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.
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!)
First off, Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday full of delicious foods 🙂
Once in a blue moon, having tons of cookies and brownies and other sugar-filled treats around the house can get very monotonous. Sometimes, my family isn’t as willing to have cake for breakfast (and every other meal of the day) as I am, which leaves me with a great big plate of delicious calorie-laden treats. However, being smack in the heart of pumpkin season and with Thanksgiving close enough to touch, these granola bars will be a great way to get into that Thanksgiving spirit without overdosing on pumpkin before you eat the entire pie.
Typically before school in the mornings, I don’t have enough time to have a “real” breakfast, so granola bars tend to be my breakfast of choice. Once I made these, school mornings got so much easier! The crunch of the pecans is a great contrast to the sweetness of the cinnamon chips, and the pumpkin granola with the aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg are like a party in my mouth. Not only do these smell and taste amazing, but they’re a nice way to get into the Thanksgiving spirit without eating turkey every day this week. 🙂
3 1/4 cups rolled oats (Regular, not instant or quick-cooking)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (Fresh grated is better!)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8×8 baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, pumpkin, honey, applesauce, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until the oats are fully coated. Add in the cinnamon chips and pecans.
Scoop into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars and serve!
Don’t be surprised the morning after when only crumbs are left!
– Rayna 🙂
(Sorry for the not-so-fantastic pictures, it was dark when I took photos :/)