Maple-Nut Granola

maple-nut granola - trust in kim

For breakfast I usually eat a bowl of fruit and homemade yogurt.  It’s so delicious, but I find sometimes it’s not enough to get me through the morning.  I haven’t made granola in ages, so I thought this would be a good time to rework an old recipe. I’ve used maple syrup for a little sweetness, and a bit of olive oil to make it nice and crunchy.  I think the amount of sugar and fat are quite reasonable, especially when you look at the fat and sugar content of commercial granolas.  The nuts themselves have a high fat content, but it’s a healthy fat, and one of the reasons why  serving of granola should be small.

What you need:

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

What you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 300F.

2. Combine the oats, almonds, pecans, walnuts and salt in a large bowl.  Add the oil,maple syrup and vanilla to this and combine thoroughly.

3. Spread this mixture evenly on a baking tray.  Bake for 2o minutes.

4. Add the pumpkin seeds and coconut to the baking tray and combine with the other ingredients.  I like to add these later in the cooking process so they don’t get too toasty.

5. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.  You will want to watch it towards the end of the cooking time, just in case your oven in running a little hot.  The granola should be a golden colour, but not browned.  I think it tastes burnt when it gets browned.

6. Allow to cool completely on the baking tray, then store in an airtight container.

Cool Cucumber Salad

This salad is great for a hot summer day when you want something light and refreshing.  And a great way to use those cucumbers you’ve got coming up in the garden!

What you need:

cucumber

2 red or green hot chillies, thinly sliced, seeds removed if you don’t like too much spice

sweet red pepper, very thinly sliced

freshly toasted peanuts, chopped

1 small package rice noodles, vermicelli style

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 tablespoon boiling water

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

What you do:

1.  Put a pot of water on to boil.  Use this to cook the rice noodles: after the water has boiled, take it off the heat and add the noodles.  After a few minutes, when the noodles are al dente, strain them and pour cold water over to cool them.  Set aside to continue cool.

2.  Add one tablespoon of boiling water to the coconut, then stir in the brown sugar.  Leave this to cool, then add the lime, vinegar and soy sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

3.  Toast peanuts in a frying pan, being careful not to burn them.  When they are cool, chop them up.

4.  Chop peppers finely, and use a vegetable peeler to make long slices of cucumber.

5.  To assemble the salad, first put down some noodles; make sure they have been well-drained.  Place some slices of cucumber on top, then pour on the dressing.  Add some sweet peppers, peanuts and hot peppers.

6.  Enjoy your refreshing salad!

Optional toppings include grated carrots, cilantro, tofu or some shaved beef, if you feel the need for some meat.

Sticky Apple-Pecan Cake

What do the people think of this cake?  Well, there wasn’t much left over for them to take home, so I’d say it was a hit.  It’s moist and a little sticky from the sauce… so good!  Yes, there’s lots of sugar and fat in this one – it’s a cake, and a Paula Deen recipe at that!  If you’re looking for a healthy recipe, check out one of the salads or something. You might not love coconut, but you can’t really tell it’s in there – it really adds something to the cake, though.

If you’re a little scared of making cakes, this one is for you.  There’s not much you can do wrong if you add all the ingredients.  You pretty much pile everything into a bowl and mix, then pour the sauce over top when it’s out of the oven.

What you need for the cake:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups peeled and chopped apples (I used Macintosh)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cups chopped pecans

What you need for the sauce:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What you do:

1.  Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2.  Add the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla and mix it up with a wooden spoon until it is combined.

3.  Add the coconut, apples and nuts and mix it.  The batter will be quite thick.

4.  Pour the batter into parchment-lined pans(wax paper will do).  I used two 4 by 12 pans, but that’s an odd size… so you can use two bread pans or, if you have it, one 10-inch tube pan.  What ever you do, bake it for about an hour at 325 F, then test it with a toothpick.  If it needs a little more time, add 10 minutes, check again, adding more time if needed.

5.  Before it has finished baking, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then adding the sugar, buttermilk and baking soda.  Bring it to a rolling boil, stirring constantly for one minute.

6.  After the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in it with the back end of a wooden spoon.  Pour the sauce over the top.

7.  Let the cake cool for about an hour before taking it out of the pan to cool the rest of the way – or just get started on it while it’s still warm!

You could reheat it and serve with a little vanilla ice cream, if you’re looking for true decadence.

Coconut Mango Cookies

These cookies have just the right  crispy-chewyness to please a whole lot of people at one time.  This recipe makes quite a few cookies, so you can either bake them all up at once, or put some of the rolls of dough in the freezer.

You can substitute apricots for the dried mango, and hazelnuts, brazil or macadamia for the almonds.

You do need to plan ahead a bit, as the dough needs to be refrigerated for about an hour before baking.  The toasted almonds also need to cool before you can add them to the batter.

What you need:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup dried mango or apricot

1/2 cup toasted almonds

What you do:

1.  Toast almonds and allow to cool, then chop them.

2.  Beat room temperature butter with sugar until fluffy and light in colour.  Beat in egg.

3.  Add flour, baking powder and salt, then mix with a wooden spoon, being careful not to over-mix.

4.  Stir in nuts, chopped fruit and coconut.

5.  Form into 4 logs, about 3 cm in diameter, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge for about an hour.  If you are going to freeze for later use, add another layer of protection by putting them into a plastic bag.

6.  Let the logs sit for about 15 minutes, then carefully cut into slices just less than 1 cm thick, with a serrated knife.  It can be a little tricky to make this work neatly, but it helps if you use a sawing motion.  When I ruined a few, I just hand-formed them and made them into “tasters.”  Everybody likes to taste your baking!

7.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F or until lightly browned, a little longer if you prefer crispier cookies.  For added decadence, you can sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar onto the top of each cookie before baking.  I used vanilla sugar and the result was amazing!

8.  Store in an airtight container.  They keep well for about a week.