Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bars

I have a deep, abiding love for granola bars. Back in my school days, you could usually find a chocolate chip or S'mores granola bar in my bag for snack time, and even now, there's a big bowl of packaged bars on the kitchen counter.

However, I'd never made my very own from-scratch granola bars until today. I had it in my head that they were really time-consuming and messy, which is completely wrong. No, this was one of the easiest things I've ever made. 20 minutes of active work, one mixing bowl, a saucepan for the honey mixture, and an 8" baking dish for the finished bars. That's it!

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bar


Inspiration came from these Nonuttin' Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars at Whole Living. It's a very basic, very simple recipe, which means tons of room to customize. I added butterscotch chips and a hint of vanilla to mine.

Start out with a mix of quick-cooking oats and Rice Krispies.
Granola Bars - dry mixture


Get a small saucepan and combine some brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil.
Granola bars - honey mixture


Bring to a boil and dissolve the brown sugar.
Granola Bars - honey mixture


Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated.
Granola bars - mixed together


Press the granola into a parchment-lined baking dish.
Granola bars - pressed in pan


Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
Granola bars - topped


Let the bars cool, cut into 16 bars or squares, and EAT.
Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bar

Now, I'm pretty sure I cut these before they were fully cooled, because they fell apart a little bit. And I have to futz with the recipe just a tad, because they are really, really sweet for my taste. The honey and the brown sugar give these a flavor unlike anything I've ever had in a packaged granola bar. The sweetness is bright and fresh and natural, with that unmistakable crunchy-chewy texture from the oats and cereal, and then the chocolate and butterscotch chips... Sixteen of these beauties for less than the cost of one box of six store-bought ones? I like those numbers.

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bar

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bars

Adapted from Whole Living
Makes 16 bars

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 3/4 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch baking chips

Directions
Prep an 8" square baking dish. Line the dish with two criss-crossing pieces of parchment paper (leave an overhang so you can pull your finished bars out of the dish easily), and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Set your prepped dish aside.

Place oatmeal and rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Heat, stirring, over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour over the oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and everything is well-combined.

Pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish. Let cool until it is cool to the touch, then press the mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips, and lightly press the chips into the granola mixture (not too hard, as the heat from the granola will make the chips a bit melty). Let the granola cool to room temperature and cut into 16 portions (either 1" by 4" bars, or 2" squares). The finished bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.

Nutrition facts for 1 bar: Calories 140; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g (9 %); Saturated Fat 1.8 g (9 %); Trans Fat 0 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g; Monounsaturated Fat 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg (0 %); Sodium 20 mg (1 %); Potassium 5 mg (0 %); Total Carbohydrate 21 g (7 %); Dietary Fiber < 1 g (3 %); Sugars 14 g; Other Carbs 2 g; Protein 1.6 g (3 %)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

White Chocolate Chip Pretzel bars

This bar cookie recipe came from the August 2009 issue of Food and Wine magazine. I actually ended up making two batches, one for friends and one to take with me to work on Monday. Despite needing almost twice the recommended baking time, they were easy and fast to put together. I used white chocolate chips instead of semisweet or bittersweet, and omitted the sprinkles (I didn't think they needed sprinkles), but followed the recipe otherwise.

The cookies are loaded with brown sugar and butter, and are studded with chips and salty pretzel bits... it's a great combination, with that salty-sweet pairing that's so popular. They went over great!

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Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars from Food and Wine, August 2009

Space needed: Minimal
I used two mixing bowls: one smaller bowl for the dry ingredients, and a larger one for the wet ingredients. No kneading, no rolling, no cookie cuttering... great for limited counter space!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

This lovely flatbread comes from Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker. This book incorporates shortcuts into the recipes, for the "modern" baker who may not have time for a bread recipe that requires 3 rises and 12 hours. The book jacket states that the aim was for most of the recipes to have under an hour of prep time. If you're someone who loves baking but has trouble fitting it into your schedule, this is a cookbook you may want to take a look at. Breads, cakes, sweet and savory pies, quick breads... there's a very nice selection here.

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

This came together very easily. A 4-to-1 mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, plus a couple of teaspoons of salt make up the dry ingredients. Another bowl gets the yeast and warm water, along with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Slowly add the flour mixture into the yeast mixture, give a quick knead, and set aside to rise for 1-2 hours. Divide the dough in 2, shape into long ovals, let it rise for another hour, and then bake for 20 minutes.

The finished bread has a wonderful flavor from the whole wheat flour and the olive oil. The whole wheat flavor isn't overpowering, but adds a nice subtle heartiness to it. We had this with beef stew, and the bread stood up to it nicely.

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

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Recipe: Armenian "Barbary" Bread from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri

Space needed: Moderate
A couple of bowls and enough counter space to be able to work the dough for a few minutes. The shaped loaves rise on the baking sheets for an hour, so you also need room to stash the sheet during the rising time. I was able to fit both of my loaves on one baking sheet, so I needed less room for that.

Cost: Under $5
$3.15 as written for two loaves. The two loaves should serve 7-8 people, so one serving runs about $0.40 to $0.45. The yeast price I have here is for the 3-pack of envelopes; bulk yeast is less expensive, but only worthwhile if you do a lot of baking.

Recipe amounts: AP Flour - $1.00; Whole wheat flour - $0.25; Yeast - $1.25; Olive oil - $0.65

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Turkey Meatball and Farfalle Soup

Lunch on Tuesday:
Turkey Meatball Soup

I adapted this from the Chicken Meatball and Orzo Soup from the April 2009 issue of Food & Wine. It was in a feature called "5 (Almost) Instant Soups", and they weren't kidding. From start to finish, this took me 20 minutes. It's light and fresh, a perfect soup for early summer.

Turkey Meatball Soup

This didn't look like something that would reheat particularly well, so I decided to just make enough for lunch. I used one link of sweet turkey sausage and made 3/4" meatballs from it. I browned the meatballs in a bit of olive oil in my saucepan I was using, then added 1 can of low-sodium chicken broth (no removing the meatballs and then adding them back in). Once it came to a boil, I added 1/2 cup of mini-farfalle pasta. Any small pasta would work for this: shells, orzo, even spaghetti broken into smaller pieces. I set the timer for 2 minutes less than the pasta cooking time, and when it went off, added a handful of chopped spinach. It cooked for another couple of minutes to let the spinach wilt, and then, DONE!

A nice light lunch in no time!

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Recipe: Chicken Meatball and Orzo Soup from Food & Wine, April 2009

Space needed: Minimal
A plate for the meatballs. For my single-serving version, I just formed the meatballs and dropped them directly in the pan; no plate needed.

Cost: Under $5 ($4.10/serving)
$16.35 for the full recipe as written, but almost half of that is the chicken sausage. Maybe chicken sausage is cheaper elsewhere in the country, but the packs I looked at here were pricey. I subbed in less-expensive turkey sausage and, had I made the full 4 serving recipe, would have saved $3.50 overall. I also used store brand low-sodium chicken broth instead of brand name, which also saved me some money.

Recipe amounts: Chicken sausage - $7.50; Chicken broth - $4.50; Orzo - $0.75; Garlic - $0.10; Spinach: $3.50

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brown Butter Blueberry Tart

I posted my results from a food terms quiz on Facebook a few days ago, and one of my friends responded with "Cook me a pie!"

Just to spite him, he's not getting a pie. He's getting a tart. TAKE THAT.

Brown Butter Blueberry Tart

This is going to my gaming group this evening: my adaptation of the Brown Butter Raspberry Tart from Bon App├ętit's June 2009 issue. I switched blueberries in for the raspberries, and left out the berries completely in one quarter, using white chocolate chips as the "filling" instead. In case there's anyone who dislikes berries. Which, yes, is probable.

Tarts like this, where the crust is pressed into the pan, are perfect for smaller kitchens. No rolling out the crust! And like all recipes that call for a tart pan, I made this in a springform cake pan. Same removable bottom principle, but the springform is able to multitask a bit better. The tradeoff: it means that my tarts don't have a lovely fluted edge. I haven't had anyone complain yet.

What a great, simple way to let a batch of berries shine!

Brown Butter Blueberry Tart

Recipe: Brown Butter Raspberry Tart from Bon App├ętit, June 2009

Space needed: Minimal
A couple of bowls (you could probably get away with one and just reuse the bowl you made the crust in to also make the filling), a saucepan, and a tart pan/other baking pan. I needed very little counter space for this.

Cost: Under $10
For the recipe as written, you'd be looking at about $9.00 for the whole thing. Most of that comes from the berries. Substituting a less expensive berry or finding a deal at a farmers' market would be an easy way to lower the price. Mine using blueberries came out to $5.

Recipe amounts: Butter - $1.25; Sugar - $0.25; Vanilla - $0.80; Flour - $0.30; Eggs - $0.30; Raspberries - $6.00