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Hippie Granola

9 Jan

Every time I come back to school from Portland, I try to take a little bit of home with me.

Last time I brought back my mother’s split pea soup recipe.

Yesterday I packed myself a Billy Collins book from Powell’s and a blueberry muffin from Dovetail bakery.

I’m already almost halfway through the book and the blueberry muffin lasted ten minutes at best – after that I had a little more trouble deciding what piece of the rose city to bring back with me (one that would last longer than a muffin).

But here’s my problem:  Portland is so many things.  How do I know which part I want to keep alive up here in Parkland

Is Portland more Mongolian grill or vegan bakery?

Is it more zombie walks or more nude bike rides?

Is it more hipster or hippie?

Let’s hold onto the hippie thing and leave the hipsters to the side for a while – or forever.

Hippies.  Tie-dye.  Granola.

Yes, granola.

Maple syrup, walnuts, oatmeal, craisins.  It doesn’t get more Portland than this.  Just make sure you buy the right yogurt to pair with the granola – unsweetened just doesn’t cut it.

One more thing – if you’re going to be a granola-eating hippie, you need to know how to make the peace sign:  it’s like this ☮ – if you leave out the middle line then you’re just making the mercedes logo, and that’s not very Portland.


  • 2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 c. craisins

Preheat your oven to 325°F.Combine the oats, flax, salt, and walnuts in a bowl.  In another bowl or measuring cup, mix the rest of the ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry and mix well.  Spread the mixture onto a 13×9 greased baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes.  Take it out and flip the granola.  Put it back in the oven for another ten minutes, or until the granola is the texture you want.

Add the craisins after it comes out of the oven, and serve it up over yogurt.

If you want, you can add different kinds of nuts, dried fruit, or if you want to get really hippie you could add in some chia seeds and hemp – not my thing, but to each his own.


Food for your skin

24 Dec

I’ve learned that there are two kinds of people in this world.

There’s the kind of people who buy and make all of their Christmas gifts ahead of time and avoid the Christmas rush completely.  All they have to do today is finish up wrapping.  Maybe bake some cookies.  Listen to music.  Take a bubble bath.  Lounge around in pj’s all day.

And then there are the people who wait until Christmas Eve to start shopping.  The ones who brave the crowds at the stores.  The crazies who think for some reason it would be a good idea to go to the mall today.  And think they’ll still be able to find their car in that mess of a parking lot after three hours of shopping.

If you’re the first kind of person, this stuff is for you.

Have a little me time today before all your nutsy relatives arrive at your house tomorrow.

If you’re the second person, this stuff is your savior.  Put down that Christmas list.  Step away from the credit card.  If you play it right, all you should need today is some coconut oil and a few mason jars.  20 bucks, max.  I promise.

Pair this with a log of cookie dough or a pair of socks or nothing at all and you have the perfect gift for that cousin, aunt, mom, grandma, girlfriend, sister, or skin-conscious brother…


  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. coconut oil, just enough to bring the sugar together
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together the sugar and vanilla.  Add in the coconut oil and stir just until combined.  You don’t want the mixture to be wet, but the sugar should stick to itself.  Put it into clean glass mason jars with gift tags and instructions.

How to use:  with a scrub brush or just your fingers, rub the mixture onto your skin, then wash away with water.  It’s best to do this right before you take a shower, that way you don’t have a huge mess on your hands when you go to rinse it off.

You can mess with this recipe all you want.  You can use whatever oils you have on hand, add in different extracts and essential oils for different scents, or throw some oatmeal in there for extra exfoliation.

Fall favorites

13 Nov

Did you know that there’s a difference between autumn and fall?

Here’s what my cousin Kelly says:

Autumn is when the last days of summer turn into beautiful crispness that invites you to put on boots and some layers. The trees start their transformation into fiery fabulousness and apple cider starts to warm the soul. There is a feeling of excitement in the air for the new season and a breath of fresh air.

Fall is when the leaves start falling from their now cold branches. The air is no longer a crisp excitement but a constant chill that requires jackets and adds extra blankets to the bed. The smell is not of apples, cinnamon, and pumpkins but dirt, crunchy leaves, and acorns.The energy in the air is no longer about the season and more about the quickly approaching holidays.

What’s your favorite thing about fall?

Pumpkin patches?

Apple pie?

Changing leaves?


Sweaters and scarves?



Drinking hot chocolate and knitting?

There you go.  Now we’re talking.


  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 c. powdered soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
Mix all ingredients until well incorporated.  Boil some water – I found that about 2 tablespoons of mix to 1 cup water works well, but it’s up to you.  If you’re one of those people, who, as a child added an extra packet of hot chocolate mix just so you could get those delicious lumps of chocolate in your mug, then go ahead and add some extra.  I’m not here to judge.
Side note:  This recipe works perfectly to layer up in jars and give as gifts, with personalized tags.  ♥

Trail Mix

15 Oct

I love the idea of things in bulk.

Being able to pick out food and scoop as much as you want into little containers.  That makes me happy.

Dried fruits, nuts, and little balls of granola in bins make me happy.

Not having to hack through layers of plastic packaging makes me happy

I went bulk crazy today.

I bought apricots, cherries, craisins, apples, almonds, and those little salty sesame sticks that show up in trail mix – the ones that are so good they’re like crack.  I would have bought walnuts, too, but they were out.

Then I divvied them up, poured them into jars, and called it trail mix.  It made seven little four-ounce jars.  There’s only six in the picture because it was so good I ate a jar before taking a picture.  And I finished eating a jar while writing this post.



  • 3/4 c. sesame sticks
  • 1/4 c. almonds
  • 1/2 c. dried cherries
  • 1/4 c. dried apple rings, chopped
  • 1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped
Super simple. Either mix all the ingredients up in a bowl and then split it up, or you can layer it in the jars like I did.

Baked Ziti

1 Oct

It’s official.

Fall has fallen.

It’s raining.

There are pumpkin spice lattes in the University Center.

I’m sick.

Three indicators that autumn is upon us in the Pacific Northwest.

I get excited about these things.

They mean that I can start baking casseroles and making soups.

They mean that for the next few months I can put pumpkin in just about everything.

They mean cozy sweat pants, scarves, and boots.

They mean lattes instead of frappucinnos.

They mean spiced apple cider and cinnamon rolls and cinnamon-scented Febreze.

Oh, yeah.  That’s a thing.  And it’s sitting on my counter.

Unfortunately today I don’t have an incredibly autumnal recipe.  But it’s one of those one-dish, throw it in the oven kind of meals that I love eating in the fall.

It’s baked curly pasta. And spinach.  And tomato sauce.  And cheese.

No seriously, that’s it.

Easiest casserole you will ever make in your life.


  • 1 1-lb. box of your favorite pasta
  • 1 24(ish)-oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 bag of Daiya mozzarella-style cheese
  • 1 bag of pre-washed, stemmed, hassle-free spinach
Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Cook the pasta for about 5 or 6 minutes, until al dente.  Drain the pasta and throw about half of it in the bottom of your baking dish.  Then layer up half of the spinach, half of the cheese, and half of the jar of sauce.  Then stack up the rest of the pasta, spinach, cheese, and sauce on top.   Throw in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes.  Everything is cooked, so you’re just looking to heat it through and get a good melt going on that cheese.
One little side note:  mine looked really dry; I was considering running out to the store to grab another jar of sauce, but don’t!  It tastes great, and with the cheese and spinach, there’s just the right amount of moisture.

Chili and Cornbread: Modified

4 Sep

Modifiers are words or clauses that modify or enhance a sentence but don’t affect the structure.

Example:  Tonight I made black bean chili with kale and pumpkin cheddar cornbread.

Black bean and  pumpkin cheddar are the modifiers in this sentence.  This means that I made chili and cornbread tonight, but that they were enhanced by these modifiers.  Enhanced meaning they made this meal so could I could easily eat the entire pot of chili and pan of cornbread even though I’m not that hungry.

Super freakin’ easy is also a modifier you could use in this sentence.

You could leave these modifiers out and the meal would still be fine.  It would still have the same structure.  But with the modifiers, it’s so much better.



  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. veggie stock
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 14-oz. cans of black beans, drained
Saute the onions and peppers.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until thick.  Add some kale, if you so desire.
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax + 6 tbsp. water
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. milk (plus some extra, if your batter is too thick)
  • 1/2 c. daiya cheddar style shreds
Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Grease and 8 x 8 pan.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cornmeal.
In a small bowl, combine the flax, water, pumpkin, oil, and milk.
Add the wet to the dry and stir until just combined,  stir in the daiya cheddar shreds.  pour into your pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

Cold Brewed Coffee

1 Sep

I need to talk to you about things.  Things like college and caffeine and getting used to running into your boss all around campus.

These things are important.  Especially the caffeine part.  Especially on opening weekend.  Especially when you’re going to training meeting after training meeting and organizing all the freshmen into binders.

Before this summer, I never understood why I was able to drink a huge frappuccino but couldn’t ever seem to finish my baby-sized lattes.

Well, now I have answers.

When you brew coffee using hot water, it contains something like 60 to 70% more acid than when you brew coffee using cold water.  This is because the hot water releases all of the acids and oils from the coffee bean during the brewing process.

As you can imagine, acid is rough on your tummy, which is why it’s so much harder to finish an entire cup of hot coffee than it is in the summer when you’re buying iced coffees all the time.

Cold brewed coffee substitutes time for heat.  It contains a lot less acid, BUT it also has a lot more caffeine than hot drip coffee.  Low acid plus more caffeine means it’s a lot easier to suck a bunch of this stuff down and then get stuck with a major caffeine high . . . and low.

So be careful about that.  The best way to combat the high amount of caffeine in this cold coffee is to do 1 part coffee to 1 part water or milk.  If you take your coffee hot, you can do 1 part coffee to 1 part hot water or warm milk.

The funny thing about making this coffee is how simple – almost primitive – the system is.

But just like slinkies or play-do or balloons, you will come to love the simplicity.


  • 1 c. of your favorite ground coffee
  • 4 c. water
Place the coffee and water in a jar or pitcher and mix or shake until combined.  Stick the jar in your fridge for 12 to 24 hours.  After it’s been sitting in your fridge for the desired amount of time, take it out and pour through a coffee filter or a very fine mesh sieve.  I’ve found that two filters in a drip cone works perfectly.  Store in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.