Granola for a good day

Today has been surprisingly good for a Friday with a 9am class. Maybe it’s because I started the morning with a nice bowl of this deliciousness 🙂

Seriously though today I got my client schedule (two little kiddos under the age of 10) and was offered an assistant position in my department (5 hours a week of desk work in exchange for 2 hours off my semester tuition bill, thankyouverymuch). Lets hope this good day carries on into my tips at work tonight. 
But back to the granola. I’ve been on a big Greek Yogurt kick lately, I love how a portion can fill me up and keep me full for hours (quite a feat for me since I am the Queen of in class snacking). I love the plain kind because I can flavor it up a bunch of different ways and substitute it in for other less healthy options, but when it comes to breakfast I need to have a little sweetness. That’s where this wonderful Cherry Almond Granola comes in (plus what I don’t eat in my yogurt is perfect to munch on later in class!)
Granola is one of those things that is so up to personal taste, but I like mine chunky, crunchy and full of fruit so that’s where this is going. 
Start with about a cup of almonds, give them a nice rough chop like this, so they can fit into bite size clusters. 

And then drop them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and put them in the oven while it is preheating to 350*. This gives them a nice toasty flavor!

While those are warming up mix six cups of oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF oats) with about 3/4 a cup of honey and 2 teaspoons of almond extract in a large bowl like this. 

By the time that is all mixed up the nuts should be nice and toasty (and the oven should be hot). You can then add the oat/honey/almond extract mixture on top of the nuts and smooth that all around into an even layer. Then pop that all back into the oven for about 20 minutes, giving it an occasional stir. 

Meanwhile mix the cherries and chocolate chips together in a small bowl, like a so. 

When you hit the 20 minute mark in the oven add about half of the cherry/chocolate mixture onto the pan with all the rest (yes it will melt). This helps to spread the chocolate through every bite and melt onto some of the cherry pieces. 

Let that bake together for another 5-10 minutes. Feel free to help yourself to some of the remaining cherries and chocolate while you do 🙂

You want it to look something like this when you pull it out, all that melty goodness hardens into lovely granola sized chunks when it cools. 

Letting it cool COMPLETELY is the hardest part (mostly because by this part I have been tempted to eat the entire bowl or remaining cherries/chocolate). But once it cools you can add the rest of the cherries and chocolate and transfer the granola into an airtight container for storage. 

It makes about 6-8 servings (depending on your level of self restraint) and is delicious on top of yogurt or own its own right out of the container. 
Cherry Almond Granola
6-8 breakfast sized servings
1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
6 cups old fashioned oatmeal (GF if you’re a celiac like me)
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp Almond Extract
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 package dark chocolate (or semi-sweet for those of you who can’t handle dark chocolate) chips or chunks
Roughly chop almonds and transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. Turn oven on to preheat at  350* and place the baking sheet on the middle rack. You’re using the time it takes the oven to preheat to toast your almonds. 
While the almonds toast combine oatmeal, honey and almond extract in a large bowl (large enough to hold and mix 6 cups of oats!) and stir until well combined. At this point your oven should be hot and your almonds should be toasty. Mix the oatmeal mixture in with the almonds on the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Return to the over for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. By the 20 minute mark you should be starting to see a nice evenly golden color on your oats, if you aren’t keep baking and stirring in five minute intervals until you do. 
In a separate mixing bowl combine cherries and chocolate chips. Once your oats look nice and toasty pour half of this mixture onto the pan and return it to the oven for 5-7 minutes to get the chocolate nice and melty. Resist the urge to eat the rest of the chocolate and cherries in your bowl while this is happening. 
Once the chocolate melts take the pan out of the oven and let it cool COMPLETELY!! Don’t stir it, add anything to it or touch it until it’s fully cooled (seriously it’s hotter than it looks). It will take several hours to cool. Once it does you can break it into chunks, and the rest of the chocolate and cherry mixture and pour into an airtight container for storage. 
This is good in a sealed container for about a week (if it lasts that long). It’s best to make it on an afternoon/evening when you have the time to walk away from it and let it sit once it’s out of the oven. 
Happy Friday everyone! I hope you are all having as wonderful a day as I have been having 🙂

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