Saturday, July 19, 2014

Homemade Granola

Ahoy! I'm in Atlanta working on a TV show right now - and more about that soon - but now that I'm living in a hotel away from my home in Los Angeles, I've been thinking more than ever about the perks of having a kitchen at your disposal.

Store-bought granola is so damn expensive and never all that tasty, so I've recently started making my own granola and giving it out as gifts. It's super easy and can totally be customized to whatever you happen to have in your cupboards. I based my granola loosely on a mashup of this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and this recipe from author Heidi Schulz

For those who've been thinking about making their own granola - do it! I'm not much of a baker or a cook, and I can't be bothered with time-consuming or difficult recipes, but this one was easy as pie and well worth it. All I knew was that I wanted yummy granola, and to use the large amounts of coconut flakes, coconut oil, and pumpkin seeds I had in the cupboard.

First, I threw all the ingredients (rolled oats, coconut flakes, almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried blueberries, dried apples, cinnamon, and salt) in a big bowl and mixed them up:

Then, in another bowl I beat egg whites (this is key to making it clumpy!) and mixed in grade B maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil before distributing it thoroughly in the dry mixture.

Then I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and pressed it into a big ol' donut shape, to ensure each section got toasty...

...and threw that in the oven for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees, 'til the edges started to get a little golden and crunchalicious.

The problem with homemade granola is that it doesn't cluster as well as store-bought granola, but check out these babies! The egg white trick really does seem to work!

Kept some for myself...

...and distributed the rest in repurposed jars. This is an old Bonne Maman preserves jar.

My first feeble attempt at packaging a granola gift...a big ol' nope!

My first batch went out to my twinsie actress/blogger friend, Lynn, of The Actor's Diet.

Then, I decided to man woman up and just buy some Ball mason jars at the new Orchard Hardware down the street...

...which made the whole gift packaging thing a lot cuter.

And off they went! I love giving unexpected homemade gifts to friends, especially something they can eat for breakfast.

Homemade Clustery Granola 
(A Mashup of Smitten Kitchen's Big Cluster Maple Granola & Heidi Schulz's Clumpy Granola)

1 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almond slivers & whole almonds
1/3 cup grade B maple syrup (or honey)
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup dried blueberries (or whatever you have on hand)
handful of dried apples (or whatever you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 300°. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites til frothy, then add in oil, egg whites, maple syrup, and vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix thoroughly, ensuring everything is well coated.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and split mixture evenly between the 2. Spread evenly and press down firmly into a thin donut-shaped single layer with a spatula (this prevents an uncooked middle).

Bake in the oven for roughly 45-55 minutes. When it is golden brown on the edges and dry to the touch, remove and allow to cool. Gently break up granola into whatever size clusters delight you.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, if it lasts that long. Serve alone or over yogurt with fruit. For me, one batch only lasted me about five days because I just wanted to eat granola, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.