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  1. Tuesday, February 18

    Handy Trick When Forming Granola Bars

    Ever since I wrote about homemade granola bars last fall I have been consistently making them every week. I haven’t bought a box of granola bars since – the homemade version is just too delicious!

    tip for shaping homemade granola bars easily from @janemaynard

    With all this granola bar making that I’ve been doing, I finally have the recipe memorized and making them is a snap. However, there is one part of the process that is always a little tricky – pushing the granola bar mixture out into a rectangle before baking. The granola mixture sticks to your hands so you have to work very carefully, especially around the edges. Well, I accidentally stumbled upon a trick that solves the problem: push the granola into shape with wet hands!

    One day I washed my hands and went to make the granola bar rectangle without drying my hands off first – it was the most magical mistake! With just slightly damp hands, the granola mixture does not stick at all to your hands, making it sooooo much easier to form the granola into a nice, squared-off rectangle.

    tip for shaping homemade granola bars easily from @janemaynard

    That’s all for today. Just a simple little trick to make your granola-making endeavors easier. Also, if you haven’t started making homemade granola bars, hop to it already. Super, duper, crazy delicious.


  2. Tuesday, October 1

    Chewy Chocolate Chip Homemade Granola Bars

    Since I first shared Catherine McCord’s chocolate chip granola bar recipe with you. I have made a lot of granola bars. We are going through them like water! I am loving it because they are cheaper than store-bought granola bars and I love that we aren’t throwing out a wrapper with every granola bar we eat, instead using our reusable Lunchskins pouches.

    homemade chewy chocolate chip granola bars | thisweekfordinner.com

    Catherine’s recipe is perfect just the way it is, but I still couldn’t stop myself from experimenting! The original recipe I shared is a nice combination of crispy and chewy. I actually think crispy is probably a good description, although it’s not crispy like a Nature Valley granola bar, so I hesitate describing it purely as crispy. ANYWAY…I wanted to see if I could make a chewier granola bar based on the recipe, and I did!

    homemade chewy chocolate chip granola bars | thisweekfordinner.com

    I think I  prefer the chewier version myself, but every time I quiz Cate and Nate about which one they like better, they can’t decide. So, this new version is not an improvement over the previous version, it’s just different. If you’re looking for a chewier granola bar, then this version of the recipe is for you!

    homemade chewy chocolate chip granola bars | thisweekfordinner.com

    Chewy Chocolate Chip Homemade Granola Bars
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    I adapted this recipe from Catherine McCord's granola bar recipe, to make it more chewy and changed up ingredients just a smidge.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Snack
    Serves: 24
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
    • 1 cup brown crisped rice cereal (you can use regular crisped rice; I like brown because it’s a little healthier, I get it at Sprouts and Barbara’s Bakery is my favorite brand)
    • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
    • ½ cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
    • Heaping ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup chocolate chips (regular or mini)
    • Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ⅔ cup coconut oil (you can also use canola oil as a substitute, but the best texture comes with coconut oil)
    • ⅔ cup honey
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
    2. Combine oats, crisped rice, flour, coconut, brown sugar, chocolate chips and salt. Mix well.
    3. Combine oil, honey and vanilla. Whisk well. Add to dry ingredients and mix well (stir a lot...and then stir some more!).
    4. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour granola bar mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Press mixture out into a large, uniform rectangle, about 9″ x 13″. If your hands are damp when you push the mixture into shape, it won’t stick to your hands as much.
    5. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and dry to touch (watch out, it’s hot!). (I bake for 14 minutes, then rotate the pan, then bake for 14 minutes more.)
    6. If you use canola oil or your coconut oil was in liquid form, the bars may spread a bit during baking. As soon as you take them out of the oven, use a spatula to push all the edges back in, so you get your original rectangle.
    7. Cool on the baking sheet for 10-20 minutes until completely cooled. Slide granola bar along with parchment paper onto a large cutting board. Cut into bars using a long serrated knife - bars need to be completely cooled before you cut them.
    8. Makes 24 bars (8 rows, 3 columns). Bars will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
    9. Tip: I use the parchment paper I cooked the granola bars on torn into smaller pieces to place between layers in the container I store the bars in.

     


  3. Sunday, September 15

    Week 347 Menu

    I am already making our second batch of homemade granola bars! I can’t believe how many we went through in just three days. I think having six guests and two soccer games this weekend may have had something to do with it!

    weekly menu post | thisweekfordinner.com

    I’m feeling a bit under the weather and not really wanting to sit here at the computer planning a menu, so I’m pounding this out as fast as I can!

    MONDAY:
    Bistro Chicken
    – Mashed Potatoes + a veggie

    TUESDAY:
    Chicken Soup with Rice

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Chicken Croissants (got moved to this week)
    – Veggie

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Take out

    SATURDAY:
    – Homemade pizza (Hawaiian and Honey Goat Cheese with Caramelized Onions)

    SUNDAY:
    Waffles
    – Fresh Fruit

    Your turn! Bring on the menus! I was so happy to see a few long-time reader, first-time menu posters last week! Hope to see more of you! 🙂


  4. Thursday, September 12

    Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars & Weelicious Lunches

    When you have a lot of food blogger friends, you end up with a lot of friends writing and publishing really cool cookbooks! I have another one of those cookbooks to share with you this week from my friend Catherine McCord of Weelicious.

    homemade chocolate chip granola bars from weelicious | thisweekfordinner.com

    Catherine is every bit as cute and sweet as her recipes. She is gracious and kind and generous and I am so grateful to know her!

    Her second book Weelicious Lunches just came out and it’s great! The photography is beautiful, there are SO many recipes to choose from, and my kids were excited to read through the book to get ideas for their lunches (something I always need help with). This book is great inspiration if you’re looking for wholesome and delicious lunch inspiration for your kids (or even yourself!).

    weelicious lunches cookbook | thisweekfordinner.com

    I have been wanting to make my own granola bars for some time now. I’m on Year Two of trying to use less plastic and one of the specific goals I set for myself this year was to replace some or all  of the store-bought snacks that we regularly include in packed lunches, including granola bars. I haven’t really found a recipe that caught my eye until my review copy of Catherine’s book arrived last week. She has a simple granola bar recipe in the book that looked like just what I needed!

    weelicious lunches cookbook | thisweekfordinner.com

    The granola bars are wonderful (recipe below!). They are a little bit crispy, a little bit chewy, with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of salt. I’ve already eaten a few and they’ve only been out of the oven for an hour! Cate and Owen are equally as addicted. The best part was the bars were so easy to prepare and the ingredients are accessible and inexpensive, making this a much more affordable option than buying granola bars. Plus, we’re using less packaging, contributing to our family’s environmental goals. Yay for homemade granola bars!

    homemade chocolate chip granola bars from weelicious | thisweekfordinner.com

    The giveaway is now closed. Thank you! And, of course, we are giving away Catherine’s book! Two of you lucky commenters will each receive a copy of Weelicious Lunches. Please leave a comment on this post by Midnight PT on Wednesday, September 18.

    You can also buy Catherine’s book on Amazon!

    Good luck to you all with the giveaway! And happy granola bar cooking!

    Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
     
    From Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
    • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
    • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup chocolate chips (or raisins or other dried fruit) Jane note: I used mini chocolate chips
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • ½ cup honey
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Combine the oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and salt in a large bowl.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vanilla and honey.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and stir to combine. (Jane note: stir and stir and stir!)
    5. Spread the granola mixture on the baking sheet and shape it into a large rectangle about 1 inch thick.
    6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and dry to the touch. (Jane note: mine cooked for 35 minutes.)
    7. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then cut into 3 x 1 inch bars using a serrated knife. These bars will remain fresh for several weeks if wrapped individually in parchment or wax paper. (Jane note: I am planning to store in an airtight container.)
    Notes
    Jane’s adaptations: I had a box of brown crisped rice cereal and I love it when granola bars have crispies in them, so I modified things a bit. Since I was adding dry ingredients, I upped the amounts for some of the other ingredients. Here are my modifications:
    - Add 1 cup brown crisped rice cereal to the dry ingredients
    - Increase to ⅓ cup whole-wheat flour
    - Make the ⅓ cup packed brown sugar heaping
    - Used ⅝ cup of canola oil
    - Used ⅝ cup honey

    homemade chocolate chip granola bars from weelicious | thisweekfordinner.com