Feelin' a little nutty?

Why not make some granola? No seriously, I mean it. Make some warm, cinnamony, crunchy-and-chewy-all-at-the-same-time granola. Sprinkle that on top of some thick Greek yogurt (my current obsession) or get crazy and put some on top of some apple slices. Or, if you really want to let your hair down, put some wax paper on top of your fresh granola and then put some heavy books or bricks (if you happen to have those lying around) on top of the wax paper and let that sit for a couple of hours, cut it into bars and you've got yourself some chewy homemade granola bars. Who knew granola could be so crazy fun and more importantly, so super easy to make?

Having a lot of left over "angry" soup (read yesterday's post if this statement leaves you confused) I really didn't have the need to make dinner but couldn't bear the thought of leaving my kitchen lights off for the night. Enter homemade granola. It is so easy to make (total kitchen time is a whopping 15 minutes or so) that once you try this recipe, you might find it really hard to go back to that store bought prepackaged stuff. And, like most of my recipes, the options for switching things up are endless, finding it impossible get bored with. Below is my basic recipe. I suggest adding in a couple varieties of nuts and seeds (tonight I used pepitas, which are a Mexican pumpkin seed and flax seeds) and then incorporate dried fruit (I used dried bing cherries). Take a trip to your local Trader Joe's or Whole Foods for an endless selection of dried fruits and nuts. I have also made this with almonds, flax seeds and cranberries, or dried mixed berries, sunflower seeds and Spanish almonds (think: a mix between a macadamia nut and an almond). You could also do coconut, dried pineapple and macadamia nut; or apple, raisin and cashew...there really is no limit to what you can throw in here. It's a good thing that this stuff is so easy to make because it disappears fast. (In fact, as I write this, I keep finding myself making excuses to go to my kitchen to sneak some more..)

Granola - 2 cups oats (I like Quaker the best)
~1-2 c 3/4 c. wheat germ
- A big handful or two of nuts
- A big handful of seeds (I like flax the best, they give it a nice subtle crunch)
- A big handful or two of dried fruit
- 2 tbs butter
- 2/3 c. brown sugar
- A little less than 1/2 a c. of honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- A splash of juice (optional, but I like to throw in a splash of pomegranate juice. Helps bring out the fruit flavor)
- A couple pinches of sea salt

In a wax paper lined baking sheet, toast the oats in the oven at 400, making sure to turn every couple of minutes so that they don't burn. Meanwhile, on the stove, combine butter, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, salt, cinnamon and juice. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently so that the bottom doesn't burn. Once the oatmeal starts to brown a little, add the nuts, wheat germ, and seeds and put the mixture back into the oven for a couple of minutes. After the mixture has toasted a little, (keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn) add the dried fruit and put aside.

When the brown sugar/butter mixture starts to get a little bubbly and is thoroughly combined, pour over the oatmeal mixture. Working quickly stir the brown sugar/butter mixture with the oatmeal and thoroughly combine. The granola should be a mass of warm sticky yumminess by this point. Resist the urge to try it- It's really hot!

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