Homemade Greek Yogurt and Granola

I am always quite ebullient when something works exactly the way it’s supposed to.

Especially when I follow the directions precisely  :)

Seriously, I’ve made yogurt in the slow cooker before, but it has never turned out this good. I am not sure how or why, but the texture and flavor of this particular batch was superb. I surmise that it could have something to do with the starter that I used …. in the past, I’ve used just regular plain yogurt…. but this time, I used Fage Greek Yogurt (my favorite brand).

To see if lighting strikes twice (and I’ve heard it does), I am in the midst of starting another batch right now.

And, flush with success from the first round of yogurt, I was also inspired to try my hand at making homemade granola, as it’s practically impossible to find nut-free granola around here.

This particular recipe was quite tasty- the granola wasn’t super-crunchy or sickeningly sweet – but in general, I prefer granola that clusters together a bit more.

Having said that, of course, I would definitely make it again, and experiment with a few “Sabrina-approved” add-ins.

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Homemade Greek Yogurt – adapted from creative simple life

2 quarts milk (I use 2% milk)
2 tbs. plain yogurt with live-active cultures (I use Fage)

Pour the milk into a crock pot and turn the heat to high. Heat the milk until it reaches 180 degrees. Turn off the slow cooker, unplug, and allow the milk to cool to 120 degrees.  Once the milk has dropped to 120 degrees, add the yogurt and whisk gently until it is fully incorporated. Replace the lid, then wrap the slow cooker with several towels and let it sit for 6 to 8 hours (overnight is best). Line a fine mesh strainer with two layers of paper towels, and set the strainer over a large bowl. Carefully pour the yogurt into the strainer, cover with plastic wrap, place it into the refrigerator and allow it to drain for several hours. The longer it drains, the thicker it becomes. Once it has finished draining, scrape the yogurt into a container and enjoy!

Extreme Granola – adapted from epicurious

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, cane syrup or honey, at room temperature
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pour the oats and sesame seeds into a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave; stir in the maple syrup and cinnamon and drizzle on top of the oats. Stir well with a rubber spatula and then spread out the oats in an even layer onto a baking sheet.

Bake the oats for 30 minutes, stirring once with the spatula halfway through, until the oats are lightly colored. Let cool; the mixture will crisp as it cools.