oats n' notes

Food & lifestyle from the the granola factory bakery

Category Archives: Entrees

Honey Pecan Fried Chicken w/ Homemade Honey Mustard.


fried chicken

by Cal Virgilio

We’ve all had great fried chicken once in our lives. The best I’ve had was at a small shack 45 minutes off route 95 in North Carolina. I remember the moist meat and the crunchy, crispy texture, and I thought maybe I could replicate it at home. Though I’ve tried a few times with various recipes, I could never match the crunchy breading. So in the midst of brainstorming 30 ways to use granola as an ingredient, I thought I’d give it a try on chicken. Perhaps granola would finally give my fried chicken that extra crunch I’ve been looking for.

I chose to use our all-natural honey pecan variety. I figured the sweet and salty flavor would complement the chicken and go well with a honey mustard dipping sauce. After doing some research on numerous recipes, I started to build the foundations of my fried chicken.

fried chicken_breadedBoneless Chicken Strips: Frying food is messy and can make your house smell like the kitchen of a fast food joint. I wanted to spend the least amount of time deep frying, so this meant ditching the bone-in chicken legs and going with thinly-cut strips of chicken breast.

Buttermilk Brine: The recipes I referenced used a few different brines, but I chose to go with buttermilk. It gave the chicken great flavor and helped keep a juicy and moist.

Double Dipping: For an extra crunchy breading, I went with the following dipping sequence: buttermilk–flour–buttermilk–granola. This gave a more layered breading than if I would have just dipped the chicken in granola.

The result of this recipe was a comparable crunchy texture to the chicken I had in North Carolina. It also had the added flavor of the honey pecan granola. And, while I am not a huge fan of mustard, I must say that dipping the chicken in a homemade honey mustard sauce completed the recipe.

A cleaner, healthier alternative: I realize not everyone wants to deep-fry food at home, so I’ve included an alternate recipe that lightly pan-fries the chicken strips, and then finishes them off in the oven. The crust will not be as crunchy in this recipe, but you’ll still get the great flavor and a less stinky kitchen when you’re finished!

Honey Pecan Fried Chicken

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bag of Bethlehem All Natural Honey Pecan Granola
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • Salt & Pepper For Seasoning
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

Homemade Honey Mustard

  • 1/2 cup Grey Poupon mustard
  • 1/2 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Honey Mustard Recipe: Mix three ingredients together until the honey and mustard are blended together. Season with salt if preferred.

Fried Chicken Chicken Recipe:

Begin by slicing the chicken breasts, lengthwise, into half-inch strips. In a bowl, add the chicken strips and pour buttermilk over top until the chicken is just about submerged. Mix chicken and buttermilk with your hands to assure each piece is fully coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

After refrigerating the chicken, pour the granola into a food processor and process until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Next, add the granola to a small mixing bowl. In two other bowls, add the rest of your buttermilk in one and the two cups of flour in the other. Season flour liberally with salt and pepper and give it a quick stir with a spoon to incorporate.

Now, drain the chicken and pat dry. Dredge the chicken strips a few at a time into the flour, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drip off. Next, dip the chicken in the granola crumbs, pressing the chicken firmly to cover with granola. Put the chicken on a clean platter or wax paper while you heat the oil.

Pour 3 inches of oil into a deep skillet or Dutch oven. The oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pot. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 degrees.  If you do not have a thermometer, I have got a cool trick instead: to check if your oil is ready for frying, stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and touch the bottom of the pot. If you see bubbles around the sides of the spoon, the oil is ready!

Add the chicken strips, 4 to 5 at a time, and turn them frequently to assure a consistent frying and golden color. Cook the chicken for 9 to 10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack to drain excess oil. Repeat to cook the remaining pieces. Serve hot.

Lightly Fried Alternate Recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Follow the above recipe until it comes time to cook the chicken. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken strips, 3 to 4 at a time, and cook on each side for 2 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and transfer to a baking tray. Once you’ve seared all the chicken, place tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. This recipe is cleaner and a healthier alternative to deep frying.





Meatballs Infused with Honey Pecan Granola



By Dea Castrejon

Frank Sinatra on pandora…check! Glass of red wine…check! Let’s get din din on!

This is my way of turning a “Case of the Mondays” into a surprise date night with my hunk of a husband. And, on account of granola, 30 ways in 30 days, I will be making classic spaghetti with marinara sauce. The twist??? Granola infused meatballs!

Before I jump into the recipes, I wanted to share with you why I have decided to experiment with a seemingly unusual mixture of meat and granola. Well, for starters, I am a baker at the Granola Factory, and a biased baker at that!  I love our granola, so I typically have it on hand in my pantry, unlike bread crumbs. Maybe your family is different, but we do not find ourselves using bread crumbs on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Additionally, as I compare the ingredients of bread crumbs and granola, I believe one could argue that granola is a more nutritionally sound option. It seems like the sodium content in most generic brands of bread crumbs is extremely high, and more than anything, it sort of scares me to think that a carton of bread crumbs possesses enough preservatives to maintain a shelf life of 2 years! Consequently, I am happy to use my 7 ingredient, real food, honey pecan granola as a legitimate alternative to bread crumbs in my meatballs. Am I pushing too hard? Regardless, let me tell you in advance, these granola infused meatballs are delicious, and they have not only been approved by my husband, but I have learned they have been enjoyed by his drooling coworkers around the lunch table, too!   So, without any more convincing, I am proud to share with y’all my pasta dinner, championed by these granola infused meatballs!

Alright, I suggest starting with your tomato sauce, especially if you are planning to do this from scratch (otherwise, a jar of your favorite marinara will be great!). For me, starting here allows enough time for my sauce to simmer and for all the wonderful flavors to mingle. Secondly, the aroma of sautéing onions in olive oil and fresh garlic…mmmm, simply amazing!

Tomato sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

15 oz can of diced tomatoes

3 oz of tomato paste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 cup dry red wine

8 ounces tomato sauce

salt and black pepper, to taste

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So, as suggested, begin by heating olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Next, add your finely chopped garlic, and let flavors infuse for another minute, or so.

sauteed onions

By this time, the amazing smell I hinted at earlier should be consuming your kitchen! You can now added canned crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to simmer for 10 minutes. Chop up your fresh parsley and oregano and add it to the sauce. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Finally, add your tomato sauce, red wine, and salt and pepper. Let cook for nearly 20 minutes.

IMG_1958 prepared sauces

While the sauce is simmering for the final time, I begann putting together the star of tonight’s dinner, my meatballs. I have adapted a recipe from The Meatball Shop Cookbook, written by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow. Holzman and Chernow, restaurant owners to the highly esteemed Meatball Shop in New York City, is undoubtedly one of my favorite restaurants. These guys serve a simple, but excellent menu revolving around meatballs in a very unpretentious, communal atmosphere.   I have chosen to re-create their most popular, beef meatball for my pasta dinner (See recipe below with granola adaptation/ substitution included).

Beef Meatballs

*makes about 2 dozen 1 ½-inch meatballs

2 pound 80% lean ground beef

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 large egg

½ cup Granola Factory All Natural Honey Pecan granola (food processed)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoons dried oregano ( you may also use 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ground fennel

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9×13 baking pan and use your hands to coat entire surface. Next, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

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Roll mixture into compact, round balls and pack them closely together in the baking dish.


Roast meatballs in the oven for nearly 20 minutes or until center of the meatball reaches 165ºF.   Drain any grease from the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 4 cups of your prepared tomato sauce over the meatballs and return pan to the oven for another 15 minutes.

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As meatballs are roasting in the tomato sauce, I put together the final pieces to my homemade date night dinner. Boil a pot of salted water for your choice of pasta (I used a fancy filei pasta noodle from an awesome specialty store in the Little Italy neighborhood of Boston).




Prepare a side salad to complement your dish. My husband and I are loving arugula salads right now, so I tossed together arugula, marcona almonds, fresh blueberries, red onion, and thinly sliced peaches dressed with a traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture. Finally, I sliced up a freshly baked sourdough baguette that I bought from the market earlier in the day.

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Table is set.  Dinner is plated.  Sinatra is still singing. Now, there are two glasses of red wine and my husband is home! Enjoy!


Seafood Paella



Serves 8-10

When it comes to outdoor summer cooking, burgers, ribs and bbq come to mind. But our personal favorite meal to cook outdoors is paella. Though paella can be cooked any time of year on a stove, the smokiness that comes from cooking over a wood-burning fire will enhance the flavor of the overall dish.  So light the fire pit, grab the paella pan, and invite your friends for a great outdoor meal that everyone will remember.


Paella is a dish that originated in Valencia, Spain. Named after the giant pan that it is cooked in, Paella recipes come with many forms and ingredient combinations, but our paella calls for a few essential ingredients.

Medium grain rice, such as bomba or callaspara rice, has the right texture for paella and soaks up all of the flavors of the dish. Saffron threads give the paella a yellow color and distinct flavor that can’t come from any substitute. Spanish chorizo will give the paella a spicy and smoky taste. Hot seafood stock, preferably homemade, is the best liquid base to cook the rice. A licorice-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod, will enhance the seafood flavor of the paella.

The Fire

We recommend building the fire pit with a mix of hard wood and wood-charcoal briquettes. This will give a nice smokiness and consistent heat for the large paella pan. Build the fire and allow it to burn down to hot coals. While the fire burns, prep your ingredients.


  • 2.5 cups Rice (bomba or callaspara rice preferred)
  • 2 lobsters, halved (ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 1-2 lbs. medium wild shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb. fresh calamari, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1-2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 lb. Spanish Chorizo, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 7 cups hot seafood stock (homemade stock preferred)
  • ½ cup licorice-flavored liqueur (Pernod is preferred)
  • 3 bell peppers cut into strips
  • 2 cups thawed petite peas
  • 2 cups chopped leaks
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs. Smoked Parika
  • 2 tsp. Saffron threads
  • 2 lemons cut into wedges
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt to taste

Making the Paella

  1. After paella pan has become hot over the fire, drizzle the olive oil and begin sautéing your sofrito. The sofrito is the base of aromatic ingredients that is sautéed in olive oil. For our paella, the sofrito is composed of chopped leeks, garlic, and chorizo. Add these ingredients to the olive oil, one by one, layering the flavors.
  2. Once your sofrito is sautéed and fragrant, add the chicken and calamari to the pan and sauté for three to four minutes. Next add your smoked paprika and toss ingredients once more. Then, add your rice and toss until ingredients are combined.
  3. Once the rice has been combined, add hot seafood stock, one cup at a time, and stir as you go. After the stock is added, mix the saffron threads into your paella.
  4. Now that the stock and saffron is mixed in, restrain the urge to stir your paella until the liquid has boiled down and the rice has cooked. Not stirring your paella will allow a toasted, flavorful crust known as the soccarat to form on the bottom of the pan.
  5. After the liquid has boiled down, add your Pernod and stir the Paella to incorporate the liqueur. Next, add your bell peppers, shrimp, lobster and petite peas. We recommend covering the pan with tin foil and allowing the heat to cook your final seafood ingredients.
  6. Once the shrimp is cooked and the lobster has turned red, sprinkle the paella with fresh parsley. Serve paella with lemon wedges, and be sure to scrape some of the soccarat on the bottom of the pan onto each plate. Enjoy!

Recipe By Calvin Virgilio