An easy and healthy breakfast or snack!
On Sunday, the 4-year-old boy from our backyard neighbor’s house bounded up our driveway and knocked energetically. In the middle of a tearful blog-traffic-breakdown (not one of my finer moments!), I asked my guy to open the door. Before he could even eke out a, “Hi!” our little neighbor spoke up.
“Is Amy there?”
“She can’t come to the door right now. Can I help—”
“I need Amy! Is Amy there?”
Standing 6 feet away in the kitchen and eavesdropping the entire time, I wiped away my waterworks and walked over to the door. Kneeling down to his level, I greeted him. “Hey Colin! What’s up?”
He shyly brought his hands to his mouth with a small giggle and replied, “We—uhh—we threw a ball over the fence.” Except little kids tend to talk extremely fast when excited, so it came out more like, “We—uh—wethrewaballoverthefence.” Adorable.
“Would you like us to toss it back over?”
“Yes please! Thanks you!”
“You’re welcome Colin. See you later!” I called as he dashed back down the driveway.
Three minutes later, I watched through the kitchen window as two tiny heads bounced back up to our front door. After waiting for the knock, I suppressed a smile and crouched down again.
Between giggles, Colin managed to get out, “We threw it over again!”
His 6-year-old sister chimed in. “It’ll be the last time, I promise!”
“It’s okay,” I replied. “As long as you’re having fun, I don’t mind!”
“Okay,” they chorused.
“See you soon!”
Classic little kids. So sweet!
Do you know what else is a sweet and classic combination? Cranberries and oranges. I tend to forget about it until the holidays when grocery stores start stocking bags of fresh cranberries, but my friend Sally jogged my memory a bit earlier this year with her moist quick bread. Instead of mimicking her and baking a loaf too, I chose granola as my canvas, which resulted in…
Cranberry Orange Pecan Granola.
That’s right! This granola packs quite a flavorful punch with its bright citrusy tang. Coupled with the tart chewy cranberries and soft earthy pecans, it’s bound to disappear entirely in a day or two. After mindlessly crunching through a few servings while working one afternoon, I packed away the rest to give to my dad at Thanksgiving so I’d stop eating it all. A few days later, he called to tell me how much he’d been enjoying it for breakfasts!
The base itself is fairly simple: just old-fashioned oats and rice krispies. Instant oats will not work for this recipe. With their heartier texture and earthy flavor, old-fashioned oats act as a more substantial backdrop for the granola and hold together better. Gluten-free oats should substitute well. The rice krispies provide extra crunch and bulk up the granola, helping create more clusters. I add them to all of my recipes! (See here, here, here, and here.)
The base for the liquid ingredients consists of oil, maple syrup, and orange juice. The OJ can be freshly squeezed or straight from the carton; both work equally well. To enhance the citrusy tang, I also added a teaspoon of orange zest. Don’t skip this—it really helps the fruit flavor pop!
I mixed in one more secret ingredient to the liquids: an egg white! The egg white boosts the amount of protein to keep you fuller longer. For a vegan version, skip the egg white and add another 2 tablespoons of OJ instead.
Many granola recipes require you to heat the liquid ingredients to form a thicker syrup. Not this one! Heating would cook the egg white, and nobody wants to mix scrambled eggs into their cereal. (Trust me, I did that by accident once while cooking oatmeal.)
When baking the granola, it’s important to stir every 10-15 minutes. If you wait any longer, the cereal closest to the pan’s edges browns rather quickly and threatens to burn. Break up the granola and stir it around with a spoon, but be gentle if you want bigger clusters!
Once cool, toss the dried cranberries and pecans into your granola. Use as much or as little as you’d like! I generally prefer more fruit than nuts in mine, but sometimes I omit both altogether. It’s how I justify sneaking another handful! (Or two… Or three…)
With how simple the granola was to make, I might bake a few batches as Christmas gifts for my guy’s big extended family. Presented in a jar with a cute little bow, they’re bound to be a hit!