You say granola like it's a bad thing.

Last weekend, my husband and I went out for brunch. There is a great little restaurant in our neighborhood, and while their dinner menu leaves something to be desired, their brunch is on. the. money.
Brian gets weak in the knees for their fried chicken (yes, for breakfast), and the truffle scrambled eggs are at once light in texture while filled with the dense, earthy flavor of the truffle.

It doesn't matter where I go for breakfast, my first instinct is to scope out the granola bowl. Whether served with yogurt, fruit or plain, it's the granola itself that gets me swooning. Many breakfast companions, past and present, not-so-subtly hint that this takes away from my credibility as a cook and food lover. I passionately disagree. When I find a good bowl of granola, the world is on my side. It should have a nice crunch. It shouldn't taste too sweet. I like to include dried fruit to bring something chewy to the table.

Pretzels, bits of candy, well-done oats: These are tell-tale signs that you should've ordered the omelet.

I have tested and re-tested so many versions of this granola, that I've actually converted a few nonbelievers. Will the fried chicken/eggs Benedict/blueberry pancakes still be ordered? Absolutely. But the granola prejudices now have every reason to cease and desist.

Hippie Granola
(Makes 3 cups) 

2 c. Rolled Oats
½ c. sliced almonds
½ c. pecans (or substitute your favorite nut)
¼ c. unsalted sunflower seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
¼ c. vegetable oil
¼ c. maple syrup
½. tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. unsweetened shaved coconut
½ c. dried cranberries

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2.) Combine the first seven ingredients in a large skillet, and stir over medium-low heat until oats begin to toast and nuts become fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

3.) Add the vegetable oil and stir to coat the mixture. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract, stirring to coat evenly.

4.) Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, stir the mixture for even cooking, and add the coconut. Return to oven to bake for an additional 20 minutes.

5.) Remove from oven, fold in dried cranberries and spread the granola evenly on a cookie sheet to cool down completely before serving.

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