Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Warm Autumn Granola with Currants and Apple Butter Syrup

Since I started making homemade granola a few weeks ago, I've been going through about a half a batch every 10 days or so.  I used to buy granola bars but the prices have gotten crazy and after scoring more than 12 pounds of oats for less than $2.50 - I'm having a field day making new combinations of granola.  It's easy, inexpensive, and it's a project that's perfect to squeeze in while I'm in the kitchen cooking anyway.

2 1/4 C. oats (quick or rolled oats) ($.15)
1/4 C. whole almonds ($.30)
1 tsp. cinnamon ($.05)
1/4 C. chopped hazelnuts ($.15)
1 T. butter, melted ($.10)
1/3 C. brown sugar ($.10)
1/4 C. apple juice ($.10)
1 C. bran or wheat flake cereal (I used bran flakes)($.15)
1/4 C. small currants (or you can use chopped raisins) ($.20)
2 T. each flour and white sugar ($.10)

Heat oven to 350.

Toss together oats, cinnamon, and almonds and spread evenly on a 13x9" baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

In a small skillet, toast the chopped hazelnuts until fragrant (2 to 3 minutes).  Remove from skillet into a large bowl.

Into the skillet, add the apple juice and brown sugar - stir to combine and simmer over low heat until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken slightly (3-5 minutes).  Turn off heat, stir in butter and let set.

Toss together oats and almonds with the hazelnuts, then pour the apple butter sauce over the oats and nuts, stirring to coat well.

Spread back on pan and return to oven for 12-15 minutes, stirring half way through the baking. The granola is done when it is golden and slightly firm to the touch.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, remove from pan.  Toss the currants with the white sugar and flour.  Crush the ceral and add the crushed cereal and currants to the warm granola.  Let set for 30 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container.

Yields: 3 1/2  C. granola or 14 servings
Cost: $1.40
Cost per serving: $.10

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Coffee Cake

I find that it isn't necessity being the mother of invention, but often it can be laziness that helps me create new recipes.  While I could have made a tradition coffeecake, I had some small currants already on the counter from me making homemade granola yesterday that spurred me to create this recipe variation.

I love raisins and the tiny currants I picked up have all the flavor and a little less sweetness than the tradition raisins or golden raisins I usually buy, but they are perfect for when you want that chew and taste of raisins without adding too much sweetness, and their size is ideal for having a hint of flavor.

I have made a few modifications to the standard sour cream coffee cake recipe - swapping in lowfat or fat free yogurt for the sour cream and unsweetened applesauce for the butter or margarine.  Each of these changes helps lower the fat in the recipe without compromising flavor.

If you want a great season twist, you can swap in chopped dried cranberries for the currants, add 1/4 tsp. nutmeg to the cake batter, and add in 2-3 T. of honey for a little more richness and the flavors of the honey and nutmeg really do a great job at complimenting the natural tart bite and tanginess of the cranberries.

1/2 C. unsweetened applesauce ($.15)
1 C. white sugar ($.20)
1/2 C. dark brown sugar ($.15)
2 eggs ($.20)
1 C. fat free vanilla yogurt ($.35)
2 T. coffee creamer (free after coupon)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract ($.10)
2 C. all-purpose flour ($.15)
1 tsp. baking powder ($.05)
1 tsp. baking soda ($.05)

Streusel Mixture:
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon ($.10)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg ($.05)
1/2 C. brown sugar ($.10)
1/4 C. chopped raisins or small currants ($.20)

1. In a large bowl, blend together margarine, white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, sour cream, eggs, coffee creamer, and vanilla. Add to these ingredients the combined flour, baking powder, and soda. Blend until smooth.

2. To Make Streusel filling: Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins or currants, and 1/2 cup brown sugar.

3. Grease and flour a large Bundt pan. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture on top of the batter in the pan, and cover with the remaining batter.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool. Remove from pan.

Yields: 14 servings
Cost: $2.00
Cost per serving: $.15

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rosemary Cream Sauce with Mushrooms

I have looked for the right compliment to my classic roasted pork tenderloin for a few years now and I have finally come up with a rich sauce that marries the flavors in this lean cut of meat with some creaminess and herbs that really give a huge flavor boost to the meal.

I'm not a huge fan of spending a lot of extra time in the kitchen, though I really did want something a little more robust and hearty than serving the pork in its own pan drippings.  And for me, a standard gravy did not have the depth of flavor and intensity that I was looking for.  Since I season the pork tenderloin with Italian herbs, sometimes tossing in a sprig or two of fresh rosemary to give the pork some extra flavor, a gravy tends to mask the flavors rather than highlighting them the way I'd prefer.

In this recipe, I use the pan drippings I already get from the pork to get a sauce that contains just the right nuances of flavor.  This can work wonders with roasted chicken, just use the pan drippings to get all the flavor you need to really make your meal fancy and delicious.

What I love about this sauce is how quickly it comes together.  If you have your mushrooms chopped and sauteed, it takes less than 5 minutes to make this sauce.  And if you are entertaining and want something a little different than a traditional gravy, this sauce is just the ticket.  Even if you are not a fan of rosemary, you favorite fresh herb (like sage or thyme) can work just as well in this versatile recipe.

1 sprig of rosemary ($.20)
8 mushrooms, sliced thin ($.35)
1 T. olive oil ($.10)
1 1/2 T. butter ($.20)
1 T. white wine (optional) ($.10)
salt and pepper to taste ($.05)
1 C. pan drippings (free)
1/3 C. heavy cream ($.35)
2 T. cornstarch ($.15)

In a large skillet, add olive oil and butter and melt over low heat.  When butter is melted, add in sprig of rosemary and let the rosemary infuse for 2-3 minutes.  Remove rosemary and add sliced mushrooms, raising the heat to medium high and cook until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender - 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season mushrooms to taste.  Add in wine and cook until wine reduces by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add pan drippings (or chicken stock) to mushrooms and bring to a simmer (1 to 2 minutes).  Whisk together heavy cream and cornstarch, pour slowly into pan of simmering mushrooms, cook at a low simmer until sauce reach desired consistency.  Serve hot over sliced pork tenderloin.

Yields = 6 servings

Cost: $1.50
Cost per serving: $.25