Pumpkin Granola

IMG_1806

I fully intended to bake something to bring into work tomorrow morning.  I even told more than one person that I would.  But then Shannon Rose didn’t have Pumpkinhead.  And though Octoberfest is well and good, I didn’t get my pumpkin fix and decided I needed to make myself something pumpkin instead.  I also didn’t really feel like doing a lot of grocery shopping, so granola was the clear winner.  I’ve made granola before, but this one might be even better.  It clumped really nicely (important in a granola), was slightly salty (also important), and was my first pumpkin adventure of the fall (extremely important!).

And, it’s quick and easy! First, mix the oats and spices in a large bowl.

IMG_1800

Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth.

IMG_1801

Pour the liquid ingredients into the oats and stir to coat.

IMG_1802

Spread the oats evenly over a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

IMG_1803

Bake for 20 minutes at 325°F and remove from oven to stir.

IMG_1804

Return to oven for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp.  I think it’s because of the lower baking temperature, but this granola seemed much more resistant to the threat of burning than other recipes I have tried.

IMG_1805

Stir in the craisins and pepitas and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  See? Easy!

Enjoy!

IMG_1807

Pumpkin Granola

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup pepitas

Directions:

  1. Stir together oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the oats and stir to coat.
  4. Spread evenly over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 325°F for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and stir oats.  Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in craisins and pepitas.  Allow to cool completely on baking sheet.
Advertisements

Granola Bars

IMG_0732

 

I decided to be selfish this weekend.  Usually, I love to bake things for other people.  I bring treats into work and they disappear before 2nd period.  I bring treats to my classes and my students remember that I can be cool on occasion.  I bring treats to friends and make more friends.  But this week I decided to make something only I would get to eat: granola bars.

Now, I’ve made granola before, so if you’ve been reading me stuff for awhile, you know that I’m a little bit obsessed with the stuff.  I recently became addicted to Kind bars, but part of me understands that that is because they are really candy bars in disguise.  So, turning to Serious Eats, I found a recipe that claimed to be healthy and went for it.  The healthy part was also appealing after spending my evening last night with some other teachers eating fried chicken and Portuguese egg tarts (thanks Tim!) – I needed to counteract that somehow.

So without further ado, your first step is to generously grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.  I know what you’re thinking – Meg, how is generous use of butter healthy?  Let’s just assume it is and move on.

 

IMG_0719

Next, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, whole wheat flour, cranberries, and almonds in a large bowl.

IMG_0721

IMG_0722

 

Two confessions: the first is I didn’t have enough brown sugar so an “unpacked” 1/2 cup looked like this:

 

 

IMG_0720

Second, I never toast nuts when recipes tell me to.  I pretend it’s because I like how the nuts taste raw (which I do), but it’s more because I’m too afraid to burn them.  And I’ve never had a situation where I didn’t toast the nuts and people found my baked good inedible.  So I think that’s fine.

Next, in a separate medium bowl, whisk together the honey, egg whites, oil, applesauce (or mashed banana if that’s what you prefer), and vanilla extract.  You’ll need to gain a little momentum with the whisk before you really get the honey going, but it does become pretty liquidy after a bit.

IMG_0723

IMG_0724

 

I happened to be finishing one container of honey and moving on to a second for this project.  Want to know what is infuriating? Trying to get the last couple drops of honey out of one of those little bears.  It just doesn’t work.  You would think someone would have thought of that before creating a bear with that many crevices – very impractical.

Anyways, you then create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the honey mixture.

IMG_0725

IMG_0726

Using your hands, work together the dry and liquid ingredients until they form a loose ball.  This is very messy, but smells very good and tastes very good when you lick your fingers.

Flip the mixture into the baking dish and push it into a rectangle with about a half inch border around the outside.

IMG_0728

Bake at 350°F for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the outsides of the bars begin to brown.

IMG_0730

 

Then, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before cutting into bars.  I was able to get 20 squares out of it.

 

IMG_0729

IMG_0731

Then, allow to cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container. 

IMG_0733

They end up being almost cookie-like in texture (probably because of the flour and eggs), but I’m still calling them a granola bar.  You could also very easily substitute in different nuts or fruits based on what you like without any terrible consequences – I just happen to like almonds and cranberries (And craisins were on sale…).  I can’t think of a reason they wouldn’t keep for a good long time in an airtight container – all that could happen is they get a little stale, which is fine since granola bars are supposed to be crunchy anyways.

Enjoy!

IMG_0734

 

Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup unpacked light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Generously grease a 9×13 inch glass pan.
  2. Mix together oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries and almonds in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together honey, egg whites, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients.  Work into a loose ball using your hands.
  5. Turn out onto the baking dish and press into a rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the outside.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges get brown.
  7. Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes before cutting into 20 bars and removing to wire rack to cool completely.

 

Fruit n Nut Granola

Full Shot

To preface this post, Yale Bake Shop Granola is hands down the best granola known to man.  It has brown sugar, it has salt, it has raisins, it has large chunks that could pass as granola bars on their own if you take the time to sift through it.  If you’ve ever seen me in the Calhoun dining hall, you know that I can eat the stuff by the bucketful.  It tastes good in alone, in milk, mixed with milk and peanut butter and small pieces of banana and chocolate sauce…  Unfortunately, I graduated already and no longer have access to unending amounts of the stuff.  So this is my attempt to find a substitute, but (maybe?) even better.

First, mix the oats, cinnamon, and almonds in a large bowl.  Make sure you are using regular oats (old-fashioned), because instant oats are more processed and won’t hold up as well when you bake them in the oven.  Also, you can use any kind of nut you want.  Usually I use sliced almonds, but the whole almonds are good if you want an extra crunch.

Dry Ingredients

Then, add the molasses, honey, water, and oil to a medium saucepan.  Heat it over medium-high heat until it starts boiling.  Make sure you keep an eye on it and remove it from the heat as soon as it starts to boil, because the molasses will start to burn and smell awful if you don’t.

Liquids Boiling Liquids

How cool does that swirl look?  Once you can do that with the foam, it’s probably time to take it off the heat, though.  Burnt molasses smells really, really terrible.  Trust me, you don’t want that to happen to your kitchen.

Then, add the liquid to the bowl with the oats and mix until all of the oats are coated.

Combine

Spray a jelly roll pan (those are the cookie sheets with the sides) with cooking spray and spread the mixture evenly across it.

Before Baking

Bake at 325°F for anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven.  Take out the pan every 10 minutes to stir the granola around, preventing it from burning anywhere that was spread to thin.  Granola is really touchy when it comes to baking time, so don’t forget about it and think that 40 minutes will be fine.  It takes about 3 seconds to go from wonderfully golden brown and crunchy to blackened ash.

OK that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but really, keep an eye on it.  You may even want to pull it out a little before it’s super crunchy since it will continue to harden as it cools.  You’re looking for a golden brown color, a little darker than before, and maybe a couple places that are darker.

After Baking

Put the granola into a bowl and add the raisins and dates, mixing until combined.  Pour the finished granola back onto the baking sheet to cool completely before storing in airtight containers.

Add dates and raisins

A note on dates:  dried, pitted dates are probably the most underrated dried fruit ever.  They are always impossible to find at the grocery store while things like prunes (which are disgusting) are abundant.  Dried, pitted dates taste like little balls of sugar, but not in the weird way that dried mango and pineapple bits taste fake.  I’ve never actually tasted a date in its original, plump-with-pit form, but that’s mostly because I’m sure it won’t compare to the dried variety.  Let me know in the comments if I’m wrong about that.

in bins from below

Anyways, this granola does not taste much like Yale Bake Shop Granola, but it is pretty excellent.  Rather than the brown sugar flavor, the molasses and honey make it a little less sweet and granola-bar like.  However, the addition of dates drastically improves the snack-ability of it, which is both dangerous and awesome.  And, since I adapted it from a Cooking Light recipe, you can even convince yourself it’s not quite so bad for you as other varieties of granola.

Enjoy!

Close angle in pan

Fruit n Nut Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups regular oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped, pitted dates
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Combine oats, almonds, and cinnamon in a large bowl, stirring well.
  2. Combine honey, molasses, water and oil in a medium saucepan.
  3. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
  4. Pour over oat mixture, stirring well until coated.
  5. Spray jelly-roll pan with cooking spray and spread mixture evenly onto pan.
  6. Bake at 325°F for 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven and stir granola every 10 minutes to ensure even baking.
  7. Once toasted, remove from oven and stir in dates and raisins.  Cool completely and store in airtight container.