Homemade granola

I decided to surprise my husband last night with one of his favorite treats – homemade granola. I had made this recipe dozens of times, and then it somehow ended up at the back of my recipe box and forgotten about. But this past weekend’s trip to Costco resulted in a great big bottle of pure Madagascar vanilla (at a very  little price), so I was eager to try it out.

The results were the same old favorite crunchy and delicious granola, but with a dash of extra flavor. The pure vanilla gives a cleaner vanilla flavor and complements the granola quite nicely. I made a double batch with a little extra oil and honey, and tossed the finished granola with dried cranberries for a more festive touch.

4 cups old-fashioned (not quick cooking) oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a small saucepan, heat oil and honey, just until it melts. Stir in vanilla.

Pour the liquid mixture over the oats mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is covered. Spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the granola starts to turn golden (bake for less time for softer granola, more for crunchier, drier granola). When cool enough to handle, take a spatula to remove granola from pan and break into pieces. Add dried fruit or mixed nuts to taste.

Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week.

The granola would also make a great housewarming, hostess or holiday gift, packaged in a pretty jar or tin.

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