Sunday, April 10, 2011

Granola Bars

Dear Kate,

If you looked in the dictionary under "opposites" I sometimes think you would see a picture of you and your brother.  (Ok, so that shows my age - I should say "If you google "opposites"...)  If I put on a new piece of music, one of you will like it, the other will not.  If I ask if you want to go to Restaurant A or Restaurant B, I can bet that you will want A and your brother will want B. 

This started approximately the day your brother was born.  You arrived in this world with hardly a peep, quiet and subdued.  (On a side note, what happened to that child?)  Jake arrived screaming, and I suspect if we could translate baby screams, he was screaming something about you.  You slept for long stretches, he wouldn't sleep more than 30 minutes, unless I was holding him.  You drank from a bottle, he refused a bottle.  If you took a nap, he promptly woke up and vice versa, like some sort of baby tag team designed to drive your mother insane.

Eating habits were no exception.  For a long time, if Jake liked a food, you did not.  He liked all things breakfast, you liked nothing breakfasty.  You couldn't get enough pizza, and for several years, he wouldn't touch it.  As you've gotten older, your tastes have become more in line.  You agree on pizza at least!  And I can usually guess who will like something new and who won't.  But every once in a while, you both surprise me.

Take granola bars.  You have generally not like granola bars, but your brother has.  You aren't a big fan of peanuts or peanut butter and wouldn't touch them at all until recently, while Jake will happily eat peanut butter, cashews or peanuts.  So, it seemed obvious that my homemade granola bars, which include cashews, almonds, peanuts and peanut butter would be preferred by Jake.  Just to keep me on my toes, Jake won't touch them and you love them.  Do you do this to drive me crazy?

Between you and your dad, I have a hard time keeping these in the house.  It makes a great snack to take in the car or your lunch, and offers some protein to offset some of those carbs you like so much.  Maybe some day your brother will like them too.

When you have to line a pan with foil, you can press the foil around the outside to get the shape, then place it inside the pan.  Much easier than trying to press the foil into the corners.

Granola Bars
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from King Arthur Flour)

1 2/3 Cups quick cook oats
2/3 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup quick cook oats, processed fine to a flour in a food processor
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 Cup each chopped peanuts, cashews and almonds
1/3 Cup peanut butter or other nut butter (I make peanut butter by processing it in the food processor)
1 Teaspoon vanilla
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4 Cup honey
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon water
2/3 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9-inch square pan with foil.  Lightly grease with cooking spray.

Stir together the oats, sugar, oat flour, salt, cinnamon and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, butter, honey, corn syrup and water.  Add to the dry ingredients along with the peanut butter.  Mix together until crumbly and evenly mixed.  Press firmly into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  Allow chips to warm and when they are shiny and melted, spread evenly over the granola.  Let cool in pan on rack for several hours, or overnight.  Once cool, cut the bars into squares.  Store wrapped in an airtight container.  (Store in the refrigerator during the hot summer months - bring to room temperature for a couple of minutes before eating.)

You can always add other things, like dried fruit, other nuts or seeds, or mini chocolate chips in place of the chocolate on the top.   

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