With the gift-giving season quickly approaching, those of us with kitchen know how often find ourselves wondering how we might use our talents to spread a little joy with friends, family, and more. In that spirit, we'll be spending the next few days offering some suggestions on how to do just that. We begin with a great granola recipe that takes advantage of your slow cooker.
Packed with a variety of nuts and dried fruit, this crunchy granola is sweetened with both brown sugar and maple syrup or honey. Cinnamon and vanilla extract round out its flavor profile and a careful eye, a lid not fully covering the slow cooker, and regular stirring will yield about 6 cups of this wonderful homemade gift. After its completely cooled, spoon it into jelly jars with pretty lids, add a helpful tag, and stack in a basket near your door to hand out throughout the season.
This is a gift that's particularly nice to have handy to offer a neighbor who stops in to say hello, the mailman as he collects all those Christmas cards you just finished addressing, or a teacher who has helped make your child smile day after day. Since no refrigeration is required, they can be at the ready for impromptu giving and help make someone's day all the brighter!
- Cooking spray, for greasing the slow cooker
- 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup raw nuts (I used coarsely chopped walnuts and sliced almonds)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried fruit (I used chopped dates, apricots, and pineapple)
Spray the bottom and sides of the slow-cooker with cooking spray. Place the oats, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the slow cooker and stir until well-combined.
Add the oil, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla extract, and stir until the dry ingredients are fully coated.
Place the lid onto the slow cooker, keeping it slightly askew to allow moisture to escape and for air flow. Set the slow cooker to low and cook, stirring every 30 minutes, until toasted and golden-brown, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total. Make sure the lid is placed back on askew after each stirring.
Turn the slow cooker off, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Cool the granola completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Yields: 6 cups
- Preparation Time: About 3 hours