Friday, March 29, 2013

om nom nom: granola

It's Spring Break, and that means I'm Pinteresting.  Some things have turned out fantastic (DIY body scrub, granola, granola bars) and other things, not so much (trying to alter ill-fitting Old Navy t-shirts).  Let's focus on the things that didn't end with me in a shambles of tears and broken thread (damn you, sewing machine).

Costco decided to stop carrying the cereal I like, the rat bastard.  In retaliation, I bought a huge box of quick oats and decided to make my own granola.  It's pretty hard to mess up, even if you think you've messed it up.  It's supposed to look like a mess.  Here's the gist:

You need a base of oats.  I just used quick oats, other recipes say to use only old-fashioned ones or whatever.  I don't think it really matters.  Mine turned out just fine with quick oats.  

You need some wet stuff to coat it and bind it (if you like it a bit chunkier).  You can use:
  • applesauce
  • maple syrup
  • agave nectar
  • honey
  • pumpkin puree
  • mashed banana
  • whatever else you want that is wet-ish and you like the taste of
Other stuff you can add:
  • nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, blah blah blah)
  • dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, blueberries, coconut, etc.)
  • spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, anise seed, cardamom...
 Rummage through the cupboards, see if you can find your old bag of Craisins hiding in the back, spooning with a jar of applesauce.  I started with measuring, but that gets boring and I like things a little more interesting, so I ended up eyeballing it all.  I had mason jars I wanted to fill, so I just filled them to roughly full with oats, dumped in some wet stuff until it seemed coated and binding a bit (the pumpkin tends to make chunkier granola, if you are into that sort of thing), then add other delicious things, like nuts and fruit and spices.  Because I don't really enjoy dishes, I did it the lazy-wife way (aka put parchment paper on your cookie sheet) and spread it out into an even layer.  Bake it at 300*F until it's browned to your fancy - just keep an eye on it and stir it once in a while.  
The fancier it looks, the harder it looks like you worked. 

Things to keep in mind:  
  • If it seems too dry, like you just dumped a bag of oats on a cookie sheet and you're expecting a mouth full of sawdust when you eat it, you can drizzle more of your wet stuff on (like agave, honey or maple).  
  • If you like your granola super-browned, you may end up over-baking your dried fruit and they might be a bit tough
  • Store it in an air-tight container once it's cooled.  If you line it up on your breakfast bar, your husband and in-laws get really impressed.
  • Keep track of what you put in, just in case it's the best granola you've ever had and you want to replicate it later.
  • It will be about ~250 calories for 1/2 cup, depending on the wet stuff you put in (applesauce and pumpkin puree are less calories than syrup and honey), the dry stuff you put in (nuts are higher in calories, some dried fruit can be higher than you think).  If you need to know, make sure you measure your first few batches until you get the hang of how much of each thing you're putting in and tally it all up.   
 Enjoy! I've had rave reviews for pumpkin-craisin-apricot and maple-nut.  Next week I'm taking a stab at chai-flavored!


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