Thursday, August 27, 2015

Trail Granola Clusters #thebookclubcookbookCC

Oh man have I been baking up a storm since the oven was back up and running. Plus the sink works and we have a DISHWASHER. I tell you I am in heaven.  I forgot what it was like to have a dishwasher. 

Today I have a yummy granola recipe for my August posting in The Book Club Cook Book.  As I mentioned last month this is a group where  each month a new book will be chosen from The Book Club Cook Book, a cook book that has recipes from many popular recent and older novels. The goal of this club is to pick a book a month and either make the recipe from The Book Club Cook Book or another recipe inspired by the novel. 

If you are interested in join see this post from Camilla, our leader.  There is a giveaway at the bottom of this post for The Book Club Cook Book.  For August our host is Andrea at Adventures In All Things Food. She choose Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. Although I have read other Bill Bryson books I had not read this one till this month. I thought this was kind of funny since this has been on my dad's bookshelf for as long as I can remember. Growing up we did a lot of nature vacations and walked portions of the AT. Being little we never did much but I felt like I could relate to some of Bill's more traumatic experiences. Nature and I don't seem to get along all that well when we are together.

Last month a member mentioned noting all the food mentions when reading the book. I thought that was a great idea and did the same as I read A Walk in the Woods. I was not expecting so many mentions of Snickers and Hostess cakes. In fact in time I read some of the book I was suddenly craving all sorts of junk food. Not so much the noodles though. It struck me that if I ever (not that it is really a potential) undertook such an adventure I would have planned way better food options. Primarily granola. So that is what I made for you today. 

Granola. Nutty Trail Granola. With cluster. Since clusters are way easier to eat when you don't have utensils. 

Trail Granola Clusters

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast snack oatmeal hazelnuts pistachios
Ingredients (1 gallon bag of Granola)
  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine.

Whisk the oil and the honey together. Pour over the oats mixture and until the whole mixture is moistened. Pour into a large jelly roll pan in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once. Bake for 10 more minutes and remove from the oven. Let it sit until it starts to cool - this helps keep the clusters.
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If you are interested in participating see this information post from Adventures In All Things Food

And be sure to check out some of the other bloggers joining in on the fun. 

A Day in the Life on the Farm      
Adventures in All Things Food    
Cheese Curd In Paradise               
Culinary Adventures with Camilla             
Life on Food       
Mostly Food and Crafts 
The Pajama Chef              
The Spiffy Cookie             
Things I Make (for Dinner)           
Tortillas and Honey         

You can follow along with the hashtag #thebookclubcookbookCC on social media or check out the group Pinterest boad. Find out how you can join along with us below.

This month Andrea at Adventures in all Things Food, this month's host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from August 1st till August 31st at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Andrea received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Easy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

We have gotten pretty creative the last few weeks with our limited kitchen abilities. One of the things I have grown to love is the Crock Pot. Most people associate a Crock Pot with warm hearty meals in the winter. I am here to tell you that the Crock Pot is just as good in the summer. Hello no oven heat.  I made Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches last week.  Now I have some good old buffalo chicken sandwiches. 

This recipe is so easy. You simply put some chicken breast into the slow cooker with buffalo sauce. We used Frank's.  You could the chicken for 4-8 hours depending on your settings. Then you shred the chicken and mix with a bit of butter and ranch seasonings. That's all. We had sandwiches but this would also be great for a pizza topping or nachos. The really are so many possibilities. This recipe feeds a crowd. Mr. J and I had plenty of leftovers which was just what we were going for. 

Our kitchen still needs a lot of finishing details but we are pretty much back up and running. That doesn't mean I am going to give up on our Crock Pot meals though. They are too good and easy to not have at least once a week. 

Easy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours, plus
Keywords: slow-cooker entree chicken Super Bowl
Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 12 oz bottle Frank's Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 package Hidden Valley Dry Ranch Mix
  • ½ stick of butter
Put the chicken and the buffalo sauce in the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred it, using two forks.

Add the shredded chicken back to the crock pot, add the ranch mix and the butter, and stir until the butter is melted and ingredients are well-mixed. Cook for another 15-30 minutes.

Serve on a roll and your choice of cheese. We prefer blue cheese.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Seared Pork Tortas #secretrecipeclub

This posts takes me back to when we had a semi working kitchen.  Real food on real plates. Kind of funny to think about now that we are almost back to that spot again. The dishwasher and sink are all hooked up and functioning again. To say that I am excited by running water in the kitchen is a gross understatement. I can just sit and stare in amazement at our our beautiful sink and dishwasher. 

For those of you who don't know most of August we have been in the midst of a full blown kitchen renovation and redo of all the hardwood floors on the first floor. Living in chaos has been the way of life. But now the month is over and that means we the kitchen is slowing being put back together. The end of the month also means its time for my Secret Recipe Club reveal.

For those of you who don't know The Secret Recipe Club is a group of bloggers that get together once a month for a special reveal day posting to share a creation from a secretly assigned member of the group. It is a great way to learn about new blogs and find tasty new recipes.

For the August posting I had Rebekah from Making Miracles.  I know with the kitchen going away I had to get right on planning my recipe. I searched and then searched and searched some more. Pretty much everywhere I looked there were recipes I wanted to try. CBLT wraps, Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad, Honey Chicken Kabobs, and Fall Pear Crisp

I ended up picking the Seared Pork Tortas.  These were tagged as a family favorite and well when you call something a family favorite I was pretty sure we would have a winner. And a winning recipe it was. We cooked the pork on the grill since it was super hot and humid in the beginning of August. This meant we also could grill our bread. 

The sandwiches were topped with a pinto bean and salsa mixture (so simple but so good), the pork, tomatoes, avocado and cheese. These sandwiches quick and delicious. They were super filling for a dinner sandwich but not overly heavy. I just cannot eat a heavy meal in the summer heat. 

Both my husband and I enjoyed these the first time around and as a second helping the next day at lunch.  We will definitely be making these again for a quick yet more sophisticated sandwich.

Seared Pork Tortas

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: saute sandwich pork
Ingredients (Makes 4 sandwiches)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces boneless center-cut pork loin chops
  • 1 (12-ounce) baguette, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons refrigerated fresh salsa
  • 2 slices Monterrey Jack cheese, in halves
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 1/2 ripe peeled avocado, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Preheat broiler to high.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Slice pork into bite sized pieces and add to hot skillet. Sprinkle cumin and salt evenly over pork and stir to coat. Cook until done, about 5-10 minutes, stirring as needed. Pork should be well browned.

Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 3/4-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Place bread halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Place beans and salsa in a small bowl; mash with a fork until almost smooth. Spoon bean mixture into the bottom half of baguette.

Top with pork, cheese slices, tomato, avocado, and top half of baguette. Cut into 4 pieces.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Olivia Turns 5 Months Old

About two weeks ago my little one turned 5 months old. Although 5 months seems like a very short time, I cannot imagine our lives without her in them.  She continues to amaze me every day. Each day there is a new skill or trait that comes out. 

She almost able to sit up on her own. Her preferred position is one where she can look out and see everything and everyone around her.  She reaches and grabs everything in sight. At first it was only a few of the lightest toys but now she can hold up pretty much anything. Being careful about what is near her is a full time job.  

She learned to flip on her belly fast and furious. It happened one day and then pretty much since then it was a constant occurrence. It was also the first thing that really threw off our sleep routine. She would immediately flip on her belly when we put her down to sleep, but that meant no more swaddles. Our little one really loved being swaddled. And even though she got really good at getting on her belly, it was a work in progress getting back onto her back.  She would wake up in the middle of the night and realize she was on her belly. We had to go in many a times to flip her back over only to have her roll herself belly side within 30 seconds. 

No teeth yet but I am hoping they will come in someday soon. We have tried avocado and bananas with varying success. I am hoping once the kitchen renovation is complete we will be able to be more consistent about offering her real foods. 

She is pretty good at standing up on her legs when we hold her. She gets all proud when she realizes she is standing up and gets a super big and goofy grin on her face. This is normally followed by loads of giggles. My heart just melts and you cannot help but smile and laugh right along with her. 

Talking is now the norm. She is such a chatter box with her ohs and ahs. She found out how to gurgle and blow bubbles this past week. She can go on and on for a good 30 minutes.  And when you mimic her back she will stop, smile, and then go right on with her own noises again.

Everyone says time flies by so fast with a child. And it does. But I find myself in this weird middle ground where I want her to be this age forever but I also want to see her continue to grow and develop. 

Happy 5 Months Olivia!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lately and #WIAW

I am living in a bit of chaos right now. The kitchen renovations are at this height of destructiveness. Mainly due to the fact that we are redoing our floors. Given that the portion of the house under construction is where we spend about 90% of our time when not sleeping it has been a struggle. We were doing pretty good with the whole no water/sink situation. Not having a living space is different. Our little family of three has been hanging out in the bedroom and going to bed early the last couple of weeks.

On top of that daycare decided to use this week as one of its annual shut down for professional development days. I have been working from home with the munchkin. She is a super baby and hasn't been any trouble. Long morning naps are when I am most productive. 

In the afternoon she joins me with some toy time. Her moose is currently way more fascinating than my computer. The iPhone however is a different story. 

The kitchen is making progress. We have done some of the flooring. The counter tops are going in tomorrow. And then it will be mainly finishing touches. I am thinking those last little to dos might take us forever. I owe you a more in-depth kitchen update. I have been snapping photos along the way so I have a bunch to share. 

Once everything is done we are all going to be smiles. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks

Slow cooker cooking is not just for the wintertime. And with our limited cooking abilities during the kitchen renovation I am fully embracing the slow cooker in the summer. 

We made these Philly Cheese steak sandwiches last week. The prep, cooking and clean up was a breeze. It was one of those throw it all in and leave it recipes.  It was stress free and if I had more of these meals I wouldn't mind not having functioning kitchen for a couple more weeks. Just joking.  No one would ever say that or if they did they would be considered crazy in my book.  Regardless, I can see this recipe in our life even after we have a full kitchen access. 

We each had one heaping sandwich and had enough for another as leftovers. We liked to add the extra juice and let it soak into the rolls. Yum, yum. Probably not the most nutritious meal but it sure was good.

Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4-7 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker sandwich steak
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1.5 lbs round steak, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 32 oz low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 French rolls
  • 12 slices of Provolone
Rub the steak slices with pepper and garlic powder. Place in the slow cooker.

Add onion, bell pepper and beef broth. Stir to mix.

Cook on low for 5-7 hours or until meat is tender.

When the meat is done, toast open rolls for several minutes until slightly crusty.
Lay a piece of cheese on both sides of the roll.

Use tongs to remove meat, onions and bell pepper from slow cooker and pile on top of rolls.
Return to the oven to melt cheese. This will only take a few moments. Serve immediately.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Salad Round Up

Oh man, summer is coming to an end. *Tear I actually like the Fall the best but it seems after waiting so long from the cold winter that summer is going too quickly. 

Summer though means heat. And although I am not ready to give up summer the heat could definitely go. At least a little bit. Right now between the weather and the kitchen renovation the oven is off limits. That means loads of take out veggies.

I was struggling with meal options that fit our parameters of cool meals with limited cooking abilities. So I dug into the old blog archives to find some delicious salads of the past. I am so glad I did. I forgot how many winning salad we made in the past. Slowly we are working our way through this list. If you need some extra veggies in your diet or just want some no cooking meals check out this salad round up. 

Classic Chopped Salad

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