Homemade granola

I had a recent epiphany that I like granola, especially on top of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. I think I generally avoided it because of the texture (not crunchy enough), or included nuts that I don't like (i.e. cashews), or to be completely honest - because it was too much of a health food.

But now that my metabolism has changed and I need to find healthier eating options, I did something I rarely do while on vacation last week: I ordered yogurt and granola for breakfast! And, guess what? It was a great, filling meal, and I didn't feel full or sluggish afterwards.

When I got back home, I was inspired to have more yogurt and granola. Since I had a ton of leftover oats from that time earlier this year when I was on a apple crisp baking spree, I decided to attempt my own batch of granola. I found an online recipe, modified it a bit and am super happy with how it turned out! Crunchy. Slightly sweet. Perfect with the Greek yogurt and banana slices I had for breakfast today!

Here's my granola recipe*:
  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Few dashes of salt
*Feel free to mix up the types of nuts, oil and spices used. You can even add some dried fruits after taking the granola out of the oven.

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. On stovetop over medium heat, stir wet ingredients in a saucepan for three minutes or until blended.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
  5. Spread out mixture onto a baking pan covered in foil.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the granola using a spatula. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool down for 20 minutes before storing in jars. My batch filled two quart-sized mason jars.


Long Beach Foodie Getaway!

Hubby and I went to Long Beach to celebrate Christmas and during our weeklong stay we enjoyed several meals from Pickled Fish Restaurant.

Below is a ranked list of the food items I tried:
1. Fennel sausage pizza: the blend of Parmesan, mozzarella and tomato sauce created one of the best pizza bases I've ever had. The mushrooms tasted freshly foraged. Delicious crispy salty crust.

2. Clam chowder: chunks of bacon, creamy salty broth, hint of cayenne. Perfection.

3. Roasted Brussels sprout Caesar: light yet filling. Fresh sprouts and apple slices. Tangy vinaigrette.

4. Oatmeal craisin cookie a la mode: baked fresh in a cast iron skillet topped with vanilla ice cream oozing into the cookie. Warm gooey bites.

5. Baked ham + cheese sandwich: two baguette slices topped with mornay sauce, cheese and ham. I could've drank that sauce straight up. So. Good.

6. Warm craisin white chocolate chip cookies that were in our breakfast basket. Key to its deliciousness was that they were served warm. They were fluffier than other scones I've had, and not overwhelmingly sweet.

7. Yogurt parfait: fresh yogurt + granola + strawberries. Simple and filling. Favorite part? All of the components were served in jars! I'm obsessed with jars.

8. Breakfast sandwich: brioche bun, crispy bacon, micro greens, egg, white cheddar cheese. Nothing notable. Guess I'm just spoiled by MatMuffins.

9. Macaroni and cheese: surprisingly didn't enjoy this as much as I thought and I think it's due to the overwhelming taste of rosemary in the dish. Very cheesy and I liked the spiral noodles versus traditional elbow.

10. Salmon with orzo and pesto: fish was flaky but didn't have much flavor. The orzo was a bit sweet and did not taste very fresh. Pesto sauce was almost non-existent. However, props to making micro greens taste good.

11. French toast: the French toast tasted a bit stale. I liked that it was very cinnamon sugary (think: Cinnamon Toast Crunch). I loved the homemade whipped cream and syrup. Would've liked some more raspberry sauce.

We did a mix of onsite dining, room service and takeout. Dining there is lovely because there is a breathing ocean view from everywhere in the restaurant but we liked the other options for when we were lounging and didn't want to get properly dressed.

The service was always pleasant and we were lucky that the restaurant was so close to where we were staying - directly above our room when we stayed at Adrift and a short parking lot distance away when we stayed at the sister property, Inn at Discovery Coast. We can't wait to go back!

PS - also tried Scotch eggs for the first time, served with three homemade mustards. We scarfed them down before I could take a photo. A must-try!

Master Chef Status -- Lifelong Cooking!

Jamie Francisco Chung is a master chef! To put that in writing only affirms the attention, time and talent that he puts into merging art and precision together in his own home, in his own kitchen.

About a week ago at a Secret Santa gift exchange, Jamie received a nice lil deep fryer, apron and potholders to continue said love of creating masterpieces in the kitchen. (See picture to the left). Last night, he made his first dinner dish with the intention of utilizing the deep fryer – shrimp + vegetable tempura (see additional pictures below). We ventured to the trusty Rainier Ave QFC and grabbed the essential items to make the aforementioned dish:

1 box of tempura mix
1 package of uncooked tiger prawns + shrimp
1 zucchini
1 large white onion
1 sweet potato
1 large tomato
1 packaged of shiitake mushrooms
1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc

Upon arrival in Jamie’s kitchen I attempted to help, but he was in the zone and cleaned, cut and prepared all the shrimp and vegetables himself (so I caught up on my email and we discussed relevant events of the day). Note: Jamie and our dear friend Steven recently took a trip to Japan and took a cooking class while there so he was in the state of mind to apply the skills he had learned then. Once the food was prepped, Jamie prepped the tempura batter. Then, as he started to get the deep fryer prepped and full of oil, a problem occurred – once plugged in the deep fryer would not work properly. We tried to remedy the problem to no avail. But Jamie is a professional (self-proclaimed, and rightfully so) solution provider; therefore he utilized an alternative method to fry the food – gas stove top + high quality pan wear = we were back in business!

It got the job done! A short while later dinner was ready! Also, please note we already had two sauces for dipping: a sweet chili sauce and a soy/rice vinegar sauce. Eating ensued. The food was on point and lessons were learned. The shrimp, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms were all near perfection! We both agreed we could have done without the tomato tempura  – or the tomato should be dried out beforehand. The sweet potatoes could have used an extra 1-2 minutes being deep-fried, but were tasty all the same. All and all this was a very good meal! I am certain the next time will be even better!

Here’s to you Chef Jamie, you could be the real top chef MVP! Now it is your turn to be a guest blogger. Challenge accepted?!