Now that I’m working full time, I’ve been challenged with finding new lunch ideas. Gone are the days of having a full kitchen at my disposal anytime of the day, so the easier it is to prepare the easier my life is. I’ve been enjoying hummus and vegetables, soup, and various fresh fruits but I’ve been craving something nutritious and hearty for my 2pm snack.

After far too many crackers and chips, I decided to make my own granola. It was surprisingly easy and came together quickly. I used olive oil as the fat base but you could use coconut oil for a unique twist. To make the granola vegan you could replace the honey with maple syrup or agave nectar as well. With the kids back in school this week, homemade granola would be the perfect weekday breakfast or even as a lunch box snack. What made this granola so enjoyable though was fresh dehydrated fruit.

Last month, BigKitchen provided me with a Waring Pro food dehydrator and it’s been so much fun preserving fresh summer produce. I’ve made everything from fruit leather and banana chips to sun dried tomatoes and jerky. With produce at it’s peak right now, this dehydrator has been especially useful. Last week I dried fresh herbs from my garden which will be perfect for winter cooking.

From all the things I’ve made, I have to say dried cherries have been my favorite. They are so expensive at the store that I rarely purchase them, but making them at home is significantly cheaper and they aren’t packed with added sugar and preservatives. I used a combination of dried cherries, pineapple and apple in this honey nut granola recipe and it was superb.

Giveway:

Contest is now closed

* Congratulations commenter #88 Courtney! I’ve e-mailed you with the details.

Now to what you’ve all been waiting for, the giveaway! BigKitchen is providing one lucky reader with a new Waring Pro food dehydrator! (pictured above) To enter, visit their website and then in the comments below tell me what kitchen gadget you would love to have.

For four extra chances to win:

  1.  Like BigKitchen on Facebook and comment below that you liked them.
  2. Like Munchin with Munchkin on Facebook and comment below that you’ve liked my page
  3. Follow BigKitchen on Twitter and comment below that you follow them
  4. Follow Munchin with Munchkin on Twitter and comment below that you follow me

Giveaway is open to legal U.S residents 18 years of age and older. No purchase necessary. This giveaway is sponsored by BigKitchen, however all reviews and opinions are my own. Giveaway ends Wednesday September 19th 2012 at 6pm eastern time. The winner will be announced on this post and will contacted by e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize.

Good luck y’all!

Honey Nut Granola Recipe

Yield 6 cups

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1  teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup to make vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a small bowl combine kosher salt, cinnamon and ginger.
  3. In a large bowl combine rolled oats, almonds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle with the small bowl of spices.
  4. In a medium bowl combine olive oil, honey, and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the honey mixture into the rolled oat mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Fold the granola onto a cookie sheet and bake for thirty minutes, tossing the granola and rotating the pan every 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and cool.
  8. Store in an airtight container.

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Apple Bacon Dog Treats

by Kris on August 6, 2012

Two Saturdays ago was one of the hottest on record. It was 108 degrees in the shade and the air felt thick with humidity. Greg and I had no plans for the day and found ourselves frustrated with the lack of options. It was far too hot to do anything outside. Even swimming was out of the question. We’ve been to all the museums and galleries in Dallas, and frankly didn’t feel like doing any of them. The mall was out of the question as everyone seems to flock there on days like this. Even just going for a drive seemed unbearable. The lack of AC in our old truck had a lot to do with that sentiment. After much frustration we both decided to take a drive to the SPCA and look at animals. It’s fun to play with the dogs and cats, and it’s a lot cheaper than the zoo! (Or so we thought).

Walking through the entrance we were greeted by a wave of cold, air conditioned air and the sound of Sarah McLachlan playing quietly through the overhead speakers. That’s when I remembered the last time we visited the SPCA. I left balling my eyes out from the thought of all those poor homeless animals and the song “I will remember you” playing in my head for days. As we strolled the halls we looked into each glass window. Sometimes we were greeted by a smiling face and others a growling and howling mess.

As we turned the corner, a little face poked up from one of the glass windows. A small, fox like dog named Dexter just smiled at me. I went up to the window and he just sat there smiling. One of the workers at the SPCA noticed me looking through the window and asked if I wanted to go in and meet Dexter. I obliged. Greg and I entered the room and Dexter sat there patiently. He was shy and very quiet, but I immediately felt a bond.

The woman told us that Dexter was three years old, although he spent two of those years on the street. He was adopted as a puppy but the family lost him and two years later the SPCA found him roaming the streets of Oak Cliff. He had a chip in his ear so they were able to find his family, however they had already moved on. Dexter then spent a week in the shelter when a second family adopted him. Unfortunately a week later they returned him as they could not handle Dexter’s crate anxiety. This poor little pup had experienced so much abandonment in his short life.

While the woman told us Dexter’s story he had fallen asleep, curled up by my legs. The woman told us he was house broken and was great on a leash. I looked over at Greg and I could tell he too had fallen in love with Dexter. They allowed us to take him for a walk, and it completely made his day, and ours. When we brought him back Greg turned to me and said ” I think we can do this”, and I replied, “I think so too”. Twenty minutes later we were signing the adoption papers and leaving the SPCA with a dog!

Dexter adjusted quickly to his new home and even befriended our feisty cat! The first few days he was very shy and nervous. If we encountered another dog on his walk, he would scour and hide behind my legs. He also didn’t seem very hungry, despite being almost three pounds underweight. We tried countless varieties of food and treats, but nothing peaked his interest. I decided to take it into my own hands and began doing research on foods that dogs can and can’t eat. After reading countless articles online, asking numerous questions to our vet and researching the ingredients on the back of dog food bags, I took to the kitchen.

While I mixed, pureed and chopped, Dexter sat in the kitchen curiously watching every move. I saw his eyes light up when I removed the bacon from the hot pan and placed it in the food processor. When the buzzer went off, I took the dog treats out of the oven and set them on a rack to cool. All the while I could see Dexter become more and more curious. Once they were cool, it was judgement time. I broke off a small piece and set it on the ground next to him. Without hesitation he gobbled it up and looked at me for more. A complete success! I found something he would eat!

We’ve been trying hard to socialize him by bringing him to the dog park, friends houses,  farmer’s markets and even patios for drinks. I can now say that his personally has come out and he’s quickly becoming less shy and nervous. I’ll bring my homemade dog treats with me on errands and give him one when he sits, lays down or even just approaches a stranger. When we went to the dog park last week, I brought some treats. That was not a good move because all he wanted to do was eat treats and all the other dogs wanted some too! I left with a few bruises and scratches from that experience! I guess that’s how I know they’re good!

So my life has become a little more hectic with a full time job, a new dog, and with Greg recovering from shoulder surgery (that’s another story), but in the end I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I know that Greg and I will be able to give Dexter the happy home he deserves and that he’ll never be abandoned again. When I look into his big innocent brown eyes, I can tell that he knows his new humans are here to stay.

But if there is one lesson I have learned, it’s that visiting the SPCA is not cheaper than going to the zoo!

Apple Bacon Dog Treats

Yield 18-20 treats

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup ground pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp. bacon grease (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. chocolate free sprinkles (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together rolled oats, oat flour, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, ground pumpkin seeds, and ground flax seeds.
  3. Add carrots and apples to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add peanut butter, bouillon cubes, honey, egg, bacon, and bacon grease (if using) and pulse until well combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until a thick dough forms.
  4. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap until it is about ¼ inch thick. Press a dog bone shaped cookie cutter into the dough and transfer each cookie to the prepared cookie sheets. I also made some smaller treats for training using a small circular cookie cutter.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden in color. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Once cool you can optionally ice the treats with cream cheese and sprinkle the tops with chocolate free sprinkles. (Great for special occasions)
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Note: stored in a sealed container or cookie jar the treats will last about one week. The cookies can also be frozen for future use.

Dexter says “Save a life, support your local SPCA!”

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Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Muffins

by Kris on July 24, 2012

Growing up, I ate a lot of muffins. My mum made them every week. If there wasn’t a muffin for breakfast, without a doubt one would be in my lunch bag. Because I ate so many muffins, I never was all that fond of them. My friends on the other hand loved mum’s muffins. They would always find a way to come over right around the time the kitchen timer went off. Like clockwork, the muffins came out of the oven, and my friends were at the door.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had one of mum’s muffins, and I’m actually really starting to miss them! Now that I’m working full time, I don’t have the same energy to cook as I used to. Sometimes it’s difficult to prepare lunches for the next day, when all I want to do is relax. I started making muffins a few weeks ago for my lunch, and I think I finally understand why mum made so many muffins. You can bake a batch Sunday morning, and you have a portable breakfast, snack or lunch ready at your fingertips all week.

I had some buttermilk leftover from the fried chicken I made last week, so rather than making pancakes, I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip muffins. In all honesty these are the best muffins I’ve ever made. The buttermilk kept the inside of the muffins moist while the outside had the perfect golden crust. They barely made it a day, as I couldn’t stop eating them! Thankfully I froze half the batter in a muffin tin so I can pop a new batch in the oven mid week.

I’m excited to try variations of this recipe. Next week I may try cinnamon apple or peach. Although I may keep my options open until I see what looks appealing at the farmers market this weekend. What are your favorite muffin flavors?

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yield 12 Muffins

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup  sugar
  • 1 cup  2% buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup  canola oil
  • 1   large egg
  • 1 tsp.  vanilla extract
  • 1 cup  whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup  all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Spray a 12 half cup sized muffin tin with cooking spray and place 12 paper liners inside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, buttermilk, canola oil, egg and vanilla extract.
  4. In a large bowl sift together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the bowl and fold until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Divide the batter between the 12 muffins cups and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden.
  7. Cool five minutes in the pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you like this recipe, you may also like:

 

 

 

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Thai Chicken Pizza

by Kris on July 9, 2012

Sometimes the best meals are complete accidents. This Thai chicken pizza came about from an impromptu fridge cleaning. On Sunday we we’re a little stumped for dinner. We had marinated chicken in the fridge that I had intended to make on Friday, but never got around to it. We also had a ball of pizza dough and vegetables for a stir fry. In an attempt to use all our leftovers before going grocery shopping, I thought of a pizza I used to enjoy in high school.

My friends and I would often stop for pizza after class on Fridays. Our school was sandwiched between a residential neighborhood and and an industrial area which gave us very few food options. There was a Lebanese restaurant, a Tim Hortons, and a pizza parlor. The pizza toppings were fairly standard at this restaurant, however there was one that stood out among the rest; Thai Chicken Pizza. The sauce was a spicy peanut sauce and it had grilled chicken, green onions, carrots, bean sprouts and cheese. The first time I tried it I was hooked and from that day on, it became my standard order.

Relying on fond memories, I whipped this pizza together while Greg grilled our chicken. It was the perfect Sunday night dinner, enjoyed with a cold beer and great company. The leftovers were also a great lunch the next day at work. This pizza can easily be made vegan as well with a few minor adjustments. I would recommend replacing the grilled chicken with the grilled tempeh from my Thai Spring Roll recipe and using almond cheese instead of mozzarella.

What’s your favorite toppings for pizza? Do you prefer the classics or trying something new?  I’ll eat almost anything on a pizza except for anchovies and red onions. How about you?

Thai Chicken Pizza

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
Toppings:
  • 1 14 oz ball of prepared pizza dough
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp. sriracha
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup broccoli, shaved
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shaved
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup mozzarella
Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-4 drops chili oil
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 green onion, chopped
Directions:
  1. In a sealable container, combine sriracha, one tablespoon of sesame oil, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Toss chicken breast in sauce and marinate for a minimum of one hour.
  2. Grill the chicken on a barbecue until internal temperature reaches 170 F. Remove from grill and dice into bite size pieces.
  3. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 475 F.
  4. Unroll the dough and sprinkle the bottom with one teaspoon of cornmeal. Transfer to the pizza stone and bake for 7 minutes.
  5. In the meantime create the sauce. Combine sesame oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, chili oil, red pepper flakes and green onions in a small bowl.
  6. Remove the pizza dough from the oven and drizzle the crust with prepared sauce. Top with cheese, grilled chicken, shaved broccoli, shaved carrots, red pepper slices, diced green onions and bean sprouts.
  7. Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more until cheese melts and crust is golden. Slice and serve.

If you like this recipe, you may also like:

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Independence Day Recipe Roundup

by Kris on July 2, 2012

This year I will be celebrating my first Independence Day in America. In many ways, this country has welcomed me with open arms. I am so thankful for all the good things in my life, many of which have happened since moving here. I’ve made incredible friends, I have a career that I truly enjoy, and I couldn’t ask for a better love than Greg. America has given me so much opportunity and for that I will always consider it my home away from home. So happy Independence day everyone! Here are some of my favorite recipes to celebrate the occasion. Enjoy your time with friends and family. I know I will!

Drinks

Appetizers and Sides

Entrees

Desserts

Happy 4th of July everyone!!

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Heirloom Tomato Caprese Bites

June 28, 2012

One of my favorite summer salads is a Caprese salad. It’s so simple with only five ingredients, but when the ingredients are fresh and in season, nothing can beat it. Last week Greg and I picked up several varieties of tomatoes at the farmer’s market, including these lovely heirloom cherry tomatoes. They were full of [...]

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Thai Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

June 26, 2012

Sorry for the lack of posts last week. If you follow me on facebook, you know last week was my first week at my new job! I’m now working full time at an in house photography studio for a major U.S retailer. My first week went really well and I am beyond ecstatic to have [...]

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Taro Fries with Sriracha Ketchup

June 12, 2012

I love taro. It’s my favorite frozen yogurt flavor and I love it in bread. Greg and I occasionally shop at an Asian supermarket which makes the best taro dinner rolls. They rarely make it home as I gobble them up on the long drive back. Last week we stopped by this store to pick [...]

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Cherry Infused Bourbon Old Fashioned

June 7, 2012

I’m not a huge fan of cocktails. Leave it to me and I’ll choose a beer over any alcoholic drink, especially when it’s hot outside. I am however, a fan of bourbon during the winter months. On a cold day it’s so nice to warm up by a fire with a glass of bourbon on [...]

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Guinep Sunshine Pie

June 5, 2012

When I was about twelve years old I discovered the most incredible fruit I had ever eaten. It was a sunny afternoon at my friend Sonia’s house. Her dad just arrived home from a trip to the Caribbean and he brought with him a bag of guinep. The fruit resembled tiny limes on a thin [...]

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