Today, I’m Making…

… Homemade Granola, using this recipe, as usual. For this batch, I threw in some additional ingredients, including flax seed, wheat germ, brown sugar, dried apricots and dried cranberries, making it more filling and quite tasty.

… Homemade Caramels, using this recipe. This was my first try making caramels, so we’ll see how they turn out.

It’s been fun to try some experiments on a Friday afternoon!

Another Favorite – Granola

Winter is now officially here to stay for awhile. We got another six inches of snow, so our world looks like a wonderland again.

I have to wait four more months for the outdoor farmers market to start up again. That means I have to make my own granola. I used my favorite recipe by Barefoot Contessa, which I love so much that I wouldn’t change a single thing. I included some treasured coconut from my friend Dorrie, who lives on the most beautiful farm in northern California. Check out her virtual tour here for lovely pictures!

Since I live in Madison, it’s a requirement that I eat granola, right? LOL. Honestly, I adore granola, so even though this batch looks big, it probably won’t last long in my house. I sprinkle it on my morning cereal, and then sneak another handful. I snack on it before bedtime too.

After this batch is consumed, I am going to try these homemade granola bars.

But first, we are going to visit my brother in Minneapolis this weekend. Besides seeing my bro, I am looking forward to going to the Mall of America!

Homemade from My Kitchen

I spent Saturday morning making yummy things in my kitchen.  I adore strawberries, so I stocked up on them over the summer, freezing them for a winter smoothie or some other concoction.  I decided to make this strawberry jam adapted from a recipe in Barefoot Contessa’s new Back to Basics cookbook, which I got for Christmas.

granola and jam from Ina's new book

Easy Strawberry Jam

3 pints fresh strawberries

3 cups sugar

2 T. Grand Mariner or other orange-flavored liqueur

½ Granny Smith, peeled, cored, small diced

½ cup blueberries

Rinse strawberries. Drain & hull. Cut large ones in half. Place in kettle & toss with sugar and liqueur.  Bring to boil, stirring. Add apple & blueberries and continue boiling until mixture reaches 220 degrees with candy thermometer, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in canning jars for longer term storage.

homemade jam

I changed a couple things in that recipe.  I only had 1-1/2 pints of strawberries in the freezer, so I reduced the amount of sugar.  I didn’t have the liqueur so I used brandy instead, which believe it or not, turned out quite tasty.  I also used the entire apple because I didn’t read the directions closely – turned out just fine.

pan of granola

I have been wanting to make granola for awhile too, since my stash of my favorite organic granola from the last outdoor farmers market in November is gone now. 

jar of granola

Cherry, Almond and Cinnamon Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

2 cups sliced almonds

1-1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped

½ cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup good honey

2 tsps. Ground cinnamon

Reheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, almonds and cherries together in a large bowl.  Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

Again, I changed a couple things in this recipe.  I’m not a big fan of coconut so I left that out, and I had dried craisins in the house so I used those instead of the dried cherries.   I didn’t have enough of the almonds to I added chopped pecans to get to the 2 cups.  While the granola was baking, I set the timer for every ten minutes so I wouldn’t forget to stir it to keep it from sticking to the pan.  I use the timer a lot in the the kitchen because I am usually doing something else at the same time as cooking or baking, and because I get easily distracted and forget what I was originally doing!

Next I would love to design a cute label for these jars because I will definitely make these again, maybe even give them as gifts.  I don’t have Illustrator yet and my drawing is still in the very beginning stages but definitely making progress.