Perfect Artichokes

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Sometimes it feels like the weeks go by with a blink of the eye! (I swear I didn't mean to rhyme!) 

How are you doing?! I'm fabulous - the sun is out, tomorrow is Friday and I'm snacking on some of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Major thanks to my sweet friend, Katie for that! :)

I am finally going to share how I cook those beautiful organic artichokes that we receive quite a bit in our CSA box. 

I boil mine - although it's basically steaming, as I just have about a 1/2-inch of water in the bottom of pot. If you have a steamer basket, go right ahead and use that.

First you're going to cut off part of the stem and about one inch off the top.

If you're going to use my method of standing them in a pot of boiling water, you'll want to make sure that the artichokes can stand on their own - cut evenly! If you're using a steamer basket, you don't have to worry about being so precise.

After cutting the stem and the top, you'll want to take some kitchen shears and cut the tips off the remaining leaves. They're super pointy, so you don't want to deal with them in your mouth. While they do soften up after being cooked, I just find easier to snip them off!

Fill a pot with a 1/2-inch of water - just enough to cover part of the stems. You can throw in some smashed garlic cloves too for a little bit of flavor. You'll bring the water to a boil, then you'll cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40-50 minutes depending on their size. If the outer leaves pull off very easily, then they're done!

I sometimes dip the leaves in melted butter with some garlic powder, thyme and oregano. But seriously?! Artichokes are flavorful enough on their own. So savory!

Here are the easy steps in review:
1. Cut off part of stem and top. Trim pointy leaves.
2. Half inch of water in a pot with the 'chokes, bring to a boil.
3. Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes.
4. Enjoy!

We're actually having these tonight with some roasted beets and...rice, pasta or some sort of grain. Maybe cheesy garlic toast! I'll keep you posted. :)

It's Addicting

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Seriously?! Y'all are so amazing and supportive. I know I'm not the only one craving a little balance in my life - we all lead hectic lives! I just wanted to thank you for all your sweet comments on my last post

Ok, I have an absolutely delicious (and pretty darn healthy!) snack to share with you. But I'm warning you's addicting!

It's 5-Layer Taco Dip! I was inspired by Anne - and made a few changes for an even easier recipe (if you can even call it that!).

Anne's original recipe for Seven Layer Dip involves fresh avocados and tomatoes. I took a little shortcut and bought guacamole and salsa from Trader Joe's (both with great ingredients).

Super Fast, Super Easy Taco Dip
Inspired by: fANNEtastic Food

3/4 cup plain Chobani 
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 can (15 oz.) re-fried beans
8 oz. guacamole
8 oz. salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together Chobani and taco seasoning. Set aside.

In a pie plate, spread the beans evenly. Next spread on the guacamole, followed by the Chobani mixture. Top with salsa and cheese. 

Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Tuesday Tradition Continues

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Howdy, friends! While I've been a little sporadic in my posting over the last couple of weeks, there is one day that has stayed normal - Tuesday CSA posts. No matter how hectic life gets, I can always count on this little Tuesday tradition to continue!

Oranges, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, beets, onions, baby spinach, artichokes and carrots. 

I'm thinking some baked goods are in my future - perhaps some zucchini lemon muffins?! That could be a delicious idea!

In other news, I'm trying to find some balance in my life. I work for two nonprofits during the day, and I also write two blogs (this one and Simply Sorority) in my free time. In total, I'm currently maintaining 3 Facebook pages and 3 Twitter accounts. I love social media, so I find all of this fun and completely rewarding. I just need to plan out my days and organize my life a little bit better - that way you can start relying on consistent posts here on The Granola Chronicles. Please bear with me over the next few days as I figure out my day-to-day routine. 

Thank you so much for your support - I'm always so impressed by the blogging community!

4.24 Sunday Sunset

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And this is what he promised us - even eternal life.
1 John 2:25 

Happy Easter! I hope your day was filled with sunrise services, time with family, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans!

Blog Recipes

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A huge hello to all those new readers who are leaving comments! I'm not sure where you're coming from, but I like it! :)

I'm kind of in disbelief that tomorrow is Friday. Holy moly, time is flying! We're having a couples game night tomorrow at our apartment with some fun friends of ours, so I'm excited for the weekend to officially arrive.

We had steamed artichokes tonight for dinner (post coming soon, I promise!), and they were fabulous as always. Tonight I wanted to share two meals that I have been loving as of late!

I made Sweet Potato & Lentil Salad (vegan) from Oh She Glows. I subbed steamed lentils from Trader Joe's for the dried lentils. Other than that - I followed it exactly. The mustard and maple syrup combination is a keeper, for sure!

And earlier this week, I turned to Mama Pea.

No-Egg Salad, dear readers. I've been thinking about how I want to describe this, and I'm having such a tough time. Basically, it's the best thing on earth. Serve it on hot toast?! Oh goodness!!

Just like the above recipe, I followed Mama Pea's exactly - except for one change. I subbed plain Greek yogurt for the vegan mayo. It's just red peppers, celery, pickles, baked tofu, plain Greek yogurt and mustard. That is IT. No additional seasonings required. Make this. Please!

What blogs do you rely on for delicious recipes?

Coconut Craziness

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Hi, friends! How's the day been treating you? My Wednesday has been going well - just the normal work thing + some Simply Sorority progress. I'm happy to hear that there are a few sorority women out there! :)

I have to let you in on a little secret. Lately, I have become obsessed with coconut. It started with my birthday cake...

And then this little jar of heaven arrived on my doorstep...

And now, my friends, it's this...

Trader Joe's now sells coconut milk ice cream! They have both strawberry and chocolate - and it's only $2.99! It is the creamiest frozen treat you will ever have. I promise.

If you're feeling super crazy, feel free to enjoy it with a little coconut-almond granola on top! I followed the same recipe for my coconut-pistachio granola but substituted sliced almonds for the pistachios. Delicious!

What food have you been obsessing over lately?!

Whoa, Kale!

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So I have to admit that I was hesitant to post the kale recipe because kale can be such a touchy subject. People either eat it all the time or hate it entirely. Apparently, most of you enjoy kale and A LOT of you are excited to try it out! I enjoyed reading all your lovely comments! 

Before I share this week's produce with you, I want to let you know about a side project of mine. I have another blog, Simply Sorority, that is devoted to bringing all sorority women together and breaking down negative stereotypes. If you are a proud sorority sister (or know someone who is, whether they are currently in college or an alumna) please let me know! I'm trying to get that blog up and moving and would love your support!

Ok, self promotion is over! Community Supported Agriculture time - my favorite part of the week.

Artichokes, carrots, oranges, potatoes and lettuce.

Parsley, peas, onions, broccoli, beets and STRAWBERRIES (times two!). 

Oh, yes. You best believe I'm making beet risotto this week. My taste buds cannot wait! Other treats this week include: rosemary infused mahi mahi, baked polenta and steamed artichokes.

A lot of you asked about how I prepare artichokes, so I'll be sure to cover that in a post soon.

Ok, I'm off to snack on strawbs. Enjoy your Tuesday night, friends!

Warm Kale Salad

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Hello! I hope you've been making the most of this Monday! I think we've all established the fact that Mondays come way too quickly. However, I've also realized that Mondays always seem to fly by, so we give and take a little.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I had a "light & refreshing dinner" last night and promised to share the recipe today. I'm not one to break promises, so here we go!

P.S. If you follow me on Twitter, you may also know that I experienced my first earthquake this afternoon. It wasn't big - but big enough for this Midwestern gal who had never experienced one before!

That, my friends, is Warm Kale Salad over Lemony Quinoa (which is covered up). After planning my menu last week, the two vegetables I had left were kale and cauliflower. I lucked out and found a recipe that used both. 

I made a few minor changes - but was very happy with the outcome. This is a super light meal but also extremely filling. The combination of lemon and mustard is definitely a winner.

Warm Kale Salad over Lemony Quinoa
Adapted from: All Recipes

Quinoa Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup water
2/3 cup dry quinoa
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Warm Kale Salad Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil

To prepare the quinoa, add the water and the quinoa to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes - until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid. 

To prepare the salad, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add in kale. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl - be sure to reserve 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice for the quinoa. Whisk until well-combined. 

Drain the cauliflower and kale - pour sauce over vegetables and stir to coat. Add the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the quinoa once it is done. 

To serve: add quinoa to a bowl and place warm kale salad on top. Enjoy!

Yield: 3 servings

Sunday Sunsets

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Good evening! Once again, another weekend has come and gone. Can you believe it's Sunday night? 

Tonight I'm starting what I hope will be a regular feature here on The Granola Chronicles - one that will be posted every Sunday night. I absolutely love watching sunsets and taking pictures of them - as most of you know from posts where I randomly throw in a sunset!  

I truly find inspiration in both sunrises and sunsets, and I think this will be a great way to help us all ease into a new week. And because I'm feeling super inspirational, I think I'll end every post with a quote. Cheesy? Quite possibly. 

So - let me know your thoughts on this feature. I want to make sure there is interest in something like this!

There is more hunger for love and 
appreciation in this world than for bread.
-Mother Teresa

[Open Space] RSA

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Hello, friends! I hope you're enjoying this lovely Sunday. My weekend has been so relaxing. Evan and I slept in yesterday, went for 5.5 mile hike and then headed to a BBQ last night. Between the hike and the BBQ, it definitely felt like a summer day. No complaints here!

We went to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve to tackle 5.5 miles. (You can read about our other hikes here.) 

Rancho San Antonio is only about 20 minutes from our apartment. It's so weird that we live in the heart of Silicon Valley, yet we're so close to parks, foothills and preserved land. It's really just the best of both worlds.

Like I said, we did a 5.5 mile hike - we also climbed about 800 feet. My thighs could definitely feel the elevation change!

There were SO many people out on the trails yesterday. It was so great to see people being active and enjoying the weather. We also ran into quite a bit of wildlife!

Deer! They were so calm and even posed for pictures - fun!

The trail took us right by Deer Hollow Farm, so we saw some cows, goats and a beautiful garden.

There's just something about painted wooden signs in a garden that make me happy - they're just so natural. I love it!

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Remember Those Muffins?

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Hi, all! Three cheers for Thursday! :)

I've been seriously lacking in the recipe department. It's not that I haven't been trying new ones, I just haven't been posting them. But today is your lucky day - I just posted this fabulous coconut-pistachio granola late last night - and now I'm back with another recipe. 

Remember those muffins from when my parents were here a few weeks ago? Well, I thought it was about time to share the recipe! You can also see another post about these muffins over on KT's Refinishing School - I did a guest post last week. 

I used to think I didn't like blueberry muffins. GASP - the horror! Then I realized I wasn't a fan of the boxed stuff - ya know, with those dried blueberries. Give me the real deal, so the blueberries are nice and juicy when baked!

Blueberry Muffins
Source: All Recipes

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, egg, and butter; mix until ingredients are moistened, do not over beat. Stir in fresh fruit.

Spoon batter into twelve greased muffin cups or use liners. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Serve warm. 

*For those looking for a healthier version, you can try subbing applesauce for the butter. For those wanting to indulge in one of life's greatest pleasures (melted butter), follow as written! :) 

Coconut-Pistachio Granola

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Hi! I can't believe tomorrow is Thursday (and good morning to those of you who are reading this Thursday morning because of the late West Coast posting!). I've come to realize this: when you love your job and enjoy it, the work week flies! Trust me, I've been on the other side of this truth also - and I much prefer a job I enjoy. :)

I thought I'd share a new granola recipe with you - one that Evan and I have been seriously enjoying this week. It is, by far, my favorite granola I've made. I'm not sure if it's the addition of coconut oil - but this stuff is light and flaky! It's hard to describe, but it's almost like it melts in your mouth. I'm kind of obsessed. 

I finally used the coconut oil that Tropical Traditions sent me a few weeks ago, and I'm so glad I did. As always, the views in this post (and every post) are solely my own. 

I really think you should make this. Like, right now. Ok?!

Coconut-Pistachio Granola
Inspired by: Coconut Granola II

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup pistachios
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (Bob's Red Mill)

In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, coconut oil and salt. Add in remaining ingredients, and vigorously stir until well-coated. Pour onto a baking sheet and spread evenly. Place in oven and set to 300 degrees. Bake for 25-30 - stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. ENJOY!

Yield: When I make granola with 3 cups of oats and 1 cup of nuts, it lasts Evan and I about one week (give or take). We each have a 1/3 cup serving every morning - so I guess 12 one-third cup servings sounds about right! :)

Cali Tour: Sterling Vineyards

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This is the fourth post of the series, Cali Tour. I'll be sharing stories & pictures from my parents' visit here in California. Other posts include: Stanford's Memorial Church, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wine Country was definitely on our list of things to do when my parents were here back in March. Even though Evan and I live only two hours south of Napa, this was actually our first time there! Oh - and while we drove through a storm on the drive there - it didn't rain once we arrived. Perfection.

Our first winery stop was at Sterling Vineyards. General admission is normally $25/person, but we found a $5 coupon for each admission on their website - saved twenty bucks! Admission included: aerial tram, self-guided tour, complimentary tasting of five wines and a souvenir glass. 

Inside the tram, heading up to the winery!
Hey, dad & mom!
After we stepped out of the aerial tram, we were greeted with a glass and our first tasting. We wasted no time, my friends.

Cheers! We then started on our self-guided tour through the winery - the place was not only interesting but also absolutely beautiful. The building followed architectural designs found in Greece.

I also loved seeing all the barrels. Now that's a lot of wine!

Four of the tastings were set up throughout the tour, and the last tasting occurred in the tasting room. There was a huge deck with a beautiful view right off the tasting room.

I was a happy girl with that wine in my hand! I wasn't for sure how the day was going to play out in terms of how many vineyards/wineries we would visit. Let's just say, I have a few more posts to share. Oh yeah, and I tasted 23 wines that day. Oops! :)

New Fruit

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Howdy! I hope you're enjoying your Tuesday - mine has been going well. :)

I just got back from picking up our CSA produce box for this week. I've been anticipating this moment since Friday when the organic farm gave us the list for this week - a new fruit was going to be in the mix!

Strawberries! How gorgeous do they look? I haven't tried them yet, but I'm excited to snack on them later.

Here is the rest of the loot..

Baby spinach, peas, carrots and kale...

Oranges, potatoes and yams...

Chard, cauliflower and broccoli. Once again, a solid week for produce.

Here's our menu for the rest of the week:

-Tonight: Baked Tofu and Broccoli-Potato Mash
-Wednesday: Minestrone Soup & Cornbread 
-Thursday: Soup/Cornbread Leftovers
-Friday: Kale & Cauliflower in a Mustard Dressing + Quinoa 

I have some recipes that I still need to share with you - I promise to get those posted soon, as well as the ones from this week after we've tried them.

Have a lovely night, friends!
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