Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Granola and Granola Bars


Normally, I like to modify recipes a little bit, but this one by Ina Garten is just so good, I just made a couple of modifications. 


  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (I used only about one cup).
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup good honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • (I added a couple of tablespoons of water to make the granola a little more cohesive.)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, and cherries together in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

Granola Bars

After browsing expensive and fattening granola bars at the market, I searched for granola bars recipes online and found that Ina Garten actually offered a fairly healthy option. After making the recipe, it received raving reviews from my husband and extended family. I recommend it!


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper. (If you don't have any parchment paper, use a glass baking dish that is buttered.)

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Things to Do with Butternut Squash

Who doesn't love a good butternut squash? Unfortunately, my husband would be one of those people. He actually doesn't like squash in general, and I am always looking for good ways to sneak it into his diet. (Not only because it's good for him but also because I love it!) I recently found two recipes that have provided an excellent way to disguise butternut squash in a way that my husband doesn't even realize he's eating it. Whether you're a squash lover or not, I think you will enjoy both of these recipes.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Red (cayenne) pepper to taste
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups water
1 pound tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat olive or vegetable oil. Add onion and sauté until golden brown. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add squash, vegetable or chicken broth, water, and apples. Bring liquid just to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool 15 to 20 minutes.

Puree mixture in a blender or food processor, in batches, and transfer back into soup pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut Squash Risotto

6-8 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 4 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and finely diced
2 cups arborio rice (can substitute medium grained white rice, but arborio is preferred)
1 cup dry white wine (I used white wine vinegar)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped chives or garlic chives

Heat broth in medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan; add onion and butternut squash. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice to onion and squash. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine. Cook, stirring constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice or evaporated. Add a few ladles of broth, just enough to barely cover rice. Cook over medium heat until broth has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 15 to 20 minutes.

During the last minutes of cooking, add remaining tablespoon of butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan, and chives. At this point the rice should have a creamy consistency. Add salt to taste. Serve with remaining grated Parmesan. (Serves 4 to 6.)