Sam’s Kitchen – Home-made Granola

The other weekend, I had a sudden strong urge to bake up a batch of granola. I don’t get it because I hardly ever eat granola, and when I do, it’s usually out of a package and made by companies like Nature Valley and Quaker Oats. I’m always low on snacks around the house and I figured granola would be a “healthy” alternative to chips and cookies. I grabbed a granola recipe that my mother filed away from the Plumpjack Resort in Squaw Valley up in Tahoe that she raved was the “best granola ever.” One quick look at the recipe and I saw butter, maple syrup, corn syrup, honey. Okay, this wasn’t going to be healthy, but I’ve got the recipe in my hand and now I’m committed. I didn’t have all of the ingredients so this was my adaptation.


  • — Cooking spray or butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound mixed dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, currants, apricots, apples, etc.)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 300°. Prepare a cookie sheet with cooking spray or lightly coat with butter.

In a thick-bottomed pot, slowly bring the honey, butter, maple syrup and corn syrup to a boil. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes, watching it carefully as it can easily boil over.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients, except for the dried fruit, in a large bowl. I didn’t have millet, sesame seeds and wheat germ, so I substituted in an extra cup of oats.

Pour hot syrup mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring carefully until completely combined. Pour granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly.

Granola Mix

Bake granola for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown throughout, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and leave at room temperature to cool completely, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent it from forming one large, hard sheet.

Granola Toss

Add dried fruit and toss to combine. I used golden raisins and dried cranberries, but I’m thinking dried apricots would be delish.

Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

you might also like...

Sam’s Kitchen – Pizza Margherita

Sams Kitchen Pizza Margherita

To be honest, K and I hardly cook in our brand new kitchen. It’s really bad actually… We typically hang out at my parents house and eat meals like this, this and this.

One day, K and I made a real effort to get off work early and cook a dinner for ourselves. First meal on our list was pizza! We made a pizza margherita that night, and I surprised by how easy it was. Check out the recipe below:


Note: You will need a pizza stone for this recipe. I used this one.

1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
1 bag of pizza dough from Trader Joe’s
6-8 fresh basil leaves

— Sauce —
2 cans peeled tomatoes
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
5 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of chili flakes


Brown the garlic and chili flakes in the olive oil in a sauce pan. Add in the tomatoes and salt, and let it stew for 20 minutes. Take a potato masher and break up the tomatoes until it’s a thick and slightly chunky consistency. Add in the oregano, bay leaf and basil and let the sauce stew for another 15 minutes. Let the sauce cool down before smearing it on the pizza dough.

Sams Kitchen Pizza Sauce Cooked

Place dough on a floured surface and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Sams Kitchen Pizza Dough

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

After it has rested, stretch the dough out to a round that’s 14 inches in diameter on a floured surface, then brush the dough with olive oil. Carefully transfer the dough to a pizza stone. Try not to press the dough into the stone. I made that mistake and lost some of my pizza crust. :( Take heaping spoonfuls of the sauce and spread it over the dough. Extra sauce can be reserved for some tasty spaghetti!

Sams Kitchen Pizza Add Sauce

Pinch off 1 inch chunks of the mozzarella and sprinkle it over the pizza. Take your fresh basil leaves and evenly space it over the pie.

Sams Kitchen Pizza Add Toppings

Pop the pizza with the stone into the oven and let it cook for 18-20 minutes or until the bottom of the pizza is golden brown. The pizza should be crispy on the bottom and gooey on the top. Enjoy!

you might also like...

Sam’s Kitchen – Brown Butter Pasta with Mizithra Cheese

Sams Kitchen Mizithra and Brown Butter Pasta

Back in college, K and I used to dine at a fine Italian restaurant called Old Spaghetti Factory. Okay, it’s not really fine dining, but it’s what we could afford while in school. The dish we used to always order was smack dab in the middle of OSF’s menu with a gold border. I was spaghetti with brown butter and mizithra cheese, and the restaurant claims Homer ate this dish while writing the Iliad. The dish is so flavorful – nutty, salty and delicious.

I’ve never been able to find mizithra cheese until I stepped into a Whole Foods recently. This sheep’s milk cheese is similar to parmesan, but more fragrant with a creamy white color. I was able to get a piece of the cheese for only $1.20.

Here’s a VERY simple recipe I made up for spaghetti with brown butter and mizithra cheese.


1 package thin spaghetti
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup mizithra cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Dry parsley for garnish


Sams Kitchen Mizithra Brown Butter

Cook spaghetti so that it’s al dente. In a separate pot, brown the butter and add in the salt and pepper. Toss the spaghetti with the butter and plate in a dish. Add the cheese and gently mix. Sprinkle parsley for garnish then enjoy.

Sams Kitchen Mizithra Shave Cheeze

you might also like...

Sam’s Kitchen – Tartine’s Lemon Cream Pie

Tartine Lemon Cream Pie

I just love lemon desserts. I had a strong debate last time I was in Tartine between the Lemon Cream Pie and the Banana Cream Pie, and I chose the latter because it’s a restaurant favorite. And once I received the Tartine cookbook for Christmas, I knew I had to make this pie. So glad I did!

Before you follow this recipe, you’ll need to make Tartine’s Sweet Tart Crust.


1/2 cup plus 2 T. lemon juice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cool, cut into tablespoon sized slices or cubes


Tartine Lemon Curd

Heat about 1.5 inches of water to a simmer in a double boiler, or a saucepan that is the right size for a non-reactive metal bowl to fit into so that the bowl doesn’t touch the water but sits just above it. In the bowl, combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt. (Add the egg yolks last and whisk immediately – if you let the egg yolks and sugar sit, they will become grainy.) Rest the bowl on the pan and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and registers 180 degrees on a thermometer, this will take about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the water and let the mixture cool to about 140, stirring occasionally.

Tartine Lemon Curd Blend

When the mixture has cooled to 140, strain it with a fine mesh sieve, and use a hand blender in a high sided bowl or bar blender to blend in the butter one chunk at a time, blending continuously, and allowing each chunk to become incorporated before adding the next. It will be pale yellow and very thick. At this point you can add a little lemon zest or up to a tablespoon or so of lemon juice if needed to brighten the flavor. Chill the cream until your tart shell is cool, or if it is, go ahead and fill it.

Tartine Lemon Curd Fill Pie

To assemble the tart (which you should do no more than a few hours before you plan to serve it) cut the tops off of the strawberries and dot the tart shell with them flat side down, points up, about a quarter inch apart. Pour the lemon cream over the top and chill for at least an hour.

For the topping:
2 cups of cream
2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
Beat cream in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment on high until soft peaks start to form. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until stiff.

Tartine Lemon Curd Add Whipped Cream

Dollop the top of the tart with the whipped cream, spreading to the edges with an offset spatula, and dot the top with smaller whole strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


you might also like...

Sam’s Kitchen – Tartine’s Sweet Tart Dough

Tartine Sweet Tart Dough

I’ve baked a few pies from the Tartine cookbook, and I have yet to be disappointed. Here’s a basic recipe for sweet tart dough. This crust has the perfect amount of crunch and sweetness. It’s almost like a shortbread.


1 cup + 2 tbsp (9 oz/255 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (7 oz/200 grams) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature (tip
3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 oz/500 grams) all-purpose flour


Tartine Sweet Tart Dough Butter Eggs

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in 1 egg. Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

Tartine Sweet Tart Dough Ball

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 4 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1/2 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight or freeze 3 for future use (this dough will keep for up to 3 weeks).

Tartine Sweet Tart Fill Pan

To line a tart pan, place a dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn after every few strokes, dusting underneath as necessary to discourage sticking, and work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm. Cut out a circle 2 inches larger than the pan. If the dough is still cool, carefully transfer the circle to the pan, easing it into the bottom and sides and then pressing gently into place. If the dough has become too soft to work with, put it in the refrierator for a few minutes to firm up before transferring it to the pan. If the dough develops any tears, just patch with a little extra dough, pressing firmly to adhere. Trim the dough level with the top of the pan with a sharp knife. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm, about 15 minutes.

If you are making tartlet shells, roll out the dough in the same way, cut out circles according to the size of your pans, and line the pans. The rest of the dough, including the scraps, can be frozen for future use (I used the scraps from forming a 9-inch tart to make a 4-inch tartlet).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tartine Sweet Tart Dough Pie Crust

Dock (make small holes in) the bottom of the tart shell or tartlet shells with a fork or the tip of a knife, making tiny holes 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes for a partially baked large shell or 5 to 7 minutes for tartlet shells. The pastry should be lightly colored and look dry and opaque. Check the shell(s) during baking and rotate the pans if necessary for even color. If you want to brush the shell with a glaze (Elisabeth and Chad do this to keep the shell crisp longer), beat an egg with a pinch of salt in a small bowl. A minute or two before the desired color is reached, remove the shell(s) from the oven and lightly brush the bottom and sides with the glaze. Return the shell(s) to the oven and bake until the desired colour is reached and the glaze is set, about 10 minutes longer.

Let cool completely on wire racks. The pastry shells will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: four 9-inch tart shells or twelve 4-inch tartlet shells.

you might also like...