3 February, 2016  |   Comment

Helen Jane’s Granola Recipe

I feel like this should be said in the tone of the Law & Order beginning. (Indulge me.)

Every year, we make granola for our friends and family.
This is our recipe

Granola Jars, ready for filling.

This granola is perfect on thick yogurt. I’m currently loving it with blueberry Noosa, but you could love it with a Gogurt. I won’t judge, it’s your life, your yogurt.

Ingredients
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried peaches, chopped small

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350° F, and then cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and set aside.

Put the almonds in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer or mallet until they are smaller than pea sized, but not yet dust.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, almonds, salt and coconut flakes.

In a saucepan over low heat, mix canola oil, honey and vanilla until it is all well-blended and warm.

Combine the oatmeal and honey mixtures in the large bowl until it’s coated and spread onto the covered baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Then stir in your cup of dried peaches.
Stir a little more.
Let cool completely on the pan.

Then squinch up the granola from the big nuggets before adding to jars.

Happy granolaing!

30 October, 2015  |   Comment

Helen Jane’s Apple Crisp Sipper

My first apartment.
Winter in Wisconsin.
Homesick.

(This is me back in the mid-nineties, all film camera and apple crisp.)
Helen Jane, mid nineties

During a particularly brutal winter, in those early grown-up years, I learned to bake apple crisp.

The ingredients?
Inexpensive staples.
The outcome?
Warm and loving.

Now that I’m in sunny Napa Valley, November temperatures can reach the nineties. So when I’m craving something cold and cozy, spiced and sweet, fresh yet comforting, I make this Apple Crisp Sipper.

Turns out, this autumn-inspired cocktail is the perfect pre-Thanksgiving cocktail. Pair with gently spiced nuts to keep guests cheerful when the turkey roasts.

Helen Jane's Apple Crisp Sipper recipe

Ingredients
2 ounces apple juice
2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce amaretto
2 ounces rum
2 ounces hard apple cider

Directions
Add the first four ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into an pre-iced old-fashioned glass. Fill the rest of the glass with hard apple cider. Garnish with a cinnamon-sugar crusted apple slices if you’re feeling ambitious or a cinnamon stick if you’re not.

Helen Jane's Apple Crisp Sipper recipe

Three cheers for cozy, icy drinks!

27 October, 2015  |   Comment

Halloween week snack recipe: Puffy Apple Pancake

puffy-apple-pancake-table_lo

After we eat this snack, our fingers are sticky. Sometimes we use a knife and fork, but that’s just when Pops is watching. This is our late night, Halloween week, under the covers snack.

We sip our hot tea or hot apple cider or bourbon and we watch Charlie Brown Halloweenand call each other “Blockhead”

“Hey! We don’t talk to each other like that.”
“Blockhead,” someone whispers under the blanket and we giggle some more.

We lick our fingers and (don’t tell Pops) wipe them on the blanket.
Then we cuddle under that blanket some more.

 

This snack that we make, it’s delicious and a little decadent and you probably have all the ingredients in your house right now. I found it in the The New Best Recipe cookbook that is really the only one I need these days.

To serve, cut it into slender old-lady slices or fat, sticky kid-fingered slices. I’m not going to judge.

puffy-apple-pancake-no-apple-lo

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 apples, peeled and sliced thin
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Maple syrup for drizzling

Directions
Preheat oven to 500°.
Take your blender out and put it on the counter.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in an oven-proof, non-stick skillet that’s about 10 inches wide.

Add the apples to the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples like you’re the gosh darned Halloween snack fairy you are. Cook and stir for 8 minutes, or until apples are slightly browned.

Since you’re a multi-tasker, you’re ALSO going to make the batter while the apples cook.

While the apples are sizzling, put eggs, half and half, vanilla, salt and sugar in your blender. Give it a whirl, for about 15 seconds or until it’s all mixed. Add the flour and blitz for another 30 seconds or so. Then just stop.

In between blender blitzing, check in on and stir your apples. Make sure they’re not burning. Take out a big cutting board so you don’t have to do it when you’re holding a hot skillet.

When the apples are done a’sizzling, pour the batter around the periphery of the pan, finishing the batter in the middle of the pan.

Turn the oven down to 425°.

Put the pan in the preheated oven for about 15-18 minutes, or until the batter puffs up around the apples all golden and warm.

puffy-apple-pancake-oven_lo

With mitts and welding gloves, remove pan carefully from oven. Then, with a heatproof spatula, loosen the pancake from the pan. Flip the pancake onto a large cutting board.

puffy-apple-pancake_lo

We slice it in pizza triangles, and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
(But you could get crazy with little squares, or rectangles even.)
Pour maple syrup on it if you’re feeling extra-decadent.

Sleepytime tea makes a good pairing. Or hot apple cider. Or hot apple cider and bourbon. It’s Halloween week, after all.

puffy-apple-pancake-dottie

12 August, 2015  |   1 Comment

Repost: For dinner tonight, make this Eighties Stuffed Chicken Breast recipe

I posted this recipe a few years ago, but it’s so good, I’m dusting it off again. Also, because we’re having it tonight for dinner and I’d just like to have it easy to access.Sun dried tomato and feta stuffed chicken breasts

One of the perks of being a dissatisfied child of the 1980’s was the development of a rich fantasy life.

My fantasy life included dreaming of my life as a Baby Boom Keaton, a thirtysomething striver.

The oldest 10 year old in the universe, I dreamed of a career in advertising, of arguments with my handsome bearded husband and dinner parties where everyone told the truth.
(P.S. Go me!)

Thirtysomething cast photo. I never saw the show but I was obsessed with the lifestyle.

Some of the most exciting parts of all that dreaming included the introduction of sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese as mainstream ingredients. Add them to bagels! Add them to your mixed green salads! They’re exotic! They’re for yuppies!

Eager to jump on culinary trends, this was one of the first dishes I made on my own.

80’s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stuffing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 cups bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped small
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Directions
Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform 1/2 inch thickness. Salt and pepper them on the inside with 1/2 the pepper and 1/2 the salt (1/2 tsp, 1/2 tsp). Fold in half and put on a cookie sheet, set in the fridge while you make the stuffing.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium high heat until they start to bubble, add the chopped onion and stir through – keep stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.

Add bread crumbs, stir through.
Add the garlic, stir through.
Add the sun dried tomatoes, stir through.
Add the salt, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir those through too.

When the bread crumbs are a nice toasty brown color (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and let mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then stir through the shredded Parmesan cheese and the crumbled Feta cheese.

Take the chicken breasts out of the fridge. Unfold each breast, put about 3/4 cup of the stuffing mixture into the middle, and then fold the rest of the breast over the top of the stuffing. Put back in the fridge.

Wash out the pan you made the stuffing in (any extra stuffing is yours, by the way)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Over medium-high heat, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in the large, clean sauté pan.

Remove as many chicken breasts from the baking sheet that fit comfortably in the saute pan and put them in the sauté pan.

Closeup view of 80's Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Brown the stuffed chicken on each side, being careful not to spill too much stuffing out of the folded breast. It’s a little bit of a messy process, but it’s worth it.

Clean off the baking sheet and cover it with foil.

When the chicken breasts are browned, put them on the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.

After I put the chicken breasts in the oven, I heat up water to cook the angel hair pasta I serve alongside. (And now I have The Angel Song in my head. Thanks Great White.)

We served 80s Stuffed Chicken Breasts with this Girard Sauvignon Blanc. But I bet a light red would have also done the trick.
2012 Girard Sauvignon Blanc

My handsome bearded husband put on the Diana Krall Pandora Station, because there’s something about lady jazz that screams sophisticated eighties dinner party.

Truly, a testimony to knowing what you want out of life.

Pinot, no, you can’t have any.
Pinot wants to get some food. Nope. Nuh uh.

Happy 80’s Stuffed Chicken Day!
80's Stuffed Chicken Recipe

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