new spin on summer salad staple

 So bean salad is a summer staple. One bean, two bean, three bean and more.

I decided to change it up. I took half a bag each of Goya dried navy beans and pinto beans yesterday and put them in to soak with salt and water overnight. I then cooked them according to directions on their packaging this morning.

While the beans were cooling I minced three large cloves of garlic, chopped fine one large red onion, chopped one fresh red bell pepper, peeled and chopped one fresh cucumber, and tossed into a bowl.

To that bowl I added salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons of white table sugar , a bunch of fresh dill chopped, and a third of a cup of Italian flat leaf parsley chopped.

I mixed the salt and pepper, herbs and spices, along with the vegetables and drizzled olive oil and rice wine vinegar and red wine vinegar over the top of it and stirred some more.  I always add more vinegar than oil to bean salads.

I should’ve measured exactly how much oil and vinegar but I didn’t I’m sorry- you want basically enough that your salad gets coated and sort of pickled  but not enough that it swimming in dressing.

Last but not least I tossed in the beans which I had drained and mixed everything together, as well as adjusted for salt and pepper. I will now chill the salad down until this evening but it looks beautiful and tastes terrific!

the great granola experiment

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So this morning a member of my cooking group posted about making homemade granola. It got me thinking about trying to make a batch myself. I love granola, but the fresh granola that is available at any of the local farmers’ markets has been climbing in price to a point that I can’t justify the cost for what it is.

Now my mother has a granola recipe that she has used for years, but I just don’t like it. Too many ingredients and too many nuts and seeds. So I went hunting for a recipe I liked better.

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I found two recipes I liked and combined them. One recipe is from epicurious.com and one recipe is from Real Simple.

Here is how I combined them:

Preheat your oven to 300°F

Ingredients
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup shredded UNSWEETENED coconut

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white raisins

1/2 cup dark raisins

4 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

Directions:

Mix everything EXCEPT for the raisins together in a large mixing bowl.

Line a rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan with a piece of parchment paper.

Spread your mixture from your mixing bowl evenly on the pan.

Place in preheated oven (300°) . Bake until a golden toasty brown color approximately 40 minutes. Make sure that you stir the granola around on the cookie sheet approximately every 10 minutes while you are baking. You need to do this to make sure the granola bakes evenly. This is also why you have to use a jellyroll pan or another kind of baking sheet with a big enough lip or your granola will end up all over your oven.

Once granola is cooked, bring out of your oven and cool in the pan for about 20 minutes to half an hour. Stir in your raisins. Allow granola to come to room temperature and store in airtight containers. I like using canning jars for this purpose.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!

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coffee talk: gourmesso

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So I am an Espresso maniac. I make it old school in the stove top pot, but I do love my Nespresso machine. I am a purist and I do not drink flavored coffees or espressos. The flavored coffees and espressos leave a metallic taste in my mouth. I like the straight bean varietals.

What I do not like about my Nespresso machine is how expensive the name brand Nespresso capsules are. So I have been trying different brand compatible capsules again. I have discovered yet another brand. It is called Gourmesso.

Gourmesso describes themselves as “Italian passion for coffee, combines with German Ingenuity”. At first that made me giggle as I had visions of an Alpha Romeo with a Mercedes Benz engine. However, I had their espresso yesterday for the first time and oh my, it’s not just good. It’s excellent.

The capsules arrive in little boxes and are vacuum packed in little foil packets, a few to each packet. Yesterday I had “Bolivia Pura Mezzo“. My first cup was a straight shot of espresso (pictured above). It was deep and rich and smooth and flavorful. It had that real espresso taste.

And the Gourmesso capsules fit the machine well. I had a second cup that was more my normal Café au lait or cappuccino style – I admit it I have a milk frother and warmer too- Nespresso Aeroccino Plus. (Normally I only have one cup of coffee, this coffee is good enough to tempt me to two!)

I haven’t decided what flavor I am trying this morning. You can order straight from their website www.gourmesso.com and their capsules are on Amazon.com as well. Their capsules start at around $0.45 per capsule. That is a much better deal than Nespresso brand capsules which start at $0.65 per capsule for the traditional capsules.

Ok well I am off to find coffee! Try Gourmesso and let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by!

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baking powder breakfast biscuits

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baking powder breakfast biscuits

Preheat your oven to 450°

In a bowl blend 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar.

In a second smaller bowl whisk together 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk, 1/2 cup canola oil, one beaten egg.

Work the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir together lately. Do not overwork your dough.

To the dough add 1/2 cup of seedless raisins dark or white your choice, and a little less than half a cup of low-fat granola without fruit in it. The granola that works best for the ones that are just flavored with cinnamon and not much else and not huge pieces of nuts. This time I used Woodpecker low-fat granola that I purchased at Pete’s produce on 926.

Use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This recipe yields 12 to 14 biscuits, so break off pieces of dough accordingly and shape into a quick ball and then flatten somewhat and lay on the cookie sheet a couple inches apart.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes depending on your oven.

Serve with butter, honey, apple butter, pumpkin butter, or your choice of jelly.

(The plate the biscuits are sitting on in the top photo came from the Smithfield Barn)

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quick and fresh pasta sauce

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It’s a quick, fresh pasta sauce kind of evening.

Two sweet onions chopped

Five cloves of garlic minced

Two thirds of a container of grape tomatoes cut in thirds

One fresh red bell pepper, chopped

One can of tomato paste – 6 ounces

One can of crushed tomatoes -28 ounces

Kosher salt to taste

One fresh bay leaf

Fresh basil, oregano, and flat leaf Italian parsley chopped – as much as you want. I like a lot of fresh herbs in my sauce

1- 16 ounce package of organic Angus ground beef

1 dash or two of good balsamic vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

I toss a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of my pasta sauce pot. I add the onions garlic, fresh tomatoes, and one chopped fresh red bell pepper.

I sweat the vegetables down a little with a dash of kosher salt, and then I tossed in the hamburger. I allow the hamburger to cook down, next tossing in the herbs.

Next a small dash or two of balsamic vinegar before I add the canned tomatoes and paste.

I bring everything up over medium heat (stirring often) to close to a boil and then I reduce to simmer cover and let simmer for an hour or hour and a half.

I serve over whatever pasta I happen to have on hand . Tonight it will either be spaghetti or whole-wheat linguine.

I dust each bowl of pasta with some grated Parmesan cheese when I serve

Keeping it simple, this dinner is best with a fresh salad – right now I have some wonderful looking arugula and romaine that I picked up at the local farmers market.

It’s what’s for dinner in my house this evening. Try this sometime and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!