My older sister moved this weekend for a new job. I wanted to send her and her adorable dog a little something to welcome them into their new home. Since I had the day off work Monday for MLK, Jr. Day, I used it as my opportunity to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and make up a box of goodies to send her! One of her favorite cookies are the Chocolate Crinkles I made the other day, so I included a few of those in her box, too.
Another thing I added to her box were miniature pumpkin bread loaves. I love this Pumpkin Bread recipe from Better Homes & Garden. And, the bows I found in the dollar bin at Target were perfect to dress these up!
For Christmas, my sister bought me the Barefoot Contessa 'Back to Basics' cook book, so I wanted to make something out of this book for her. Since for her new job she has a territory where she will be driving around a little bit, I figured she could use these granola bars as a snack on the road. The recipe says it makes 12 to 16 bars, but I was able to get 24 because I made them a little smaller. In my opinion, the individual bars would have been too big if I cut them into only 12 rectangles. This worked out great, though, because then I was able to have enough to keep for us for snacks at work this week! And, they are chewy, just the way I like them!
After putting together my sister's box, I had more granola bars and pumpkin bread leftover than I could imagine, so I made up a surprise box for my parents and Ben's parents. In fact, hopefully they are not reading this post until after they receive their package! My sister received her's yesterday and loved it. And, I had enough batter to make a regular size pumpkin bread loaf for us to eat for breakfast this week.
Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
½ cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅔ cup honey
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup chopped pitted dates
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper. (I used my 7 x 11 pan.)
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Source: Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics