Saturday, December 8, 2012

Homemade Granola and Granola Bites

Granola Bites

I like Granola, but I'm pretty particular about what's in it.  I don't like raisins in it but I do like pecans.  I also don't like those little puffed rice thingys that are in some granolas.  It's really hard to find a store-bought granola that I like that's priced well.  After much research and experimentation I found a basic recipe that I like.  Each time I make it I add different "extras" depending on what I have on hand.

The original recipe I found came from Hillbilly Housewife.  It's called Honey Granola. You can read her recipe here.  She has tons of other recipes too, including recipes using your homemade granola. 

I noticed when looking at the ingredients in the storebought granolas I like that they use Brown Rice Syrup, so I ordered some from Country Life Natural Foods.  I used it in my granola today and replaced most of the honey called for with the brown rice syrup. 

I also replaced the butter with Coconut Oil in my recipe today.  This is the first time I've ever bought it and have been using it in various recipes.  It's expensive, but supposedly healthier than other fats. 

So here is the recipe for the Granola I made today:

My Homemade Granola

3 Cups dry Oatmeal (I use quick)
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Syrup
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Maple Flavoring
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 Cup Pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (raw)

Measured the coconut oil in a glass measuring cup and melt in the microwave.  Add the brown rice syrup and flavorings to oil and mix well.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients then add the liquids; mix well.  Pour out onto a baking sheet (I use a large stoneware pan).  Cook at 350 deg. for about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to cool.

I noticed that the granola seemed to clump together more so with the brown rice syrup than it does with the honey, which I like.  It turned out delicious.

I usually put flax seeds in my granola, but somehow managed to forget it this time, even though it was sitting right on the counter.

I like to eat granola on top of plain Greek Yogurt.  It's one of my favorite breakfast foods.

I also like Granola Bars.  If you read the ingredient list on most of them, there's all kinds of stuff you can't pronounce and tons of sugar.  I like a chewy granola bar.  Stephanie found this recipe for No Bake Energy Bites which is very much like a chewy granola bar, but in a smaller bite size version (Since I found this recipe I see that they've added lots more combinations to the website!).  The basic recipe on that site uses ingredients that most people have on hand.  I tweaked it to utilize what I like and I like my recipe a lot.  Even my husband, who is wary of "natural" (i.e., "tree bark") likes these for a quick snack.  The original recipe calls for peanut butter.  I've made them with peanut butter and I like them, but I have a lot of sunflower seeds, so I use those instead.  Here's the recipe I made today:

Granola Bites

1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds*
1/2 cup toasted flax seeds

Process the toasted seeds in a food process until a fine meal forms. 

Combine seed meal with:

1 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup mini-carob chips*
2/3 cup Dried Cranberries*
1/3 Cup Brown Rice Syrup*
1 tsp. vanilla

* ingredients are from Country Life Natural Foods

Mix well.  Use a small scoop/melon baller to form balls.  Makes about 30 1" balls.  That sounds like a lot, but they go pretty quick - they're really good!

I mixed my ground seeds while they were still pretty hot from the toasting process so my carob chips melted, which I actually like a lot.  This way, the carob flavor is mixed throughout.

I've made variations of this recipe many times, changing it up depending on what I have on hand.  As long as you keep the wet/dry ratios about the same, you can use whatever you want.

If you make Granola Bites right after making Homemade Granola, you can just use the same bowl and utensils.  No need to dirty up anything else.  Plus they have a lot of ingredients in common, so it's all out on the counter anyway.

I could have toasted my seeds in my stoneware pan in the oven, but I'm notorious for leaving stuff on/in the stove and getting involved in other things and burning stuff.  So I like to toast nuts in the popcorn cooker.  It constantly stirs them so there are no scorched spots.

Homemade Granola Toasting in the Oven

Toasting Seeds

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Charm Square Twirly Skirt Pattern - Coming Soon!

Journey in her Charm Square Twirly Skirt

I do love Charm Squares!  I like the fact that I don't have to measure, cut or coordinate prints/colors.  I like the fact that I can get one or more cuts of each fabric in a collection without having to hunt it down, buy it separately and cut it myself.  Charm Squares are the perfect size for so many things, like table runners.  They go together so quickly.  I made a cute table runner for Liz last Christmas out of charm squares, with red sashing in between the rows of squares.  It was super fast and easy.  One pack had enough squares for two large or four small (like the one I made for Liz) table runners.

I found an adorable collection of Charm Squares called Wee Woodland by Moda that features cute woodland animals, flowers and alphabets in contemporary fall colors.  I bought two sets for about $9 each.  I knew I would make Journey something for fall out of them when I first saw them. 

In addition to being in love with Charm Squares I am in love with Patchwork.  [Throwback to the 70's perhaps??  No doubt.]  Last Easter I made a peasant style dress for Journey that had a patchwork skirt.  I had to hunt for the fabrics that coordinated, and cut, piece, etc.  A lot of work!  Charm Squares, while a little on the expensive side, are the answer.

For a fall outfit I knew I wanted to make a "twirly" skirt out of this Woodland collection.  I searched the world wide web but could not find a twirly skirt pattern that utilized charm squares.  What to do?  Create it myself.  I figured if I wanted such a pattern, there was bound to be someone else out there who also wanted it, so I created a pattern for it.

My Charm Square Twirly Skirt Pattern is a tiered skirt utilizing precut charm squares which are pieced together.  In addition to the skirt pattern I am including a pattern and instructions for creating a coordinating "bib" embellishment on a purchased t-shirt. 

I will have the pattern ready after Christmas.  Now, who is interested in testing it out for me??

Twirl Journey!