This is my grandma – one of the most remarkable women I know. Today is her 70th birthday, and although I’ve only known her for 20 of those 70 years, she has taught me at least 70 years worth of wisdom!

I love you, Grandma. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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It’s funny how a dreary day – drizzly, damp, and grey – can actually put you in the best mood. Today it is giving me a clear mind. It’s washing away all of the stress and chaos that sometimes comes with a busy day on campus. and allowing me to embrace my favorite grey sweater, largest coffee mug, and un-worn rainboots.

It’s an excuse to curl up on the couch and just relax. Sometimes I find it hard to justify when all I can think about is my mile-high stack of textbooks waiting patiently for me on my desk. But today, I don’t feel guilty. Today is a quiet day with no distractions, and a good day for relaxing, thinking, and writing.

The lesson of the day today is to make the best of things, to see the beauty in small deeds, and to find the hidden opportunities each day brings, even the grey ones.

Valentines candle holders (made with Aurora Zosel). Thanks, Pinterest!

Wild-caught salmon, seared scallops served with balsamic vinegar, steamed spinach, and mashed potatoes.

And….my first eggs benedict from scratch! Hollandaise sauce – I am no longer afraid of you 🙂

 

Salad with spinach, baby mixed greens, raw broccoli, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, golden raisins, and ginger mandarin dressing.

Grapes and hot Jasmine tea.

Holy Land red pepper hummus with fresh red pepper slices on whole wheat pita.

Cottage cheese and blackberries.

Dill havarti, brie, and cranberry-chipotle cheddar on toasted baguettes.

I love my food life.

Apples Baked with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar served on Yogurt

This morning I woke up early determined to make a special breakfast. I had decided last night that I wanted to make something seasonal, and I thought of cinnamon and apples. I also love to bake, so whenever I see recipes that combine breakfast with baking, I am temped to try them out. As I browsed through my extensive virtual recipe collection, I stopped and hovered my cursor over two different recipes: Baked Peanut Butter and Apple Oatmeal, and Baked Apples on Greek Yogurt. I finally decided on Greek yogurt over oatmeal, and pulled out my little pad of paper to make a grocery list. I made sure to add Greek Gods honey flavored yogurt, and I also tacked on some other items – steel-cut oats, canned pumpkin, dark brown sugar…you know, ingredients for all of those other baked breakfasts/desserts I still have to try out 🙂

So I got up at 7:30 this morning, recipe in hand, and got to work in the kitchen. I prepared the apple mixture in a baking pan and got it in the oven right away so I would have time to run off to the grocery store after they were done (and before my 10 am haircut appointment). The apples filled the house with a sweet, cinnamon smell and were done right on schedule, so I covered the pan in tinfoil and made a quick trip to the grocery store. I even made it back in time to photograph my finished product and sit down to eat with my family!

Everyone loved the Greek yogurt, and we topped our half-full bowls of yogurt with the hot, baked apples. Then we added a handful of granola and a drizzle of honey. It was even better than I expected – definitely a recipe to remember!

I also still have baked apples left over, so I want to find a creative use for them…or just heat them up and eat them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream like apple crisp…yummm.

I originally found this idea on Foodgawker, but I ended up modifying the recipe a bit. Here is the original and my own modified version.

 

Original recipe:

4-6 apples, peeled and cut into cubes

1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe pan. Roast apples for about 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until apples are golden brown around the edges. Serve with vanilla ice cream, oatmeal or yogurt and granola.

Total time: 60-70 minutes 
Yield: 2 cups

Source:  http://www.wishfulchef.com/2011/10/roasted-apples/

My modified recipe:

6 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into cubes

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe pan. Roast apples for about 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so until apples are golden brown around the edges. Serve with Greek yogurt and granola.

Total time: 60-70 minutes 
Yield: 2 cups

My very favorite Greek yogurt is Greek Gods Honey flavored yogurt – I like it so much that I drove  over to Kowalski’s to buy it after doing all of my other grocery shopping at Cub (Cub doesn’t carry the Greek Gods brand).

I also have a favorite granola (a new favorite, thanks to my grandma!) It is Great Harvest‘s granola that is cooked without oil. As you can see from the label, the only ingredients are rolled oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, honey, molasses, and cinnamon. They sell it in big 2 lb bags, which are very affordable (around $5.00) and last a long time.

 

I hope you all enjoyed this recipe, there will be more to come. Until next time!

I love spending time with my girlfriends, especially after not seeing them for a whole semester. I’ve been seeing a lot of them lately, and it almost always involves good food!

Coffee with eggnog and scrambled eggs with fresh spinach and shredded mozzarella

Aurora’s cat, Bootz

Red wine, sliced Honeycrisp apples, and dill havarti and cranberry-chipotle cheddar with crackers

Good friends + good food = 🙂

The perfect oatmeal.

Cooked oats with a small handful of homemade baked granola (flax seeds, oats, cinnamon, and chopped pecans), dried cranberries, golden raisins, walnuts, a splash of unsweetened soymilk, and a drizzle of honey.

The only thing that would have made it better is steel-cut oats instead of the quick-cook kind, but unfortunately that’s all I had. Oatmeal is the perfect winter breakfast. It’s nutritious, warms you up on cold mornings, and keeps you full!

Some variations that I like are adding pumpkin spice (or even canned pumpkin if you’re baking your oatmeal) and baked apples. I’m going to give a new recipe a try tomorrow morning so stay tuned 🙂

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