Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweet granola

I love making granola.  When my daughter's school had granola on the needs list for their fundraiser breakfast, I offered to make some.  I had already made my Banana Bread for the same breakfast, but there were some items that didn't get signups, so I decided to help some more.

There are a lot of granola recipes out there, and they vary so much.  I will say from experience that I do not recommend using quick oats for your granola.  They make a much starchier taste, and if you're not careful it can also make your granola dry and chewy.

I wouldn't normally make something so sweet for our family.  Since this is for a more general population, I made a sweet, delicious version.  It clumps nicely, but not too much.  I used sweetened coconut, but unsweetened would also work well and would be my personal preference.  Since this was to be served with fruit and yogurt at the breakfast, I chose not to mix in any dried fruit.

Sweet Granola

5 cups whole oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt

Mix the above 'dry' ingredients.  Then in a separate bowl/measuring cup combine the following:

1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well until the mixture is evenly moistened and not clumpy.  Lay out on nonstick foil in a jelly roll pan. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 40 minutes, stirring once at 30 minutes.  Cool in pan, stirring after 30 minutes to break up into clumps.  Store in an airtight container.  Mix in 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries if you desire!

This would make a great gift for a friend or family member, as long as their diet is not restricted!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Berry Maple Syrup

As you may already know, I try very hard to provide foods that are made from whole foods.  I have not banned processed foods altogether, but I'm getting more and more concerned about what food companies are sneaking into our foods.

About once a week we have breakfast for dinner.  Sometimes it's eggs, sometimes pancakes or french toast.  For pancakes, we usually use my homemade mix that has oats and whole wheat flour in it, but also a favorite is Hodgeson Mill's Whole Wheat Pancake Mix.  In my quest to serve something healthy, I like to experiment ways to serve better toppings.  Anyone remember this?  Enter the berry syrup.

An easy way to introduce PURE maple syrup to your family, which tastes much different from the typical syrups you find on the shelves (most of which don't even contain real maple), is to add berries. 

Try this recipe, which provides fruit for your family along with natural pure maple syrup in the form of the perfect replacement for that-stuff-on-the-shelves-called-syrup.

Take about 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup (I recommend Full Circle USDA Organic 100% Pure Maple Syrup) and put into a medium saucepan.  Add 1 pint of washed berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries).  Heat on medium high heat just until it starts to boil, then turn the heat off.  Keep it chunky if you like, or use an immersion blender to make it smooth.  Serve warm!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oatmeal Cookies

Two Saturdays ago, the girls and I weathered the storm, Hurricane Irene, at home.  We were very fortunate to have power most of the day.  It went out about a dozen times through the day, but each time came back on within 60 seconds.  We were in the minority, for sure!

We played games, did some crafts, and baked cookies.  It was a good day of mother-daughter bonding.  I altered a recipe that I have from an old cookbook from The Fresh Market, adding in some whole wheat flour (half wheat, half white), and also changing some of the add-ins.

I split the cookie dough in half and in half I added 1 cup milk chocolate chips with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and in the other half I added 3/4 cup dried cranberries, zest of one orange, and 3/4 cup white chocolate chips.

These cookies were really tasty, and I could not tell that they were healthier than the original (which I had made once before).

If you make these, please let me know what add-ins you use, and whether you like them.  What would you add in?

"Hurricane" Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 cups oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups "add-ins" such as chocolate chips, walnuts, cranberries, white chocolate chips, orange zest or something else!  (I really loved 1/2 milk chocolate chips with 1/2 chopped walnuts!)

Preheat oven to 375.  Beat butter and brown sugar until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  In another bowl, combine oats, flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture in stages.  Stir in your add-ins.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (recommend covering with parchment paper).  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.


I recommend baking a dozen or two, and freezing the rest on parchment.  Just put parchment on a cool cookie sheet, put rounded teaspoonfuls on the parchment (not touching).  Place in freezer.  Once frozen, remove from cookie sheet and place in freezer bag.  Next time you want cookies, you take the amount you need out, thaw for 15 minutes, and then bake per the recipe.  No more processed cookie dough from the grocery store!