Blueberry Muffin Granola (PLUS: How-To DIY Custom Granola)

There are very few breakfast foods I love more in this world than the blueberry muffin.

Whether it’s fresh out of the oven or one of those generic ones you get in plastic wrap at the corner store, there’s just something about a blueberry muffin that is so satisfying. Not a chocolate muffin, not a poppyseed muffin, and definitely not a CORN muffin (Pointless. WHY? Just eat some cornbread). I don’t know if it’s the buttery flavor, the sweet blueberries, or the temporary carb-induced euphoria, but whatever it is, I loooove it.

 

butter2

 

But, blueberry muffins and I have a rocky history. To this day, I blame blueberry muffins for my 30-lb. weight gain freshman year of college, because I ate one roughly every other morning for breakfast. Yikes. I guess practicing until 4 AM on the reg didn’t help either, but hey, you live and learn.

 

pour

 

After blueberry muffins and I drifted apart, my carby attentions shifted to granola. Granola is great as a crunchy topping for yogurt and smoothies, or eaten right out of the palm while running out the door. Unfortunately, granola can also be a scary thing. Lots of store-bought granolas will present themselves as a “health food” when they’re actually kind of the opposite. They might contain healthy ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, etc.), buuut that kind of gets negated when you add the artificial stuff. And so, I started making my own granola.

Baking granola is SO easy, and so simple to customize. For DIY granola, I follow this rough guide:

~4 cups dry ingredients (grains, seeds, nuts, coconut, etc. If using nuts, use about 1 cup + 3 cups grains)

salt (about 1/2 tsp)

spices (optional)

~1/3-1/2 cup natural sweetener (honey & pure maple syrup are my go-tos)

1/4 cup fat (oil, nut butter, butter, etc.)

~1 to 2 tsp. extract (vanilla, almond, etc.)

egg whites (this is important if you like crackly granola that holds together in clumps)

dried or freeze-dried fruit (optional, after baking)

Bake at 300˚F for about 45 mins in a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Flip in large shards about 30 mins in to let the other side brown for the remaining 10-15 minutes. Let the pieces cool and dry out before breaking them up with your hands or a spatula. Mix in dried fruit after baking. 

 

 

 

I have made SO many different flavors of granola with this method, and I absolutely swear by it. It always turns out delicious as heck, and this blueberry muffin version is no exception. For the first time in this recipe, I used actual cereal in my granola in addition to oats. The crackly crunch is INSANE, I tell you. INSANE! I also used butter for the first time instead of oil, on purpose. Wasn’t sure how that would hold up to science, but it actually worked perfectly. It also made the granola taste exactly like a blueberry muffin (which was the goal)!! Mission accomplished. No complaints here. Coconut oil would work just as well – can’t vouch for that “muffin” flavor, but the texture would end up similar.

 

closeup

 

DIY recipes in general always win with me, because I’m a big fan of knowing exactly what I’m eating. Plus, I think it’s more enjoyable to reap the benefits of your own efforts in the kitchen. And with granola especially, not only do you get a delicious treat, but it makes your whole home smell like deliciousness. FOR HOURS. So obviously, when I found out the Recipe Redux theme for this month was “DIY Kitchen Tips,” I was a woman with a plan.

 

jar

 

 

Blueberry Muffin Granola
Yields 3
Granola that tastes exactly like a freshly baked blueberry muffin!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  2. 2 cups organic corn flake cereal
  3. 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  4. 1/4 cup melted butter (~5 tbs. unmelted)
  5. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  7. 1/2 cup (5 large) egg whites
  8. 1/2 cup dried blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, cereal, and salt. Add melted butter, then stir to coat.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  4. Pour egg white mixture into cereal mixture and stir well to combine.
  5. Pour granola mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat down into an even layer.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes, flipping the granola in large pieces 25-30 minutes in to brown it on the other side.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool, and break into chunks.
  8. Mix in dried fruit, and store in an airtight container.
http://thehungrymusician.com/

 

For other great DIY kitchen tips, definitely go check out the other great posts from the members of Recipe Redux!


Mini Black Forest Cakes (Happy Birthday Brahms!)

For some light ambiance – click play. :) ^^^^^^

I have to confess that there’s something I’ve been hiding from you all. Well, not exactly “hiding,” per say – my friends know about it. But people can be judgy, so I’m kiiiinda going out on a limb here by telling you this. And if you didn’t think I was a mega nerd already, this will probably seal the deal for you. OK, ready? Hold on. DEEP BREATHS EVERYONE.

I love a man I can’t have… Because he’s been dead for 118 years.

…..Ok, WAIT, BEFORE you get all weirded out (too late?) and try to get me professional help of some sort (also too late? HANG UP), let me tell you who it is.

 

‘Tis the one and only Johannes Brahms. <3 <3 <3

OK, so maybe that wasn’t the best way of putting my feelings about Brahms into words. I was half kidding about being in love with him. Or, like, 25% kidding. But whatever, let’s be honest, young Brahms pre-beer gut and Santa beard was a STUD. Just LOOK at that icy glare and that jaw structure. Guten TAG. *sexy eyes emoji*

 

 

I guess his music is fine too. It’s not like it makes me cry or anything, and it’s not like you might be crying too at this very moment listening to it. Lots of my friends hate on his music because they think it’s cheesy, which it kind of is, but then again I love cheese. I also love Brahms, so haters, politely step aside. 

 

spoon

 

Anyway, why all this talk about Brahms? Well, today is a special day because it is Mr. Brahms’s 182nd birthday!!! I baked JB a simple vanilla cake for his 181st birthday last year, but this year decided to do something a little more “German.” At first I was going to make German chocolate cake, but then discovered upon doing research (on Wikipedia – so legit) that German chocolate cake is actually a U.S. thing. How stupid is that? Just call it what it is, America, sheesh.

 

 

 

But then I discovered that black forest cake IS a German thing. It was developed a short while after Brahms’s death, but I’m going to just assume that Brahms would have liked it had it been around 20 years earlier.

 

cherries

 

As much as I adore Brahms, not to be forgotten today is another wonderful composer whose birthday is also May 7th. TCHAIKOVSKY!! Pyotr and I are kind of in a weird place right now, because after working on his concerto this year and (FINALLY) playing it at my jury on Tuesday, I need a break. Honestly, I’m kind of ready to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever play or hear it again. But that’s not possible, so I’ll just suck it up and wish him a happy birthday too. Sorry I didn’t make you any Russian desserts, Pete. Maybe next year.

 

cake1

 

This cake is deeeeelish. Unfortunately, ALL of the coconut milk I bought at the store (and I bought 3 cans just to make sure) was no good – the fat content was off, so the coconut cream didn’t make a light, fluffy whipped cream like I wanted. I ended up having to add copious amounts of tapioca flour just to get it to emulsify, and it ended up more like a gooey icing. But if you’re not into the whole dairy free thing, you can just use regular whipping cream, or buy pre-made whipped cream from the store if you so wish. Or check out this coconut whipped cream recipe. Original black forest cake calls for cherry liqueur, but I don’t have any of that, so I used bourbon. But hey, Brahms liked to drink. So I assume all booze is good booze.

 

bourbon

cake2

 

 

(Music) Brahms: Symphony No. 3, II. Andante – George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra

 

Mini Black Forest Cakes
Yields 5
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Cake
  1. 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  2. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  3. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 cup pure cane sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 cup regular/dairy free milk (I like cashew milk)
  8. 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  9. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Filling
  1. 2 cups frozen cherries
  2. 1-2 tbs. bourbon (to taste)
  3. 2 1/2 tbs. maple syrup
Whipped Topping
  1. 1 can coconut cream (solids from a can of coconut milk left in the fridge overnight)
  2. Maple syrup to lightly sweeten, ~1-2 tbs.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Mix wet and dry ingredients just until combined. Don't overmix.
  5. Pour batter into a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly, and tap the pan on a hard surface to settle the batter.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, or until set.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
Filling
  1. Bring cherries to a low simmer in a pan with maple syrup.
  2. Let simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until juice is thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and add bourbon.
Topping
  1. Whisk coconut milk solids and syrup until fluffy.
Assembly
  1. When cake is cool, use a knife or round cookie cutter to cut out precise circles in the cake. I used a clean tin can as a guide.
  2. On top of the first layer, spread some whipped topping.
  3. Add another layer of cake, and then spread on some cherry/bourbon mixture.
  4. Add one more layer of cake, then top with more whipped topping. For an optional garnish, finish with grated chocolate and a cherry.
http://thehungrymusician.com/

Strawberry, Feta, and Lentil Salad

For someone who HATES germs and carries two hand sanitizers around at all times, my home cleaning habits are not quite as predictable.

 

mint

 

I don’t make my bed every day. In fact, I make it almost never. I clean my room whenever it suddenly hurts my soul to walk inside of it, which could be at any moment, and at any degree of messiness. Last week, I managed to wait a few days until about 33% of my floor was visible to cave. But today, I walked in at 9:30 PM super exhausted and almost lost it, even though my room wasn’t really that bad… There was a tiny stack of clean laundry that needed to be put away, a few shirts lying around that were rejects from this morning, an opened package from Amazon on my bed, and an empty coffee cup/bag of trail mix next to my stand from when I tried to stay awake while practicing at 4 PM. I would call this a pretty standard Sarah mess. But it all just REALLY NEEDED to go, and it needed to go RIGHT AWAY.

 

strawberry copy

 

 

I also only clean my kitchen counters whenever they require it, which usually ends up being once or twice a week, or after I cook meat/fish. Or, let’s be real, whenever I find almond butter on them.

So honestly, I don’t know how my cleaning habits compare to other people’s. If you ask my mom, she’ll tell you my bathroom and floors need to get cleaned more often. But I’d like to think that for a single 20-something trying to juggle graduate school, working part time, and figuring out my life (that last part is NBD, though), I’m doing pretty OK on cleanliness. I could easily just throw stuff everywhere and not care, and never do dishes or clean my counters ever. So I guess you could say my apartment is a microcosm for my life – mostly organized with a good helping of (endearing?) frenzy.

 

avocado

 

I don’t usually do Spring cleaning, but this month, I tried a little. The Recipe ReDux theme was just that – we were encouraged to look in our pantry for things to get rid of, and make a dish out of them. I found a whole ton of lentils that were leftover from soup making this Winter (I made lentil soup so many times, I’m shocked I didn’t turn into one), so I decided to transform them into something a little more summery. I also threw in a bunch of produce from the fridge that needed to be used up.

 

lentils

 

Salads for me are typically difficult to make at home during the week unless I prep a bunch of veggies ahead of time, because the assembly and clean-up can be time consuming. But when you hav e a bunch of things in your fridge that are juuuuust bordering on “too fresh,” I swear to you. Put them in a salad and call it a day. Waste not, want not! 😉

 

saladingredients

 

There’s a lot going on in this salad (or at least I think that’s what Scott Conant would say if this were “Chopped”), but it works. And hey, why not use up everything you can? It’s sweet, salty, crunchy, tangy, and fresh. The lentils are kind of like natural croutons, especially if you leave them just slightly undercooked. And the other ingredients in it are getting me so stoked for summer. Strawberries, avocado, mint, lemon, feta? MMM. One of my favorite things about summer is getting to cook at my parent’s house. They have an outdoor grill, an herb garden, and raspberry bushes, which is a luxury I may never know in Manhattan. But the taste of fresh mint and berries in this salad took me there for a minute today, especially with some delicious maple dijon salmon on top. Boy, was it blissful. Can summer be here NOW?! 

 

finishedsalad

 

Strawberry, Lentil, and Feta Salad
Serves 4
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Prep Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 bunch kale, finely chopped (~1-2 cups chopped)
  2. 1 1/4 cup strawberries, tops removed and sliced
  3. 1 avocado, diced
  4. 10 sprigs of mint, chopped (~1/3 cup chopped)
  5. 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  6. 1/2 cup dry green lentils
  7. 1 cup water + 1 tbs. oil + salt
Vinaigrette
  1. Juice of 1 lemon
  2. 3 tbs. olive oil
  3. 1/2 tbs. honey
  4. 1/3 red onion, or 1 shallot, minced
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring the lentils to a boil in the water with the oil and salt. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 mins. Check on them frequently to prevent overcooking.
  2. Drain excess water from lentils, remove from heat, and let cool.
  3. Combine vinaigrette ingredients (lemon juice, oil, honey, onion, salt, pepper).
  4. Toss kale in vinaigrette.
  5. Add strawberries, avocado, feta, lentils, and mint. Toss gently and serve.
http://thehungrymusician.com/


PB&J Donuts

Donuts are my kryptonite. There are very few things in this world that make me forget that I have self control, and donuts are pretty much all of them.

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.50.43 PM

 

I usually avoid them for this reason, but while on Spring break earlier this month visiting my cousins in North Carolina, I decided to treat myself to a toasted amaretto donut. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. And in those few, all-too-short minutes of edible bliss, I fell head-over-heels. Of course, the honeymoon was short lived, because I came sugar-crashing back to reality almost instantly. But it was worth it.

 

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Then, a few days ago, I had an in-depth discussion with my brother on the nature of consuming donuts. He said something to the effect of, “I can only eat donuts after having eaten a full meal… An unhealthy meal. Because donuts are not filling, and they’re packed with sugar. If you eat one by itself, then you feel guilty because you ate it, AND because you’re still hungry. You might as well just eat it after a huge unhealthy meal because you’re going to feel guilty anyway, and it won’t make you any more full.” This is science, guys. 

So, how do we enjoy these treats, but feel good about them later? It may seem impossible, but I have good news: it’s not!

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 1.00.48 PM

 

I was very excited to hear about the new #MadeWithChobani project, and really wanted to contribute my own recipe. If you have been following my blog for a while you may already know I’m a huge Chobani fan (and was even before starting the blog). They make super tasty yogurt in a whole variety of flavors, but I always have a big tub of the plain non-fat yogurt on hand. It’s like, my version of eggs and milk. Except that I usually forget to buy eggs and milk at the store, but I never forget the ‘Cho.

 

cho

 

Lately, I’ve been sneaking Chobani into a lot of recipes, because in addition to improving the taste/texture, the yogurt makes them higher in protein. Yesterday, I made a SUPER fluffy omelette by whisking some yogurt into the eggs first. The other day, I made banana bread and substituted yogurt for oil. Good decision. And in these donuts, the yogurt makes for a delightful flavor and texture, and makes them quite filling. 

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.53.53 PM

 

Because these are “PB & J” donuts, I wanted to create a sensation that was both akin to eating a donut, and also to eating a PB & J sandwich. So, I stuffed the donuts with layers of PB & J, and snuck some flaxseed and honey into the dough to make a sweet, nutty flavor that is slightly reminiscent of wheat bread. So, it’s like eating a jelly donut, but way more satisfying. Basically, everything about this recipe takes me back to elementary school. You know, minus the two rounds of braces and training bras.

PB & J Donuts
Yields 6
Baked donuts made with Greek yogurt for a healthy yet satisfying sweet treat!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Dough
  1. 1/2 cup unbleached cake flour, sifted
  2. 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  3. 1 Tbs. ground flaxseed
  4. 1 tsp. baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  6. Scant 1/2 cup Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
  7. 2 Tbs. melted coconut oil
  8. 1/4 cup + 1tbs. honey
  9. 1 egg, beaten
  10. 1/2 tsp vanilla
Filling
  1. 1/4 cup peanut butter of your choice
  2. 1/4 cup jam of your choice
Icing
  1. 1/4 cup Plain Chobani
  2. Jam to taste (~1-2 tbs)
Instructions
  1. *For this recipe, you will need a donut pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  3. In a bowl, combine flours, flax, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, egg, vanilla, and yogurt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Fill donut pan 1/3 full with batter.
  7. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with a small corner cut off, pipe peanut butter into center of each donut. Be careful not to let it reach the edges, if possible.
  8. Repeat with jam.
  9. Distribute remaining batter onto each donut, taking care to cover up all visible peanut butter/jelly.
  10. Bake for about 7-9 minutes, or until set.
  11. Let cool, then remove from pan, mix icing ingredients, and drizzle with icing.
Notes
  1. I found it easier and faster to use a pastry bag to pipe the dough into the pan.
Adapted from Wilton
Adapted from Wilton
http://thehungrymusician.com/

Breakfast Pizza

I have learned to cherish leftovers in a whole new way over the past seven months. Things can get crazy over here (in the best kind of way) trying to juggle school, teaching, blogging, working, AND attempting to have some kind of a social life. As much as I love making new recipes and playing around in the kitchen, I very often have to rely on leftovers to be my meals, or to become the ingredients for new meals.

 

pizzawsauce

 

This kind of makes me feel old. I used to cook new recipes on weekdays regularly, but I think those times are dwindling. I just don’t have the same time or energy I used to… WHAT IS THIS “BEING AN ADULT” THING AND HOW DO I END IT? 

 

sausage

 

I also just kind of feel too old for my age in general. I often get yelled at by my slightly older friends (past the mid-20’s mark) when I say I feel “old,” but I truly mean it. I get tired at 9 PM. My body automatically wakes me up way before my alarm, and it actually takes WORK to sleep in.

 

kale

 

And, for a recent example: my childhood best friend came into NYC from Philly last night, so we went out. I am probably the least interesting person when it comes to “going out,” because in my mind, a crazy party consists of a bunch of nerds sitting in an apartment gossiping about open orchestra jobs and getting winedrunk while listening to Mahler. But she knows where to find the “real” party. So, let’s just say I got home shortly before I would normally wake up. My body doesn’t currently know how to react to this, so today’s Saturday brunch was leftover pizza… But not pizza that was left over. Pizza made out of leftovers.

 

egg

 

The folks over at Recipe Redux must read my mind – because they challenged us this month with a “Two For One” theme, or in other words, to turn one of our recipes into a second recipe using its leftovers. I immediately knew which recipe I wanted to repurpose.

 

pizza1

 

This tomato sauce has become a regular in my kitchen. It’s super easy to make, and I love it because it’s such a forgiving recipe – you can alter the texture/flavors to your preferences and pretty much do whatever you want with it. A few weeks ago, I added capers to it and made a puttanesca-y type sauce that I put over lamb meatballs. It was preeeeetty bomb. I’ve also found that it’s a great multi-purpose sauce. I have used it for pasta, pizza, chicken parm, etc. and it has worked equally well all around. I think my next project is going to be adding some hot pepper to it and making a shakshuka or baked egg dish. 

 

pizza2

 

But this breakfast pizza is now for sure one of my favorite uses for this tomato sauce… And all the other little things I usually have lying around in my fridge. You literally cannot go wrong with all of these flavors together. Eggs, kale, gouda, a little bit of chicken sausage, a nutty whole wheat thin crust (I made this recipe and used half), and sweet tomato sauce are basically all you need in life. Especially the morning after a little too much wine and Mahler. 😉

 

Breakfast Pizza
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. Whole wheat pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
  2. 1/2 cup leftover tomato sauce
  3. 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 3/4 cup shredded gouda cheese
  5. 1-2 small chicken breakfast sausages, thinly sliced and cooked
  6. 1 leaf kale, finely chopped
  7. 1 tbs. pecorino romano cheese for dusting, if desired
  8. 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 500˚F.
  2. Roll out dough very thinly onto parchment paper and place on a baking sheet (or a pizza stone).
  3. Spread tomato sauce evenly over dough.
  4. Sprinkle on cheeses, then kale and cooked sausage.
  5. Make four "craters" on the pizza for the eggs.
  6. Gently crack each egg one by one into a small bowl to avoid breaking the yolks, and then place the eggs gently onto the pizza.
  7. Bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny.
Notes
  1. For a vegetarian/lower-fat option, use sliced mushrooms sauteéd with olive oil and herbs in place of sausage.
http://thehungrymusician.com/