Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fruit & Nut Granola

I love having granola for breakfast!  I remember always wanting to have some granola whenever we had it in the house as a kid, it seemed like the kind of food grown ups ate, sort of like Grape Nuts only way better! The biggest down fall to granola is the really yummy stuff is sort of expensive, especially if it has lots of fruit and nuts, just the way I like it!  That's fine though, they can keep their expensive granola because this stuff is so simple to make at home! It takes almost no time and the joys of making it yourself is you know exactly what is going into it and you can customize your ingredients depending on your tastes!  Like I said, I love mine with lots of fruit and toasted nuts so I tend to use quite a bit of them in my recipe.  Feel free to adjust this to your tastes and try out different ingredients like coconut and various seeds, nuts and fruits.

In a medium bowl combine your oats and sunflower seeds.

Roughly chop your pecans and almonds and 

add to the oats.  Lightly sprinkle on sea salt if using.

Mix well to combine.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the honey, oil and vanilla.

Stir until completely combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the oat mixture.

Stir until evenly coated.

Spread onto a silicone line baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 300 F.

Lightly mix in dried fruit.  Bake another 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before removing for clumpier granola, mix well for smaller, smooth granola.

Scoop into jars or air tight bags to store.

Fruit & Nut Granola
Makes 3-4 cups

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans
sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used raisins and cranberries)

Start by preheating the oven to 300 F.

In a medium mixing bowl, add in the oats and sunflower seeds.  Roughly chop the pecans and almonds and then add to the oat mixture. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt if you are using unsalted nuts for a little bit of dimension in flavor. Stir well to combine.  In a smaller bowl, stir together the honey, oil and vanilla until well mixed.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir well until evenly coated.  Spread the mixture out on a silicone mat lined baking sheet or lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the granola and lightly mix in the dried fruit.  Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  This allows the fruit to get a little crispy without drying out all the way or burning.  Keep and eye on your granola at this point because it can quickly go from deliciously toasty and crunchy to burnt!  If you want a chunkier granola, which is what I prefer, allow it to cool completely before removing form the sheet to store.  If you would like a smaller, smoother granola, mix the granola now to break up the clumps.  Store at room temperature for up to a week or two.  It will keep a bit longer in the fridge, up to three weeks is about as long as I've been able to keep the stuff around!  It works great as breakfast over yogurt or with milk or as an afternoon snack! Who knows, I might take a jar to keep in my desk...Enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

French Toast Bread Pudding

Good morning!  I just love starting Sundays with a freshly made warm breakfast!  There is just something about sitting down with the family and having a yummy meal together that just makes my day.  Maybe it is because it is the last day of the weekend and I always start Sundays hoping that I will just be able to sit back and relax, and if the season is right end it with a football game!  It rarely works out that way, especially during the school year, but one can always hope!

This morning we started our day of with French Toast Bread Pudding!  I love this recipe because it is quick to throw together and bake the next morning and because it is a great way to use up old bread, particularly if you made it yourself and cannot bare the thought of throwing it away when it starts to go stale!  For this morning's bread pudding we used up the leftover Choereg bread we made for a Girl Scout event last week and it worked out great.  Since Choereg is sweet, it lends itself to being made into something like this.  You can of course use any bread that you would like in the recipe, I think an egg bread tends to work best but anything you have on hand will do!  Also, you will notice that I made a fairly small bread pudding.  Since my husband doesn't eat sweets and it is going to be just my daughter and I eating this, I halved the recipe that I used.  Please fell free to double it and use a 9"x13" pan instead!

Start by choosing your bread, anything you have on hand.

Gather the rest of your ingredients.

Cut or rip your bread and add to your baking dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together your eggs, milk, 

vanilla, sugar

and cinnamon!

Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.

Be sure that every piece of bread gets coated, using your hands if necessary.

Cover with foil

and place in the refrigerator to sit overnight.

In the morning, loosely chop your pecans

and sprinkle over top of the bread pudding.

Top with a drizzle of maple syrup,

recover with the foil and bake as directed below.

Top with an additional drizzle of maple syrup and dust with powdered sugar!

French Toast Bread Pudding
recipe adapted from
recipe as written below serves 4-6

6-8 ounces of bread, any kind will do
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup sugar (may be cut if you use a sweeter bread)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
drizzle of maple syrup
powdered sugar

Start by greasing a baking pan big enough to hold your bread pudding.  Next, rip or cut the bread into 3/4-1" pieces.  (I prefer mine cut because it looks prettier!)  Place the bread pieces in the baking dish and then in a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread pieces, being sure to make sure all the bread is coated.  You may need to use your fingers to turn over pieces of bread in the egg mixture or press it down until it is well coated.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator to soak overnight.  In the morning, lift the aluminium foil and sprinkle on the pecans and drizzle on some maple syrup.  Turn the oven on to 350 F and place the bread pudding into the oven with aluminum foil still on.  Let cook for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of your bread pudding.  When the timer goes off, remove the foil and let cook another 20-30 minutes until the bread is hot, puffy and golden brown.  Scoop onto plates and top with additional syrup and dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!