Festive Fun in the Freezer!

Time to get creative and time to add a little fun to the holiday festivities this year! Are you planning a holiday punch or trying out a new cocktail recipe for your adult beverages? Why not add a little fun to your drinks by adding a little splash of flavor and, well, a little shape?

To help me out with this post, a little friend that’s been hanging out from time to time on Instagram, the one and only, #InTheKnowMan, was in my kitchen as my assistant. I think he was also there to make sure I was doing things properly and not goofing off. But uh, I think really it was *he* who was goofing off! In case you aren’t aware, #InTheKnowMan is all the way from the chocolate factory of Riegelein (located in Germany) and is helping Gourmet International out with some holiday tips and advice.

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In the past few years, silicone baking molds have become super popular in kitchens across the globe. They are super easy to use, super easy to clean, and most of all – super easy to pop out the molded items that have been set inside! These silicone molds have been used for cupcakes, brownies, ice cubes, candy – and for myself, I actually use these silicone molds to make homemade soaps! Last Christmas I tried to make little gingerbread soaps – but these guys are pretty small, so I gave up the mold to be used for ice cubes or candies.

Soo… speaking of ice cubes. I had an idea. Helllllloooo Hero Nectars! Why not freeze that nectar in a cute, festive, holiday silicone mold and add it to my favorite beverage? A peach flavored gingerbread man would be great in prosecco or champagne.

And talk about easy to do… just place your silicone mold on a flat surface. I suggest placing it on a cookie sheet so that it will be easier to transfer and place into the freezer. Pour the Hero nectar in a smaller Pyrex measuring cup so it’s easier to pour into the molds. Take care while pouring into the mold cavities, try not to overfill.
Once they are all filled, stick them in the freezer and let them FREEZE!

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As you can see below, #InTheKnowMan was more than happy to help me pop the tray into one his favorite places in my kitchen, the freezer!

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*insert a few hours of wait time here*

And finally we can take the tray out of the freezer! The nectar is all shiny and pretty! Check out the frozen little fellas in my glass!

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So I don’t have an exact recipe to provide for you, but here are some ideas… you don’t need ice cubes, since you have your nectar cubes. You have the flavor already, packed in those little cubes of fun. Think of your favorite beverages and how you can ratio your cubes of flavor to alcohol and mixer content. This may require some trial and error. And… well, there’s no harm in that, just be safe and responsible. If you are not home and you drove yourself somewhere and are sharing this fun idea, we please ask you to call a cab, Über or find a designated driver to help you home. Please do not drink and drive.

You do not need to have any alcohol added to your beverage at all, you can easily make a fun punch for the kids, yourself, or for those who do not drink. Silicone molds come in all shapes and sizes, and also range in holiday decor, so make your non-alocoholic punch your own! Use smaller molds for ice cubes or use larger molds for larger pieces that you would perhaps normally use as a ring mold for a classic punch. Play around with the molds and the different flavored Hero nectar! If you come up with an awesome recipe, please share with us and we will make sure to share it here and spread the word! ENJOY!

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A Post Not to Take Gingerly.

Now that I have your attention, you may have guessed this post may be contain something with “ginger” within it. Well, you guessed correctly! It’s National Gingerbread Cookie Day, but while you may be thinking of the cute little Gingerbread Man when you think of the cookie, we like to think of the the true gingerbread form.

Follow our Instagram for #InTheKnowMan and follow our Twitter for #TravelingSanta to get holiday info and advice!

An earlier blog post had us traveling through Germany with our Vice President Monica. She can be seen below in Germany at Wicklein making her own gingerbread! You won’t see the traditional cute little guy or gal that would be running away from the fox! We are talking about the original, true, Nürnberg lebkuchen a.k.a. gingerbread!

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This original gingerbread is packed with flavor from spices and nuts and this treat is savored all around the world at this time of year! So we encourage you to go out and pick up yourself some gingerbread – hopefully the true and original kind – and enjoy the taste of National Gingerbread Cookie Day!

German Holiday Tradition.

When you are given the opportunity to soak a sugar cone in 151 proof rum and then light it on fire, you do not object! That is, unless you are afraid of fire and flames! But I am the type of person who enjoys a little adventure, as long as some safety precautions are put in place, and maybe a fire extinguisher is close at hand…!

 

But what the heck am I talking about? Well, let’s talk about the Feuerzangenbowle. Loose translation: fire punch (fire tongs punch)! Oftentimes a part of New Year’s Eve celebrations or Christmas gatherings, Feuerzangenbowle is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine.

Please be sure if you do prepare this, that you use the correct fire-proof punch bowl, tongs and take safety precautions! We did a little improvisation with our “punch bowl”, however, we had precautions in place and took care of how we proceeded with this recipe.

 

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To further enhance this experience, we did create a video for you!

Feuerzangenbowle Recipe (from GermanDeli.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bottles of Merlot or Burgundy win (a dry red white might be too bitter)
  • 4 thin slices of orange
  • 4 thin slices of lemon
  • Juice of 2 fresh oranges
  • Juice of 2 fresh lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon rind
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 sugar cone a.k.a. Zuckerhut, or sugar-loaf
  • 1 cup (approximately) of Rum (must be 151 proof rum or it won’t flame)

Equipment Needed:

  • 1 heat and flame-proof punch bowl (ideally glass)
  • 1 stainless steel bridge, if not already part of your punch bowl set
  • Long match or lighter

Directions:

  1. In a large pot add both bottles of wine and all the ingredients except the sugar cone and the rum.
  2. Simmer the wine and fruit and spices over low heat for about 15 minutes. DO NOT BOIL the wine. Wine should be hot, but not scalding.
  3. IF you are using flame/heat-proof glass punch bowl, carefully add the hot wine (with fruit, cinnamon, etc.) to the punch bowl.
  4. As guests gather around, place punch bowl or pot in a dimly lit room. Light the candle below the punch bowl to help keep the wine warm.
  5. IF you are NOT using the punchbowl, leave the pot on the stove on low heat.
  6. Place the stainless steel bridge across the top of punch bowl or pot.
  7. Unwrap the sugar cone and place it on the bridge. Slowly pour the 151-proof rum onto the cone, rotating the cone until it is soaked with the rum.
  8. Light the sugar cone with a match or lighter. The sugar cone will dissolve as the burning rum heats up the cone. The carmelized sugar will drop into the punch to sweeten it and the rum will enhance the flavor.

And that is the basic recipe and preparation for this fun and toasty tradition! This recipe was taken from our friends at GermanDeli.com. We love the video GermanDeli.com has made, and we thought we would try it ourselves in our own unique way! Thank you for being inspiration!

It was my mother’s 70th birthday celebration and we enjoyed creating this fun and festive vibe for her. Although she had Latvian parents, my mother was born in Nürnberg, Germany. We thought it would be fitting to have a little German tradition for her this evening!

For the Organic Fanatic.

Organic. By definition it means: of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides. (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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Most of us today want to eat food and drink beverages that are not comprised of noxious chemical elements and that contain pure, fresh ingredients. There are many organic products on the market to choose from and it can be hard as a consumer to determine was is best for themselves and/or their families.

I introduced Maintal products not long ago in a post dedicated to rosehip. Today I am going to introduce you to Maintal Organic Fruit Spread. Not only is this product organic, it’s also vegan and all natural. This blueberry organic fruit spread is made with 40% fruit and is made in Germany. So what’s on the label? What are the ingredients? I’m happy to tell you:

Ingredients: Raw cane sugar*, blueberries*, water, lemon juice concentrate* (acidifier), pectin. *Denotes: Only from controlled organic agriculture.

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That’s a pretty basic and simple list of organic ingredients in this fruit spread. This fruit spread contains pieces of actual fruit, as it should, for being all natural and organic! While some fruit spreads with actual fruit pieces sometimes taste odd or may have a texture issue, there is none of that with this Maintal product! Delicious, fruitful and smooth!

The blueberry organic fruit spread is perfect for breads, cakes, pastries and more. According to Maintal’s website, there are approximately 1 million vegan Germans. The mindset of people consciously increasing the amount of vegan products in their diet has been growing. Those who have included vegan foods in their diet have been found to have noticeable effects on the well-being of people who suffer from allergies, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Maintal’s production processes and techniques have helped to preserve as many vitamins as possible within the fruit spreads. The combination of organic and vegan benefits nature, as well as, providing a simple taste of organic food for gourmet connoisseurs.

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Spreading Holiday Cheer!

We are so ready for December, and yes, we still have to make it through Thanksgiving, but we are anxious to start spreading the holiday cheer! We’d love to start spreading that holiday cheer by sharing the love of Riegelein chocolate! Our blog travels have sent us to Germany to where Riegelein chocolates are produced. Now we are doing a little fun traveling with one of thier chocolate Santas who came over for a visit before Christmas. Our cute little friend, #TravelingSanta, is all the way from Caldozburg, Germany!

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He’s going to be hanging around Michigan and making some travels with my family. He has decided that we will be his host family along the way! I have to tell you, he can be a little difficult to travel around with! He doesn’t like heat, and he’s not a big fan of the sunshine, but we will do what we can to make sure he’s well cared for and gets a wonderful experinece of what Michigan has to offer!

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He was seen this past weekend in Cadillac, Michigan. My family was up north for a hockey tournament and he decided to come along. He didn’t see much hockey this weekend, he wasn’t so sure about all the young children walking around with the hockey sticks in their hands. I think he was also afraid he may have gotten hit by a puck. He was out and about exploring what Cadillac had to offer while we were being rink rats. #TravelingSanta was VERY excited to see snow this weekend while we were up north. I told him if he really does like the cold, next time he’s going to have to join me at the ice rink, we definitely froze our little tushies off in there!

#TravelingSanta has somehow taken over some posting on Twitter, who knows where else he may show up. I guess you just have to wait and see what happens before he leaves in late December. He even gave us an exclusive photo below of himself at Lake Cadillac that he hasn’t posted anywhere yet! I have a feeling he will be spotted throughout our other social media channels – he’s a sneaky Santa!

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Let’s Talk About Stollen.

DSC_0095Do you know what stollen is? If you don’t, its basic definition is that stollen is a sweet yeast bread of German origin that contains fruits and nuts (Source: Merriam-Webster). And sweet it is! I’ve been nibbling on this Quickbury Christ Stollen and it’s yummy! I sort of feel like I’m doing something bad because it’s not December yet and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet, so to think about stollen – even eating it – this early before Christmas seems sort of wrong! But it tastes soooo good!

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Stollen can be eaten as is, or often times could be served with butter or preserves. I enjoyed my slice of stollen as is, plain, but every now and then some butter is nice with the flavor of the sweet bread! There’s plenty of flavor and the bread is by no means dry at all. Do make sure after you have opened your package of stollen that you wrap it up well to prevent it from drying out. I usually wrap mine in foil, nice and tight!

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Stollen should not be confused with fruitcake, they are two separate items! The main difference between stollen and fruitcake is that fruitcake is often soaked in rum or other spirits. You won’t find that in a stollen recipe!

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In some ways this reminds me of what Latvians bake called “Zeltene Maize” or a “Kliņģeris”. A sweet bread with raisins, fruits and/or other nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. My grandmothers used to make this bread and it was always delicious in the morning with a cup of hot coffee or tea. The kliņģeris is more of a Latvian birthday bread “pretzel” with powdered sugar and almonds on top. Very similar in the likes of stollen!

Quickbury is a company based out of Quickborn, Germany, which is north of Hamburg. They specialize in a wide range of cookies, breads, cakes and sugar-free edible items. During the Christmas holiday season, they produce a variety of traditional stollen and gingerbread. What makes Quickbury unique is that they are always expanding their assortment of products to meet the requirements and desires of their customers.

If you have not ever tried stollen or previous years have been a fruitcake fan, why not ditch the fruitcake and go for stollen this year? Stollen is perfect for those holiday celebrations when guests are around or perfect for adding to breakfast on those early Christmas mornings watching presents being unwrapped.

What else do you like about the holiday season? Are there any other favorite baked items, goods, treats that you long for when the holiday season approaches? Please share! Even better if you can share a photo or link! Post a favorite picture on our Facebook page or tag us in Instagram! Tweet and retweet with us on Twitter! There may be a special guest in the upcoming weeks traveling across Michigan, so stay tuned for Traveling Santa! Watch for other holiday ideas and fun on Pinterest!

As always, nibble on my friends!

Cultivated From Fields of Gold.

What is that growing in that field? What is that golden glow in the distance? Why, that’s mustard growing out yonder! I did bring mustard to this WordPress party in early October and we’re bringing it back around. Why? Because mustard is delicious and pairs well with many things! And if you want to, you can keep your own Oktoberfest going with these Hengstenberg gourmet mustard mugs! The fun continues when you are done with the mustard because then you can use the mug for other things!

It was a really blah and somewhat rainy evening in Michigan last night. We decided that it would be a good idea to close down my parents pool, even though the weather was super yuck, it had to be done. I had the bright idea of picking up some bratwurst from a local shop down the road to toss on the grill for dinner. Between adults watching children inside the house and adults out and about milling around a draining pool, bratwurst was grilling and some twice baked potatoes were warming up in the oven. Not much time was given to any other condiments for the bratwurst, but that was okay. Hengstenberg mustard was in the house!

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My mom is one who does not like hot spicy things, but she loves the Hengstenberg Medium Mild Mustard. I am one that likes sweet and tangy, so I’m a big fan of the Hengstenberg Sweet Mustard Bavarian Style. Lucky for us, we had both in the mugs! Since we were busy doing many things and taking care of business in the backyard with the pool, the only thing we really put on our bratwurst was the mustard. Not always do I load up my grilled food with condiments, I can be a plain Jane, and when you just use a really good mustard, sometimes that is just the only thing you need!

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Mustard goes well by itself with other food as well! Pretzels, pigs in a blanket, sauces, incorporated with salad dressings, meats, cheeses and more! Do you like mustard? What foods would you use mustard for? Are you spicy or sweet or maybe somewhere in between?

 

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Before I wrap up this post, I thought I would share a few mustard facts from MentalFloss.com:

Broccoli is a not-so-distant cousin.

As members of the Brassica or Sinapis genera, mustard plants are close relatives to a surprising variety of common vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, and cabbage.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans used it as more than just a condiment.

Pythagoras endorsed a poultice of mustard seeds as a cure for scorpion stings. Hippocrates praised mustard paste as a miracle remedy capable of soothing pains and aches; and ancient Roman physicians used it to ease toothaches. They weren’t alone. Over the years, mustard has been used for appetite stimulation, sinus clearing, and frostbite prevention. It’s now touted as a weight loss supplement, asthma suppressant, hair growth stimulant, immunity booster, cholesterol regulator, dermatitis treatment, and even as an effective method of warding off gastrointestinal cancer, so ask your doctor if mustard is right for you.

Source: MentalFloss.com

 

Side Dish Delish!

Do you find yourself trying to find something to add to your main dish – it doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner? Well, today we’ve got just the perfect side dish delish that you need to add with your next meal! Why not try adding Kartoffelland Fried Potatoes with Onion to your next meal? It is SO easy to prepare – just fry them up in a pan and heat them to your desire and BOOM! You’ve got yourself one of the easiest side dishes to go with your main course.

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Think about it… you could add this with your morning eggs and toast. A nice different twist to your regular hash browns. Or… maybe you have some left over ham or other meat that you need to cook up and eat – whip these potatoes up with the meat and you’ve got yourself a lunch meal! Let’s not forget about dinner – why not cook up some bratwurst, sauerkraut and Kartoffelland potatoes?! TA DA! Meal is done! So simple and easy to make!

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If these fried potatoes are not your thing, what about dumplings? Kartoffelland also has German Potato Dumplings that have easy prep: mix with water, form dumplings and boil! Speaking of these dumplings, I have had these before. They are a great side dish to any meal as well, perhaps our next go ’round with Kartoffelland, we’ll whip up some of the dumplings for us to share and view with you!

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I prepared the Kartoffelland Fried Potatoes with Onion for brunch yesterday. It was such a hectic morning – I was up early to get out and about with errands to run after making sure the oldest got on the bus. By the time I got home from hockey manager duties and dropping off a birthday snack to school, it was time to put some food in the tummy. I still had English muffins and I thought potatoes and eggs sound good, so why not? So I opened up a package of Kartoffelland potatoes and added them to the frying pan! I really didn’t add much more besides a little pad of butter to the frying pan. The potatoes are already in vegetable oil from the packaging, so I just decided a little bit of butter would be sufficient and let them fry up in the pan for about 15-20 minutes over a medium/low heat. After the potatoes were fried up, I had my toaster work on my English muffins and then I got a pan ready to make some scrambled eggs. I will admit, while getting the pan ready for the scrambled eggs, I let my butter get a little too hot as I was putting some of that Maintal Rosehip Fruit Spread on my English muffins. I took a little too long spreading the fruit and probably had a little too much butter in the pan for the eggs. The eggs didn’t look that pretty, so I spared you all from their odd appearance (but they tasted just fine). These potatoes are a great side dish for any meal!

Add a Little Fruit Flavor!

So let’s talk about rosehip. I’ve never had it before, it’s something new to me, and I’m here to tell you it’s a little bundle of mild flavor to spread upon your next slice of toast or English muffin. I was honestly a bit afraid to try it, I’m not a huge fan of super crazy new fruit flavors, but I was pleasantly surprised that rosehip is a pretty mellow fellow. I also want to try this rosehip fruit spread on something like a sugar cookie – like one of those cookies with jam or jelly on them? I bet it would taste delicious!

 

So, what am I talking about here? Well, I cracked open a jar of Maintal Rosehip Fruit Spread. Maintal is a brand from Germany that started its journey in 1886. Maintal is one of the oldest and most traditional preserve companies in Germany that has been managed by the fourth generation since 1999. Maintal produces organic preserves, fine jellies and first class preserves. I’ll be writing about Maintal’s organic line in future posts, so be sure to stay tuned for that! Maintal claims to be “Bavaria’s sweetest side of life” where treats such as “Krapfen” (similar to a doughnut that is filled with preserves), croissants, and other desserts all over Bavaria are “refined with Maintal products”. Maintal has a variety of fruit flavors from apricot, cranberry, strawberry, plum, blueberry, quince, elderberry and much more!

I was browsing Maintal’s website and their recipes, there are several great ideas out there, but some of them seem like they may be time-consuming and/or may need some additional prep work. And there’s the whole conversion of the ingredient lists into amounts that I can appropriately measure! But I’ll keep looking in there to find something we can whip up with their products!

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Oh! And what about this rosehip I introduced to you all? Well, I did a little research and this is what I found out:

A rose hip is the fruit of a rose. Also known as rose haw or rose hep. The wild dog rose is the type of rose most often cultivated for their hips. This plant grows up to ten feet tall and bears a white, very fragrant flower. Once the flower has bloomed, and all the petals have fallen off, the hip is picked and used in a variety of preparations.
-Information From Herbwisdom.com

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There are many health benefits from rosehip as well. Rosehip can be beneficial to aid the immune system, act as a diuretic and/or laxative, it has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and has been known to be helpful with skin ailments. According to Herbwisdom.com, rosehips contain 50% more vitamin C than oranges! No wonder it’s used as an immune booster! I may need to enjoy more rosehip in the form of fruit spread and tea! I never knew this! That’s pretty neat!

 

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So next time you’re at the store and you see Maintal products, look and see if they have rosehip fruit spread! Now that I know some of the potential health benefits of rosehip, I am thinking I may be changing what I put on my toast, bagels or English muffins! As you can see from some of the photos where I hold the fruit spread with the knife, it’s very smooth and luxurious as it leaves the jar. It sounds really weird, I don’t have a better way to describe it, but it spreads so well and the consistency is wonderful. This fruit spread is worthy of Nibble, Nibble!

Homemade Granola Made with Raw Honey.

Making your own granola is super easy! Not only that, but I would say it’s pretty healthy compared to other store-bought items that are in your cupboard. Granola is handy to have and tastes great on top of yogurt, cereal, oatmeal and more! This recipe that I am going to share with you has been tweaked and modified from the original homemade granola recipe found here. The original recipe was double in size, I cut it down to half and adjusted from there. The beauty of granola and making homemade snacks and treats is that you can modify and adjust to your own liking. And that is what I did for today’s recipe using Breitsamer Rapsflower Blossom Raw Honey from Germany.

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When I opened the jar of honey, the texture and the color of the honey were really unique and silky? Sounds weird, but silky is how I would describe the honey! You can see from the jar near the top and towards the bottom of the label how it looks like it spins within itself in the jar. It’s silly, but it’s really pretty! And it has an amazing flavor!

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I made this recipe several years ago and I really enjoy it. I LOVE putting the granola on top of ice cream – especially a French Vanilla or Vanilla Bean flavored ice cream. It’s so delicious! You could even add some hot fudge and/or caramel sauce as well!

Homemade Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups uncooked oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup extra fine almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Breitsamer Rapsflower Blossom Raw Honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Combine oats, shredded coconut, almond flour, spices and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. In a saucepan, heat raw honey, coconut oil and vanilla until melted and warm.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and mix well.
  5. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet or oven safe casserole dish (like I did). Press the granola down onto cookie sheet or into casserole dish with the back of a spoon. The more you press down on the granola, the more clump like it will become and stick together.
  6. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, mixing and stirring the granola half way through cooking time. (I like my granola a bit toasty with the coconut – so I added a few extra minutes, adjust cooking time to your preference.)
  7. Remove from oven and cool in the pan or casserole dish.
  8. Granola will harden and become more granola like the longer it sits.
  9. Store in an airtight glass container.

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