with flour  and roll out the pizza dough to a quarter inch thickness. Make sure the dough does not stick to the cutting board. Add more flour if necessary. You can also divide the dough in half and make two individual pizzas. Brush the dough with 1 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with the minced garlic. Top with the sliced mozzarella and the halved tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven, and carefully slide the pizza on it. Put the baking sheet in the oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let the pizza cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, toss the arugula with 1 tsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Top the pizza with the arugula, slice the pizza and serve.

You can also use a pizza stone instead of the baking sheet, but if you have a pizza stone, you probably know how to use it! I do not own one . 😦

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