Summer Snacking

Guess what day week it is!

EAA 2014 038
Yes, this is one of last year’s pictures. I haven’t made it down to the brown arch for my 2015 picture yet.

That’s right, we are smack-dab in the middle of EAA Airventure. It’s arguably the world’s largest aviation celebration/event/convention/party, and we are lucky enough to live just up the highway from the excitement. Andy and I share a love for all things aviation, and we spend as much time as we possibly can down in Oshkosh this week. (Side note – and shameless plug – for the event: Even though the airplanes are cool, the people are the real reason for going. Yesterday, we got to hear three WWII vets talk about their experiences in a B-17. Priceless.) 

Several days at an airshow means several days of packed lunches and dinners. (Yes, we could buy food there, but this is cheaper, healthier AND tastier.) Our typical airshow snacks include fresh veggies (cucumbers and green beans from our garden), cheese and crackers, fruit and whatever else sounds good when I’m packing the cooler. This year, I decided to make something new for airshow snacking.

Several years ago, I saved a recipe for a maple nut snack mix from the now-defunct Cooking for Two magazine. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this, but I’m glad I finally did. It was easy to make, and I had nearly all of the ingredients on hand. I substituted pecans for the walnuts, since that’s what was in my pantry, and I added some dried cranberries to the mix after it came out of the oven. The result was a super-addicting, sweet-salty snack that’s perfect for enjoying on the flight line (or wherever your summer adventures take you).

Maple Snack Mix

Maple Pecan Snack Mix

6 cups of rice chex cereal
1 1/2 cups pretzels
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 cup real maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the cereal, pretzels, pecans and sesame seeds. In a glass measuring cup (yet another use for the 2-cup Pyrex cup!), whisk together the maple syrup and butter. Pour the butter-syrup mixture over the cereal mixture and gently stir until it is completely coated.

Spread the mixture on the prepared pan and bake until crisp, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before adding the cranberries to the mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Cooking for Two, Spring 2007

Click here for printable version.

Great Granola!

My previous “go-to” granola recipe was one from Epicurious called Everyday Granola. And while it was good, it wasn’t great. In fact, “everyday” may not be the best way to describe it. I’d make it every now and then, but it definitely wasn’t a regular in my kitchen.

Enter my new favorite cookbook. I made a batch of Deb’s “Big Cluster Maple Granola” shortly after receiving the book for my birthday last month, but I only got to try a little bit of it before it was gone. (I shipped some to my in-laws as a thank-you for the book, and Andy made quick work of the remainder.) I decided it to give it another shot last week and figured I’d share some of it with a friend who just had a baby. One batch should be plenty, right?

Well… let’s just say I have to go buy more oatmeal now. 🙂

Seriously. Lacey’s lucky that Andy quit double-fisting it from the pan long enough for me to pack up a bag for her. And it must have been good, since she sent me a message less than a day later to ask for the recipe. Looks like we have a new “everyday” granola here.

As you can see from my pictures, I’m still struggling with getting the “big clusters” that Deb made look SO easy. Maybe I need more egg white, maybe I stir it too much. Clusters or not, we like this.

Big Cluster Maple Walnut Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut (Deb says to use unsweetened; I just use the bag of sweetened stuff that’s in my pantry.) 
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I’m pretty sure this is what takes it over the top. You get bites of sweet with the salt mixed in. YUM.) 
1/2 cup real maple syrup (No Mrs. Butterworth here!) 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (Deb says cherries; I prefer cranberries) 

Preheat oven to 300. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a large bowl, stir the oats, coconut, walnuts, wheat germ, salt and cinnamon together. Stir in the olive oil and maple syrup, making sure everything is well coated.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until it is frothy, then pour the egg white over your granola mixture. Stir until evenly coated. Spread the mixture out on the prepared pan.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until mixture is dry and golden brown. Stir the granola halfway through baking, being careful to not break up the “clusters” too much. Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding the fruit to the granola. Store in an airtight container.

From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Click here for a printable version.