dressed up oatmeal (aka granola)

My family loves oatmeal.

And therefore, they also love granola.

Here are my favorite recipes for homemade granola and granola bars.

Homemade Granola

I got this recipe from my friend Laurel (Hi, Laurel!). It’s awesome. And the great thing about granola is you can put anything you want in it. Listed below are the ingredients I always use.

5 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup craisins
anything else you want: almonds, coconut, craisins, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, etc**
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla

**My favorite combo for “anything else you want” is:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup coconut

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix honey, brown sugar, vanilla and melted butter together in small bowl. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon. Bake in a greased pan at 325 for 25 minutes. Right after cooking remove from pan and put in a bowl.

I usually line my cookie sheet with parchment instead of greasing the pan. My oven cooks hot, so I only bake the granola for 15-18 minutes.

 

 

Homemade Granola Bars

I quit buying granola bars years ago. Then I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. We’ve never looked back.

Click HERE to go to Smitten Kitchen so you can print this recipe with ease.

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Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

This is probably the most flexible recipe I’ve posted. When it comes to granola, what you’re looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (syrups, sugar, butter or oils) and from there, you can really go to town. The vanilla is optional. The cinnamon is optional. You can use no dried fruit or you can use all dried fruit in your 2 to 3 cup mix. You can toss in things like puffed rice cereal or flax seeds. In the comments, I’d love to hear what mix you came up with and how you liked it. I can only imagine the possibilities.

Of note: The original recipe calls for something called “sticky bun sugar” which can be made at home with sugar, butter and corn syrup. It is for this reason that corn syrup is listed within one ingredient but also separately, and I used all butter rather than two different fats. Whether the corn syrup can be entirely replaced with honey or maple syrup or the butter can be entirely replaced with a healthier oil is worth auditioning, I just didn’t. Yet. I can tell you this: as is, this is the best granola bar I’ve ever eaten.

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)**
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, namely because I was not convinced that the flavor came through)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see Note above)
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. [Updating to note, as many had crumbling issues:] If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

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**For the 2-3 cups dries fruit and nuts, I use:
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup peanut butter

OR

1 cup craisins
1 cup hopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ

 

Enjoy!

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