With the current events, now seems a perfect time to continue posting easy, from scratch, staple recipes. This big batch of granola can keep several weeks on your pantry shelf or a few months in your freezer if stored in an airtight container.
There are few smells as cozy as the smell of oats and honey. The beauty of this basic recipe is the ability to customize it to your liking. If you do choose to add nuts to the granola, they would be added at the same time as the seeds mixed in this recipe. Dried fruit options should be added during the last 5 minutes of baking. It should be cooked only briefly at the end to prevent completely drying out – just dry enough to not cause the granola to moisten when stored.
Hope that you and yours are staying safe and well.
Big Batch of Granola
Yields 7 cups or 28 servings
5 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut oil, melted
⅓ cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup of raw seeds (I usually use ½ cup of sunflower seeds, ⅜ cup pumpkin seeds, ⅛ cup flax seed)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray jelly roll style baking sheet or cake pan (something with sides) with cooking oil.
Mix together oats and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix together coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl.
Stir the liquid mixture into the oat mixture until fully incorporated. Then mix the raw seeds into the oat mixture.
Bake the granola for 30 minutes, until golden brown; stir about every 10 minutes to keep the granola from turning into one giant clump. If you would prefer granola clusters, be less thorough in the stirring.
Allow the granola to cool and place in a storage container of your choosing. You may store the granola in an airtight container for a month or so. Ours doesn’t last much longer than a week. If you do need to keep your granola for longer periods, place in a freezer friendly, tightly sealed container for up to 3-6 months.
A New England city of cobblestone streets – rich in worn brick buildings and unsettled souls. I went to sleep hoping against hopes that I would not encounter the rumored local haunt. About 3 in the morning I was awakened with an eerie feeling I was not alone. There about a foot away from me, a bearded figure in an older period suit began to walk towards the head of the bed, flashing a light back and forth across his path as he approached. The outlets on the nightstand crackled and fizzled. A panicked chill racked my body as every hair stood on end. I thought, “great Scot, this ghost is no tale; he is here.” I closed my eyes in a mix of resolve and disbelief, hoping to ease the fright.
That’s when the bolted hotel room door opened. My eyes flew back open. In walked the front desk clerk on night audit, with a folder in hand. He waved it at me saying, “this one has your name on it and it is due.” I knew the insinuation was more than just the bill. I fled the room, down 9 flights of stairs and tore through the cobblestone streets. The roads were as scrambled as my mind, like tangled shoelace. I couldn’t shake his pursuit.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes in the dark of the hotel room and heard the slip of the receipt being slid under the door of my locked room. The clock read 3:20 AM.
Moving on from story time hour, I know brussel sprout season is wrapping up here, but you must know about this recipe! I’ve fallen in love with roasted brussel sprouts. I hope this recipe does the same for you.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potato
1 pound sweet potato (roughly 1 large potato), diced into 1 inch pieces
1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and large ones halved
2 cloves garlic, minced; or ½ tsp granulated garlic
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp garlic salt
¾ tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the prepared sweet potato, brussel sprouts and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Cover the veggies in olive oil and add in the rest of the seasonings. Toss till the veggies are coated in oil and seasonings.
Spread the veggies evenly in the baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes until veggies brown a bit and the potatoes are fork tender. Serve them warm.
I recall the first time making bruschetta. There were five of us bridesmaids at my friend’s apartment getting getting ready for her wedding.
A clove of garlic in hand, I rubbed the still warm faces of the toast. It was fascinating watching the garlic clove disappear and the bread surfaces taking on an aromatic, glittery sheen.
Since then, I think fondly of the satisfying sensory experience of making bruschetta. Little rivals the perfect combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella. However, my other half does not care for tomatoes and it hardly seems worth the effort to make a batch of bruschetta for one.
That is where this recipe comes to the rescue – no tomatoes. Yet, this combination maintains the tastiness of fresh toasty bread, olive oil, aromatic garlic, fresh herbs and the tenderness of…sweet peppers.
Cutest lil helper “painting” the breads with olive oil
Toasty bread getting all dressed up for the party
Serves 2-3 slices
Sweet Pepper Bruschetta
Yields about 10 slices
10 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
1 loaf French baguette, sliced into ¼-½ inch slices
⅓ cup olive oil
2-3 Tb, heaping, finely chopped parsley
4 large sweet peppers (mine were 4-5 inches, or 10 small/medium sweet peppers), finely chopped
Extra oil for roasting
¼ tsp salt
2 Tb finely chopped basil
1 Tb lemon juice
¼ tsp black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix the ⅓ cup of olive oil and chopped parsley.
Place sliced bread in a baking sheet and brush each side generously with oil/parsley mix. Set aside.
Place finely chopped sweet pepper on another baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat the peppers. Place the baking sheet of bread and peppers in the oven until bread is toasted and peppers are softened - approximately 10-15 minutes. Turn the toast over half way through the toasting process.
While items are in the oven, mix the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl (lemon juice, basil and black pepper). Once the sweet peppers come out of the oven softened, add them to the bowl of basil mix.
Carefully heap the pepper basil mix on each slice of toasted bread and serve immediately.
This is one of those recipes I’ve had for a while (like since early fall), but just never got to posting. No better day for posting a delayed pie posting than Pi Day (3.14).
The fruit called for in this recipe is a fall combination. However, this recipe has been tested and approved with other great combinations that span more seasonings. The best are apple cranberry and apple blackberry. Really, you can use your imagine to get your seasonally available mix.
All of this fresh snow is making me crave things flavored with mulling spices. This is a perfect solution – some late season blackberries I flash froze from last fall, Gala apples, and ginger molasses cookie topping.
I enjoy making all the components of the recipe from scratch (apple cider, pie crust, and cookies). Included in the recipe below are links to my favorite recipes for each of these items. The cider is particularly enjoyable to make from scratch as it simmer for 3 hours and makes the home smell amazing. These are all things that can be bought for a quick baking solution.
Happy Pi Day. I hope you have a chance to make pie real soon. Please tag us on social media to share photos of your pie results. We would love to see what you are making.
Persimmon Cranberry Pie
Apple cider infused persimmon and cranberries on an all butter crust - soft beneath and crispy, flaked on the edges. Top off the coziness with a ginger molasses cookie crumb.
1 9 inch unbaked pie crust (I used this recipe from Completely Delicious http://www.completelydelicious.com/how-to-make-perfectly-flaky-pie-crust/
4 cups peeled and chopped persimmons, about ¼ inch sections
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 ¾ cups apple cider juice, divided (I made homemade from http://www.amomstake.com/cranberry-apple-cider-drink-recipe/)
⅓ cup sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ cup cornstarch
1 ½ cups ginger molasses cookies crushed (I used this recipe from Eating Well http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249788/yummy-molasses-crackles you could also use store bought or your own favorite recipe)
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the persimmons, cranberries, 1 ½ cups apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until the cranberries pop/split.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into the remaining ¼ cup of cider. Add the starch/cider combination to the pan of ingredients. Stir everything until it has thickened.
Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool while preparing the topping and crust.
While filling is cooling, place ingredients for the crumb topping in a medium bowl. Mix until it forms a crumb like texture. Set aside.
Roll out the pie crust and place in pie dish. Once fruit mixture has mostly cooled, pour it into the pan lined with the pie crust. Trim and prepare the edges of the crust as desired. I just crimped the edges on mine.
Distribute the crumb topping evenly over the filling.
Bake the pie for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Place a baking sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any pie drippings. When done, the filling should be bubbly. Cover the edges of the crust with foil if they start to brown before the pie filling is baked through.
Dairy free option - use your preferred vegan pie crust or substitute vegan butter sticks for the butter in the pie crust and topping
I was in Missouri for the first time. It was by accident. We were returning from Iowa, driving back into Chicago. There must have been a patch of highway without network connection and the phone maps dropped. My husband and I were in deep conversation and did not notice until he saw the “Welcome to Missouri” road sign. We easily added two hours to that trip.
As we drove back the correct direction, I noticed a scenic area with a river running and rustic homes. I recall a sign for Lost River. I am hoping to look up more information about the place because it was beautiful.
This got me thinking more about perspective. Sometime our destination becomes so important to us that we ignore the meaning in the journey. Tomorrow night is my final presentation for my master’s degree. It is a fantastic destination, reaching this milestone. I would miss out on a lot if I did not recognize the journey that has gotten me here – especially the time spent staying at home with the boys while completing my studies. Time with the little boys is wild, lively, and demands a constant state of remaining in the present. Respecting all of this experience, I cannot find a way to separate the journey of studying, being present with my boys, and completing this degree. My time with the boys has been my lost river – my expected journey.
Back to the reason we were on the road to begin with, we had just visited my in-laws. My other mom is the one who gifted me the adorable bee themed honey pot from the pictures in this post.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is for fry bread. This is a treat that my great-grandmother would make for us, and later my mother. It is a quick bread recipe that finds it’s origins and broad use in Native American cooking. The dough is fried and then covered in sweet or savory toppings. As a child, I usually enjoyed these covered in melted butter and granulated sugar. Recently, I have made them for my family to cover with chili, tacos, or jam and honey. In these pictures, the bread is covered with vegan orange curd and drizzled with honey.
Below is the recipe. The base recipe for these is vegan and can be topped with a variety of vegan sweet and savory options, as well.
Galets – Fry Bread
Yields 8 pieces of bread
Fry bread with a slight crisp to the outside and tender inside. This quick bread is fantastically versatile. Top with your choice of sweet or savory - taco, chili, honey, jam, curd...it's up to you.
Fill a skillet with enough oil for the bread to not touch the bottom of the pan. Turn oven to medium high heat.
Mix dry ingredient. Make a well in the center and slowly add the water. You many not use all the water, just add enough to get a shaggy dough. Mix until well combined with a wooden spoon. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes.
Separate the dough into 8 pieces onto a floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the dough and form to a thick circle. Don’t overwork the dough.
Place the dough, one at a time into the pan setting them away from yourself so as to splash the oil. Cook 2 minutes on each side. If you have space, you could cook 2-3 at a time.
Place cooked bread onto a rack to allow excess oil to drain.
One of the fantastic things about living in the city is accessibility to rich cultural experiences. Yesterday, we had a family trip to the Chicago Cultural Center to attend the Chinese New Year Celebration. It was a beautiful display of dance, martial arts, and music.
No surprise, the boys were very taken with the dragon dance and martial arts dancing. There was much reenactment throughout the rest of the afternoon. I can now claim the skill of reading textbooks while chanting a drum rhythm.
Today, as we enjoyed a snack of vegan blood orange curd spread on fresh baked biscuits, we recounted our favorite parts of the performances yesterday. The tales were movement filled. The snack was well accented with the subtly sweet orange curd. This curd spread was silkier in mouth feel than the creaminess of an egg and butter version. It a delightful, lighter alternative to traditional curd.
This last round I used blood oranges and the color of the cream is so lovely. The process is rather simple. Slice and juice your citrus. Reduce the juice to heighten the flavor. Zest in an orange peel to get a hint of sweet, floral aspect. Then sweeten with your choice of sweetener. In a measuring cup, dissolve cornstarch in cold milk before adding to the juice. Warning: be vigilant while stirring because the cream will thicken very quickly. Once it does, it ready to remove from heat, cool, and store or use immediately.
Curd is a multi functional spread that is delicious on biscuits, cookies, crepes, cakes, and more. Even by the spoonful, no judging here.
Hope you have a chance to try this recipe soon. I’d love to see the results. Be sure to tag MamaSparrow on social media.
Vegan Orange Curd
Yields 1 generous cup
Silky vegan orange curd. Flecked with the subtle floral sweetness of orange zest. Curd is a multi functional spread that is delicious on biscuits, cookies, crepes, cakes, and more.
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 oranges; blood oranges produce a lovely color)
¾ cup non-dairy milk
3 Tbs. cornstarch
½ cup sugar or ¼ cup honey for non-vegans
Zest of one orange
In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, reduce the orange juice to about half the volume.
While the juice is reducing, measure the milk in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk the cornstarch in the milk till it dissolves. Set aside.
Once the juice is reduced, add in the sugar and zest. Stir just until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk mixture to the saucepan and use a spatula to mix. Keep on medium-low heat and mix constantly until the texture thickens quickly. If the mixture starts to bubble before thickening, reduce the heat slightly. Once it does thicken, it will be very sudden so stay with you pan. Once the mixture is thickened remove from heat and allow to cool enough to store in a jar or use immediately.
Curd will store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer for 3 months. Some settling will occur, give the curd a stir to re-incorporate separating liquids.
Happy Winter Solstice! We are feeling the excitement in our home as Christmas is just a few days away. My preschooler checks the tree every morning to see if Santa has visited. The boys have been busy creating holiday gifts and being kitchen helpers. The youngest loves to taste everything from a mixing bowl; even the french bread dough is tasted with enthusiasm. He then declares, “Mmm, good Mama!” If only that same zest was for the finished meals on the table.
I enjoy making the cookies I had as a child every Christmas. Breaking from tradition, it was my goal to bring you all something that was vegan and more allergen friendly for your holiday cookie plates. This recipe is just that. Peanut butter blossom cookies were the inspiration for this recipe. Tender, crumbly shortbread cookies are the perfect vehicle for combining peanut butter and chocolate. Flecks of sea salt flakes add a little bit of sparkle and bring out the chocolate taste. They are easily nut free if you use sunflower seed butter and refined sugar free.
Here’s to hoping you have a chance to add this to your baking plans this season. Snap a picture of your recipe result and tag Mama Sparrow on social media so we can see it too.
Vegan Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies
Yields 12-15 Cookies
Tender, crumbly shortbread cookies filled with peanut butter and drizzled with chocolate. These tasty treats are vegan, easily nut free and refined sugar free.
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
1 ¼ cup flour
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 ½ tsp. applesauce, unsweetened
3 Tbs. peanut butter
2 Tbs. maple syrup
Pinch of salt
2 Tbs. non dairy milk
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 oz. chocolate chips or chocolate
Coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix all cookie ingredients together in a medium bowl until dough forms. Form form into ¾ in. - 1 inch balls - approximately 12-15 cookies. (Chill the dough briefly in plastic wrap if it is too sticky to work with.) Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Flatten the dough balls into slight discs and press thumb in the center to create a little crater. Bake cookies for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and repress the centers with a spoon. Then allow the cookies to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the while. The mix should get a nice smooth caramel consistency that has a bit of drizzle to it. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Place the melted chocolate into a piping bag or simply use a ziploc with the corner snipped off. Set aside
To assemble to cookies, spoon about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter confection into each cookie’s thumbprint. Drizzle chocolate over the filled cookies and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Nut free option: Use Sun Butter. Really you could use any preferred nut or seed butter. I did try pumpkin seed butter and it was not quite as tasty.
We had our first snowfall of the season earlier this week. A brief glance out the back window of the apartment and I caught an old longing. It was that penchant for winter night photographs. The soft light from surrounding houses and general urban aura accentuate the starring features of winter photography – contrast and texture. It is moments like these, passions remembered and fascinations reacquainted, that illuminate with reasoned existence.
This recipe harkens memories of my mother’s famous meat spaghetti. She never made less than a crowd’s worth when cooking her spaghetti. The sauce simmered and noodles boiled. Meanwhile, loaves of crusty, french bread were buttered, seasoned and broiled open-face, till toasty and fragrant. The real secret to this vegetarian version is the spices and the texture achieved from the pan cooked cauliflower.
This pasta dish is about as cozy as they come and a sure crowd pleaser. We fully recommend an accompaniment of crusty bread. We hope you try this recipe soon. Be sure to take a picture and tag Mama Sparrow on social media so we can see the results.
Yields 3-4 servings
A traditionally meaty sauce converted to a vegetarian delight. Grab a loaf of crusty bread. This is your next cozy pasta meal.
2 Tb olive oil; separated
1 small head of cauliflower
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp fennel seed, ground
1 tsp sage, ground
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp marjarom, ground
Pinch of white pepper
12 oz of tomato pasta sauce
10-12 oz spaghetti noodles
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together spices and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the cauliflower and toss till the cauliflower is covered in the oil and spice mix. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the seasoned cauliflower and reduce heat to low. Cook the cauliflower until tender on the outside with a slight crunch on the inside. May take 10-15 minutes. Splash in water to speed up the cooking and keep the cauliflower from drying.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, add in the pasta sauce until warmed through. Serve over spaghetti noodles.
A few weeks ago, I began the recipe testing and planning for Thanksgiving. My preschooler came home from class singing a song about pumpkins on a gate. A witch flies by and says. “I’m going to make you a pumpkin pie.” My son requested a pumpkin pie making session inspired by this song.
Agreeably, the pie making was a blast, but he did not enjoy the taste of it. I’ve been adjusting the recipe and he’s been liking it better, but asked for this pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving dessert.
This cake is a great replacement for anyone not into pie or who had been “pied out.” Use of your leftover pumpkin gourds or puree for a tasty bite of sweet and spice. Enjoy this cake with your choice of cold weather beverage. The ingredients are vegan and icing is naturally colored from carrot juice.
If you want the complete pumpkin cake look, bake a single cupcake with part of the batter. Use spinach cooked and pureed to achieve a green colored icing. Spinach is the mildest tasting leafy green for creating a natural food hue that does not interfere with taste.
Hope your Thanksgiving and harvest celebrations have been filled with joy. Please be sure to share your results from this recipe and tag Mama Sparrow so we can see it.
Vegan Pumpkin Cake
Tender, moist vegan pumpkin cake. Pleasantly spiced with a little extra kick of black pepper. This makes it really stand out from the usual pumpkin spiced products of the season.
10 minPrep Time
50 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 14oz. can pumpkin puree (plain puree, not pie filling)
½ cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground all-spice
⅛ tsp ground clove
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ Tb. carrot juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a standard size bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree, non-dairy, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Fully combine.
Sift the dry flour mix into the wet ingredients in 2 stages. Stir in between each addition. Careful not to overmix.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
Allow cake to cool slightly, remove from pan and finish cooling before icing. Mix ingredients together for icing. Adjust the wet to dry ratio based on preference. Drizzle over cake and allow to set a few minutes before cutting and serving.
Do you know why we perceived October to have a distinct smell? There are three reasons for this phenomenon. According to Pamela Dalton, an olfactory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. the first reason is that odor molecules move more slowly in colder temperatures. This is why the smell of dumpsters and garbage trucks are more offensive in the summer. The second reason is physiological. Dalton explains that our olfactory receptors “bury” themselves further in our nose when it’s cooler. While the olfactory receptors bury themselves in cold air, the trigeminal nerve is stimulated, says Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and psychiatrist in Chicago. A smell is perceived as more intense when it triggers both these nerves. Further, psychological expectations affect the smells we perceive. As we anticipate the smells of spices, wood burning, and dying leaves, those are the things we experience.
A week ago, we took a family trip to a local nature center. Living in a city, it is nice to have a nature area with trails and wildlife near by. The boys enjoyed running around the trails to explore. Changing autumn leaves made for a lovely scene. We got the chance to have a close encounter with the deer in the park again. This time I was prepared with at least a phone camera. She watched us from a few yards off the pathway.
The autumn has a distinct smell that I had forgotten until we were out on the trails. In the city, leaves are quickly cleaned up and discarded. Out in the woods, they are free to travel through their life cycle. The smell is crisp, rich and earthy. I now appreciate this sensory experience.
Spices are more prevalent in traditional colder weather baking. Today’s recipe combines late season plums with spices, maple and toasted oatmeal crumble topping. This recipe has a clean option as coconut oil can be subbed for the butter and there is no refined sugar or refined flour. The warmth of maple, spices and subtle floral sweetness of plums is a welcome treat on a crisp fall day.
This crisp would be perfect for a quick harvest party dessert or a weeknight treat. I’d love to see your pictures when you make this recipe. Share them on social media with MamaSparrow tagged. Happy baking!
Serves 3/4 cup
Maple Plum Crisp – Clean
Yields 8-10 servings
The warmth of maple, spices and subtle floral sweetness of plums is a welcome treat on a crisp fall day.
10 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
4 ripe, but still crisp medium/large plums (approx. 4 cups)
1 1/2 Tb maple syrup
1 Tb wheat flour
1/8 tsp ginger, ground
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats, old fashioned
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (or coconut oil)*
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel, core and thinly slice the plums.
Place the prepared plums in a 2 quart baking dish or 9x9 inch metal pan.
Add the 1 1/2 Tb of maple syrup and 1 Tb of flour, stir till fruit is evenly coated. Sprinkle the fruit with the ginger.
In a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, rolled oats and salt. Cut the cold butter into the oat mix. Stir in the 1/4 cup maple syrup.
With hands, crumble the oat mix evenly over the pan of fruit.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes. May serve warm or cold.
If your crisp survives past dessert, it makes a great breakfast the next day.
*Clean or Vegan option: substitute coconut oil for the butter.