6.30.2011

Summer in a Bottle

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Alright, I'd love for someone to tell me how it came to be June 30 all of a sudden. Tomorrow is July?! I just can't even believe it!

We're definitely experiencing summer here in Palo Alto. Temperatures are in the 80s for the next week, and I am loving it. 


I've decided that quick, simple and refreshing dinners are a must for this type of weather. Who wants to be cooped up in a hot kitchen with the oven or stove?

And when a recipe calls for half a lime, there's only one thing to do.




Beer + lime = summer!




But I digress...let's get back to that simple and refreshing meal.




I found a recipe for Avocado-Lime Black Bean Salad on Oh She Glows. It was practically screaming summer, so I decided to whip it up last night. 


I added tomatoes and cayenne to Angela's recipe (which she adapted from The Kitchn), and I think they were both great additions. 


Summer Black Bean Salad
Adapted from: Oh She Glows


Ingredients:
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 shallot, chopped
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt & pepper, to taste
half an avocado, cubed


Directions:
Toss ingredients (except for avocado) in a medium bowl. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, top with cubed avocado. 


I served this with tortilla chips, but it'd also be great in tortillas or hard taco shells.

Is there a drink that reminds you of summer?

For me it's a beer with lime - summer in a bottle! :)
 

6.29.2011

Two-Bean Quinoa Salad

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There are times when I stumble across a recipe, and I just know it's going to be a good one.


After seeing green beans on our CSA produce list over the weekend, I began looking on My Recipes - one of my favorite recipe sites. My search terms: green beans, main dish, and vegetarian.


The original recipe did not include quinoa, but I added it in for an extra protein punch. The soft beans and quinoa worked very nicely with the crunchy beans and onions. The tomatoes are key though - they just pop in your mouth!




This was such an easy dinner to make and perfect for summer. Because it can be served at room-temperature, this would also make a great lunch to pack for work!


Two-Bean Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: My Recipes


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a red onion, sliced
1 cup cooked quinoa*
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt & pepper


Directions:
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add in green beans and cook for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. 


In a medium bowl, combine the green beans, cannellini beans, tomatoes, onion and quinoa. Add in the zest, oil and lemon juice - toss until well-coated. Season with salt and pepper - refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.


You can serve this cold or at room temperature. 


*Make the quinoa the night before and store in the fridge - then it's ready to go!

Brown Sugar Breakfast

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I know, I know. Just the other day I promised that I'd be done with breakfast posts for a while. After today's breakfast though, I just couldn't let this one pass!


After getting peaches in our CSA box yesterday, I woke up craving one.




I used my normal recipe for hot oat bran

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup oat bran
a lot of cinnamon

Bring the water and milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add in oat bran, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in cinnamon. 




Now comes the fun part, my friends. Top with a chopped peach and sprinkle on some brown sugar. Gosh, I could sprinkle brown sugar on everything! It started to get all nice and melted - swoon!

Enjoy your Wednesday - I'll be back later today with a recipe for Tw0-Bean Salad!

6.28.2011

Peachy Keen

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It has been a gloomy day in the Bay Area, folks. Don't worry though...these have brightened my day!


Evan did it again! He added on an order of fresh flowers to our CSA produce box. When I stopped by our pick-up location to get our produce, I was jealous of those who got flowers this week after seeing them. Then I noticed that our order said "box + flowers," and I got really excited!


I think they might be too large for our vase!

For our produce, we received pretty normal stuff. However, we did get a new fruit...


Peaches! We received nectarines a few weeks ago, and they were amazing. I can't wait to try a peach!


We've received strawberries for two months straight. I am not complaining!


Cauliflower, broccoli, oranges and zucchini were also in the box.


Carrots and dino kale - I'll be sure to post about kale chips soon! Green beans, baby spinach and lettuce rounded out the box this week.  

Broccoli - yay or nay?

I've decided that I am not a fan of raw broccoli - but I like it steamed or roasted. The texture of it raw kind of freaks me out...I'm not sure why, but I just don't like it!

6.27.2011

Sweet & Spicy Walnuts

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This is such an exciting day for two reasons. 


1. I'm finally sharing a recipe! I've been slacking as of late - just showing you pictures of breakfast. I haven't made dinner in...like three weeks. That will be changing soon because...


2. Evan gets home today! Wait, didn't he already return from India? Well, yes. And then he left three days later for a bachelor party. Needless to say, I'm excited to really have my husband back - I've missed him!


So onto that recipe...




Those may look like regular ol' walnuts, but they're not! Honey and cayenne? Sweet and spicy? I'm in!




Sea salt, cumin, coriander and cayenne make for a delicious combination!




I use this Hawaiian Red Sea Salt from Trader Joe's, and I love it. I know we're supposed to be concerned with our sodium intake, but my goodness. This salt is wonderful!




I found this recipe for Spiced Walnuts on Whole Living - a Martha Stewart site. I changed the recipe just a bit (completely forgot about the sugar, to be honest!), and they turned out to be a perfect snack. 


Enjoy these walnuts - and those wonderful omega 3 fatty acids. :)


Sweet & Spicy Walnuts


Ingredients:
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
2.5 cups walnut halves & pieces
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne


Directions:
In a large skillet, heat honey, olive oil and one tablespoon water over medium heat. Add in walnuts and toss to coat. 


Sprinkle in the remaining ingredients - and heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cool for a few hours. 


*I stored mine in a tupperware container...I finished them off in three days. :)


What's your favorite kind of  nut (or seed)?


I kind of forgot about walnuts, until I made this recipe! However, I'm all about pistachios!

6.26.2011

Coffee Splurge

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Good morning! I hope you are enjoying your Sunday!


As many of you know from previous posts, Evan and I like to have special breakfasts on the weekends. We eat "normal" breakfasts like yogurt, granola, oatmeal and cereal during the week, so we like to change it up a bit on the weekends. Pancakes, cinnamon rolls, frittatas - you name it!




I found these Blueberry Raspberry Oat Bran Muffins at Trader Joe's this morning and thought they'd looked pretty darn delicious. 




I heated one up in the microwave and slathered on some butter. Because butter makes everything better, don't ya know?!




I also enjoyed a white nectarine that I purchased at the Palo Alto Farmers' Market yesterday. So juicy!




I made a quick pit-stop at Peet's to grab a coffee. I usually keep things simple...just coffee and cream. Every once in a while I like to splurge and order a "fun" drink. This morning I ordered a sugar-free caffe mocha with soy milk. To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of hot coffee drinks that are super sweet. If I'm ordering a cold or frozen coffee, then I like the sugar! 


I have to attend a work event for a few hours later today, and then I must clean our fridge. It's getting a little out of control! Hope you have a lovely Sunday.


Are you a fan of coffee? What's your favorite drink to order at a coffee shop?

6.25.2011

California Saturday

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Today has felt like the quintessential Saturday in California!

I woke up and headed downtown to the Palo Alto Farmer's Market. While I wanted to grab every fruit and vegetable that was available, I knew that our CSA produce from this week is still in abundance. I resisted almost everything - but did purchase some essential items.


I knew I wanted to get breakfast at the farmers' market, so after sampling a white nectarine, I purchased two of them. I sliced one up this morning and enjoyed it with an apple turnover. 


Can you see the sugar that has caramelized on top? Oh, it was just delicious!

Early this afternoon, I decided to head out on one my favorite running/hiking routes. It's 6.6 miles in total, and it felt great today. I have some pictures that Evan took on this same route back in the fall when we did it at a leisurely pace - can't really take my camera on a run!


When that's the view, trust me...the 6.6 miles tend to fly!



I wish every single one of you could experience this beautiful summer weather here in Northern California. It's just gorgeous! I also like that I have easy access to trails and hiking routes, yet I'm in the heart of Silicon Valley. This place has everything, and I never want to leave!

Hope you had a wonderful day, friends!

6.24.2011

Cold Morning

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Happy Friday! Thank you so much for your support and "likes" on The Granola Chronicles Facebook page


I woke up this morning with a craving for a cold breakfast. I've been eating a lot of this hot oat bran lately, but apparently my taste buds were up for something different.




Evan made some overnight iced coffee by filling up our 12-cup French Press with water and coffee grounds (not sure of the measurements, but I'll let you know!) and keeping it in the fridge overnight. 


This morning I added a little soy creamer and ice - perfect!




Along with my coffee, I enjoyed some Multigrain O's Cereal - Trader Joe's version of Multigrain Cheerios - with some Kashi Go Lean Crunch, fresh organic strawberries and skim milk.


This breakfast totally satisfied my cold food craving! Well, I best be going to work. Enjoy your day!


What did you have for breakfast this morning?

6.23.2011

LIKE

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I joined the masses today, friends. You can now LIKE The Granola Chronicles on Facebook! I did this for various reasons, one of which was because I kept bombarding my friends' news feeds on Facebook with recipes, blog updates, etc. I decided that if people were actually interested, then they'd LIKE the page. Easy enough!


I also created a page as a way to interact with more of you. I cannot explain how much I truly enjoy blogging and the friends I've made through this online community. Your support over these past five months has been absolutely unbelievable - I'm humbled that you keep coming back for more. 


Here's what to expect on the Facebook page:


-blog updates
-links to recipes I stumble across
-pictures of my adventures here in NorCal
-special giveaways!


I hope you'll join in on the fun - see you on Facebook! :)

6.22.2011

Thick and Thin

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Hi, friends! How's your day treating you? Mine is going well now that it's cooled off a bit. We hit the 90s on Monday and yesterday, so I'm loving this perfect 75 degrees today!

So you know I love smoothies, as shown here and here and here - just to list a few. :)  

What you may not know is that I like thick smoothies and thin smoothies equally. If I'm having a smoothie with lunch or for a snack in the afternoon, I make them nice and thick.




The thickness requires a spoon, and I usually take my time while eating it.




However, if I make a smoothie for breakfast, I keep it thin. I'll make it right after getting out of the shower and drink it while I'm doing my make-up and hair. Drinking it straight from the glass makes it easy to multi-task in the morning!




To achieve thin smoothies, I increase the amount liquid and also throw in some regular fruit (not frozen). Thick smoothies are made by lowering the amount of liquid but also using only frozen fruit.




Berry Banana Smoothie


1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Aria Protein)
1 handful of baby spinach
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
3 strawberries


This smoothie had the perfect drinkability score - if there's such a thing!


If you make smoothies, do you like them thick or thin?

6.21.2011

Reasons I Love CSA Programs

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Goodness, gracious! I'm always blown away by how quickly Tuesday seems to sneak up on us. Here we are again with another Community Supported Agriculture post!


Before I show you this week's goodies, I thought I'd share some of the reasons why I love our CSA program.


1. Buying locally-grown, organic produce is good for my body and good for our community's local economy. I get fresh produce, and I put money right back into the community I live in. Two birds. One stone.


2. I don't have to try and figure out which vegetables to eat each week. Y'all know I can get into meal ruts...eating the same thing all the time. If it weren't for our CSA program, I'd probably eat the same vegetables every week.


3. It makes grocery shopping a breeze. There's no need to stand in the produce section trying to find the perfect potato. Although I'm sure the employee's at Trader Joe's think Evan and I don't eat fresh fruit and vegetables since they're missing from our cart!


4. It forces me to get creative and try recipes I wouldn't normally make. Like this extremely indulgent, extremely delicious Beet Risotto.

**********
Alright, here's this week's loot:


Look at those colors!




I'm happy that plums have made a return - such a delicious fruit that I don't think gets the recognition it deserves. SO good. 




You know Evan is most excited about those beets.




Perfect strawberries, don't you think?!




I like to roast green beans - most of their crunchiness remains, but they take on such a deep flavor.


All together now: plums, oranges, strawberries, carrots, celery, beets, zucchini, potatoes, lettuce and green beans. 


Do you belong to a CSA program or buy local produce at farmers' markets?

6.20.2011

Weekend and a Winner

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Playing catch-up from the weekend?
- I shared a filling warm quinoa salad
- Hot oat bran is where it's at!
- My husband is home from India


Hope y'all had a great weekend! With the return of my loving husband, how could mine not be good? Throw in a little falafel, and it was complete. :)


Evan and I went out to eat last night and enjoyed some tasty Mediterranean food. We were both feeling the need to eat outside, so when we stumbled upon great outdoor seating at Anatolian Kitchen, we were sold!




We started with some falafel, hummus and salad. Best falafel I've ever had - so, so good! We ended up sitting outside enjoying our food for over an hour and a half! It feels good to be back together again. :)


Alright, now it's time to reveal the winner of the reusable bags and granola...





Congrats to Meg from Pink Giggles! Send me an email - granolachronicles@gmail.com - with your address and choice of granola.


Thank you all so much for entering and reading this little ol' blog of mine!


What's your favorite ethnic cuisine?

I love Indian and Thai - and Ethiopian has become a new favorite!

6.19.2011

Halfway Around the World

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Something hasn't been right in The Granola Chronicles household for the past two weeks. You may have noticed...

- I was posting single-serve recipes like this frittata and that delicious oat bran.

- I picked up a single cupcake on our anniversary.

- I ate the same thing for dinner three nights in a row. 

- I was drinking a lot of wine. ;)

- I attended a new restaurant event by myself.

- I mentioned on Twitter that "skype was saving me."


Evan has been in India! He flew halfway around the world for part of his research here at Stanford. His flight gets in this morning, and you have no idea how excited I am to hug his face. I have been missing it like whoa. Thankfully, we were able to skype quite a bit. Thank you, technology!!

I kept this a secret because I didn't feel like letting the whole internet know that I was home alone - safety reasons, ya know?!

On another note - 

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Homecoming, 2008

I hope you have a wonderful day!

6.18.2011

Beautiful Bran

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Good morning! Hope you're already enjoying this beautiful Saturday. By the way, thanks so much for your sweet comments regarding my silly computer picture showing off my new hair-do. You're much too kind!


While we've been experiencing some fab-u-lous weather lately in the Bay Area, I was craving a hot breakfast.




Now previously, I had only used oat bran in granola and a yummy healthified muffin recipe.




I had heard (from some of you!) that you can use oat bran just like regular oats and get a delicious bowl of oat bran for breakfast. 




Mmm, this was just perfect! The warm oats really brought the juices out in the strawberries and raspberries and melted the honey like it was nobody's business. 




Oat bran cooks in a flash on the stove, so this is great for weekday breakfasts - and lazy weekend ones.


Single-Serve Hot Oat Bran


Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk (unsweetened vanilla)
1/4 cup oat bran
dash of cinnamon
strawberries
raspberries
drizzle of honey


Directions:
In small saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Add the oat bran - reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and stir. Transfer to a bowl, add fruit and honey. Enjoy!


Ok, I'm off to wander the aisles of Target and Whole Foods. Fingers crossed I don't come back a poor woman!


What are you up to today? Something more exciting than Target & WF? :)
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