Friday, October 14, 2011

Applesauce Granola

This afternoon we had a short break from the constant rain we have been experiencing for the past few days. I took the opportunity to take Matthew outside so he could run around a bit. He has been an absolute beast this past week. I hope he is suffering greatly from an incoming tooth or some other unseen ailment that could possibly explain why my sweet little man has suddenly changed into the little ogre who has been staying with us this week. He is constantly whining, hitting, even biting on occasion. Every time he wants something, he points at me with red eyes narrowed and screams in a shrill, grating voice: "MAAAAAAAAAAA!" When it is something he can't have, such as my cup of coffee, he will come running at me, fists pumping, in an attempt to teach me a lesson for denying his request. If I happen to move out of the way before he can complete his vicious onslaught, he will throw himself across the floor and begin flailing all four limbs in a truly unnatural (and unnerving) manner. This has been happening on and off all week. Yesterday, I actually began counting down the hours until his bedtime, beginning at 7:30 AM because he was already making me want to pull my own hair out.

These were the only decent pictures I took of him this week. Lately, he has been into putting this bucket on his head and just sitting there, drinking his juice. Unless of course he is meditating on the couch while eating a pretzel.

However, he woke up happier today, actually smiling at me when I picked him up from his crib this morning. And, as a result, today has been a very good day. Maybe it was the brief glimpse of the sun and the treat of being able to spend some time outside. Whatever the reason, his mood and behavior has been 100% better. The only minor hiccup we had was while we were outside and I was briefly distracted with watering my plants. Matthew noticed that our neighbor's tiny little shitzu was sitting, staring outside through their screen door. Matthew is obsessed with dogs, but especially little ones. He immediately began running towards the door and before I could stop him, he flung it open and ran inside our neighbor's apartment after the dog. I freaked and immediately ran after him, caught him trying to head up their stairs, grabbed him, and then quickly sprinted back inside our apartment, closing the door behind us. I don't know if anyone saw us enter/leave, but I did not really want to find out. We do not need another reason for our neighbors to dislike us.

For lunch today, Matthew and I made some applesauce and granola. Matthew's new food obsession is yogurt. He can finish off a quart of it in one sitting if I let him. I introduced him to granola and yogurt parfaits (one of my favorite snacks) and he has been in love ever since. My favorite granola recipe actually utilizes fruit puree instead of oil to produce a truly delicious, clumpy, toasted granola. We are still working through all the apples we picked last weekend so I figured this was a great way to continue using them up.

Easy Applesauce

4 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Cover and let cook over medium heat for 15-20 minute, or until the apples are very soft. Let cool and mash with a potato masher or a fork. Store in the refrigerator.

Our Favorite Granola
adapted from Nigella Lawson

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup applesauce (or another fruit puree - mashed bananas also work great)
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vanilla
A couple handfuls of raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, chopped apricots, etc. (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Mix together the oatmeal through spices. In a small saucepan, heat and whisk the applesauce, honey, and oil. When heated through, whisk in the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir together to combine well (you might have to get your hands in there to really ensure everything is evenly coated).

Spread everything out onto two large jelly roll pans. Place in the oven and let bake 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. When finished, the granola should be dry and lightly toasted. If you do not like your granola so crunchy, you can pull it out earlier. Let cool completely on the pan before tossing with the dried fruit of your choice and storing in an airtight container.

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