Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Now that school has started and I am no longer able to laze about all morning it is time to gear myself up for some quick, healthy breakfasts.
Even though I am well-stocked with empty breakfast calories:
it doesn't mean I feel good about sending my kids off to school with just that in their bellies every morning.
However, knowing myself, I will be staying in bed until the last possible second and succumbing to the kids' begging to tear into the cereal stash more often than I'd like.
To start off on the right foot, today I am making some granola to be used on such mornings. It's the perfect balance between oatmeal (which the kids weep and wail over) and cold cereal (which the kids almost always prefer).
Come join me in my kitchen, won't you?
First off, the ingredients...
Get yourself a ginormous bowl because it will eventually contain over 20 cups worth of goodness.
Start off by turning on your super-clean oven...
and then mix together all of the dry ingredients. Let's begin with 14 cups of oats. (Oats are awesome but I actually use 6-grain flakes that I buy at our local health food store because they are even awesomer!)
Add a cup of raw pumpkin seeds & 2 generous cups of coconut flakes (also available at any health food store - in fact, pretty much all of this stuff was bought from the dry goods bins at Good Earth. FYI).
Next comes the almonds. I prefer sliced but slivered are tasty, too.
You also need to add some salt. I am never sure what salt does for the recipe but I know that I always add a bit of salt when I'm making cooked cereal, so why not granola? That's enough logic for me.
Now for some sweetness - throw in 2 and 1/2 cups of brown sugar. Does everyone know this trick of packing the brown sugar down by using a smaller measuring cup?
Yeah, you probably already do that. But it makes me feel all helpful and brainy to be sharing my little tips with you, so just go with it.
Okay, that's it for dry ingredients.
Let's stir the goodness up...
And VOILA! It's beautiful.
Now we need to measure all of the wet ingredients in a separate container. First, the honey. You can coat the measuring cup with a thin layer of cooking spray so that the honey doesn't stick when you're pouring it out later.
Almond extract joins the party.
It's getting pretty! Oh, and here's another tip: you can buy almond extract at the Dollar Tree. You're welcome.
Now we'll add the oil. I prefer olive oil but you can use whatever cooking oil you have in your kitchen. It's all good.
It's like a science experiment! Who can tell me why the extract stays in the middle? Bueller? Bueller?
Sorry... silly 80's joke. Moving on.
We just need to add some water...
Mix up the wet ingredients...
then pour the wet stuff over the dry stuff.
Then stir it all together.
In the course of your stirring, you may happen to notice a lump of brown sugar. If you want brown sugar lumps in your granola then leave it be. But if you're me you won't be able to resist smooshing each and every one that surfaces.
All we have to do now is bake it.
Grab a couple of cookie sheets and distribute the granola over them.
Put 'em in the oven...
mark 'em with a G... (not really) and set your timer for an hour and 15 minutes.
While that's baking you can get your add-ins ready. These are as limitless as your imagination. Our favorite things to add are banana chips:
and dried cranberries.
I broke the banana chips into smaller pieces and stopped with a generous 2 cups worth. We only had a scant cup of dried cranberries, so that's all that's going in.
I would add raisins except that half of our family despises them. When we actually eat the granola they can throw in a handful of raisins if it makes them happy. We're flexible like that.
You can also add dates, dried blueberries, chopped dried apricots... whatever floats your boat!
About every 20 minutes or so
you'll want to take the granola out of the oven
and stir it - focusing mainly on pulling the granola from the sides of the pan into the center because the sides are where it cooks fastest.
The first couple of times that you stir it the granola will seem like it's never going to get dry. Trust me - it's going to happen.
When the timer goes off, stir the granola again. Increase the oven temperature to 250 degrees
and let the granola cook in the oven for 10 more minutes. Once it's done, set your pans on cooling racks (or, in my case, balance both pans precariously upon one cooling rack)
and let it cool completely. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour or more... depending on how high (or low) you like to run your A/C. Stir the granola every 15 minutes or so as it cools.
Now, my friends, you will notice that the granola smells heavenly and is perfect for eating. Scoop it right up...
and dump it into whatever fancy container you have available to store it in.
Now throw in whatever mix-ins you've decided on.
Then pour yourself a bowl and give it a try.
Quick, easy... and ready for those slow mornings when you can barely get yourself out of bed.
Now you can sleep in for a bit - guilt free.
Gerb's Gourmet Granola
14 cups oats (or 6-grain flakes)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
(note: can substitute sunflower seeds or another cup of oats for the pumpkin seeds)
2 cups coconut flakes
2 cups sliced or slivered almonds (note: can substitute with your favorite kind of nut)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup honey
3 Tablespoons almond extract
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cups water
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture. Spread on cookie sheets. Bake at 225 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so. Bake at 250 degrees for an additional 10 minutes. Cool thoroughly. Add any desired mix-ins such as dried fruit. Store in a container with a lid. Makes 6-7 pounds of cereal.