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Homemade Granola Bars

22 Aug

We are doing quite a bit of traveling this month and I was needing some “road food”.   I really do not like eating out on the road when you can eat healthier and cheaper with a little pre-planning.  My friend Jen found a great homemade granola bar recipe on food.com.  I tweaked it slightly and doubled it, though I would not recommend doubling it unless you have a bowl the size of your washing machine as it is really hard to mix that much.

First take your dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well:

4 cups oatmeal

2 cups flour (I used regular unbleached, but I think it would be delicious with whole wheat pastry flour)

1 cup coconut

1/4 sugar (I used packed brown sugar)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Then add your wet ingredients and mix well with your hands.  Trust me, you must use your hands so that you can get the right consistency.  If you do not, you will have dry ingredients that do not get wet and your granola bars will crumble and you will cry.  USE YOUR HANDS.   After it’s mixed add chocolate chips in and mix again.

3/4 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil)

3/4 cup honey (you can use 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup molasses or corn syrup)

1 cup chocolate chips (you can also add dried fruit or nuts if that’s what you like in your granola bars)

Then it is time to press them into the pan.  They must be firmly and evenly pressed in if you want a good, not crumbly bar.  The fact that I could lose an arm wresting match with a three year old did not help me.  What I ended up doing worked beautifully.  Take a sheet of foil and lay it over your mixture.  Then use a rolling pin on the foil to get your bars adequately pressed down.  It looked like this:

Bake them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Don’t let them brown too much or they will be hard.  They will look slightly puffy and soft when you take them out and cool to a perfectly crunchy/chewy texture.  As soon as you take them out of the oven, cut them into bars with a pizza cutter.

Then let them cool in the pan for a while before removing them.  Store them in an airtight container.  They are perfect to pack in lunches, take on hikes, or take on the road.  My husband said they were the first granola bar he has EVER liked!  Hope you like them as well!

 

Brownie Cookie Macaroons

20 Jul

Our dessert today was recommended by my friend Darci.  It is her husband’s favorite and, I must say, we quite enjoyed them as well.  They are Brownie Cookie Macaroons.  The recipe comes from Duncan Hines.  Super easy, gooey and delish.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 box brownie mix (Duncan Hines recommends Double Fudge Decadent Brownie Mix)

2 cups coconut

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (next time I’m going to try using coconut oil for more coconut flavor)

2 tablespoons water

1 large egg

1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional) (I used coconut syrup from Starbucks)

cocoa powder for optional garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or use parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixing bowl combine brownie mix and coconut; mix well.

3.  Mix in the oil, water, egg, contents of fudge packet (if using a brownie mix that contains one, it is not essential) and extract with a wooden spoon until all dry ingreidents are moistened (dough will be stiff) (Darci also adds 1 cup of chocolate chips for extra gooey goodness)

4. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and flatten slightly.

5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are set (centers will be slightly soft).  Do not overbake.  Trust me.  Leave ’em gooey.  Transfer cookies to wire rack with metal spatula and cool completely.

6. Garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Syrup

12 Jul

Ah, chocolate. A food group to most women. I am no exception. My friend Chas changed my life with a post about homemade chocolate syrup. Frankly, I could eat it by the spoonful. It is fabulous over ice cream. My absolute favorite way to use it, however, is in coffee. Hot or iced with a little half and half, you could fool even those who have their daily Starbucks. It’s that good.

This is what I used for my base:

Although THIS would make me truly weak in the knees. Askinosie is not only an awesome company, but they make chocolate too. 🙂

Back to the syrup:
Mix 1/2 cup cocoa and 1 cup water in a sauce pot. Do me a favor and make sure it’s nice and deep. If it is not, this will boil over. If you do not heed my warning and it does boil over, it is not too terribly difficult to clean up. Not that it ever happened to me or anything.

After the cocoa and water are incorporated add 2 cups of sugar. Bring this to a rolling boil and keep boiling for 3 minutes. I like to keep whisking it while it boils to further prevent boil over. Not that I know anything about that. It looks like this:

Take off the heat and add 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (I personally prefer it without the vanilla). Do not start eating it with a spoon. You will burn your tongue. Do let it cool before pouring it into a pint jar and sticking it in the fridge. It thickens a bit in the fridge, so don’t be alarmed if you think it is too runny at first. Enjoy!