A new year has begun, and there’s nothing like starting it off with a cold. I spent New Year’s Eve like a party animal with a box of tissues, a tube of Carmax, and some Advil decongestant. It was a wild, wild night; I was asleep by midnight.
In the days before New Year’s Eve, between cold medicine-induced fogs, I was prepping for a New Year’s Day brunch. For the last few years, I have invited over a group of friends to start the year off with a coma-inducing brunch. Little do they know that my true ulterior motives are to ruin any weight loss-related New Year’s resolutions.
The goal for hosting a New Year’s Day brunch, or any brunch for that matter, is to make everything make-ahead friendly. I mean, nobody wants to have to roll out of bed at 6 o’clock in the morning to be cooking frantically up until guests arrive. This is especially true in my case, considering that I was more likely than not going to be doped up on decongestants and cough suppressants. My guests were supposed to begin arriving at 11:30 in the morning and my goal was not have to be out of bed before 8:30 am. That morning, I rolled out of bed, doused myself with antibacterial hand sanitizer and moved into the kitchen to start throwing things into the oven.
One of my favorite things to make for a brunch is homemade granola. There’s nothing better than homemade granola. I confess to being a little bit of granola snob. Supermarket granola just doesn’t cut it for me sometimes; it’s either too sweet, too crunchy, too chewy and sometimes it’s just plain blah. A homemade granola has more depth of flavor, and with this recipe, you can make this granola your own.
To start off, you need 4 cups of rolled minute-ready oats. This is always the base for a granola.
You also need 1 cup of chopped dried fruit. Any dry fruit that you choose can work. I happened to have chosen dates. I love the sweetness of dried dates in a granola. It’s my favorite fruit to use in a granola – dry blueberries come second.
In a mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, dried fruit, 1 cup of shredded sweetened coconut and 2 cups of your choice of nuts. You can even mix up the nuts like I did here, just as long as it totals 2 cups of chopped nuts.
Also add your spices, brown sugar and salt. For this recipe, I decided to use my favorite combination of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, but you can use any spices that you like. For example, you could use cardamom, cloves or anise seed if you like a hint of licorice. Feel free to experiment and make it your own.
Mix the dry ingredients together on low until well combined
In a separate bowl, whisk together honey, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until emulsified.
With the mixer set on low, slowly drizzle the honey mixture in with the dry ingredients until well-combined. If you do not have a mixer, no worries. Just slowly add honey mixture to dry ingredients periodically, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
It should look like a delicious, sticky heap of granola goodness.
Turn the granola mixture out onto a heavily-sprayed rimmed sheet pan. Spread granola out evenly all the way to the edges using a stiff metal spatula. You can also press the granola mixture into the rimmed baking sheet by placing a second rimmed baking sheet on top of the one holding the granola and pressing down firmly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. If using a dark sheet pan, you may need less time, around 20 to 25 minutes. If you want a chunky granola, don’t stir; if you like a loose granola, stir twice while baking.
Make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook. Trust me, I learned the hard way. I got distracted by watching old Star Trek episodes. What can I say?
Remove the granola from the oven and let cool completely in pan. Break up into pieces and store in airtight container. Enjoy at your leisure, with yogurt, berries or by the fistful in front of the TV while watching Star Trek reruns. No judging.
A little of this granola will go a long way. I just have maybe about 1/4 of a cup with some yogurt in the morning and I’m happy.
It’s really the best quick breakfast that you could have. I mean, it’s right there sitting in a jar ready to eat. Throw it into a Ziploc bag and have it as a snack – the possibilities are endless. Sometimes, I like to have it like cereal in a bowl of cold milk.
This recipe makes a generous amount, about 6 cups total, which could be anywhere around 24 servings. That’s if you refraining from eating it by the fistful over the kitchen sink, because we all know that if you eat anything over the kitchen sink, it doesn’t count.
Like I said, I had evil, ulterior motives to sabotage my friends’ New Year’s resolutions. But because I felt a little guilty, I did provide them with a healthy option of some homemade granola. Although most of them went for the bacon.
With this simple recipe, you can make a plethora of different types of granola. You can use any array of nuts, dry fruit and spices. The possibilities are endless. The only thing that needs to stay constant are the ratios and the wet ingredients.
I wish you all the best in this New Year and success with your New Year’s resolutions.