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Homemade granola – it’s worth the effort

I drafted this post on February 27… it’s been almost exactly a month later and I can’t believe I haven’t shared it with my blog audience! There are many reasons (aka excuses) for this. I had out of town visitors, I baked several cakes, I started crafting much more at home and yada yada. Anyway, this is a great recipe from my idol Pioneer Woman. After I purchased all the ingredients, I realized I could have spent about $5 to buy some good granola instead of the estimated $10-15 I spent on making my own but homemade > store bought. Here’s a link to the original recipe. Let me note now that I didn’t follow instructions and grease my baking sheet well so I ended up making a bowl of granola versus granola bars. Grrrrr… but it’s ok because we ended up eating our granola crumble on Greek yogurt and it was fabulous. Check out the recipe below:


  • 6 cups Rolled Oats (not Quick Oats)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted, Plus More For Greasing (Greasing is critical!!)
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Or Canola Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Apple Juice (I juiced my own!)
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup Wheat Germ
  • 1/2 cup Finely Chopped Pecans (I omitted this and just used almonds)
  • 1/4 cup Roughly Chopped Almonds
  • 8 ounces, weight Milk Chocolate Or Chocolate Almond Bark, Melted (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter and salt. Spread the mixture out on 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the pan twice and making sure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.




Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, apple juice and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until all combined. Stir in the vanilla.



These are the apples I juiced to make my own apple juice.




Toss together the toasted oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, pecans and almonds. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour. Toss to combine; it will be sticky!



Press into 1 baking sheet (thoroughly greased with butter, or line pan with foil and grease foil) and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut pieces with a sharp knife and remove from the pan. Or if you’re doing it like me, scrap off that wax sheet and just break your granola to pieces!


It’s so golden and beautiful!



As Lucy Ricardo once said: “It’s so tasty, too!”

So what will you do with all the leftover wheat germ and molasses that you now have from this recipe? You can add it to your morning juicing routine (if you do that). I started to add some wheat germ to our drinks and I can’t taste it but I heard it’s good for you. I’ve also heard of people taking molasses by the spoonful to help with iron deficiency. I won’t do that but you can! Enjoy!


Easy Homemade Breakfast for Weekend Guests

Hooray, I survived this very long but fun weekend. My friends from San Jose visited, as well as my sister. I love to have people over because it gives me the motivation to cook something new and explore areas of my city that I don’t go to nearly enough on my own. We definitely feasted this weekend and enjoyed the warm, sunny California weather. 80 degree weather in the winter time? I’ll take that any day. We were seriously wearing t-shirts and shorts in the middle of February! As a farewell breakfast for our friends who visited, I decided to go to my trusty cookbook from Pioneer Woman. Knock on wood but none of her recipes has failed me yet. What I also like about her is that I don’t have to special order ingredients that are hard to find in your local store. In her original recipe here, she made a berry butter to go with the french toast but I found it just fine without making that part of the recipe.


  • 1 French loaf of bread (Trader Joe’s has a presliced French loaf that was great in this recipe)
  • 4 whole Egg Yolks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Maple Syrup For Serving – I used plain ol’ honey
  • Sifted Powder Sugar, For Serving (optional)
  • In case you want some berries on top, grab one cup of frozen mixed berries (Costco sells a nice big bag)


  • Cut bread into 1/2 inch thick slices (unless you already purchased presliced bread like I did).
  • In a dish that has about 1 inch in depth, mix together egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  • Dip bread slices in mixture, coating both sides, then remove from dish and set it aside. Repeat this step until all bread is coated.
  • If you want to put some berries on top, do this following step. In a small saucepan, boil about 1/4 cup of water with a tablespoon of granulated sugar. Once the sugar dissolves, pour the frozen berries into the pan. Let it simmer for about two minutes and then turn off the heat.
  • Heat iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook French toast on both sides until golden brown, being careful not to burn. I liked it a little brown on both sides. Once done, set it aside.
  • To assemble, just stack your French toast bread and then pour the berries on top (with or without the liquid) and drizzle lightly with some honey and dust it with some powdered sugar. Bon Appetite!



20140219-120811.jpgToasty bread!

20140219-120819.jpgYummy berries!


Doggie Treats

Daniel and I started fostering dogs through a local foster agency in November. We did it to save the many adorable stray dogs that end up in shelters. I thought we would foster several dogs before settling down with one but then Vixen came into our lives unexpectedly. She is such a great dog; she loves to go in walks, she can be left alone at home and she doesn’t ask too much of us. It’s not that we neglect her but we just needed a dog that could be independent. All in all, she is wonderful and I have become that dog mom that likes to spoil their dog. I don’t buy her lots if things but I like to feed her organic/home made goods. Since it was a rainy day, I stayed indoors and wanted to bake. I wasn’t in the mood to make something for myself so I thought it would be a neat to make my own dog treats. I found an easy recipe from Curbly. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (to make about 8 treats):
– 4 ounce jar of organic baby food (any flavor you’d like. I think dogs like orange flavored veggies like butternut squash and carrots) make sure that it doesn’t have ingredients that are deadly to dogs!
– One cup of 100% whole wheat flour

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
– Mix both ingredients together in one bowl. Add about one tablespoon of water if you need moisture to gather more flour if some of it doesn’t stick.
– Flour your counter and roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness.
– Grab your favorite cookie cutter (I just happen to have a bone-shaped one – really, I’m not crazy enough to buy it just for this project!) and cut away.
– Place the treats on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

That’s it! Let the treats cool and then serve it to your dog. You can save the treats in an airtight container and give one to your dog once a day. Did I mention that this entire recipe only costs you about $1.50 (buy the flour whole sale). That’s a steal!





A pocket full of goodness

This weekend was GREAT. I was able to craft, hang out with my sweet fiance and make good food. I appreciate any time that I can get to cook a great meal. Daniel got me subscriptions to Rachael Ray and Real Simple magazine and I have been eye balling many recipes for the past month. There are just too many dishes to make and not enough time. As time seems to fly by, I find myself resorting to the easy to make dinners (like grilled chicken and rice) instead of making elaborate meals. Although I didn’t make anything too elaborate this weekend, I’m glad I used three recipes I found in my food magazines and book.

The pocket full of goodness that I made this weekend was the empanada. Real Simple magazine features an area where they focus on one ingredient that you can use in ten recipes. Two months ago, they featured turkey as one of the main ingredients. We tend not to cook with turkey because it’s ground meat but the recipe looked easy and good. After going to Trader Joe’s, I found out that they didn’t have any pie crusts for the empanadas. I ended up making dough from scratch! So because of all the hard work I put into the dough, I found this was worth blogging about.

Dough recipe

Ingredients (makes about six large empanadas. I cut the recipe in half and ended up with three big enough to share empanadas)

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water (measure 1/3 cup of water and then throw an ice cube to chill in it for a bit to get ice water)
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar


Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look brittle and break apart easily.)

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. As you are waiting for the dough, you can start prepping the stuffing.

Empanada Filling Recipe (by me with some inspiration from Real Simple)


2 carrots (diced)

2 celery sticks (diced)

Half an onion (diced)

Dash of cumin (or as much as you’d like)

1 pound of ground turkey

Cheese (optional)


Saute all of the vegetables together on low heat for about three minutes. Once the vegetables start to look soft, add the turkey and cumin powder. Cook the turkey thoroughly and then allow the meat to cool down.

Preheat the over to 325 degrees.

Once the dough is ready, pull it apart to create small spheres of dough. You can then roll it out into circles. Place a handful of meat stuffing on one half of the circle, add cheese if you’d like and then fold the circle over and seal the empanada with a fork (to create the crinkles in the closed area).

Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet and spray them with some olive oil or canola oil. Bake for about 20 minutes then enjoy.

Now it’s time for some dessert. I’ve never been a fan of carrot cake (usually because it is ruined by raisins!). However, after reading Gesine Bullock’s book and drooling over her recipes, I decided that since it’s Easter, I should make a cake. Here’s the recipe for Gesine’s delish carrot cake. I didn’t put the effort into decorating it because I feel like the characteristic of carrot cake is to be more rustic looking with frosting slathered on it in a non-uniform manner. Someone at the pot luck I attended on Saturday decided to Easter it up a bit by adding a chocolate bunny.

People at work were afraid to decapitate the bunny so they cut around it. I was left with the large chocolate bunny and the cake that was left beneath it. Time to whip out fondue kit to make chocolate fondue :D.

This Week’s Recap 3/23/12

I didn’t even get a chance to my weekend recap because the week is over! I went up to San Francisco for a fun little weekend getaway. In a few words, it was GREAT. I ate, danced, explored and had a lot of fun. I’ve never done a St. Paddy’s day pub crawl and it was one of the best places to do that.

Heading out!

Yummy granola and coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee. I bought a freshly roasted bag of coffee home and it smelled so good and tasted great days later.

Farmer Brown’s skillet place was delish! We had the Sunday brunch right after a soothing day at the spa.

I went home and decided I wanted to make a home cooked meal. Here’s our chicken piccata.

The recipe for the chicken piccata comes from one of my fave, easy-to-follow chefs on Food Network – Giada. I didn’t want anything that took hours to make so this recipe was great. Daniel really enjoyed it because he said it tasted fresh, lemon-y and peppery. This was my first time cooking with fresh cracked pepper and I must admit that it makes the dish taste so much better than regular ground pepper.

Chicken Piccata Recipe – Courtesy of Giada


– 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half (or purchase scallopini chicken which means it’s already the prepared nice and thin for you)

– Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

– All-purpose flour, for dredging (aka dusting your chicken)

– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I cut this in half and it still tasted great)

– 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I put only one tablespoon)

– 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

– 1/2 cup chicken stock

– 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed (I omitted this as I don’t like capers)

– 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (and I didn’t have this either)

– Handful of cremini mushrooms (if you’re a mushroom fan like me)


– Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge (dust) chicken in flour and sake off excess.

– In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. (You can keep cooking in the butter that is there instead of adding more like this recipe asks for) Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

– Add the lemon juice, stock and capers into the pan. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. If you’re adding mushrooms, throw the mushrooms in for about 5 minutes with the lid on. Remove chicken to platter. (I didn’t remove the chicken but instead just left it sitting in the sauce and ate it like that). Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Bon appetit!

Mmm mmm soup

I didn’t make Campbell’s tomato soup but I did make a soup that was mmm mmm delish. After having an 80+ degree weekend, Monday’s weather took a turn and became what most would regular winter weather. When it’s cold, I love to have a big heaping bowl of soup. I haven’t been in the mood for making soup that requires raw meat or anything. I wanted something hearty and with lots of vegetables. This soup didn’t have a lot of veggies but it had a good amount. It also had some pasta bits in it which made it delish.

I read two recipes on and ended up devising my own version of Minestrone. Just remember that when you make it, you gotta taste it too. I didn’t taste it until the next day at lunch which makes me a very bad chef!

Minestrone for two (enough to be entree)


– Two stalks of celery (sliced thinly)

– A handful of baby carrots (sliced thinly)

– Five cups of chicken/vegetable broth

– One can of diced tomatoes (I think it was 14 oz.)

– One clove of garlic

– One tablespoon of olive oil

– Quarter of an onion diced (if you wish)

– A handful of pasta shells (or any small pasta)


– Chop all of the vegetables and put them aside.

– Pour the olive oil into a stock pot and then pour the vegetables in on top of the oil. Let it cook for about ten minutes.

– Stir the stock and tomatoes into the stock pot. Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer (with the pot cover on) for about 15 minutes.

– After 15 minutes, take the lid off and pour the pasta shells in. Let it boil (without the cover) for another ten minutes. Taste the soup to see if it’s too tart because of the tomatoes. You may want to either add more broth or water. Voila!

Weekend Recap 2/26/12

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. I can’t believe February is on the brink of being over with March just around the corner. I continue to plan my weekends out for the rest of the year, I find myself not having very much down time at all but I’m not complaining. It’s a lot of fun stuff that is coming up!

This weekend we did quite a few things:

– We enjoyed the company of a new family member – a puppy! We took him out to the vet to get checked up and took him out to lunch with us.

– We checked out a ranch where we may be taking our engagement photos. There were so many beautiful horses there and a nice large area with tall grass for potential rustic photos.

– I went to a craft event at the local park. We made some really cute fabric flowers. I really enjoyed going to this event because I got to meet other crafters and go ooh and ahh over fabric and glue. I sat with a nice couple who were in the their late sixties. The husband was there to support his wife by cutting the fabric for her. He was so nice and a great crafter too. He made one of the best looking fabric flowers there. Here’s a how-to make fabric flowers guide.  Since I didn’t get a chance to take pictures as I made my flowers, I couldn’t make my own how-to guide but this one is pretty accurate.

You take your leftovers and you can make…


– I made breakfast for my coworkers for our weekly Monday breakfast meetings. I found a how-to make circular egg patties on Pinterest and decided to make bacon, egg, and cheese English muffin sandwiches. You simply spray your muffin pan with oil, crack the egg and pour into each cup and then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Take this, then add cheese, bacon, sausage and bread and you get

this (Image borrowed from

– We explored Tuesday Morning. I’ve never been in this store but warning, if you go in, you will find things you don’t need but think you do. Put those wallets away before walking in. It’s a hoarders paradise.

– I watched the Oscars and Amazing Race. Each year I become more and more fascinated by the dresses and the speeches (at the Oscars) and for the Amazing Race, I’m fascinated by the new tasks they have to take on as well the things that can bring people to tears. Here’s a fun short animated film from the Oscars. Really, another reason why I watch so I can see the stuff that doesn’t hit mainstream theater.

Here’s to another week!