Sangria Granita

You know what this blog needs? More alcohol. And it could always use more desserts. Let’s get crazy and combine the two in a fruity, refreshing Sangria Granita.

If you’ve never had granita before, you’ve probably had something similar that goes by a different name–because it’s basically a grown-up slushie. In fact, there’s not even always anything “grown-up” about it. It pretty much IS a slushie…or, if you prefer another name name, a “shaved ice” or, for the truly refined, a “sno cone.”  With origins in Sicily, granitas can be found alongside gelato all over Italy (which explains why you might ALSO hear them called “Italian ice”). A dead-easy dessert, granita typically contains just water, sugar, and a flavoring. Add some freezing time and a few rounds of ice crystal-scraping and you have the perfect sweet to hit the spot on a hot day.

With summer on the horizon, this Sangria Granita might be just the light treat you need poolside or after dinner. This version starts with Merlot and the juices of oranges, lemons, and limes, but could easily be adapted to use other wines and/or fruit juices. Let me know which combination you think would taste best!

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Sangria Granita
A refreshing, light dessert that's perfect for summer!
Course Dessert
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
Course Dessert
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat wine, water, and sugar to boiling over medium heat. Boil and stir one minute, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in fruit juices. Let cool.
  2. Pour mixture into an 9 x 13 baking pan (metal works better than glass for optimal freezing). Place the pan in the freezer. Remove after 30 minutes to scrape and stir the mixture with a fork so that flaky ice crystals form. Repeat every 30 minutes until frozen to your liking.
  3. To serve, scrape with a fork into individual bowls and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Fine Cooking.

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The Only Peanut Butter Overnight Oats You’ll Ever Need



Perhaps overnight oats are a food trend that have had their heyday and are now fading like a Hollywood it-girl, but I am still all about them. I couldn’t NOT stand by any food that affords convenience without sacrificing health…and that’s pretty much the concept of overnight oats, summed up. Here at the tail end of the school year, where I struggle to muster up the oomph to make my kids’ school lunches before shuffling them out the door each morning, convenient breakfasts are the name of the game. (Plus, does anyone else feel like the month of May just rains down busyness? Graduations, Mother’s Day, end-of-school concerts and award nights, and my two of my kids’ birthdays make for a whirlwind several weeks.)

I knew today would be particularly busy–and special–because it’s my daughter’s 7th birthday. Making and frosting a carrot cake, cleaning my house, and planning a Shopkins birthday party coming up in 48 hours are the action items at the top of my agenda, not leaving a whole lot of time for anything fancy for breakfast (except for the birthday girl herself. Before I got up, she apparently had waffles with a veritable mountain whipped cream. Ah, to be seven again.)

After trying many a peanut butter overnight oat recipe in the past, I have gradually amalgamated a bit here, a bit there to create what I consider

THE ONLY PEANUT BUTTER OVERNIGHT OATS YOU’LL EVER NEED!!!

Okay, maybe these are just the only peanut butter overnight oats *I* need, but I do happen to think they’re the best. Since I don’t like my oatmeal too creamy, I find crunchy peanut butter a welcome addition, and the blend of brown sugar, peanut butter, cinnamon, and vanilla reminds me of a peanut butter oatmeal cookie. Plus, with no unusual ingredients, they’re a snap to pull together. Feel free to sprinkle or mix in additions like fresh strawberries or bananas, or mini chocolate chips.

On a day like today, with a thousand things on my plate, I’m glad these were in my cup.


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The Only Peanut Butter Overnight Oats You'll Ever Need
Convenient, delicious, and healthy, these overnight oats are packed with peanutty flavor.
Instructions
  1. In a glass or bowl, mix together all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator overnight (or about 8 hours) and serve cold.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe

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Naan-chos with Gazpacho Salsa

In a perfect world, every culture would have its own version of nachos. I can see it now: German nachos with a crispy potato base and sausage crumbles on top, Indian nachos with lentil crackers and chicken tikka masala… the list goes on. But since we don’t live in a perfect world, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, nacho-wise.

Since I’m such a fan of the Mediterranean diet, and that region doesn’t exactly have its own native nachos, I’ve been meaning to make something like these “naanchos” for ages, especially after coming across Rachael Ray’s version years ago. I’m so glad I did! These made the perfect light lunch for my day off yesterday.

With a naan flatbread base, hummus swirl, and gazpacho-flavored salsa, this twist on the usual nachos takes your tastebuds on a tour around the Mediterranean. The gazpacho salsa on top (a riff on my regular gazpacho), is a refreshing pico de gallo-style dip, with manly chunks of red pepper, tomato, and cucumber. Put together with chewy flatbread, cool hummus, and salty feta, I could also see this combo serving as a unique appetizer for entertaining or a nutrient-packed afternoon snack.

Like their namesake, these naancho nachos might just make you go…

 


Print Recipe
Naan-chos with Gazpacho Salsa
Nachos with a healthy Mediterranean twist!
Instructions
  1. Make the gazpacho salsa: Place garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process for a few seconds until garlic is minced. Add the chunks of cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, and red onion and process another few seconds until the mixture reaches a pico de gallo consistency.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Toast the naan in a toaster/toaster oven. Spread with a layer of hummus, then slice into wedges.
  4. Place wedges on a serving dish. Top with gazpacho salsa and sprinkle with crumbled feta. Serve immediately, and store any extra salsa tightly covered in the fridge.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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I Tried Universal Yums and Here’s What Happened

Christmas seems like a long time ago now, but that’s where this story begins. Back in December, as I was assembling my Christmas list (like a NORMAL person–who are these nonchalant gift receivers who say, “Just get me whatever you think I’d like!”?), I had been chatting with my co-workers about the hot new trend of boxes. Yes, boxes. Not plain old boxes, or simple gift boxes, but the kind of subscription boxes that arrive in the mail monthly with special, interesting goodies. You may have heard of examples like Stitch Fix, Birchbox, or The PMS Package (yes, it is what you think it is).

Being a foodie, I knew the one box I wanted to add to my Christmas list: Universal Yums. This box service caters to the culinarily adventurous, sending gift boxes of snacks from a different country each month. Chupa chups from Mexico? Haribo gummies from Germany? Sign me up! (Just nothing with crickets, please.)

When Christmas rolled around, my brother was kind enough to gift me with a month of Universal Yums. My box arrived in January full of edible presents from…drumroll, please…Greece! After taking a moment to give thanks that it wasn’t from somewhere extremely exotic to me, like Vietnam (see cricket aversion above), I sliced open my “Yum Yum Box” with gusto.

Not sure who was more excited, my 6-year-old or me.

The Yum Yum Box includes at least 12 snacks (other Universal Yums packages come with anywhere from 6 to 20+ goodies). Here’s what the haul looked like unboxed:

A variety of sweet and savory, it boasted oregano chips, a sesame-almond bar, cookies flavored with must (a kind of grape juice), olives, chewy fruit candies, something called halva (which my husband, who has a Greek aunt, recognized as a snack, but which looked more like cement to me), bread chips, a cream-filled croissant, and several chocolate candy bars.

For my first snack of choice, I dug into the chocolate (obviously), opting for a Triplo bar.

The Triplo bar needs to hit the U.S., like, immediately. Without a doubt, it would be a huge success. A three-humped chocolate-caramel mixture tops a wafer base, making this some perfect amalgam of Milky Way and Kit Kat. I’ve been scouring the internet for where to buy these in bulk every since. The other chocolate items in the Yum Yum Box were similarly delicious.

The sesame-almond bar I tried next certainly did NOT resemble any snack native to the U.S. Containing just sesame seeds, honey, and almonds, it sure could teach American processed snacks a thing or two about the goodness of simplicity. To this Western lady, its flavor was distinctly foreign–but enjoyably so–especially with the knowledge it was comprised of only three ingredients.

 

This brings me to another element I appreciated about the Yum Yum Box: with standard FDA-regulated nutrition facts on each food item, I wasn’t left to decipher nutrition information from Greek in kilojoules.

Additionally, a fun little booklet accompanied the box, providing a bit of background on each snack, as well as some games and riddles to solve, indicating where next month’s box would come from. This mini-magazine added to the intrigue and festive feeling of the experience.

Since my box arrived in January, I’ve gradually made my way through the dozen or so items it delivered, loving some, disliking others, feeling indifferent toward a few. Actually, it’s not quite true that I’ve made my way through all of them. I have yet to try the halva (which I still think looks more like a gray brick from some Communist-era demolition site than a desirable on-the-go snack), and I eventually threw out the cream-filled croissant on the grounds that any cream that can survive a trip across the planet and two months in my pantry is a cream I don’t want to eat.

This highlights the primary drawback I see with Universal Yums’ model: every food sent is, by necessity, processed. For obvious reasons, you can’t exactly send fresh fruits and vegetables or home-cooked meals via international mail. Still, as a nutritionist, I can’t help but hesitate to completely embrace a monthly celebration of processed food.

Final word: would I get Universal Yums again? As a gift, yes, any time! But personally, even though I enjoy trying new foods and the feeling that I can travel the globe with my mouth, I’m not quite up to spending $14-39/month to do so. Plus, I honestly don’t think I have the appetite for so many unusual snacks every month. There would always be ones I’m just not adventurous enough to eat (though it could be fun weirding out whoever runs the canned food drive at my kids’ school by donating shrimp chips from Thailand or beet candies from Ukraine). Regardless, my Universal Yums experience was definitely exciting and novel, and I’d be curious to see what a box from another country would look like.

Would you try an international snack box service? Or have you already? Tell me about it!

Coconut Almond Muffins

The Monday after spring break has its ups and downs. In my case, having stayed home with my kids for the better part of ten days, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t a little grateful to have them headed back to school this morning. Like, if I hear one more “He hit me and I did NOTHING!” I might need to pack up and move to Aruba. On the other hand, I do treasure the concentrated time home with them doing fun activities like park play dates, library visits, and living room picnics.

And after almost a whole week or waking up without an alarm, it was a little hard to get out of bed this morning.

That’s partly why I made these Coconut Almond Muffins yesterday–to trick myself into the motivation needed to get up and go about regularly scheduled life. With the hearty texture of ground almonds and tropical sweetness of coconut, they’re a tasty treat that’s worth hauling myself into the kitchen for.

What I didn’t anticipate, though, was that my ten-year-old son (who took a sudden interest in cooking over spring break) would make me coffee, pour me a glass of water, and plate me two of these muffins–complete on a tray for breakfast in bed! Since our spring break was somewhat derailed by the bickering so common to school-aged kids, we’d had a long talk last night about service and kindness. Something must have sunk in.

I guess the only problem is that I didn’t actually have to get out of bed to eat them!

 


Print Recipe
Coconut Almond Muffins
A classic combination of coconut and almond flavors these lovely muffins!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
muffins
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
muffins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add melted butter, almond milk, almond extract, vanilla extract, and eggs. Stir until just combined.
  3. Coarsely grind the almonds: pulse almonds in a small food processor or zap a few times with an immersion blender until broken into small pieces. Mix almonds and coconut into batter.
  4. Divide batter between 12 muffin cups and bake in preheated oven 14-18 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Bake or Break.

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