Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you feel like hippie food...

Ah granola.  It goes anywhere, becomes so many things, and when cooked in bar form with fruit and spices, it can be down right delicious.  This isn't bark, my friends, this is a munchie marvel, a snack sensation, an...um...another alliterative phrase which escapes me right now.  But that's what I did today after delivering marmalade and blended herbal tea to a friend.

Granola Bars

This is loosely adapted from Alton Brown's Recipe on the Food Network website.  His recipe goes by weighted measurement, which is a great way to make food, especially if you're trying to be calorie conscious.  I didn't feel like dragging out my scale, however, and I tweaked this recipe a bit.

2 Cups old fashioned oats (not the instant or quick version, these are the original cannister with the old guy on the front, you know the one I'm talking about.)
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/4 cup of flax seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp kosher salt
1  2.5 oz bag (by weight) of apple chips, broken into small pieces
1/2 5 oz bag of dried fruit (I used one that mixes blueberries, cranberries, and cherries)
1/2 Tbsp Apple Pie Spice (OR 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp clove, 1/8 tsp ginger, I've done it both ways)

Heat oven to 350.  On a cookie sheet (one with sides!) mix oats, seeds, almonds, and wheat germ.  Toast in the oven 15 minutes, stirring every 3.  Don't let the flax seeds burn, you'll know it's done when it smells delicious and looks golden brown.

On the stove in a large sauce pan, combine honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and salt.  Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

Mix oat mixture into honey mixture, add dried fruits and spices.  Mix thoroughly, but quickly.

Grease a 9 x 9 (or an 8 x 8) pan and add granola mixture.  Press it down into the pan firmly, for this I use the back of a large, sturdy metal spoon sprayed with cooking spray so it doesn't stick.  You can also put on gloves or grease your hands and do it manually.

Decrease oven heat to 300, and bake granola for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool in pan until completely cool.  If you try to cut it before it's totally cool, it'll crumble, which is DELICIOUS with vanilla ice cream or yogurt, sometimes I make a batch just to crumble it straight out of the oven with ice cream or custard.  Cut into 16 squares and store in an airtight container (2 quart size Mason jars work great, so does Tupperware or a plastic bag) for a week.  If you refrigerate them, they'll last longer, but they're really hard out of the fridge, so I don't recommend it.  Trust me, they don't last a whole week, even if you have the house to yourself.  They're breakfast, snack, and snacking seconds (there is such a thing as second helpings in snacking after all.)

Keep eating!