Decidedly Not Sweet Granola

I am a huge granola lover. I make my own granola every couple of weeks, and there are few days that go by that don't include any granola. I've made so many different recipes over the years it's difficult to keep straight. Lara got Allison Roman's new cookbook, Dining In, over Christmas and has been enjoying it for several weeks now. We've made a few recipes together and this was one of the first. It's a granola recipe, but a savory one, very different from my usual! It is also very heavy on seeds, with less oats than a traditional granola. I absolutely love the fennel and caraway seeds, they add so much unique flavor, and really help this granola stand out as truly savory. I wouldn't skip them as it would really change the flavor. 

I've been sprinkling this granola over pretty much everything and anything. It's great on salads instead of the usual crouton to add a nice crunch, or really added on top of any roasted vegetable. It's also good in yogurt just like traditional granola, I would just probably avoid sweetened and flavored yogurt. I really only eat plain yogurt myself and it's great in that. I have no doubt there are so many other places that would be enhanced by this delicious granola. 

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I halved the original recipe from the cookbook, just to make sure I liked it enough to use up a whole batch. I do. Because of this I ended up using one whole egg instead of egg whites (it would have been 1.5 egg whites which is just annoying). I also didn't have the nigella seeds it called for, I'm going to keep looking though! The recipe said to just replace these with a little more sesame seeds if you can't find them so that's what I did. This equals out to an additional 2 tablespoons seeds for the half of the recipe. 

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Decidedly Not Sweet Granola
Adapted from Allison Roman's Dining In
Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) oats
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sesame seeds*
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed
  • 1 tablespoon ground Aleppo (this is what I used) or Ancho pepper (this is what the original recipe calls for)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to mix until everything is evenly coated. Season with plenty of black pepper.

Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until everything is golden brown and toasty, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely and break any large clumps into smaller pieces before storing in glass jars or ziplock bags.

*If you can find nigella seeds, use 2 tablespoons of nigella seeds, and just 1/4 cup total of the sesame seeds

Tahini Honey Granola

When I lived in Dearborn a couple of years ago I totally and completely fell in love with Middle Eastern food. There is no better place to have this happen, besides the actual Middle East that is. Because of this, I have lots of those Middle Eastern spices in my cupboard, I find myself drawn to various Middle Eastern cookbooks anytime I'm at the bookstore, and I crave some good shawarma, hummus, falafel and homemade pita more than I would like to admit. It is just all so good. 

One of the things I also know have in my fridge at all times is tahini. I first bought it to make hummus. I love my hummus full of lemon and tahini so I really have to have it on hand. Through the last few years though I've started using tahini in various other applications; sauce and dips, salad dressings, drizzled over roasted vegetables, on top of toast with a little honey, in my smoothies for a hint of nuttiness, you get the picture. I love creaminess it adds to everything, along with that nutty flavor. 

So the other day when I was almost out of granola I got to thinking about making a tahini granola. There are many recipes out there for peanut butter granola, so why not try tahini instead? I added honey for a little sweetness and cinnamon, allspice and cardamom for flavor. A little orange zest at the end adds a nice kick of brightness and almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds joined the oats for extra crunch and flavor. In the end it turned out a delicious batch of granola with all of these delicious flavors melded together to form a wonderfully balanced granola, one that I highly recommend trying. 

I don't love my granola to be overly sweet since I like to eat it for breakfast and not dessert. So I only added a couple tablespoons of honey, but if you like your granola a little sweeter I would add a little more. You might need to watch it a little closer to make sure it doesn't overcook with the extra sugar, but otherwise I think it should be fine. The flavor of the tahini is fairly mild. A nice nuttiness comes through, but if you are not sure about how much you like tahini I wouldn't worry, it's not overpowering. If fact you could add a little more if you want the flavor to come through a little more (I might do that next time!). 

I used almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds for my add-ins, but you could add whatever you want, any different nut or seed would work. I think pistachios or sesame seeds would also be nice! And if you like dried fruit in your granola go for it, just mix it in after the granola is baked and cooled. You can do whatever you like really to truly make this granola your own. 

Tahini Honey Granola
From Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (200 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 ounce almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 ounce pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 ounce sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) tahini
  • 2 tablespoons (35 grams) honey, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • Water, as needed

Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the oats in a large bowl. Add the salt, cinnamon, cardamom, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.  Mix to combine. 

Combine the tahini and honey in a small bowl. Warm the mixture in the microwave for a few seconds, just to help it become a little less viscous, and easier to mix in. 

Add the tahini/honey mixture to the oat mixture along with the orange zest. Stir to combine everything very well, adding water a teaspoon or two at a time if needed to help bring it all together. 

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 1 hour, stirring the mixture halfway through. Watch the granola closely towards the end of baking to ensure that it does not overcook. Bake until it is completely dried through. Let cool on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container. 

Big Cluster Cinnamon Almond Granola

I was talking to my grandma a few weeks ago about making granola and how much I love doing it. It's so much better and ridiculously cheaper than buying it, and it's not at all difficult to do. Plus, you can customize it to your exact specifications! My grandma is gluten intolerant, and so granola is a good option for her to have on hand for breakfast, or a snack, or whatever. After our conversation I decided to make her a batch to show her what homemade granola can be like. 

I chose this recipe because it was very simple. Since I don't know exactly how she likes her granola I decided to keep it basic and pretty classic. Oats, almonds and brown sugar, some cinnamon and vanilla, all kept nice and crunchy with a bit of oil. It turned out a beautiful, toasty granola that formed big, crunchy clusters. Super tasty, and perfect for anything you might imagine. 

I eat a ton of granola. Yogurt and some kind of fruit, topped with granola almost every morning. I never get tired of it. I also just snack on it out of hand throughout the day. It's a great quick snack that you can eat as much or as little of as you want. There are lots of other options though; top some sweetened fruit with it and bake until bubbly, top ice cream with a little extra crunch, throw it on a salad as an alternative to croutons. Just be creative, and I'm sure you'll come up with many more options that suit your life!

Big Cluster Cinnamon Almond Granola

Adapted from

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

by 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) water
  • 3 cups (250 grams) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 ounces almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2-3 tablespoons (35 grams) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Let cool. 

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. 

Add the oil and vanilla extract to the brown sugar mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour over the oat mixture. Mix well with a large spoon or rubber spatula until thoroughly combined and uniform in texture. 

Transfer granola to a rimmed baking sheet and pat down into a thick, even layer. 

Bake for 75 minutes. Remove oven and use a large metal spatula to flip the granola, keeping it in as large of chunks as possible. Return the granola to the oven and bake for about 60 minutes more until completely dry and no longer at all soft when you take a bite. Let cool before serving. 

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. 

Simple Maple Granola

I've been making my own homemade granola for years now and I absolutely love it. I see absolutely no reason to buy a bag of granola at the store. First of all it's expensive, way more expensive than oats and sugar need to be. Second, it's never anywhere near as good as what I can make at home, customizing to my own individual preferences. My Homemade Granola Bars are still at the top of my list of favorite recipes, and they are the most popular post on this blog by far. If you've ever wanted to try making your own crunchy granola bars I highly recommend you give this recipe a try! 

I've also done Chocolate Granola, and Spiced Pumpkin Granola, both fun, a little different, and delicious. The pumpkin granola would be perfect to make right now, just as pumpkin baking season is taking off!

Recently though, I was looking for something simple, an easy recipe that I could whipped together quickly, and that was a little on the healthier side so I could eat it as a snack without feeling too guilty. A lot of granola recipes delicious, but they have tons of sugar and fat in them. I wanted something a little lighter. I decided to try out The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook's Big Cluster Maple Granola with a few adjustments to fit my needs. It's a winner folks! Just what I was looking for. Light and simple and perfect for snacking!

This recipe is actually similar to my Maple Almond Granola, also a great recipe, but was just a little closer to what I wanted this time. Like I said, I made a few changes to the recipe so it was a little more my style. I cut out the coconut and replaced it with extra oats because I don't usually have coconut on hand and I'm not a big fan of it in my granola anyway. I also cut back slightly on the sugar because I was looking for something that wasn't too sweet and I added an extra egg white because it seemed like the oats needed a little more moisture to hold them together.

So when all was said and done I've got new favorite snack. Lightly sweetened, crunchy and toasty granola to sprinkle on my yogurt, eat as cereal with some milk, or snack with out of hand when my mouth is craving something sweet. I've made this recipe several times now and it's still making me happy every time.

Lightly Sweetened Maple Granola

Adapted From

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

via 

Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (640 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup (~100 grams) walnuts, almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) wheat germ (toasted if you'd like)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3 cups (430 grams) dried cherries or another dried fruit (optional)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients but the egg whites and dried fruit (if using) in a large bowl, tossing to coat evenly. Whisk the egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Stir into the granola mixture, distributing it throughout. Spread it in a single layer on one or two baking sheets.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. About halfway through the baking time, use a large spatula to turn over sections of the granola carefully, breaking them up as little as possible. Rotate the pan if granola is baking unevenly. When it is evenly browned and feels dry to the touch, transfer the pan from the oven to the cooling rack (make sure it's completely dry before you take it out, you don't want soft granola, you can add more time if you need too). Cool completely. Sprinkle in dried fruit if using.

Store granola at room temperature in an airtight container. It lasts for several weeks. 

Peach and Blueberry Parfaits

Simple pleasures:

            -Finding a new bakery to love

            -A sandy beach and a good book

            -Warm fires and cool nights

            -Sunsets and ice cream

            -Heirloom tomatoes

            -Peaches and blueberries

            -Homemade yogurt and homemade granola

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my week.

To me, simple is best. Breakfast really can't get any better than this. So fresh, so sweet, so delicious. August is being very good to me this year, I'll be sad when it ends. But until it does, another parfait please!

Parfaits are really so simple to make, and yet look elegant and classy, especially in a fun glass! No recipe required. All you need is some yogurt, granola and fruit, whatever's in season. Start layering; yogurt, fruit, granola, repeat until you reach the top. Nothing else to it!

Crunchy Granola Bars

Up until a few months ago I was going through box after box of Nature Valley granola bars. They are my favorite, crunchy and sweet, and not fake tasting like so many granola bars out there. Looking at the ingredients list didn't make me feel too bad. Although they are loaded with sugar, they contain mostly natural ingredients which is nice to see. However, it was my goal to make a homemade version that could compete with the crunchy goodness of the store bought kind. Over several months time I tried several granola bar recipes, but none of them would turn out how I wanted them to. They would either fall apart and turn into granola instead of a granola bar, or they were so hard I could hardly cut them, much less take a bite. These attempts were often not the best tasting either. Finally however, I found a recipe that looked promising. It originally came from America's Test Kitchen which made me even more excited. Their recipes almost always turn out great. These granola bars were no exception. They are crunchy and sweet, strong enough to hold up in my lunch box, but not so hard that they break a tooth. They are exactly what I was looking for.

It's a simple recipe that uses ingredients I almost always have on hand. To ensure that these bars are super crunchy, the recipe calls for toasting the oats with oil before forming the bars. I think this is the key step. One of the most difficult parts about making homemade granola bars is cooking them enough so that they get dried out all the way through, but not so long that they start over cooking. Toasting the oats first means that the bars start out dry and crispy, so they don't need to cook as long and start overcooking.

After toasting the oats, all you have to do is pour the liquid ingredients over them, mix it up, and press it in a lined pan. Press down to squish all of the granola together into an even layer, and bake. Nothing to it. I like these bars the best with almonds, but when I made my last batch I was out of almonds, so I just added an extra cup of oats and they turned out just fine. So if you don't have any nuts around, or don't like nuts, just leave them out!

Another key step to making the perfect granola bars is cutting them while they are still warm from the oven, before they harden up and become impossible to cut nicely. I have found that letting the pan rest for 10 minutes works best for me. After these 10 minutes I grab my trusty pastry scraper and cut up the bars (I like cutting the pan into 45 bars, 9X5). Then just let them cool the rest of the way and you have the perfect granola bar.

To be honest, while these bars are delicious, they do not taste like the Nature Valley crunchy granola bars. I still love my Oats and Honey granola bars, but they will definitely just be for emergencies from now on!

Grab your oats

Add the oil and salt and mix to combine

Toast them on a cookie sheet until golden brown

Meanwhile, grab some honey

and combine it with the brown sugar

Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves

Add the cinnamon (if using) and the vanilla

Pour the liquid mixture over the oats, if using nuts add them here as well

Spread the granola on a greased, foil lined sheet pan and use a spatula to press into a tight, even layer

Bake!

Let the granola cool for about 10 minutes and then cut them up into bars (don't wait any longer than 15 minutes to cut or it will be too hard)

Once cut, let them cool the rest of the way

Break up the bars

Enjoy as many ways as possible!

Crunchy Granola Bars
Adapted from Bakerlady, originally from America's Test Kitchen
Ingredients

  • 7 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds, pecans, walnuts or peanuts 
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions
Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and set the temperature to 375 degrees.

Line an 18 x 13 inch rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil.

Combine the oats, oil and salt in a large bowl and mix until the oats are evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until pale gold, 20-25 minutes. Remove the oats and lower the oven temp to 300 degrees.

Place the nuts in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Or just chop coarsely with a big sharp knife.

Combine the honey and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon (if using).

Combine the oats, nuts, and honey mixture in a large bowl and stir with a large rubber spatula until the oats are thoroughly coated with the honey mixture. Spray the baking sheet (still with foil sling) with non-stick spray then transfer the granola mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Spray a large metal spatula or a square dish with non-stick spray and firmly press the mixture into the pan. Make a flat, tight, and even layer. Bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes.

Cool in the baking sheet, on a wire rack, for 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars, I used a pastry scraper to cut.  Cut the bars all the way through and then allow the granola bars to completely cool. Do not wait longer than 15 minutes before cutting the bars. They harden up significantly as they cool. Any longer and you’ll have a very hard time cutting thru them.

The bars can be stored, covered for up to 2 weeks.