Vanilla Cinnamon Granola

Ah, spring. Sunny skies and reading books in the yard are definitely in my near future. Although, given Montana’s weather snow could possibly (probably) be in my near future as well, but I like to focus on the positive.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

In the warmer months I often start my days with yogurt and granola instead of hot oatmeal. High protein and filling, with fresh fruit for color and flavor, it’s always makes for a pleasant morning. However, given the high sugar content of most yogurt and granola, it can easily turn into more of a dessert than a healthy breakfast. I’ve solved the yogurt problem by buying the plain kind and adding a small dollop of homemade jam, which takes those sugar grams down to a much more reasonable level without sacrificing flavor, since I don’t particularly care for the taste of unflavored yogurt.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

However, after trying and failing (and trying and failing, and trying and failing) to find a granola with more grams of protein than sugar in each serving, I decided I should probably just make my own. Unfortunately, even most of the online recipes add a bunch of sugar!

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

(By the way, does it annoy anyone else when a recipe is touted as being sugar-free and then adds honey? This drives me insane. Honey is still sugar, people.)

I eventually found a recipe that legitimately doesn’t add any sugar, modified it slightly to fit my preferences (not a fan of cashews), and made a batch to try. It turned out pretty close to what I was looking for on the first attempt, which is always extra fantastic when trying new recipes. I later used inspiration from a very delicious but much more sugary recipe and took the best of both worlds to meet my needs.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

Crunchy, nutty, and full of great cinnamon flavor, this recipe is easy to tailor to suit your tastes and needs, or just to mix it up a little with every batch. I used almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and quinoa but you can certainly use any nuts or seeds of your choice, just try to keep it between 1.5 and 2 cups total. I think macadamia nuts would be fantastic, as well as pumpkin seeds. If you like dried fruits or chocolate in your granola, definitely add some (after it’s completely cooled!), just bear in mind this can quickly increase the sugar content. Additionally, if you’re not sold on the no-sugar-added idea, throw some honey or brown sugar in there too.

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola {{Baking Bytes}}

Vanilla Cinnamon Granola

Inspired by Super Healthy Kids and Pastry Affair
Makes 4+ cups

Ingredients

4 egg whites
1 Tablespoon vanilla
up to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar or honey (optional)1

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 Tablespoon cinnamon2

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an edged baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add egg whites to a large bowl and whip with an electric mixer until fluffy and opaque.
  3. Stir in vanilla and sugar (if using).
  4. Add oatmeal, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and cinnamon and stir until mixture is completely combined and moistened.
  5. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet, ideally not more than 1/4″ thick.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes, until granola is golden and crisp. If you like a loose granola, stir it every 10 minutes or so.
  7. Let cool completely on the counter, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Notes

I used no sugar since that’s what I was looking for. As a topping on yogurt or fruit, I don’t miss it a bit, but it does results in a somewhat less chunky granola in the end. If you like it to stay in larger pieces, add 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar; if you eat it more as a cereal and/or are looking for a traditional flavor, I would add about 1/4 cup packed. If you are adding 1/4 cup or more of sugar, you can probably omit half the egg white, or all of it to maintain a looser granola.

If this seems like an absurd amount of cinnamon, feel free to cut it in half. It’s way easier to add more than it is to take it away.

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Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath

Hello and Happy Holidays friends! Hope you’re having an appropriately white or warm season depending on your location. I am visiting my family in Alaska for the holidays and it’s been pleasantly snowy here – quite the change from last year’s raining nonsense. Apologies for the late post, time at home always seems to go by much more quickly than real life.

In any case, this morning I have another easy pastry recipe to share. The overwhelming popularity of my Cream Cheese Danishes led me to try another style. A few months ago I saw a braided Nutella bread that looked beautiful. As you may now be aware, I am not a fan of Nutella but I really loved the idea of a twisted bread with a contrasting filling. Filing it away for future reference, several months passed before I took up the project.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath {{Baking Bytes}}

I love cinnamon rolls any time of year but for some reason I always crave them even more around Christmas. The homemade version is quite a bit of work which makes them extra special (and extra tasty) so we don’t make them very often, except sometimes for Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast. Pillsbury makes actual cinnamon rolls, of course, which are surprisingly good, but feel somewhat commonplace as far as excitement goes.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath {{Baking Bytes}}

The idea for twisted bread returned to me and twisted cinnamon rolls were born. Using an easy cinnamon sugar filling and the pre-made dough makes for a super quick breakfast or pretty dessert without the hassle and tediousness of dealing with yeast and rising times. Small enough for the family or simple enough to make several for the office, these are a pretty way to switch up the traditional and delicious flavors of a cinnamon roll.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath {{Baking Bytes}}

Sure to please both the kids and the coworkers, this is a great holiday option for all the busy people out there.

Easy Cinnamon Roll Wreath

Makes 8 small servings

Ingredients

1 package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls1

2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. On an extra sheet of parchment paper, unroll the dough and pinch the seams together. Put face down on the prepared baking sheet and then gently peel off the parchment paper. Pinch the seams together from this side also.
  3. Spread 2 Tbsp butter over the dough.
  4. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon until well mixed, then sprinkle evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch clear on one long end.
  5. From the other long end, gently roll up the dough and then pinch closed.
  6. Carefully cut down longwise down the center of the rolled dough (a plastic pizza cutter works great, and won’t damage your silicon mats or your baking sheet). Gently turn the cut side facing up.
  7. Carefully lift one side and place it over the other dough strip, repeating on the same side to form a twist. Gently move into a circle and pinch the ends together.
  8. Bake for about 18 minutes. It should be browned on the top and not doughy in the middle.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: beat together cream cheese and 2 Tbsp butter until fluffy, then beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency – less milk for spreading, more milk for drizzling.
  10. Let the cinnamon roll cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to your serving plate and spread/drizzle with the frosting. (You will likely have frosting left over, so feel free to halve the recipe if you don’t like lots of it.)
  11. Serve immediately with coffee for a lovely snack, or eggs and fruit for a more well-rounded breakfast.

Notes

Any of the styles should work, although they may all bake up slightly differently, so watch carefully and adjust the baking time accordingly. For example, the “big and flaky” version would probably need a couple more minutes in the oven.

Roasted Cinnamon Almonds

Today’s recipe is inspired by Costco. Costco is one of my favorite stores to peruse because they have awesome stuff in all categories from housewares to clothing to food. The samples are also a pretty fantastic perk, although M and I don’t often go to Costco during sample time so we can avoid the crowds. A few weeks ago I made a quick stop in the afternoon to pick up one of the fake orchids they have (which I’m still psyched about) and made the sample rounds while I was there. One of the things I came across was roasted cinnamon sugar almonds.

Normally I’m not a big nut person (the notable exception being almond roca) but I thought I’d give these a try on a whim, and holy crap they are amazing. To be fair, I’m pretty sure they are like 75% sugar so basically it’s cinnamon almond candy, but nonetheless they were fantastic. It gave me the idea to make my own, less candy-like version at home.

Roasted Cinnamon Almonds {{Baking Bytes}}

Doing my usual Pinterest perusal came up with mostly very similar recipes, which I modified to fit my own needs. I wasn’t really looking for a sugary snack this time around, but if you’re wanting a sweeter recipe, like for holiday gifts, I give a range of sugar amounts in my notes below the recipe.

Crunchy roasted almonds coated with cinnamon and sugar are a high-protein and tasty option for any time of day. Make them without sugar for a healthy snack, or add the sugar for a sweet treat. I personally like both options, although the latter is probably more of a crowd pleaser. (They also turn out shinier, and ergo prettier, like the ones pictured.)

Roasted Cinnamon Almonds {{Baking Bytes}}

They do take a while to bake, but the process is pretty low maintenance and makes your house smell lovely. You could also definitely make two batches at a time if you have two lipped cookie sheets – the almonds will keep for at least a couple of weeks.

Roasted Cinnamon Almonds

Adapted from the Internet
Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1 egg white
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp cinnamon
up to 1/2 cup brown sugar, to taste

4 cups raw almonds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an edged baking sheet with a silicon mat (or parchment paper) and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except almonds.
  3. Add almonds, and stir until they are well coated with the cinnamon mixture.
  4. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet. It’s okay if they touch but you don’t want a pile.
  5. Bake for 60-90 minutes, stirring them once or twice. I like mine more roasted so I went closer to 90 minutes, but they are great after an hour also. Give one a taste (carefully) and see what you think.
  6. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Notes

Using no sugar is still delicious and a healthier treat, or 1/4 cup gives a relatively mild sweet flavor. If you’re looking for something really sugary (more along the lines of Costco’s version), add up to 1/2 cup of sugar, feeling free to use up to half white sugar if you prefer.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Hello friends, hope you’ve successfully made the switch to February. Bozeman leaped right passed it into April as we continue to have weather in the 50’s. As someone who actually enjoys winter, and skiing, and cold-weather running, I find this very depressing. I also am hoping this does not mean we have a hellish summer ahead of us or I think I’ll move back to Alaska for July.

In any case, cookies. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Pinterest and the rest of the internet has been overrun with pink and chocolate. I decided to ignore all of these things and make something completely different this weekend.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

These cookies are soft and have a wonderful brown sugar flavor spiced with cinnamon. Kind of a cross between snickerdoodles and gingersnaps, they are a simple pleasure and a delightful treat for any time of year. They do require a couple hours of chilling, but I expect I’ll be making these pretty often in spite of that. Bonus: for those of you without a stand mixer, these cookies are mixed by hand – no electricity required.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for dark brown sugar but I only had light on hand. They are delicious regardless but I imagine they’d be extra flavorful if you’ve got the dark option lying around.

As a fall or winter refreshment these go great with coffee or hot chocolate. If you’re looking to cool them down for summer activities, they are awesome as ice cream cookie sandwiches. Just put a scoop of softened ice cream on a cookie, and press another cookie on top until the ice cream is spread out to the side. Serve immediately or store in the freezer, but pull them out a few minutes early before serving. Yum!

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 22 cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (I used a whole tsp)
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg, room temp
2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp white sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar until completely combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry and use a rubber spatula to stir until completely mixed. Dough will be wet and soft but should be thick. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Pour 2 Tbsp sugar into a bowl or deep plate. After dough has chilled, roll 2 Tbsp dough into a ball, then roll in the sugar to coat. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Return dough balls to the refrigerator, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and line baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
  6. Bake cookies for 12-16 minutes. They will look soft and puffy but should not look super wet in the cracks. For extra soft cookies, use the lower end of the range; for a slight crunch on the outside, use the upper end.
  7. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  8. Cookies stay soft for several days in an airtight container on the counter…assuming you haven’t eaten them all already.

Notes

To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, place it in a cup of warm water for 5-10 minutes.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins {{Baking Bytes}}Hello hello. Hope your year is going splendidly. So far January has been pretty good and I’m looking forward to February. Hopefully winter will come back as our ski area could definitely use some more snow. But it’s open so I’m not complaining too much. Last week I ran in shorts which is a little strange for January in Montana, so I wouldn’t mind if it cooled down a bit.

Apple cinnamon muffins with crumb topping

Apple cinnamon muffins with crumb topping

In any case, I’ve been in an apple mood the last couple weeks and while I was deciding what to make I recalled the muffins I made during a semester abroad in Scotland. All I could remember is that the recipe was on allrecipes.com and there was a crazy amount of apple in it. And it took forever to chop it all by hand. After some dedicated searching, some slight modifications, and two batches of muffins, I have the recipe here to share.

Apple cinnamon muffins with raw sugar topping

Apple cinnamon muffins with raw sugar topping

These muffins are moist and bursting with apples. A sweet topping (if you want) and the addition of cinnamon make these a lovely treat or breakfast for any time of the year. Chopping the apples will be very quick if you employ the use of a corer/peeler contraption, but even by hand it’s definitely worth the effort.

Apple cinnamon muffins sans topping.

Apple cinnamon muffins sans topping.

The original recipe calls for a sugar crumb topping which is excellent, but the muffins are also great with just a dusting of raw sugar or just plain. I imagine they’d also be great with some regular cinnamon and sugar on top although I haven’t tried this. I promise to do so next time.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins {{Baking Bytes}}

Whatever weather has graced your corner of the world, these muffins will be a delicious addition to your day.

Note: This is not a recipe to use up old apples. The apple is VERY prominent so make sure you pick good ones that you’d be fine eating plain.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Adapted from AllRecipes
Makes 12-15 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 egg

2 apples

Topping:
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core, and chop the apples into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. If desired, mix the topping ingredients with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture comes together. It should be well mixed but crumbly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and gently mix with a spatula until moistened. Batter will be thick.
  7. Gently stir in the apples until they are evenly distributed. Apple to batter ratio will look very high, but this is normal.
  8. Fill muffin wells 2/3 – 3/4 full and sprinkle with topping mix, raw sugar, or leave plain.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Notes

I used jazz apples because that’s what I had on hand, but any green or pinkish variety should be great.