Archives for category: Breakfast

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I’ve been making these for so long now that my kids kind of take them for granted. Fortunately they have really sweet little friends who, when they come over after school and eat these, say things like “This is the best granola bar I’ve ever had!” I’ll take my compliments where I can get them.

This is a really easy recipe. I make a batch on auto-pilot every Sunday evening, and it yields enough for my two kids to take them to school every day, plus after-school snackage and a few extra for me.

The cool thing about this recipe is that, like granola, you can substitute ingredients at will, so long as the ratio of dry ingredients to wet stays pretty much the same. Though I once suggested to my kids that these would be awesome with chopped dates instead of chocolate chips — for a second I thought they were going to stage a revolution in the kitchen.

With the cooking time I’ve provided, these yield a crunchy bar. I’ve been thinking of experimenting with reducing the cooking time by five minutes or so to see if I can get a chewier bar that will still maintain its structural integrity in the lunchbox. If you try this, let me know how it goes.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Modified from this recipe. Yields 20-24 bars, depending on how you slice them.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you really compress the mixture in the baking pan. I once made the mistake of shirking somewhat, and the bars ended up being quite breakable.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Don’t wait too long to slice these. You need to wait at least 10 minutes, and I’d say you’re good for anywhere up to 30 minutes or so. After that, they’ve pretty much totally cooled and tend to be brittle and break-y when you try to cut them.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (or other rolled grains, such as barley)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or ground flax, wheat germ, etc.)
1/2 cup shredded coconut*
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup light oil, such as grapeseed or canola
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

*About coconut: Any time I bake, I use sweetened or unsweetened, whatever I have at hand. I don’t fret about what kind the recipe calls for, and to be frank, I’ve never noticed that it makes that much of a difference. If you’d like, you can always slightly adjust the amount of honey up or down, depending on what type of coconut you’re using.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9″ x 13″ rectangular baking pan with parchment.
  2. Place the oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and salt in a large bowl, and toss with a spatula until combined.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the oil, vanilla, and honey until smooth and combined. Pour this all over the dry ingredients, and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together until the wet ingredients have evenly coated all of the oats.
  4. Pour the granola mixture into the parchment-lined baking pan and compress it with a flat spatula until it’s about 1″ thick.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden. Cool for at least 10 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut into bars.

Storing:

I’ve never had a batch last longer than five or six days, but I reckon they’re probably good for at least a couple of weeks if they’re stored in an airtight container.

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DIY Easy Gourmet Granola
At what point in our transition from kidhood to adulthood do we acquire that annoying habit of spending the Christmas holidays complaining about how many delightful treats are lying around just waiting to be put in our bellies? It’s a shame, really. We get one chance a year (okay, maybe two, if you get into Halloween in a big way) to revel in sugary, chocolatey gluttony, and we spend most of it feeling guilty. That’s crazytown, people!

Me, I love to wallow in sweet goodness throughout the holidays. I find that, by January, I’m more or less ready to move on, and then I like to wallow in atrociously healthy food for a while and feel all virtuous and self-congratulatory about how well I’m eating. (It’s how I roll through the calendar, people. Don’t you judge me.)

The great thing about this recipe is that you get to have your cake and eat it, too. This granola is better than even the best expensive “gourmet” granolas out there — I’ve tried a lot of them, and I speak with confidence here — so it has its own decadent appeal. And it has just the right amount of sweetness to gently ween you off your holiday-induced sugar addiction. And it’s so easy to make! Seriously! Five minutes of mixing ingredients, then pop it in the oven for 16-18 minutes, then cooling time. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

The cooking time here is just a suggestion. 18 minutes yields a nice crunchy (but not roof-of-your-mouth-shredding crunchy) texture. Reducing cooking time to 15 or 16 minutes will give you a slightly chewier consistency.

The ingredients are also just suggestions. I always start with 3 cups of rolled oats (or other rolled grains; I used barley for the batch in these photos, as I was experimenting for a friend who’s allergic to oats), but I didn’t have sunflower seeds, so I threw in some extra cashews and almonds. You can also experiment with raw pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts… you get the gist. So long as your total quantity of dry ingredients comes out to more or less the required total , you’re hunky-dory.

DIY Easy Gourmet Granola

DIY Easy Gourmet Granola

IMPORTANT: If you’ve never made homemade granola before, a key thing is to NOT break up the sheet of cooked granola until after it’s completely cooled. If you do this while it’s still warm, you’ll break up all the elements and won’t end up with any of those lovely clusters that are a hallmark of great granola. Also, don’t make the rookie mistake I made the first time I baked my own granola: I skimmed the instructions and didn’t see that the dried fruit goes in AFTER the granola has baked and cooled. Yeck.)

INGREDIENTS

3 cups rolled oats (or other rolled grain, such as barley)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup raw cashew pieces
(You can also substitute pretty much any kind of nut or seed you can think of for the sunflower seeds, almonds, and cashews.)
Handful of brown sugar
Handful of shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of light vegetable oil, such as sunflower or canola
1 tsp. vanilla
Cranberries, raisins, chopped dates, or whatever dried fruit you like in whatever quantity you like

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, honey, and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix thoroughly, until dry ingredients have absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet, preferably on parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want it to be. At the halfway point, remove from the oven and give it a good stir to ensure it cooks evenly.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to fully cool before breaking into chunks and adding dried fruit.

Storing:

You’ll want to keep this in an airtight bag or container, of course. I use a big canning jar with a rubber ring. And you don’t want to store it anywhere too warm; otherwise the honey will get melty, and you’ll run the risk of having your entire batch harden into a single huge clump.

I have no idea how long it keeps for, because I’ve never made a batch that survived longer than a week or so. So I can confidently tell you that it lasts for a week or so.

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