Monday, October 26, 2009

Vanilla-Scented Granola

I love oats for breakfast. It's taken me a while, but I've adjusted to getting me and the boy out the door (on time!) in the mornings, and I don't skip breakfast anymore. However, I rarely have the time to make myself a bowl of oatmeal.

Let me clarify. I COULD make oatmeal each morning, but one of two things happens: I either make it too early so it can cool while I get Henry up, and by the time I eat it it has turned into a cold, dry plate of mush which I proceed to gag down; OR I make it after I get Henry up and it is still too hot for me when we need to leave, so I quick dump it in a tupperware and take it along with me, but by the time I drop the boy off and get to work, settle in, and haul out my breakfast, it's a cold, lumpy pile of much which I proceed to swallow without chewing or tasting.

And that is why I love granola. The convenience of a box of cereal, but the goodness of whole grain oats, with lots of taste. And I've been known to stir in vanilla yogurt in place of milk. I've tried several different recipes in the past few months, and while I wouldn't complain about any of them, one stands out as my favorite: Vanilla-Scented Granola. While I usually make changes, here is the basic recipe:

Vanilla-Scented Granola

4 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. canola oil
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. vanilla

Mix together oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl (I use my roasting pan for mixing and baking). Combine oil, honey, and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; pour over oats and stir well.

Spread on lightly greased baking sheet (I use my roasting pan because it reduces the risk of burnt granola for me). Bake at 300 until golden brown, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to rack to cool, stirring several times.

For clumpy granola, bake without stirring and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove with spatula and break apart.

* * *
The last time I made this, I added wheat germ, ground flax seed, replaced the almonds with sunflower seed and chopped walnuts. I often add dried cranberries to my bowl, also.

I like to measure the oil before the honey so the honey pours out of the measuring cup easily, and this time I probably added about 1/3 cup of honey. It was slightly clumpy, which is good, but I took it out of the oven and had to quick run somewhere, and by the time I came back it was a solid piece of granola which required some coaxing to get it out. So that's why I recommend stirring while it cools.

Next Monday I'll have a delicious weekend version of oats that we loved!

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