Archive for ‘Food’

January 30, 2011

Homemade Granola

I’m a granola eater. One of my favorite on-the-go breakfasts is a few spoonfuls of granola in a bowl of fat-free vanilla yogurt (or if you don’t take the time to read the labels correctly — like me — plain yogurt with a splash of vanilla and a spoonful of Splenda). Even though I love it, I always am torn as to whether to buy it or not because it is a little more expensive than I would like. (Does this really surprise you?) So I decided to whip up a batch of my own. Let me go ahead and say it – my homemade version is no cheaper than the store-bought version, possibly even a little bit more. Why am I ok with this? First – I know exactly what is in it which always makes something a little better. Second – since I make it, it is catered specifically to my tastes and what I like. Granola is awesomely versatile, so if you decide to make some, be sure to make it with what YOU like! Third – it’s great to be able to say that I made it. I love homemade things. And fourth (which ties back in to the first reason) – there aren’t any unnessary preservatives in this version. I don’t know why, but I’m growing very weary of the preservative-packed foods that we eat all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love some prepared food and snacks which can have insanely high amounts of preservatives. I’m just trying to cut them out wherever I can.

Enough chit-chat. Here’s what I came up with:

3 cups old fashioned oats (not the kind the say quick or instant)

1 cup milled flaxseed

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate…)

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, flaxseed, brown sugar, walnuts, salt, and cinnamon.

In a small saucepan, warm the oil and honey over low heat. Once honey is loose, whisk in vanilla. Carefully pour over oat mixture.

Use a wooden spoon to mix well. Spread mix on large jelly roll pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, making sure to stir every 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set on rack to cool.

Once the granola is completely cool (not slightly warm, COOL! If you don’t you end up with melted chocolate like me…) mix in the chocolate pieces.

Store in an airtight container. Keeps for 1 week at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer.

January 25, 2011

Homemade Pralines

Every time I go to Myrtle Beach, I go to River Street Sweets and buy some pralines. I love them. I think they are one of the most delicious candies you can put your hands on. But, man, are they expensive. So I searched the interwebs and found a recipe. So I decided to give it a try. One of the best decisions of my life!

Here is the slightly modified recipe that I used:

1 1/2 cups White Sugar

3/4 cup Brown sugar

6 tablespoons Butter

1/2 cup Milk

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1 1/2 cups Pecan halves

 

1. First I toasted my pecans at 300 F for 10 minutes. This really brings out the flavor of the nuts. (An essential step in my opinion. If it doesn’t matter to you, then skip this step.)

2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This is where you’ll pour your pralines when all is said and done.

3. Make an ice bath big enough to set your saucepan in. I used a big aluminum bowl that I normally use for shelling peas.

4.¬†In large saucepan over medium heat, combine pecans, sugar, butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C). A candy thermometer is needed for this. (Don’t skimp out and try to do it without a thermometer!)

5. Once you get to the desired temperature, remove the saucepan and put it in the ice bath. STIR CONSTANTLY. You’re only going to want to put it in the ice bath for about 30 seconds; it sets up quickly if you leave it in there too long.

6. Now that you have removed the saucepan from the ice bath. Keep stirring but don’t spoon them out yet. Wait about a minute before you start spooning them out.

7. Use two spoons to spoon out your pralines. It doesn’t make too much sense if I try to explain how to use two spoons, but you’ll see what I mean if you try to use only one. If you have never had pralines before, you are most likely going to want to make them small because they are super sweet. Making them small means that you don’t end up breaking them into tiny pieces just so that you can handle the amount of sweetness.

8. Let your spooned out treats cool on the foil-wrapped pans. ENJOY!