Category Archives: snacks

a summer picnic with francis ford coppola winery | recipes for travel-ready hummus + pesto

With the summer season here at the vineyard in full-swing, it has been a little challenging to take a break, let alone plan a getaway. This past week has entailed thinning excess shoots within the vines, repairing a downed fence post, untangling stray guide wires, and getting the house ready for a visit from a close Denver friend. Even these exciting moments, albeit invigorating ones, can prove a little taxing.

I’ve partnered with Drizly, the online beer, wine, and spirits marketplace, and the Francis Ford Coppola Winery to share with you one of my favorite wines from their new premium wine series, Diamond Collection Cans, along with two wine-friendly, travel-ready recipes I routinely make over the summer that are the perfect complement to an impromptu picnic, afternoon hike, or camping excursion.

Steve and I decided to come in a little early one afternoon and pack a quick picnic to catch the sunset. Instead of scouting out a new hiking spot, we chose to simply drive over to the west side of our property, open the newly installed back gate, and just enjoy the gorgeous western Colorado scenery already around us. We chilled down the wine, made our go-to pesto recipe, whipped up a batch of hummus, and packed up the necessities into the back of the Gator.

Work was happily set aside for the next few hours.

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toasty whole grain granola with dried cherries + dark chocolate

I am just settling in this afternoon, back from a week-long vacation on Lake Burton, in north Georgia. And by vacation, I meanĀ family reunion. Contrary to what most might assume, the break away from work was refreshing, no family feuds ensued, and the scenery was breathtaking. Any worries we had on the trip were quelled, once we turned the key to our front door: the houseplants didn’t die, the cats made it alright, and the garden surprisingly flourished.

I am taking a short break to write this post, before we deal with the “unknowns” in the refrigerator. I am thinking that a lot of what is still hanging out in the fridge will go straight into the compost. I don’t feel bad about that. The unused food will soon be recycled into soil for our garden’s vegetables and herbs. Even though the trip was relaxing, I am still in vacation mode and want to set up our workweek right. In addition to preparing a versatile quinoa salad for the week, we are also assembling one of our favorite kitchen staples: granola. This particular version, however, definitely carries a theme of indulgence and decadence. Vacations have got to be stretched out as long as possible, right!?

I have been making riffs on granola for years. It is a nutritious and versatile treat that can be made quickly and can utilize scraps and leftovers from your baking cabinet. I tend to make versions that incorporate remnants of oats from a baking experiment, nuts and seeds from a spring hike, and dried fruit that just isn’t tasting quite good enough by itself. I just toss them all with a bit of oil and add some sugar and bake until crisp and golden. Sounds easy, right? It is. Here is a basic granola recipe that I use for everyday breakfasts and snacks, along with a couple of delicious variations.


toasty whole grain granola with dried cherries + dark chocolate


  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped coarsely
  • 1/8 cup golden flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • sea salt or cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 an 8-ounce dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped {you can snack on the other half, while making the granola. You’re welcome. I like to use anything by Ritual Chocolate, made here in Denver. You’re double welcome.}
  • good handful of dried cherries, to taste
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional
  • dash of vanilla extract, optional {you can guess that I use Oh, Lady Cakes’ vanilla extract …why wouldn’t you, unless it’s sold out?}

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Toss all ingredients, minus the chocolate and dried cherries, in a large bowl, making sure to coat evenly with the oil and maple syrup.
  3. Spread the oat and nut mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. You should smell the toasty, cozy aroma of roasted nuts. Be sure not to over-bake. Burnt granola is not the best kind of granola.
  4. Once baked to perfection, set aside and let cool.
  5. Toss cooled granola into a bowl and add dried cherries and dark chocolate. Pour mixture into a large Mason jar or anything with a tight lid. You’ll want to keep this fresh and out of the way of humidity.
  6. Serve by itself or along with some skyr {Icelandic yogurt} or Greek yogurt. You can add fresh fruit, if you don’t have dried fruit on hand. This recipe yields one large, quart-sized Mason jar, plus 1 1/4 cup extra.

I have been seriously enjoying the cherry season this year. My recent brandied cherries turned out perfectly, and I have pitted and dried some more, just to capture their essence of summer. To dry your own cherries, you can either easily dehydrate them in the oven or in a food dehydrator. This is the one that I use most frequently.

I am officially off to clean out the refrigerator and finish up the granola project. I have some leftover, week-old sangria that held up quite nicely, while we were away. I just might have to pour myself a glass and sit out in the backyard. Speaking of sangria, you can read my most recent post at the Kitchn, featuring the best red wines for summer sangria, here. Pour yourself some and make your shopping list for granola. Or simply scour your cabinets and make a “kitchen sink” version of your own! Cheers!

“kitchen sink” granola

After ten years in Colorado, I am not that surprised at this month’s drastic weather fluctuations. Here, April is always characterized by volatility, but enough already with this late spring snow! Today was exceptionally messy: five inches of snowfall throughout the day, with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees. Aside from venturing out for a cozy lunch and coffee break, I stayed indoors with the heat cranked high. I am eager to get my hands dirty in the soil and plant seeds and seedlings, but today called for indoor projects and some rest, accompanied by some tea and homemade granola that I made a couple of weeks ago.

kitchen-sink-granola

I have always enjoyed store-bought granola, but I have always wanted to make it myself. It is quite easy and economical. Inspired by one of my favorite food blog’s recipe, I searched through my cupboards and refrigerator and created my own “kitchen sink” edition. Simply combine and bake some whole oats, seeds, nuts, cooking oil, and spices. Toss in your favorite dried fruit, once your mixture is thoroughly toasted. Don’t worry about the exact measurements; play around with what you have on hand, and clean out your dry goods stash at the same time.

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