Homemade Granola

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Yes, this is another granola recipe. And maybe you already have a recipe you like, but this one is worth a try. It is my family’s favorite cold cereal. It is crunchy, spiced and just sweet enough to satisfy all the picky eaters in my home. And, really, granola makes such a good breakfast that it won’t hurt to make a batch. Plus, it is so much heartier than boxed cereals that I don’t feel guilty about not cooking breakfast when I tell my kids to hurry up and grab a bowl of granola. We typically just pour some milk over our granola but it is also perfect sprinkled over yogurt. I like it so much I even find myself snacking on it when mid-afternoon or late-night hunger overtakes me (I’m enjoying some as I write).

My only caution is that it is easy to eat with your eyes. Many times my kids have filled a bowl with granola and then dumped half of it in the garbage because they were too full. I hate to see good food go to waste. Plus, in the back of my mind, I am calculating how many breakfasts and snacks were just wasted and how much sooner I’ll need to make more granola. Ridiculous but true, so don’t go there; scoop lightly.

When I make granola, I get out my largest bowl and I triple the recipe. I prefer to stash a large batch on top of my  fridge than to make a new one every week. Not that it takes that long to make; it doesn’t. Maybe a half-hour hands on time and then about 40 minutes in the oven. But if I can save myself an hour or so a week, I’ll triple the recipe.

Once I have my largest bowl out, I mix up the dry ingredients and make a well in the center. I pour the wet ingredients into the well and then stir until well-combined. Next I coat my sheetpans with cooking spray and spread the granola out on them. One recipe makes 1 half sheetpan (12″ x 17″) .

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Then I bake the granola, pulling out the sheetpans about every 10 minutes. The edges will be browning so mix up the granola to ensure more even browning. About 30 minutes into the baking, I add my coconut flakes and sliced almonds to the sheetpans. They brown a lot faster than the granola and so need less oven time. Continue baking for about another 10 minutes, until the granola is just lightly browned. You do have to watch it. I got distracted once. My nose finally called me back to the oven and I had dark brown (burned) granola and it was not good. No one ate it.

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After the granola is baked, I pour it back into the same mixing bowl (don’t even bother washing it). I add my dried fruit— whatever I happen to have in the cupboards, typically raisins, cranberries and cherries— and toss to combine. Then I grab a small bowl and do a taste-test.

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Homemade Granola   image

Makes about 7 cups

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (I use a combination of both)
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups dried fruit

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the water, oil and honey/maple syrup. Stir to combine.

2. Spread out on a greased sheetpan and bake for 30 minutes, pulling out the sheetpan every 10 minutes to stir the granola. After 30 minutes, add the almonds and coconut flakes. Continue baking until granola is lightly browned, about another 10 minutes.

3. Pour granola back into large mixing bowl. Add dried fruit and stir to combine. Cool and then store in an airtight container.

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Overnight Waffles

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Overnight waffles are totally doable on a weekday morning. They are also special enough for a weekend brunch or a holiday (hint, hint… Valentine’s Day).

Breakfast might be my favorite meal of the day. I like a hearty meal with some protein in it. When I was pregnant with my first child, I discovered that protein in the morning made me feel better all day long. I have more energy and less lows. So most mornings I try to prepare a breakfast that has a good amount of protein, usually from eggs and dairy. And waffles are an especially comforting way to accomplish that goal. But to make the batter and cook enough to feed my family on a busy weekday morning is daunting. Then, several years back, I came across a recipe for make-ahead waffle batter in Shirley Corriher’s book, Cookwise. After a few tweaks (I cut back on the butter and substituted skim for whole milk), I have a recipe I can manage on a weekday morning.  I also doubled the original recipe because I like to put leftover waffles in my freezer so my kids can help themselves.

These overnight waffles are similar to the popular Brussels waffles found in Belgium. They are light, crisp, deep-pocketed and, unlike most American waffle batters, they use yeast for leavening. This is significant because it helps produce that light texture and it also lets us make the batter the night before. Step one is mixing up all the ingredients except the eggs and baking soda in a large bowl.

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After sitting overnight the batter will look like this:

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Now finish off the batter by mixing in the eggs and baking soda before pouring it into a hot waffle iron.

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I like my waffles crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside so I cook mine until just golden. Top your waffles with syrup, fruit or powdered sugar. If you have any berries in your freezer, you can even make a quick fruit topping by boiling berries and sugar together until syrupy. What a wonderful way to start your day.

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Make-Ahead Waffles

Makes about 16 waffles

Adapted from Cookwise

4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk (I use skim but whole is good too)
12 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 cups (19 oz) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Sprinkle the yeast on warm water in a very large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the warm milk, melted butter, sugar, salt and flour and beat together until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight. If your home is 70°F or lower, leave at room temperature. Warmer than 70°F, refrigerate overnight.

2. Next morning, preheat your waffle iron. Then beat the eggs and baking soda into the batter. Pour into your waffle iron, filling each waffle section to the top. My waffle iron uses about 1/2 cup per section.