08 June 2011

toasty granola

I'm beginning to realize that breakfast is my thing. I like dinner, don't get me wrong; I love savory foods and meats and cheese and the millions of flavors we can accomplish with the wonderful foods we've been given to eat. Lunch, unless it's a special occasion or we're entertaining, is for leftovers or sandwiches. But breakfast. Breakfast is where the yum can happen. Everything goes with coffee, and the best things either come out of a muffin tin or contain bacon. Or, they go crunch with a bit of sweetness and a hint of salty. Breakfast is for waking up the senses and starting the day off right.

I've had a bit of a granola obsession of late. Blame it on my Oregonian-ness, blame it on my affinity for yogurt. Regardless, nothing quite satisfies me in the mornings like home baked granola.

Make it. Make it in big batches. It's hard to mess up if you check on it regularly, and it is totally customizable for your fussy granola preferences, if you have them (I do).

Nutty Granola
{inspired by Smitten Kitchen and What Katie Ate}

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment.

Combine in a large bowl:
6 cups slow-cooking oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened, if you use sweetened, decrease the honey a bit)
1 cup nuts of your choice (i.e. almonds, slivered or whole, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, pepitas)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Heat slightly in a small saucepan:
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup oil (slightly less for a more clumpy granola, slightly more for more of a muesli consistency)

Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir until well coated. Sprinkle with a bit of coarse sea salt. Divide mixture into two parts, one on each baking sheet, and spread into one layer. Bake, stirring, rotating and switching pans every ten minutes, and checking regularly after the first 20 minutes. Remove from oven when oats are becoming golden and the granola smells toasty and sweet, anywhere from 40 min to an hour. Allow to cool on cooling racks, then stir in:

1 cup dried fruit of choice (i.e. raisins, dates, chopped figs, dried cherries and berries)

Keep in airtight container and serve over yogurt or with milk. Granola also makes a delicious ice cream topping. To keep longer than a week, store in freezer.

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