Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chobani Protein Drink

There is a whole secret world happening behind the scenes (or shelves) of the grocery store.  From Frozen Pizza to Bleach and even delicious bacon, there is an army of people who work to get the products you love on the shelf of your local grocery store - even more work to get you to buy them!

Boyfriends job title is "Food Broker."  In his role as food broker, he plays the middle man between the manufacturers of products and the grocery store buyers. From planning Sunday ads, to fighting for eye level placement on the shelf, it is his job to make sure the brands he represents get into your shopping cart.

I'm sure you also realize we live in a highly digitized world.  Manufacturers, grocery stores and brokers alike use the massive piles of data available to them to help sell to us, the consumer.  Here are some fun facts about how we spend our precious dollars at the grocery store.  I was surprised at quite a few of them!

- The average monthly budget for groceries is $311
- 37% of U.S. Shoppers use technology for grocery shopping
- Half of shoppers decide what to have for dinner the same day

Do you make a shopping list before going to the store, here's how the average U.S. shopper writes it:
- 45% write the product type
- 6% write the Brand name of the product
- 1% write the Brand name and specific type
- 29% write a combination of the above
- 19% don't typically write a shopping list

When you go to the grocery store, do you go alone?
- 46% Shop alone
- 32% Shop with their Spouse/Partner
-10% Kids under 5
- 8% Kids 6-12
- 6% Kids 13-17
- 5% Adult children
- 3% Other relatives
- 2% Friends
- 1% Roommate
- 1% Someone else

Next time you go to the grocery store and stand in front of that shelf of yogurt, you will have a new found understanding of all the work involved to get it there!

Help show your support of BF's job campaign by tweeting Chobani:

Let @pitchCHObani sell me @Chobani yogurt so @WildeKitchen keeps posting delicious Chobani inspired recipes #InterviewOverYogurt

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yogurt with Raspberry & Mint

You may have read yesterday that Boyfriend is trying to land an interview for a great job at Chobani.  As a part of his "research," we have dedicated the week to exploring the wide world of Greek yogurt.  Today we take a trip to the Chobani SoHo shop in New York City.

That's right!  In the summer of 2012, Chobani opened up its first shop in Manhattan.  Located right in the center of SoHo, their storefront offers up a healthy option for someone looking for a quick breakfast, afternoon snack, or late night treat.  It's also one of the only things I can usually afford in this fancy section of town.

With gourmet flavors like Fig & Walnut, Chocolate & Pistachio and their new Bagel & Lox, and some not-so-gourmet ones like PB&J, I had a hard time deciding which one to get.  You'll notice I went with my kid side and ordered PB&J.  You might also see that it came in this fancy Chobani container!  I want to head back time and time again so I can get a full set.

Since boyfriend and I don't live right next door to the CHO shop, I decided to make my own gourmet creation, in my CHO bowl!  Raspberries, fresh mint and a touch of sweet agave, I was in 3:00 snack heaven! 

And our tweet of the day - I'm loving @WildeKitchen 's "research" recipes!  Keep @PitCHObani in the job hunt so we can enjoy @Chobani 24/7/365 #InterviewOverYogurt.  Let's help boyfriend make friends with Chobani, so we can move to Brooklyn and I can have a commute that is only 1 hour instead of 2!  (Such an added bonus, because Brooklyn is pretty awesome all on it's own)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fudgy Waffles

Normally my cooking is driven by a story or experience, this week I am letting my cooking create an experience.  Here's the background...

For those of you who don't know, there exists a complex network of people whose job it is to get the right products on the shelf of your favorite grocery store.  One of those people is Boyfriend.  To explain to you what he does would probably take a whole post to itself.  Simply put - He works with the brands to get their product on the store shelves and make sure they sell to people like us.

As we enter a new phase in our lives, buying a house and setting roots, Boyfriend is looking for a new job.  He found a job at Chobani Greek Yogurt that he thinks would be the perfect fit (and seriously, I'm all for more CHO in the house!).

Never content to go the traditional route, he asked me to help out (with my cooking talents) to help get him an interview.  Over the next few days, I will be posting some delicious meals we prepared (yes, we!) using Chobani.  Let's all band together and help Boyfriend and Chobani get together!

Then make some waffles, they are delicious.  I'd recommend eating them for breakfast AND dessert.  Afraid of baking?  You can totally do this, Boyfriend made these waffles!  I just gave him the recipe and told him to excessively spray down the waffle iron with cooking oil.

If you feel so inclined, head over to twitter and help boyfriend out!  Just copy and paste this tweet and hopefully he'll be on his way to his dream job and we'll be buying our dream co-op in Brooklyn!

If backing @PitCHObani for Category Mgr-SoHo means more @WildeKitchen @Chobani recipes - I'm In! #InterviewOverYogurt

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wilde Week #1

I have been mulling this over for a while and I have decided to add a weekly post - "Wilde Week."  Every Sunday will bring seven highlights of happenings in my life this past week.  They could be silly and useless (see number 3) or something a little more important (nothing strikes me as terribly important this week).  I'd like to use it to share something more personal from my life with friends and family that I don't see nearly enough and everyone else out there in the intertubes who I call my blog friends (we're friends, right?) 

Maybe you'll see something that you really like (hello number 5).  Perhaps you'll be concerned over my living situation (yes, number 1, I'm looking at you).  You could even have a solution to my problem of the week (this week, went rather smoothly, unless you know how to methylate alpha to a ketone with 100% yeild.  Yes? No?)  Or you could just decide to skip Sundays post and wait to hear from me on Tuesday with a new recipe!  It's all good! 

So I hope that you had yourself a great week.  I present you with my Wilde Week.

1. Boyfriend has lost his mind. In living with a crazy person.  You saw a glimpse of this a few weeks ago when I made hot dog shaped cookies.  Well, he's done it again.  And while yes, he is a bit of a crazy person, I love him and he makes me fall off the couch laughing.  Please enjoy - Born to be Tasty

2. Buffalo Pretzel Chicken.  I made this Taste of Home recipe earlier in the week.  Except, I made it more amazing.  Please please please, go to the store and buy some Hanover Buffalo Pretzels.  Use those in this recipe.  Replace the dressing with blue cheese dressing and prepare yourself to be amazed.  Maybe I'll post this recipe to the weekly post another time.  I made it and immediately ate it this week.  No time for pictures, too hungry.

3. Iodine is super pretty.  And when you dissolve it in liquid, it turns the liquid pink, then red, then purple!

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I usually read at least a book a week while spending four hours a day commuting to and from work.  This weeks book is The Night Circus!  If you are a fan of fantasy reading, this book is one that you should check out.  Set in the late nineteenth century, it's about magic, love, mystery with a little bit of suspense.  I've still got about 80% left to read and I can't wait to see how it ends! 

5. Cindy's Kitchen pear vinaigrette.  I am totally addicted to this salad dressing.  It has increased my salad consumption by 300% and I already eat a lot of salads!  I have only been able to find this dressing at Fairway Market, though I've gotten some of the other flavors at Whole Foods (the Asiago and Cracked Peppercorn is pretty darned good too).  I will put this pear vinaigrette on salads, grilled chicken, pork, breakfast cereal, hot dogs, tater tots.  Seriously, anything would be more delicious with this stuff drizzled over it.  You'll notice I have two bottles, I don't want to run out!  (Disclaimer - Cindy's Kitchen doesn't know me, I bought all that dressing myself, I am a salad dressing addict now.  Please send help, or more salad dressing.

6. iPhone camera lenses. BF got these for me for christmas this year and they have seriously improved my camera phone pics.  You stick a metallic ring around the camera on your phone, then these guys just clip on and off with use of magnets!  I've got the macro lens and the fish eye lens.  They are totally useful when I want to take a nice picture while out in the city, but don't want to look like a lost tourist.
7. This hat is awesome.  I had to wait for the train for twenty minutes on Wednesday night.  It was very very cold out.  You know what wasn't cold?  My head.  Because of this awesome hat!  You know what was cold?  My butt.  Because I'm too stupid to buy a coat that covers my rear end.  Luckily we are in for a warm spell next week, because while this hat is super warm, I look like a total goofball when I wear it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cavatappi Pasta with Sausage and Butternut Squash

Winter has finally struck the New York City area!  I knew this was coming, we can't go a full year without a week or two of frigid temperatures.  I'm just going to say that I would have been perfectly fine if the temperature never dropped below freezing. 

I know my mom is reading this and saying "But you grew up in Buffalo!"  Yes I did.  I also went to grad school in Wisconsin and spent a year living in Colorado.  Yet, I moved to the coast and have since thawed.  No longer do I want to deal with minus twenty wind chills and three feet of snow on my car.  I no longer own a winter coat that resembles a down comforter with sleeves.  I don't want to wear two pairs of pants while I wait for the train to work.  If there were jobs for chemists in Florida, I would be there in a second!

January is almost at it's end and February in the Mid-Altantic region is a smattering of warm and cold days.  I just have to make it through two weeks of wind chill.  There is only one problem with these cold days.  Boyfriend and I are house hunting.

That's right, we are getting ready to put down some roots and stop paying the ridiculous rent on our current apartment.  It's exciting, overwhelming and scary all at once.  Our first major problem, we're not set on a location yet.  It's not as simple as, do we live in this neighborhood or the one next to it?  Our question is - Do we live in New York or New Jersey?

There are a million factors to take into account.  Boyfriend and I work in two different states, he drives, I commute via train.  New Jersey has high property taxes yet New York has those darned city taxes.  Brooklyn is so hip and cool, Jersey city is... well, I have no idea what Jersey city has to offer.  I've only been there a few times!

So, see all the issues we have to deal with!  Add in the fact that it's chilly out and we are spending our Sundays trekking all over the two cities looking at open houses, you've got two very chilly individuals.  Luckily we have a few months before we have to leave our current apartment, the weather can warm up before we have to move. 

I'll just be a little crazy for the next few months, what with the stalking the NYtimes real estate page for new listings.  During that time I plan on making lots of dinners like this.  Ones that make a ton of leftovers! 

Anyone out there recently buy a house and have some tips and tricks for us?  While Boyfriend has previously bought a condo in Buffalo, this will be our first place together and my first purchase (Hello Property Virgin!).  So much to do, will we ever find a place?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Bother 2012 - Crackers

Before I can get started on those 2013 goals, I have to finish my 2012 ones!  We've only got two challenges left in the Why Bother, make it at home challenge!  I'm almost 100% recovered from my bout with bronchitis (Did you know the cough from bronchitis can last for up to three months!???!  Boyfriend knows all too well) and I spent the weekend making crackers!

Crackers are a very prominent snack in the Wilde household.  About an hour after dinner, every night of the week, boyfriend heads to the cupboard and brings a box of Wheat Thins to the couch.  He proceeds to eat about half of the box.  I'm thinking I need to feed him larger portions for dinner.

For the Cracker Challenge, I thought that I should try to replace Boyfriends favorite snack with something a little healthier.  The first recipe I made was a simple wheat cracker, with a hint of salt.  They were beyond easy to make and came out just like the plain store bought brand!  The trick?  Sizing bands for the rolling pin.  I use a Wilton brand fondant rolling pin with the ring guides.  The 1/16-inch guide gave a nice even dough for cutting the crackers.  They came out crispy and delicious!

Did boyfriend have any of them?  No, he did not.  He is a fan of the highly flavored variety of the crackers and I am at a loss at how to make a powdered sun-dried tomato flavoring.  The whole wheat crackers are all mine!

I thought that I would try to ply BF with a flavored cracker, since it's his vice.  Rather than make him something that we could pick up in the cracker aisle, I decided on something fresh and flavorful.  We both love Indian food, so when I saw this recipe for ginger and curry crackers I knew it would be a winner. 

The dough for these crackers came together just as fast as the first batch and they came out such a beautiful yellow color!  The apartment smelled warm and inviting and it made me want to order in some curry.  Topped with a smidge of cream cheese and red pepper jelly, these crackers are the perfect snack.

So, will I stop buying crackers at the store?  I don't think boyfriend will let me, he loves his nightly Wheat Thins too much.  I am happy to know how easy it is to thrown a batch of crackers in the oven.

One more challenge to go before we head into the Restaurant War!  Stay tuned in two weeks for our final homemade challenge - soft cheeses!  It's going to be so exciting, maybe I'll make some bagels to pair up with my homemade cream cheese.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Red Velvet Fudge

Did you know that at the beginning of each new year, 40% of all Americans resolve to start eating right or go on a diet?  Although, according to my facebook page, half of my friends are resolving not to make a resolution.  Personally I think that doesn't make too much sense, because right there, you made a resolution!  Rather than making resolutions for myself, I like to make New Year's Goals.

Goals are easier to track than making sweeping resolutions to change your whole life.  As you may already know, I have one major blogging goal for 2013.  Restaurant Wars!  (You see it up there under the banner?)  Boyfriend and I (along with a few of you) have finished planning the year of restaurants.  I'm looking forward to all the date nights that will be involved in this challenge!

This year, after my many weeks of being sick (did you know it can take a few months before the cough from bronchitis is gone?), I'm looking forward to getting back into the gym.  Helping me in my workout plans are some ladies at work.  We are just beginning the new Les Mills COMBAT program.  It's fun, tough and tiring.  I'm melted into the couch as I write this after completing one of the HIIT workouts this afternoon.

Finally, I want to get back into making candy.  I had such a fun time in 2011 with my candy challenge, but I really fell off the candy wagon this past year, only making a few batches of marshmallows.  There were so many candy confections that I never got to make in 2011, I'm stocking up on sucrose and glucose and getting a list together!

In my efforts to get back
to the candy bench, I started with this super pretty red velvet fudge.  I have had both good and bad results in the fudge-making department, though I've never made a traditional chocolate fudge.  Next time!  This fudge turned out wonderfully.  The color is just the beginning of how great this sweet actually is.  The mild cocoa flavor of the fudge is set perfectly against the cream cheese frosting.  Added bonus?  It will turn your tongue red!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Almond Cut Out Cookies

As a food blogger, I have decided that I must have strange, food friends.  No, not foodie friends.  Food friends.  Like this guy.

What?  You've never seen a stuffed hot dog before?  I have to say, he's one of the most hilarious stuffed animals I've ever seen.  As you can see, he's a native of New York City and hails from the Times Square Toys 'R' Us.  If you are in the city and feel like you need a strange food-themed plush toy, you can get one for only $9.  This particular stuffed hot dog is special.  He has his own blog.

Yes, this stuffed hot dog has a blog, which I am in no way a part of.  It's all the fault of the guy sitting next to me on the couch.  Life of Hot Dog chronicles the big (and not to big) events in Hot Dogs life and is the brainchild of Boyfriend.  He's a little bit crazy, but I love him, so it's all okay. 

For Christmas, BF got me several hot dog themed gifts.  This isn't new.  Last year someone went a little crazy at the Wal-mart photo lab and I got a pillow case, blanket, key chain and necklace, all adorned with pictures of this little hot dog. 

This year I was proud recipient of a hot dog ornament, calendar, pillow, 11x14 photograph and a hot dog shaped cookie cutter.  At some point I'm going to have to put a stop to it, or I'll be like one of those crazy cat ladies, but with pictures of this hot dog on everything I own.  (Hot dog PJ's anyone?)

Last week, Boyfriend and I (Hot Dog joined us too) tried out the cookie cutter.  Yes, BF was in the kitchen baking and decorating with me!  I've made a few changes to my almond cookie recipe and have come up with the best cut out cookie ever.  Easy to form and cut.  They hold their shape in the oven.  Soft, with a snap.  Not hot dog flavored.

If you want to make a cookie that will make you smile, get out your red and yellow food coloring and make yourself some smiling hot dogs.  They are perfect for a birthday party, picnic or just plain eating.  Decorate them with your favorite toppings.  We went with just plain mustard because stuffed hot dog only has mustard on!  So make some cookies and sit down and read BF's Hot Dog blog.  You won't regret a minute you spend in front of the computer screen!

Hey new friends!  Eat Me!  I'm so delicious as a cookie!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Close your Eyes

Close your eyes.  Now place your hands over your eyes.  This is the complete darkness that you feel when eating at Dans le Noir NYC.  It is a dining experience unlike any other.

Boyfriend and I spent the weekend in the city, a present from me to him this Christmas.  The weekend included dinner at Dans le Noir NYC.  Both BF and I had heard of this restaurant before, friends have gone and tried to explain their nights, I read as much as possible before went entered the doors.  Nothing really prepared us for the night ahead.

El restaurant

Dans le Noir NYC is located a little off the beaten track in Midtown Manhattan.  Yes, there are quiet areas of Midtown.  Located on 38th street, between 7th and 8th avenues, the restaurant is unassuming with a black sign and dark windows.  Our reservation was for 6:00pm, we hoped dinner wouldn't take too long because we had theater tickets.

You enter the restaurant through the lighted bar area.  You can get yourself a drink before you head into the dining room, you might need it.  The Dans le Noir staff checked us in, showed us the "menu" and had us sign a waiver.  Yes, a waiver.  And yes, I put menu in quotations.

You don't really get a menu, you get an idea of what you might be eating.  There are four options - the White menu (anything goes), the Red menu (for meat eaters), the Blue menu (for seafood lovers) and the Green menu (for the vegetarians).  I chose to be adventurous and went with the white menu.  Boyfriend isn't a fan of seafood and decided to go with the red menu.

The Lighted Bar

With all of the preparation complete, we met our head waiter - Sam.  Sam (and every waiter working at Dans le Noir) was blind.  He lined us up two by two and had us hold onto the shoulder of the person in front of us.  Sam lead us into the pitch black dining room, he sat us down in our chairs and gave us a tour of our place settings.  Right away, someone lost their knife.

The room was so inky black, there was no difference between keeping your eyes open or closed.  Waving my hand in front of my face, looking to all corners of the room, there was nothing but black.  All the plates and cups were plastic, which was good, because things were falling on the floor.  Our biggest challenge was first, passing the bread basket and filling our water glasses.  I managed to locate a tasty morsel of bread and fill my glass without soaking my lap.


BF and I were seated in the center of the oblong table and we knew no one else at our table.  When dining in the dark with six strangers, you get to know them quickly.  You are seated very close to one another and everyone is yelling.  Apparently when you lose your sense of sight, you start speaking very, very loudly.  BF and I aren't really yellers and I found myself wondering if he was still at the table!

Dinner was brought out in three courses, the starter, main course and dessert.  The women at the table had all ordered the white menu, the men all got the red.  I guess women are adventurous eaters and men like to eat meat.  I found it helpful to be sitting next to someone who was eating the same meal that I was.  We were able to compare thoughts on what we were actually eating.

The menus for the restaurant change every few weeks, so I don't want to describe my meal precisely for those that are headed to NYC soon.  It's supposed to be a surprise!  What I can tell you is this, I had several things that I have never eaten before.  Did you know that I've never had a beet before?  My started consisted of a tomato and beet salad with a portion of some sort of red meat.  I don't generally eat beef, so I couldn't differentiate the red meats in the dark.  All I know, it was delicious.

As Sam cleared our starter plates and brought out the main courses, the room started to fill with rich aromas.  I leaned over the plate and tried to determine what was in store.  Other than the hint of meat and seafood, I wasn't able to discern the dish.  As a group, we located a crab cake, some more red meat and a risotto.  A unique sort of surf and turf.  Eating the meal though was a little difficult.

The presentation of the meal was completely lost on us diners, as we couldn't see the food in front of our faces.  In fact we had some trouble locating the food on the plate.  Several times during the course of the dinner, I brought an empty fork to my mouth.  Mmmm, air, delicious and just what I wanted.  Your hands become quite useful when dining in the dark, be sure you've washed them!

Dessert was the same for all menus, so we shared the experience and a table.  I kept hearing "I found some strawberries" or "Hey, there's a chocolate something on here!" and "I think this is ice cream!" (It wasn't).  Dessert was a series of simple and obvious flavors.  I have to imagine the summer dessert is filled with amazingly flavorful fruits.

Once we were finished with dessert, there was an overwhelming desire to get out of the dark.  Everyone was ready to be able to see again, after only seventy-five minutes in the dark.  After the leave the dining room, being lead by our great waiter Sam, the soft lighting of the bar was even too bright.  We were given a look at the menu that we just enjoyed.  Remember all that beef I had?  Well none of it was actually beef.  The menu held nothing creepy or strange.  There was lamb, venison, poussin, crab, bison.  Apparently there was some fois gras on my main course plate, I never found it. 

If you are taking a trip to New York City (or Barcelona, London, St. Petersburg or Paris) and have a sense of adventure, you should get a reservation for Dans le Noir.  Personally, I thought it was quite the experience.  While BF and I wouldn't go back there for dinner on our own, we would certainly bring visiting family and friends, just so they can try to get food in their mouth in the dark.

Photos courtesy of the Dans le Noir website.  There wasn't really anything to take pictures of in the restaurant, because it was completely pitch black! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

No-Bake Granola Bars

It would seem that we are into the thick of winter here in the Northeast.  I'm pretty sure it was a lot warmer out before I went to Buffalo for Christmas.  Maybe I brought the cold weather back with me?  All I know is, I find myself putting more and more layers on before I head out to the train in the morning.

I suppose that it had to happen eventually.  It's not like I live in Florida and this below freezing snap is a surprise.  It's just that you get used to those warm sunny days and it's sad to see them go.  This cold weather was further a slap in the face this week when I got to work on Thursday to find my office a balmy 40 degrees.  That's right, 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Apparently sometime Wednesday night, both boilers in the chemistry wing failed and the offices and labs proceeded to equalize their temperature with the outside world.  All the space heaters in the world could do nothing to warm up our chilly offices.  The reason?  Hood fans.

In a chemistry building, you have labs.  In each lab there are four to five chemistry hoods.  These hoods are just like your range hood over your stove, only bigger, and enclosed.  These hoods constantly pull air from within the labs and vent it through filters and out the roof.  This means that they are always bringing in new air from outside, air which wasn't being heated.  This meant that we couldn't do any lab work until the heater was fixed. 

Everyone in our wing made for the conference room to get some computer work done.  It felt like study hall.  We waited all day to hear something, anything, about the boilers.  Our facilities staff was running around the building with large wrenches, people were up on the roof banging on things, I was getting antsy just sitting in the conference room.  At least it was warm in there.

Our facilities team was able to get the boilers up and running Friday afternoon, just before we went home.  At least it will be warm in the office come next week.  Though it will be the first full week back to work, it's going to be a long one!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why Bother? 2012 - Granola Bars

Yes, the Why Bother challenge has spilled over into the new year!  I'm finally over a long bout of bronchitis and have drained nearly all of the congestion from my head.  Nobody is happier than I am, except maybe the hundred or so people I share my train car with.  No more loud coughing from me!  So many of my friends and family have been battling with some virus, bacterium or other, this season.  And after a month of being sick, I'm happy to count myself among the healthy again.
With the bronchitis I was battling, I had to push of the last few challenges of the Why Bother? challenge.  This January we will complete the challenges with granola bars, crackers and soft cheeses.  I'm excited to finish all of the challenges that you gave me over a year ago, so let's get started with snacks!

Most foodie friends that I know are highly unlikely to venture down the cereal bar aisle in the grocery store.  You bakers out there probably have your own go to recipe for granola bars, perfected after many tries in the kitchen with different grains, nuts and dried fruits. 

I want everyone else out there to have a go at the bar.  Or in this case, the cup!  I love making granola bars at home.  They change every time I make them, depending on what I have in my kitchen.  Sometimes they are heavy on the nuts, sometimes I have an odd assortment of dried fruits.  You should feel free to adapt each granola bar recipe in the same way.

Today I bring you a baked granola bar recipe (Saturday we'll have a no-bake variant) that combines some of my favorite flavors.  Peanut butter, cherry and oats.  It's like a PB&J sandwich!  Don't have any dried cherries in the house?  Substitute the dried fruits for whatever you have lying around!

Granola Bar Muffins
Adapted from Snack Girl

This recipe was given to me (via my mom) from a fitness fanatic.  She loved that these bars are low in calories, high in protein and packs major flavor.  With no added sugar, these bars are great to feed your kiddos or yourself!

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed dried berries (mine included raspberry, cherry, cranberry & blueberry)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mix peanut butter and mashed bananas with a fork.  Add nuts, dried fruits, oats and vanilla.  Stir until it all comes together.  Scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup and lightly press into the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove granola cups from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
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