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.

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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!

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Great Finds: Vintage Cookbooks

I went to the SF Public Library Book Sale at Fort Mason this past weekend and picked up a load of books! Twice a year, the SF Public Library holds a sale of overstocked and out dated books. I made out like a bandit, paying only $1 per book because I came on the last day. I got everything from vintage cookbooks from the 50s, 60s and 70s to fun coffee table books to Rick Steve’s travel books.

I love how each book has tons of recipes for dishes that were popular that decade – like casseroles, party platters and meat pies. Can’t wait to use a recipe!

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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

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Sam’s Kitchen – Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joe

Here’s a first world problem… my parents went to Hawaii which means K and I have to fend for ourselves for meals. We had some sweet rolls in the kitchen and I had the bright idea to make sloppy joes. I’ve never had one before, but they always looked really delicious in the movies. Here’s a super simple recipe that literally took me 15 minutes to make.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
3 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon A1 sauce
salt and pepper to taste


In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef and onions. Drain excess liquids.

Sloppy Joe Brown Meat

Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, A1 sauce, ketchup and brown sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Sloppy Joe Add Sauces

Toast the buns and serve. Enjoy!


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