Greatest Granola in the Universe

This granola recipe is a family favorite. We cannot keep enough supply of this delicious granola in our pantry. It is indeed a sad day when we run out and have to wait for the “master granola chef”, a.k.a. Dad, to make more. The secret to making this granola is baking it for 3 hours at a low temperature. The flavors of the ingredients develop beautifully. When compared to store-bought granola, not only is our granola delicious, it is healthy (we control fat and sugar) and has no unwanted additives or preservatives.

Petrucelli Family Granola

Petrucelli Family Granola

Petrucelli Family Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry oats (Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)
  • ½ lb roughly chopped pecans
  • ½ lb roughly chopped almonds
  • ½ lb roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbs butter (½ stick)
  • ⅛ cup vegetable oil (mix in walnut oil if available)
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • ⅔ cup maple syrup
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine oats, pecans, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix to combine.
  2. Melt butter in small saucepan. Stir in honey and maple syrup.
  3. Add vanilla to warm honey mixture, then pour over dry oatmeal mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. Spread on two cookie sheet pans (18x13x1 inch/half sheet) and bake at 200°F (93°C) for 1 hour.

    Stirring the granola

    Stirring the granola

  5. Remove from oven and stir well. This helps prevent clumps. Raise temperature to 225°F (107°C) and bake for an additional hour.
  6. Remove from oven and stir again. Raise temperature to 250°F (121°C) and bake for one final hour (3 hours in total).
  7. Allow granola to cool down completely. Store at room temperature in air-tight container.
  8.  ENJOY!  (~1/2 cup per serving)
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Pancakes Made Without Bisquick?

I was at a Costco in London with a friend the other day. I am somewhat nosy and love to see what others have in their carts. It’s a fun way to get ideas of new things to try. However, on that afternoon, I gave a disappointing nod to my friend’s box of Bisquick*. I said to her, “You don’t need this, I will give you an easy recipe”. And deep inside, she knew already that these pre-made mixes contain a lot of unnecessary ingredients. She gently acquiesced and returned the box.

Many years ago I too loved ready-made mixes. I was under the illusion that it was so much easier and faster to make things. Then a mainstream awareness of nutrition labels came into being and we started to question ingredients in these pre-packaged boxes.  I do have to say one of my culinary inspirations have been our friends who live in Acton, MA. Nothing was ever too challenging or complicated for them to make from scratch. It was during a weekend visit up to their place that they threw together a pancake batter mix without even following a recipe. They mixed together different kinds of flours. They even ground some quick oats on the spot to add to the batter. And the best part of it was that my children, ages 8 & 7 at the time, who normally did not like pancakes, loved our friends’ pancakes. Maybe the chocolate chips had something to do with it. However, when I got home I decided to do the same. We have never looked back.

I found my original recipe in my Cordon Bleu cook book and over time have made my own modifications to it. I am not claiming this recipe to be fat-free or egg-free. However, the beauty of any recipe is that you can make whatever changes you need or want and make it your own. What I can say about making things from scratch is that you know exactly what you are feeding your family. I must confess that I am not a purist with everything I eat and serve to my family. I bow my head in shame and guilt to admit that I do like Pop-Tarts and so do my kids (not my husband). And you don’t find me making Oreos from scratch. I will say though, that recently I tasted my first ever homemade equivalent of a Twinkie and it was divine. I knew the homemade version was definitely not low in calories and that it would not survive a nuclear explosion, but I felt that it was more wholesome than the original ones.

Homemade Pancakes

Serving Size: Pancakes for 4 people. This recipe can be doubled.

Ingredients:

I like to measure my ingredients on a kitchen scale, so the measurements are in both weight and volume.

  • 8 oz.  or 1½ cup: flour (You can mix whatever ratio you prefer of whole wheat, white all-purpose, and oat flours)
  • 1 oz. or 2 Tbs.: sugar (This is optional, you can lower the amount as you please or use a substitute)
  • 1 Tbs.: baking powder
  • ½ tsp.: salt
  • 12 to 14 oz. or 1½ to 2 cups: low-fat or skim milk (You can use milk substitutes like lactose-free or soy milk. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you like your batter. Experiment a couple of ways until you find your preference. We like thick batters.)
  • 2 oz. or ¼ cup of oil: Canola or Sunflower oil (You can lower this amount if you’d like, you can also substitute some oil with some melted butter, for enhanced flavoring)
  • 2 eggs (You can use egg-beaters)

Optional toppings:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Peanut Butter Chips
  • Blueberries
  • Banana Slices
  • Cooked Apples
  • Toasted Crushed Walnuts
  • Nutella
  • Maple Syrup

Steps:

  1. Heat your pan or grill (medium heat). Grease your pan or grill lightly.  You’ll want the grill to be hot.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients. If in the UK, you will find that the whole-wheat flour is courser and may not go through a sifter easily. I don’t sift in the UK.
  3. Combine milk, oil, and eggs.
  4. Mix dry and wet ingredients and let batter rest for a few minutes.
  5. Ladle batter onto hot grill. Add toppings like chocolate chips, bananas, or blueberries at this time.
  6. Watch pancake cook, as small holes appear, flip over. WARNING: DO NOT FLATTEN PANCAKE OUT WITH SPATULA. This removes the air from it. You want to keep you pancake fluffy.

    Courtesy of Clara Petrucelli

  7. Finish cooking second side and serve.

Additional Tips:

  • If making blueberry pancakes cook at a lower temperature. If the blueberries are large they can sometimes stick out too far, making it difficult to cook the second side. And although you’ll still flip the pancake, most of the cooking is done on the original side. If the grill temperature is not as high, the pancake will cook through at a lower temperature without burning.
  • Wipe the grill clean between pancakes. Fruit and chocolate & peanut butter chips can leave a residue behind that can start burning. I use doubled-up paper towels to wipe the grill. Please be careful to not burn yourself.
  • We cook to order, one pancake per person at a time. There’s nothing yummier than a pancake fresh and hot off the grill.
  • My children like their pancakes with chocolate and peanut butter chips mixed together. I don’t overdo the amount of chips. They don’t add maple syrup to these pancakes. The sweetness and flavor of the chocolate and peanut butter chips are sufficient and delicious on their own.
  •  I like a little maple syrup on the fruit filled pancakes.
  •  I love to top my pancakes with toasted walnuts cut into small pieces.
  • A special treat in our family is to have breakfast for dinner. I’ll enhance the nutritional content by making eggs and bacon.
  • The batter can keep in the refrigerator for about 2 – 3  days. It may turn slightly grey, simply re-stir.
  • Buttermilk Pancake Variation: I’ll begin by saying that I find buttermilk in the UK to be different to buttermilk in the US. My children liked buttermilk pancakes in the US but they don’t like the UK version. If you choose to try the buttermilk variation you’ll need to do the following: Substitute the milk for buttermilk and lower the baking powder from 1 Tbs to 1 tsp.

And there you have it homemade pancakes.

* For some of my international readers who may not know what Bisquick is, it is a store bought pre-mixed product for making pancakes and other things.