Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homemade Granola

One of our close friends is celebrating a birthday today. He appreciates homemade just as much as we do, so we decided to make him a breakfast in bed gift basket. "Spring forward" mornings are some of the best days to lounge in bed reading (or blogging).

With that in mind, we packed a sturdy basket with two magazines, a bottle of sparkling mineral water, assorted fresh fruit, a quart of fresh-squeezed tangerine juice, a quart of homemade granola, a half pint of fresh pineapple jam, one loaf of sourdough bread, and a bag of Starbuck's coffee. I found myself wanting a breakfast in bed basket by the time we were through. Just add some milk and a few pats of butter, and you don't have to go too far for an instant vacation.

While we always love fresh tangerine juice (makes you forget your love affair with orange juice!), the real star of this basket has to be the granola. Ina Garten was my inspiration on this one, but we tweaked the Barefoot Contessa's idea quite a bit to make our own granola that will now be a household staple. Doug couldn't stop eating it off the tray yesterday!

Homemade Granola

2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
6 T. canola oil
2 T. agave nectar

This is so simple: Mix it all together in a big glass bowl and then spread onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, mixing with a spatula every five. This made about a quart and a half of granola all said and done. (I'm guessing here--we packed a quart jar for the basket and Doug ate a few generous handfuls.)

This came out wonderfully. Toasty, slightly sweet, and very comforting. When I've seen Ina make granolas on her show, I've always thought it looked too fussy when you could go buy a package of Quaker at the store. But I couldn't believe how easy this was to make and how astoundingly good it tasted--so much better than chemical cereal from the market. Even better, we eliminated Ina's sweetener (honey) and added our own (agave, and much less of it!).

Now we're eager to try all sorts of fruit/nut combinations with our base recipe: dried mango and chopped macadamias; dried apricots, almonds, and cashews; dried cherries and almonds; raisins, almonds, and pecans. I'll also probably experiment with unsweetened shredded coconut in the near future, as I have about three cups of it in the pantry. You get the idea.

Here's to milestone birthdays and to springing forward with wonderful new traditions!

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