nerd out and bake off

There must be some sort of hole in the space-time continuum which allows houses to become messy even when their inhabitants are not present. 

In fact, it would seem that the relationship of time inhabited to mess produced is inversely correlated. 

That’s my theory anyway; titled, appropriately enough, The Megan Westra Theory of Domestic Entropy.

And thus ends my nerd-out for the day…I hope you’re still reading.

Thanks to the MW Theory of Domestic Entropy and my baking bonanza on Sunday I have spent the bulk of today trying to reestablish harmony in kitchen cabinets and bring peace to the laundry basket.  What happened to Monday you may ask?  Well, Monday was sucked away by a fruitless quest to find a new bathing suit for work.

Holy string bikinis Batman!

I’ve been foiled again by the fashion industry. 

Perhaps shopping serves as a catalyzing element in the Domestic Entropy theory…

but I promised no more nerdiness.

This weekend left me not only with lots of housework to catch up on, but also lots of blogging!  Over the past 48(ish) hours I have attempted to make:

Granola Bars

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Vegetable and Sausage Lasagna

(obviously, I am not a fan of the low-carb diet…)

and success was found on all fronts. 

Needless to say, this will be quite the week of recipes here…but what else is new.   First up – the granola bars!

“Granola Bar” is practically its own food group in our home.  With me as a personal trainer/swim instructor, Ben as the anti-morning person, and both of us busy with church responsibilities as well, grab and go breakfasts and snacks are essential.  But SO MANY bars are SUUUUUUPER high in refined sugars and my mortal foe, high fructose corn syrup. Or “healthier” protein and energy bars contain a long list of ingredients I can’t pronounce.

I actually like the taste of real food.  It’s kinda vintage, I know.

 So I began to search for a way that I could make healthier, whole-er, (and CHEAPER) bars in the comfort of my own home.

This is when Smitten Kitchen entered my life.

This adorable food/life blog has been inspiring my culinary adventures all week.

With the tag line of “thick, chewy granola bars” I knew I had found my recipe.

In true Megan Westra fashion though, I tweaked.  As the author of Smitten Kitchen notes, this recipe is SUPER flexible, making it really easy to tweak.  It was a match made in heaven. All that to say, it was necessary to provide both the original link as well as my own pimped out granola bar recipe. 

(insert fan fare sound effect…or bang on the table to make your own drumroll. Whatever)

Berry Addictive Granola Bars

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen…who adapted it from someone else…)

You will need…

1 2/3 cups quick oatmeal

1/3 cup oat flour

½ tsp salt (*note, I thought my bars were a little salty, so I’m cutting this down next time)

Healthy sprinkle of cinnamon

1 cup dried blueberries

2 cups dried cranberries

6 Tbs melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 cup blue agave nectar

1/8 cup naturally flavored blueberry maple syrup

1 Tbs water

In one bowl, mix all your dry ingredients (oatmeal – cinnamon, and fruit) thoroughly.

In another bowl, mix butter, agave, blueberry syrup, vanilla and water thoroughly.

Then mix the two bowls together till the “dough” is crumbly and moist looking.

Line an 8×8 pan (I used glass) with butcher or waxed paper, so that the paper goes up the sides of the pan. This makes it easier to remove the bars. 

Press your granola mixture into the pan evenly.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until the edges of the granola turn golden brown. 

Let the pan cool completely (I did not…and my bars got crumbly…)

After the pan has cooled, lift the granola chunk out of the pan by lifting up the edges of the paper.  Let the granola chunk cool further if needed, and then use a serrated knife to cut into bars.

SOOOOO good!  I will never return to the Quaker Chewy or Kashi TLC again.

I’m thinking I’ll probably take a day each month and make 4-5 batches of these (with various fruits and/or nuts) and freeze them until I use them…sounds like it would work anyway.

I LOVE all things blueberry, so that’s what I chose to use (and dried blueberries were on sale at the co-op – WHAT UP!) but you can really use whatever you want.

I’m thinking these combos may be my next attempts:

–                     Raisin and maple

–                     Almond and apricot

–                     Apple, raisin and peanut butter

–                     Banana and blueberry

–                     Nutella and apricot

–                     Coconut, fig and a slight chocolate drizzle

–                     Cranberry and ginger

–                     Peanut butter…and more peanut butter…

The possibilities are endless!  HA!  I am free from strawberry Pop-Tart bondage!

Also, I used agave and a naturally flavored  blueberry maple syrup (ingredients: maple syrup and blueberry juice…exciting!) to sweeten my bars, but you could use any other liquid sweetener, honey, regular maple syrup, even corn syrup (just don’t tell me).  I chose agave because

a) I’ve never used it before, and

b) it comes from the agave plant and has a low glycemic index. 

Meaning, no sugar rush right after I snack, and no mid-afternoon coma when the high crashes either. 

Welcome to the world of the homemade granola bar.

Now back to your regularly scheduled laundry and cleaning day, already in progress.


One thought on “nerd out and bake off

  1. I’ve had Smitten Kitchen in my feed reader for quite some time now, don’t remember if I’ve ever actually made any of the recipes though. Your granola bars look super yummy and the rest of the food sounds pretty awesome as well. If you’re taking votes for the next recipe to share peanut butter banana bread would be my choice!

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