My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Scrumptious Orange Walnut Granola. Really: Scrumptious.

I know. I know. Scruptious? Granola?

But give me a minute, here, before you click away in disgust.

I’ve never been a granola fan. I’ve always felt there’s nothing quite as dreary as chewing your way through a dentally-challenging bowl of nuts and twigs first thing in morning. I have a weakness for children’s breakfast cereals. Comforting baked goods.

This granola though…dang! It puts store-bought granola to shame. It tastes good. Really good. And it’s not going to chip a molar. In fact…think of it as a deconstructed oatmeal cookie. Use it as a crumble on ice cream. Whatever! But give it a try!

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Ingredients:

Zest of one orange

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 ½ cups walnuts, broken up slightly

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup melted coconut oil

½ cup honey

1 cup dried fruit of your choice: cherries, blueberries, raisins, cranberries, dates…

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How to Make It:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a jelly-roll pan or other big, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the orange zest and sugar in a little bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar until it is bright orange and smells amazing.

Break up your walnuts a little bit so you don’t have entire walnut halves going in to the mix, here. I put them in a bag and pushed a rolling pin over them a few times. You don’t want them pulverized or chopped finely, just broken into smaller bite-size pieces.

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In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, and your orange sugar. Stir to combine. Make sure you break up any sugar clumps, so the orange flavor goes all through the mix.

Pour in the coconut oil and honey. Mix well, coating all the oats.

With a spatula, spread the granola onto your baking sheet in an even layer. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally as it bakes, until it turns a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack. The granola will crisp up nicely as it cools down.

When the granola is cool, add in your dried fruit. I love cherries in this mix. Today I used blueberries and cranberries, because that’s what I had on hand. This granola will keep in an airtight container for a week or two. But don’t be surprised if you eat it all up long before then!

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The Basil Before the Storm: Walnut Parmesan Pesto

We’re well into October and my insanely wonderful garden is still producing. Tomatoes. Peppers. Greens. Zucchini. But, as House Stark knows, winter is coming…even though we’ve just had three gorgeous days in the mid-80s…and our cold snap is on its way.

For the first time, I’m going to try row covers to extend the season for our greens, but the writing is on the wall for the rest of the veggies, including our mighty basil plant, which has reached the intimidating size of a small hedge. So today I’m harvesting the rest of the basil and making pesto.

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Pesto rocks. You can use it in pasta sauce, as a topping for grilled salmon, on crunchy bruschetta, in a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, for a delicious pizza topping, on decadent French fries, stuffed with goat cheese inside your prosciutto-wrapped chicken thighs and grilled, baked on a wheel of brie, spread on your turkey wrap, heck; pesto all by itself on crackers is a treat. Pesto also freezes beautifully and keeps for months! What’s not to love?

For this recipe, I’m using walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts because pine nuts are 1) hard to find out here, and 2) expensive. I think you’ll find the walnut pesto tastes equally delicious, especially when you take the extra step and toast the nuts first.

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In the words (sort of) of the 17th-century poet, Robert Herrick: “Gather ye basil while ye may, / Old Time is still a-flying; / And this same basil that smiles today, / Tomorrow will be dying.” So go make pesto.

Ingredients:

2 cups (packed!) basil leaves

½ cup walnuts, toasted

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup grated Parmesan –  Romano or Asiago would also work nicely

Salt

Pepper

How to Make It:

Toast your walnuts first. Trust me on this: it doesn’t take long, isn’t hard, and it gives the nuts a deeper flavor and crisps them up. Heat your oven to 350F and put the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Let them bake for 5-10 minutes and keep an eye on them, stirring them around so they toast evenly. In our oven they take about 7 minutes. Don’t let them burn: you want them to turn just a little browner. You should just be able to smell a toasty aroma. Let them cool before using them in the pesto.

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See? Easy! The rest of the recipe is a breeze as well. Add the basil, cooled nuts, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan, a pinch of salt, and a grind or two of pepper to a food processor. Blend until the pesto is a thick paste. If you want a thinner pesto, add a touch more oil or another squeeze of lemon until it is the consistency you’re looking for.

Delicious!

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Want to freeze it? No problem. You can freeze small amounts—1-2 Tablespoons—in ice cube trays, then put the frozen cubes into a freezer bag and pop out a cube whenever you need a little pesto. Or, freeze larger amounts of pesto in small containers—little Tupperware, small jelly jars, etc. If you put a thin layer of olive oil over the top surface of the pesto before freezing, it will help keep the pesto green. Keep your pesto in the freezer for six months. I will say I’ve kept it for longer without it losing quality.  Enjoy!