Would you believe that I have never made granola before? Granola bars, sure. But just granola, nope. In fact, I don't even really know what one does with granola, other than eat it as cereal... yes, that includes sprinkling it on yogurt or ice cream. What, you don't do that with your cereal?
Anyway, it looked good and sounded really straightforward, so I figured what they heck. So once the little ones were fast asleep, I got started.
The basis of granola is oatmeal, so we started with that. The recipe actually called for two different kinds of oats - old fashioned (check, got those) and something called Coach's Oats. I have never heard of them, but the recipe said that you can just use more regular oats, so that is what I did. The recipe also called for a bit of quinoa to be mixed in with the oats, which was intriguing to me. So I started by tossing together my oatmeal and quinoa.
Dry ingredients set aside, I began preparing what I think of as the dressing for the granola - the wet ingredients that give it its flavor and hold it together. This recipe called for honey, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar and coconut oil. As luck would have it, my sister recently "loaned" me a jar of coconut oil. I hadn't actually ever tried it yet, so I think that was one reason why this recipe was calling to me... Interestingly enough, coconut oil is pretty solid at room temperature, which makes scooping it fun, but it, along with all the other yumminess went right into a pot to be melted all together.
Once the honey and coconut oil were completely melted and the sugar and cinnamon were completely incorporated, the liquid was ready to be poured over the waiting oats (and quinoa).
Aaaannnddd.... that was the hard part. I kid you not, that is as complicated as it gets. I carefully stirred the entire mixture together to make sure that all of the oats (and quinoa) had their fair share of coating, then poured the whole thing out onto a silicone-baking-mat-covered cookie sheet, which then went into a 325 degree oven.
Once the pan went into the oven, in addition to doing the dishes, I quickly chopped about a cup and a half of almonds. After 15 minutes, I took the pan out of the oven, gave it a toss (carefully, with a spatula) and sprinkled the chopped almonds on top.
At this point, it just takes a couple more iterations of "bake for 15 minutes then toss it around a bit" for the granola to be done. Who knew it was so easy?
After about 45 minutes of total cooking time, the granola will begin to turn golden brown, and that is when you know it is done. One more toss as you take it out of the oven for the final time, and the I just let it sit and set overnight.
The taste did not disappoint. Sweet but not overly so, nutty, warm and absolutely delicious.
Little miss then reminded me that one of her cookbooks has a recipe for cookies that have granola cereal as an ingredient. So I think I know what we'll be baking this weekend...
So how do you eat your granola?
Oatmeal Cookie Granola
(adapted from Cheeky Kitchen)
6 cups old fashioned oats (or 4 cups old fashioned oats and 2 cups of Coach's Oats)
1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats and quinoa; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and cinnamon. Heat over medium heat until just melted, then pour the syrup over the oat mixture, stirring carefully until well coated. Turn the oats onto a cookie sheet that has been covered with a layer of parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat). Spread the oats into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the granola from the oven and stir the nuts into the mixture. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes. Use a spatula to flip the granola over, then cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, stir the granola around one more time, then allow it to air dry and harden overnight before serving.