Its nice to have a go at making some gifts if you have the time and this one I love because you can present the granola in a pretty jar and decorate as you like. This recipe is easily adaptable to what you prefer too or whatever you have in the cupboard that's suitable.
You will need:
- 4 mugs of rolled oats
- 1 mug of dried fruit (I used half a mug of sultanas and half a mug of dried mixed fruit which included blueberries and cranberries)
- 1 mug of chopped nuts (I used pecan nuts, brazil nuts and almonds - Jack's favourites)
- 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 200g butter (more if you want)
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- Half a mug of light brown soft sugar
- Dark chocolate (cut into small chunks)
This recipe is nice and easy and totally adaptable to what you prefer or what your family/friends would prefer if you're gifting it to them. An alternative to maple syrup is honey, you could stir in some nutella rather than chocolate chunks and so on. The above ingredients are rough estimates that I used and this filled the large jar shown in the above photo.
Mix the dried fruit into a bowl with the oats before stirring in the ground cinnamon. Add the chopped nuts and any other dried ingredients you may fancy adding (ground mixed spice is also nice for this recipe if you want to give the granola an extra 'gingerbread' taste).
Melt the butter in a pan and then take off the heat. Add the sugar and maple syrup and mix well. Pour this sticky mixture into the dried ingredients bowl and give it a good mix to make sure everything has been coated well. Melt and add more butter if needed (I did say this recipe isn't healthy!).
Spoon the mixture onto a lined shallow baking tray and make sure the mixture is evenly spread out. I lined my tray with foil but greaseproof paper works too. Bake in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius, not too high anyway or the top will brown too quickly. I baked mine for about 20 minutes and it was perfectly golden.
Remove the tray from the oven and allow the mixture to cool for a while. Once cool, use a wooden spoon to break up the mixture into granola clusters or smaller bite-size clusters - whatever you prefer. Add the chopped chocolate to the tray (make sure the granola is cool enough first) and mix into the granola. The granola can then be spooned into your decorated jar!
The granola keeps well for quite a while, though I've not tested how long that is because its gone pretty quick in our house! Enjoy!
Christmassy Homemade MincemeatI've had my first ever attempt at making my own mincemeat ready for mince pie making next month. I don't like mince pies, but I do love making them and always just buy jars of mincemeat. However, after some pestering from Jack, I've made my own following a very easy recipe in the latest issue of BBC Good Food magazine.
2 Bramley Apples
Dried Mixed Fruit (Sultanas, Currants, Raisins etc.)
Ground Mixed Spice
Brandy or Cognac
Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar
Beef Suet (or vegetable suet)
All you do is chop the apple down nice and small, add all of the other ingredients to it except the suet and give it a good mix. Cover it for a few hours, or overnight if possible, then add the suet. Mix again and then spoon into jars - simple! It's been so fun in fact that I've raided the cupboards to find more ingredients to add and make some more - I made three jars worth following the recipe. Next year I intend on being far more organised to make the mincemeat earlier so it has much longer to mature.
Chopping the apples into tiny pieces was probably about as difficult as this recipe got and tripping over Barry too - he sat at my feet in the hope I'd drop some apple (he's a fruit and veg fan).
Adding the brandy and muscovado sugar turned the mincemeat a lovely colour and the smells were sweet and spicy; the recipe just said to add ground mixed spice but I also added further ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg as these are my favourite spices when making fruit cakes and they always taste so good.
Here they are all filled and ready to mature in the cupboard for a while. The recipe says they'll last up to a year but I should think just past that won't kill you - I hope so anyway as I still have pickled onions I made last October that I'm saving for Christmas and they taste just fine (again, recipe said keep for a year).
Gooey Choc Chip Cookies
I've probably mentioned before but I don't really have much of a sweet tooth but do enjoy making sweet things for other people. I do however really enjoy these cookies even if I only manage to eat one compared with Jack who could polish two or three off in one sitting! These cookies are so easy to make, the recipe can be adapted to include anything you prefer (smarties cookies, white chocolate and raspberry are lovely etc.) and they take minutes to cook. I'm not a fan of crumbly cookies, I much prefer the gooey type and so this is how these turn out.
125g butter, softened
100g light brown soft sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
200g chocolate chunks (or chips)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Cream the butter and both sugars together until fluffy and then gradually mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour and salt to the mixture, followed by the chocolate chunks. Give this a good mix until it becomes a dough, then use your hands to great a big ball of cookie dough.
Create smaller balls from the dough, about the size of a walnut and sit on a greased baking tray a sensible distance from each other to ensure the cookies have room to spread as they bake.
Pop in the middle of the oven for just 7 minutes before removing from the oven. I use a spatula to finish flattening the cookies before transferring them onto another tray or rack for cooling. Be careful if using a wire rack as the cookies aren't quite cooked and so can sink through the rack!
You'll find the cookies are crisp and golden on the outside but have that gooey chewy texture in the middle, yum!
They certainly go down very well in our house!