Granola Bars – Oats, Rice Krispies, Smoked Almonds, Almond Butter, & Dried Cherries

If you’ve been only eating store bought, packaged granola bars, then you’ve been doing it all wrong.  These homemade granola bars are packed with oats, rice krispies, smoked almonds, almond butter, dried cherries, and honey, and they’re quick and easy to make.  Just measure, melt, stir, bake, and eat- no fancy equipment needed.  You can customize the type of nuts used (I also like using salted hazelnuts and cashews), dried fruit (dried apricots and cranberries are also among my favorites), and nut butter (I use almond butter because I can’t do peanut butter).  The bars are barely sweet, but you can sweeten them up with a more generous drizzle of honey after they’ve baked or even a swirl of melted chocolate, Nutella, or whatever makes your sweet tooth sing.
Granola Bars -Oats, Rice Krispies, Smoked Almonds, Almond Butter, & Dried Cherries 6

Granola Bars – Oats, Rice Krispies, Smoked Almonds, Almond Butter, & Dried Cherries

Makes one 9″x13″ pan

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 3/4 cup rice krispies cereal
1/2 cup roasted salted almonds, chopped (I like using Trader Joe’s Mesquite Smoked Almonds)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit), chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond butter, divided
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Honey (optional), for drizzling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the oats, rice krispies, chopped almonds, salt, baking soda, and chopped cherries in a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a large glass measuring cup (or microwave safe bowl), combine the honey, 1/2 cup almond butter, and coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and stir to mix well and ensure the coconut oil and almond butter have melted.
  5. Add the vanilla and brown sugar to the coconut, honey, and almond butter mixture. Whisk to combine.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to mix well.
  7. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan.  Flatten the mixture into the bottom of the pan.  I start out by pressing down on the oat mixture with my hands to distribute it evenly throughout the pan.  Then I place a sheet of parchment paper over the top of the oat mixture and use the  bottom of a large measuring cup (or any other object with a solid flat surface) to press down on the mixture and pack it down.
  8. Microwave the remaining 2 tablespoons of almond butter for about 30 seconds (until it liquefies enough to be poured/drizzled). Drizzle the almond butter over the top of the bars.
  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
  10. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 10-20 minutes, until if feels firm but still somewhat soft enough to cut.  Note: if the bars haven’t cooled enough, they won’t be firm enough to cut into bars and will crumble.  But if you wait too long and they’ve cooled and hardened too much, they may shatter a little when cut into bars.  It’s a bit of a guessing game, so a little trial and error is needed.
  11. Remove from the pan and then cut into bars.  Don’t worry if some of your bars break apart a little or seem a bit too crumbly when you cut them.  Press/mold the bars back into shape, and when they’re fully cool, they should harden a little more and hold together a little better.  And if you have smaller pieces that are too crumbly to hold up as bars, they’ll still be delicious to eat sprinkled over yogurt.
  12. Place the bars on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  13. Store in a sealed container or wrapped in plastic wrap.

Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

I love carrot cake, and it’s not just because of the thick layer of rich cream cheese frosting.  This recipe for carrot-pecan loaf cake is for the carrot cake purists as it’s so packed with flavor that it doesn’t need any frosting to make it totally irresistible.  The brown sugar topping provides a nice crunch and just a shot of sweetness which makes this hearty cake perfect for breakfast, snacking, or dessert.
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A closeup shot of all the goodness.  Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit7

Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

(from Bon Appetit)
Makes one 9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients

1 cup canola oil, plus more
1¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; plus more
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups or 2 1/2 large carrots)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  3. Whisk baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and 1 ¼ cups flour in a small bowl.
  4. Toss raisins, walnuts, and remaining 1 Tbsp. flour in another bowl.
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  6. With mixer running, gradually drizzle in 1 cup oil,
  7. then add vanilla.
  8. Fold in dry ingredients, raisin mixture, and carrots;
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  11. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 65–75 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Bake up to 2 days ahead. Store wrapped at room temperature.

Another Take On Chicken & Waffles

The Grilled Cheese Truck (http://www.thegrilledcheesetruck.com/) was parked just steps from my place today, so I couldn’t resist trying their Fried Chicken and Waffle sandwich. I got it without the “upgrades” (bacon inside and parmesean crusted waffle) because I wanted to taste the purest version of it. The waffle was a bit soggy and could have been a bit sweeter to offset the spicy fried chicken, but the country gravy was surprisingly flavorful. I’m still in search of my “perfect” chicken sandwich, but this one hit my gluttony spot.

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Not Your Usual Ice Cream

I stumbled across Coolhaus’s (http://eatcoolhaus.com/) brick and mortar spot in Culver City, CA. They’re know for their delicious ice cream sandwiches.  Check out one of their creative ice cream flavors – Fried Chicken and Maple Waffle ice cream. I didn’t try it this time because I was too tempted by their banana ice cream sandwiched between two snickerdoodle cookies. Next time!

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