I love breakfast. It truly is my most important meal of the day. I've always been amazed by people who "forget" to eat breakfast, aren't hungry, or claim to not have time to eat in the morning. First of all, after sleeping (and therefore not eating, hopefully) for eight or nine hours, I'm pretty hungry the very second I wake up. I can't wait a few hours to eat, I need something in my tummy straight away. Secondly, how in the world could you miss out on not eating one of the most delicious meals of the day? I mean, how do you motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning? With the thrilling idea of going to work or getting to class? I for one like to coax myself from my slumber with the idea of warm coffee and a delicious bowl of fresh fruit, or a healthful muffin, or a tasty scone, but I guess that's just me.
Breakfast can be elaborate or as simple as you want. Big breakfasts are marvelous. I like eggs benedict with asparagus smothered in hollindaise sauce, or French toast with Grand Marnier and lightly sweetened ricotta. I like bacon and scrambled eggs with big ribbons or cream cheese swirled in right at the end. I like pancakes. But as decadent and delicious as some breakfasts can be, I love the simple ones most of all. Nine times out of ten, simple breakfasts are what draws me into the kitchen each morning.
This granola is simple and true. There's not much too it -- almonds, honey, brown sugar, oats, a touch of butter -- they're real ingredients and make for a perfect accompaniment to plain yogurt. I threw in some fresh berries, but any delicious fruit will do. When I have a sweet tooth, I drizzle a bit of honey on top. It's probably one of the most simple and yet one of the most delightful breakfasts I can think of. The granola comes together in a flash, but what's great about making it is that you'll have plenty for the rest of the week. I adapted my recipe from Joy the Baker and, not surprisingly, it came out beautifully. For all of you "I have to eat breakfast immediately because I'm starving!" people out there (myself included), don't panic. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab a handful of almonds to tide you over, and the granola will be out of the oven and ready to eat before you know it. Plus, this granola will make your whole house smell like cinnamon and toasted almond goodness. It's simplicity at it's best, and a granola breakfast like this is just the kind of encouragement I need to roll out of bed and take on the day.
|Another close-up, but this time with a drizzle of orange blossom honey. How could I resist?|
Toasted Almond Granola
Adapted, slightly, from Joy the Baker
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole raw almonds, roughly chopped into large pieces
1 cup slivered almonds (can be substituted for more chopped almonds or another kind of nut. Walnuts or pecans would be lovely)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter (salted)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rasins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together oats, almonds, and cinnamon, and salt (to taste). Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, oil, honey, and sugar. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves completely. Pour oil mixture into the oat mixture and stir well, ensuring that all the oats are coated. Spread evenly onto two sheet pans.
3. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice during cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Pour granola into a container and stir in raisins and cranberries. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.