Monday, April 23, 2012

Carrot Cake Granola

I have a bit of an...oh, what's the word...


With carrot cake.

In a major way.

For the last month - at least - every time the words "carrot cake" appeared in a menu or a recipe title, my only reaction was "YESPLEASENOW."

I've been eating actual carrot cake and cupcakes every time I can get my hands on them.  In between, I've made carrot cake oatmeal, carrot cake pancakes, and I've bookmarked recipes for carrot cake muffins and waffles.

The chocoholic has fallen and my inner rabbit has taken over!  It's madness, I tell you! 

But hey - at least the madness is delicious!

This granola is easily one of the best things I've made.  And eaten.  On multiple occasions.  With a spoon.
Sometimes just with my hands, though.  I'm not too picky.

It involves oats, brown sugar, spices, shredded carrots, raisins, and pecans all baked together in a way that makes your kitchen smell amazing and your stomach lose all impressions that it could be anything but hungry.  And another bonus: it makes a ton, and I mean a TON, of granola!  I still have two containers full of it, and that's after consuming most of a third!

Whether you've fallen prey to the same frosting-loving-bunny urges that I have, or you just happen to enjoy granola and happen to like making it too, please please please make this stuff!  Your wallet and your stomach will thank you.

Now read the recipe and get crackin'.
I've got granola to eat.

Carrot Cake Granola
Source: Chocolate and Carrots

2-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (I used all old-fashioned and it worked just fine)
2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce (I used homemade)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 300˚F, with racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, foil, or silpat mats and set them aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, puffed rice, cinnamon, and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, honey, molasses, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and carrots (yes, almost all the rest of the ingredients).  Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture, folding thoroughly to combine until all the oats and cereal are moistened.
Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheets, spreading it out evenly across the surface and pushing it down with the back of a spatula to flatten it.  Place the baking sheets in the oven for 20 minutes - one on the top rack and one on the bottom.  While the granola is baking, chop the pecans.
Remove the granola from the oven and, using a large spatula, flip it over and break up any large clumps.  Add the nuts to the baking sheets and return them to the oven for another 20 minutes, rotating the sheets between the racks.
Stir the granola, breaking up any clumps that are too large for a spoon, and return it to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, or until dry and golden brown.  Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheets.  Stir in the raisins.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool, dry cabinet.  Serve with yogurt, milk, soy milk, ice cream, or your fingers - enjoy!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Banana Bread French Toast

Remember this?

And how I told you to stick around because I'd do something fun with it?

Banana. Bread. French. Toast.

I have to confess...half the reason I made the bread was to turn it into French Toast after seeing Jessica's recipe.  I was a woman obsessed!  The whole wheat blueberry banana goodness was left virtually untouched (except for a teeny tiny bit that I tasted by itself) for two days after I baked it because I was saving it for its higher purpose.


The next time you're having a craving for an over-the-top breakfast, make this.  Plus, if you use the blueberry oat banana bread, you'll be packing yourself with tons of fiber and fruit at the same time!  I don't want to think about the overall calorie count in that plate...especially since I ate it all...but hey, that's what exercise is for!  Just keep thinking about all that whole-wheat-fruit-and-protein goodness while you're at Zumba ;)

Banana Bread French Toast
Source: barely adapted from How Sweet It Is

6 slices banana bread (such as this)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream (I used soy milk)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
butter for the pan

Slice the banana bread to your desired thickness (we went super thick, but you can be as conservative as you want).  In a wide bowl, combine the eggs, milk or cream, and cinnamon, whisking until smooth.  Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat and brush with butter.  Soak each piece of bread for about 30 seconds per side, then transfer to the heated griddle.  Cook for about two or three minutes on each side until golden and a bit crispy on the outside, then transfer to an oven-safe plate in the oven, warmed to 150-200˚ to keep the French toast warm as you finish the rest of the slices.  Serve with toppings of choice - I recommend sliced bananas and pure maple syrup, but seriously?  Go crazy.  And most importantly, ENJOY!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Super Moist Turkey Burgers

It was all a tease.

That one glorious week of upper-70s sunshine, cool breezes, and vitamin D absorption?

It's officially spring in Buffalo, which means weather in the 30s and 40s with grey skies and drizzly business.  Not the most conducive to happiness or productivity.  Or desire to exercise...woof.

When the happy weather was here, so was my summer appetite.  Which means I was totally craving burgers.  I managed to find some frozen lean ground turkey and I got super excited, because that meant turkey burgers!

Now, you might find this odd, but 95% of the time I'm hit with a burger craving, it's for a turkey or veggie patty.  I know, I know...those aren't "real" burgers.  But I save my "real" burger indulgences for one meal after a hardcore performance season, and when those come around nothing but a huge bacon cheeseburger will cut it! 
This time, though, I was feeling the turkey burger.

Between the ground turkey, my favorite tried and true burger add-ins in the pantry, and some awesome produce deals, I managed to come up with a turkey burger that exceeded my expectations of deliciousness: no bun, no toppings, and I still couldn't stop digging my fork into that patty!  Served with a side salad or mixed veggies and roasted sweet potatoes, it satisfied all my most ardent summer food cravings in a low-fat, nutrient-packed and delicious meal.

Not a tease in sight!  If only the weather would be so cooperative...

Super Moist Turkey Burgers

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tbsp olive or canola oil, divided (more if needed)
1 medium zucchini, grated
8 oz cremini mushrooms, diced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2-1 tsp salt (to your taste)
2 tbsp-1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Mrs. Dash Original Seasoning Blend

Heat 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the diced mushrooms and cook until the excess moisture begins to evaporate and the mushrooms are browned, breaking up any larger pieces as much as possible.  Add the grated zucchini to the skillet, cover, and allow to cook until all the excess liquid in the pan has evaporated - about 3-4 more minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat.
Place the ground turkey in a medium mixing bowl and break up.  Add the Worcestershire, salt, Mrs. Dash, breadcrumbs, and the vegetable mixture, and blend well using a wooden spoon or your hands.  Form into desired size patties, making an indentation in the center of each with your thumb so that the burgers will cook up flat.  My mixture made five substantial patties.
Brush a grill pan with the remaining oil or add it to a skillet over medium heat.  Add as many burgers as will comfortably fit in the pan and allow to cook, untouched, for 6 minutes.  Flip the burgers and cook for another 6 minutes, or until a crust has formed and the internal temperature has reached 165˚F.  Remove to a plate and cook any remaining burgers in the same manner.
Serve burgers on their own or with toppings of choice - as toppings go, I recommend Havarti cheese, baby spinach, fresh tomato, basil or sundried tomato pesto, and a whole wheat bun.  Enjoy!