Granola, Two Ways - Joanna Hart

     Those who know me well know my deep passion for cereal...granola, in particular.  Cereal is my breakfast food of choice every day and I've had many different kinds over the years, but in the past few months, I realized that I just prefer making it myself.  It's one of those foods you can play around with and add different fruits and nuts each time you make it.  Thus, I have two granola recipes for you that have become staples in my house.  The first is a Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Granola, the second is a Cinnamon Coconut Granola with Dried Fruit.  The granola I make stays pretty soft, which I like, but if you prefer it crispier, just bake it a little longer.  Both recipes make HUGE batches so you'll be set for a week or two, or you can easily scale them down.  Enjoy these and be creative--use whatever nuts and dried fruit you have on hand.  Let me know if you come up with any other amazing combinations!

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Granola
(makes about 20 servings or more)

8 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup honey soy nuts (if you can find them)

1 cup blanched peanuts

1 1/2 cups wheat germ (i sometimes use flax seed instead)

1 1/2 cups oat bran

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 to 2 cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, wheat germ, and oat bran together.

In a small microwaveable bowl, combine syrup, peanut butter and vanilla.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then stir and microwave for an additional 20 seconds, or until mixture is smooth and pourable. 

Pour syrup mixture over dry ingredients and mix well until oats are coated.  (Sometimes I add a bit more syrup if it's too dry..)

Spread granola evenly on the two baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes, stirring the mixture halfway through baking time.  Bake longer for a crispier texture.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a large container and add raisins and chocolate chips.  The chocolate will melt a bit, making large granola chunks, which is exactly what you want!  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Coconut Granola with Dried Fruit
(makes about 20+ servings)

8 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup chopped or sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups wheat germ or flax seed meal

1 1/2 cups oat bran

1 cup honey soy nuts (optional)

1 cup flaked coconut

4 to 5 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup almond butter (or you can use more syrup instead)

1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract if you prefer)

1 package Craisins

1 package tropical dried fruit (i used chopped mango)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix oats, wheat germ, oat bran, nuts, coconut together.  Add cinnamon.  (Sounds like a lot of cinnamon, but it's REALLY good.  I add at least 4 teaspoons and sometimes even 6 if I want it strong.)

In a microwaveable bowl, combine syrup, honey, almond butter, and almond extract and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir, then microwave for 20 more seconds until it's mixed well and pourable.

Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir well to coat.  Add more syrup if necessary.  Spread granola across two baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking time.

Remove pans from oven, let granola cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a large container and mix in dried fruit.  Enjoy!

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