Tropical Cashew Granola

 It’s officially summer, and I can’t wait to get to the beach. I’m only four weeks away from a trip to Maine with a bunch of friends–it can’t get here soon enough! It’s super woodsy and we definitely won’t see any palm trees, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be eating tons of tropical fruit while we’re up there.

How, you may ask, will we have tropical fruit in the wilds of Maine? In the form of my new favorite granola! 
Yes, I am that person who packs homemade granola into her luggage. And why wouldn’t I? It’s full of whole grains, nuts, and fruit, so it’s super satisfying. It’s also refined sugar-free, gluten free, and vegan, so this is one recipe that will fit all my friends’ various dietary needs.

Between easy breakfasts and snacks, I know we will go through the full two-quart batch in no time. I mean, who can resist this Tropical Cashew Granola?! It’s loaded with dried mango and pineapple, toasted coconut, and cashews–perfect for any day at the beach. 
Normally, I am not a huge fan of dried fruit (especially in granola), but I make exceptions for dried mango and pineapple. I’ll eat a whole six-ounce bag in a day! The sweet mango, tangy pineapple, and toasted coconut work incredibly well with the crunchy oats and cashews. A moderate amount of sweetener and a full teaspoon of salt keep it all just sweet enough to enjoy with your favorite yogurt and fresh fruit. I can’t get enough. 

Having made a lot of granola in the last few years, I can tell you that the homemade stuff is a snap to put together and infinitely better than any boxed variety. When you make something from scratch, you can control the ingredients and customize it to your taste.

For instance, I love my Maple Pecan Granola (which I used as the base for this recipe), but sometimes I want my granola to have more clusters than that recipe allows. So, I took the basic formula and swapped half the maple syrup for brown rice syrup. It’s super thick and allows the oats and cashews to cluster a bit without adding excessive amounts sweetener. And since brown rice syrup has a mild flavor, the maple is still front and center!

Tropical Cashew Granola is like summer in a bowl! Don’t be surprised if the combination of mango, pineapple, coconut, and buttery cashews has you packing a jar for your vacation, too! 

  Looking for more granola? Check out my Peanut Butter Granola!

Tropical Cashew Granola
makes about two quarts

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups raw unsalted cashews, chopped
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
6 ounces unsweetened dried mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
6 ounces unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, cashews, and coconut. Spread mixture on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks to prevent burning.

When granola is done baking, let cool five minutes before stirring in dried mango and pineapple pieces. Let granola cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Note:

Brown rice syrup can be found near the honey and syrups at most well-stocked grocery stores, or on Amazon. If you cannot find it or do not wish to use it, you may use an equal volume of mild honey or maple syrup. Your granola will not have many clusters, but it will still be delicious.

Blackberry Lime Scones

 The calendar may say it’s May, but we New Yorkers are still in coats. After a few glorious warm days, wind and rain have returned with a vengeance. Being from a place where the only seasons are summer and Christmas, I wait all year to be able to wear shorts and sandals and go to picnics in the park. Unfortunately, I’ll probably have to wait another month to spend all my time outside.

But it is starting to feel like summer in one part of New York: my kitchen. The green markets are full of berries and rhubarb, and I just can’t get enough! I can’t wait for sour cherries to hit the stands, but until then, I’m going to eat Blackberry Lime Scones with my black iced coffees and daydream about going the beach. 

These buttery, lime-scented scones are bursting with blackberries. Literally. Each one is studded with sweet, juicy fresh blackberries that burst when you take a bite. <–Yum!

The outsides are golden brown and just the slightest bit crunchy, while the insides are super soft and moist. Oh, and they’re drizzled with an easy lime glaze that brings these already fantastic little breakfast treats over the top! 

 Blackberry Lime Scones can be on your table in under an hour, which means they’re perfect for a casual Mothers’ Day breakfast. The dough takes just ten minutes to come together, and the scones only need to bake for 15 minutes or so. 

Let them cool just a few minutes while you whisk together the lime glaze. Drizzle that over the golden brown tops, and let it set for ten minutes. All that’s left to do is grab your favorite iced coffee and dig in! 

 Blackberry Lime Scones
makes 8 scones

2/3 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
6 ounces fresh blackberries

Glaze:
1/2-3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about one lime)

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, stir together half-and-half and honey. Refrigerate to keep cold.

In a small bowl, combine lime zest and sugar. Use clean fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, lime-sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or two forks) to cut in cold butter until the largest chunks are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in milk-honey mixture and blackberries until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick circle. Cut circle in eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to prepared pan, setting them at least 1.5 inches apart. Brush the tops with additional half-and-half. Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden. Let cool ten minutes.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar and salt. Whisk in lime juice until a thin icing forms. Add more confectioner’s sugar or lime juice to alter consistency. Drizzle glaze over warm scones. Glaze will set after ten minutes.

Scones are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

 New York City is not the place to move if you’re a salsa snob.

I should know. I’ve lived here almost nine years and have yet to find a Mexican restaurant whose salsa is not obviously from a jar. The worst experiences have been one that was mostly ketchup and Tabasco, and another that contained basil.*

*Note to Mexican restaurants everywhere: salsa and marinara are not interchangeable. 

Luckily for me, I love to cook, so I have not been doomed to only eat subpar salsa for my tenure in NYC. I’ve learned to make several different varieties–my red Restaurant-Style Salsa is the favorite among my friends. I could definitely make that and some tostadas for Cinco de Mayo and have a perfectly good dinner. But lately, I’ve been seeing gorgeous green tomatillos at my favorite vegetable market, and they are just begging to be made into salsa. Being a total salsa fiend, I am happy to oblige. 

This Roasted Tomatillo Salsa is my favorite salsa ever. It’s a little sour from the tomatillos (but not overly so) with pops of freshness from the cilantro and lime, and has a rich, smooth texture. Thick and chunky salsa is not my style. 

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa takes slightly more work than the Restaurant-Style Salsa, but it’s still a breeze. Most of the 35 minute prep time is just waiting for everything to roast and cool, so it really is a snap. 

  Slice some fresh tomatillos in half and place them on a baking sheet with half an onion, two fresh jalapeños, and a couple of cloves of unpeeled fresh garlic. Drizzle everything with olive oil and roast it in a 425F oven for about twenty minutes. Let the vegetables cool for ten minutes, squeeze the soft garlic from its peels, and blitz everything in a food processor (or high-powered blender) with some fresh cilantro, lime juice, and salt. That’s it! This salsa is hardly any work at all, and is infinitely better than any prepared salsa you can imagine. 

  Serve Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with nachos, quesadillas, tacos, tostadas, or tortilla chips. Use it as the base for an amazing chicken soup! Pour it over chicken enchiladas before they go in the oven. Spoon it over eggs scrambled with tortillas and cheese and have migas for breakfast <– did that yesterday. Highly recommend.

Any way you serve it, this Roasted Tomatillo Salsa will be a new favorite. 

 Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos,* husked and rinsed
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, stems removed
1/2 medium white onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, not peeled
olive oil, for drizzling
1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Slice tomatillos in half. Slice jalapeños in half, and seed if desired. Place on baking sheet along with onion and garlic. Drizzle all vegetables with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until starting to brown. Let cool ten minutes.

Squeeze garlic out of its skins. Place roasted vegetables in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. Add cilantro, lime, and salt. Purée until smooth.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

Note:

Tomatillos and green tomatoes are not interchangeable.

Friday Favorites

I love anniversaries. Yes, I’m one of those people. If something happened once and warrants commemorating for any reason, I’m the one planning the party.

April 22nd is a big day for me. Today is my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary, and I have another anniversary going on, too. It’s Earth Day. Heck, it’s my dog’s half-birthday 😜

All of that is great, but I’m writing today because this little blog began exactly six months ago!

Yes, I know six months does not technically constitute an anniversary, but for me, it means a lot. I talked about starting a food blog for six years before actually clicking “Publish.” Since October 22, 2015, I’ve posted 75 recipes. SEVENTY FIVE. Just…how?

I so appreciate all of you who have taken the time to read my posts, leave comments, follow me on social media, and make the recipes! Every time someone tells me they made something from my blog and enjoyed it, it brings me immeasurable joy. The idea that anyone would ever make and like a recipe that I created blows my mind. So, thank you.

And now that I’m done being sappy, let’s celebrate! Here are six of my favorite recipes from the archives to bring you into Spring! 

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies are crunchy, buttery little cookies with all the flavors of a great chocolate chip cookie. They are super simple to make, and absolutely perfect with coffee or tea. I highly recommend using them for ice cream sandwiches 😊 

Spring is here, and that means we have four months of fantastic seasonal fruit ahead of us. More importantly, it means there will be pie! Make sure to use my Cream Cheese Pie Dough–it couldn’t be easier, and it makes the flakiest crust I’ve ever had. 

My grandmother’s Buttermilk Biscuits are one of my best memories of my childhood. Her recipe went with her when she passed many years ago, but I know she’d love mine. These biscuits are the perfect easy breakfast, and they are wonderful with a bowl of soup at dinner. 

It’s the beginning of picnic season, so you’ll need food that’s easy to make, transport, and share with your friends and family. My favorite thing to bring to an outdoor get-together? My Restaurant-Style Salsa! It takes just five minutes to whip up, and it puts prepared salsas to shame. 

And what’s warm weather without ice cream? No-Churn Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream doesn’t require an ice cream maker, and is the creamiest, dreamiest ice cream I’ve made so far! And those little bits of edible cookie dough are everything. 

Springtime just demands carrot cake. But taking the time to make a whole layer cake when the weather is just begging for you to go outside is torture! Save yourself some time and make these Carrot Cake Blondies! They’re every bit as good as traditional carrot cake, and half the work!

Have you made any of these recipes? Let me know in the comments section below, or on Instagram @e2bakesbrooklyn!

Enjoy your weekend 😊

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix

 I love to bake. I mean, I *really* love it. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do, no questions asked. Yes, really. What can I say? I’m no daredevil.

But some days, the idea of turning on the oven or washing four sheet pans is just too much to bear. I work a lot both in and out of my kitchen, and as much as I love to bake, sometimes I just need a break. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need dessert. Oh, no. I always need dessert. And this week, I needed chocolate and peanut butter. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and today, my necessity is bringing you the Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix! 

You guys, this recipe is going to be your new favorite thing. Crispy chocolate-peanut butter cereal and miniature peanut butter cups are coated in melted chocolate and peanut butter, tossed with confectioner’s sugar, and dotted with Reese’s Pieces. If you’re keeping count, that’s three hits of chocolate and four of peanut butter! I wasn’t kidding around when I said this stuff was “ultimate.”

Plus, it’s no-bake. In fact, the only kitchen appliance you’ll need is a microwave (or one burner on your stove) for melting together chocolate chips, creamy peanut butter, and butter. Aside from that, this recipe is just stirring and shaking. 

Pour the melted chocolate-peanut butter mixture over Reese’s Puffs cereal, and fold it all together. 

Stir in some miniature peanut butter cups. 

Divide that magical mixture into two gallon size ziptop bags, add in some confectioner’s sugar, and shake the heck out of it. The coated cereal and miniature peanut butter cups will go from being gooey to being finger food. There will be plenty of both individually coated pieces and clumps (particularly around the peanut butter cups)–a texture lover’s dream. And, as if it could get any better, Reese’s Pieces are stirred into everything. 

Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix is everything you could want in a sweet snack. It’s crunchy, creamy, sweet, a little salty, and so ridiculously easy. If you’re in need of a fun snack this weekend, this is the one. And if you have kids at home, this is a great way to get them involved in the kitchen–there’s no worrying about them being around a hot oven, and they’ll love shaking the cereal and confectioner’s sugar together! And since the recipe takes less than half an hour start to finish, there’s immediate satisfaction.

So, take thirty minutes to make this snack mix this weekend, and then take the rest of the day off. You’ve earned it. 

 Ultimate Chocolate-Peanut Butter Snack Mix
makes about 12 cups

1 13-ounce box Reese’s Puffs cereal (about 9 cups)
1 1/2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural-style)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
8-ounces miniature peanut butter cups
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 cup Reese’s Pieces candy

Place Reese’s Puffs in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, creamy peanut butter, and butter. Microwave on high* in 30 second increments, until melted and smooth. Pour mixture over cereal and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold to combine. Add miniature peanut butter cups to cereal mixture and fold in.

Divide cereal-peanut butter cup mixture into two gallon size ziptop bags. Add 1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar to each. Seal bags and shake until all cereal is coated. Some pieces may clump.

Pour coated mixture into a clean large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in Reese’s Pieces. Enjoy!

Snack mix will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you do not have or do not want to use a microwave, you may melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Proceed with recipe as written.