Happy Hippie Granola

That is not the name I would give it. I would call it, “OMG I JUST SAW JESUS granola,” it’s that good. Or maybe, “300 calories for half a cup ain’t so bad, is it?” granola.

I got a wild hair this weekend to make some granola. I think it’s because I have been Bittman-ing and Alton Brown-ing my diet (much less processed food, much less meat, much more mindfulness overall) and both of them advocate granola. So I thought I’d give it a whack. I tooled around the internet looking for recipes until I found one linked from The Kitchn to little blue hen’s recipe. Since I decided to take the morning to myself rather than reading, writing, or grading (or watching Friday Night Lights, boo!), I decided to try out this recipe with adaptations that suit my tastes and pantry.

Happy Hippie Granola
3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c shredded coconut
1 c sliced almonds
3/4 c pepitas
2 T toasted wheat germ
2 T flax seeds
2 T dark brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/3 c canola oil
1/4 c honey
1/3 c Lyle’s golden syrup
3 T almond butter
1 t vanilla extract

1.) Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir well. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Pour emulsion over the dry ingredients and fold together until evenly coated.

2.) Spread the granola evenly on a large sheet pan. Bake at 300F for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and paying careful attention in the last 5 minutes of baking. Let cool in pan five minutes, then use a spoon or spatula to break into desired-size pieces. Stir in raisins. Let cool completely before serving. Remember that it’s about 300 calories for a half-cup serving when you are tempted to keep grazing on it all day.

Inner Peace Brown Rice and Cashews

This week I had the honor of making dinner for some friends who recently welcomed their second son, Silas, to the world. Mama J is gluten-free, so I welcomed the challenge to make a dish that required a little more thought and planning than the metric ton of scratch mac and cheese that is my normal mommy meal staple.

I found this recipe in a book I worked on for my dissertation and thought it looked tasty, so I attempted it despite the fact that I lack the facility for cooking rice — especially brown rice — properly. I can count on one hand the times I have successfully cooked rice without the aid of a steamer. Pathetic. Perhaps I should just practice.

Anyhoo, despite the rice being a bit on the chewy side (with the understanding that brown rice is already a bit chewy anyway), I thought this dish was extremely tasty. And once again, I am shocked at how much spinach cooks down.

Oh, and I did take a small container of scratch mac and cheese for their older boy, who is about six weeks older than Harry and whom I reckoned would be about as disinterested in achieving Inner Peace as my boy.

Inner Peace Brown Rice and Cashews
adapted from The Recipe Club

1/4 c EVOO
1/4 c scallions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup long-grain brown rice (the original calls for short-grain, which I overlooked when shopping)
2 c vegetable stock
1/4 t salt
3/4 c roasted, unsalted cashews
1/2 lb white mushrooms, sliced
6 c spinach leaves
3/4 t tamari (I used a whole t because I’d accidentally omitted the salt)

Step 1: Heat 2 T olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and garlic and sautee for 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Add the stock and salt and bring to a boil. [Ed. note: Uh, I think I see why the rice was too chewy. I omitted the “bring to a boil” step. Duh.] Cover and let simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Heat 2 T olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add coarsely chopped cashews and mushrooms and sautee until the mushrooms are soft and the cashews are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and tamari and cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes more. Season with pepper. Stir the vegetables into the cooked rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Cashew Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu

This was really tasty. It was ready at least 20 minutes before we actually sat down to eat (Matt and Harry were at swim lessons), so it dried out a bit, but I really enjoyed it. And it made a ton of food, so I’ve got three tubs of it for lunches. Harrison refused to eat it, Matt cleaned his plate, and I had seconds!

Cashew Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu
adapted from Whole Foods

1 large head organic broccoli, cut into small florets
3/4 pound enriched egg noodles
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch squares and baked
cashew vinaigrette (2 T soy sauce, 2 T rice vinegar, honey, crushed red pepper to taste, 1/4 c cashews, blended)

Steam broccoli. Cook noodles until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain noodles, return to pot. Add baked tofu, broccoli, cashews, vinaigrette. Toss and heat on low very briefly. Serve immediately. Enjoy!