Making: Gluten-Free Granola

gluten-free-granolaI’m going to blame this all on the Caramelized Peaches + Cream with Toasted Crumble that I shared a couple of weeks ago. Because after gobbling up the extra crumble topping with a dash of milk, I became obsessed with the idea of making homemade granola. Yes, the recipe I’ve been making is a bit like a dessert topping, but slightly less sweet…which is what I use to comfort myself as I scarf down bowl after bowl of it. No, I’m not eating dessert for breakfast…it has milk!

In any case, the basic recipe below is quick and easy to make, hearty, and delicious…and I love how simple it is to customize with different ingredients. Feel free to adapt it to your heart’s content. Some potential add-ins you might try could include:

  • Dried fruit | raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit
  • Nuts | I recommend toasting them before adding them to your granola
  • Seeds | sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
  • Flavored extracts | vanilla, coconut, almond, hazelnut, etc. (be sure to check that they are gluten-free)
  • Spices | cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
  • Zest | orange, lemon, or lime
  • Alternative sweeteners | Maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.

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Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Loosely adapted from How Sweet Eats
Makes approximately 4 Cups of granola

Ingredients:
2 Cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup honey roasted almonds (we buy ours from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 Cup toasted sweetened coconut
5 dried apricots, chopped
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

Prep:
▪ Place sweetened coconut in a pan over medium heat and stir regularly until toasted. Remove from heat.
▪ Chop dried apricots and set aside
▪ Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside

Instructions:
1. Melt butter in the bottom of a large saucepan, over medium heat
2. Add in oats and stir until thoroughly mixed
3. Allow oats to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly
4. Add in brown sugar, and stir thoroughly
5. Allow oats and sugar to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly
6. Stir in coconut extract and turn heat off
7. Mix in almonds, toasted coconut, and apricots
8. Pour granola onto your prepared baking sheet to cool
9. Once fully cooled, serve and enjoy!

Store granola in an air-tight container

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I’d love to hear what creative adaptations you come up with it you make a batch! xo

Oh Cats!

we-cant-have-nice-thingsSo this is what our couch looks like (both arms)! I don’t even know what to say!

catch-scratch-couchSeriously though…I could use your help! Do any of you know of any great ways to keep a cat from mangling the furniture at every possible moment? We trim her nails regularly, play with her often, and have scratch pads and posts galore (which she does use). We’ve tried repellent sprays, and even aluminum foil at one point (that was a cute look), but despite our best efforts, every day our couch is steadily being shredded into ribbons. Buying a kevlar couch isn’t really an option…so if you know of a solution (no declawing), I’d love to hear your suggestions! Thanks in advance!

Tried + True: Homemade Salt Water Taffy

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-2If playing with a wad of hot sticky bubblegum for 15 minutes sounds like fun, then have I got the project for you today! I’m kidding…kind of.

This past Saturday my daughter and I decided to try to make salt water taffy for the first time. I read through a bunch of recipes online, and one thing became immediately clear; making taffy is hard work and sticky…very very sticky! But I wasn’t going to be so easily scared off. I finally settled on a recipe (which we then adapted) from Cupcake Project. I chose her recipe, because she did a great job photographing the steps, I like the fact that her recipe calls for a lower final temperature (since I read on several blogs that their taffy turned out far too hard after using a higher final temperature), and lastly, because she said that the whole project could be done in an hour. That’s my kind of recipe!

For our adaptation, we used 1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavoring (we found it at Michael’s craft store) and 4 drops of blue food coloring; instead of the vanilla bean paste and candy sprinkles in her version. Once cooked to the correct temperature, we patiently waited for the candy to cool just enough so that we wouldn’t scald ourselves (we couldn’t stand to wait any longer than that), we then buttered our hands up, split the candy in two, and each started to taffy pull.

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Right away I had problems with the taffy staying together. I think I might have had too much butter on my hands. But then when the butter wore off of my fingers the taffy stuck to my skin…and I mean really truly stuck to them. It was nearly impossible to remove. For some reason my daughter didn’t have the same issue. While I was getting frustrated with my portion, and in a near panic trying to remove the glob of candy from my fingers without losing a layer of skin, she was quickly turning her piece into a beautiful bit of candy magic.

In the end we determined that my hands were much warmer than hers, and this might have been the cause of the overly sticky situation. At one point I started working with my hands over the air conditioning vent, and that seemed to help quite a bit. Unfortunately my arthritic joints eventually gave out, so my daughter stepped in and finished pulling the rest of mine for me, while I wrapped the cut pieces of taffy in parchment paper.

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-3They say that all is well that ends well, and in this case that is most definitely true! Even though my particular batch was stubborn, my daughter managed to salvage it, and we had a great memory making experience. Oh…and the finished candy turned out deliciously too! A winner in my book! Find the original recipe we used right here. Just prepare yourself ahead of time for a thorough arm workout!

Photos taken with iPhone 5c

These Words – No.1

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“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face,
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.” — Ellen Bass

these-words-no1-2 These words — by Ellen Bass / first spotted here. Photography by me.

10 Art Prints for Animal Lovers

art-picks-for-animal-loversAn assortment of animal-themed art prints for that endearing animal fanatic that you know. Yes, it’s totally okay if that person is you!

1. Two Lions / 2. French Bear / 3. The Messenger / 4. Montana Horse / 5. Spangled & Plumed / 6. Pigeons of the Roof / 7. Menagerie / 8. Pink Paradise / 9. The Kodiak Brown Bear / 10. Anatomy of a Dachshund /