I’ve never been a breakfast person. Occasionally after a night after one-too-many cocktails, I’ll crave a good and greasy breakfast sandwich…but for the most part, I’ll go for some yogurt and fruit after my morning coffee in my day-to-day routine.

My favorite way to kick it up to the next level, and make it a little more substantial is granola. Sweet, crunchy, nutty granola. Good granola is kind of ridiculously expensive to buy from the store – and I find that it’s usually sub-par to begin with. What can I say? I like a high oat to nut ratio.

Luckily, homemade granola is super easy. And this version highlighting the flavors of almond, vanilla, and honey delivers the sweet crunch that I crave when it comes to granola. I like to use top quality extracts (Rodelle is my favorite go-to brand) for a true natural flavor. Also, I really bump up the nut factor with the addition of whole almonds, sliced almonds, walnuts, and pecans for tons of crunch! And nothing beats local honey, of course. We have an apiary here on Chincoteague now, so delightful to use honey harvested here on my little seaside island!

A brief stint in the oven, and some cooling time – and you have a ton of granola that is good for weeks in the pantry. I love to use it on everything – from crunchy streusel toppings, to yogurt parfaits, to ice cream…

If you’ve not made granola at home yet, definitely give this a try. A great recipe to make with the little ones, too. They’ll love having it for breakfast in the morning throughout the week!

Source: adapted from King Arthur Flour

Roasted Vegetable Quiche

This summer was insanely hectic. I feel like it passed it a blur of beaching, boating, and warm summer nights. I wasn’t in the kitchen making new things to share with you as much as I’d like, but now that the days are becoming cooler – it’s my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. Not to mention it’s the best time of year to work with the bounty that your garden, or local farmers in your area have produced.

I’ve always been passionate about gardening, and particularly varietal history and seed saving. So when the good folks at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello reached out and asked me to share the details on their 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival happening this weekend, I was delighted to do so!

Thomas Jefferson championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. In today’s modern world,  they are continuing that tradition at Monticello – and have been doing so, for many years. They were kind enough to send me a beautiful box of garden goodness fresh from the fields.

monticello

I mean – what an honor. Talk about tasting history! Eggplants (Listadia di Gandia and Black Beauty), Peppers (Marconi and Fish Hots – a variety that was used in seafood houses in my region for hundreds of years), a Green Nutmeg Melon, fresh sesame, and some of their locally made Hickory Syrup and Peach Butter available from their online shop. I can’t thank them enough for sending that box of loveliness my way, it was a real treat!

I ended up tossing the eggplants Marconi peppers with a little olive oil and salt, and added a tomato and some garlic from my dad’s garden for good measure – then roasted. That’s a great way to get out excess moisture, that can lead to soggy situations in whatever dish you’re preparing. Plus, it really intensifies all of the flavor.

Used my favorite pie crust recipe to line my tart pan, and blind bake. Then piled in the roasted vegetable goodness and a rich egg-custard to fill in all the nooks & crannies. And a little goat cheese for good measure. A local farmer has been selling his goat cheese at the farmer’s market here on Chincoteague, and it’s insanely wonderful. Have been enjoying it every chance I can get!

A quick bake for about half an hour, and you’re good to go. Paired with a simple green salad, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year. Could also be made in a pie plate without the crust!

And, if you’re in the vicinity and looking for something to do tomorrow – make sure you check out the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. The’ve got a great lineup of speakers, activities for kids, gardening info, seed saving, good eats….they’ll have it all! A great day to get outside and live, breathe, and taste history.

 

Garlic Herb Salt

Back at Christmas time I bought an insane amount of pre-peeled garlic due to poor grocery shopping planning, and needed something to do with it. I’d remembered a recipe they’d talked about on The Splendid Table a while back for homemade seasoned salt using fresh garlic, and decided that since I had a plethora of the stuff that I needed something to do with…this was the perfect opportunity to try out said recipe.

You guys, it’s been pretty much the only seasoning I’ve used since then – save chili powder and cumin. Not a meal goes by that I don’t find myself dipping into the stuff. I keep a mason jar curing of it at all times, just because it’s so perfect to use on everything – any protein under the sun, to any vegetable or starch you can throw at it! It really heightens the flavor of whatever it is you use it on, without overwhelming it…which many store-bought seasoning blends tend to do!

I roasted the garlic first – to intensify and deepen the flavors. Then, toss it into bunch of salt along with some freshly chopped herbs. Any mix of your favorite will do – I’ve been using rosemary and thyme recently, just because it’s been pretty readily available during the cold months.

However now that it’s warming up and I’m starting to think about my herb garden – I’m looking forward to experimenting with different blends of herbs this season. I also think that bit of citrus zest would also be a welcome addition to the party! Or maybe a smidge of lavender for an Herbes de Provance twist? Have fun with it, you can’t mess this one up!

Source: adapted from The Splendid Table

threecheesemacaroniandcheese

Is there anything more comforting than a tray of homemade macaroni & cheese? I can’t believe that up to a few years ago, I was still cracking open one of those blue boxes for my mac & cheese fix. But once I learned how easy it was to make at home, I haven’t looked back.

A quick sauce is made up of butter, flour, and milk. Then once it’s thickened, I’ll add close to a metric ton of shredded cheese. I like to shred my own – the stuff that’s pre-shredded from the store has anti-clumping agents, which doesn’t lead to the same melty, gooey consistency that the blocked cheese will give you.

I used yellow sharp cheddar (for a nice bite), Gruyere (for a mellow sweetness), and Parmesan (for a salty kick). They all blend together so beautifully in the sauce to create a symphony of cheesiness. But, feel free to experiment with whatever you like! This sauce is just a blank canvas for whatever cheesy goodness you can dream up. Enjoy!