Maple Cinnamon Granola

I’d never really thought I was the type to make my own granola; but when I came across a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated and realized that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry – I figured, why not?  I’m sure it’s way cheaper to make your own and it actually tastes much better – plus, you can adjust the flavors, dried fruits and nuts to be exactly what you want.  I have a feeling I just stumbled upon a new addiction…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/6 cup real maple syrup (sorry, Aunt Jemima)
  • 1/6 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats (do NOT use quick oats)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raisins

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla extract – whisk well
  • Pour in the oats and almonds and mix until everything is well coated with the sugar mixture
  • Spread the oat mixture out into a thick layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet – press it down with the back of a spatula until is compacted
  • Bake at 325°F for approximately 25-30 minutes (rotate the pan 180° halfway through)
  • Remove from the oven and cool for about 45 minutes, then break it apart into chunks of desired size, toss in the the raisins and mix well

Oatmeal Cream Pies

This homemade version of the classic Little Debbie treat is to die for.  They are unbelievably addictive, but oh-so-good.  I think I’ll be making these again sooner rather than later… 

INGREDIENTS

THE COOKIE

    • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (if you don’t have it, just substitute light brown sugar)
    • 1 tbsp molasses
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 cups Quaker oats (you can use old fashioned or quick oats)
CREAM FILLING
    • 2 tsp very hot water
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 (7 oz.) jar Fluff
    • 1/2 cup shortening (i.e. Crisco)
    • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla

HOW TO MAKE IT

THE COOKIE

    • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugars, molasses, vanilla and eggs
    • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon
    • Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and stir to combine
    • Mix in the oats
    • Drop tablespoon sized scoops into a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown
      • Be careful not to over-bake them – they will look moist
    • While the cookies are baking, prepare the cream filling…

CREAM FILLING

    • Dissolve the salt in the hot water and allow to cool to room temperature
    • Combine the Fluff, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix on high until fluffy
    • Add in the salt water and mix well

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER…

    • Spread the filling onto the flat side of one cookie and top it with another – then enjoy!

Blondies

This recipe came to me from my friend Lily who adapted it from a Bobby Flay recipe.  These blondies are chewy and delicious and will definitely satisfy any sweet tooth craving.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (you could substitute milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp toffee chips (you could also chop up 3 Skor bars)
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp cinnamon

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Butter and line a 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang – butter the lining, too
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; add in both sugars and whisk until combined and the sugar is melted
  • Transfer the mixture to your mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly
  • Mix in the eggs and vanilla until combined
  • Add the flour and mix until just combined
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and toffee chips and pour into the prepared baking pan
  • Bake at 350°F for 24-27 minutes or until the top cracks slightly, is firm to the touch and a cake tester come out with moist pieces clinging to it (definitely make sure you bake this until you see the crack on the surface, even if it means going over the 27 minutes)
  • Let the blondies cool completely – once they are cool, remove the blondies by lifting out the parchment paper “handles” and transfer to a cutting board
    • If you want the blondies to firm up more quickly, put them in the fridge for 30 minutes

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet Seeds

Wondering what to do with those seeds after you carve your Halloween pumpkin? Try oven roasting them for a tasty treat!  You don’t have to stick to salt and olive oil – although that’s still a good option…  

INGREDIENTS

SWEET

    • 1  1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and cleaned
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
      • You can also add in a pinch of vanilla sugar if you have it on hand
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp salt
SAVORY
    • 1  1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and cleaned
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp salt

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and your desired dry ingredients (sweet or savory)
  • Spread the seeds out evenly on the baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown
    • Stir the seeds from time to time so that they roast evenly
Savory Seeds

Mixed Mashed Potatoes

Growing up, I never liked sweet potatoes – I always ended up mixing them together with the regular mashed potatoes.  This mix of sweet and regular potatoes makes this side dish more savory and the candied walnut topping makes it really tasty.   

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (approximately 5 cups when sliced)
  • 3 large yukon gold potatoes (approximately 5 cups when sliced)
    • Feel free to play around with this proportion of sweet to regular potatoes – the proportions usually just depend on my mood
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1/8 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
CANDIED WALNUT TOPPING
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
      • Large pinch of vanilla sugar, if you’ve got it on hand
    • 1 tbsp butter, melted

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Slice the potatoes into 1/2 in. slices
  • Boil the potatoes in salted water until they fall apart when you fork them (approximately 15 minutes)
  • Strain the potatoes and transfer to a large mixing bowl (or back into the same pot)
  • Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, potato ricer or a hand held mixer (I just got this potato ricer and it works really well)
  • Add in the butter, maple syrup, milk and salt and blend well
  • Pour the mashed potatoes into a caserole dish and top with the candied walnuts
  • Bake covered at 350°F for 30 minutes (uncover and broil on low for 5-10 minutes)
CANDIED WALNUT TOPPING
    • Combine the walnuts, brown sugar and melted butter

Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is light and flavorful – it’s perfect for breakfast… or a late-night snack (i.e. another favorite of mine).  

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 1  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1  1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2  1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) – I use Softasilk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
STREUSEL
    • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1  1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
GLAZE
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 tbsp milk (start with this, add more if necessary)
    • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Grease and flour a 10″ tube pan
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 4 or 5 minutes
  • Add in the eggs, 1 at a time
  • Add in the vanilla and sour cream
  • In a separate bowl, mix the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda
  • Reduce the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients – mix until smooth
STREUSEL
    • Mix the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and butter together with your hands until it forms a moist, but crumbly, mixture
  • Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth it out with a spatula
  • Evenly sprinkle 3/4 cup of the streusel over the batter
  • Pour the rest of the batter over the streusel, smooth it out and sprinkle the remaining streusel on top
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350°F
  • Transfer the cake (streusel side up) onto a cooling rack and top off with the glaze
GLAZE
    • Combine the confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla and whisk – add in milk 1 tbsp at a time until you reach your desired consistency (you want the glaze to be runny)
    • Drizzle over the baked cake with a spoon