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Ginger, it seems, is one of those polarizing food items – you either love it or you think it tastes like soap.

I happen to fall in the first category and really like the flavor of ginger.  I am loving the candied ginger in this granola and the little zingy “bite” that it gives!  (If you don’t like ginger, you can surely leave it out and substitute any other dried or candied fruit.)

Cranberry Ginger Granola

Every time I make a new batch of granola, I immediately declare it my new favorite.  Then I find another recipe to try and my favorite gets bumped.  There are just so many different flavor combinations to try!

Hope you like my new favorite! :)

Cranberry Ginger Granola

Yield:  Makes about 6 1/2 cups

4 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup coarsely chopped Brazil nuts

1/2 cup whole raw cashews

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

pinch salt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup candied or crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line one rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, stir together the oats, Brazil nuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.

3.  In a small saucepan set over low heat, combine oil, butter, brown sugar, and salt.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and pour over oat mixture, mixing thoroughly.

4.  Spread the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

5.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until brown, stirring occasionally.  Watch the granola carefully so it doesn’t burn.

6.  Remove baking sheet from oven and allow granola to cool in the pan.  While oats are cooling, add the cranberries and ginger, stirring thoroughly.

7.  Once fully cooled, transfer the granola to an airtight container.

I mentioned these shrimp rolls during my May recap and had to share the recipe.  I made this as a one night, alongside a shaved Brussels sprout salad, for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.  I loved it so much that I made it again last weekend as a portable lunch to take out on the boat.

Tarragon Caper Shrimp Rolls

The flavors are really delicious and this recipe is super speedy if you buy precooked shrimp at the grocery store.  I also made this the first time with the hot dog buns from our grocery store (Publix) bakery and toasted them as called for.  I liked that prep much better than just the soft rolls, although it was still very good!  Also, fresh tarragon is key.  I don’t cook much with tarragon.  Not sure why after making this… Delicious.  I see this becoming a summer staple.

(Those wacky chips are Trader Joe’s Veggie and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips – probably not too much healthier than regular tortilla chips, but I try to tell myself they are…)

Tarragon Caper Shrimp Rolls

Yield:  2 Servings

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (light is fine)

2 tsp. drained capers, finely chopped

2 tsp. shallot, minced

1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

A few dashes hot pepper sauce, to taste

2 Tbsp. finely chopped celery

2 tsp. butter, room temperature

2 soft sandwich rolls or hot dog buns

1/3 pound cooked, peeled, and deveined large shrimp, each cut horizontally in half

Thinly sliced butter lettuce (optional)

1.  In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, capers, shallot, tarragon, hot sauce, and celery; mix well.

2.  Season with salt and pepper and more hot sauce, if desired.  Cover and chill.

3.  Lightly butter the insides of the rolls.

4.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add rolls, buttered side down, to skillet and cook until toasted and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Arrange on two plates.

5.  Add the shrimp to the chilled mayonnaise mixture, stirring to coat.

6.  Top the toasted buns with shredded lettuce, pile the shrimp on top, and serve.

Source:  Pink of Perfection who adapted from Bon Appetit

May, May, May!! Where did you go??? And why did you run away so fast??

I feel like I blinked in February and we are in JUNE!  Does anyone else get this phenomenon or just me?  Sometimes I just want to hit a giant “pause” button and sit in the quiet for a minute or two.  Sigh.  Obviously, I need yoga, or therapy, or both.

Onward, to my 2015 Goals – nothing big crossed off, but dents in the recipe card stack.  So, yay me!

Mushroom Ravioli

Mushroom Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Shaved Parmesan Cheese – From Cooking Light, this was a Sunday dinner because it was a little time-consuming, but really yummy flavors and delicious sauce!  Bonus that it uses wonton wrappers for the ravioli…

"pasta with leeks and artichokes"

Pasta with Leeks and Artichokes – Super-easy, and quick, yummy weeknight dinner!

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas – (from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten) A warm or room-temperature spread to serve with grilled or toasted bread slices, this made an appearance as an appetizer at Miss E’s 9th birthday dinner.  I served it warm and added a few dashes of hot sauce, because it didn’t seem just right to me.  I think the temperature was throwing me off.  The flavor was so much better after a day or two in the refrigerator.  Making this again, I would make a few days before serving, refrigerate, and then let come to room temp before serving. Everyone else seemed to like it as it was, so it might just be my issue.  :)

Salad with Cranberries and Sweet and Spicy Almonds – really super easy salad and really good! Big hit at aforementioned birthday party.

Homemade Lemon Curd – First time making a citrus curd and it was easier than I had anticipated.  Delicious, sweet, tart, and useful in:

Lemon Cream Puffs with Fresh Fruit – Since I had made a Red Velvet Cake the day before for Miss E’s birthday (it fell on Mother’s Day again, so we had family over the night before) dinner, these Cream Puffs were her choice for birthday dessert.  Yummy, pretty, and fresh – would make a fun make-it-yourself dessert bar for a dinner party with different varieties of fruit!

Strawberry Nutella French Toast Roll-ups

Strawberry Nutella French Toast Roll-ups – D made these for Mother’s Day/Miss E’s birthday breakfast (although I think they were more for Miss E than me, given her love for Nutella…).  They were very sweet, but surprisingly good.  The Misses, of course, thought they were perfect.

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas – Loved these and can’t wait to make these again.  An easy, healthy, and hearty dinner recipe from Cooking Light that was delicious!

Peanut-Chocolate Popcorn – Big hit for a slumber party!!

Mini Chocolate Chip Scones –  I’m not a huge scone fan, but add some chocolate chips and a sugar glaze and I can be persuaded…

Quick and Easy Tartar Sauce – I’ve never made tartar sauce before and this really was quick and easy.  And really good too! Or, at least D and I thought so.  I made the sauce for the Misses, who weren’t too pleased with it, to serve alongside…

Crispy Baked Fish (for Tacos) –  The Misses LOVED these.  This was an easy weeknight dinner essential making baked fish sticks out of cod fillets.  They turned out so crispy and tasty.  The recipe is part of a post for fish tacos, but we just had them as an entree…

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples and Pecorino – Not sure that “salad’ is the correct word here seeing that the recipe calls for 1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese?  But, it was crunchy and tart and pretty relish!  Served as a side dish for…

Shrimp Roll and Salad

Tarragon Caper Shrimp Rolls –  Delicious, easy and quick using pre-cooked shrimp.  This was adapted from (made simpler and for two servings) from a Bon Appetit recipe that I may have to try also.

Pineapple-Rum Slush

Pineapple-Rum Slush –  Refreshing, but very tart.  Has potential to be a great summer cocktail, but definitely need to dial down the lemon juice next time!

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad –  Yum.  Interesting pasta salad with grilled corn, lime, Mexican Cotija cheese, and chile powder. Really liked!

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce – A solid “pantry dinner” as I had all the ingredients on hand one weeknight when I didn’t have a plan for dinner.  Low in fat, with only one tablespoon of olive oil, I also liked the addition of chopped, fresh tomatoes.  Good standby recipe.

Honey-Chipotle Lime Shrimp

Honey Chipotle Lime Shrimp – Another good weeknight dinner!  I halved the shrimp, but kept the full recipe of sauce.  Good flavor and spice level!

18 recipe cards tried and filed this month for a Grand Total of 72 to date!  Can I get to 100 in June?

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, a looooonnnngggg while.  This was actually my birthday breakfast, chosen by me and executed by D and the Misses.

My birthday was in December.

While I may fail on the punctuality – and photography (photo a la Miss F whose polka dot jammies are visible under the table…) – I scored on the breakfast choice. And, truthfully, this feels like a late spring breakfast with the almonds and strawberries.

All we had were slivered almonds, so that’s what I got.  :) They were such a nice crunchy element.  D and the Misses omitted the almonds and theirs were still yummy thanks to the almond extract.  We all liked!  The recipe is lower fat, with some egg whites and non-fat milk, but I’m thinking it’s still not health food, given the amount of powdered sugar and syrup that followed this photo…  But, isn’t that what birthdays are for?  :)

Almond French Toast

Yield:  Eight 1-slice serving

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

1/8 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 1/4 cups fat-free or low-fat milk

1/4 cup whole milk

8 (1-inch) slices challah bread

Cooking spray

1 cup sliced almonds

Strawberries, powdered sugar, and/or maple syrup to serve

1.  Heat a skillet over medium-low heat.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together first six ingredients (through almond extract).

3.  Gradually whisk in both types of milk.

4.  Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish.  Working in batches, if necessary, place bread slices into the dish and let soak for three minutes on each side.

5.  Coat the skillet with cooking spray.  For each slice of the bread, place 2 tablespoons of almonds in a single (but fairly densely packed) layer on the hot skillet to form an area roughly the size and shape of a bread slice.

6.  Press the bread slice onto the almonds, and cook 4 minutes or until golden brown.

7.  Flip the bread over, and cook 3–4 minutes or until speckled golden brown.  Serve immediately and repeat in batches to finish all eight slices.

Adapted from Health.com via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

A quick post for a super-easy snack that was perfect for Miss E’s 9th birthday slumber party.  The sweet-salty flavor is really fantastic.

A big bowl of popcorn, chocolatey, peanuty goodness:

Peanut-Chocolate Popcorn

I had every intention of taking a better picture the next day with the leftovers. Ha Ha Ha Ha – Silly Mama.  The bowl came back nearly empty and I didn’t have enough left to craft a decent photo.

A huge hit and it was so simple to make.  I have a feeling this might be requested again soon…

Peanut-Chocolate Popcorn

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

8 cups popped kettle corn (microwave is fine, I used two big bags of store-bought kettle corn)

1 cup milk-chocolate chips

1/2 chopped honey-roasted peanuts

1 cup Reese’s Pieces (I used a combo of Reese’s Pieces and plain M&Ms that I had left over from something else)

1.  Spread kettle corn in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

2.  Place chocolate chips into a glass bowl and microwave on high in 20-second increments, stirring between each increment, until chocolate is melted.

3.  Drizzle melted chocolate over popcorn with a spoon (the Misses helped with this).

4.  Immediately sprinkle peanuts and candies over the chocolate.

5.  Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator and chill, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the chocolate hardens.

6.  Remove from refrigerator and break into small pieces.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Source:  Adapted from Parenting magazine, April 2011

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