This year I was honored to win a blue ribbon for my granola at the OC Fair. I've had several requests for my "winning recipe" so here is my attempt to share it with you. I make granola for my family once a week and it is different every time I make it. The award winner was Orange Cherry Pecan.
Orange Dried Cherries (They are good on their own but are a wonderful addition to granola.)
*Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2- 10 oz. bags of frozen cherries
1/2 to 1 cup (enough to cover the cherries) Orange juice (I used orange mango)
1/4 cup honey
secret ingredient-a little orange zest
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, bring all ingredients to a boil. Turn heat to low and allow mixture to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the juice is thick. Don't stir. If you really want to stir it, just swirl the pot around. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove cherries and place them in a single layer on a silicone pad lined cookie sheet (or parchment paper or non-stick cookie sheet.) Dry in preheated oven
for about 2 hours, checking every 20-30 minutes. You want them to be chewy. If you have a dehydrator, cool. Use it.
Orange Cherry Pecan Granola
* Preheat oven to 275 degrees
4 cups grains (I use a mixture of oatmeal, wheat flakes, barley flakes, and rye flakes)
2 cups nuts (the winning recipe used blanched almonds and pecans)
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2-3/4 cups honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sprinklings of sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
secret ingredient-2 Tbs. orange juice
Orange Dried Cherries
Combine all ingredients except zest and cherries in a medium-sized bowl. Spread mixture onto a non-stick or foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 30 minutes to an hour. Stir every 10-15 minutes after 30 minutes. You want the granola a golden brown. You are stirring so the sides don't get too brown. Remove granola from the oven and sprinkle with orange zest. Allow granola to cool before adding dried cherries and packaging.
It's great on yogurt or with milk as a cereal. Other flavoring options: add a teaspoon of vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, coconut or almond extract. You could also add peanut butter and replace the honey with maple syrup or agave necter.
Other fruits: dehydrated or freeze-dried strawberries, peaches, raisins, currents, flaked coconut, blueberries, apples, banana chips, etc.
Other nuts and seeds: slivered almonds (just be careful that they don't get too brown too quickly), peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds (they are in the picture above but I didn't use them in my award winning recipe), sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, etc.
Enjoy! Let me know if you try it.