Teacher summer in Houston: it's hot (really hot) outside, you've knocked out a couple of library books already, you avoid Target if at all possible to avoid spending money unnecessarily, and it's only 1:00. You've got hours to kill before your husband who works in "the real world" comes home, and you've already taken your daily nap. So while looking at the nifty indoor/outdoor thermometer hanging in your bathroom, you ask yourself, "Self, what is it that you are going to do with the rest of the afternoon?" "Well, Self, it's pushing 100 degrees outside, why not cook? You can heat up the oven and see how close you can get the indoor temp to the outdoor!"
But seriously, summertime is great for kitchen explorations. Here's what been going on in CC's kitchen.
My first adventure--The Kitchn's Peanut Butter and Honey Granola
I've been dying to try a granola recipe for a while, and I'm loving all things peanut butter these days.
First meet your cast of characters:
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups shelled roasted peanuts
1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup wheat germ
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
I decided for this recipe to use some nuts that I already had resting in the pantry, which turned out just fine. The almonds and honey roasted pecans were a pleasant addition. I might have improved my granola version by roasting these peanuts first.
For a real treat, be sure to use local honey. My mom gave us all a big jar for Christmas, and I've been loving it!
Now that everyone's arrived for the party, let's get started on this super easy breakfast treat. After preheating the oven (which you can wait a few minutes on for this recipe), first combine all of the dry ingredients (minus the dates).
Next (and this is my favorite part), in a small saucepan combine honey and brown sugar. I actually used the splenda version of brown sugar as again, it was sitting patiently in the pantry and I didn't have to buy more for this culinary adventure. Bring to a simmer while stirring constantly. Then take off heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla until fully combined and smooth.
Pour over mixture of dry ingredients and stir until fully coated. Mixture will be chunky.
Pour onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (clean-up for this part was a breeze!), and place into your (now) preheated 325 degree oven.
The Kitchn suggested baking for about 40 minutes, stirring twice while baking. My batch did begin darkening (and some parts burning) at about 35, so just watch it.
When finished, stir the granola in a large bowl and add dates, which brings me to our next set of pictures. Ingredients called for dried dates--Check!
Take them out and....
they look like little bugs!!
So I chopped them up. Much better!
No food porn pics of my little batch of granola in a fancy bowl accessorized by a dollop of yogurt and drizzle of honey, but it's quite tasty. I'm still on a quest to find my favorite homemade recipe. As noted on the original post, "This is definitely a granola that needs milk or yogurt to balance out the richness." I agree. I'm a dry cereal snacker, so I'll continue looking, but munch on handfuls of this one while on the search. Perhaps next time I'll even try my hand when it's cooler out.
Adventure #2--Homemade Sloppy Joes
What typically happens when I have some yearning for childhood favorites (Manwich, box macaroni and cheese (notice use of macaroni not "mac" ), hot dogs, heck, even Mcdonald's chicken nuggets) is that the end product never meets the fantasy I'd built in my brain. However, you throw the word "homemade" in front of one of these, and there's hope, which is just what Pioneer Woman successfully did.
No need to post play-by-play photos of the process; find it here. Not that we are a big Manwich family. I think we've tried it twice when said childhood memories clouded my better judgment. These tasty sandwiches, though, scored big and will be a new fam. fav. What's also great is that the recipe makes a big batch--plenty for leftovers, freezing, or even re-use in a different dish.
Again, do check out the full recipe/post here and give it a shot. I did add plenty of Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, and the tomato paste, which were suggestion options. My finished skillet of happiness:
Fresh Kaiser rolls buttered and waiting to be toasted:
And our yummy dinner sandwich (served with a side of chips of course!)
So it doesn't matter how hot it is outside. Cook it up! Eat it up! Blog it up! Let us know what culinary explorations you've been on lately.