Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday, she passed away in June. I’m so sad I can’t talk to her anymore, and I miss her like crazy. But I know she lives on in my heart and in my memories of her. And this week I wanted to feel especially close to her memory, and I often do that through cooking. She never thought of herself as a good cook, but there are certain dishes she made that were unique to her and my dad’s heritage and she made them even more special to us by adjusting to our tastes. Read more
I had the wonderful fortune to attend a culinary event this week in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that has been on my summer bucket list for a few years now. It’s called the Blueberry BBQ and is co-hosted by Chef Douglas Katz of Fire Food and Drink in Shaker Heights and Dan and Michelle Greenfield of Greenfield Berry Farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The event showcases the blueberry in a multi-course meal enhanced by craft cocktails honoring the berry as well. And the setting is the berry farm itself with its acres of berry fields and historic rustic barn, a perfect backdrop to compliment a delicious meal.
When I think of the Easter holiday and how it has evolved in my life, I feel so blessed to have been able to share it with family. When I was younger my mom would often cook a big dinner and we would all gather round and enjoy the day. Since I’ve been married, we’ve spend it with hubby’s uncle and aunt. They always welcome a big crowd into their cozy home and somehow make sure everyone has a place.
It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, or as I like to call it – Irish Coffee time! I first discovered Irish coffees shortly out of college, when my former roommate dated and then married a first generation Irishman. After dinner at their house one night, he made us the most delicious coffee drink that not only highlighted the Jameson whiskey integral to its flavor, but introduced us to a new variation on whipping cream. Spooned onto the top of the coffee concoction, it somehow elevated this drink to a special treat that I have now returned to often.
In January, my husband and I embarked on a 21-day Paleo Diet Challenge – no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no alcohol; only vegetables, fruit, and lean meats. We did pretty well and only cheated a tad (mostly because I just needed a little red wine!). And we felt great – our bellies got flatter, we had more energy, and just felt good, all in that short of time! I realized that it is a way of eating that I can follow pretty well and have sought out recipes and variations that we can include in the mix. One difficulty I have with the paleo diet is breakfast. I mean, who can eat eggs or meat every day. It is extremely difficult not to reach for a piece of toast, a pastry, a bagel, a bowl of cereal … granola!
But now, I’ve found a recipe for paleo granola – inspired by Paleo Cupboard that is fantastic! Serve it with a little almond milk or coconut milk and you have an option for cereal that will blow your paleo and non-paleo mind. I don’t think I can eat any other granola after having had this recipe! It really has the perfect balance of sweet to salty with the raw honey and delicious fresh ground pink himalayan sea salt. I will say that this recipe uses raw honey, which is probably not permissible on the paleo Whole30 plan. And because it is granola cereal in concept, purists would still reject it. But I’m thinking it’s an acceptable recipe to include in the mix of a mostly paleo diet – and it is 300% times better than any store bought cereal or granola available.
This recipe also doubles as a snack in place of granola bars. You could technically form it into bars, actually, but I prefer to break it into clumps and store in a jar for easy snacking. Just don’t eat too much – it does have a lot of calories with all of those nuts!
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (no shell)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pink himalayan sea salt
1 cup dried cherries
1. Preheat oven to 275 F. Place the almonds, cashews and coconut flakes in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to break into smaller chunks.
2. Microwave the coconut oil, raw honey and vanilla extract together in a medium sized mixing bowl for about 30-45 seconds. Add the seeds, nuts and coconut flakes and stir to coat.
3. Spread the granola mixture evenly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice.
4. Remove from heat and add the dried cherries and sprinkle with sea salt, pressing the mixture together to form a flat surface.
5. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes or until hardened, and then break into chunks and enjoy in whatever form you like!