Easy Homemade Granola

We’ve all done it, keep meaning to make something homemade to save money but never getting around to it.  Then thinking about it all over again as you scoop the expensive stuff into a bag at the shop.  My husband enjoys having granola on his yoghurt in the mornings.  For at least a year I’ve been meaning to give it a try but something always distracted me.

The other week https://frugalhausfrau.com posted about making granola.  She made it look so easy and delicious I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer!  And quite frankly, with two teenagers in the house, any way I can save on the food bill is a good thing.

My husband loves raisins/sultanas and currants so I thought I would keep it simple with the addition of almonds.

Homemade granola 1 2018

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

In a bowl add a cup of oats, a handful of almonds (chopped), a pinch of salt, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground nutmeg.  Mix well.

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Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add this and a teaspoon of vanilla to the bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Taste to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

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Spread out evenly on parchment paper over a baking sheet.  Bake 30-40 minutes.  This is a wide range because you don’t want to bring out a burnt taste to the granola and every oven is different.  Stir the granola twice during the baking.  Once it’s a light golden colour it should be done.

Homemade granola 4 2018

Once it’s baked, let it cool before adding the raisins/sultanas and currants.  I added a healthy handful of each.  If you find the raisins are on the sweet side you can back off on the sugar to keep it balanced.

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I enjoyed it over yoghurt but this is great as an on the go snack or over ice cream.  As we ended up with nearly 3 cups of mixed granola store it in an airtight container.  This is so easy and the variations are endless, there isn’t any reason to buy it anymore!

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Snow Delay and Cranberry Raisin Sauce with Port Wine

Ah the best laid plans.  My favourite holiday, Thanksgiving, is tomorrow but Mother Nature has different plans for us.  Because we have family coming from different states we decided, to be safe, to have Thanksgiving on Friday after the storm has passed through and the roads are clear.

It’s our first proper snow storm of the season, I think the most we’ve had is a dusting, and we are looking at 8-12 inches when it’s all finished.  Problem is, despite most of us living here for years, a lot of people suddenly act like they have never seen a snow flake and don’t know how to drive in it!  So I am glad to be tucked away at home for the rest of the day.

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It is a very pretty storm with all the trees and shrubs outlined in snow.  Hopefully I’ll have a chance tomorrow to take some pictures.

Just because there is a snow delay doesn’t mean I don’t have a load of food prep ahead of me so I decided to make the cranberry sauce today.  I got my inspiration from Chef Mimi and her Cran-Cherry Chutsauce.  A fun name, isn’t it?  What I loved about it was that it had port wine in it.  Ooh, I thought, that’s a lovely idea.

My version is with raisins and a Late Bottled Vintage port.  This took less than 15 minutes to make and homemade is so much better than the canned sauce.

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In a small saucepan I added about 1 1/2 cup of whole cranberries and 1/3 of a cup of the port to start and brought that to a simmer.  Chop a quarter of a red onion.  Make sure the onion is finely chopped for this.

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Add 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup of seedless raisins.  I added more than that forgetting the raisins will swell up so I removed a bunch.  Then add the onion.

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Keep simmering until the cranberries start to burst.  You’ll hear a popping sound.  Once they have started to burst add brown sugar a tablespoon at a time.  All told I probably used 2 tablespoons added a bit at a time.

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If it starts to get too stiff add more port a bit at a time.  While this starts to thicken add a teaspoon of fresh thyme and stir well.  Once you get the consistency and flavour you desire remove from the heat.

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I love the silverware from the Victorian era.  This spoon was specifically made for jellies and cranberry sauce and has been in my family for several generations.  They certainly knew how to lay a table.

Another Snow Day – The Kids Rejoice

The adults have had enough.  The kids don’t want it to end.  Not sure what age marks the switch of loving the cold and deep snow to longing for spring and warmth.  Granted some adults are in their element with skiing and winter sports.  When they were talking about the current winter storm yesterday my son was cheering and applauding.  He’s nine.  We could get 8-14 inches today and tonight.  The kids are having a PJ day and just enjoying being kids.

I’m taking this day to try to catch up with everything.  I haven’t posted in nearly two weeks and I miss it.  It will probably be like this for another two months as I get through the tax season.  The first peak is almost done so I hope to have time to actually cook different things so there is something to post about!  That was the main issue.  I’ve relied on the old tried and true recipes.  The quick things that don’t take any effort.  I did find at the co-op some pork belly so I’ll be making some soon as well as trying my hand at homemade bacon.  That’s the plan anyway.

But I do love doing taxes.  I spend most of the year nurturing my creative side but this allows me to exercise the math side of my brain.  I love numbers.  But I also find the people fascinating.  You see the whole spectrum of life doing people’s taxes.  Young people starting out not having any idea how their decisions affect their taxes, where they will go for jobs, kids having kids, the newlyweds.  My favourite clients are the elderly couples that have been married forever.  I have a few that are still sweet on each other and it’s so much fun when these couples come in.  The tough ones are when they come in and they just lost their spouse.  I wish the IRS would give them a year’s grace period but they don’t.  You have to help them find their feet.  As they continue to come in year after year you start to see them find their strength again and the smiles come a little easier.  I hear so many fascinating stories.  None of which I can share but I understand why the Humans of New York is so popular.

Even though I am not doing taxes today I’m not cooking because our daughter just turned 13 and we will brave the storm to take her to dinner tonight. It’s funny the reactions when I mention we now have a teenager.  Those that currently have teenagers or who had them are wishing us luck and those that haven’t made it to the club yet are very excited for us.  Fortunately she’s a wonderful kid.  I know there will be bumps along the way but I’m sure we’ll come out the other side in one piece.  🙂

I did find the time to bake today.  My husband’s favourite cookies are oatmeal raisin cookies.  Since it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow I thought I’d make him some.  As long as he shares!

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.  I used the recipe from the Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking.

In a mixture add 1/2 cup of softened butter, 3/4 cups sugar, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar packed.

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Mix together then add one large egg with a tsp of vanilla.

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Add 3/4 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of salt and mix well.  If you use 1/2 tsp of salt like I did by mistake it still comes out ok.

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Add 1 1/2 cup of quick oats, a little over 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, and a little over 1/2 cup of raisins.  The recipe calls for raisins and nuts but my husband doesn’t like nuts in his baked goods so I use chocolate instead.  So much better!

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Spoon the mixture onto the cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes.  Let cool a minute or so before placing on the cooling rack.  Quality check immediately  of course.  It’s amazing the number of quality checkers that come out of the woodwork.  🙂

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Here is a view from our den window with the snow coming down.  The wind has started to pick up so it could be a wild night.

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Baked Apples

This has to be one of the easiest desserts to make.  Unless you don’t have an apple corer.  We don’t have one of those so there is a bit of wrestling with the apples at the beginning.  With a sharp knife.  The degree of difficulty is increased by two dog noses trying to jockey for the best position to catch falling bits of apple.  🙂

The rest is easy peasy.  Start with the apples.

Pre-heat the oven.  Now depending on how much time you have determines the temp.  If you have about an hour or so 350 F will do.  I left this late so I went with 400 F so it would be done in a 1/2 hour.  It was a school night.

Next I layer raisins, brown sugar, and butter in the hole of the apples.  Bake until the apples are soft and the sugar is melted with the butter.  Also, bake uncovered.

Serve immediately.  As I said this is a very easy recipe to make.  But the flavours are decadent.  You can’t go wrong with brown sugar and butter!

Apple Cake

This past weekend we did our annual apple picking with friends.  The apples this year were slim pickings as we had a warm winter which brought out the flowers early then we had some bad storms that knocked the flowers off.  Then a lot of the apples have hail damage.  But we managed to get 30 1/4lbs!  So we have to do something with them!  I decided to start with the apple cake.  I got the recipe from the Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking cookbook.

You can see the hail damage but they tasted just like they are supposed to be.  Preheat the oven at 350 F and grease and flour a 13″ x 9″ pan.  Peel and dice into small pieces enough apples for 1 1/2 cup.  It was about 3 apples for me.

Mix 3/4 cups of softened butter with 1 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar.  Just realised that I used a cup of butter.  Came out ok though.  🙂  Then add 3 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla and mix together.

Then add 1 3/4 cup of flour.  Mix then add the apples.  I also added 1/2 cup of raisins.  There is an option of adding nuts as well but we leave those out.  Mix thoroughly.

Spoon into the pan.  The recipe says pour, good luck with that.  🙂  The batter is on the thick side.

Bake 30-40 minutes or until the toothpick check comes out clean.  30 minutes worked for our oven.  Let cool and serve.

Just under 30lbs of apples to go!