Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Glorious Granola

Granola is glorious, and it makes some great holiday gifts!

This first started when I made some granola and protein bars for my Hubby and his men when they were out in the field training. Then I had the idea to just make some more granola and use it as holiday gifts! Its a little better than baking cookies or sending cookies or bars in a jar (those are awesome ideas though!) especially for the heath conscious, granola seemed like a good bet!

I made some protein bars and granola bites for my Hubby and I made regular loose granola for gifts. All three were very easy and the recipes, after adapted, don't call for crazy hard-to-find ingredients either. Score!

~Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bites~
Makes about 24 bites
2 c. dry rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. wheat germ*
1/4 c. ground flaxseed (by the oats in the store)
1/3 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. chopped peanuts
1/3 c. chocolate chips, chopped
1/2 c. natural peanut butter
1/4 c. honey + a bit more

Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a large bowl combine the oats, flax, wheat germ, salt, nuts and chocolate chips and stir to combine. Add peanut butter and mix with 2 spoons, coating as much as you can. You can do this with your hands so it creates more of a "dough". Add in honey slowly and mix to coat thoroughly. If the granola will not stick together, add in more honey, 1 tsp. at a time until it does. Be sure to really mix the granola together as best you can.
Spray a mini muffin tin** with non-stick spray. Using an ice cream scoop, cookie scoop, or tbsp., scoop balls of granola into the tins, making sure they stick together as best they can. Bake for 25 min., checking every 10 min. or so to make sure it is not burning. Remove from oven and let cool completely - this is a must to ensure the granola sticks together. When completely cool, gently twist or use a spoon to remove the granola from the tins.

*I may have used all wheat germ or all flaxseed. I can not remember. So, it would have been 1/2 c. of either wheat germ or flaxseed. Use whatever you have on hand.

**At the time I did not have a mini or regular muffin tin so I just used my cookie scoop and scooped out the granola onto a sprayed cookie sheet. I made sure they were really close together so that they kept their shape. It worked out well.

These were good, you could really taste the peanut butter and the chocolate chips. My type of granola if I am going to eat some! Hubby said they must have been good because they disappeared quickly.

~Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Bars~
(Adapted from Snack Girl)
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
2 c. rolled oats (no quick cooking)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
3 tbsp. prunes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9 in. x 12 in. pan* with cooking spray. Combine the flour, flaxseed, oats, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, add the maple syrup, pumpkin, and sugar. Mix the peanut butter with the cocoa powder in another bowl, then add to the pumpkin and syrup mixture. Stir to combine. Add the wet into the dry and stir until well combined. Stir in the chopped prunes and pepitas. Evenly press the granola batter into the prepared pan. This may require some work as the batter is on the dry side, you will have to press and distribute the batter evenly in the pan to ensure even cooking.
Bake the bars for 15 min. and no more! The will be done after the 15 min. Allow to cool, then cut into bars with a sharp knife.

*I used a glass loaf pan to make my bars and it worked nicely.

This were very chocolatly and you could taste the peanut butter as well. They were a little more filling than the granola bites for sure! They were also less crunchy. Very different, but good none-the-less. Again, Hubby said they were gone in a flash!

I did make one other recipe to send with Hubby, but they were not very photogenic and they were probably my least favorite of the bunch.

Now, onto the granola that I sent as gifts to the family! I made two different types...

~Maple Pumpkin Granola~
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. craisins
1/3 c. sliced almonds
1/3 c. pecans, chopped
1/3 c. macadamia nuts, chopped
3 c. rolled oats (not quick cooking)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl add the nuts, fruit, and oats. Sprinkle over cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix to combine. Pour maple syrup over the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 30 min. Remove from oven and break up the mixture with your hands. Allow to cool completely then place into sealed containers. Can be kept at room temp. or in the fridge. 

This granola was my favorite. I love me some fruit in my granola. I like anything sweet in my granola for that matter! The maple and the pumpkin flavors come out quite nicely.

~Nutty Vanilla Granola~
(From Noble Pig)
4 c. old fashioned oats (not instant)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix the oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, and oil and bring to a boil over med. heat. Remove from heat and slowly stir in vanilla. (not to quickly or it will burn) Pour the hot liquid over the oat mixture. Stir and toss until thoroughly mixed. 
Spread granola evenly on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 18-20 min. stirring occasionally  to ensure even baking. Really watch it carefully so it does not burn. Transfer granola to a large bowl and let it cool, stirring occasionally. Once cool, place in a sealed container. 

Again, another good granola. This one was Hubby's favorite so I made a little extra and kept it so that I could use it as a quick breakfast paired with some greek yogurt. Hubby is not a fan of dried fruit, so this one was right up his alley! It has a very nice flavor and the nuts give it wonderful crunch and texture.

The packaging....complete with a bow on top!
These two loose granola recipes were packed in plastic containers, labeled with cute labels, tied up, and shipped out to my family, Hubby's family, and Aunts and uncles as Christmas presents. I sure hope they enjoyed them as much as we did!


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