oats n' notes

Food & lifestyle from the the granola factory bakery

Savor The Season: One Last Taste of Summer


By Cal Virgilio

This past Saturday, my wife, Lisa, and I went out to dinner at an Irish Pub in Maplewood, NJ. It was a damp and rainy evening, and as we sat by the fire in this cozy restaurant, it hit us both—another summer was coming to an end.

Just last weekend, we were at Lisa’s Uncle Frank’s house at the Jersey shore, sitting by the pool in 80-degree weather. Frank’s house was built for summer entertaining. The property sits on a lagoon in Brick Township. He has a salt-water pool, fire-pit and ample patio space for relaxing. And if we get tired of sitting by the pool, Frank will start up his boat and we’ll troll out to the bay for cocktail hour. Summer living doesn’t get much better than a weekend at Franks.

So now that there are just a few days of summer left, let’s take advantage of the last of the seasonal offerings we’ll be dreaming of when it’s 30 degrees and snowing in December. Farmer’s markets are still filled with produce such as heirloom tomatoes, and fruits such as peaches and blueberries. And if you want to finish summer with a bang, what better way than to steam some Lobsters and mix in with a rich pasta sauce?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited for autumn and comfort food season. Hearty stews, pot pies and just about anything made with pumpkin…what’s not to love? But this weekend, I’ll hold off on slow cooking my food and allow the flavors of summer to do the work.

The Menu

Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Toasted Bread

Spicy Lobster Pasta

Peach & Blueberry Pie


Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Toasted Bread


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2-3


  • 1 ball of burrata
  • 1-2 heirloom tomaotes, 4 oz. each
  • 1/4 cup of capers, rinsed.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Finishing Quality Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil
  • 1 loaf of rosemary-olive oil ciabatta
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tomatoes, lengthwise in 1/3″ thickness. In a meausuring glass, combine garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil and microwave for 45 seconds. Let it sit for at least five minutes for the flavors to blend.

Arrange sliced tomatoes on a serving plate. Meanwhile, brush the bread with the olive oil and garlic mixture and toast in oven for 5-10 minutes. After toasted, add the bread to the plate, along with the burrata in a small serving bowl. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and garlic mixture over the tomatoes. Add the capers a few drops of balsamic vinegar, basil, parmesan and crushed maldon sea salt. Serve at room temperature.

Spicy Lobster Pasta


This sauce is fantastic! The richness of the lobster and tomatoes is complemented by the light flavor of the fresh parsley and lemon zest. Once you get the hang of this recipe, it will become a go-to choice for impressing friends and family at a dinner party.

Time: 1 1/4 hours

Serves: 4


  • 2 lobsters, 1 1/2 pounds each
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 3 cups of store-bough seafood stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (pepperoncino)
  •   Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta, or other firm-textured dry pasta
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon whole black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

Special Equipment: Immersion blender or a regular blender.


  1. Steam or boil lobsters for 6 minutes. Cool to room temperature under running water. Separate claws and tails from lobster heads. Remove tail meat from shell. Pull away black vein and discard, then cut meat into 1/2-inch slices and set aside. Crack claws with mallet, without removing meat, and set aside.
  2. With a large knife, split lobster heads in half lengthwise. Remove and discard stomach sacks located just behind eyes (remove green tomalley also if you wish) and roughly chop tail shell. Heat butter in a wide saucepan or skillet over medium high heat. Add heads and shells, with any collected juices, and sauté for about 1 minute. Add carrot, celery, bay leaf and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add 3 seafood stock and 1/2 cup white wine and simmer rapidly for about 10 minutes to reduce by half. Strain, discarding shells, herbs and vegetables. You should yield 1 1/2 cups rich lobster broth.
  3. Wipe pan with paper towel and return to stovetop over medium-high heat. Warm the olive oil, then add diced onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions are completely soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take care not to let onion mixture brown.
  4. Add wine and simmer rapidly for 2 minutes, then add tomato purée and lobster broth. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add cream and simmer until sauce has thickened somewhat, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Turn off heat and use immersion blender to puree the sauce. Do this carefully, tilting the pan so that the sauce fully covers the blade of the blender, so that the sauce does not shoot all over the place! (Note: if you don’t have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool slightly and then pour it into a blener to puree) Sauce can be done up to this point several hours in advance of cooking pasta.
  6. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reheat sauce, add cracked lobster claws and simmer for 2 minutes. Add sliced lobster meat and cook for a minute or less, until just heated through. Mix parsley and lemon zest together. Drain pasta and add to sauce, tossing to coat noodles and distribute lobster meat, then transfer to a warm bowl or platter. Arrange one claw on top of each serving and sprinkle with parsley mixture and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Recipe adapted from David Tanis of The New York Times

Peach and Blueberry Pie


Peaches and blueberries are two of the season’s best fruits. There flavors work great together in this pie recipe, and the homemade caramel adds a unique sweetness.

Makes 8 Servings

Pie Crust

  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 sticks + 6 Tbsp. salted butter, sliced into small chunks.
  • 1 cup of frozen Crisco, sliced into small chunks.
  • 1 cup of ice-cold water.

Pie Crust Directions

Process flour and salt to blend. The add butter and the Crisco and process until the dough has pea-sized pieces. There should be no big chunks of butter or Crisco in the mix.

Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl. Create a small well in the middle of the dough and pour 3/4 cup ice water into the well. Mix the dough with a fork until the pea-sized pieces become larger. The dough should be moist, but not too wet. You can add the remaining 1/4 cup of water if need be. Use your hands to form the dough into two large balls. Roll each dough ball out between two sheets of parchment paper. Refrigerate dough until ready to use.


  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm but ripe peaches, peeled, halved, and sliced thin
  • 2 pints fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons water (glaze)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cinnamon sugar)

Pie Directions:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Place foil-lined baking sheet in bottom of oven to catch any spills. Roll out 1 pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 13 1/2-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold edges under and crimp decoratively, forming high rim (about 1/2 inch above sides of dish). Chill crust 30 minutes. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans. Bake crust for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and take aluminum and beans from the crust. Put the pie crust back in the oven for another 15 minutes until it is pale and golden. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out second pie crust disk on floured surface to 13 1/2-inch round. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips. Place strips on prepared baking sheet. Chill while preparing filling.

For filling:
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Add peaches, blueberries  and lemon juice and toss gently to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 11 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); stir caramel until smooth. Strain juices from peaches into caramel; cool to lukewarm. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the caramel and flour, and then add this to the peaches and blueberries; toss gently.

Take a handful of flour sugar and coat the bottom of the pie pan. This will soak of some the juices from the fruit to keep the bottom of the crust from becoming soggy. Then, transfer fruit filling to crust, mounding in center.

Arrange 6 dough strips in 1 direction across top of pie, spacing apart. Working with 1 strip at a time, arrange 6 more strips in opposite direction atop first, lifting strips and weaving over and under, forming lattice. Gently press ends of strips to edge of baked bottom crust to adhere. Trim overhang. Brush lattice strips (but not crust edge) with egg yolk glaze. Sprinkle strips with cinnamon sugar.

Bake pie 35 minutes. Tent pie loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. Continue to bake pie until filling bubbles thickly and lattice is golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Cool pie on rack.

Granola Croutons


by Suzanne Virgilio

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE salads. Salads are the opening number to a dinner that introduces the season to be celebrated. I suppose one reason salads are so popular is that it allows us to eat something delicious and nutritious. What could be better? When it comes to making salads, in my world, the crunchier the better! I’m a huge fan of croutons, nuts & smoky flavors; so I thought, why not develop a crouton that incorporates all my favor things? Not only delicious, but also good for you! I hope you enjoy this blog offering; even if your salad is your meal, you are eating well!

Savory & Sweet Granola Croutons

Oven 350

Bake 10-15 minutes, until golden

Makes about a dozen 2-inch croutons


  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Granola Factory Honey Pecan Granola
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a liquid measuring cup combine the olive oil, egg white & honey. Combine well with a fork. Set aside
  • In a medium bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Give the liquid mixture a good stir again and pour over the granola mixture. Use a rubber spatula to combine.
  • Line a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto the pan using an offset spatula. Spread to an even thickness (or thinness).
  • Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes until golden. Croutons will spread together and become one sheet.
  • Allow crouton to cool completely. Mixture will harden.
  • Once cooled break into crouton size pieces. Store in airtight zip lock until ready to use. Can be made 1 day in advance


When the air becomes crisp and the leave begin to change colors, I crave this delicious reflection of the season’s offerings. Combine your favorite greens and garnish with your favorite apple slices, dried cranberries & shaved Parmesan Reggiano. The following vinaigrette completes a perfect fall or winter salad.


Maple Vinaigrette

Makes approximately 1 cup

Store in refrigerator until serving

Allow to come to room temp. before serving


  • 1/4-cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp coarse grain Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic


  • Combine the first 5 ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or small jar.
  • Whisk mixture with a wire whisk or fork to combine.
  • Add 1 crushed clove of garlic and allow it to macerate in vinaigrette. Remove clove of garlic before serving


Greek Yogurt and Granola Popsicles with Roasted Fruit


by Cal Virgilio

Though I love eating granola, I have never been the biggest fan of yogurt. Each morning, I eat our cherry almond granola for breakfast with milk. Yes, I know I’m in the minority of the granola-eating world. But when I came across a recipe for Greek Yogurt Popsicles on Dessert For Two’s blog, I thought that maybe this could be the way I finally enjoy yogurt. I had to give this recipe a try, but with one additional ingredient: granola!

The granola ended up being a great addition to these pops. I used our all-natural honey pecan granola, and the flavor shined through just as it does when you pair our granola with yogurt in a parfait.

The recipe for the most part is very simple, but a few tips before starting.

  1. Use whole milk Greek yogurt. For my popsicles, I experimented with both whole milk and 2 percent greek yogurt. The whole milk yogurt was much creamier when frozen, whereas the 2 percent was more icy in texture. Though you can use any brand yogurt, I went with Fage and the flavor paired great with our honey pecan granola.
  2. Use both honey and vanilla to sweeten. Though Dessert For Two’s recipe calls for agave, I used honey as a sweetener, since I would be using our honey pecan granola in the popsicles. I also added  some pure vanilla extract to the yogurt, which gave a natural vanilla flavor to the pops.
  3. Roast the fruit: Sure, you can just add fresh fruit to these pops, but roasting will enhance the flavor and also give some added juices to the yogurt. I used blueberries, strawberries and raspberries in my pops, but any fruit mixture will do!

Greek Yogurt & Granola Popsicles with Roasted Fruit

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 3-4 popsicles, depending on popsicle mold size


  • 1 1/2 cups of plain Greek yogurt, such as Fage Yogurt
  • 1 cup of sliced fresh fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, etc.
  • 1/2 cup Granola Factory granola (I used honey pecan)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey.
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract.
  • 2 tsp. neutral flavored oil, such as canola
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar

Other Equipment needed: Popsicle Molds

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile slice fruit and place on parchment-line tray. Drizzle fruit with the oil and sugar and toss to combine. Roast for 20 minutes and then let cool to room temperature.

Once the fruit is cooled. Combine the Greek yogurt with the vanilla and honey. Stir well to combine. Add a small amount of yogurt to the popsicle mold. Then, layer in granola, then yogurt, then fruit and so on, until the molds are full. Add popsicle sticks to the molds and place in freezer until frozen.


Honey Pecan Sticky Buns


Recipe By Suzanne Virgilio

During the years when our bakery was open for retail, our sticky buns were always one of the most-demanded pastries by our customers. Though our customers loved them, making sticky buns is very labor intensive. Because of the long baking process, sticky buns were offered once a month at the bakery, and they would always sell out.

As you will see with this recipe, baking sticky buns is not for the faint of heart. But if you have the time and energy to bake them, you will be rewarded with a pastry that has unique flavor, texture and an aroma that will have you waiting by the oven until the timer finally goes off.

Honey Pecan Sticky Buns

Requires 1-2 days to complete

Oven 375 degrees

Bakes 25 to 30 minutes

Makes 1 dozen, 4–inch buns

Ingredients For Dough

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  •  ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter – softened
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 3 ¼ – 3 ½ cups flour

Ingredients For Sticky Topping

  • 2/3-cup butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 cup Granola Factory Honey Pecan Granola

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Granola Factory Honey Pecan Granola
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • flour for dusting work surface

Making The Dough

Use the ingredients that correspond with the “dough” section

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast with 2 cups warm water. Stir until dissolved.
  2. To the yeast/water mixture, add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tsp. salt, 4 Tbsp. softened butter and 2 beaten eggs. Stir with a rubber spatula until well combined
  3. Begin adding the flour 1 cup at a time and stir after each addition. Continue adding flour until you have a dough that is easy to handle. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky. You may only have to add 3 to 3 1/4 cups of flour.  Remember the rule for flour is…YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE BUT ONCE IT’S IN THE DOUGH, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT OUT!
  4. Spray the inside of a Ziploc bag with vegetable spray and place completed dough into bag. Press the air out of bag and seal.
  5. Refrigerate dough several hours or overnight.

Preparing the Sticky Buns for Baking

Use the ingredients that correspond with the “sticky topping” section

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 1 dozen, 4–inch muffin pans with vegetable spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan or microwave, combine the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Heat until butter is melted then stir to combine.  Divide mixture among 1 dozen muffin pans.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine honey pecan granola and the cup of chopped pecans. Distribute granola mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Set aside.


Making the Filling and Rolling Out The Buns

Use the ingredient amounts that correspond with the “cinnamon sugar filling” section.

  1. Divide dough in half; work with one half at a time.
  2. Melt 1/2 cup butter and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine sugar, granola and cinnamon – stir to combine
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 15 X 9 inch oblong.
  5. Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with the granola/sugar mixture.
  6. Starting at wide side, roll up dough, “jelly-roll” style, folding in edges to seal sides.
  7. Roll dough tightly so buns stay rolled when cut
  8. For cutting buns, first mark rolled dough into 6 equal portions. Now to cut bun, get a double length of sewing thread and tie into a knot so the dough keeps its double thickness. Slide thread under rolled dough and “criss-cross thread to make a clean cut of the dough.
  9. Place cut buns on top of sticky topping in muffin pan.
  10. Repeat steps with other half of dough.
  11. Place muffin pans on parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in a warm part of kitchen and allow buns to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
  12. Once dough has risen, place in preheated oven and bake 25 – 30 minutes.
  13. When baking is complete, carefully invert buns onto parchment-lined baking sheet, taking care to avoid the very hot sticky topping. *Invert the buns within the first few minutes of taking them out of the oven.

Now that the work is done, bite into one of the best-tasting pastries you’ve ever had!