Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting started with snacks

Ordinarily Monday is my grocery shopping day. But this past Monday was a very rainy day, and there wasn't anything I was in dire need of, so, I decided to bake instead. First items.... granola bars and cookies.

Ansel has a real 'thing' for granola bars. He requests "bars" with a strong Jersey-like accent which is tremendously endearing and makes it very hard to say no. If you DO say no, his new go-to line is, "But I'm SO hungry," and shoots you this sad, puppy dog look and you just can't say no. So the least I could do was make a healthy, affordable bar option for him. And heck, for the rest of us! I saw Alton Brown make granola bars on his show once, and ever since then I've had it in the back of my head to try his recipe. So that's what I did.

Alton Brown's Granola Bar Recipe

Now, one must always(in my opinion) start with a tidy kitchen. My smallest helper was happy to pitch in.

All of the dry ingredients have to be toasted. This was great because Ansel was able to help with all of it, and he had a blast spreading it on the cookie sheet. This is oats, raw sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and almonds. The recipe called for sliced, but we had slivered. Close enough!
I should have taken a picture of this sooner, but you mix the sugars and wet ingredients and combine on the stove. It only took a minute or two and smelled really good! I used a berry mix for fruit. I think it would be easy to sub in chocolate chips, but things might get a little gooey.

Everything gets spread into a pan(recipe called for 9x9 but I had 8x8) and baked.

And while things bake, you start to clean up!

Finished product! Basically, you let the granola cool after you pull it out of the oven. It took several hours to no longer be warm. Then cut into bars. This made a dozen generous sized bars for us.

I was still feeling like baking, and since the kitchen was already a bit messy, we decided to launch straight into cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip was our first undertaking. I have a fair bit of cookie making experience. Oatmeal has always been a favorite, and I try to justify that it's almost, sort of, a little bit like eating oatmal. Somewhere deep down, right? But we also have a lot of oats we've had a while that I want to use so I don't have to worry about them going bad. I followed the basic Quaker oatmeal recipe.

Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Mmmm.... butter! I love butter, and I am not afraid of it. I don't go out of my way to consume it in huge quantities, but I don't avoid it. I never use margarine. And I almost always use salted butter, unless a recipe specifically calls for unsalted butter.

Cookie dough well on its way. I used a full cup of milk chocolate chips. Note: I use Hershey's chocolate chips, not Nestle. I do not use any Nestle products of any kind(unless I slip up and don't realize that a product is owned by Nestle. I'll get into that eventually.).

I have a thing for parchment paper. It's not 'green' and I know that. But.... it makes everything come out better. And sometimes it saves my food from being burned or sticking, so it reduces food waste? Maybe? But you'll notice lots of parchment paper. (Also see granola cooling to the right).

Cookies in the oven. I don't know if baking on two tiers like this is exactly correct, but I do it because I'm impatient.

My dogs were not happy that they were being terribly neglected while I baked and baked and baked. Their crates are in the area that should be a breakfast room, except it's much too small to be a breakfast room, and putting a table in the place it should go(under the light) would obstruct traffic from getting out the back door or into the master bedroom. Can you say poor planning?
This is Ellie, our husky mix, shooting me pathetic looks.

And Teddy, our mastiff/St. Bernard mix puppy was so perturbed he couldn't even bother himself to move when I got down in his face with the camera.

He is ever so excited about the finished product. I mean, seriously, he is THRILLED!

And this is how much one batch is. I would, generally, give each kid two cookies at a time for a snack or dessert. And this would last us a week. Except, I ended up sending some with the husband to work for something they were doing there, so I may be making cookies again over the weekend. Only time will tell!

I store cookies in a glass cookie jar on the counter, back out of easy reach of small hands. If I bake up a batch and it's just a ridiculous amount, I freeze some in freezer Ziploc bags. Most cookies freeze and thaw very well.


  1. Have you ever read Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything? It is fabulous and teaches so much. We got it for our wedding and have never used another recipe for oatmeal cookies. Dang they are good. It is like a bible for your kitchen.

  2. I swear I was just thinking.. I want to try and find a good granola bar recipe.

  3. Angela, I don't have that one. I only have a handfull of cookbooks, and I get most everything else off the web. But I'll look into that one. Maybe our library has it and I can check it out.
    Jessica, that's funny! This is a good one. Easy to make, not overly sticky, a little bit salty, crunchy.... everything a good granola bar is to me!

  4. Yum, Nicole! I am so motivated to bake right now.