Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Groovy Granola

I love granola.

This stems back to my college years, where I went through a granola phase.  I didn't wear make-up (I didn't wear make-up on a daily basis until I started teaching), I wore Chacos with everything, and I wore Bohemian clothing.  I ate lots of Nature's Valley granola bars.

Granola is a fun and yummy snack.

I thought about making some granola yesterday, and started skimming through my cabinets to see what I had to make it.  This granola is "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" kind of granola.  Just throw what you have in your pantry into the mix, and it should be fine!    You can't go wrong with nuts, dried fruit, and rolled oats.

Here's my simple recipe for homemade granola.  I don't know if it's healthier than the stuff you buy in the grocery store, but it's yummy and a little is filling and goes a long way.  It tastes yummy on top of some good Greek yogurt, or it'd be great on top of some fresh fruit.

Like I said before, this is just a template - add what you'd like to your granola and take away what you wouldn't like.  (Read my post below if you'd like my further feelings on making recipes your own.)

Groovy Granola


Ingredients:
2 cups, old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup, dried cranberries
1/3 cup, vegetable oil
1/3 cup, honey
1/3 cup, brown sugar
1 tablespoon, vanilla extract
1 teaspoon, cinnamon
1/2 cup, almonds
1/2 cup, pecans


Instructions:


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Mix together  vegetable oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl.  Add in cranberries and rolled oats and fully coat the oats and cranberries with the mixture.  Spread the mixture in a very thin layer on top of the parchment paper.

Bake the granola for ten minutes, then remove it from the oven and gently toss the mixture with a spatula and re-spread it.  Place the granola back in the oven and bake it for fifteen minutes, and then remove it.  Add your chopped nuts to the mixture, and coat them fully with the honey/oil/sugar mixture.  Bake this mixture for fifteen more minutes (this makes your baking total forty minutes).  Remove from oven, and gently toss the mixture with a spatula.  Leave on a baking sheet to cool.

Once the granola has cooled, break it into pieces.  It will make around eight servings.  You can put it into little plastic bags...

or you can serve it immediately on top of yogurt or fruit (or both)!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Moment

Sometimes I need a moment.

A time when I can see beauty.  Artistry.  A collage of clouds that cascade across the sky.

I need a little glimmer of time where I can be reminded that there's beauty in storms, no matter how fierce they may seem.


I love how nature reminds me of the promises of God.

Mission: Kind of Accomplished...

Well, my anniversary was last Sunday.

I did Zumba every single day until my anniversary.  I met that part of the goal. 

Here is the photographic evidence.  Woo.  Hoo.
I didn't lose a single pound.

In fact, I might have gained a pound or two.  I'm trying to convince myself that I was building muscle, but I'm pretty sure that the mantra "muscle weighs more than fat" might be an urban legend of sorts.  Maybe it was started to help people start working out.  I do know from working out and dieting that it is a process that takes a while to start seeing results.

To be honest, however, I'm much more likely to blame the lack of weight loss on the fact that I'm actually eating a full lunch at home (as opposed to school, where I'd eat a salad or a bowl of cereal) during the summertime. What can I say?  I like Turnstile.

I guess on a positive note, Jeremy did tell me that my arms look more toned.  I mean, I could honestly care less about my arms (I want leg results), but I guess it's something.  Something is better than nothing.  I'm pretty sure C.S. Lewis said that.

We went to Mellow Mushroom on our anniversary.  We planned to go out somewhere nice.  I actually ironed "the dress" and put it on.  But I just didn't feel up to it.  I had a killer sinus infection that I had been fighting for over a week.  It was a Sunday night, Amelia couldn't spend the night with my mom, and we needed to be back before it got too late. I changed clothes, put on something less pretentious, and settled for a piece of pepperoni.

We're going to try Anniversary 2.0 tonight.  I'm still not feeling fabulous (thanks to the antibiotics - antibiotics are a double-edged sword) but I'm hoping to be able to enjoy myself and have a little fun.

I'm starting to think that anniversaries and goals are overrated.

Answer: Everything

Question:  What does Amelia get into?

Seriously.  Seriously.  She's into everything.  She doesn't stop unless she's asleep.
"What, Mama?"

In the past month, Amelia has ascertained all sorts of mischievous knowledge.  She's learned how to pull things down from the cabinets (for example, the box of Dunkin' Donuts pictured above).  She's learned how to open and unbolt all the doors, even the doors with child-proof knobs.  She's learned that if she lifts the lid off of the toilet, that it has a nice bowl of water for her to play in.  She's learned how further destroy books and dvds to the point where they become useless.

She's a regular Dora the Explorer, my child.

Well, except for the fact that her map leads her on a path of destruction...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Takes a Lickin' and Keeps on Tickin'

Amelia had her first big "boo-boo" last week.

She fell out of Mom's swing at her pool.  Face first.

She screamed.  She cried (she doesn't cry in pain much).  She bled.  Goodness, did she bleed.

I did what I could to stop the bleeding and keep the cuts clean.  I slathered her entire face with Neosporin.  I wanted to cry.

At least she's smiling, I guess...?

When I took her to nursery yesterday, the workers noticed her boo-boo.  I mentioned to them that it was her first big accident, and they said, "Wow, that's amazing considering how active she is."  (On a side note, one of the ladies also pointed to Amelia a few weeks ago and said, "This baby?  This baby is like FIVE babies.  Girl, are you tired?  I bet you are TIRED!")  For some reason, that really did make me feel a little better.

Amelia had a rough week, so of course, Mama had a rough week.    We took away the paci a few days before her accident, so sleeping was/is/will continue to be been an issue.  The accident, along with teething (and runny nose) made her a pretty whiny baby.  Anyone who knows me knows that my capacity for tolerating whiny-ness is almost nonexistent (hence I do not teach children younger than 13), so it's been tough.  This too shall pass, however.  I'd rather deal with the paci issue now in the summer while I can...I may live to regret it.

For now, however, Amelia looks much, much better.  A combination of Neosporin and youth have greatly helped her face.  This morning, she smiled, asked for "Woah Bubba Bubba!" and scarfed down a banana like it was no one's business.  Here's hoping for a better week...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Semi-Famous White Pizza

I say "Our" Semi-Famous White Pizza because 1) it is only famous in our family and 2)I have a partner in crime for this recipe:

I know you are mesmerized by his shirt/skills/arms of steel.













Jerm.

He used to work at a pizza place, so he can toss pizza dough and stretch it out really well.  If  he was gone, I'm sure I could roll out the dough with a rolling pin all by my lonesome.  Since he's usually around, however, I use him.

White pizzas, obviously, do not have red sauce.  Jerm and I began making white pizzas when we had a request from Jeremy's father, who despises red sauce.  Some white pizzas have Alfredo sauce on them and some white pizzas have a garlic/olive oil base.  Jeremy and I make our pizza with the garlic/olive oil base, but we saute the garlic in the olive oil and then strain the cooked garlic out out of the oil.  What's left is a heavenly concoction.  Not to brag too much, but I think the "sauce" is what makes our pizza different.  The sauteed garlic sauce complements the pizza and doesn't overwhelm it like I've found in many white pizzas, which are full of chucks of crunchy, stinky garlic.

And then, of course, there's the cheese.  Never forget the cheese.  High-quality cheese is the secret to good pizza.  Use fresh mozzarella, good Parmesan (not from a green can), and a little cheddar and you're guaranteed success (p.s. Aldi has really cheap and pretty decent fresh mozzarella).
 


We normally top our white pizzas with ground beef (ground sirloin, actually -those two jive really well), but before we made these pizzas, my Dad sent us a lovely chicken that he grilled on his Big Green Egg.  We topped one of our pizzas with it, and the results were really good - the chicken had a smoky taste that was really yummy.

Mmm....chicken...


 Here's the recipe for Our Semi-Famous White Pizza.  It is very, very simple.  It does not have a recipe for dough.  (We usually go buy our dough at Publix...there's a foodie confession for ya right there.)

Our Semi-Famous White Pizza

Ingredients:
1 dough ball (homemade or store-bought)
1 8-oz package, fresh mozzarella, sliced
2-3 oz, Parmesan cheese, grated
1-2 oz, sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
salt and pepper
1 pound ground sirloin (optional) OR
2 breasts of rotisserie chicken, shredded (also optional)

Directions:
Preheat to 450 degrees

If you are using ground sirloin, cook it first, sauteing it in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Drain and set aside.  (Likewise, if you are using rotisserie chicken, shred it and set it to the side.)

In a skillet, heat up the olive oil on medium heat.  Once the olive oil is hot, throw in your minced garlic (Throw in a few pieces to make sure the oil is ready.  The oil is ready when garlic pieces will bubble up and float to the top.)  Cook your garlic for a couple of minutes until it turns golden brown.  Watch your mixture carefully, as burned garlic ruins the oil.  Strain the cooked garlic away from the oil and throw the garlic out.  Set your container of oil to the side.

If you do not have a husband to throw your pizza for you, roll out your pizza dough (turning the dough ball as you roll it out) and place it on a study pizza pan (preferably one with raised sides to catch any oil that may drip).

Brush the entire pizza crust with your oil base.  Be careful not to let the oil fall under the pizza crust, or your crust will stick to the pan and could burn.  Make sure there are no pieces of cooked garlic on your pizza - they can make the pizza bitter.

If you are using meat, place the meat on the pizza next (if you are using pulled chicken, brush some of the chicken with the olive oil mixture to keep the chicken from drying out).

Top the meat and crust with the cheese.  Start with the mozzarella, then fill in the gaps with plenty of Parmesan and a little bit of cheddar.  Top the entire mixture with salt and pepper.  Make sure you leave room for the crust at the edges.

Bake the pizza for about 12-15 minutes, or until the sides are golden brown and the center is bubbly.

Here is the pizza topped with the ground sirloin:

I left too much room for crust, but I wanted the mixture to stay in the middle.

This is our classic white pizza.
And here's the chicken pizza:




Now, being the artsy pseudo-foodie I am, I would probably add a little thyme or basil to these pizzas if I was eating it by myself.  I might even add some Southern Girl Pesto to the chicken pizza.  However, since Jeremy is kind of picky, we kept these two pizzas pretty basic.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Over

There was really no internal decision for Jeremy - no battle, really.

I think he made his decision a long, long time ago.

But, if there was ever any clarity needed - any proof that his baby girl has him completely snowed - I found it today.













Yup, it's over.

I'm gonna have to be the mean one, aren't I?