Monday, January 31, 2011

Yogurt Parfait Bar

My cute sister-in-law is having a baby boy in the next few weeks, so we got together to throw her a baby shower. This was a morning time shower, and we were having some trouble coming up with things to serve that were not sweet and carby. (it's a word, right? As in "loaded with carbs"?!) My sister-in-law called and said "What do you think about a yogurt parfait bar?". My mind started going about a million miles an hour, thinking of different combinations of yogurt, fruit and granolas. I was so excited!

So, I'm going to share with you what I did! I think that it turned out great, and we received a lot of compliments. (My mom-in-law did the decorations...aren't they SOOOOoooo cute?!!)

I decided on 3 different parfaits that people could assemble, and made a little sign to show the delicious suggestions! Some people followed the suggestions, and some people just threw things together.

There was an Apple Pie Parfait made with an apple pie type filling that I made (recipe to follow), vanilla yogurt, and graham cracker crumbs. It surprised me, but this one ended up being my favorite parfait overall.

Then, we had a Berry Berry Parfait with Strawberry Yogurt, mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries and blackberries), and Triple Nut Cranberry Granola (recipe to follow). The berries were fabulous and so sweet. Thank goodness Costco sells good produce even in the middle of the winter!

The last was a Tropical Paradise Parfait that consisted of vanilla yogurt, mixed fruit (pineapple, kiwi, bananas, and mandarin oranges), and a fabulous Coconut and Cashew Granola that I found on Mel's Kitchen Cafe Blog. I adore Melanie and all of her yummy recipes! This granola was to die for. I still can't stop eating it...days after! Visit her blog and make it!

My awesome mother-in-law ran to IKEA for me and picked up these cute jars so that I would have something fun to put the granola in. They worked out great, and were a pretty good deal!

Now for the recipes!

Triple Nut Cranberry Granola

2 cups regular oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/3 cup dried cranberries (Craisins work well)

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the oil and vanilla. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray (or you can use a silpat). Bake at 300° for 10 minutes, then stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl and stir in dried cranberries. Cool completely.

Note: Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Yield about 4 3/4 cups (serving size: about 1/2 cup) **If you’re going to double this, use two cookie sheets or else it doesn’t get done enough!

Apples and Cinnamon Filling/Topping
(this makes a pretty large can cut it in half!)
2 pounds Granny Smith Apples (about 6-7 medium sized apples)
1 Cube Butter
3/4 C Brown Sugar
Cinnamon (to taste)
Dash of Nutmeg
1/2 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour

Peel and chop apples into small pieces. Place butter into a large frying pan and turn heat to medium. Melt the butter, and then add the apples. Sprinkle apples with brown sugar and stir to coat apples. Liberally sprinkle apples with cinnamon (this is to taste...I went back and added more at the end). Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg (or more if you really like nutmeg!). Cook apples for 4-5 minutes and then add the flour towards the end to help thicken the butter/juices just a little. I cooked my apples for a total of about 7 minutes before they were the consistency that I wanted. I didn't want them too soft and mushy.

I didn't get a good picture of the apple topping at the shower, but the next day I heated it up and topped our pancakes with it, and oh my goodness... I may never eat another pancake without this topping. It was to die for! The tart granny smith apples are so good with the caramely sweet brown sugar and spicy cinnamon. I thought that this would also be fabulous over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt as well. I need a snack!

P.S. We also served delicious cinnamon rolls, some mini apple muffins and my favorite Chile Eggs! It was a delicious brunch!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tip - Freezing Pesto

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season! I apologize for being MIA. I usually have lots going on during the holidays and lots of family visiting from out of town. So, if it doesn't really need to be done, then it doesn't get done...hence no blogging!

I have a couple of good recipes that call for pesto, but since pesto has a strong flavor, it doesn't take much to put some good flavor into a dish. My favorite place to purchase pesto is at Costco (so, it's a big bottle!), and instead of letting it go bad because I can't use the entire jar at once, I freeze it! My favorite way to freeze it is in an ice cube tray. I just spoon it into the ice cube tray, and then once it's completely frozen, I pop them out and seal them into a Ziploc freezer bag. Then, I can just pull out a few at a time when I need them.

You can use pesto in this recipe for pizza rolls, or you can thaw a few and drizzle it over some pasta. Stay tuned and I'll be posting a recipe for a yummy panini that uses pesto in it too!

You all are sure quiet! I'd love to hear if you've tried any recipes and how they worked for you. What's your favorite way to eat pesto?