Oats my way

Some people have a cookie jar.  We have a granola jar, and it's nearly always full of granola.  Occasionally muesli.  We eat a lot of oatmeal around here: raw, cooked on the stove top, or baked as granola.  And of course in these.  We go through about 100 pounds a year.  No joke.  I usually buy it 50 pounds at a time and keep it in a garbage can (a very clean one, of course) in the corner of the kitchen.

Granola is also one of my go-to gifts -- whether for the holidays, a house warming gift, or a new baby.  You can't go wrong with it.  

For many years, I made a fairly sweet-tasting holiday granola with butter, almonds, cranberries and a touch of cinnamon.  That combination was inspired by a recipe I clipped out of a magazine (I don't have a clue which one) many years ago.  While I don't make that granola too much any more, it still makes an appearance now and then -- almost always around the holidays. 

My Almond-Cranberry Granola
Makes about 12 cups 

6-7 cups old fashioned oats
3 c. sliced almonds (I often use a combination of slivered almonds and sliced almonds.  A mixture of pecan pieces and almonds is wonderful too)
2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
2 tsp. cinnamon 

Mix the above ingredients together in a large bowl.  Next, in a small bowl stir the next four ingredients together until smooth.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2/3 c packed brown sugar
2/3 c. honey (I like mesquite honey for this)
1 Tb. vanilla extract

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until everything is evenly coated.  Divide the mixture between two half-sheet baking pans lined with parchment paper.  Bake in a 350-degree oven until golden and toasted (you may need to stir occasionally and rotate the trays to get even browning). Be sure not to let the sliced almonds and coconut burn or they will taste bitter.

When cool, break it apart and add 2 or 3 cups dried cranberries (or the equivalent)
I often use one cup each of cranberries, yellow raisins, and dried cherries.

Store in an airtight container.

Sometimes we need a break from toasted or cooked oats.  That's when we switch to muesli.  It's a bit healthier, too, since it contains less fat than granola.  We gave it away last holiday season to good reviews.  Our preferred way to eat it is simply with milk or almond milk, but sometimes we grate raw apple on it too.  We've been known to let it soak in the fridge overnight, but personally, that turns out a tad too mushy for my taste.

The House Muesli

Raw organic regular oats
Toasted sliced almonds
Toasted whole almonds, roughly chopped when cool
Toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
Toasted sesame seeds or raw sunflower seeds
Dried fruit: yellow raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, raisins, dates
Chia seeds, optional

Mix some or all of the above ingredients together in proportions that appeal to you.  Store in an airtight container.

More often these days I make a more salty-sweet no-fruit granola, which is based on/inspired by this recipe developed by Nekisia Davis of Early Bird Foods.  I'm a big fan of the flavor combination that olive oil and maple syrup give granola.  If you've not tried it, don't delay!

My Sweet & Salty Olive Oil Granola
Makes enough to fill the granola jar and also give some away

6 cups organic regular rolled oats
2 cups raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups raw sesame seeds
2 cups coconut chips (the large unsweetened ones)
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups good quality organic maple syrup (I use Coombs Family Farms Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B)
1 cups good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour the maple syrup and oil on top and mix until everything is coated evenly.  Line two half-sheet size baking pans with parchment and spread the mixture evenly on the two pans.  Bake in a 325-degree oven until crispy and browned a bit.  Don't let the pecans burn.  When cool, store in an airtight container.


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