December 14, 2013

Homemade Granola

Granola is the perfect homemade gift for the holidays.  Make a large basic batch and sprinkle in your favorite ingredients.  Pack into mason jars, cover the lid with festive fabric, tie with twine and voila!

My classic base is both gluten-free and dairy-free.  Remember if you are planning on gifting granola to any gluten-free bellies out there, definitely purchase "certified gluten-free" oats.  Oats are naturally gluten-free, however they may be grown next to wheat fields and many times are harvested and processed with the same milling equipment as wheat, therefore contain cross-contaminants unless labeled GF.

If you opt to use the vanilla beans I promise you won't be sorry!  The best thing about vanilla beans besides their true flavor is that you get multiple uses out of this precious ingredient.  After you've split each pod open and de-seeded, pop into a jar of sugar for a vanilla kissed version, which you can use for any baking; I like to leave the pods in my sugar for months, but even after a week the sugar will be sufficiently scented.  If you are one to keep simple syrup on hand for desserts or cocktails, add the beans and let cure for a few days before using.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Victoria's Classic Granola
Makes about 5 cups without additions

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted + extra for pans
2/3 cup honey
2 vanilla beans, seeds only, optional
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

Favorite Additions:
1 1/2 cups favorite toasted nuts*
1 1/2 cups favorite toasted seeds*
1 cup unsweetened shredded toasted coconut*
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup crystallized ginger chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Lightly oil 2 rimmed baking sheets.
In a large bowl whisk together oil, honey and vanilla bean seeds.
Stir in the oatmeal and mix together until oats are completely coated with the oil mixture.
Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 baking sheets and spread out into a thin layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stir the mixture, rotate the pans (top to bottom) and bake for another 15 minutes, stir the mixture and if golden brown cool on cooling racks, if not to the color you prefer then bake until lightly golden brown.
*If you'd like to bake the nuts, seeds or coconut with the base, simply stir in after the base has baked for 15 minutes, this keeps everything from over baking.
After the oatmeal has cooled, stir in any of the dried fruits &/or chocolate.  
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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