Banana/applesauce granola

Banana/applesauce granola

Homemade granola, mixed with yogurt, is a wonderful thing. It’s delicious, filling, and so easy to make. However, while many granola recipes are technically healthy, they’re not exactly light, due to the use of oil and sweeteners. I recently saw this recipe that used pureed banana, and saw an opportunity.

I decided to use applesauce as well, for additional moisture and sweetness. This recipe definitely tastes of banana, and (if you like banana), this is a good thing – almost like banana bread in granola form.

Feel free to use any combination of nuts and dried fruit for this! Pecans and dried cherries would be particularly lovely, I think. Also, this was a very wet mixture – 2 bananas might have been a bit too much, but the end result was still quite good.

Banana/applesauce granola

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 bananas, very ripe*
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used apricots)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a medium/large bowl. Set aside. In a separate container, puree the bananas, applesauce, and vanilla extract together until blended and smooth (I used my immersion blender).

Add the banana/applesauce mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine (the mixture will be thick). Spread the mixture into a rimmed baking sheet or casserole pan (preferably spritzed with cooking spray).

Bake the granola in 15 minutes increments, stirring after each, until it reaches the desired toastiness and texture. Stir in the chopped fruit for the last 10 minutes or so of baking.

* If you only have not-very-ripe bananas, you can roast them first and they’ll be perfect. Roast the whole banana(s), peels on and everything, on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, then remove and let cool. The peels will be completely blackened and the bananas will be very soft.

Birthday brunch 2010

Lemon blueberry bundt cake

As a preemptive birthday celebration (my actual birthday is the 18th), I threw myself a birthday brunch this past Saturday. With the invaluable help from my boyfriend and roommates, an amazing feast was put together and thoroughly enjoyed by all. And I do mean thoroughly – my good friend Curt, a bit of an amateur chef, had to go home and take a nap before going to work because he stuffed himself silly. I was quite proud of that.

Here’s the menu from Saturday:

Lemon-blueberry crumb bundt cake: One of the best things I’ve ever made. So so good. My roommate put together real whipping cream (that she whipped herself, no electric beaters involved), which was a perfect accomplice in the indulgent brunch dessert mayhem.

Asparagus frittata: Frittata in a bundt pan made with really good cheese! I neglected to include the melted cheese/scallion topping, but it was great nonetheless.

Caramelized bacon twists: I’ll leave it at that.

Cheese-scallion drop biscuits: I used cheddar instead of blue cheese. I snuck one of these before the guests arrived because the smell was so irresistible.

Make-ahead muffin melts: Easy, popular, and we had leftover filling to enjoy the next day.

“Overnight” cinnamon rolls: It was tough to really tell, but these seemed like the biggest hit of the party. People were practically fighting over the scraps.

Spinach-cheese strata: Wow yum oh my goodness so good.

Maple-olive oil granola: My all-time favorite granola.

Fresh pineapple poached in cinnamon syrup: Oddly, these were the least popular – not because the pineapple wasn’t tasty (because it was), but because people didn’t necessarily know what to do with it, perhaps.

Almost every dish was made the night before, or whipped up quickly in the morning. It took a little bit of planning and a whole lot of dish washing, but it was entirely worth it. We also had Dynamo donuts, fruit salad, various food items and drinks that people brought (thank you!!) and enough mimosas and Bloody Marys to sink a ship, or make a ship happily drunk, or however you want to describe it.

It was a really great party. Thanks again to everyone involved.

Almond-cranberry granola

Adapted (once again) from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. So tasty with plain yogurt.

Almond-cranberry granola

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4-1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I ground up 2-3 tablespoons of whole seeds in my coffee grinder)
1 cup whole or chopped almonds
4 tablespoons almond butter (I used the natural kind from Trader Joe’s)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 – 1 cup dried cranberries (I used unsweetened)

Mix together oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, and almonds in a big bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up the almond butter, oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar over medium-high heat until all melted together. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. Spread into a large baking sheet or glass pan coated in cooking spray (I used a glass pan – easier to stir and transport into tupperware afterward) and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until toasty and dry, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time (when there’s about 5 or so minutes left), stir in cranberries. Store in tightly lidded containers.

Granola as a new obsession

Granola

Granola gets a bad rap … because the stuff you buy at the store is full of oil and sweeteners and preservatives and sugar-crusted dried fruit. Even the organic/all natural kinds tend to have a lot of oil and sugar.

But when you make your own, the granola can have as much healthy and unhealthy stuff as you please. And either way, it will be delicious, cheap (especially if you buy from bulk bins), and will last you at least a week, if not two. I didn’t have the time to make granola at home this past Sunday night and craved it all day Monday.

The concoction I’m munching on right now (with plain organic yogurt) is “no fail granola” from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. The recipe provides a handful of suggestions of what to include with the standard rolled oats, flax seeds and wheat germ – I chose raw almonds, sunflower seeds and a mixture of unsweetened dried apples and cranberries. I also chose real maple syrup as my sweetener and substituted applesauce for the vegetable oil (adding less than a tablespoon of oil, since the mixture wasn’t quite wet enough).

The result is lightly sweet, satisfyingly crunchy and quite filling. For reference, I’ve pasted the recipe fromEverybody Likes Sandwiches below, but everyone should check out her various granola recipes, since they all look delicious.

“No Fail Granola”

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds

Plus 3 cups of any of the following as you choose (I chose almonds, sunflower seeds, and 1/2 cup each of cranberries and apples):

Walnuts
Almonds
Sunflower Seeds
Hazelnuts
Sesame Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Grated Coconut
Raisins
Dried Cranberries
Dried Cherries
Dried Apricots
Dried Apples

Mix all of the grains and nuts together and add spice (I used cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and mace, since I didn’t have cardamom):

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

In a large measuring cup, mix together the following:

1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup sweetener (honey, brown sugar, molasses, or maple syrup – I used maple syrup)

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well with a wooden spoon until everything is well coated.  Add a little bit of vegetable oil if necessary. Pour onto a cookie sheet or large rectangular pan coated with cooking spray and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so until mostly dry. Remove and cool, then store in tight lidded container(s).