1/31/11

San Diego Preview

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Evan's brother, Tai, snapped this picture. I'm so in love.
We had the most lovely weekend in San Diego. I'm heading to work right now for a few hours, but I'll be back tomorrow with a full post about our travels.

P.S. I will also announce the winner of my giveaway tomorrow morning.  
Be sure to enter by tonight!

1/28/11

Snow & Sunsets

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Don't forget to enter my giveaway. You have until Monday, January 31, at 11:59 EST.
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Good morning! Hope you're having a fabulous Friday. We're leaving for San Diego in a few hours - I'm so excited. I've never been before, so you can bet I'll be taking a lot of pictures to share with all of you. 

Did you hear about the East Coast snow storm yesterday? Better yet, do you live out East?! People woke up to inches upon inches of snow. Been there, done that. In fact, it's been almost one year since Baltimore and D.C. experienced "Snowmageddon." Yup, Evan and I lived in Baltimore during that time! It was pure craziness. I think we got close to 60 inches of snow in one week. 



Evan even built an igloo! :)

 

Evan's classes at Hopkins were canceled for a week! My work also allowed its employees to work from home. We enjoyed being able to stay inside, but the roads were terrible even weeks after the storm. With small, narrow urban streets, the snow removal team had a tough time.

But here we are in California - almost one year later. I'll leave you with this: the sunset we enjoyed on Wednesday night. Yes, friends, life is good.


 

1/27/11

[Giveaway] CSN Stores

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CSN Stores has over 200+ online stores where you can find just about anything! From yoga mats to kitchen bakeware, from bath towels to stylish handbags -  & even a corner TV stand - you can find whatever your little heart desires. Let the giveaway begin!

When CSN Stores contacted me about a giveaway, I was just elated. But also a little jealous of my readers - someone is going to win $15 to any of the CSN Stores! You have no idea how many CSN giveaways I have entered in the blog world - without a single win. Feeling the same way? Here is your chance!

I did some browsing and found a ton of great items that you could get if you walked away the winner.




I just purchased a yoga pass for a month of unlimited yoga at a fabulous studio in town. I love my yoga mat but don't have a bag or strap for it. This yoga mat sling would make it so easy to head to yoga class. Please and thank you!




Another option would be to get this granola-esque dish towel. Isn't it earthy looking?! I would love to use it as a backdrop for food photos. 




Did you think I was going to ignore one of my favorite things? Wine! How fun is this wire bottle holder. You can never have too many wine bottles, or fun trinkets to hold them!


Alright, so if I wasn't already jealous before, now I really am! One lucky reader is going to win $15 to CSN Stores, so they can purchase whatever they like!


All you have to do is leave a comment on this post answering the following question:
If you could purchase anything in the world, what would you buy?

Oh, easy! I would buy a modest home on a lot of land, so I could plant my own garden. Maybe apartment living is just getting to me, but I have been dreaming about gardens a lot lately!

You have until Monday, January 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST to enter. 
I will announce the winner Tuesday morning, February 1.
Good luck!

1/26/11

[Recipe] Zucchini Brownies

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This past weekend I had some zucchini that was just about done-zo. It was Sunday afternoon when I was feeling inspired to use it, and I came across a recipe for Zucchini Brownies. Hmm, one of those intriguing recipes that just speaks to me. 

I made Zucchini Lemon Muffins a few weeks ago - again, using up old zucchini. I don't know what it is about this vegetable, but it seems that I have a hard time incorporating it into meals. As much as I love roasted vegetables, roasted zucchini can get rather old to me. 


Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when these bad boys came out of the oven. Very moist (my friend, Melissa, HATES that word!) and very fudge-like thanks to the chocolate chips - a novel idea by yours truly. So here you go: a somewhat healthier alternative to normal brownies!


Zucchini Brownies
Adapted from: All Recipes


Ingredients:
1/4 cup all-natural, unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper - or spray with nonstick spray. 


In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, sugar and vanilla with a spoon until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Spread evenly into prepared pan.


Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back clean. Enjoy!

1/25/11

Grapefruit Guru

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It's Tuesday, and that can only mean one thing. CSA produce time! But before I share what we received this week, I thought I'd give you a quick update on our homemade hammock.

Evan is obsessed. Right before we went to bed last night, he went to lay in the hammock in total darkness for a good 15 minutes. I had to go out and wake him up. That's correct, he fell asleep. Then this morning, he proclaimed that he wants to spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night relaxing in the hammock. Hey, that's why he made it! :) 

And now for our produce. I was super excited to know that we would be receiving grapefruits for the second (wait, maybe third!) week in a row!


Apples
Pears
Oranges
Grapefruit
Cabbage
Chard
Kale
Potatoes
Onions
Carrots
Zucchini
Cauliflower

We leave for San Diego on Friday, so we have a lot of produce to eat! Here's our menu for the next three days:

Tonight: Mac & Cheese w/ Garlic & Herb Chicken Sausage (meat!!) & roasted cauliflower
Wednesday: Aloo Matar, roasted zucchini & brown basmati rice
Thursday: soup - with all the vegetables that remain

Ok, I wanted to share with you my new favorite kitchen utensil: grapefruit spoon.


While a specific spoon is not necessary to eat a grapefruit, I find it to be rather convenient, fun & fancy. It's not a granola way to eat this fruit. A granola way would include ripping it apart with your bare hands, juice dripping everywhere - and preferably outside with no shoes on. But that's a different story.

I got this spoon at Sur La Table for $3.95 (fun fact: I used to work there!). It was cheap, and it really has helped me in my grapefruit endeavors. See the serrated edges?


Grapefruits are definitely my new favorite fruit-of-the-moment.

What fruits have you been snacking on lately?!

[Recipe] Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Every once in a while, I come across a recipe and am immediately intrigued. For the past couple of months, I've been seeing brown butter in recipes all over the blog world. People rave about browning the butter and how much of a difference it makes. Really?

Really. It is no joke. I finally took a stab at this whole brown butter thing, and friends, it is truly heavenly. The butter is heated to the point of browning - not burning! It is a fine line, but if done right, can make a huge difference in recipes.


I was so scared to brown the butter. In fact, I took the butter off the heat WAY before it was done because I just wasn't sure. You will see brown flecks in the butter. You will smell a toffee/caramel aroma. I looked at it, smelled it and knew that it wasn't right. I was just so nervous! So back to the stove it went, and when it was done, really done - oh, you know! The aroma is out of this world. 

(Please click here to see a picture tutorial on browning butter via Completely Delicious.)

I don't think I'll ever make chocolate chip cookies again without browning the butter. 

Have you ever baked with brown butter?

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Completely Delicious

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (1 pound) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Once melted, continue to cook until it turns golden brown. Swirl the pan occasionally if needed so that it browns evenly. Watch it fairly closely, as it can go from brown to burned quickly. When the color has turned golden, small flecks speckle the butter, and it has a nutty aroma, remove from heat and poor into a shallow dish. Chill in the fridge until it becomes solid. You want it to be soft, but not melted. If it cool too hard, let it come back to room temperature before using.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Beat the brown butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium high speed with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined on medium speed. Add the chocolate chips and mix until incorporated.

Spoon by the tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches in between each cookie. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 

1/24/11

Homemade Hammock

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Hope you've been enjoying your Monday! I'm so happy you all enjoy Indian food. I have another Indian dish on my menu for Wednesday - be on the look out!

My day has been going really well - the high was around 65* here today. Basically, I would say this is perfect hammock weather.

Do we own a hammock? Not exactly...but Evan made his own version today! I must say, living with an engineer who is very innovative and determined has its perks. 

As I was leaving our apartment to go on a run, Evan casually mentioned how nice it would be to have a hammock on our balcony. You must know that we're frugal. Ok, cheap would probably be the best definition. We really don't need to spend money a hammock. Anyway, I didn't really think anything of it until I came back home and silence filled our apartment. 

I ventured out onto our balcony to find this:



Yes, that would be Evan in our new hammock made with an old sheet. Isn't he just so fun?


The hammock/old sheet works really well! I, of course, was fearful that I was going to land right on my tush upon the hard concrete. Evan is pretty confident of the knots he tied, so I trust him.




Homemade hammock = super granola. 


Do you consider yourself frugal? Have you ever built anything yourself to save money?!

Like I said before, I consider myself a frugal person. Besides the hammock, Evan is actually working on making me a tofu press, so we don't have to buy one. Granted it is for a class of his, but I'd rather have him make one than spend the money. Oh, and I also make my own granola instead of buying it at the grocery store!

[Recipe] Channa Masala

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Yes, yes, yes - I made Indian food for lunch yesterday! I have a few Indian recipes saved in my Google Reader but have never tried making them. As much as I love Indian food, the flavors just seem so complex that I'm afraid I'll mess it up. Sure I've done vegetable curry in the slow cooker, but that's different.

Yesterday was the day! I sucked it up, put on my big girl pants and made Indian food. And guess what. It was absolutely amazing.

I feel like I use "amazing" to describe a lot of the recipes that I post on here - but I promise I'm not exaggerating. Plus this Channa Masala recipe is actually quite simple. 

Check out Jenna's blog, Eat Live Run, for the recipe. 

This made a lot of servings, so we'll be eating the leftovers tonight. I hear that Channa Masala is even better the next day, so I'm super excited for dinner! Oh, and I served some Trader Joe's Garlic Naan on the side - perfection.

Have you ever made Indian food? Do you like to branch out and try new recipes?

I used to be very Plain Jane in what I would eat. After marrying Evan, I've learned to welcome new foods into my life. Now I love Indian, Thai and Ethiopian  - so good! 

1/23/11

Any Guesses?

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So the consensus seems to be that a lot of you live in places where outdoor activities are easily accessible. However a lot of you seem to want to visit California. How about we plan a big ol' blogger party out this way?! :)

I just got done making one of the best meals I have ever prepared. I'll be sharing the recipe tomorrow, but here's a hint:


If you follow me on Twitter, you might have an idea. Any guesses?!

1/22/11

[Open Space] Monte Bello

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I'm so glad you liked the sweet potato chili that I posted yesterday. If you give it a go, let me know!

Evan and I had big plans for this morning - a hike! So we've established the fact that we live in gorgeous northern California - but I just have to reiterate: we love this place. There is a program here called Open Space Preserve. Here's the lowdown:

"The Midpeninsula Open Space Regional District is a regional greenbelt system in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is comprised of nearly 60,000 acres of land in 26 open space preserves protected for public enjoyment, making a preserve system of diverse and unparalleled beauty in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country." - OSP website
We were talking about this exact fact on our hike. We love that we are located in a place that is so rich in culture, full of up and coming businesses and start-up companies and close to two major cities, San Francisco & San Jose. Yet we can drive 15 minutes and be here:

 
We headed to the Monte Bello OSP and chose to tackle a 6-mile hike with a 1,000 ft. climb. It started off downhill, and I was loving it! 




After about 2 miles of a fabulous descent into a wooded area filled with babbling brooks and fun bridges, we encountered my first enemy of the day.


It's a hill!
Another hill!
Y'all, maybe I'm just a wussy, but that 1,000 ft. climb was no joke. I believe it was at the second hill that I asked Evan if I could just crawl. He laughed, but I wasn't kidding.


You can see our home!

After making it to the top and celebrating our victory, we enjoyed the final miles of our hike until enemy number two...

Do you see that scary beast?!

Coyote on the prowl!
He just kept trotting along on our trail - I was absolutely terrified, while Evan tried to assure me that running into a coyote was just like seeing a cat. Wild animal = house cat. Yeah, he didn't really calm my nerves with that one!

We ended up splitting off to the right, when the coyote took the trail to left. While I know that we were probably very safe and not in harm's way, it was still a shock to be that close to a coyote. Evan loved it!

We're excited to check out the other Open Space Preserves and are already planning our next adventure!

Is nature easily accessible where you live?! Do you like being outdoors?

1/21/11

Smoke Two Joints + [Recipe]

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Woo, weekend! Do you know what I love about the weekends? Every Friday night at 5:00pm, KFOG (local radio station) plays the song, "Smoke Two Joints." Now while I don't actually smoke two joints - or even one for that matter! - it just makes me smile. Such is the culture of northern California. 

Alright, now onto the original point of this post. I made the most amazing chili this week. Evan could NOT stop raving about it! It is so simple to make, super healthy and just a perfect comforting meal. If you try this out, please let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.


Also, if you come across a recipe that you find interesting/looks delicious - please send it to me. I'm always searching for new recipes: granolachronicles[at]gmail[dot]com - thanks! :)

P.S. I think my post title might confuse some people. Like maybe I give a recipe for two joints. HA! 

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili
Adapted from: My Recipes


Ingredients: 
2  tablespoons  olive oil
1  large yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped - I used red & orange
2  medium sweet potatoes, diced
2  to 3 tablespoons chili powder
1  to 2 teaspoons sea salt
1  teaspoon ground cumin
1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/4  to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1  teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2  (14-ounce) cans vegetable or chicken broth
2  (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:
Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onion. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Add bell peppers, and sweet potato; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add chili powder through marjoram; stir and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and broth. Simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Stir in beans, and continue to cook 10 minutes.

Pretty in Pink

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Good morning, friends! First, thank you SO MUCH for all your sweet comments on my last post. Y'all just make me happy. You have no idea.

In other news...it's Friday! Please tell me you have exciting plans for the weekend. I think a hike is in the near future me. Oh, and maybe some Indian food also. Double win!

I did something yesterday that I have not done in...well, a long time. I went for a run! I ran 1 1/2 miles - the whole thing! Never stopped once. I'm pretty darn proud of myself because I just haven't been into running lately. Power walking? You know it. Yoga? Can't get enough. Running is a different story, so I was so happy to have that kind of motivation yesterday. Plus, it was gorgeous outside. The weather here in California really motivates you.


After my run, I was craving my favorite smoothie. I don't think I've shared it before, so here we go!


Pink Protein Smoothie
Source: Yours Truly


Ingredients:
2/3 cup all natural orange juice
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
half a frozen, sliced banana
5 frozen strawberries
1 scoop vanilla Aria Protein


Directions:
Place ingredients into a blender. Blend. Pour. Enjoy! :)


So I feel confident saying that drinking a protein smoothie is pretty granola. But then I did something that is probably not so granola. I painted my fingernails while drinking my smoothie. 

Nicole by OPI: Mis-Magenta Me?
 It's all about balance in the game of life and in the name of granola. Wait, what?!



I'm off to work - and then I have a coffee date with a darling young lady later this afternoon. I am an advisor to a college sorority...while I wish I was still in college, being an advisor helps me get my fill. :)

1/20/11

Let Me Introduce Myself...

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Alright, because technology and the internet are both so cool, I'm able to see how many people actually read this blog. Surprisingly, way more than I expected! Mainly family and friends were reading Ice Cream & Wine, but I've seen a jump in readership, so I'm guessing some strangers are jumping on the granola bandwagon. Glad to have you! Now let's catch you up...

Where are you from?
Born & raised in Nebraska - wouldn't change that for anything. After spending the first 22 years of my life there, I got hitched and headed east to Baltimore for one year. After a quick pit stop in Washington D.C. for 3 months, I eventually landed in the San Francisco Bay Area in the fall of 2010.


Why do you move around so much?
My husband (Evan) is a...professional student. Yes, that's what we'll call him! He attended a graduate program in Baltimore and is currently in graduate school out here in California. He's interested in medical device design (he's studying engineering) and wants to be involved in start-ups. Needless to say, we're in the right place...hello, Silicon Valley! I don't think we'll be moving again anytime soon. Phew!

You're married?! How old are you? 
I've actually received a few emails about this - ha! I'm 23, and my birthday is March 11. My husband is also 23, and we got married when we were both 22. We graduated from college in May 2009 and got married in June 2009. I can't believe we've been married for almost two years already!


Courtesy: Richmond Photography



At our reception - I love Evan's face!
Where do you work?
I currently work in development for a non-profit organization (plan events, create marketing materials, write grant proposals, etc). We moved to California in September, and I was offered my position in December. Those three months were a little scary, and I can't explain how unemployment makes you feel - only those who actually experience it can truly understand. Anyway, I feel so blessed and fortunate to have found this position. 


Are you a vegetarian?
First of all, I don't like labels. Second of all, I'm not quite sure what I am! Pescetarian, maybe. I grew up eating red meat just about every day - remember, I'm from Nebraska! When I got married, my husband and I completely removed red meat from our diets (I think I prepared it twice in 15 months). Starting in August of 2010, I started to slowly remove poultry from my diet, but not entirely (I've had it a few times over the past 6 months). 

We eat fish once a week now and vegetarian meals the rest of the days. I am not against eating meat. In fact, I've had some really strong cravings for it these past few weeks. I'm just trying new foods and figuring out what I really enjoy. 

If you have any questions for me - please feel free to leave a comment. You can also send me an email: granolachronicles[at]gmail.com- I love getting email!

[Recipe] Honey Cinnamon Granola

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Happy Thursday, friends! Did you know that today is my favorite day of the week? Most people love Fridays (and of course the weekend!), but I LOVE Thursdays. There's just something about the anticipation of the weekend that gets me really excited! Evan makes fun of me, but I've noticed that he's been making a big deal about Thursdays as of late. It's catching on...just like using granola as an adjective! :)


Speaking of granola, I have my go-to recipe to share with you today. After searching and searching for a solid granola recipe that wasn't too sticky or sugary, I came across a formula on Chocolate & Zucchini. Fun fact: Clotilde, the author of Chocolate & Zucchini, was born and raised in Paris. She didn't become interested in food and cooking until she spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area. Just another reason why I love my new home!


Anyway, below you'll find the exact recipe I used to make this Honey Cinnamon granola. You can check this link to learn more about the basic formula that Clotilde calculated.


Honey Cinnamon Granola
Source: Chocolate & Zucchini


Ingredients:
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup pecans
6 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until all the oats and pecans have been coated. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and pour granola onto pan. Place in oven - then set it to 300 degrees (no need to pre-heat!). Stir the granola every ten minutes until it is browned. This took about 20 minutes - though it will vary by recipe!

1/19/11

[Recipe] Chickpea Bajane

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Good morning! Can you believe it's Wednesday already? Having Monday off has really moved this week right along.

I have such an interesting recipe to share with you - one that used a lot of my CSA vegetables one week. After a few substitutions, I came up with this variation of Chickpea Bajane. The quinoa adds such a great texture to the entire dish.

Please don't be intimidated by this long list of ingredients. I don't allow myself to make recipes that are hard to follow or intense. I assure you that this comes together rather easily!

Chickpea Bajane

Ingredients:
QUINOA:
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt 

CHICKPEA MIXTURE:
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 3/4 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 (14.5 oz.) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (5 oz.) package baby spinach

Directions:
To prepare quinoa, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 garlic clove to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 cup broth and next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

To prepare chickpea mixture, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek and 4 garlic cloves to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, celery, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in 1 cup broth, 2 teaspoons thyme, and chickpeas; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and spinach.

Place about 2/3 cup quinoa in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 1/2 cups chickpea mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

1/18/11

Tuesday Tradition

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Hey friends. Hope your Tuesday has been lovely so far.

I went back to work today. Seriously, I wish we had 3-day weekends and 4-day work weeks all the time! Lucky for me, I get another long weekend next week...I'm heading down to San Diego. More on that later...

This afternoon, Evan and I had our Tuesday Tradition: picking up our CSA box! I've been looking forward to this week's produce because grapefruits were a part of it! P.S. CSA=Community Supported Agriculture. It's super granola (remember, granola is also an adjective!).
Here's our loot this week:


Apples
Pears
Oranges
Grapefruit
Carrots
Zucchini
Baby Spinach
Chard
Potatoes
Onions
Yams
Radishes
Parsley

All for $23. Sometimes I feel like I'm stealing!

In other news, I did a little yoga on the balcony this afternoon.

I'm sure my neighbors give me weird glances at times. Eh, whatever.

Oh, notice Evan's bike? Yeah, he sold his car two years ago and now gets around by bike. He is so granola (adjective!).

Do you have a bike? 
I don't - not yet at least. It's on my wish list for this spring!

Cupcake Party

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Good morning! Hope your Tuesday is off to a wonderful start.

Y'all - the cupcake party was so amazing last night. I knew that there were going to be 12 dozen miniature cupcakes featuring 6 different flavors. Going into it, I kept telling Evan that I was going to try each flavor. They're mini, so it'd be easy. Right?


Wrong. After two I was already sick to my stomach. While the mini cupcakes lacked in size, they did not lack in butter or sugar. Don't get me wrong, they tasted like heaven. I just couldn't try every.single.one.

[Excuse the iPhone photos!]


Drama Queen & Pucker Up
I tried Pucker Up first - lemon cake, lemon curd filling and lemon cream cheese frosting. I was afraid it was going to be intensely lemon, but it was surprisingly refreshing. If a cupcake can be refreshing!


I then indulged in the Drama Queen: coconut cake with coconut buttercream frosting. It was, by far, the best frosting I have ever tasted. In fact, I may (or may not) have grabbed another Drama Queen on the way out...




Above we have Pucker Up, Drama Queen and Spice Girl (pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting).

Below features Miss Scarlett (red velvet and cream cheese frosting) and VaVaVoom (intense chocolate cake filled with cream cheese and chocolate chips, topped with cream cheese frosting and Belgian chocolate straws). Wow. Evan tried both of those and really liked them!
I'm already planning when I'll have bebecakes again. Because cupcakes have become so popular as of late, there are a lot of so-so cupcakes out there. This was not the case with bebecakes - they were really something special!

1/17/11

Monday = Fun Day

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Hey all! I've really been enjoying my day off. Evan and I had a somewhat busy weekend, so it was nice to relax and have an open schedule. I managed to make some of this:

It's a weekly tradition! Homemade granola is just so darn addicting. I'll be posting the recipe later this week.

I also squeezed in a little yoga this afternoon. We hiked 7 miles yesterday, and my body was craving yoga like nobody's business! Nothing too intense, just some nice stretching. I faced our large balcony window and enjoyed this beautiful view in the midst of down dogs.

It was perfect.


I'm really excited for later tonight...our apartment is having a cupcake party! Twelve (12!) dozen mini cupcakes have been ordered from Bebecakes. I've never tried their cupcakes, so I'm really looking forward to it. I promise to share all the details!

Work in Progress

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Welcome to The Granola Chronicles! I'm still working on the design of the blog but will hopefully have it done this week. 

You may know me from Ice Cream & Wine: a food blog devoted to casual indulgence. Here on The Granola Chronicles, I'll be sharing more about my life in northern California, but don't worry...recipes will still be posted!

If you were a follower of Ice Cream & Wine - I'd love to have you continue to follow me! Also, if you have linked to my old blog in any blog rolls and lists, please update it to: http://www.thegranolachronicles.com - thanks!

1/12/11

CSA : J&P Organics

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My husband and I belong to the best CSA program - although it's our first CSA that we've joined, so we have no comparison. But it's great! We get our produce each week from J&P Organics. I've received many questions from friends and family asking how we went about choosing this particular farm. To be honest, they have a partnership of sorts with Stanford, so a drop-off location for the CSA boxes is on campus (I believe that's the extent of their "partnership" - just a location). Convenience sometimes makes the decision for you, doesn't it? However, we truly enjoy our produce and fully support J&P Organics.

Some of our produce from J&P Organics
We receive an email from J&P over the weekend telling us what they're offering for the upcoming week. It's a week-by-week basis - no contract like many other farms require. If we want to order a box for that week, we simply pay online and our produce is ready to be picked up on Tuesday. 

We do our grocery shopping at 8:00 AM on Sunday mornings (no crowds!), so knowing what fruits and veggies we'll have for that week makes menu planning and grocery shopping a breeze. I plan meals that incorporate the particular vegetables, and we make sure no vegetable goes to waste! 


I get rather excited when I find a recipe that includes almost all the various types of vegetables that we have for that week - it's so fun to make a meal using mostly food from our CSA box. Things like curry, stir-fry and soups tend to feature a lot of vegetables, so these types of dishes are made at least once a week. 


But at times there are vegetables that aren't so versatile. Sunchokes? Yeah, we had those two weeks in a row back in the fall. Beets? My husband LOVES them, so he was excited. Leeks, also - not a super uncommon vegetable but definitely not a kitchen staple. I see these unique vegetables as a challenge. I'm forced to think outside the box. To search for recipes that I would normally glance over. 


Also, it's saving us A LOT of money. We pay $23 each week, and we receive a TON of produce. If we were to put that $23 toward produce from the grocery store, we would only be able to buy half of what we get from J&P. It's such a great deal.


Alright, so it turns out that I was going to share a recipe with you (Chickpea Bajane), but it seems my excitement for our CSA program took over!

1/9/11

Coconut Macaroons

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Before I start praising Coconut Macaroons, I must first share some information about my shameful past.

I was, by far, the pickiest eater as a child. Onions? Gross. Mushrooms. Yeah, right. Coconut? Don't even make me.

I can only laugh at how far my taste buds have come. Most of my willingness to try new food stems from my relationship with my husband. That man will try anything! I've also come to the realization that to completely identify myself as "foodie," I must be willing to try new, interesting flavors and ingredients. While coconut is not a new ingredient by any means, the fact that I LOVE Coconut Macaroons is an interesting change of behavior!


These macaroons can hold their own, but I can only imagine what would happen if they were to be dipped in dark chocolate. Swoon.

*Note you can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut.

Coconut Macaroons
Source: Coconut Macaroons III, All Recipes

Ingredients:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups flaked or shredded coconut (one normal size package - I forget how many ounces!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.


In a large bowl, stir together flour, coconut and salt. Stir in the condensed milk and vanilla extract with a spatula. Use a small cookie scoop to shape coconut into mounds. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Coconut should begin to brown and be toasted.


Yield: 24-30 macaroons, depending on your size
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