Sunday, March 25, 2012

Afternoon Class Survival - Homemade Granola Bars

These bars quite literally get me through the week.  1 scholarship application, 3 homework assignments, 1 lab report and 1 research abstract due this week, robotics elections on Wednesday and I just spent 3 hours in the lab helping my supervising grad student with an experiment set-up that didn't work, my sanity is stretching this week (as it always does during the semester...).  I made a batch last weekend to share with my suitemate and was grateful all week.  But since you (yep, all 3 of you) probably don't come here to hear me ramble about the crazy schedule I set for myself, let me wax poetic about my favorite grocery store.

Oh, Trader Joe's.  My eternal love and the bane of my weekends, why must you have such delicious food?  Available for such a reasonable price, organic options, pronounceable ingredient lists, and full of reasons to put down my money, a mere 2 and 3 dollars at a time?  Why do you have the ability to freeze fresh meals, dry unusual ingredients, and right now, most aggravating of all, roast nuts so perfectly?  I came in with a perfectly reasonable errand for cocoa powder and almonds, and emerged with over $20 worth of food, sweet ingredients that I swear that this time, will last more than a week.  

Alas, the almonds.  I have discovered the understated beauty of dry roasted, unsalted slivered almonds.  Blanched so they feel like a luxury and full of rich, toasty flavor, each small sliver crunches between my teeth willingly.  How can such a simple food satisfy and addict me at the same time?  Luckily, I put a cup into these granola bars before I started munching, or I may have left none for their intended purpose.  

Of course, later, I find out that I prefer these bars without the nuts and the fruit, and the almonds are best saved for snacking.  I love happy errors like that.  As a result, this recipe is without the almonds, although of course, feel welcome to toss in a few cups of dried fruits or nuts, if that be your vice.

I found these granola bars on Smitten Kitchen, during another spell of procrastination.  They adapt freely to whatever your taste may be and are quite addictive munched whilst taking notes on the Bernoulli equation (it's a fluids thing...).  The bars cut quite neatly when sliced still warm.  Otherwise, refrigerate them first.  Also, they taste a little like Honey Bunches of Oats, almond flavor.  That is, by the way, my favorite cold cereal ever.  I ate it in middle school and am still devouring it at a rate of almost 18 oz. per week.  Then I run out of milk, and wonder how it went so fast when I don't even like milk. 

They're wonderful and nourishing and addicting, and the sole
reason that I can stay awake through my 5:20-6:40pm class.

Homemade Granola Bars adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 1 8" x 8" block, or 12 good-sized bars

2 cups old-fashioned oats
cup white whole wheat flour (any flour works, oat, whole wheat, even all-purpose)
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
½ cup leftover cooked oatmeal (optional, makes for a slightly softer bar)
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or melted butter)
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
cup almond butter (smooth or crunchy)

1 medium mixing bowl
1 rubber spatula
¼ teaspoon measure (optional)
½ teaspoon measure
¼ cup dry measure
cup dry measure
1 cup dry measure
2-cup liquid measure
1 8” x 8” baking pan
Parchment paper for lining


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some to hang over the sides.

2. In the large bowl, mix the oats, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and spice.  In the liquid measuring cup, mix the oil, honey and vanilla extract.  Just toss it all in; they don’t really need to be completely mixed.

3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, then mix until the whole mixture is wet.  Add the almond butter and combine until you have a fairly uniform consistency.

4. Scrape the granola into the prepared pan and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.  Allow to cool until warm, then cut and enjoy!  

Oops.  All gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment