Archives for September 2012


Cranberry & Almond Granola Bars

I thought you might be tiring of the same ‘ol descriptive words…amazing or yummy or delicious! So I thought I’d go all crazy and call these granola bars…Most Delicious!

These are SOoooo good that the hardest part is to stop eating the granola mix before you bake it. You know, so you could actually end up eating the finished product!

This recipe is inspired from Smitten Kitchen Thick & Chewy Granola Bars. I really liked how flexible her recipe was but I wanted to try making these without any corn syrup. I also lowered the sugar and omitted the salt so we could be justified when we eat half the granola bars in one sitting! And I require the peanut butter as it really helps the granola bar stay uncrumbly and contributes to the chewiness factor. Plus, I threw in coconut to counteract the lowered sugar.

And oh yeah, these are gluten free!

The list of characters….

Makes 16 granola squares


2 cups quick cooking oats, gluten free if necessary
1/2 – 2/3 cup organic sugar
2 cups nuts (I think slivered almonds are best and very kid friendly…but feel free to shake it up!)
1/2 cup dried fruit (myself, I’m a big cranberry fan)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 cup peanut butter
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp H2O (I do not remember much from chemistry but I love using this abbreviation for water)
a little less than 1 oz of each: honey, maple syrup, and molasses (1/3 cup in total when all three are combined…just fill 1/3 measuring cup up with some of each)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a piece of parchment paper large enough to extend over a 9″x9″ baking pan. You want to be able to use the sides of the parchment paper to lift the baked granola out of the pan prior to cutting.

Place 1/3 cup of the oats into a food processor and chop until the oats reach flour like consistency. You are basically making oat flour. If desired, you could just use store bought oat flour but I like the do-it-yourself method.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oat flour with remaining 1 and 2/3 cups oats and all other dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, peanut butter, water, and the 1/3 cup mixture of honey, maple syrup, and molasses. (I hope the 1/3 cup makes sense…basically just put a tad of each into a 1/3 measuring cup).

Now comes the fun part! Pour the moist ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until well combined. You can use a plastic spatula, wooden spoon, or your hand for this part. I use my hand…easier to eat the stuff as I go along!

Now, STOP eating the granola and leave some for the granola bars!!!

Spread into the buttered parchment paper/baking pan.  And then press down the granola with your hands or a large spatula as much as possible. This is really important to help the granola bars stick together. Bake for 20 minutes, until slightly darkened on top. Remove from oven and once again, with a spatula, press the mixture down to help with the adhesiveness.

Do not remove the parchment paper from the pan for at least 30 minutes. This also helps the bars to  seal together. And if it’s really humid out, after letting the bars reach room temperature, place them into the fridge and allow to cool further for an hour or so more.

I’m telling you this so Kashi & Nature Valley will be jealous of how well your home made granola bars stay together!

Now, once you are ready to eat these bad boys, use a serrated knife to cut these in a sawing motion. Oh wait, you’ve already stolen a little bite…don’t worry…I have too when they come right out of the oven, but it’ll just be our secret!

Store bars in the refrigerator or freezer in a resealable bag. If frozen, simply allow the granola bar to sit out at room temperature for about 5 minutes. They’ll be cool, calm, and so satisfying!

Also, you can substitute chocolate chips for the dried fruit or drizzle chocolate on top if desired. I’ve found that cranberries and slivered almonds are my favorite way to go. When I’ve tried adding chocolate, the bars were still good but almost a little too rich or intense. So you may want to reduce the peanut butter a little if you add chocolate. Also, if you aren’t into dried fruit or chocolate then feel free to use all nuts. The basic amount is 2 to 3 cups total of nuts and dried fruit.

I’m really not kidding about how addictive these are. It is so hard to eat just one, so hard to put that spoon down once all the ingredients are combined…you just CAN’T STOP! Or, at least I can’t!

I hope ya’ll like these as much as my family does!




Wheat, oh wheat, what have you done to me?

Good morning! I am writing this at 6:07am. Wow, such a bright start to the morning. Many of you may be on the computer this early on a regular basis, but trust me….I am not. But my little Stella likes to wake at 5:45 just about every morning. Normally, I fight this for about 30 minutes. But this morning, I just went ahead and got up at the crack of dawn. If anyone has some magic tricks up their sleeves of how to get her to sleep in, I’d love to know!

But I digress, already! Kiddos’ wake up times is not what I am trying to write about.

So if you’ve known me for longer than 5 minutes there is a very good chance that you’ve heard about my “delicate stomach” and if you are unfortunately a close friend or a family member, then you’ve probably been tortured by listening to me try to diagnose my problem myself. And if you’re one of my sisters or my husband…well, let’s just say they are probably beyond THRILLED that I’ve finally found what is making my stomach not a very happy camper.

It’s wheat ya’ll. Or to actually be much more specific, it’s gluten that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. So drumroll here….I am going Gluten Free!

I’ve been GF for a week now (how awesome is it, that we gluten intolerance people have a cool abbreviation to stick to our name!) and I’ve already seen a big improvement, and I’m hoping I will continue to see more improvements…like maybe the mild acne that drives me crazy will clear up too?

Now, to why I thought YOU wanted to know all about my stomach issues… I am hoping that there are some readers out there who can help point me in the direction of tried & true, trusted & knowledgeable books, blogs, and cookbooks that’ll help me get creative when cooking & baking.

I’ve already checked a gozillan GF cookbooks out at the library, THANK GOD for libraries. And I’ve been looking at quite a few blogs. But I’m not kidding myself…I’m not the first person out there with this….so I know there are plenty of you who know which books are the most helpful and which blogs have the best tasting GF recipes.

Thanks for taking the time to help a ‘new to GF’ girl out! I really appreciate it!!!



Au revoir summer 2012

Today’s the first day of pre-school and our oldest one, Dale Esau, is starting 4K!

And, I’ve learned some VERY shocking news…Next year, we’ll have to be at elementary school by 7:25AM! Are you serious? I guess that means my half sleeping on the couch from 6:30-8:30ishhh is probably not going to be happening so much in 2013. Therefore, I need to really appreciate these lazy morning hours, while I have ’em!

This summer we’ve had our share of lazy morning (okay, okay….all day) hours! We’ve been busy enjoying all the things summer brings… like popsicles, icecream, kettle corn at the farmer’s market, jaunts to the beach and pool, and playing tourists in our town.

So I wanted to share some photos with ya’ll of what we’ve been up to. I know I’ve posted extremely little and I’ve missed it. But there was just so much fun to be had with the computer turned off, that sometimes it was too hard to turn the computer on. This business of summer is winding down with our re-entrance into school and schedules, so here’s to hoping I’ll be blogging more often.

Sharing…is there anything more precious between siblings?

Road trip enthusiasm!

Inspecting dirt for worms, seriously…what we spent every single day doing this summer!

Catching fish together…the crazy outfit on DE is a make-shift trash bag poncho!

I’ve pickled probably 16 pints of okra so far and am hoping to put some more up this week. I LOVE pickled okra!

Berry Licious Lime Yogurt Popsicles

For the first time ever, I was able to can tomatoes from our garden!

Dale Esau planted these, unbeknownst to me, when I was working on another part of the garden. It was a pretty cool surprise to see them sprout and flourish. Since he planted them, they were his favorite veggie to eat all summer!

Chocolate Toffee Cupcakes for my birthday!!!

I cannot wait!!! to share with ya’ll this granola bar recipe. It is so delish, so addictive, and so gluten free!!!

Is there anything else that says summer better?

I hope you & yours had a fantastic summer!!! Here’s to being thankful for football season, falling leaves, pumpkins, and relishing this last year of sleepy mornings on the couch!