Recipe: Glazed Red Pepper + Fennel Almonds

With the summer heat in full swing I’m finding it hard to turn the oven on, let alone sit at my computer! But after seeing Jennifer’s instagram photo of these delicious almonds I knew I had to give them a try. I made them right before Natalie came over and we quickly devoured the plate (well, I had a bit more than her). The spicy/sweet/salty flavor is addictive, while the fennel seeds gave a distinct flavor that’s similar to licorice.

Glazed Red Pepper and Fennel Seed Almonds
slightly adapted from Epicurious

1 1/3 c raw almonds
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 325 ° F. In a medium sized bowl, combine sugar, pepper, salt, and fennel seeds. Add almonds and water and mix together. Spread onto foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden and sugar has melted. Let cool before transferring to serving dish.

Granola Bars

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When it comes to getting ready in the morning I’d much rather choose sleep over being fully prepared for the day.  And although I know it’s the most important meal of the day, breakfast always ends up as an afterthought, quickly toasting a bagel or grabbing an apricot from the fridge.  Neither of those are the healthiest nor most satisfying to eat in the morning, and in about half an hour my stomach is grumbling for something more.

I decided to make granola bars because they’re portable, filling, and relatively healthy (depending on the bar/recipe). It turns out they’re also really quick and easy to make and impossible to mess up.  As long as you have the right amount of “glue” for your oats you can’t go wrong.  You can also put whatever you want in them to your liking, such as pine nuts, agave nectar, wheat germ, pecans, prunes, etc. I specifically made mine not too sweet because I wanted to keep them as healthy (and edible) as possible.  If you like your bars on the chewier and sweeter side, try adding some brown sugar.

Granola Bars
makes 8-10 snack sized bars
1/3 c almond butter
1/3 c honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant/quick)
1/2 c raw almonds
1/2 c raw walnuts
1/4 c flax seeds
1/4 c golden raisins
1/4 c dried chili pineapple bits, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, mix together almond butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, pulse together almonds and walnuts until they are smaller pieces (don’t do this for too long or else you’l make a nut butter!). Add 1 cup of rolled oats and pulse a few times more to lightly chop.
3. Empty contents of food processor into a medium sized bowl. Add the rest of the rolled oats and flax seeds. Combine almond and honey mixture, then add in dried fruit.
4. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fix a 8×8″ baking pan. Leave a bit of overhang on two opposing sides to use as “handles”. With an additional piece of parchment (or wax paper), press the mixture so it’s slightly compacted and evenly fills out the pan.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let the granola cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then place in the fridge for 15 minutes more. Make sure to wait until it’s fully cool before you cut them into bars. Store in an airtight container.

S’mores

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Ever since I had my first bite of Mast Brothers Chocolate I’ve been itching to make a s’more out of it. But of course, nothing but the best ingredients could be combined with the most amazing dark chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Really, if you haven’t tried Mast Brothers I urge you to find a bar ASAP (or just come over because I’m hoarding three bars right now). Their packaging won me over the first time I laid eyes on ‘em but the taste sealed the deal.

While I already knew what chocolate to use, I still had to supplement the other ingredients. I’d made marshmallows several times before but never graham crackers, although they’ve been on my “to make” list for a while now. When I came across the graham cracker recipe in the new Miette cookbook, I knew it was time to create a fancier version of the summer camp snack.

I don’t know if the photos speak for themselves (I’m working on it!) but um, this was the most amazing and delicious smore I’ve ever had.  I’m almost at a loss for words how wonderfully decadent this was. I usually have several “subjects” available to photograph and can’t wait until I’m done taking photos so I can gorge myself on the desserts I’ve been painfully eying, but one bite of this and I was satisfied. The buttery yet toothy texture of the graham cracker, the lightly caramelized pillow of a toasted marshmallow, and just a bit of dark chocolate with chopped coffee beans sent me over the moon.

I think I’ll try it with my Mast Brothers hazelnut bar tomorrow.

Ricotta Donuts

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Sometimes I don’t want to take the time to set up, style, and photograph my food. Sometimes I just want to eat it! Like today. Who can resist fresh, warm donuts?  Perhaps there will be a better photographed post later this week, but I can’t make any promises.

Anyway, today I made mini ricotta donuts and used this recipe by Lara Ferroni. It’s very simple and straight foward, just combine the ingredients and fry them up!  So easy that you should all try it even if you’ve never deep fried anything before. It takes about five minutes to get all the ingredients together and about 2 seconds to finish eating them.  So soft, fluffy, and light inside.

In the upper right hand corner is a donut cut in half with fresh cream and strawberries stuffed inside.  My friend Kate told me about this place called Donut Man that makes strawberry donuts.  And while I haven’t seen nor tasted them, this is my take on it.  Let me tell you, it almost made the donut seem a little healthier (but I guess the cream cancels out the fresh fruit).

Just a reminder that if you try these out, remember to properly dispose of your cooking oil!

Homemade Yogurt

My first attempt at homemade yogurt.  I’ve been wanting to try this for a while because it’s so easy and sometimes I go through phases of eating lots of yogurt. My favorite is having greek yogurt with granola and a drizzle of honey.  I left this batch incubating for a little too long so it was a bit on the tart side, but it also made it a little thicker without having to strain it. There are lots of how-to’s online, and there’s even a website dedicated to making yogurt if you’re interested in trying it on your own.

Kale Chips

1. Wash and dry kale.
2. Rip away leaves from center rib.
3. Rip into smaller pieces
4. Toss with 1 tsp olive oil and salt to coat.
5. Place leaves on a baking sheet, careful not to layer on top of one another.
6. Place in 300°F degree oven for about 20 minutes.
7. Eat all in one sitting, because you won’t be able to resist it.

Collard Green Chips

I made collard green chips after constantly seeing them online as a healthy snack.  And let me tell you, they were sooo good!  I’ve mostly seen kale chips but I accidentally bought collard greens.  Not sure if there’s a huge difference but I really enjoyed these.  There’s not much of a recipe and they only take about 15-20 min in the oven (and about 2 minutes to eat). I got my recipe from smitten kitchen, but all you do is rip the leaves into pieces, toss them with some olive oil, and then sprinkle some salt on!  That’s it! I made some more today and added a little red pepper powder.  I know they don’t look the most appetizing, but the really do come out crisp and yummy.

Brioche Donuts

Two nights ago I made donuts for my boyfriend’s birthday.  I got the idea from Artisan Bread in Five’s blog, since that’s the only type of bread I’m familiar with.  I made the brioche dough earlier that day and we fried them together later that night.  It was so much fun! I’ve never deep fried anything before (my mom is a nutritionist), but it was so exciting to see the dough puff up. The first few donuts looked kinda lopsided (see second photo), but towards the end they looked like real donuts you get at a shop!

Yogurt at Home

Last week I tried something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while–make yogurt!  I don’t know what took me so long, it was so easy to do. All you need is milk and some starter yogurt.  Directions can be found by a simple google search, but there are hardly any steps involved. There’s even a whole website dedicated to it!

1. Heat milk over stove to 180 degrees
2. Cool milk to 110 degrees
3. Add yogurt and stir well
4. Retain temperature of about 110 degrees for 4-8 hours.  There are several ways to do this, such as keeping it in an oven, crock pot, or thermos.

I did this overnight, and it was so exciting to wake up the next morning to freshly made yogurt!  The longer you keep it incubating, the more tart your yogurt becomes.  After letting it thicken in the fridge a little more, I strained it to give it the consistency of greek yogurt.  Have any of you made yogurt before?  If you love eating yogurt I’d definitely give it a try, it comes out much more affordable than buying it from the grocery store.