Homemade Granola and its Cameo in a Summer Dessert

Granola with yogurt and berries

Granola is one of those foods that you never think, “hmm, I could make that.”  Granola, or any cereal for that matter, is simply one of those things you always just buy.  While buying granola is the fastest way to cure your quick breakfast meal fixes, the grocery store-bought brands always seem to fall flat–too many raisins, not enough CRUNCH, filled with additives, etc, etc, etc. Instead of grumbling down the aisle tediously reading ingredients and flavors, skip right ahead to the bulk food section (cheaper too!) and pick out all your favorite nuts, berries, grains, and seeds.

Making your own breakfast munchies allows you to have exactly the tastes you crave.  Here is a recipe for one that I like to make, but do note that the proportions are easily changeable and adaptable to your palate.  Add flax instead of sesame, drip in some honey or maple syrup instead of brown sugar, or even make it a savory cereal by adding more salt or spices like ginger root, ancho chili or dried rosemary.  Be creative and experiment!  And, oh yeah, make a LOT so you can enjoy your concoction for weeks.

Read on to see a summer recipe that utilizes your humble homemade granola.

Simple (& adaptable) Homemade Granola

2 Cups oats
½ Cup sliced almonds
¼ Cup of each of the following:
Sliced dried cherries, roughly chopped
Pine nuts, roughly chopped
Sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375˚.  Mix all the ingredients together on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes) or until the oats and nuts turn a toasty, golden brown.

Serve with your favorite kind of milk (cows, soy, oat, hemp, almond, rice…) or dollop Greek yogurt mixed with raspberry jam for a sweet, and fruity combo.

Fresh Strawberries

Summer Berry Crisp with Wild Strawberries and a Polenta Granola Biscuit Topping

As per a propt from friend J who recently gifted me a crunchy bag full of her self-made granola I remembered how fun and satisfying it is to make your own breakfast cereal.  But granola doesn’t just boost up a morning meal, but the seed and berry-filled mixture can also be a great addition to other homemade handiworks.

A recent trip to B’s ranch in the Adirondacks got me scavenging for the tiny, wild, red juice-bits that were perfectly at their peak.  Whether it was the mountain air or the feeling of knowing that a vegetable patch was growing right outside the cabin’s door, the blooming strawberry plants around the property had my mouth watering with exceptional sweet delight.

Upon returning back to my urban, Boston abode I craved the sweetness of the sun-warmed, pink lanterns. Prompted by J’s granola and inspired by wild, June strawberries my brain blossomed the idea of baking an early summer berry crisp.

Warm, bursting berries sit beneath a crunchy layer of granola and polenta-pumped biscuits.  With J by my side to taste test the first batch, we both agreed that this dessert more than hit the summer season spot!

Berries for berry crisp

For the Biscuits
1 Cup flour
2/3 Cup Polenta or course-ground corn meal
¼ Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut roughly into chunks
2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/3 Cup homemade granola (see recipe above)

For the Filling
1 ½ pints wild strawberries
1 pint blueberries
½ pint blackberries
1 Tablespoon flour
1. For the biscuits: In a medium-sized bowl, wisk the dry ingredients together.  Add the butter and use your hands to combine with the dry ingredients until the mixture begins to resemble a loose dough.  Add cream and granola, stir just until combined.  Gather the dough together and form into a log.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge or freezer until ready to use.

2. For the crisp: Preheat the oven to 375˚.  In an 8×10 ceramic or Pyrex baking dish combine the berries with 1 tablespoon of flour, stir with hands until berries are evenly coated.  Slice biscuit dough into 9 equal-sized rounds and place on top of berry mixture.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the biscuits are golden-brown.

Summer berry crisp

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