Granola

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I grew up eating granola that my mother made from scratch. I always loved it and I have fond memories of eating it. My wonderful wife made me granola with my mother’s recipe for the first few years of our marriage. Eventually she found this recipe and we converted to it. We found it easier to make and just as tasty.

Granola

from Cook’s Illustrated magazine number 115 (March & April 2012) page 9

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup packed (2⅓ ounces) light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) raw almonds, chopped coarse

Directions

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325℉. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt, and oil in large bowl. Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly coated.

Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (about ⅜ inch thick). Using stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 33 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Remove granola from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. (Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

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Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

Did you know there are men that use Pinterest? There are. I’m one of them! I was browsing one day when I came across this recipe. My first thought was, “That looks delicious. I should surprise my wife with that one.”

So I did. I surprised my wife with this one. I figured out what ingredients we already had and what I needed to buy. I left work a little early one day and made a stop at the grocery store on my way home, no one the wiser. My timing was perfect because my wife went out to a friend’s baby shower that very night. I put our girls to bed and threw together this cheesecake.

I had hoped to finish it and have it chilling in the refrigerator before my wife got home, but I did not have quite enough time. It was still baking when she walked in so I had to spill the beans. But still, she was so surprised!

I suspect this recipe was originally part of a Kraft-sponsored contest or something, because the ingredients list specified exactly which brand of graham crackers, pecans, cream cheese, and caramel to buy. But don’t worry, brand names are not necessary to make this cheesecake delicious.

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

adapted from Culinary.net and Kraft Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, divided
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 14-oz bag square caramel candies, divided [I used Kraft Caramels]
  • 2 tablespoons water, divided

Directions

Mix crumbs, ½ cup pecans, granulated sugar, and butter. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil. Press crumbs firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake at 350℉ for 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, brown sugar, flour, and vanilla extract with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Place 36 caramels and 1 tablespoon water in microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute or until caramels are completely melted when stirred. Add to cream cheese batter; stir until well blended. Pour over crust.

Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes or until center is almost set.

Sprinkle cheesecake with remaining ½ cup pecans. Refrigerate four hours or overnight.

Place remaining caramels and 1 tablespoon water in microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. Drizzle over cheesecake. Cut into 32 pieces.

Dorie’s Corniest Corn Muffins

Corn bread and corn muffins happen quite a bit at my house. I assume that is a Southern thing. And we have several recipes, depending on the occasion. Like if you wanted corn bread … for dessert!

But this fine specimen of a corn muffin is a wonderful complement to a warm bowl of chili.

Dorie’s Corniest Corn Muffins

from Serious Eats

  • prep time: 15 minutes
  • makes one dozen muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil (or substitute an additional 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk (appears to be optional but adds richness to the muffins)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (add up to ⅓ cup more if you’d like), fresh, frozen or canned (in which case they should be drained and patted dry)

Directions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400℉. Butter or spray the 12 muffin molds in a regular-size muffin tin, or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.

Working in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a large glass measuring cup with a spout or in another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg, and yolk. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough—the batter will be lumpy and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin molds.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Pull the pan from the oven and carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto a rack to cool.

Potato and Chorizo Tacos with Simple Avocado Salsa

I am always game for a taco. Just about any kind of taco will do, but it took a little encouragement from my wife to really be enthusiastic about potatoes in a taco. She likes them. Me, not so much. But the chorizo in these tacos makes it all delicious.

Oh, and the avocado! Let’s not forget about the avocado. The salsa is actually a mix of avocado, tomatillo, and jalapeno. The smooth, cool salsa goes great with the warm chorizo and tortilla. I ate several.

Potato and Chorizo Tacos with Simple Avocado Salsa

from A Good Appetite

Ingredients

  • 12 oz waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • salt
  • 12 oz Mexican chorizo
  • ¼ c onion, finely chopped
  • 4 oz tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded (optional—some like it hot!)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 6-8 corn or flour tortillas

Directions

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and some salt. Let cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat then add the chorizo and onions. Cook until the sausage is cooked through, break apart as it cooks. If there is a lot of fat drain it from the pan.

Add the potatoes to the skillet with the chorizo and onions. Cook until the potato starts to brown. Mash everything together a little as it cooks.

Meanwhile, put the tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the avocado and pulse until everything is blended. Add salt to taste if needed.

Serve the chorizo mixture and avocado salsa on the warm tortillas.

Better Corn Chowder

This Better Corn Chowder is better than what, you might ask? It is better than the corn chowder my wife made in 2009. While I admit I have a very poor food memory, I do believe this chowder tastes better. My wife says it is easier to make, too.

While we enjoyed this corn chowder one fine Sunday night, we had a wonderful conversation about corn chowder in general. “Cook’s Illustrated has a corn chowder,” my wife told me, “but it is insane. First, they want you to shave kernels off fresh cobs of corn. But that’s not the insane part. Then they want you to milk the cobs, then strain the resulting liquid through a cheesecloth! Do they think I am running an industrial kitchen? Insane!”

Anyway, my wife has had corn chowder on the brain for a few weeks and was looking for a recipe that didn’t require milking. She remembered that Mimi’s Cafe has good corn chowder, so she went in search of a knock-off recipe. Lo and behold, Mimi’s Cafe publishes their corn chowder recipe! Surprise!

Better Corn Chowder

adapted from Mimi’s Cafe

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2½ cups water
  • 3 red potatoes, washed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 dash of black pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ⅓ cup dried potato flakes

Directions

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add in the flour and whisk until a smooth roux forms, about 2 minutes. Add onions and celery and sautée until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir in water, potatoes, corn, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer until potatoes are barely tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in half and half, cream, and potato flakes. Simmer uncovered until soup has thickened to a creamy consistency, about 15 minutes.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed.

J-Style Migas

What’s the deal with migas? When I first learned about it, it struck me as one of those I’ve-got-all-this-leftover-food-what-do-I-do-with-it-I-know-I’ll-throw-it-all-together-in-a-frying-pan kind of dishes. That may very well be true, but the enterprising chef will not let that set him off before trying it.

J-Style Migas

Most migas recipes will call for jalapeno, but we feel that replacing that with bacon is a vast improvement. Of course, nothing is keeping the enterprising chef from including both bacon and jalapeno. I’m sure the enterprising chef will proceed as he sees fit.

J-Style Migas

adapted from the Pioneer Woman (who should have already thought to use bacon in her version!)

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 2 whole corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional, if not enough bacon grease remains)
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and half-and-half. Add salt and pepper, then set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from heat, and set aside on paper-towel-lined plate to drain. When cool enough to handle, chop or crumble and set aside. Reserve bacon grease. Fry each corn tortilla in bacon grease until crisp. Remove to plate to drain. Chop tortillas and set aside.

Turn heat to medium-high, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil if needed, add onions and bell peppers and cook until starting to turn brown or black, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in bacon and stir to combine. Add tomatoes to the skillet and stir around, then add tortilla pieces, stirring gently to combine.

Reduce heat to low. When the heat has decreased, pour egg mixture into skillet. Stir gently to cook with the peppers, folding mixture very gently as it cooks. Add in grated cheese and chopped cilantro, and stir to combine.

J-Style Migas

The enterprising chef may note that this recipe is more like a set of guidelines. We’ve found that 4 eggs plus the vegetables and bacon will make enough for 2 very generous servings. This can easily be doubled or tripled to serve more.

Fresh Corn Cakes

Do you like cornbread? Do you like pancakes? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, this recipe is for you.

Fresh Corn Cakes

Fresh Corn Cakes

from Southern Living, July 2008

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 (8 oz) package fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

Pulse corn kernels, eggs, milk, and butter in a food processor 3 to 4 times or until corn is coarsely chopped.

Stir together flour, cornmeal, cheese, chives, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir in corn mixture until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon about ¼ cup batter for each cake onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or large nonstick skillet (do not spread or flatten cakes). Cook cakes 3 to 4 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Turn and cook other side 2 to 3 minutes. Makes about 18 corn cakes.

It may interest the enterprising chef to know that these corn cakes reheat well in the oven.