Berry Speedy Granola

berry granola a little yumminess

Our obsession with granola continues and it is becoming our mother-daughter specialty.  Making granola at home stemmed partly from the fact that store-bought artisanal granola is so expensive.  Stacie also inspired us to start making our own at home with her first granola post.  For the past two years, we have made our special granola as annual holiday teacher gifts.

This granola recipe is fast and easy and hardly dirties any dishes.  It can easily be made by a young child with minimal supervision required (do need to bake – so adults will have to supervise during those steps).  Dried blueberries are something we may have never discovered if not for this recipe.  Trader Joe’s sells these little dried wild blueberry jewels that are perfect for this granola and munching on otherwise.

We have been sharing this granola with friends and everyone has been requesting the recipe.  Very yummy and easy to make.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Almond Granola – by Martha Stewart

Make a giant batch of this.  Great for breakfast, midnight and after school snacks and school lunches/snacks.  This granola also makes a good host/hostess gift.  You can use other types of nuts or dried fruits to make it your own.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss oats, coconut, and almonds. In a small bowl, stir together oil and honey. Pour over oat mixture and toss. Bake, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted, 16 to 20 minutes.
  2. Place mixture in a large bowl and stir in blueberries.

TJs blueberries

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Weekend Baking: Angel Food Cake with Fresh Summer Berry Sauce

Angel food cake has always been my cake of choice for birthdays…. I guess it’s the tallness of it, the pillowy-ness that intrigues me. And you have to love the name, right? As a kid I imagined angels riding around on puffy white clouds eating their cake with silver forks. Given that I have an August birthday and grew up in San Francisco, my birthday memories are mostly of fogged out swimming parties, misty picnics at the park, and receiving back to school supplies as gifts (ack!). But the angel food cake was always a high point.

My fondness for this cake makes sense given my general tastes in sweets. It really is the perfect dessert for us marshmallow fans and those of us who happily skip both the chocolate and the frosting. It turns out that angel food cake actually has a lot in common with a marshmallow. Both start with a base of whipped egg whites — for the cake you fold in flour, sugar and a few other bits and for the marshmallow you whip in sugar syrup. So there you go! As an adult, I can also now fully appreciate that angel food cake is a not-too-guilty dessert. With no yolks, oil or butter, it’s virtually fat free.

The angel food cakes of my youth probably came from a boxed mix, but it really is quite easy to make one from scratch. Once the egg whites are whipped with sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla, all that’s left to do is to fold in flour that you’ve sifted with salt. That’s it. I still think it’s magical how whipping plain old egg whites can transform them into gorgeous, glossy mini mountain tops and it’s this culinary magic trick that makes angel food cake-making so fun to do with kids. I bet your young bakers will be rather impressed (plus they get to use the mixer which is always fun). And once you’ve mastered the art of the egg white in this recipe it’s only a short journey to souffles, meringues, baked alaska and French macarons. Go for the souffle, Luca!

But let’s first start with a super pretty, no-cook, easy peasy berry sauce to drizzle on top. Along with some fresh fruit, this is all you need to serve your cake in style. This berry sauce, however, goes way beyond cake. Make a batch and I promise you will have no trouble thinking of things to swirl it on. We like to enjoy it with our oatmeal, pancakes, ice cream and fruit salad and this berry sauce is right at home in two of our favorite snacks, Luca’s favorite Pink Milk and Ria’s Granola Towers.

Fresh Berry Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh berries of your choice , washed and stems removed. (You can substitute other fruit like peaches, pineapple, mango. Frozen fruit is fine too)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon or more of your favorite jam
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod (optional)
  1. Puree your berries, a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt together in a blender or food processor. If needed, add another tablespoon of water to help get your puree started.
  2. Taste for sweetness, stirring in jam a spoonful at a time until the flavor works for you. Blend again for a few seconds to incorporate everything.
  3. Push the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl using a rubber spatula. This step is not necessary but will give you a fabulously smooth and seed-free sauce. If you want to splurge stir in some seeds scraped from a vanilla bean pod.
  4. Use a funnel to transfer sauce into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep several days. You can freeze sauce you are not using in the next week in an airtight container.

Classic Angel Food Cake

Our go-to for angel food cakes is Martha Stewart, so here’s a link to the full recipe and the how-to. But in the meantime these are the ingredients you will need as well as a few of our notes.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

NOTES:

  • Separating your eggs:  To avoid any shells or yolks in your cake, separate your eggs one by one into a small bowl before transferring the whites to the large bowl you will use for the recipe. Even a bit of yolk can keep your whites from beating properly.
  • Soft vs. Stiff Peaks: Soft peaks will only sort of hold their shape when you dip a spoon into them and will be kind of floppy. For stiff peaks, when you dip a spoon into the egg white you should get a little peak that holds it shape well even when you turn your spoon upside down.
  • Don’t overbeat your egg whites: If your egg whites start to look dry instead of glossy stop immediately — overbeaten egg whites will not hold the air and will break down when you cook with them.
  • Using a tube pan: The cake gets it’s height because it is able to stick to the sides and center cone of the tube pan. The best option is a tube pan with a removable bottom (vs. a bundt pan or other shape). The straight sides will allow you run a knife along all the edges to release the cake.
  • Cooling the cake upside down: I always wondered about this. It turns out the inversion will keep your cake from shrinking and will keep it lighter. If your tube pan doesn’t have feet, you can invert it over a wine bottle.

You might also like: Leftover Cake Pops, Coconut Pound Cake, Cheesecake Flan, Super Easy Chocolate Cake, Instant Chocolate Cake in a Mug, Tres Leches Cake: Cheater’s Version

This kid, on the other hand, has no problem with the frosting.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

We just completed our first ever A Little Yumminess Around the World summer camp with our friends at 18 Reasons where we cooked, ate and crafted our way across India, Japan, the Middle East, Scandinavia and Mexico with a great bunch of 6-8 year olds. One thing that I was reminded of is that you can never go wrong with cookies…. or chocolate. While the kids had a blast cooking everything from Indian paratha, Japanese onigiri, Swedish knäckebröd, and Middle Eastern meze we got an extra big thumbs up for these Mexican hot chocolate cookies. While they come from a not-so authentic source, Martha Stewart, they do combine chocolate and chile — two important and quintessentially Mexican ingredients.

You might experience some skepticism from little ones about the inclusion of chile powder in the cinnamon-sugar topping for these cookies, but the effect is subtle — rich and smokey rather than spicy. The combination is really fabulous and I think chile will be making an appearance on our cinnamon-sugar toast from now on. If you have a reluctant spice-eater, this is actually a great way to get them cooking with chile powder because I guarantee that they wont be able to resist the final product.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

(adapted form Martha Stewart, makes about 2 dozen)

What you need

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1  egg

for the cinnamon-chile sugar

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder (or more to taste)

How to make them

  1. Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, cream of tartar, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda).
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add sugar and egg and beat another 2 minutes. [Forgot to let your butter come to room temperature? try this handy trick.]
  3. On low speed mix the cocoa-flour mixture into the butter. Add it in small increments, about 1/4 cup at a time, so the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl as you mix.
  4. Once the dough is well combined, remove it from the bowl, wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to several days (you can also form the dough into a log and freeze it for slice and bake-type cookies).
  5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the ingredients for the chile-cinnamon sugar. Taste the cinnamon-chile sugar and see if you are happy with the balance of flavors.
  6. Roll the chilled dough into 1 1/2″ balls, then roll in chile-cinnamon sugar.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Start with 10 minutes, then check for done-ness every 2 minutes. The middle will be set and top will be cracked. The cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft/chewy in the center.

Notes for baking with kids

  • These are good tasks for small bakers: measuring and sifting the dry ingredients, cracking an egg into a separate small bowl before adding to dough, taking turns with the mixer.
  • We shaped the dough into a flattened rectangle about an inch and a half thick before wrapping it in plastic and chilling. This made it easy to portion the chilled dough into equal sized squares so the kids could focus on shaping the squares into balls and rolling them in cinnamon-chile-sugar. You could also form the dough into a log for easy portioning.

You might also like: Leslie’s Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies, Devil’s Food Drop Cookies, Laure’s Chocolate and Sea Salt Sables

Easy One Pot Meal: Chicken with Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a tough vegetable to like.  I wasn’t a huge fan myself until I discovered simple roasted cauliflower, as in the recipe below, or cauliflower and potatoes roasted with some spices (cumin, coriander & chilli powder).  I have Ria “more interested” in cauliflower since I told her that it is a flower that you can eat.  She’s is not fully convinced but I keep trying to talk it up.  For now, I mash the cauliflower below with some rice and yogurt and serve the chicken cut up in bite size pieces on top and she’ll gobble it up after school when she is starving.  It’s pretty amazing how finickiness goes down the hungrier they are!  I am not into “hiding” vegetables but sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do!

I am also looking forward to trying Cauliflower Cheese by Food-4-Tots – it looks delicious and I think mixed with some macaroni it could be a kiddie hit.

Chicken with Cauliflower (adapted from Everyday Food)


Ingredients

I modified the recipe slightly by sprinkling some cumin powder and a pinch of chllli flakes on the cauliflower before adding it to the pan.  Also, if you like “crunchier” cauliflower don’t salt it till the cooking it done.  The salt draws out the water and makes the cauliflower mushy.  Which if you are mashing it for the kids is not a terrible thing.

Serves 4

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into large florets
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Season chicken with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. Place cauliflower around chicken, turning to coat in pan juices; season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through and cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in parsley, vinegar, and capers (if using).

Curried Chicken Drumsticks with Carrots

My friend Colleen swears by this recipe and has made it regularly for her family since I gave it to her along with a jar of curry powder.  Colleen is an impressive mother of three (boys!!) who not only manages to somehow feed all her boys remarkably well but also has them eating some pretty exotic flavors.  She does her job with the organizational skills of the consultant she was in her past life and I am convinced there are spreadsheets and Microsoft Project charts lurking in the background.  Grocery shopping has been outsourced to her husband on Saturdays (brave woman – whenever I send my hubby to the store there is at least one disaster and always too much money spent) since Colleen plans the meals a week in advance.  I have one kid and am far less organized – maybe I need some of those charts!

One of Colleen’s sons, Luke is Ria’s preschool mate and I am convinced the kid has some Indian or at least Asian genes somewhere.  Here’s the Luke story that convinced me of this:  A few months ago, my mother-in-law and I made pakoras (or bhaji, Indian spiced fritters) for the teachers’ lunch and after school at pick-up time I tried to convince Luke to eat some leftover pakoras.  “Here Lukey, try these, they are really yummy and crunchy and just like french fries” (clever marketing – what kid doesn’t like french fries?).  I was all proud of myself as Luke smiled at me and grabbed TWO. (damn, I’m good!).  He took a big bite and said to me “These are pakoras!”  Nice talking down to the kid, Simran.  Colleen, you are doing something right!

Curried Chicken Drumsticks with Carrots (adapted from Everyday Food)

Little fingers love drumsticks.  When I am particularly strapped for time, I use bagged baby carrots.  This dish cooks itself in the oven and I line the baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.  Curry powder is available at most grocery stores and is a blend of spices and has nothing to do with curry leaves.  It can be made at home by blending spices of your choice or bought cheaper at Indian grocery stores (Jai Ho in SF)

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 chicken drumsticks, skin on

1-2 tbsps curry powder (use more or less based on how your kids will deal with it)

2 lbs carrots, cut into equal sized 2 inch lengths (or use baby carrots for less work)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

2 limes zested and juiced

1 cup brown or white rice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place chicken and carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet; season evenly with curry powder, salt, pepper and olive oil. Use your hands to make sure carrots and chicken are well-coated with spices. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, turning chicken and carrots after 20 minutes.
  2. Make rice in a rice-cooker or saucepan.  Once ready, scatter the lime zest over the rice.
  3. Transfer chicken and rice to a plate. Sprinkle lime juice on top. Fluff rice gently with a fork; serve with chicken and carrots.