Super Simple Not-Too-Sweet Granola

Super Simple Not-Too-Sweet Granola

http://thelivefitgirls.com/2014/05/super-simple-granola/

This granola has become a staple at my house, and is in fact super simple to make. It’s nice because you can easily customize it to the sweetness level you prefer, and level it up with whatever nuts or berries or other add-ins you enjoy.

My fiance quit eating sugar last year, and as a result, almost all breakfast cereals taste too sweet to him now. So we’ve been on a quest for granola that holds together, is crunchy, and doesn’t turn out too dry or too mushy, without being overly sweet. It’s trickier than you might think; in most recipes, sugar or honey or syrup or molasses is responsible for the granola’s crunch and stick-together-ness. There is honey in this recipe as well, but I’ve found that you can decrease the amount of honey and increase the coconut oil, and still end up with granola that has good body. (Is “body” a term that applies to granola? I’m not sure.) But the texture is what you’d expect from granola, and it keeps well without losing much of its crunch.

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The recipe as written asks you to toast your oats and almonds together; I prefer to do these as separate steps. I’ve learned the hard way that different nuts have different toasting times, and they can go from perfectly toasted to a burned mess in the blink of an eye. I usually add two or three different nuts to this granola (pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds are our favorites), and you really do have to keep an eye on them and pull them out the moment they’re done. Here’s a quick primer on different ways to toast nuts:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/3-ways-to-toast-nuts/

It’s pretty simple though; just spread out your nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and toast in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. When they’ve darkened by a couple of shades and you can smell the toasted nut aroma, they’re done.

You can toast the nuts first, or wait and do it while the granola is cooling.  To make the granola, I start with oats and unsweetened coconut:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

I roast these dry ingredients at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Then I pull them out and drizzle them with the wet ingredient mixture:

  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

This is half the honey called for in the original recipe; the missing honey is replaced with more coconut oil. We’re still experimenting with other binders to keep the granola together: mashed bananas, pumpkin, and peanut butter are all on the list to try (although probably not all in the same batch).

Anyway, just drizzle the wet mixture onto the roasted oats, stir to combine evenly, and then pop it back into your oven and turn it off. The granola will sit in the warm oven for 5-10 minutes to finish toasting. Pull it out and let it cool completely, then mix in your nuts, raisins, or other additions.  I usually add raisins and dried cranberries.

We store this on the counter in an airtight container, and it keeps for about two weeks, which is about how long it takes us to go through a batch. We love it with yogurt and berries; you can also sprinkle it onto a smoothie bowl, or just eat it with milk.

Enjoy customizing your own super simple homemade granola!

Deliciousness score: 8
Easiness score: 9

0 granola rating

Granola, Waffles, and Watermelon Slushies

Hi folks.  This week is an off week; I’m up to my ears in leftovers and am taking a break from trying new recipes (at least for dinner).  So no shopping list this week, but I’m going to share some of my favorite tried & true breakfast recipes with you, and also a brand new watermelon slushie that’s perfect for hot summer evenings.

I’ll link the two breakfast recipes here, so if you want to try them you can try to have this stuff on hand:


Recipes

Brussels Waffles from The Hungry Belgian

Super Simple Granola from Live Fit Girls


Both of these are amazing breakfasts that I’ve been making for a while and keep coming back to.  The granola is a staple for weekdays; you can make a big batch on the weekend, it keeps well for a long time, and it’s fantastic with yogurt and berries.  It’s not super-sweet, and you can switch it up with a lot of different add-ins; I’ll share more about my modifications later in the week.  And the Brussels waffles are restaurant-quality amazing.  My fiance and I started our search for the perfect Brussels waffle recipe after a chance trip to Nero’s in Vancouver, BC, where we had waffles that completely blew our minds.  We think these ones are pretty close; they take a little time and are more of a weekend brunch endeavor, but definitely worth the effort.

And for the watermelon slushie, you’ll need:

  • Fresh watermelon
  • Lemons (2-3)
  • Honey
  • Mint (optional)

As well as a blender or food processor that can chop ice.  Super simple; I’ve been drinking a lot of it while sitting outside now that our weather has finally warmed up.

Hope this sounds exciting; back with a regular menu next week.

Buttermilk Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Curd

Buttermilk Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Curd

http://www.goodlifeeats.com/buttermilk-poppy-seed-citrus-scones/
http://www.goodlifeeats.com/citrus-curd-three-ways/

You can’t read cooking blogs for very long without running into lemon curd. Usually it appears in a beautiful sunny soft-focus photo, in a little jar, possibly with a gingham fabric cover, or possibly open, with an adorable tiny spoon ready to dollop it onto a fresh-baked scone. I have to admit that ever since I saw my first photo of lemon curd, I was entranced. What is this magical substance, which seems to glow with its own light? People rave about it with something between reverence and fanaticism; if Pinterest is to be believed, every adult kitchen has a bowl of lemons on standby at all times, ready to whip up a few jars of curd at a moment’s notice. What the hell is curd, anyway? I went my entire life without ever hearing about it, and suddenly it was everywhere. In my 20’s, as I was just beginning to be more serious about cooking for myself regularly and was still not quite sure how to adult, I wanted to be one of these people for whom a quick batch of lemon curd was a casual, everyday thing. For whatever reason, in my mind it became more than just a condiment; it represented an elusive stability, preparedness, and self-sufficiency, which I was not sure I would ever achieve.

Now, I’m sure that at any time I wanted over the last ten years, I could have just gone ahead and made some lemon curd. There was absolutely no reason not to. It takes ten minutes and five ingredients. But somehow, the moment never seemed right.

So lemon curd was just on the back burner for me for a long time, occasionally popping up on Pinterest or in blogs, reminding me that it existed, was around, would be there when I was ready. And over the last couple of weeks, as the chaos has begun to calm down from our cross-continent move, as my fiancé and I start to feel settled in our house, as the summer (finally!) begins to arrive and we enjoy the warm breeze and birdsong through our open windows, as I start to feel like I’m at home in the right place with the right person and the right job and can finally, kind of, relax… I started to think, hey, lemon curd. Lemon curd sounds pretty good right about now. Maybe now’s the time.

I had this buttermilk scone recipe open in a tab in my browser for a couple of weeks, along with the lemon curd recipe, waiting to think of something else I could make to use up the rest of the buttermilk. Then the other day Dusty suggested that we should make our favorite baked onion rings recipe, which calls for a full quart of buttermilk, and I thought, yes! It’s go time. Let’s do this.

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Now, I’ve had plenty of experiences that seemed a lot better in my head than they were in real life. Sometimes (most times?) the things you’ve built up in your imagination turn out to be a little duller or stranger or less satisfying than you expected. This is just a natural consequence of trying new things, and the lemon curd could easily have fallen into this category, and I’m sure the sun would have gone on rising and setting and I would have woken up to try another recipe another day.

But it didn’t.

It was amazing.

It was everything I wanted it to be.

It’s nice when that happens, isn’t it? I think it’s safe to say that expectation vs. reality, especially with regard to things discovered on Pinterest, is a bit of a crapshoot. But the lemon curd 100% delivered. The lemon curd + buttermilk scone combo, in fact, is basically unbeatable. As I took my first bite, all the rumors were confirmed; my mind was blown. It was like biting into a little piece of sunshine. Bright, tangy, and just sweet enough; a taste of concentrated summer.

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As I was making it, I was seriously skeptical. I hadn’t taken a super close look at the ingredients list before (or if I had I’d forgotten), and I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. It’s basically all egg yolks and butter. Which, on the one hand, didn’t seem like a bad start; those are both ingredients in lots of delicious things. But they seemed like a weird combination for a standalone condiment. I need not have worried; they came together easily into smooth, delicious lemony goodness.

Note: if you made baked onion rings earlier in the week and saved the egg yolks, now is the time to use them.

I did make some modifications to reduce the amounts:

– I put in less than 1/2 cup of sugar, instead of 1 to 1 1/2 cups as written, because my fiancé and I both tend to like things on the less-sweet side. This also let the lemon flavor  shine through.
– I used “only” 6 egg yolks and 8 tbsp (1 stick) of butter, mostly because I felt like I was going to end up with an insane amount of this stuff otherwise.

I later discovered that another favorite food blogger has a similar recipe with more sensible amounts for a small household:

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/03/04/how-to-make-lemon-curd/

I will likely use this recipe going forward. The principles are pretty much the same. The key is cooking on low heat, and whisking constantly, to avoid overcooking your egg yolks. I was a little bit anxious about this, but it was not that hard and turned out totally fine.

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I’ve been so focused on the lemon curd that I’ve barely mentioned the scones, which were amazing in their own right. Relatively quick to put together, with a great slightly-flaky texture and just a hint of citrus. I’m always nervous about doughs that require you to cut the butter into the flour, partly because my pastry cutter is horrible and frustrates me every time I use it, and partially because I’m never sure if or when I’ve crossed the line into overworking the dough. You need small pieces of intact butter to melt in the oven and create the flaky layers, so stirring or kneading too much will work in all the butter chunks and you won’t get that flaking; but underwork it, and the dough doesn’t stick together, and also you get big weird butter pools. Luckily, this dough must have been pretty forgiving. I actually remembered the egg wash (a thing I tend to forget at the last minute), and baked these for the full 25 minutes at 350 degrees, and they turned out great.

All in all, I couldn’t be more delighted. This is a breakfast that does take a little time and planning, but it’s hearty, festive, and totally soul-satisfying. Definitely worth the time. And I will be incorporating lemon curd into a lot more of my baking from now on.

Deliciousness score: 10/10
Easiness score: 8/10

5.0 rating