When you live with someone in a city where you’re almost never by yourself, occasionally it’s refreshing to have a few days totally solo. I can spend 2 hours browsing in Anthropologie. I can pop into Corner Bistro for a cheeseburger and a chat with the bartender who has been there for twenty years. I can stretch out on the couch and watch Real Housewives re-runs till 3pm….did I just admit that?!
Sometimes that ‘cat’s away’ feeling is just nice. I have exactly that going on for me this weekend, and as I’ve been battling a beast of a cold-flu-hybrid, having some time to clear out my calendar and run on my own clock is just what the doctor ordered.
So far my weekend is off to a great start – Last night I sat at the bar at Recette, ordered the most *amazing* scallops, and struck up a conversation with a lovely girl who turned out to be a pastry chef at Marea. Talk of butter and flour ensued, but I was happily in bed by 10:00pm. This morning I awoke amazingly cheerfully before my alarm and hit up a much needed hour long spin class, then took the pug for a brisk stroll around the neighborhood before heading back for breakfast.
When it comes to a breakfast my tastes run the gamut from spicy huevos rancheros to sweet and pillowy French toast to rich benedicts. I can’t kick my day off with these things on a regular basis of course (unless aiming to completely derail those spin class efforts put forward), and especially on the days where I make it to the gym, I want something light yet still satisfying that tastes good and is good for me.
I love granola, but the pre-packed stuff that you find at the market is usually fairly expensive (and in such small bags!) and often isn’t very healthy. Making your own is unbelievably inexpensive, easy, and delicious – it has no preservatives, and is 100% customizable. I make it a habit to keep large containers of nuts and dried fruits and a few containers of oatmeal on hand, so I have all of the ingredients I need in my pantry (and by pantry I mean stuffed into a cabinet…ahhh NYC apartment kitchens how I love thee!). I make a big batch over the weekend and split it off into bags to enjoy all week long.
I also juiced up a crate of clementines to drink on the side – ’cause I’m fancy like that.
Pour it over thick and creamy Greek yogurt (I love Fage 0%), have it plain with milk, or heat some up with splash of milk in the microwave for some of the freshest warm cereal you’ve ever had.
Cranberry Apricot Granola with Pecans & Sunflower Seeds
Makes ~6 cups
This is one of those recipes where I really hate measuring. For the most part you can eyeball the ingredients and I promise it will taste just fine. After you make it a few times, you’ll have a feel for how sweet you like it and can also tweak the spices and add-ins.
One container old fashioned oats
1/3 Cup canola oil
1/3 Cup pure maple syrup
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Warm Water
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Chopped pecans
1/3 cup Sunflower seeds
8-10 Dried apricots, diced
1 cup Dried cranberries, roughly chopped
Pinch sea salt (about 1 tsp)
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it in foil. In a large bowl whisk to combine the canola oil, maple syrup, warm water, honey, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the oats and nuts and seeds of your choice (or none at all) and stir well to combine with a spatula. Taste a piece – it should be slightly sweet. Sprinkle with the sea salt, and toss.
Spread the oat mixture over the baking sheet with your hands, squeezing some bits slightly to encourage a few clumps. Pop into the oven for 30 minutes, taking the pan out to stir the mixture every 8 to 10 minutes. It is done when the oats and nuts are a toasty brown color and your house smells fantastic.
Pull the granola and stir in the cranberries and apricots while still warm. Let it cool on the sheet, and then transfer to a gallon size ziplock bag or other storage container – It will keep for a week.
Other fun things you could do:
-add dried cherries, blueberries, apricots, banana chips, chopped dates, raisins, or apples
-add crushed hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, or pumpkin seeds before baking
-add a small amount of good quality chopped dark chocolate after its cooled (shhhh!)