Monday, January 21, 2013

I've officially gone granola!!!

I don't know about you guys, but here in the Caliente household we love, Love, LOVE granola. We love to eat it by itself or as cereal or with some fruit and Greek yogurt. We also LOVE Greek yogurt. We love granola and Greek yogurt so much so that we were spending too much of our grocery money on it. Luckily, this summer, my favorite blogger Jillee posted a recipe for homemade Greek yogurt. I tried it and I LOVE it. I can make a whole gallon of plain Greek yogurt that costs less than a 24 oz container of my preferred brand. So from that point on we were making our own yogurt, but that caused us to eat MORE granola. I played around with the idea of making granola, but I thought it would probably be too much work, so I put it off until finally, about a week ago, I was bored and thought I would just look around on the net and see what recipes I could find. I was floored at how simple it really is to make and I had all of the ingredients right here
in my house!!!! Well, I had to give it a try and we loved it even more than the stuff we were shelling out our hard earned dollars for. My family loves it too! They ate the whole first batch that same day. The second batch I made was a double batch and they ate that in a 24 hour period (I might've helped a bit too). Anyhow, today I am going to share my recipes with you. I will start with the yogurt. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the process, but it's pretty straightforward. If you absolutely must have pictures you should refer back to Jillee's post here. This recipe is fantastic because you can make it in the crockpot and if your crockpot has a meat thermometer it requires no supervision.

What you will need:

A 6 qt crockpot
1 gallon of milk (I use whole milk, but I am pretty sure it will work with anything down to skim)
3 cups powdered milk
6 oz. plain Greek yogurt

Pour the milk into the crockpot and whisk in the powdered milk and cook until it reaches aprox. 180 degrees. It takes a while so I always cook it on high. I just put my meat thermometer in the crockpot and set it to cook to that temp. When it reaches 180 take the lid off, turn off the crock and let it cool to about 100 - 115 degrees. This may take a couple of hours, but you don't want it to get cooler than 95 degrees or it won't culture right. When it has reached the 100 to 115 degree range dip out about a cup, whisk the yogurt into it and add it back to crock and mix well. At this point you can either pour it into the containers you are going to store it in or leave it in the crock. I pour it into 8 cup Tupperware dishes and put it in the oven with no lid. You will need to leave it there for about 10 - 12 hours with the oven light on. I usually do this part overnight. No Peeking! You don't want to let any of the heat out. This method worked perfect for me every time while the outside temperature was warm. But the last time I made it, while it was cold outside, the yogurt didn't get as thick, so I would suggest preheating the oven to a low temperature, turning it off and then leaving the yogurt in there overnight with the light on. I am going to try it that way next week and will post an update about whether or not that solves the problem. After you take it out of the oven you will want to chill it for a couple of hours before you eat it. We love to use our Greek yogurt in smoothies, mix some of my homemade jam in it, or simply add a little honey and granola. It's yummy and extremely good for your digestive system.

Now on to Granola!!! I'm not posting a link to a recipe because I totally made this up based on several different recipes. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

You will need:

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (or use sucanat as a healthier option)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp cinnamon (or less if you're not a fan)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil melted
1 tsp vanilla

Mix oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon & almonds in a large bowl.

 Mix honey, coconut oil and vanilla in a smaller bowl. 

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir.

Stir it some more, until everything is well incorporated.

Spread the mixture into a greased baking pan and bake at 300 degrees. The longer it is baked the crunchier it will be. I like my granola crunchy so I bake it for about 30 minutes. If you like chewy granola go for about 20 - 25 minutes. Take it out of the oven and stir it then let it cool completely. It will be chewy when you first take it out of the oven, but it hardens as it cools. When it is completely cool put it in an airtight container and use it within 10 days, if you can keep it that long. BTW, this recipe is very versatile, if you are the type of person who likes dried fruit (blech!) you can add that in after it cools. My mom likes to add Craisins to her granola. You can also experiment with the nuts, try walnuts or hazelnuts. If the nuts are raw add them in before cooking or if you use roasted nuts add them at the end. You can also use other whole grains in place of the oats. Just have fun with it.

Look how pretty and yummy it is! Go mix that with some berries in your crockpot greek yogurt.

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