RP: Granola Bars

I’m re-posting {RP} this recipe since it was buried in a post with 2 other recipes {both of which I still love}.  But, I just wanted to bring attention to this recipe again since I’m back on a kick of making homemade granola bars and this recipe is perfect for summer since you don’t have to use your oven.

These bars are ideal to take along to all sorts of summertime activities like picnics, biking, hiking, boating, and whatever else you can think of…even just for breakfast on your way to work.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Source:  adapted from Stephanie Cooks

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups Fiber One cereal {the kind that looks like twigs} OR Rice Crispies

2 cups quick-cooking oats

1/4 cup chopped nuts {I have used almonds and walnuts}

1/3 cup wheat germ

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup honey

2/3 cup peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with light cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the cereal, oats, nuts, and wheat germ.  Set aside.

Combine the brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until boiling, then remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, salt, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over the cereal and oat mixture, stirring quickly (as sugar mixture cools it hardens quickly). Immediately press mixture into the prepared pan using the back of a large spatula. Lightly press chocolate chips into top of bars. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Note:

They are really difficult to cut when they are cold, so let them set out for a little bit before cutting.

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Granola Bars

Granola bars are something that my husband and I are big fans of. He takes two of them to work for a snack everyday and I like to grab one to eat in the car on my way to work or at my desk once I get to work.

Well, our favorite store brand changed their product so I decided to take matters into my own hands and start making them myself. The prices at the store were increasing anyway and the bars kept getting smaller and smaller. So, by making them myself, I can control the size and quality of ingredients. I don’t think we will buy them from the store ever again.

So far I have tried three different recipes (all listed below). We have enjoyed them all and I will definitely make them all again for variety. But I have a few other recipes saved as well, so I’ll be trying them in the near future to continue our quest for a favorite.

The first was the hubs favorite. It is full of dried fruit and has a nice chewy texture.

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Homemade Granola Bars (recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa, as seen on Pennies on a Platter)

2 cups old-fashioned oats
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 – I used 1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots – I used 1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper. (I used a glass 9 x 13 pyrex baking dish.)

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F.

Place the 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 dried fruit and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

The next recipe is much softer, almost cookie like. It was probably my favorite.

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Chewy Granola Bars (as seen on Delicious Melicious)

Ingredients:
3 1/2 c. oatmeal
1 c. rice crispies
1 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. melted butter
1 mashed banana
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. Dark Chocolate M&M’s –I used mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. raisins – I used golden raisins
1/2 c. slivered almonds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13 pan.
In large bowl, mix everything except the chocolate, raisins and nuts. Add those after the oatmeal mixture is well mixed.
Press into pan. Bake for 18-22 min, until golden brown. Cool 10 min, slice. Cool completely before removing from pan.

The third recipe is most like what I was buying at the store, so I’m sure I will make it frequently. An added bonus is that it doesn’t need baked…perfect for summer, when I try to not use my oven as much.

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Peanut Butter Granola Bars (adapted from Stephanie Cooks)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Fiber One cereal
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped almonds or peanuts (I used almonds)

I added about 1/3 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional) – I used mini chocolate chips but I think peanut butter chips would be perfect too

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the cereal, oats and nuts and wheat germ. Set aside.

Combine the brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until boiling, then remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, salt, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over the cereal and oat mixture, stirring quickly (as sugar mixture cools it hardens quickly). Immediately press mixture into the prepared pan using the back of a large spatula. Lightly press chocolate chips into top of bars (if using). Refrigerate for about 1 hour, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Weekly Grocery Bill

$65

Not too bad, but not as great as I would like.  I even went to two stores after checking ads and comparing prices!  I’ll keep trying…

Weekly Grocery Bill

Yikes!  It is the second week of posting my grocery bill total and I’m right back to where I didn’t want to be!  I spent $81.00!!!!!! Ouch!

In my defense, I purchased several items for my Super Bowl spread that I normally wouldn’t buy.  But, this isn’t about excuses.  I know I’ll have some weeks higher than others.  I’ll just have to be way more frugal on the weeks that there are no special occasions.

Grocery Savings!

My total bill was $46.50!

Ok, wow!  That is not normal for our household!  I’m in shock!  Last week I spent just over $50.  Before that, I was easily spending over $60, most weeks close to $80!  

Tonight, I stocked up on many pantry staples including numerous canned beans, crackers, bread, milk, cheese, carrots, celery, potatoes, other canned goods, etc…  I even grabbed a few impulse items that weren’t on my list!  I’m so excited to have a restocked pantry and have what I need for several upcoming meals that I have been thinking about.  

Now, you may be thinking that this is still a lot to spend at the grocery store, but keep a few things in mind:  The hubs and I love food.  I cook/prepare everything that we eat.  Usually from scratch or nearly from scratch.  We almost never eat out – maybe once or twice a month.  Not even take-out pizza.  We pack our lunches for work everyday. 

I will be posting my weekly grocery bills on here in the future to encourage myself to keep the total under $60.  I know I can do it!  I resolve to be more frugal in 2009!  Can you shave down your grocery bill?  Imagine squirreling away $20 a week!!  Now that’s incentive! 

*Tip*  I know its easy to get lazy and mindlessly throw the items into the cabinets/pantry after shopping.  But remember the following when restocking your pantry:

Keep similar items next to each other.  All tomato products should be on the same shelf, soup, dried pasta, beans, etc.  This makes it easier to grab what you need in the middle of a recipe and easier to see what you are low on when writing your grocery list.

When bringing in new purchases, shift the older items to the front of the shelves and place new items in back.  That way you use the items with the nearest expiration dates first.  It only takes another second or two.