Sunday, December 28, 2014

Raffy's Quinoa and Ceci Soup

I love the episodes of Giada at Home where Aunt Raffy comes over and cooks with Giada.  Those two ladies are a riot in the kitchen!  I must admit that I love it when Aunt Raffy gives Giada a hard time.  I just find it very entertaining.  What's more is that they always cook something delicious that begs to be made, like Aunt Raffy's Quinoa and Ceci Soup.

This is a power-packed super satisfying soup with lots of chickpeas (ceci) and the super healthy and ever-so-popular quinoa.  These powerhouse ingredients are made flavorful with lots of veggies, a variety of fresh herbs, and lots of Parmesan. It's definitely a feel good soup that leaves you feeling rather virtuous, plus it's even better the next day! It's a win-win all around.

Raffy's Quinoa and Ceci Soup
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6-8

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
One 3-inch piece Parmesan rind
Two 15-ounce cans ceci (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 cup of kale, chopped*
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, for garnish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish 
Note: I added kale simply because I had it on hand and thought it was a great addition.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, garlic, pepper flakes, thyme, oregano and rosemary and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes. Add the basil, parsley, Parmesan rind, chickpeas (ceci), chopped kale, wine, broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove the herb sprigs and rind. Add the quinoa to the remaining soup in the pot and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some of the Parmesan and drizzle with some of the olive oil before serving.
Theme: December Potluck

Every Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen           

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Maple Baked Granola

Tis the season for gift giving.  Homemade treats of every variety will be made with love and shared with all.  Everywhere you turn there will be one delicious indulgence after another.  There will be trays of cookies, Christmas candies, gingerbread men, pastries, fudge, and you can wash it all down with some eggnog.  Temptation overload.

This year I have some friends and family that are leaning a little more towards the healthy side.  Some people are overwhelmed with too many cookie platters while others are avoiding wheat or sugar.  Some treats need to be shipped, which requires something a little more sturdy and also with a longer shelf life. This Maple Baked Granola met all the requirements and it turned out to be the perfect recipe. 

This is a hearty energy-boosting granola packed with oats, nuts, seeds and fruit. This granola is sweetened with honey and maple syrup and packs just the right amount of sweetness. Any combination of berries could be used, but I opted to use only dried cranberries in favor of the holiday season. This turned out to be my all-time favorite granola recipes.  I really love the addition of the sunflower and sesame seeds and the added flavor and crunch they bring to the mix. Also, the ratio of everything is just all around perfect and I even ended up with a few yummy "clusters" of granola (those big clusters are my favorite). 

This is a festive looking granola and it certainly looks very pretty all dressed up in a mason jar with a big ribbon.  It is delicious on it's own, a delight served over yogurt, and a very satisfying breakfast with a little milk poured on top.  Leave the cookie baking to someone else and stir up some granola today!

Maple Baked Granola
Adapted from Diana Henry via The Telegraph
Makes about 12-15 servings, depending

2 teaspoons oil (vegetable, canola, or coconut)*
125 ml (4-1/2 ounces) maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds*
scant cup sliced almonds
scant cup dried berries*
1/2 cup coconut flakes

Note: I opted to use coconut oil in the granola since I was using coconut flakes, but vegetable oil or canola oil would work just as well.  You can add any kind of dried berries, or a mixture of dried berries, but I opted to use only dried cranberries since I wanted to make a season holiday-inspired granola.  Also, I didn't have pumpkin seeds on hand so I replaced them with walnuts. 

Preheat oven to 300F.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the oil, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla until combined.  Add the oats. seeds, and nuts into the bowl and stir until the mixture is evenly coated.  Place onto a baking sheet and bake at 300F for 15 minutes.  Remove the granola from the oven and stir.  Add the dried berries and coconut flakes and bake for another 12-15 minutes.  Let granola cool completely before sealing in an airtight jar.

Theme: Gifts From The Heart!