Simple Granola

I love a challenge.

My challenge lately has been granola.

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My father in law challenged me to make homemade granola that is as tasty as the stuff he gets at whole foods. It has proved to be a greater challenge than anticipated.

But I’m getting closer.

This basic granola was batch #1. I wanted to make something super simple to taste and then go from there. Don’t get me wrong, this granola was good. But it was no where near my father in laws (nor my) expectations.

I can’t wait to share some of the amazing granola recipes I am coming up with at home. They are life changing. In the mean time, you can play with this recipe and add or subtract whatever ingredients you would like!

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I went with the basics.

You start with oats. Then you add 1 cup of any nut of choice, and 1/2 cup of a smaller nut (Pepita, sunflower seed, etc). You then add your sweetener: Honey, maple syrup, agave, sugar. You choose spices or extracts of choice. You can also add shredded coconut, flax seed, chia or hemp seed. And then you choose a fruit or sweet addition (chocolate chip, craisin, raisin, dried banana, apricot pieces).

The reason I’m so excited about my granola experiment is because I’ve had a lot of fun thinking up new ideas. There are sooooooooo many brands and concoctions out there and I’ve been finding plenty of inspiration.

I’ll keep you posted as I progress and make new batches, but will start you off with this one!

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Hope you’re having a great week! It is cold and gloomy here and I am looking very forward to a potential warm day/thunderstorms tomorrow!

As I mentioned last week, I have some super exciting news to share with you this week (not pregnant, Mom. No one get too excited) that I will tell you about on Friday. Until then, make this granola to crunch on in anticipation.

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Lately

Can you believe that we are already in the month of April? Wasn’t it LITERALLY just Christmas?

Life flies, kids, life flies.

The older I get, the faster the time goes. I sound like the old ladies at my church growing up. They would always say things like “time flies” or “her metabolism will catch up with her one day”. Which I realize now that the latter was more of a backhanded compliment. It’s like telling someone that they are skinny now but they hope they get fat in their twenties.

Since Easter is on Sunday, I was feeling a bit inspired by the season of life, love and resurrection. With Easter on my mind, I found some pretty pictures that reminded me of Easter, Spring and the renewal of life. I actually saw a weed growing out of a crack in our building yesterday! Summer is coming! The earth is slowly awakening here in Chicago and I can hear the birds encouraging the trees to stretch their tired winter bones into buds of life.

Even though it is gloomy today, those little birds are such a great reminder that with every season there is hope.

I am looking so forward to the month of April. I’ve got some super exciting stuff going on that I will share with you next week! Until then, here are some things I’ve been loving on lately.

Scones are always pretty. Carrot cake is always delicious. Those are things we all know. But combine them? Someone is a genius and I must say these scones from Broma Bakery have me in the mood for some spiced up carrot deliciousness.  8e488b6328c6e2cd546770832e6fa2be Have you heard of Food52? If not, go there immediately. They have the most amazing recipes, stores and gifts. Goooooooooo. They also have a recipe for making YOUR OWN PEEPS! I don’t actually like eating peeps…I usually just put them in the microwave, watch them grow to the size of a small cat and then throw them away…but the fact that I could make them myself is extremely intriguing. peeps-9Deviled Eggs. You either love them or you hate them. I love them.

Here are a bunch of different ways to mix up your traditional recipe! My sis-in-law is making a batch and I can’t wait to eat my weight in these little babies on Sunday at our Easter dinner with the fam. YUMMMMM.
ab2c1d4b1857ea96c7dcbd0f0cf6eea7 This outfit. It’s derby day. It’s summer. It’s sweet but sexy. It’s all the things that I want right now! e6a4b80481a2872037ab9dc4a4c8a71e I was at the grocery store last night stocking up for a party we are hosting tonight and I had an overflowing cart, my hair was on top of my head because I had just taken a hot yoga class. No makeup, no bra..I looked disheveled. I was also suupperrr hangry and in a hurry to get home and finish some chores. I was trying to stick to my list and not buy all the new flavors of Ben & Jerry’s since I was beyond starving and arriving at the point of superpissedfornoreason. I needed to eat. I needed to get out of the store. I finally got to the checkout and there is a lane that is closed but the sweet man working waved me to come through. HOWEVER, there was a woman who literally thought she owned the world standing at the end of the belt looking at a magazine while her 10 items just sat at the very front. She stood there until she was done with the magazine and then looked at me and my cart full of food and gave me the most pitiful look. She SLOWWWLLYYY put the magazine away and then of course, of course, she was buying a bottle of champagne. A bottle that the young man at the register couldn’t scan because he was underage and that also didn’t have a price tag. By the time they realized they couldn’t find the price my 200 items were piled up on the belt. Turns out the bottle was $80. I was impressed. Still annoyed, but a little jealous that she was buying grapes, low-cal flatbreads and a super nice bottle of bubbly. NOT jealous that she was rude however. It actually totally changed my mood after that whole episode. I decided to become best friends with the sweet kid bagging my groceries and be as nice as possible. Life is way too short to treat anyone like they deserve anything less than the most respect and love you can give them! And with that gigantic rant…here is an awesome list of bubbly to fit any budget! best-bubly

Individual Banoffee Pie’s

Have you ever heard of a Banoffee Pie?

It turns out a ton of people have not. I made these the other day and I had to explain what they were to everyone. All you need to know is that they are delicious…(and simple to make!).

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When Mikey and I were engaged and then first married we lived in Madison, WI and both worked in restaurants. Mikey was the manager at an Irish Pub and therefore I spent almost all my time there when I wasn’t working.

We both gained about 20 pounds our first year of marriage. Between the chocolate fondue (I worked at the Melting Pot. Cheese and chocolate for days) and the pub fries and beer at the pub…we put on a few lbs.

One of my favorite things to get at the pub was their Banoffee Pie. It is an English dessert that includes bananas, whipped cream, graham crust and Dulce de Leche…Here is the history behind it if you’re interested.

I absolutely love the combination of everything together. The salty crust, with the sweet Dulce de Leche and the combo of the banana with the fluffy whipped cream…heaven. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since it has bananas it counts as a healthy breakfast, right!?

I also love serving dessert in a jar. No matter what is in it, I swear it will taste better if served in a mason jar! Trust me when I say this pie is amazing. You don’t have to make them in individual jars if you don’t want to. You can always just make one giant pie. Layer the crust, bake for about 10 minutes at 350, add the Dulce de Leche, followed by the bananas, whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate!

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Lately

Woke up to a layer of snow.

Not happy about it. BUT at least it’s Friday and at least the Badgers won last night!

Talk about a stressful game. I have never seen/heard Mikey so riled up during a sporting event. I think there was a point early in the 2nd half where he shed a couple tears. Our neighbors didn’t complain/call the cops (which I was expecting) so I’m pretty happy about that too. Double win in the Evon house!

I’m heading up to Madison, WI for the night to have dinner with a couple of my best girls. There is nothing better than a last minute trip to Madison. I’m excited for girl talk, drinks and laughing until my stomach hurts! I have a million things to do before I can skip town, so I’m going to leave you with some lovely things I’m loving lately :)

Check out this monster. Layer upon layer of goodness. I plan on making this play on a BLT (times 5) as soon as possible!

As you know, my favorite foods include donuts and ice cream. Some genius is now my best friend. Look at these beautiful babies! 

Remember Gaucho pants??? I had 3 pairs and wore them almost every day. They were basically sweatpants and I was obsessed. I also had a pair made out of jean material, so you can imagine my surprise (or was it joy) when I saw that the jean version is making a comeback. Why do I ever get rid of my clothes?? I need those giant pant legged monstrosities back!!!!!

Lauren Conrad came out with a list of house plants you can’t kill. I know I’ve been on this tangent for weeks now. I swear we will buy some plants soon so I shut up about it. In the mean time I’m studying this list so I know exactly what to get/attempt to keep alive!

I love this image of Thai Iced Tea topped with Coconut Milk. The color! I can only imagine how refreshing and flavorful this drink must be! Once it warms up I’m trying this recipe!

Refried Black Beans

I don’t typically love refried beans. They are usually the one (and only) thing left on my plate after a Mexican feast. However, that has all changed. I couldn’t stop eating these refried black beans. It could be the fact that they are loaded with onion, garlic and a ton of spices. Or the fact that they were topped with queso fresco and fresh cilantro…

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Whatever it was, I’ll never buy a can of refried beans again. This was such a quick and easy recipe and the results were amazing.

I ended up adding more cumin to mine (I’m a cumin addict) and the flavor and texture turned out great!

I was never a bean person until after college. I was the kid who ate around the beans in my chili. I recall asking my Mom to omit the beans from her chili at one time…she didn’t do it. Probably because then it wouldn’t be chili it would just be ground beef soup. Less appetizing I guess.

It’s amazing how things have changed! I now love beans and all legumes and always have a couple cans of garbanzo beans, Cannellini and black beans in my pantry.

These beans are a fun addition to any fiesta you throw. We served them with tacos, rice and all the fixin’s. The leftover beans were actually better and I would recommend that, if you can, make these a day in advance and then reheat them in the oven until they are warmed through. Then top them with cheese and cilantro. The flavors meld together over time and they get even better!

We received 5 inches of snow yesterday and I refuse to think about it. Instead, I’m going to think about warm weather while I make some spicy Mexican food, pour a margarita and wait for spring to arrive for good!

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