To say that I’m ready to wear big cozy sweaters and tall boots again would be an understatement. September is my favorite month, not just because my birthday happens to be in it, but because the weather starts to change to getting cool enough to break out the fall clothes but you don’t need a heavy winter coat, and the red and yellow (and brown) and orange leaves around have to put you in a good mood. And for those of us that are still in school (aka me), I’m back in high school, starting my senior year.
When I was little, going back to school was such an amazing time. I would get new pencils, pens, highlighters, markers, backpack, notebook, paperclips, and about anything else that was pink and sparkly. Now that I’m in my last year of high school, I don’t really get the same excitement about it, but using a new pen or eraser is still a little bit fun. The main downfall of going back to school? Not having time to do anything that isn’t school related. It seems that my life now revolves around 3 AP classes and college essays, with a little bit of piano quintet and music theory thrown in there. Baking? I wish.
A classic of the back-to-school lunchbox is the granola bar. I’ve made them in the past, but these little squares of almond-y jammy goodness are a much better way to start of my school morning. If you make these the night before, they’re an easy grab and go breakfast, and anything homemade just gets my day off to a better start. They come together in a pinch, so even if you don’t have time to make a layer cake, even just a homely little granola bar can brighten your day.
Back-to-School Strawberry Granola Bars- From One Sweet Cookie
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup strawberry preserves (or whatever flavor you want)
Slivered almonds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8 inch square pan and line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
Spread the pecans in a single layer on the prepared half sheet pan. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Cool completely on the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and pecans. Pour in the melted butter, and using a wooden spoon, mix together until well combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan, forming a packed layer.
Using an offset or silicone spatula, spread the preserves over the dough. Evenly sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and fragrant. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Hello again! It’s so nice to finally have some time to post. First and foremost, I made it to Level 8 Regionals for gymnastics! This was a really big accomplishment for me, especially since the only way to qualify was to finish in the top 8 all- around for my age group. I finished in third, while winning floor and placing second on bars. You could say I was more than a little bit excited. The only disadvantage is that Regionals are being held in Maine, which is a relaxing 5-6 hour drive away. I’ll be sleeping.
While everything in gymnastics is going smoothy, things in the viola world are also picking up the pace. Our music finals, called jurys, are being held in less than one month! There was a large scheduling conflict with mine (something about Regionals being on the same day) so I am actually taking my jury in the middle of May instead of the end of April, like everyone else.
I might be slightly overloaded between gymnastics and viola, but you can be sure I’ll always make time to bake! I love almond butter. More than peanut butter. The texture, the taste, everything is just amazing. Add some honey or some maple syrup? I’m already drooling. This granola was from the Barney Butter website (one of my favorite almond butters) and is de-lish. This would be a great addition to your Easter brunch or as a post-Passover specialty. Happy Holidays!
Almond Butter Granola
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon (more depending on taste)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line 1 cookie sheet
In a large bowl, combine the oats, pecans and cinnamon. Using a microwave or a double boiler, melt together the almond butter and the honey. Once melted, add the vanilla. Pour this mixture over the oat mixture and toss together until fully coated.
Bake for 12 minutes, tossing the granola around at 8 minutes to prevent burning. Once cooled, add chocolate chips.
This has been one hectic week! Chemistry tests, practicing viola, and flipping in the four-inch wide balance beam have sucked up lots of my time this week. Sometimes, my usual makeshift breakfast of a bar doesn’t quite last me from 6:45 in the morning until lunchtime, so I created this peanut butter granola to satisfy my tummy in quite a delicious manner!
Before I started this blog, I did lots of baking and reading other blogs before me and my friend Deanna decided to start our own. One of the recipes that was a big hit in my house was a peanut butter granola, so after the success of the pumpkin cinnamon chip and pecan granola bars, I decided to experiment some more with this delicious breakfast (or any time of day delight). I used a base peanut butter granola, and made it much better by coating it with this peanut butter syrup that just made it melt in my mouth. Once you take one bite of this, you’ll wonder why any other breakfast made the cut!
Peanut Butter Granola- Makes about 3 cups
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/3 cup honey (maple syrup tastes great too!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup chopped almonds (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
For the Coating
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 370 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.
Combine the butter, peanut butter and honey in a large bowl. Add in the vanilla extract and stir. Add in the oatmeal and coat completely.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pan after 5 minutes.
While in the oven, melt the butter, peanut butter, vanilla extract and maple syrup in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.
After the granola has cooled, place in a bowl and pour the coating over the granola and coat completely. (I put mine in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to speed up the process). Wait until cooled to put into containers, or directly into your mouth 😉
Oh. My. God. Once you eat this granola, no store brand granola will be acceptable ever again. Ever. 🙂
(P.S. You can add whatever nuts or dried fruits you would like. I guarantee it will taste great!)