Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chewy Toasty Granola Bars

I was never good at following directions. Just ask my parents!

I clearly remember the time I asked my folks if I could ride a friend's moped. Shortly after being told "no" I left my house to--you guessed it--ride the moped (I was young, people!). Lo and behold my parents came walking around the corner and busted me on the moped. (I ended up grounded for 2 weeks, but that's another story).

Luckily I have gained a bit more sense, and now harbor a less rebellious rejection of protocol.
When it comes to cooking, it is often pure laziness, and a bit of a can-do attitude, that prevents me from following, or often even reading, the directions.

Recently I tried to make granola bars, hoping to whip up a cheap, healthy snack for my family's lunches. Did you pick up the word "tried"? Yeah. Tried and failed. Why? Because I scanned a recipe originally from Kitchen Stewardship, and shared with me by my friend Rebecca at Cakewalk. The title "Soaked Granola Bars" led me to think that the oats should be soaked. And soak them I did.

But as I mentioned, I didn't read the recipe. Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, I know, what can I expect? If you don't read the directions how can you even think about following them. But since I knew I wouldn't follow them, I didn't even bother to read them. Well, Otehlia, there's a technique to soaking and drying grains. It makes a difference if you do it right or not. This is why I don't make my own granola bars for crying out loud! (My mental feed after the granola bar fail.)

At any rate, I soaked the oats, then semi-dried them, hoping for a "chewy" granola bar. And unless chewy and mushy are the same, which they are not, these were not chewy. At before you say, well, maybe they weren't that bad, let me tell you that they were. My husband returned home from work with the granola bar uneaten. That's a complete and utter fail.

Back to the drawing, uh..cutting, board. Oh, I see, you soak them with a certain amount of water, for a certain length of time, and dry them completely. Well, that 's not going to happen because guess what--I want granola bars now! Finally after talking to Rebecca (during which time I certainly could have soaked and dried the oats), we decided that since rolled oats are already processed, there probably is no real benefit to soaking them. So I remade the granola bars, this time just using plain old rolled oats. Amazing! The bars turned out perfect. A bit chewy with a hint of crunch from the toasted oats. Some seeds, dried cherries and apples completed the snack--all in under an hour.
If you want perfectly chewy, toasty granola bars, for a fraction of the cost of boxed, just follow these directions--or don't.

Chewy, Toasty Granola Bars

4. 5 cups oats
1/2 cup each oil and butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp flax
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)
1 cup ww flour (could use spelt, etc)
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup each dried cherries, apples, diced

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spread oats on a large cookie sheet and toast in oven, stirring once, for about 10-15 minutes.
3. On separate sheet toast almonds, sesame seeds, wheat germ and flax, just until fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Don't burn!
4. Reduce heat to 300.
5. Meanwhile heat oil, butter, honey, vanilla and sugar in sauce pan on stove until melted.
6. Pour toasted oats in a bowl, and add flours, seeds, salt, baking powder.
7. Pour sugar/oil mixture over flour mix and stir well to coat. taste to make sure it's good:)
8. Add dried fruit and stir again.
9. Press into jelly roll sheet or 9 x 13 pan and bake about 20-25 min, until golden.
10. Let cool, then cut in squares, and wrap tightly to store. Store in fridge.

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