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Blog — "cuisine"

The Best Granola Ever

Heidi Shenk "cuisine" "food" "recipe"

I may be biased because this is the recipe my mom always used and I grew up eating it. But this is the best granola ever. I could honestly eat this every morning and be a happy person. Aside from being delicious, there are other great bonuses to this recipe as well. It's ridiculously simple to make, it's not pumped full of preservatives and chemicals like your boxed breakfast cereal, and it's very inexpensive to make. I like to use organic ingredients which I can find in the bulk section at either Wegmans or Whole Foods. While some of the ingredients such as honey and vanilla may be costly up front, they last for a while and you can use them for several batches.

In a large bowl, mix:
6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup nuts (I always enjoy dry roasted peanuts)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Add the following and mix well:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Stir mixture while still on the baking sheet and bake for 5 more minutes and repeat. Total baking time is 25 minutes. After the granola is finished baking, let it cool on the baking sheets. I use a spoon to loosen the cooled granola and scoop it into a cereal container for storage.

Finally, eat the granola! Yum! Eat it with milk (that's what I like best!) or with yogurt as my mom often does.

And if you feel like checking out a few more of my mom's recipes, head over to her Facebook page, La Bonne Vie. She write a weekly column for my hometown paper and always includes a scrumptious recipe.

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Homemade Pesto & Grilled Salmon

Heidi Shenk "cuisine" "food" "Lilah"

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my aunt brought us her basil plants to plant-sit while she and my uncle took a family trip out west for several weeks. The basil plant, one sweet and one globe, started out fairly full, but by the end of July they were both huge. We used some of the basil here and there in our cooking, including grilled pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil leaves. But it seemed we could not keep up with the pace in which the plants were growing. Last night, I decided I would make some pesto with the ever growing sweet basil plant.

Since I decided to make pesto, Andrew fired up the grill for some pesto salmon-- one of my favorites ways to prepare the fish. It's a quick and simple recipe and you won't regret making the pesto from scratch.

Homemade Pesto

2 cups of packed basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts (walnuts work fairly well as a substitute if you can't get pine nuts)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
4 decently sized cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Pack the basil into a food processor along with the pine nuts.

Pulse the basil and pine nuts a few times until they're finely chopped. Add the garlic and pulse again. Slowly add the olive oil while food processing. Blend in the Parmesan and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Easy as that!

For the salmon, I like to make a little tin foil boat. I place the salmon in the center, spread the pesto on top, and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the pesto and salmon. Pop it on a hot grill for 15-20 minutes, checking back frequently so that your salmon doesn't get too dry.

Finally, serve it with your choice of veggie, rice, or whatnot. We went with corn on the cob last night.

Yum, yum, yum! So tasty that even Lilah had to guard the grill last night in hopes that she would get a little morsel.

Unfortunately for her, she wasn't as lucky as she had hoped. :)

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Homemade Samoas

Heidi Shenk "cuisine" "food" "recipe"

Just because they were that good, I thought I'd share the recipe for those homemade samoas I wrote about last week. My parents really enjoyed these this past weekend during their visit. Plus these are by far my favorite Girl Scout cookie so what could possibly be better than the homemade version?

Ingredients for Shortbread
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Toppings
3 cups shredded coconut
3/4lb caramels
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

The first step is to make the cookie base. It is a shortbread type base that is super quick and simple. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla and beat. Finally mix the flour and salt in with the rest of your ingredients. Flatten out the dough in a greased 9x13 baking pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until it is lightly browned.

While the shortbread cools, toast 3 cups of coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Be sure to take the baking sheet out of the oven every 5 minutes and give the coconut a good stir so that it doesn't get too dark on one side.

Next, unwrap and melt 3/4lb of caramels along with 3 tablespoons of milk and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Melt the caramels in the microwave on high, stirring occasionally. It takes about three minutes for all of the caramel to melt.

Finally, stir in the toasted coconut and spread the caramel mixture on top of your shortbread. Cut out squares of your cookie to prepare for the chocolate. Melt one cup of chocolate chips in the microwave. I usually melt the chocolate chips for several 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Dip the bottoms of your cookies in the melted chocolate, reserving some chocolate to drizzle on top as well.

If you decided to make these, let me know how they turned out! Enjoy!

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Grilled Jerk Chicken Focaccia Sandwiches

Heidi Shenk "cuisine" "food" "recipe" "summer"

As you've probably figured out by now, I love summer food! So much fun to make all sorts of refreshing meals from the fresh fruits and veggies that summer has to offer. Not to mention all of the amazing options for grilling. Once beautiful weather has shown its face in my neighborhood, the grill gets used about three times a week. One of my favorite items for the summer is a Jerk Chicken Focaccia sandwich, something I've based upon the same fabulous sandwich my mom serves at her bakery.

This is the perfect summer sandwich! Last weekend, with such warm weather, I just had to make it again! This is a sandwich that has been shared with friends, has made its way to Wolf Trap with a bottle of wine during a Crowded House concert, and makes me reminiscent of enjoying food and good company during lunch at my mother's bakery. The flavors are absolutely amazing. While I only will leave you with the recipe for the focaccia and the chicken today, I often serve this sandwich with a fresh mango and pineapple salsa-- perfect complimentary flavors! Perhaps that will be for next time. For now, enjoy the recipes!

Focaccia with Red Onion and Rosemary

1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
half of a red onion
several sprigs of fresh rosemary

1) Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for several minutes until the yeast begins to bubble.

2) Add 1 3/4 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the yeast mixture. Stir until fulling combined. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Add remaining flour as needed. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

3) Cut dough into two equal pieces and shape each piece into flat circles. Place the shaped dough on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

5) Poke indentations in the shaped dough with your fingertips. Brush remaining olive oil on the dough, placed sliced red onion rings evenly over the dough, and sprinkle with rosemary and kosher salt. Bake at 475 for 12 minutes or until golden.

Jerk Chicken Marinade

Combine the following ingredients and let 3-4 chicken breasts marinade. I usually start the marinade in the morning or the night before.

1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon sage
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup onion, finely chopped

 Bake or grill the chicken, basting frequently with the remaining marinade. When the chicken has been cooked through, slice the chicken into small pieces. Slice the focaccia to prepare for sandwiches. I usually lay the sliced chicken on a bed of mixed baby greens for the final sandwich. Enjoy!

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Thinking of a Summer Fiesta

Heidi Shenk "cuisine" "garden" "outdoors" "pendant lights"

While we've been enjoying some amazing weather the past few weeks (finally!) it seems that we have still experienced cooler weather than what is to be expected for Baltimore in May. With all of the work we've done lately with out back yard-soon-to-be-garden-slash-patio, I'm longing for those balmy summer nights. I've picked up a few things here and there to add to out outdoor space, yet I've not been able to actually use them since our patio is nowhere near completed. So for now I just daydream of the fun atmospheric additions I could make once we have reached the finished stages-- which may not be for another few weeks.
There is nothing I love more than having a few friends over for some good food and drinks on a beautiful summer evening. And here are some of the fun things I've found that would be perfect for a summer fiesta. 
via Pigeon Toe Ceramics
via West Elm
via My Fathers House
via Aedriel Originals
via West Elm
via West Elm

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