December 31, 2008

granola and ultimate peace

Until recently, there have been a couple things that I just can't get right. Try as I may, no matter how many times I make these things- and attempting different recipes, too, they just don't come out well. At all. In fact, they leave my kitchen in a state of colossal disaster, both physically, and for me, mentally, because the end product of the mess turns out so inedible that I have nothing to look forward to eating after I clean. But today I got a tasty snack after dutifully washing each, and every dish, leaving me with a well earned sense of peace that I could cross two more things off of my inedible list.
My first success was carrot cake. Though some may dubb it as easy to make, I just could not do it well. I must have tried over 5 recipes before I made Magnolia Bakery's carrot cake, which filled me with joy when my family couldn't keep away. 
The second, as of today, is granola. Something about it was always just off.  I admit my second granola disaster was due to me halving a recipe, and then forgetting midway and doubling the spices. But all of the other times, the honey to oil ratio was wrong, and the amount of dried fruit was disproportionate.
 Even though this recipe doesn't hold a candle to my favorite granola- Le Pain Quotidien's (which they sell in hefty bags, by the way), it's simple, easy, and versatile (as most granola is). Besides, we don't always feel like spending $7.50 for a bag of this stuff, no matter how good it is. Am I right, or what?

Power Granola
Adapted from Cooking Light 

2 cups regular oats
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking Spray
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon chopped crystallized (also called candied) ginger

Preheat oven to 300 degrees 

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl

Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in oil and vanilla.

Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes; stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl. Stir in dried cranberries, apricots, and ginger. Cool completely.

Note: Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
*Keeping the granola in the freezer helps preserve it's crunchiness

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