Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Beware....rant to follow.

The past few days, I have really been trying hard to remain patient with my husband.  I am proud of him...I love him...and I am incredibly grateful for how hard he works to provide for the family.  He is a wonderful father to our son and is an awesome sport when it comes to putting up with my shenanigans.

However, he is driving me crazy.

Paul's job is extremely demanding.  Coupled with a perfectionist personality when it comes to his engineering work, this basically means that my husband is a complete workaholic.  Again, I am very grateful that he has such a great job that allows me to stay home raising our kids, but I still would really like him to be involved at home.  Or to at least pretend that the family interests him as much as the current crisis situation at work.

Did I mention that he is a perfectionist?  Well, so am I.  And when it comes to our home, I am an extreme neat freak.  This is probably my greatest vice, because messes drive me to the point of lunacy. And the messiest individual around here is not the energetic toddler, but the other perfectionist in the household.  Paul is so detailed and thorough about his work, however not a second thought is given to throwing his clothes in a gigantic heap on the bedroom floor, leaving a wet towel on the bathroom floor, or throwing his coat over the back of the dining room chair even though the closet is less than four feet away!  (When I confronted him about the coat in particular, he pointed out that he left it out because he would be using it again in the morning...Oh, thanks for clearing that up for me!  I understand how that epic walk to the closet can be incredibly draining).

When he came home from a trip last week, I unpacked his suitcase for him, washed his clothes from the trip, and then folded and put them away.  I figured that he was probably exhausted and would appreciate the extra help.  However, there were a few tools and mechanical parts at the bottom of the suitcase and I was unsure where to put them.  I asked him to finish unpacking the rest of the suitcase and then to haul the bag down to the basement.  Over a week later, that suitcase and all the tools therein is still sitting in our bedroom completely untouched.

I am trying not to nag him (rather, I simply remind him that he is a slug), but at the same time I am not his maid and I refuse to pick up after him.  That being said, I am having the most difficult time passing the ever-growing "Mount Paul" at the bottom of our closet without growing more peeved at him.  I'll probably not be able to contain myself any further and clean it all up this afternoon.  Maybe that's all part of his plan...(genius!)

Since I am already in the middle of a husband roast, another pet peeve of mine is that Paul will not eat breakfast unless there is something 100% convenient for him to grab and quickly swallow.  My breakfast staple is a bowl of quick oats and even that is too much effort for him.  As he explained to me, he prefers to have a big bowl of sugary cereal that instantly dissolves so much in the milk that he does not even have to chew.  Seriously, who is this guy I married?

However, he will slow down and eat granola if it is offered to him.  He adores granola.  Since I would prefer that he consume a nutritious breakfast before he heads to work (and slow down and enjoy eating once in a while), I am more than happy to keep our shelves stocked with some homemade granola.  I always make granola in bulk (enough to fill three large cereal bins) because it ends up being less expensive if I buy the nuts, dried fruit, and oats all in bulk.  Plus, that guarantees that I don't make to make another batch for at least a couple months.

This time around, I made a Fall-inspired Pumpkin Spice Granola.  It actually has no oil in it, making it a bit healthier than the typical granola you buy at the grocery store.  With the subtle flavors of pumpkin pie, this is a great granola to eat with some warm milk poured over (even better with almond milk!).

And Paul now dedicates a full 10 minutes in the morning to munch through a bowl of delicious granola.  Score!

Pumpkin Spice Granola
adapted from Baked Bree

5 cups rolled oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, cereal, and brown sugar.  In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, maple syrup, applesauce, spices, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk really, really well.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture and gently toss together until the oats are evenly coated (do not be afraid to get your hands in there!).

Spread the granola onto a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take the granola out and stir it around. Bake another 20-25 minutes or until the granola gets crisp, stirring every 8 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it to ensure that it does not burn!

Take the granola out and mix in the cranberries and almonds.  Let cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to an airtight container.

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