Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sesame Almond Cherry Granola

While traveling through southeastern Utah and western Colorado last week, I was fed the best granola alongside my morning Americano at Steaming Bean Coffee Co. in Durango, Colorado. I fell for it, hard. First, let me say this little coffee shop was excellent — Mitch and I posted up in a sunny window seat where we look out on the town and enjoy our treats. We'd spent the morning taking a run around the quaint downtown and checking out the local guitar shops.  But back to the granola — it was crunchy and sweet and full of delicious nuts and sesame seeds. I had to recreate it for you, with a few additions.

{Sesame, Almond & Cherry Granola}
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch cardamom 
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, walnuts, coconut, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Set the cherries aside.
3. Stir the olive oil mixture into oat mixture. Spread onto the lined baking sheet and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30-35 minutes.
4. Let cool in pan, then stir in cherries. Serve with milk or yogurt, or snack on it plain!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three-Bean Beef Chili

It's April now, officially time for spring … but nobody told the weather gods here in Utah. It's another chilly, snow-covered day in the mountains. In my book, that means another good day for mouth-watering, heart-warming, sweat-inducing chili.

I like my chili full of tomato and packed with vegetables, with just the right amount of spice.

{Three-Bean Beef Chili}

1/2 pound to 1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 can (8-ounces) diced tomatoes
2 can (15-ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (15-ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15-ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15-ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
Grated cheddar cheese, jalapeños and sour cream (optional)

1. In a large nonstick pot or dutch oven, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add ground beef and brown. Drain.

2. In a large nonstick pan, heat the rest of the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in pepper and zucchini and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add to ground beef.

3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve with fixings of choice.

The great thing about this chili is that you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Plus, it's even better the next day. Apply crushed red pepper liberally and enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

French Press Coffee

There are so many ways to get your coffee. You can brew it in a coffee pot, make a pour over, use a Chemex, pull an espresso, or head to your nearest coffee shop for a professionally crafted creation complete with latte art. All good options, all delicious ways to enjoy the joy that is coffee. But one of my favorite methods of preparing coffee has to be the french press: It's fast, it's easy and you end up with a dense, heavy, creamy cup bursting with flavor — every time. In our house, we call this weekend coffee.

{French Press Coffee}

What you'll need:
  • Coffee beans. Mine are dark-roasted Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans I roasted myself
  • Water — I like a 1:10 coffee to water ratio for my french press. So if you have 50 grams of coffee, use 500 grams of water
  • French Press
  • Coffee Grinder
Yield: Two large mugs of amazing, full-bodied coffee

1. Bring the water to almost a boil in a tea kettle, aiming for 202 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grind your coffee beans to a coarse, even grind.
3. Fill the french press with warm water to warm the glass. Empty. Then, add the ground coffee to the french press.
4. Pour heated water onto the coffee; allow to bloom for 30 seconds to allow the carbon dioxide to release from the coffee. It will bubble.
5.  Stir. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. When it has steeped, press the plunger down to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. If it's hard to press, that means your grind is too fine; if it goes down too easily, it means your grind is too coarse. Try to find the sweet spot.
6. Serve immediately. Add cream and sugar if desired.

Here's a step-by-step:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cookies & Chemex

So I can't stop making these insanely huge cookies, the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies I shared a few weeks back. Seriously, make them. You won't be disappointed.

I added in a Chemex and some awesome Pink Elephant Coffee. Yum.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cake. It pretty much epitomizes birthdays, right? So, naturally I had to have cake today.

Growing up when it was my time to announce which of my mom's delicious creations would be my birthday cake, it was never actually a cake. I went from requesting pumpkin pie for a solid ten years without fail, each birthday. Then, I graduated to apple dumplings, then brownies heavy on the homemade dark chocolate icing. This year, I decided, it was time to have a real cake. And being 1,735 miles (give or take) away from home with my not-so-kitchen-savvy fiancé, I made it myself. Which means I can pick a cake has little in common with the average birthday cake — this one is dense, it's gooey and incredibly chocolatey. Bring on the cake!

{Flourless Chocolate Cake}
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
8 eggs, chilled
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch nonstick springform pan and set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl, either in the microwave or using a double boiler, and whisk together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs for five minutes on medium to high speed until bubbly.
4. Add sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla to the egg mixture.
5. Add chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is just set and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
7. Remove from over and allow to cool completely. Remove the sides of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

The cake rises beautifully during baking before falling in the center to form a dense cake with a crusty, crackled top and a decadent, molten middle. Trust me. This is birthday-worthy!