Back-to-School Strawberry Granola Bars

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.

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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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8 inch square pan and line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Now back to studying!

-Rayna 🙂

 

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Cranberry Pecan Almond Flour Cookies

Hello again fellow bakers! I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have the first part of my A.P. U.S. History final over, as my best friend Deanna can tell you. This part of our final, which was an essay called a DBQ (Document Based Question), required us to know every detail of American history between 1900-1950. For Thursday, we are required to know every detail from when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock to Ronald Reagan. You could say that I am slightly stressed out.

Throughout the multiple tests, finals, and A.P. testing coming up in school, I am on break week from gymnastics! The regional championships, held up in Maine (a 5 1/2 hour drive) was a great experience, and I loved representing the state of Connecticut. As a member of the team, I got to wear a royal blue leotard with Connecticut spelled out in rhinestones and a lime green breast cancer symbol in the upper left hand corner. We also got a Connecticut jacket, that has Connecticut written on the back and the Region VI gymnastics symbol on the left breast pocket. I was so proud to be on the 2nd place team and to earn the silver medal on floor. Go CT!

Now that my mother is a chef, you can be expected to find all sorts of unexpected ingredients in our house. Whether it be date paste, dried chrysanthemum flowers, or monkey-picked tea, our house is filled with unique ingredients. Finding a various assortment of flours in our house is normal. All purpose, bread, cake, spelt, buckwheat: you name it, I bet we have it. Almond flour is not actually flour, oddly enough. It is just very finely ground almond- strange, right? Due to the almond flour in these cookies, they took on a very marzipan-like flavor, which I loved! The pecans added a much needed crunch and the dried cranberries supplied the perfect amount of sweetness. Plus, they only take a few minutes from the cabinets into the oven. Perfect for any busy schedule! 🙂

Cranberry Pecan Almond Flour Cookies- From Carrots ‘n’ Cake

Makes 12 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal/flour (I used Bob’s Red Mills)
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cups chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Roll into 1 inch balls (or use an ice cream scooper!) and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Happy May! 🙂

-Rayna 🙂