I love me some Granola

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My morning meal usually consists of coffee, juice, yogurt, and granola.  Like I could eat that stuff every single day.

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Until now, I’ve been buying our granola, but it’s quite expensive for the amount you get and it’s full of all sorts of weird additives and the like that I don’t really want to put in my system.

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My mother used to make granola for us sometimes when we were kids, so I figured that I could probably do it myself if I tried.  And it’s easy.  And you can use what you’ve got in your cupboards, or what you can scoop up at the bulk food store.  Which means you can customize each batch.

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So preheat your oven to 350°F and get out a large rimmed baking sheet.  I took the precaution of lining mine with parchment paper, so stuff wouldn’t stick.

The majority of granolas start with a base of oats, about 4 cups.  I used four double handfuls, because I measured my tiny hands once and put together that’s about what they hold.  And thus ends my list of measurements for this recipe.  Because you can do whatever you want.  So what else have I got going on here?  In addition to the oats, I have bran, ground flax, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, lavender flowers (yes), and then a selection of dried fruits: apricots, mango, and raisins.

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Take all your happy dry ingredients (minus the fruits) and plop them in a bowl.

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Mix ’em up.

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In another bowl, add about 1/2 cup runny honey,

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about 1/2 cup maple syrup,

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and about 1/2 cup melted butter.

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*** EDIT: If you’d like granola that forms clumps (and that’s my favourite kind), whisk 1 or 2 egg whites into a froth and add them to the mixture as well.  The protein in the whites will stick everything together during the baking process.  Just use caution when stirring mid-bake, as the amount you stir will affect the size of the clumps you create. ***

Pour that golden loveliness into the dry mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated.

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Spread that stuff out on your baking sheet and chuck that in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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Make sure to stir with a spatula every 10-15 minutes or so to keep the stuff on the bottom from burning.

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While that’s on the go, get your dried fruit ready. I chopped up the apricots and mango slices a little to make them easier to get on a spoon.

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Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan, stirring it occasionally to break up the chunks.  The finer grained your ingredients are, and the more sticky wet ingredients you use, the chunkier your granola will be.

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While it’s still a little warm, stir in your dried fruit.

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Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, and enjoy whenever you want!

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Crunchy Squares

I made these as a present for the Pie when he came to visit me at Thanksgiving.  The man is a slave to peanut butter, and I like to express my love through food.  We’re a well-matched pair.

The recipe I have calls for 1 cup of crispy rice cereal and 2 cups corn flakes cereal.  I don’t particularly like eating either of those cereals (they get soggy too fast) so I didn’t want to be stuck with piles of cereal when I was finished the recipe.  The solution?  Special K.  A small box containing a mixture of both cereals.  And high in protein too.  In doubling the recipe, I ended up using the entire box (6 cups cereal), which was an added bonus.

For the double recipe you need 1 cup corn syrup.

Corn syrup photographs really well, don’t you think?

2 cups smooth peanut butter.

1/2 cup butter or margarine (go for the real deal).

1 cup packed brown sugar.

And 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

In a saucepan over low heat, stir together peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup.

Get it all melty and stuff until it’s all smooth and looks like caramel. Caramel made of peanut butter, that is.

Remove it from the heat and mix in the vanilla.

Pour your cereals (2 cups crispy rice, 4 cups corn flakes) in a bowl an mix them (or use my cop-out cheat method of 6 cups Special K Satisfaction).

Pour in the peanut butter goo and mix well.

Press evenly into a sprayed pan (double the recipe makes for a 9×13″ pan).

Chill for 6 hours or until firm.  Flip mixture onto a flat surface and cut into squares.  You might need a spatula to help you ease the squares out of the pan.

Enjoy.  I know the Pie did.

Will keep in an airtight container for ages and ages (separate layers with waxed paper).