It rained buckets today, but we sorely needed it, so it’s all good. But it was the perfect day to stay inside–and in the kitchen.
So in between making some really yummy pasta sauce (if I do so say so myself), doing many loads of laundry, and wiping the dogs’ feet when they came in from the rain, I made some homemade granola bars. (I really wanted to make double chocolate cookies, but no. My guilty, healthy conscience won.)
Ina Garten is one of my favorite Food Network cooks, and I bought her Back to Basics cookbook awhile ago: I. Love. It. And let me tell you: once you make homemade granola bars, you will never want store bought again. You know exactly what’s in them, and you can throw in anything you want–that‘s the fun part! Peanut butter, chocolate chips, any kind of dried fruit you can think of, the possibilities are endless. Whatever your little taste buds desire. A cup of coffee or tea and one of these is a wonderful breakfast or snack.
Here’s the recipe (FYI: I omitted the wheat germ because I didn’t have any and frankly, I didn’t want to buy a whole jar just to use 1/2 cup of it, and I used chopped walnuts instead of almonds only because I like them better):
Homemade Granola Bars
From Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8” x 12” baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in wheat germ.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
4. Place butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
5. Pour the mixture into prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press mixture evenly into pan. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 – 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.