Chewy Granola Bars


Many moons ago, my friend, Tiffany, gave me this recipe.  I went through a season of making them a couple of times a month…and then we greatly reduced our grocery budget.  (Sigh.)  Fortunately, there is now a bulk foods store nearby that sells most of these ingredients well below grocery store prices.  Yay for us!

These bars will not taste at all like the chewy granola bars that you can buy.  They are heartier and less artificial in taste and texture.  A pan of these can last our hungry family for several days–unlike a pan of brownies.  The ingredients are super flexible and easily altered to accommodate preferences and pantry supplies.  For instance, the ones I’m making this morning have almonds and flax seeds instead of sunflower seeds and wheat germ.  As long as you get a reasonably-right combination of wet and dry ingredients, your chance of success is fairly solid.

1/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. honey
2 T. hot water
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 T. sesame seeds
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Mix thoroughly and press into buttered 9×13″ baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes before cutting into bars.  Allow to cool completely before storing.

Tightly wrapped, these store very well for a week.  Or, feel free to tuck them into the freezer for anther day.



Farmgirl Chocolate Chippers

Don’t worry.  You don’t have to be a farmer…or a girl…to enjoy these cookies.  Their delightfulness surpasses every demographic, which is a good thing…because this recipe makes a LOT.

2 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
5 c. regular rolled oats
4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 12-oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1 7-oz. chocolate candy bar, broken into several pieces
3 c. nuts, chopped (I especially like almonds.)

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.

Process half of oats in blender until powdery.  Process remaining half of oats until coarse, then add broken chocolate bar and process until oats are powdery and chocolate is chopped.

Add oats, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, then stir into butter mixture.

Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.

Form into golf ball-sized balls and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 10 or so dozen.

NOTE:  These cookies freeze very well.

Christmas Cookies

023Today was Cookie Baking Day, Part II.  We had Part I last week with friends, and it was fun.  Two adults and seven children made seven or eight batches of sweet Christmas treats.  I’m serious.  It really was fun.

After we divided the spoils and our friends left, I immediately arranged two sampler platters for a couple of pitch-in dinners the next day.  I also filled our Christmas teddy bear cookie jar with Christmas crinkles, stuck a pan of magic cookies in the fridge, hid a couple of bags of white chocolate popcorn mix in the back of the cabinet, reserved the corn flake wreaths for our personal enjoyment and set aside a couple dozen gingerbread cut-outs for the freezer.  This left me with an assortment of bon bon cookies, buckeye brownies and oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies on my favorite purple plastic platter.  It may sound silly, but this platter is the bomb.  I got it and a green one just like it for TEN CENTS EACH at a rummage sale, and I use them for all sorts of things.  Unfortunately, my dear husband killed the green one a couple of years ago when he appropriated it for some sort of garden project.  He felt bad about that, and he tried to replace it, but the one he got me is too nice to use for all of the junk I used the green one for.  So, his replacement is a special occasion sort of replacement.

Anyway, it was getting late in the evening, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with all of the cookies on the purple plastic platter.  I was tempted to eat enough of them so that they then fit on a plate under my cake dome, but I was already feeling a bit sugared out from the day of baking.  I was ready to get off of my feet and move on to gift wrapping, so I just covered the whole platter with a piece of parchment paper and stuck the loaded purple plastic platter into the oven to be dealt with more energetically in the morning.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

Yes, when I preheated the oven for bacon the next morning, I melted my purple plastic platter and rendered its sweet bounty inedible.  Buckeye brownies.  Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.  Bon bons.

All inedible.

There are two silver linings here.  One is that, even though I was not in the room, my oldest daughter, while screaming, “MOM!!!” handled the oven fire with wisdom and maturity.   Oven off, baking soda at the ready.  I came rushing into the kitchen, at the immediate realization of what had happened in time to grab the baking soda and throw its contents on the flames.  I was then able to grab both oven racks, draped in melted purple plastic and chocolate, in my mitted hands and carry them out to the yard, where I dumped them before running back inside to make sure the fire was out.  It was.

The other silver lining is that I didn’t consume nearly as many calories that day as I potentially would have if I hadn’t been such a flake.

I’m still mourning the loss.

So, even though we knew we still wanted to make sugar cookies this Christmas season, we also took the opportunity today to make a few other things to share with friends and family.

None of it will be stored in the oven.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies

If I’m not mistaken, this recipe has been part of three generations of Christmas celebrations in my family.  I remember my mom allowing us to cut out and decorate these yummy cookies when I was just a little girl.  I’m told that I took my job very seriously and was somewhat disappointed at my little brother’s haphazard style of decorating the cookies.  Whether you go all out with the icing and sprinkles or eat these little guys bare, you will enjoy their soft, tender sweetness.

1 c. softened butter
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cream of tartar

Cream butter, sugar and eggs.

Sift together dry ingredients and add them to butter mixture, blending well.

Chill dough for at least one hour.

For cut-out cookies, roll dough to about 1/4″ thickness and cut with cookie cutters of your choice.

For log cookies, roll dough into log, about 2 1/2″ in diameter, and chill for at least another hour.  Slice dough into 1/4″ slices.

Bake cookies at 325 for about 10 minutes, making sure cookies are set but are not browning.

Dough freezes very nicely if you’re wanting to make ahead for another time.  It will also be fine in the fridge for several days.




Apple Bars

We’ve made these three times so far this year–some to eat, some to share.  Super easy to put together, and very moist and tasty.  Oh, and in our personal opinions, they taste better the day after they’re baked.  These also freeze beautifully if you want to make them ahead for another day.

2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
3 c. apples, peeled, cored and chopped (Make sure to measure the apples after they’ve been chopped.)
1 c. chopped nuts, if desired

Combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.

Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; mix well.

Stir in apples and nuts (if you’re using nuts, that is).

Spread batter in lightly-greased 9×13″ baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Zucchini Butterscotch Bars

I heard about how good these bars were before I acquired the recipe.  Unbeknownst to me, my friend, Larissa, is practically famous for them!  They are so ooey-gooey yummy!

When I make them, I add an extra half-cup of flour and add frozen chips so that the chips don’t all sink to the bottom, which makes them easier to take for picnic lunches, etc.  They’re kind of addictive, so you might want to wait until company’s coming before you make them.  Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to eat the entire pan!

1/3 c. butter or margarine
1 T. hot water
1 egg
1 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/8 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. shredded zucchini
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1/3 c. + 1/4 c. butterscotch chips

Melt butter or margarine in hot water and let cool.

Add egg, brown sugar & vanilla, and mix well.

Add dry ingredients.

Add zucchini, nuts & chips. Spread in greased 8×8″ pan.

Sprinkle 1/4 c. butterscotch chips on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

(NOTE FROM LARISSA: The chips will stick to the bottom of the pan, but be sure to scrape that out and eat it…it’s the best part! YUM!)

Nikki’s Chocolate Cookies

nikki'scookiesAren’t these pretty cookies?  They taste really good, too.  A girl named Nikki brought them to a class I taught once, and I kind of fell in love.  I mean, Nikki is a nice girl and all, but these cookies are…amazing.

Nikki uses peanut butter chips in these, which are lovely.  I baked them today with mint chocolate chips that I got on clearance after Christmas.  Also lovely.  I think it would be tough to mess these up.  Moist, super chocolatey and easy.  They also freeze beautifully.

Although we gave Nikki a hard time at the class for using “plastic” margarine instead of real butter in her batch, either way is tasty.  The only other change I make is to reduce the amount of sugar by a bit, which I do in almost all of my cookies and quick breads.

It is my pleasure to run into Nikki almost every time I go to my dentist (her place of employment).  She always has a smile on her face, and it’s fun to “talk shop” with her about gardening, parenting, baking and just being who God calls us to be.  Come to think of it, I guess Nikki is about as amazing as her cookies.

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 (12-oz. pkg.) peanut butter or mint chips

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture.

Stir in chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 or so minutes.