Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homemade Granola Bars

One of the favorite snacks around here are chewy granola bars. I usually buy Cascadian Farms Chewy Granola Bars as they are organic and do not have nuts or peanut butter in them (Evan has a peanut allergy). They are great and we love them but they are expensive and I can't always find them... even at the same store I bought them last time... it is always hit or miss.

So, I am in search of a recipe for homemade granola bars that are like the Cascadian Farms ones, chewy, with oats and rice puffs and not too sweet. It has not been easy to even find a recipe to start tinkering with that doesn't have peanut butter as a main ingredient. But, after much searching online and reading reviews I came up with this recipe today... this is a first trial run and I am sure I will make alterations after I taste them.

3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups puffed rice
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 cup honey
1 cup butter, melted
1 t vanilla
2 cups of mix-ins of choice (today was 1 cup raisins and 1 cup mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9x13 baking pan. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt butter in a medium bowl and add honey and vanilla. Mix wet into dry ingredients and stir well. Add in mix-ins of choice and again mix thoroughly. Press mixture into pan firmly and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and press bars down firmly into pan again. Let cool for 10 minutes and cut bars. Allow to cool completely before removing bars from pan to avoid bars crumbling apart.

Since I had out most of the ingredients I figured I might as well make some granola at the same time. Last month I read a recipe for homemade granola over at Rabbit Hill Farm. Her recipe used ripe bananas in it, which I always seem to have around, and I have been wanting to try it ever since. The original recipe is a bit loose on measurements so if you are the type of cook that needs exact amounts here is what I did:

3 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 stick of melted butter
1 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup banana chips, broken up small
Salt to taste

I mixed all the ingredients together and cooked at 325F (since that is what the oven was already on) for what ended up being 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. The end results look and taste great but even after it cooled off there is still moisture in some of the pieces so I am not sure if I will be able to store this outside the fridge or not. I would have continued to cook it more but it was getting a bit too dark already. It has a great "tropical" taste to it. Next time I will try it with either less honey or less banana to make the mixture drier to start with.

Other farm news:
There were two more ducklings in the barn this morning and two of the four turkey eggs that one of my buff orpington chickens has been incubating for me hatched out last night as well. All four are in brooder together today. I will add them to the others in a day or two after they get their legs under them. This brings the count to ducklings 5, turkeys 9.

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