Cocoa Cranberry Granola Bars

Today someone asked me if I do anything besides cooking and baking. I said yes but I don’t think she believed me so here are somethings I enjoy besides cooking.

1. Spending time with my pets. Although I don’t say much about them here, by far my favorite way to spend my time out of the kitchen is with my pets. I currently have 3 cockatiels, Squeak, Beau and Ella, 6 parakeets, Manny, Milo, Katie, Pepper, Eli, and Skyler, 2 finches, Tucker and Pearl and one rat, Missy. We train, hang out, and play together. They are a major part of my self care. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Don’t know why they are in the box together

2. I love to watch TV and movies, especially since Covid started. Of course, I love cooking shows like Chopped, The Chef Show, and Somebody Feed Phil. I am also obsessed with the show River Monsters. In October all the best and worst, horror movies hit the streaming services and I am here for all of them. So far the worst horror movie I watched is Silent Hill. For a movie based on an absolutely terrifying game, the movie is oddly devoid of any scares or any tension of any kind. Its very boring.

3. I am currently spending a lot of time crocheting. I am crocheting dish clothes and dish scrubbies for my kitchen. When I am done with that I am going to start on project of making as many things out of these two books as I can as a Christmas present for a friend’s children. I am also going to make a bunch of these as magnets for my fridge because there aren’t many things cuter then tiny crocheted foods.

My yarn box over flows
So freaking cute

4. I play Trivial Pursuit with my friend, Steph. My family quit playing trivia with me years ago because the think I cheat. I don’t and never have. My “problem” is I have a tremendous memory for trivia. I can’t remember my name most days but I can remember the names of a minor character in a movie I saw once when I was 10. Its not my fault. Until I started playing with Steph I never met anyone who could keep up with me at trivia. We have so much fun playing.

So you can see that I do do other things other than cook and bake.

I made this recipe without toasting the grains and it still tasted amazing. Press the granola firmly into the pan because this is what keeps the bars from crumbling. pay special attention to the corners and very middle.

Cocoa Cranberry Granola Bars

Adapted From Sunbutter.com

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

2 TBS unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

2 TBS butter, cut into pieces

2 1 /2 TBS honey

2 TBS Sunbutter

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom and sides of of a 4 cup baking dish with foil or parchment paper, use the coconut oil to grease the foil or paper, set aside. Spread the oats and sunflower seeds over a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted oats and sunflower seeds,scoconut, cranberries and cocoa. Stir to combine.

In a small sauce pan, combine butter, honey, Sunbutter, vanilla and salt. Cook on low heat until the butter melts, stirring constantly. Pour the butter mixture of the grain and seed mixture, mix well.

Transfer the mixture to the foil lined pan and use a spatula to spread the mix into the corners and to the sides. Firmly press the mixture into the pan, paying close attention to the corners and the middle. Pressing the granola mixture firmly into the pan is what keeps the bars from crumbling so spend a minute making sure it is press into the pan all over.

Oat Cranberry Muffins

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I may have squealed when I found frozen cranberries at the co-op a few weeks ago.  Cranberries are my favorite fruit.  It sucks they are only available for such a short time each year and my tiny freezer can only hold so many bags of frozen cranberries.

Since I am really into Beatrice Ojakangas’ cookbook, Breakfast With Beatrice, right now, I decided to adapt and try her Oat Cranberry Muffin recipe.  I think I have found my second all time favorite muffin recipe.  (In case you are wondering, all time favorite muffin recipe is Mollie Katzen’s Chocolate Ricotta Muffins. )  So many times people who write cranberry recipes, sweet or savory, add so much sugar they completely destroy the tart bite of the cranberry.  Mrs.  Ojakangas doesn’t do that, she adds just enough sugar to sweeten the muffin but allow the tart cranberry to shine.

Oat Cranberry Muffin

Adapted from the Breakfast With Beatrice cookbook

6 TBS all purpose flour

6 TBS whole wheat flour

1/2 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 TBS canola oil

3 TBS lightly beaten egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 6 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the flours, rolled oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cranberries.  In a small bowl, beat the milk, canola oil, and egg together.  Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just blended, about 20 strokes.  Pour the batter evenly into the muffin cups.  Bake for 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin come out clean.  Cool 1 minute and then move the muffins to a wire rack and cool.

 

Triticale, Rye and Spelt #2 Muesli

A few years ago, Mark Bittman come out with his book and cookbook, VB6, where he championed eating vegetarian before 6 pm and after 6 pm eating whatever you want within reason.  It was an intriguing idea but, ultimately, it didn’t work for me.  While I didn’t adopt the VB6 lifestyle I did adopt many VB6 recipes into my recipe rotation.

My favorite VB6 recipe is for Mark Bittman’s Homemade Cold Cereal.  It is basically a combination of dried flaked grains, seeds, spices, and dried fruit that you soak in milk, juice or yogurt before you eat it.  Bittman’s ideas isn’t new.  You might be more familiar with this idea as the overnight oatmeal that was all over the internet a few years ago.

Mark Bittman’s recipe is actually a form of Muesli.  Muesli is a breakfast that was created in the 1890s. The great thing about muesli is that it is incredibly flexible.  You can use whatever bits and pieces of stuff you have in the pantry. I used the triticale, rye and spelt flakes I had in my pantry because of my flake experiments but you can use any flakes you have  or just use old fashioned rolled oats.  I love eating muesli in the spring and summer when it is too hot to cook.

Mark Bittman's Homemade Cold Cereal

3 ½ cups rolled oats

½ cup mixed chopped nut and seeds

½ cup raisins or other dried fruit

¼ cup unsweetened grated coconut

½ tsp cinnamon or other spices, to taste

Pinch salt

Milk to serve with

Combine the oats, nuts and seeds, raisins, coconut and spices in a large bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.   To serve, put about ½ cup of oat mixture in a bowl and top with ½ cup milk. If you have time, let the bowl sit for 5 – 10 minutes to let the oats absorb some of the milk so they’ll soften and sweeten.

Homemade Cold Muesli

Ingredients

1 cup rolled Triticale flakes

1 cup rolled rye flakes

1 cup rolled spelt flakes

1/2 cup rolled oats

½ cup mixed chopped nut and seeds

½ cup raisins or other dried fruit

½ tsp cinnamon or other spices, to taste

Pinch salt

Milk to serve with

Combine the oats, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, coconut and spices in a large bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.   To serve, put about ½ cup of the flake  mixture in a bowl and top with ½ cup milk. If you have time, let the bowl sit for 5 – 10 minutes to let the oats absorb some of the milk so they’ll soften and sweeten.

Both these recipes make more than one serving.  I make a batch and store it in a gallon size plastic bag.  I have kept this on my pantry shelf for months and never had a batch go bad.

Baked Oatmeal, 2 Ways

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Every so often I become rather obsessed with a recipe and want to try and adapt every possible variation of that recipe I can find. With the weather getting colder here in North Dakota I am totally getting obsessed with baked oatmeal, which is weird because I have never been a huge fan of oatmeal. To quote Ramsey Michele, from the movie Chef, “This shit is good. Mucho goodo.”

The great thing about baked oatmeal is that it is good hot or cold. The recipes make two to three servings depending on your appetite.

Orange Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups oats
4 TBS brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 TBS melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Craisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and Craisins. Mix well to combine. In a small bowl, combine the milk, melted butter and orange juice. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Spiced Amish Baked Oatmeal


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups oats
6 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, combine oats, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix well. In a small bowl, combine milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Baked Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

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One of the things I have learned about myself as I learned to cook is cold, processed breakfast cereals don’t really do anything for me. I would eat a huge howl of cereal in the morning and three hours later I would be at the vending machine looking for something to satisfy me till lunch. Not healthy for my waist or my wallet. so I am always looking for new things to add to my breakfast routine.

This morning all I had in my pantry and fridge was an apple, milk and some oats. Yeah, I haven’t been grocery shopping in a while and the pickings are getting mighty slim. There had to be something I could do with these ingredients.

On a whim I googled baked oatmeal and began to search. Most of the recipes I found required ingredients I didn’t have so I kept on looking. I finally found a recipe I had all the ingredients for at Simply Recipes. I set it to baking while I did my bird and rodent chores and got ready for work. My apartment started to smell so good. When I finally sat down to eat it was kind of like eating a slice of pie for breakfast.

Baked Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal


Ingredients
1 1/3 cup oats
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries, optional
1 medium apple, chopped
2 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS butter, melted, optional
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 2 quart baking dish, combine the oats, raisins, apple, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour milk over the oats, don’t stir. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the milk is absorbed.