While cooking, listen to this: I Want You Back by N*SYNC
When I first moved to New York, I was terrified.
I had never lived outside of Michigan, let alone in a city with ten million others. College was a fun and carefree place where messy kitchens were the norm and mismatched appliances expected. But this, this was real life. This was paying-rent-making-a-paycheck real life.
My food processor arrived on a Saturday. I'd never had one before, so I was eager to use it. I scoured Pinterest for a dinner recipe, finally landing this pesto, burst-cherry tomato pasta dish from Cookie+Kate. Following Kate's straight-forward, thoughtful instructions, I made my first real New York City dinner.
It tasted like home.
I've followed Cookie+Kate ever since. Three years later, finally settled in this extra-large city, I realize the impact the blog had on me. The internet is a scary and intense place. There are lots of people pretending to be something they're not, dispelling negative energy and writing with complete disregard to the structure and function of the English language (sorry, I'm an unapologetic grammar nerd). But my favorite blogs, including Cookie+Kate, were smart, funny, and honest. They were full of real-life stories, delicious looking photos and reliable recipes. If these blogs could serve as an inspiration for me to get my butt into the kitchen to cook delicious, simple and healthy (or not-so-healthy) food for my friends and family, why couldn't I serve that purpose for others? Why couldn't I have my own corner of the internet to inspire?
So, this recipe. As some of you may know, I work in publishing, so I get a lot of free cookbooks (hey, work perks). Since starting at Penguin Random House a year and a half ago, I have only purchased two books: the Bruce Springsteen autobiography (I mean, duh) and the genius Cookie+Kate cookbook, Love Real Food. If you own just one cookbook, it should be this one (though that would be a sad existence. Won't you also buy Jerusalem and Cravings?). Full of bright, delicious vegetarian recipes, beautiful photos and an adorable puppers, I seriously spent hours going through, trying to decide which recipe to try first. I should also note that I've made most of Kate's blog recipes. From this insanely-delicious chickpea salad to these life-changing enchiladas, I have yet to be disappointed.
This smoothie bowl is literally the first recipe in her book. Every time I open this cookbook, I vow I'll make this recipe. Well, today, I did. In the midst of summer, this muesli was so worth turning the oven on for.
A quick note about my super-shitty blender. It's awful, and I've been too cheap and too lazy to buy a new one (in my dreams, I own a beautiful stainless steel Vitamix). Because of this, I added a couple splashes of almond milk to keep my blender from being dumb. While it didn't affect the delicious-ness of this bowl, it did make it a bit more watery than I would have liked. That said, a couple splashes go a long way, so if you're blender is as stubborn as mine, I highly recommend it.
Blender aside, this recipe is a breakfast game-changer. I am not a morning person (as much as I wish I was), so this make-ahead muesli and super-versatile smoothie (feel free to change up the fruit combo!), really take the cake - or should I say the pancake (breakfast jokes for the win!).
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup raw pepitas
¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (I find maple syrup more flavorful)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ chia seeds
2 heaping cups frozen mango chunks
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
Optional: splash of almond milk
Optional sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350 F: Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine muesli ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut, pepitas, almonds, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Add maple syrup/honey, coconut oil and vanilla. Mix well. If your muesli's a little dry, feel free to ad a bit more oil and syrup
Pour the mixture: Spread the Muesli onto the sheet pan in an even layer. Bake until oats and coconut are slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Know your oven! Mine gets extra-hot in the back, so I made sure to rotate the mixture half-way though. Set aside to cool. Once cool, add chia seeds, if using.
Make the mango yogurt: Combine yogurt and mango in a blender. Assuming yours is better than mine, you probably don't need the almond milk, as it thins it out. If you too suffer from dull-blade, cheap blender syndrome, go ahead and add a splash of milk.
Assemble and dig in: Pour the smoothie into a bowl, top with muesli and fresh fruit! Dig in.
To store: According to Kate, this muesli lasts for up to three months in the freezer in a freezer bag. I've yet to have a batch go uneaten for that long. For the smoothie, cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to five days.