Most mornings, my breakfast consists of the same thing: unsweetened steel cut oats with raisins and a splash of milk. If I'm feeling adventurous, I might throw some dried cranberries in the mix and really shake things up. The rest of my day can be pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, and I'm perfectly happy with that, but mess with my morning bowl of oats? Never.
However, I've recently decided to break out of my breakfast rut. I'll probably never be able to eat eggs and bacon first thing in the morning, but granola I can do. (I know you're thinking "You're breaking out of an oatmeal rut with... oatmeal?" but hey, they're rolled oats, not steel cut, and they're sweetened. Baby steps).
This is just a base recipe to which you can add nuts, spices, and dried fruits to build a personalized granola. Try macadamia nuts with dried mango and pineapple, walnuts with dried cranberries and blueberries, or keep it simple with just almonds and raisins. Substitute cardamom for the cinnamon, vanilla for the almond extract, honey for the maple syrup, or go buck wild and throw some molasses in there.
Basic Granola Recipe Adapted, with changes, from Alton Brown
3 cups rolled oats 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 1/2-3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar (and any nuts, if you use them)
3. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, salt, and almond extract. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
4. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add any dried fruit and mix.