100th post & bagels!!!!!

Happy New Year!! I know it’s already almost the end of January, but I haven’t come up with my New Year’s resolutions yet which means the year hasn’t reallllly started. Because everything revolves around me. *hair toss*)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

While we’re on the subject of me, (Yes I’m aware that I began that subject) I have some super exciting news and it is in fact soooooooo exciting that even bagels will have to wait and that is no small matter.

Today is my 100th blog post on memo2munch!!!!

Talk about starting the new year off right! Yup, I’ve yakked away on memo2munch 100 times, which is pretty c r a z y.

So in celebration, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my favorite foods and one that I think we can all agree is deliciously worthy of the 100th recipe spotlight.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I have a very strong love for bagels. I think it must be in every Jew’s DNA somewhere. Like we hear any of the bagel trigger words (“schmear,” “lox”) and then wheels of dough start rolling through our brains down to our mouths & out pops the phrase, “Bagels?! I love bagels!”

Which, of course, is quickly followed by, “But, you know, only Good, Real Bagels™.”

What’s a real bagel? Well, everyone has an opinion, but many say they’ve got to be boiled before they’re baked. I’m all for a good boiled bagel, so today’s recipe includes an easy boiling step! Hey, it’s the 100th post. We gotta go all out.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

During the winter holidays a lot of my family gets together. We plan the whole week around food (not even kidding), and one of the days always includes a FISH FEAST! It really feels like a feast. My cousin has a bunch of cured and smoked fish flown in from this famous place in New York called Russ & Daughter’s. We’re talking lox, kippered salmon, sturgeon, even a whole smoked white fish! Then one of my other cousins snags a variety of chewy bagels from downtown Chicago. We all gather at my grandparents’ house one afternoon and eat so much yummy food, with bagels at the foundation. (My grandpa makes a lox too, which holds its own against anything from Russ & Daughters.)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I couldn’t have made it to my 100th post without the support I’ve received from all of you who take the time to read my blog & encourage me. Thank you so much! You are a very important part of this blog, so I’ve collected some of your bagel memories to share today too. <3

“When I was little I use to call them ‘not-donuts’ and for a while I use to feel cheated by them cuz they weren’t donuts but now I love them way more than their sugary counterparts.” – Kriss

“My grandma used to make “birdies in the nest” for my brothers when my brothers slept over at my grandparents house. By the time I was old enough to sleep over, my grandpa had ripped off my grandma’s idea and made “birdies in the bagel”. It’s a piece of bread (nest) with a hole cut in the middle for the egg, or in the hole of a bagel if making the bagel version. All my cousins and I went more bananas over birdies in the bagel than birdies in the nest, so grandpa always got a lot of credit and grandma was kind of resentful of that. I have a lot of memories of watching my grandpa make both birdies in the bagel and soldiers (cinnamon sugar toast cut into long strips) for me when I slept over at their house. I never made them myself at home until he passed away in November. The first birdies in the bagel I made, I cracked the egg and it was a double yolk. Grandpa always loved yolk, and double ones especially so. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is because of birdies in the bagel, I will always associate bagels with my grandpa.” – Hannah

“My dad owned a bagel shop for awhile! We grew up running around eating fresh bagel bites (mini bagels with a dollop of cream cheese icing)!” – Alyssa

“While in NY over break I visited a friend in New Jersey for a day and told her I needed the “NJ experience” incorporated into my visit. When we were considering breakfast options, she mentioned bagels. I said sure, but I wondered if that would fill us up (we were both really hungry). She said bagels in NJ are different than ones I’d find in Carmel, so just one bagel would do the trick. I had a whole wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese and lo and behold, it kept me full through the 4 different trains/subways it took to get me back to where I was staying with my dad in NY!” – Jacob

“SWEET BAGEL! We have it in israel its the best thing ever! Its basically bagel brushed with sugar syrup” – Miriam

“I was around 17 (thinking back it seems like that can’t be right–so old for such an epiphany?) when my brother moved to New York and I had my first everyseed with lox. There are a few holy trinities in food: one is basil/tomato/mozzarella, another lox/caper/onion. And enormous amounts of schmear. There is no delicate way to eat this sandwich.” – Steven

“Tommy [my fiance] and I go almost every Sunday to Einstein’s Bagels and pick some up for breakfast. It’s become a ritual!” – Cindy

“I heard once that if you eat a Montreal bagel and a New York City bagel on the same day, the bagels will know you’re a traitor and work together to kill you from the inside. I was pretty skeptical until I saw it with my own two eyes.” – Throsby (details, we need details, Throsby!)

“When I was a kid, there was this bagel place near my mom’s work and she would pick up chocolate chip bagels with chocolate chip cream cheese. One day, she got some for me and they were gone overnight. My dad came right out and admitted to eating them, complaining about how sickly sweet they were and he said they made him sick, but apparently that didn’t stop him from eating every last one and all of the chocolate chip cream cheese. Those things were so good.” – Sara

“[Your aunt’s] Bat Mitzvah was held the weekend of March 17. Because we had several relatives coming in from out of town, Grandma and Poppy hosted a brunch on that Sunday and served bagels, lox, and other brunch-type foods. A week or so before then, Grandma went to the little bakery in Whiting and ordered bagels for the weekend. When she went to the bakery that Saturday to pick up the bagels, she noticed that they had green bagels in the case. She thought it would be fun to also get a few green bagels for the brunch on Sunday, so she asked the woman behind the counter for a couple of green bagels. The woman looked at her and said, “It’s St. Patrick’s Day. All the bagels are green!” It was quite the sight — the bright orange lox and white cream cheese on the green bagels.” -My momma!

“I had a bagel today. There was a high amount of cream cheese.” – Tyler (a bagel success story)

“Living in a predominantly jewish community in the suburbs of New York City has greatly elevated my standards for bagels! For one thing, a truly fresh bagel NEVER needs should be toasted. If you’re buying it fresh, it will already be warm and ready to be eaten immediately with a massive glob of cream cheese shmear. Also, its an unspoken rule that you never buy your bagels from multiple bagel joints- you obviously must commit to one family-run bagel place.” – Piper

“As you know I eat like 200 bagels a year at Einsteins. It’s like our second home. Although bagels should be boiled. And one of the reasons NYC bagels are so good is the water.” – Ken

“The first time I ever had a REAL bagel was in Seattle. Amazing. I didn’t know then that a real bagel is boiled before it’s baked. I made them myself a few times after that but, even though they tasted good, they were very ugly. Not smooth like a store bought one. Tell me how to fix that problem.” -Susan (I’ll do some more experimenting & let ya know! 😉 )

“When we go on overnight at camp (it’s the teen portion of camp walking out to a spot in the woods and camping out), the counselors make all of the food. In the mornings, I would always look forward to a blueberry bagel grilled so it had just started to brown and some cream cheese! It was always really welcome, especially because you had to stay close to the warm charcoal fire to make it perfect (so it didn’t burn) and then it was always so yummy! It was a really fun way to toast bagels and the campsite itself is quite pretty, in the middle of the woods.”Colleen

“We would get all kindds of assorted bagels quite often growing up because the Bagels Forever factory is in Madison and my dad would always get himself everything bagels with all the onion and garlic and seeds, so my mom would make him keep them in a separate bag. He’d eat them with lox and cream cheese—-I eat them with butter. My favorite bagel! And the pool I went to was across the street from the factory/shop and bagels were 25 cents each so when I was a kid on swim team we would hunt for quarters by the vending machines cuz if you found one you got a bagel!”Mari

Good, Real Bagels™ (aka boiled bagels)
Makes 8 bagels
Adapted from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Ingredients
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1.5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300mL) warm water
3 ½ cups (500g) bread flour, plus more for kneading
1.5 tsp. salt

For optional toppings:
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds

Method
1. Warm ½ cup of the water so that it is the temperature of bath water, meaning it is quite warm but you can keep your finger comfortably submerged. Stir in the sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture as well as about half of the remaining water.

3. Mix the dough together, adding the rest of the water bit by bit if needed. Then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a stiff, smooth dough that is no longer sticky to the touch.

4. Wipe out the bowl from before, it doesn’t have to be spotless, just so all the loose crumbs are gone. Lightly brush bowl with oil and place the dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap also coated with some oil or a damp dish towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Gently punch dough down and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, as uniform as possible. Shape each piece into a tight ball. Coat a finger in flour and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to create the ring shape. Stretch the ring so the hole is about 1/3 the width of the bagel. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.

6. After shaping the rings, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap coated in oil or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C.

7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels gently into the water, being careful not to deflate them. Boil as many as can fit in one layer in the pot. Let the bagels float on one side for 1-2 minutes, then flip using the spoon and let float for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from water and return to cookie sheet, letting as much water drip off as possible.

8. At this point, add any toppings by brushing the bagels with egg wash and sprinkling the toppings on top.

9. Ready to bake! Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

Redemption Trail Mix + Cooking Mishaps

The very first time I ‘cooked’ for my family was an absolute disaster.

I’m not sure quite how old I was, but I’m guessing around 7 or 8 years old. I remember having watched my mom prepare dinner for us almost every night and my grandparents host impressively large meals for our giant extended family whenever everyone was in town. It was always such a nice feeling, sitting around together eating food. And so I thought to myself, “I wanna make something my family can have fun eating together!”

Ohhhhh, ohohoho, little Molly. I mean you tried, right?

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Let’s think about this situation briefly. I was seven and roughly the height of our kitchen counter. I had no idea how to cook. So I did the obvious thing and mixed together all of my favorite snack foods at the time, creating the most horribly well-intentioned trail mix in history.

It had everything you’ve never wanted in your trail mix, and more:

-Bits of torn up white bread
-Crushed Pringles
-Goldfish crackers
-Pretzel twists
-Rustic pieces of broken pretzel rods

(Yep, two types of pretzel. For that textural difference, am I right?)

Long story short, it was awful, and I was super proud as I distributed my masterpiece among three plastic bowls decorated with cartoon animals to serve to my mom, dad, and sister.

They were so nice about it, the sweethearts. I remember them smiling while taking small bites and mmm-ing and ahh-ing over how yummy it was. And I was just there like, “Ok ya that’s great, fam, but like why is there still so much left in your bowls?”

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Then I tried it, a bite with a fragment of white bread and a Pringle shard, and I understood.

I really love this story because it shows that no one is a hopeless cook. Anyone can learn. Sometimes people compliment my cooking and then say they wish they could cook. And I just think about how I began by making trail mix with ravaged white bread… You can cook!!!

I have so many stories about cooking mishaps like this, most of them embarrassingly dumb. But it’s ok because they’re hilarious, and I learn from them and keep going.

Like, this one time I was making these microwave French fries—I kid you not, they were these frozen, microwaveable French fries by Ore-Ida that I used to eat…USED TO–and listen to how simple it was to prepare them. You adjust the packaging a little bit by pressing in one side of the box so it lies flat against the fries, and stick the whole thing in the microwave for a few minutes, and BAM. Crispy fries. I know there are a lot of things wrong with this, but that’s not the point right now.

The point is that one time I managed to burn every single fry in the box to an absolute crisp. Black as coal, all of ’em. The whole house smelled awful. The smoke detector went off. I was home alone and confused and deeply ashamed. I think this happened early on in high school? I’m telling you, anyone can cook.

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Here’s one more, from the first time I made bread. The directions said “rotate the bread halfway through baking.” So what did I do? I didn’t turn the pan around. No, I left that where it was, and I literally flipped the loaf of bread upside down on the pan.

I’m so serious, friends. That’s how I interpreted the directions, and I deflated my first ever loaf of bread. I remember telling my mom what I’d done and the look in her eyes said, “How do you think to do things like this??!”

So please, if I can rally from things like this, never doubt that you can cook.

Today I’m sharing a recipe for redemption trail mix. It still has snacks I like—chocolate, dried cherries, almonds, cinnamon chex—but it actually tastes good, I promise! I tried some before I gave it to anyone else this time. 😉

Do you have any cooking failures you’d like to share? Or a general memory including food? Tell me about it, anonymously or not, by clicking here!

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix | memo2munch

Cherry Chocolate Redemption Trail Mix

Ingredients
4 cups cinnamon chex cereal (or any chex cereal of your choice)
2 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
½ cup roasted, unsalted almonds
½ cup dark chocolate chunks, plus more for the drizzle
½ cup dried cherries

Method
1. Line a large baking tray with wax paper and set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium-low heat until smooth. Gently stir in the chex cereal and almonds and continue cooking until cereal and almonds are coated, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
3. Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared tray. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks and dried cherries over the cereal mixture.
4. In a microwave safe bowl, heat about 2 tbsp. chocolate chunks in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring the chocolate after each 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Drizzle evenly over the trail mix with a fork. Let cool until the chocolate drizzle hardens completely, then break up the trail mix and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.

Basic Granola (Gluten Free)

I’ve never had a particularly good relationship with insects.

As in, a grasshopper puked on me when I was younger, I’ve found at least four bugs in beds I’ve slept in, my mosquito bites get humongous, and the first time I ever got stung was by a wasp and a bee on the same day. On my stomach.

I’ll admit it. These encounters have left me kind of paranoid. (Anyone else check under their pillows and blankets for bugs before they crawl into bed each night? That’s normal, right?) But now I KNOW the bugs are out to get me.

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

You see, a giant spider has decided that our back door is a perfect place to set up spider shop. Its web extends about a third of the way down the doorway, so we have to duck if we want to grill or water the plants. SUCH CRUELTY.

During the day when the spider is off doing whatever spiders do (plotting world domination), we get rid of the web with a stick, but lo and behold, by the next day the web is back.

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

As if this wasn’t bad enough, today a wasp decided that our front door was prime real estate for a nest. It literally built a nest ON our front door. Not on the frame, but on the front door. Yep, can’t even open that one now. (Update: my father has since taken a hose to our front door and washed the nest away—brave man. Fingers crossed it doesn’t reappear and/or the wasps don’t wage war on our household.)

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

If it weren’t for the garage door, WE WOULD BE TRAPPED.

Watch, a praying mantis battalion will be waiting outside of the garage tomorrow.

At least in the event of an insect takeover, I have homemade granola to comfort me.

I am definitely a granola girl. I like it on yogurt, with some almond milk like cereal, sprinkled on a fruit crisp, and even just by itself. The sweet crunch of toasted oats and nuts mixed with the chewy tartness of dried fruit creates a texture adventure for your mouth, and it’s super filling and nutritious—I can’t get enough!

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

I used to buy granola, but it’s super easy to make and will save you tons of money coming from your own kitchen. Plus it’s one of the most customizable foods out there. Any dried fruit will work, as well as any nuts and seeds. Throw in some pumpkin pie spice during the fall for a fun twist, or a splash of vanilla for extra flavor. You can even add some dairy-free chocolate chips after your granola has cooled completely if you’ve got a giant sweet tooth like me! The {HEALTHY} possibilities are endless! Unlike the number of ways I can exit my house currently…

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

Today’s recipe is just an all-purpose, basic granola recipe to get you started. Feel free to tweak it to your liking. To make this recipe even more nutritious, add some chia or flax seeds. Yum!

You will also notice that I FINALLY have a link to print the recipe. That’s been a work in progress, but I’ve figured out how thanks to the vast interwebs. (Ugh, I just made myself think of spiders.) I’ll be working on making print pages for my previous recipes, promise! Okay, go make granola.

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Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

Basic Granola (Gluten Free)
Print this recipe

Ingredients:
4 cups (360 g) old fashioned oats (look for certified gluten free oats to make this recipe GF)
Pinch salt
1 cup (128 g) mixed nuts and seeds (I used sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds)
1 cup (120 g) dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries, and cherries)
¼ c. (2 fl. oz.) melted coconut oil
¼ c. + 2 tbsp. (about 128 g) sweetener like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave, or a combination

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line an edged baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. Mix oats, salt, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in a large bowl.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix coconut oil and sweetener until combined. Pour into bowl with oats and mix until evenly incorporated.
4. Spread granola on pan in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, mixing every 8-10 minutes and again when the granola comes out of the oven. For chunky granola, don’t mix. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Store in a jar for easy snacking. Granola will last a few months.