Crunchtastic Granola!

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always end up lingering around the organic granola aisle, and shake my head when I read the price tag.  Really?  $7 for a small bag of chocolate granola?!  Knowing that I absolutely stink at rationing out my granola helpings (I swear those small bags are NOT meant to be 12 servings), I can’t justify buying a bag of granola at the store.  I just can’t!  I mean, it’s not like granola is baked with gold.  Well, sometimes companies claim their granola is ‘baked with love’, but today I’m feeling particularly cynical and call bullcrap on that.  In fact, I can bake granola with love– love for all things chocolate and peanut butter.  Yes.  I definitely can.

So I did.

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And it was delicious.  I made two different batches– one that had flavors of cinnamon and peanut butter, and the other that was more chocolate-heavy.

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And it only cost me maybe $7 to make at least 7 cups of granola.  Win.  I feel like such a grown-up making these very mindful economical decisions…. riiiight.  This is what I think to myself as I greedily pour more chocolate chips into my granola.

The next time you find yourself holding up a small bag of overpriced granola, I hope you consider making your own!  You can customize it and get super-creative with ingredients.  Why wouldn’t pretzels and honey-roasted peanuts be a delightful addition to granola?  Oh, we have leftover m & m’s?  Throw those in a batch (okay, but seriously- who has ‘leftover’ m & m’s??)!

Ingredients (adapted from “The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen” cookbook:

5 C old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT quick-oats!)

2 C unsweetened coconut flakes

1 1/2 C pecan pieces

1/2- 3/4 C dried fruit (I used golden raisins + dried cherries)

1/3 C canola oil

1/2 C packed brown sugar

3/4 C crunchy peanut butter (don’t be shy!)

3/4 C honey

3 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

For Chocolate granola, in addition to the previous ingredients, also use:

*2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa

* 3/4 C chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

2. Combine the oats, coconut, pecan, and dried fruit in a large bowl.

3. Combine the oil, brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa (if using) and chocolate chips (if using) in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, and stir until smooth-ish.

4. Pour the oil-sugar-peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture, fold in the wet ingredients until all the oats are covered.

5. Spread the granola onto the two baking sheets– you want a thin layer of granola covering each, since you’ll be taking out the baking sheets every 10 minutes to stir/’flip’ the granola.

6. Bake granola until golden-brown– about 30-40 minutes total.  Set the timer to go off every 10 minutes to pull the baking sheets out and STIR/FLIP the granola around on the baking sheets with a spatula so all the layers and nooks and crannies of the granola get nice and toasty-crunchy.

7. Cool granola in the baking sheets on a wire rack, then stir one last time.  Store up to 2 weeks… if they last that long!

Bonus tip:  If you’re thinking of giving some away to friends and family and coworkers… put some granola in wide-mouthed mason jars, and dress up the jars with some cute ribbon.  How adorbs (clearly I’ve been on Pinterest too long)!!!

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