Super Simple Homemade Granola

As we enter the new year and attempt to re-adjust to real life after the whirlwind of the holidays, getting back to eating real food (and not all the chocolates) tends to take priority again. I myself, am just beginning to recover from my continuous holiday food-coma, and am finally curious about what is actually in my food again. What better way to begin the year than with a hearty homemade granola?

super simple granola recipe

A great morning.

I have loved granola my whole life, and I find it to be both a tempting snack and hearty breakfast. For the longest time though, homemade granola seemed like such an elusive and complicated undertaking, requiring time and ingredients that I didn’t have.

Turns out, homemade granola is not nearly as arduous as I thought! In fact, I invited my kindergartener to help me out and we actually had two batches out in one morning. Some simple measuring and watchful waiting was all it took to create a homemade and delicious breakfast that could last the whole week!

If you like know what’s in your granola, and like an easy recipe that you can ask your kids to help out on, read on!

Super Simple Homemade Granola

4 cups oats

1 cup walnut pieces

1 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients, then add honey, olive oil, and vanilla. Spread onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes. I suggest giving it a quick stir in the last 5 minutes or so. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, and store in an airtight container.

super simple granola recipe

This is a variation of a recipe that I found via Pinterest at Recipe Tin Eats. I like her basic framework very much and I really appreciated the ease of her format. Her approach made the prospect of homemade granola very approachable. I did have to tweak the recipe a bit for our tastes, and the cooking time had to be adjusted a bit, but I was very happy with the results!

I’m looking forward to what I hope will be a great year of simple, homemade (mostly), and tasty recipes; stay cozy!

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Foodie Favorite: Orchard Valley Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sometimes, nothing else will do. Something with chocolate must be had, and any other snack would feel like an imitation of pleasure.

Then, my analytical side kicks in. My age and genetics require me to be a little more conscientious about what I eat. I try very hard not to be too strict, or too obsessive about it, as I find these kinds of methods seem to backfire with my rebellious brain. On the rare occasions I have tried documenting every calorie I intend to eat in the day ahead, I find myself searching for ways to alter or “cheat” on said plan even before it has been executed.

So, I have been trying to make little changes, rather than very extensive ones. I feel that they may be less noticeable to my very contrary psyche and therefore, perhaps more readily accepted. One little change I have made recently is adopting a new chocolate-craving-busting snack, the Orchard Valley Dark Chocolate Almonds.

orchard farms dark chocolate almonds

I figure I can’t really go wrong with almonds, as they have a satisfying texture and can help satiate a growling tummy. And I have never complained about a bit of added chocolate, personally. It is dark, so I didn’t expect a huge burst of sweetness, but I did find it to be smooth and it is quite capable of satisfying my cocoa cravings.

I think maybe my favorite part is that they come packaged in individual servings. I know how ridiculous that must sound, of course I could buy a bulk bag and portion them out myself into smaller containers. However, I find the prepackaged portions so much more convenient, and it doesn’t afford me the option of adding “a few” extra, just because it was a tough day.

I can simply pop a portion in my handbag if I feel I might crave something sweet later, or come home to a cup of hot tea and chocolatey almonds.

orchard farms dark chocolate almonds

(Photo Credit: Layout items curated by my son.)

Bonus: My son loves them as well, and seeing as how they are way more nutritionally sound than the candy he usually requests, I am willing to let him have them as an occasional treat!

I’ve noticed that Orchard Farms has also come out with pre-portioned bags of some varieties of trail mix. They look quite interesting as well . . .

I hope everyone is enjoying the new year! Best wishes to all; and stay cozy!

Vegetarian Holiday Meal Plan 2017

holly

Courtesy of Pixabay

I have been somewhat vegetarian in the past . . . for about ten years I was lacto-ovo-pesco-vegetarian (milk, eggs, and fish) and quite strict about it. That changed years ago for various reasons, including social as well as health.

Recently, however, a young member of my immediate family has become more environmentally and ethically aware and has decided to become vegetarian (lacto/ovo, but not pesco). Normally for a family gathering, I would serve vegetarian friendly options and still maintain the traditional fare for those interested parties, but that is hard to justify to someone so young, especially when even the mere presence of meat seems bothersome to him.

Since I have the luxury of only feeding a small handful of people on this particular holiday, I have decided to go lacto-ovo-vegetarian for the meal. The other folks have been warned and have agreed to the terms, so my preliminary menu (subject to change, possibly) is as follows:

Quiche

I have made my own quiche before, and I am tempted to try it again. The ones I buy, though, are generally so much prettier than my own. I usually purchase mine from the nearest PCC bakery (admittedly, they are actually concocted by an outside bakery), as they usually have a good selection, including some vegetarian options.

I like quiche as an option for protein since not everyone at the event is quite as keen on tofu. Served warm, I feel as though quiche can take the place of a hearty (meaty) main dish with relative ease.

Roasted Vegetables

Although I love cold salads, I definitely prefer warmer fare in the winter months, and so our veggies will be cooked for this meal.

My father and son both love Brussels sprouts (seriously, they will compete for the last one) and so I will do some form of them. I have previously done them in a pan or in the oven, and I definitely prefer them from the oven, usually with some olive oil, honey, and lemon (simple recipe coming soon). Since it is a holiday, I am considering doing a fancier version, like this one from Kalyn’s Kitchen. With nuts and gorgonzola, it looks delish!

I will also probably do a quick roast of sweet potatoes, squash, and/or some asparagus. If I am very lucky, perhaps my saintly husband will do us up a batch of homemade kale chips! (If anyone wants the recipe, let me know and I will see if I can convince him to post it here on Cozy and Sage!)

Quinoa Salad

I have discovered the wonders of quinoa just this year and I am in love! I usually make a cold quinoa salad (like my Mediterranean-inspired one), but I think for the most part, except serve it warm and exchange the cucumbers for roasted yellow and orange peppers.

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean-Inspired Quinoa Salad

If you like couscous, I highly encourage you to give quinoa a try! It is different from couscous, but still very delicious in its own right!

Biscuits

. . . from a refrigerated Pillsbury can, and mostly just because my son likes to help put them on the cookie sheet and “make” them. Absolutely too cute!

Pie

Although I so love pumpkin pie, I have had requests for something different. I think we will go with a cherry pie (if I purchase it, I suppose I will have to check for ingredients such as gelatin and the like) and vanilla ice cream. Not quite traditional, but perhaps it is time for a new tradition.

 

What holiday are you celebrating this year? Are you planning a holiday meal? What are you having?

Peace and warmth to all; stay cozy!

Foodie Favorite: Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea

There is absolutely nothing like a warm, soothing drink on a cold, wet evening, in my humble opinion. The weather is a ‘changing and Old Man Winter is slowly making his approach known. The leaves have turned and are falling, and the cold, damp air is becoming a fixture, rather than the occasional feature that it once was earlier this fall.

Back to that warm drink . . . I am an equal opportunity coffee and tea drinker. And I most definitely have different purposes in mind with each beverage:

-Some form of coffee or espresso for the morning and afternoon pick-me-ups.
Black or green tea might also feature in a midmorning work session.
-For evenings, some variety of herbal tea.

It should be stated though, “equal opportunity” should not be confused with “having no opinions” or favorites; I absolutely have those.

celestial seasonings peppermint tea

This Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea has been a longtime favorite of mine, although I have newly rediscovered it these last few months. Besides intriguing quotes and fun facts adorning the box, the ingredients (and usually where they came from) are clearly noted. This is a robust, though not biting, peppermint tea. Brisk, but domesticated.

With some added honey this becomes a refreshing and delicious treat. On its own, it is a very pleasant afternoon or evening, no calorie, no caffeine beverage. My absolute favorite use of this tea is as an after dinner/bedtime tea. I am ashamed to admit that I have a bad habit of overeating at dinnertime, but I love how a cup of this tea seems to soothe my digestion and calm my belly before bedtime.

‘Tis the season for large family meals and hours of sitting and talking to loved ones in front of cozy fireplaces, or, perhaps more commonly these days, the warm glow of a favorite Netflix film. All this eating and socializing sometimes requires a beverage that is both soothing and invigorating (with an added benefit: it can freshen your breath!). This tea fits the bill for our house.

Wishing everyone peace and warmth; stay cozy!

Nine Cozy and Sage Kitchen Staples

As the chief chef here at Cozy and Sage (as well beauty editor, editorialist, and custodian), I have come to appreciate the security of knowing I can toss a nutritious and satisfying meal together quickly and easily with what I have around the house (ahem: office).

I try never to run low on these items:

1. Canned Black Beans

While any kind of canned bean would be a good choice here, I find black beans to be  most tasty and versatile (although I do love kidney beans, as well). Beans are high in fiber and protein, and can pair well with both carbohydrates and vegetables. The canned versions are also marvelously easy to use, though if you want to be super budget conscious and have the time, soaking, cooking, and freezing dried beans can be an economical meal prep solution.

2. Canned Diced Tomatoes

There may be nothing more multifaceted in my cupboard than canned diced tomatoes. Unassuming and delicious, they lend themselves to all kinds of recipes, such as pasta sauces, soups, various Mexican-inspired dishes, and even as an additive to a slow cook pot roast. They also come in many varieties now; I prefer the fire roasted for most dishes, but I also like having an unseasoned variety on hand for pasta especially.

3. Dried Spaghetti (high fiber)

It’s hard to beat a traditional spaghetti meal for ease and satiety. I always get the Barilla white fiber version, as it contains some extra fiber but doesn’t alter the taste too much. Almost any kind of sauce (homemade or canned) will do. Paired with some garlic bread and a salad, this great meal comes together quickly and beautifully.

4. Salsa

We love Mexican food here at the home (office?) of Cozy and Sage—so much so we have to actively make sure we are always stocked with salsa. Offered with chips as an afternoon snack or poured over eggs for breakfast, salsa is one of those items improving almost any dish. (If in a real pinch, it can even substitute for canned diced tomatoes—see above—in many cases.)

5. Bouillon cubes

If I were a little more motivated and had a bit more time, I would definitely attempt to make my own broth. As things currently stand, having a small stash of bouillon cubes will have to do. While this isn’t something I use all of the time, it is one of those items I sorely miss when I need it and find the box empty. For me, bouillon cubes are a must for soups and stews, and a nice thing to have for the occasional broth soup (for times when you have a cold or just want something warm and salty).

6. Rice

Rice is another all-arounder lending its talents to numerous types of cuisine. I love rice in all its forms: jasmine, brown, long grain . . . however I can get it. Combine with any kind of protein and a veggie, and dinner is served! When I have the time and inclination, I will sometimes cook up a large batch of rice and portion some out to be frozen for later use. This can make future meals even quicker to prepare!

7. Frozen Veggies (in Steamer Bags)

One of the greatest food-related inventions of the last century (in my humble opinion) is the steamer bag. A variety of vegetables can be taken from the freezer and popped into the microwave for a nutritious dinner addition in a matter of mere minutes. For a parent who is constantly attempting to make sure there is a vegetable involved in every dinner, these bags are a boon!

8. Eggs

So simple and so nutritious, eggs can add an easy and satisfying protein to a meal at a moment’s notice. They are usually necessary to have on hand for various recipes, plus they can become the main dish in a pinch! Frittatas, quiches, and scrambles can make for great meals and are generally simple to prepare. They are incredible, and they are edible. Just sayin’.

9. Shredded Cheese

I usually don’t prefer to get pre-cut or pre-shredded items due to the increased cost. This is one exception I do make, however, just because it can lend itself to so many dishes in a hurry. I try to buy the largest bag I can; it lasts a long time in the refrigerator and the larger size usually proves a better value. This ingredient is useful for nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, and as a topping on a variety of meals.

simple red beans and rice

While things can be a bit hectic around our home office, I am comforted by the fact I can almost always whip up a nutritious and tasty (if simple) meal with what I already have on hand. As long I stay stocked up, I have very little need to make any emergency runs to the store, which as a very busy person is something I value highly!

What are your kitchen staples?

Thanks for the read; stay cozy!

Simple Bibimbap

Discovering Bibimbap

The first time I heard this name, I was confused: an Asian-inspired dish that I hadn’t heard of yet, or had the chance to fall in love with? Astounding.

I quickly gathered my ingredients, did a little research, and investigated the difference between refined and unrefined sesame oil (by the way, for this recipe, go as unrefined as possible). Be aware this recipe isn’t the completely traditional stuff, but it is lovely tasting and comes together quickly and simply! Who doesn’t love that?

cheater bibimbap

Ingredients

  • several cups prepared rice (any brand or variety will do nicely)
  • 1-2 cups shredded carrots
  • about 3 cups greens (spinach or arugula work well, although any greens will work)
  • thinly chopped (matchstick style) cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil, plus some to add after cooking as flavoring
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 eggs per person
  • soy sauce to taste
  • roasted sesame seeds (as garnish)

Preparation

Prepare rice as desired. After preparing vegetables, add olive oil and sesame oil to pan and begin sautéing carrots first. After about five minutes, add the greens and cucumbers and allow to cook for another five to seven minutes. After cucumbers are soft, but not overly soggy, set stir fried vegetables aside and add butter to the pan. Fry one to two eggs per person (most adults prefer over-easy and kids usually like them cooked until the yolks are firm).

Assemble each dish beginning with rice, then add vegetables and finally, top with fried eggs. Add a splash of sesame oil, soy sauce, and roasted sesame seeds.

Notes

This a great recipe for chilly, busy nights. It’s both quick and satisfying, as well as healthy and satiating. If you like, substituting soft tofu for the eggs can make this dish vegan quite easily. Other great toppers include green onions, hot sauce, and pickled radish. Paired with a hot cup of decaffeinated tea, this can make for a very warm and cozy meal. (See what I did there?)

Cheers, and stay cozy!

 

 

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

I must admit, the first time I tried quinoa, I didn’t care for it. I suppose that I had the expectation that it would taste something like couscous (after all, that is what it most closely resembles). At any rate, due to the flavor and (especially) the texture being a far cry from my preconceived notions, I avoided quinoa for, well, years.

I am not currently a super health conscious person, although I used to be. I must admit though, that when I rediscovered quinoa recently, I was most impressed by its nutrition portfolio. According to Healthline.com, 100 grams (about 3 ounces) of cooked quinoa contains 4.4 grams of protein, 2.8 grams of fiber, and a bunch of other good stuff.

In an effort to try to eat a healthier diet, and with encouragement from my husband (who happens to love quinoa), I thought I would give it another try. This time I decided to go with Mediterranean-type flavors. As usual, I also went for simplicity (laziness?), and this salad may be my easiest recipe to date!

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

About 3 cups quinoa (made per package directions, usually 2 ½ cups water to 1 cup quinoa)

1 small package (6-8 oz.) of crumbled feta cheese

1 cucumber, partially peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks

3 tablespoons favorite Italian dressing (or to taste)

Cook quinoa and allow to cool a bit, for about 20 minutes. Add other ingredients and mix. This salad may be consumed slightly warm or cold and fares well in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

(They don’t know who I am, but I must say, the Kraft Tuscan House salad dressing was great in this recipe! Very flavorful and tangy!)

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Yum!

I must admit, this was a salad I really enjoyed, as did my family. I even used it for a small get together that included a few lacto-ovo-vegetarians and was quizzed about the recipe. Its nutritional characteristics as well as its versatility are quite appealing to me, and I expect to be posting more quinoa recipes in the future!

I hope you enjoyed my very short and sweet recipe today.

My best to all, and stay cozy!

10 Cozy Meals in About 10 Sage Minutes

KNIFE AND FORK ON TABLE

Do you work? Go to school? Have kids? Live? There are bound to be times in any schedule when a quick meal for one, or a crowd, is required. Here are 10 meal ideas that can be prepared in about 10 minutes and can be scaled to meet your needs.

  1. Cucumber, avocado, and tomato salad– Just slice everything up and add your favorite salad dressing or a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
  2. Warm tomato and cheese sandwich– Spread a bit of butter on two slices of bread. Top one side with sliced tomato and then your favorite cheese. Bake, open-faced, on cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Take out of oven (carefully), and put two halves together while still warm.

    tomato sandwich caprese

    (this time I added basil and vinegar)

  3. Couscous salad– Make the couscous according to package directions (almost always less than 10 minutes). While the couscous is cooking, chop up some tomatoes and/or cucumbers. Add veggies to cooked couscous along with a bit of your favorite Italian-style salad dressing (or, alternately, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper). This salad is delicious warm or cold!
  4. Eggs on avocado toast– Top slices of toast with mashed avocado and an over-easy egg. Spice with salt, pepper, and a dash of lime juice.
  5. BTC– Just like a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato), but the lettuce is replaced by, you guessed it, cucumber! Simply spread mayo on two slices of bread and stack your cooked bacon, tomato, and cucumber. A dash of dried dill or Italian seasoning wouldn’t go amiss here, either!
  6. Chicken burritos– Shred some rotisserie chicken and warm up a can of drained black beans in the microwave. To tortillas, add chicken and black beans, and top with tomatoes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Yum!
  7. Chili potato– “Bake” a potato in the microwave and top with your favorite pre-made chili, a smattering of cheese, and a bit of sour cream.
  8. “Green” Breakfast for dinner– In a warm, buttered pan, add several handfuls of spinach and/or salad greens. When greens are wilted, add beaten eggs and cook to desired (scrambled egg) consistency. Add a favorite cheese, if you like. Serve with whole wheat toast and A1 Steak Sauce.

    Green scramble

    “greens and feta scramble”

  9. Pasta– Ever the perennial simple meal, boiling up some pasta and adding a can of premade sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, or just some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper is about as easy as it gets. Include a bagged of steamed veggies or (better yet) some cut up peppers or cucumbers on the side to round out the meal.
  10. Lamb Burgers– Like the traditional hamburger, but using ground lamb. Top with feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce and serve with sliced cucumber. (We like cucumbers around here.)

Hope you enjoyed this quick post about fast and simple food. More easy and delicious recipes coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by! What does your family eat on a busy night?

Stay cozy!

Autumn Three Bean Soup

The air has finally turned chilly and the breeze brings with it a crispness absent in the summer months. The leaves are beginning to change from green to burgundy, and the skies are suddenly greyish. It is time to prepare another fall inspired soup!

I love soup; over the last month I have shared some of my favorite soup recipes. There is nothing like a warm bowl of savory goodness, especially in the cooler weather, in my opinion. Soups can be had as a light supper, or transformed into a robust meal with the addition of bread or sandwiches. They are also wonderfully convenient to feed a large number of people.

During a recent family visit I ran out of white beans while attempting to make a white bean and ham soup that I knew they liked. I ended up varying the recipe a bit and the results received praise all around!

three bean soup and ham

Autumn Three Bean Soup

2 cans white beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

3 cups water

3 cups broth of your choice

1 pound of diced ham

3 large carrots, sliced

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1-2 tablespoons herbs de Provence (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot. Softly boil on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, until carrots are of desired tenderness. Notice that the broth is diluted in this recipe due to the saltiness of the ham. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian; to do so, use vegetarian broth (full strength, undiluted) and add some extra vegetables such as potatoes and/or celery to add texture.

Serve with a crusty bread, or as we had it, with garden fresh sliced tomatoes and crackers.

It’s hard to beat the simplicity of a soup like this. Something you can just toss together, and then sit and enjoy the company of family and friends as the scents of salt and rosemary fill the air. This concoction is hearty enough to provide a sustaining meal on its own, but pairs well with a fresh produce accompaniment.

What foods do you crave in the fall?

Enjoy! And stay cozy!

Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fall is approaching, if ever so slowly where I am. The chill that’s beginning to creep in makes me long for soft, fuzzy blankets, good books read by a fire, and belly filling, soul-warming soups. Now is the time I bring out my giant, battered, decade-old soup pot and begin concocting.

Soups are wonderful for so many reasons, not the least of which are their ease and simplicity. They can come in so many varieties and forms, so as to suit any taste. They are generally economical to make, and can also be scaled to feed any number of guests. Paired with a warm loaf of bread, crackers, or a squat, buttery biscuit, they can become a hearty and robust meal, or light fare, when enjoyed solo.

I have recently become quite enamored with lentils. Firstly, they are extremely nutritious, with one cup of cooked lentils boasting 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They also cook up extremely quickly as compared to other dry legumes; they are quite economical as well. Additionally, they are extremely versatile and pair rather well with various cuisines and flavors.

lentil and spinach soup

Lentil and Spinach Soup

1 cup of dry lentils

1 can of diced, stewed tomatoes

6 cups of broth of your choice

pinches of oregano and ginger, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 dense handfuls of fresh, cleaned spinach leaves

In a soup pot, combine broth, diced tomatoes, dry lentils and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes on medium-high heat, adding olive oil at about the 10 minute mark. After 20 minutes, or when the lentils are soft, add the fresh spinach and simmer the soup for an additional 10  minutes. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian with a vegetarian broth.

Serve with crusty bread or flavorful crackers. This recipe is simple to prepare and can be the perfect accompaniment to a chilly autumn evening.

Enjoy, and stay cozy!