Maple Nut Granola

Granola in mason jars.

The back to school catalogs began arriving in mid July and straight into the recycling bin they went. Now, more than a month later, I can no longer deny the fast approaching first day of school. The highlighted square on the calendar smugly reminding me that order will return in the form of routines, schedules, homework, and afterschool activities. Fuel is needed for us all, especially first Maple Nut Granola in a cereal bowl.thing in the morning. Enter granola.

Good granola is a tasty mix of humble ingredients barely touched with sweetness. Oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits- all relatively inexpensive on their own, but for reasons I don’t understand, suddenly become a hot commodity when combined, packaged, and put on your local grocery store shelf. Make your own. You’ll save money, have control over the ingredients, and create something far better than anything you could get from a cardboard box.

This recipe makes a little more than 8 cups and keeps for several weeks in anYogurt parfait with granola and berries. airtight container. My granola goes into mason jars, but tupperware,and ziploc bags work too. I have it every morning with plain yogurt and whatever fruit is in season. My daughter‘s spin is little fancier; she likes to make yogurt parfaits- layering the granola with fruit and yogurt. Keep it simple and put the granola out in the morning as part of a breakfast bar. Each person can enjoy it the way they like best… with milk… with yogurt… with fruit… or even straight up by the handful as they race out the door to catch the school bus.

PS- A batch of homemade granola makes an excellent gift. Think teachers, new moms, care package for college kids…

Maple Nut Granola

  • Servings: approximately 8 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:
3 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsalted nuts… almonds, walnuts- whatever you want
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup coconut oil (comes in a jar- solid form)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 ½ cups total of your favorite dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, dried figs, dried apples, dried cherries)- either a combination of fruits or just one

Instructions:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts. In a small saucepan melt coconut oil over low heat, add cinnamon, ginger and maple syrup- stirring to combine. Take off the heat and add vanilla and pinch of salt. Pour coconut oil/maple syrup mixture over oat mixture and combine- stirring to be sure everything is evenly coated. Spread onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring the granola about every 10 minutes- rotating the cookie sheet once or twice so the granola bakes evenly. The granola is ready when it just begins to turn a light golden color.

Remove from the oven, add dried fruits and stir well. Let cool,
stirring once or twice to break up any clumps.

*This recipe is very easy to play around with. Consider adding different dried fruits, wheat germ, flax seeds, etc.

oats, unsweetened coconut, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
Measure the oats, unsweetened coconut, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds into a bowl. Set aside.
Coconut Oil, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon, Ginger, Vanilla and Salt
Melt the coconut oil over low heat, then add the maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and salt. Here I played around with the flavors and tossed in a cinnamon stick and cardamom pod for a brief dip. I was sure to remove both before combining the liquid and dry ingredients.
Coconut Oil/Maple Syrup Mixture are poured over the dry granola ingredients.
Pour the coconut oil/maple syrup mixture over the dry ingredients.
Coconut oil/maple syrup mixture and dry ingredients have been combined.
Stir ingredients thoroughly so that everything is evenly coated.
Wet granola ingredients on a cookie sheet, ready for the oven.
The granola is ready to spend 30-40 minutes in a preheated 300° oven. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Bake until lightly golden.
Granola and Dried Fruit
After the granola comes out of the oven add your favorite dried fruits. This batch has dried cherries, raisins, and chopped dried figs.
Granola in mason jars.
Heading to the pantry (and future breakfasts, lunches, yogurts, late night snacks…)

Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast for Dinner

My first post… where to start; what to make?!?! This is a first impression. “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” Oh, the pressure!

Taking this idea of blog from a spark in my mind to an actual functioning website has been quite a learning curve… and I am definitely still learning. At first all I could think about was, “what I am going to make, eat, photograph, write about?” The possibilities are endless and even better, so delicious. Then reality struck… domain names, mapping your domain, blog themes, plug ins, code, pixels. All the behind the scenes that go into creating every single website you visit. And that doesn’t even begin to include the actual content. All of the technical aspects sidelined me for a while. I started to think, “I can’t make the site public, it’s not ready; it’s not perfect; it could be better. But I’ll never think it’s ready, or perfect or couldn’t be better. And that is life- you can’t wait for the perfect moment- because you may be waiting a long time. So here I go!

As I said, I’ve been thinking about this blog for a while. Imagining how it will look and feel, and what it will say about me in my kitchen. According to the calendar, it’s Spring, a season of new beginnings, perfect for my new venture. I’ll definitely make something spring inspired, and local. Scrap that, in the northeast, after this winter, we still have snow on the ground. Lots of winter squash and root vegetables to be had… I’ll do something hearty and warm.

Fast-forward to a Friday night, I didn’t plan to make this meal my first post, actually I didn’t plan to make this meal at all. We were going to have Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce. Just as I was about to put the dish in the oven, I remembered it was Friday, during Lent, which means no meat for us. Did I mention my son had a buddy over for dinner? And he needed to be home in 30 minutes? A brief moment of panic and then a quick regroup. I fell back on an old friend, tried and true… Breakfast for Dinner! We love Breakfast for Dinner in our house, but haven’t been down that road in a while. I did a lot of it when the kids were younger, but not lately. Breakfast for Dinner can mean eggs, pancakes, French toast- it’s fast and you probably have all the necessary ingredients on hand. So on this particular Friday night, I made the Puffy Pancake (also known as a Dutch Baby). Five humble ingredients, an ovenproof skillet and 20 minutes are all you need to bring a warm, delicious and dramatic dinner to the table. If you’re feeling ambitious serve with some fruit on the side… sautéed sliced apples in the cold weather months or fresh ripe berries when they’re in season make perfect accompaniments.  Maple syrup is optional, a dusting of powdered sugar or dollop of jam are just as sweet, and in my opinion even tastier!

IMG_4831

Puffy Pancake

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

~from the Joy of Cooking

Ingredients
½ cup milk
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 425°

Whisk milk, flour, sugar and eggs together until smooth. Melt the butter in a 10” ovenproof skillet (cast iron is terrific). Tilt the pan so that the butter coats the sides. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook, without stirring for 1 minute. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, 12-15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately as the pancake loses it’s puff fairly quickly.

Five humble ingredients
Five humble ingredients
Combine milk, eggs, flour and sugar
Combine milk, eggs, flour and sugar
Whisk
Whisk
Melt butter in an ovenproof skillet
Melt butter in an ovenproof skillet
Swirling to coat sides of skillet
Swirling to coat sides of skillet
Pour in the batter and cook for one minute without stirring
Pour in the batter and cook for one minute without stirring
Put in preheated oven
Put in preheated oven
Voila! 12-15 minutes later, you have the Puffy Pancake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately as it's starts deflating quickly.
Voila! 12-15 minutes later, you have the Puffy Pancake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately as it starts deflating quickly.