Wednesday, June 22, 2011

you mean you can MAKE granola bars?!

well, that's odd, because i was under the impression that they just come from the store.

sadly, i'm not joking.

having been raised in a fairly large city, i was always taught that food comes from the store. no, seriously. i remember class trips when i was younger, and we were learning about where food comes from, and we went to the grocery store. a big chain store, too. yeah. so you can imagine my surprise when i learned that you grow peanuts and you grow garlic and you can make cottage cheese... and sadly, the list goes on.

and how pathetic is this... i've been baking just about everything from scratch lately - muffins, pie crust, tortillas, cookies, macaroons, you name it, i've made it - and yet this morning - just 15 scant minutes ago, in fact! - i had another one of those moments when i stood in shock for a moment and thought, "WHA-?! you can make those?!?!"

it's true.

and "those," gentle readers, are... wait for it...

granola bars.

ok, ok, i've been wanting to make them for a long time now. you can even find a few posts about them on this very blog. but, um... how can i put this... uh... {looks away}i've never made them before.

i know, i know. pathetic, right?

well, no more, gentle readers! because as of this very morning, i,


have made

{cue 2001: Space Odyssey music}


and yes, i'm going to give you the recipe. and yes, i actually have pictures this time!! :) (i was planning this post whilst i baked... usually i don't, hence the lack of pics on this site. haha)

so, here you go, my friends: i give you

2 1/2 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup Rice Krispies (or nameless equivalent)
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

simplest directions ever: preheat the oven to 350F. 
mix all the ingredients together until combined. press the mixture into an 8x8 pan.
bake it for 18 to 20 minutes.
let it cool for 10 minutes, and score into bars. then let it set completely, and cut into bars.

seriously, it's that easy. i'm not even joking.

now, there was one glitch in the following of this recipe: somehow, i am out of chocolate chips. i didn't realize that until i got to that line in the recipe. (note to self: pull out ingredients before starting the recipe.) so instead of choco chips, i chopped up an apple and added a little bit (less than 1/2 tsp) of cinnamon. to be honest, i don't know how much i used. the 1/2 tsp spoon was the one i grabbed, and i didn't fill it because cinnamon can be pretty strong sometimes, and i didn't want to overpower the rest of the goodness.

and i as was typing that last sentence the timer beeped and so i pulled the pan out of the oven. and wow!! it looks and smells amazing!! kind of like apple crisp, actually, thanks to my handy-dandy last-minute, semi-panicked substitution. {wink}

ok, a couple tips before you make these: 
  1. score the bars after they've cooled for 10 minutes. seriously. use the timer on the oven if you have to, but make sure it cools for at least 10 minutes.
  2. let the bars set completely before cutting and removing them from the pan. if they haven't set, they'll fall apart. so wait patiently.
  3. once you remove them from the pan, wrap them in cling wrap. this will help them to keep their shape and stay fresh. 
  4. this is not a "make in the morning before the kids go to school" recipe. trust me on this one. make these the night before, so you can be sure they're completely ready for the lunch rush in the morning. (that being said, the bars had not completely set when i put them in the kids' lunches today. but i wrapped them up tight - the bars, not the kids - and gave strict instructions that they are to be eaten at second nutrition break. again, the bars, not the kids. here's hoping the bars will be ready by then. {crosses fingers})
  5. another thing you could try: score the bars after 10 minutes. wait another 15 or so... then cut them up, wrap them individually in cling wrap, and put them in the freezer for a while. this helps.
they still smell divine. between the bars and my coffee, this house smells like heaven right now. {choir of angels} asher is already begging for a granola bar. it's actually getting a little frustrating. haha but that might be because he's asking in a 4-year-old voice what i'm asking in my head. {wink}

k, i just had one of these bars, and WOW!!!! they're AMAZING!!!! they are chewy, not crunchy, so they're sticky on your fingers, but who cares?! also, next time i might use a little less brown sugar, like 1/3 cup instead of half. with the honey in there, it gets to be a bit too sweet... but then again, i prefer salty over sweet, so maybe it's just me.

in fact, i'm pretty sure it is just me, because asher had one, too, and he said it was really good. but he also said it was a little sticky. i have a recipe for crunchy granola bars, so i might try those next. but these are really good, and i highly recommend them... say... 4 out of 5 yummy sounds. :)

(ps - i'll post pics later... blogger's acting up this morning and won't let me post pics. boourns!!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

best. bread. ever.

well, from a machine, anyway.

i have to share this recipe with you because it's just that awesome. it's beautiful. i could honestly eat the entire loaf by myself. with nothing on it. just straight bread. ok, maybe some honey, or cheese, or tons and tons of butter... or lots of ham or roast beef and cheese, or as a toasted tomato sandwich or... oh, wow, i'm actually drooling. excuse me for just a moment. {wipes chin} k, i'm back now.

anyhoo, i suppose you'd like the recipe for this wonder, wouldn't you? well, brace yourselves, gentle readers, because here it is:

Honey Oat Bread

1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp oil
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

put the ingredients into the breadmaker. i set it on "grain" with regular crust (as opposed to dark), and it turned out perfectly.

with this recipe, there is a little room for creativity. instead of using oatmeal, you can use granola. i've done this in the past, and it was lovely. however, since granola (at least the stuff i have) contains almonds, it's not school -friendly. so today, i decided to try something a little different again, and used 12-grain cereal. WOW!!!! it's so good!

and yes, i wanted to post pics, but um... yeah... the bread's all gone now. {sheepish grin} so you'll just have to take my word on this... it was wonderful!

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i like this blog. this is where i write about homelife. my kids, my pets, recipes, natural cleaning products, gardening, cool finds... that's what i write about here. this is the hands-on part of my personal journey. i'm reclaiming myself, a self i lost in a hospital somewhere, among all the meds, plastic, waste and complexity that comes with Special Needs parenting. i crave simplicity, and this is my journey to create it for my family and me.

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