Slow Gifts

After a successful Thanksgiving, I tend to avoid turning on the oven for a few days. I do, however, like puttering in the kitchen and putting together goodies to give to friends and family in the coming month. One of my favorite post-Turkey Day projects is making granola. And my favorite way to make granola involves pulling out my slow cooker and letting it do most of the work. Instead of trying to stir hot granola on a baking sheet and moving pans in and out of the oven, I simply stir the mixture in my slow cooker every half hour and enjoy the amazing aroma filling my house:

Now, my suggested list of ingredients here speaks to fall and some of my favorite flavors associated with it. Everything from nuts and maple syrup to cranberries and espresso-flavored baking chips blend to make a granola mix that's equally at home sprinkled over yogurt or served in a bowl with milk. I've even been known to use it for topping French toast or fruit salad! This particular recipe makes about 8 cups of granola. I like storing it in mason jars, though you could put it into smaller containers to hand out as gifts during the upcoming holiday season.

For me, this is the perfect project for the day after Thanksgiving. I can grab a book and read quietly while pausing every half hour to stir the granola. It's a lovely bit of peace and quiet after a very busy Thanksgiving filled with laughter, love, and food comas!

Maple-Cranberry Granola

  • 5 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 3/4 c. espresso-flavored baking chips (or semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Spray a 6-quart slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Combine the first 7 ingredients (rolled oats through coarse salt) in the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Set the slow cooker on LOW and leave the lid cracked. Stir the mixture well every 30 minutes for the next 3 hours or until the oats are toasted and the mixture is dry. Add the dried cranberries to the granola and stir well to incorporate. Spread the granola out on a large baking sheet to cool completely. When cool, stir in the espresso-flavored (or chocolate) chips. Store in mason jars at room temperature for up to a month.

  • Yields: About 8 cups
  • Preparation Time: 4 hours

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