Granola Bars

granola barsMy wife had a bag of granola that she was snacking on, but once she was about halfway through it was too crumbly to eat unless she made ate it with milk like a cereal. She asked me to make her some granola bars with it.

The recipe in this post is one I made a really long time ago that didn’t use pre-made granola, but I used a similar process for the bars from the pre-made granola. You’ll want to use less honey and brown sugar if you’re making them from pre-made granola – I think I used 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup butter, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for every 2 cups of granola. If this doesn’t seem like enough to keep them together, keep adding melted butter and honey a tablespoon at a time until the everything is coated. You also do not need to toast pre-made granola because it’s already been baked.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can easily change the ingredients. I really like pineapple, but if you don’t, you could use dried apricots or cherries instead. You can also swap out some of the fruit for a different type of nut, reduce the amount of oats and add some flax seed, or use two types of nuts instead of just walnuts.

The Tastefully Simple silicone bar pan is amazing for making granola bars. I’ve made them on a sheet pan with a silpat before, which is fine, but the bar pan is an easy way to make bars all the same size. The silicone also prevents sticking. If you use a regular pan to make these, trust me, you will need to definitely use a silicone baking mat or line your pan with parchment paper. If not, you will be chiseling them out of the pan.

Ingredients

4 cups oats
2 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp kosher salt (use ¼ tsp if you don’t use any fruit)
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup dried pineapple, chopped into pieces similar in size to the cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix oats and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add honey and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix dried fruit, oats, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour liquid mixture over the dry mix and stir until everything is evenly coated with the liquid.

Place the bar pan on a baking sheet. Use a spoon to fill each compartment of the bar pan. (Warning – if your bar pan is not silicone, don’t attempt to use if for this recipe! You will be chiseling granola out for days. Instead, use a baking pan completely lined with parchment paper – including the sides.)

Press each bar firmly with the back of the spoon until each compartment is packed. If you have empty compartments after using all of the granola mixture, fill them abut halfway with water. (Not sure why this is necessary, but the directions for the bar pan say to do this.)

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the bars become golden brown and the outside edges start to get crispy. Let cool for about an hour. The bars should come out of the pan pretty easily once they’re cooled. If they are too buttery, place them on a cookie rack to drain once they’re cool.

Fried Pickles

fried-picklesI don’t make fried food at home often because my kitchen will smell like fried food for about 24 hours afterward. But I really love fried pickles, so sometimes I just have to make them. These are really good with ranch dressing or chipotle mayo.

Be very careful when working with hot oil! Keep an eye on the temperature, place food in carefully, and be careful removing food from the oil. Basically, work with hot oil and deep fry stuff at your own risk.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½+ cups flour
  • ¾+ cups milk
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 4 cups canola oil (or more depending on the size of your pot)
  • Dill pickle chips

Instructions 

Begin heating oil (it needs to reach 375°) in a pot (or deep fryer, if you have one). I started mine on medium-high heat. Make sure there is enough oil in the pot for your pickles to do some swimming. It should be a couple of inches deep.

Thoroughly dry all of the pickles with paper towels. This is really important because pickles are so wet! If they’re too wet, the batter will fall off, or the water will cause a lot of splattering when you fry them.

Divide four into two dishes. Season each with cayenne. Put a bowl of milk between the two. You may also want a clean plate to put the battered pickles on. I find it easiest to put the plate next to the stove and work in that direction. In my kitchen, the order (left to right) is: stove, plate, flour, milk, flour, pickles. Coat in flour, shake off excess, drop in milk, remove, coat in flour in the other dish, then set onto plate. (Tip: Designate a wet hand and a dry hand. Use your dry hand for the initial four coating and dropping it into the milk. Use the wet hand to remove from the milk, coat, and place onto the plate.) Add additional flour and milk to your dishes as needed. Keep an eye on your oil temperature while you’re doing this! 

Carefully place pickles into the oil (assuming it’s 375° by now). Don’t crowd the pot! They should be able to move around freely without sticking together. Turn a couple of times during frying, until golden on both sides. I use a spider spoon to turn and remove them. Remove and place on a paper towel. Repeat!

Dill pickles are salty enough that they shouldn’t need to be seasoned after you remove them. I made this mistake once and they were super salty!