Teacher Gifts (aka Granola Heaven)

In moving up to the Pacific Northwest, we have been blessed at Queenie’s new school to have some truly wonderful teachers in our lives.  Each one of them is fantastic and authentic and inspiring, and we feel quite lucky, indeed.  To express a bit of our appreciation for them, I made up a few batches of our favorite granola to give them.  The response was enthusiastic, happily, so I thought I’d share the idea with all of you.

The first step is to make a big mess in your kitchen.  Okay, just kidding.  This recipe doesn’t necessarily trash your kitchen, but when you’re making multiple batches in a tiny space, it may end up looking like this.

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This recipe is adapted from Vegan World Fushion Cuisine by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi, the brilliant folks behind the Blossoming Lotus Cafe in Portland.  Yum!  Here’s what you’ll need:

Dry Ingredients:

      3 cups rolled oats

      1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

      1 cup barley flour (can sub GF all-purpose flour)

      ½ cup hemp seeds

      ½ tsp sea salt

      ½ tsp cinnamon powder

      ¼ tsp cardamom powder

      pinch allspice powder

      pinch ginger powder

Wet Ingredients:

      ¾ cup safflower oil

      ¾ cup maple syrup

      1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the recipe, mix your dry ingredients in one bowl, and then fully emulsify your wet ingredients in another.

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Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until well combined.  Spread the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.  I like to take it out after 15 minutes and stir it a bit and break up any huge chunks (but don’t work it too much!).

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Remove from the oven and let it sit.  The granola crisps up as it cools.  Once it has fully cooled, you can store it in an airtight container for your own enjoyment, or package it up as a nice gift (but be sure to save some for yourself to nibble!).  This granola is a great snack to take with you when you travel, too.

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Enjoy!  xo

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My New Favorite Salad

I made the “Kale Salad with Butternut Squash & Lentils” from Isa Does It the other day, and it was DIVINE!  Absolutely perfect.  And it’s super easy to make this healthy, tasty salad work for a mid-week meal with just a little planning.  In fact, that’s what I did.  On Wednesdays, I spend the day volunteering at Queenie’s school, and last Wednesday I made this salad for Queenie’s and my lunch.  Fun added bonus:  it smells and looks so delicious that everyone’s going to want some!  Bring this around your friends or colleagues and you’ll be an instant ambassador for vegan yumminess!  

The key to making this recipe come together quickly for either a packed lunch or a post-work dinner, as in my most cases, is to have the components prepared and ready to go.  Then, it’s simply a matter of quick assembly.  The night before our lunch feast, I cooked up some lentils . . .

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. . . and cubed and roasted some butternut squash.

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After cooling, I stashed both of these items in the fridge.  In the morning, I washed the kale, massaging and working it in the process.  Then I mixed up the vinaigrette, which is a combination of olive oil, white wine vinegar, agave nectar or maple syrup, Dijon mustard, fresh ginger and garlic, and salt (but you’ll need to purchase the book for exact ratios – I can assure you it’s a worthwhile investment!).  Once those ingredients are combined in a large bowl, you dump your kale in and work it for a minute or so.  As you do, you’ll feel it soften and see it take up less space, both of which mean it’s getting more pleasing and palatable.  Then, simply toss with the squash and lentils and you’re done.

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It may not seem that exciting, but it is.  That is, if you get excited about delicious, satisfying food like I do!  All I know is that it’s going to be in the heavy rotation around here.  Yum.

Enjoy!  xo

Random Food from the Past Week

While most of my cooking energy during the past week focused on creating our Thanksgiving feast, we did need to eat at other times, too.  Thought I’d offer up a post of random meals, in the hope that it might inspire your own random meal.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to dine at Chez Daisy, the lovely home of Daisy and her wonderful family.  Daisy treated us to some delicious food, including the chili from Veganomicon and an insane white bean and tomatillo stew that she veganized from a local magazine.  SO good.  She also turned me on to the “Lemon Oil” recipe from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen.  Seriously yummy.  I’ve eaten it at home several times since!  Even though her family isn’t vegan, she was kind enough to make sure everything she served that night was vegan.  How great is that?!?!  Naturally, I made sure that my dessert offering was 100% Daisy-friendly, too.  I brought the “Peach Berry Crumble” from Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet.  We heated it up at Daisy’s house and then served it with a variety of vegan, soy-free and gluten-free ice creams.  It was a hit!

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Queenie hosted a play date with two of her friends, and she crafted the menu for the day.  For lunch, we offered a Greek spread, featuring baba ganoush, dolmas from our local co-op deli counter, crackers and veggies.  For dinner, Queenie requested that I make the “Leek Cassoulet” from Veganomicon, and I was happy to oblige.  The girls devoured it!

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For lunch early last week, I decided to try the “Inner Beauty Patty Melt” from Annie & Dan Shannon’s Betty Goes Vegan.  I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to make this particular sandwich, since I’d never eaten a Patty Melt in my pre-vegan days, but something about the recipe spoke to me.  The cookbook authors themselves noted that this isn’t a particularly photogenic meal, lacking the striking colors of other recipes (it’s on the beige side), but it was darned tasty.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it, but as we were finishing up, Queenie rubbed her belly and noted that it’s a bit of a “gut bomb.”  She had a point.

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Finally, yesterday I threw together lunch before we ran out to a movie.  I went with the “Sunflower Mac” from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I love trying different mac and cheese recipes, seeing how they differ from each other and what each brings to the mac table.  This one was rich and tasty, with a pretty hearty dose of garlic.  Isa was kind enough to point out that the sauce recipe makes more than needed to cover the macaroni and recommended steaming some kale to go with it.  Done!  YUM!!

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Wishing you a great week full of tasty meals!  xo