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

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.

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Life is too short to eat food just because it is good for you. That’s why you will never see a recipe with chia seeds in it on this blog. There is something about their texture that totally grosses me out. I am not going to try to choke down Chia seeds when there are a million other healthy things out there that I do like that I could be eating.

Healthy things like this Kale and Brussels Sprout salad. I tried this recipe because I had kale left over from another recipe and I love, love, love Brussels sprouts. However, I never tried them raw. Kale and Brussels sprouts are awesome when thinly shredded and served raw.  The kale tastes fresh and green with the Brussels sprouts giving a slightly bitter taste and some texture.  I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t tweak a recipe a little bit.  I added the cranberries and sunflower seeds.

This is a very lightly dressed salad so if you like a lot of dressing on your salad double or triple your dressing ingredients.

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad


2 TBS canola oil

1 TBS  Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

salt and pepper, to taste

8 oz  whole Brussels sprouts, shredded

4 kale leaves,  center ribs removed and shredded

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sunflowers seeds

In a small bowl, combine the canola oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk well.  In a medium bowl, combine the shredded Brussels sprouts, shredded kale, cranberries and sunflower seeds.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well.

Two out of three cockatiels approve of this salad.


Honey Oat Granola Bars


On Black Friday I bought three cookbooks. I didn’t really need them but they were A Taste of Home cookbooks so I knew I would be able to find recipes I would like and want to spend time adapting for one or two. I promised myself I would try a minimum of 5 recipes from each cookbook.

This is the first recipe I tried from Taste of Home’s Best Loved Cookies and More cookbook. I chose to make the granola bars because I love them but had to give them up when I started removing processed food from my diet. I have tried making granola bars before but they all turned out to on the dry and crunchy side. There is nothing wrong with that but I prefer my granola bars on the soft, chewy side. These granola bars are soft and chewy and stay soft and chewy even when you leave them on the counter with only a towel over the for several days.

Feel free to experiment with different seeds, nuts, chips, kinds of flakes and extracts. This is a recipe you never have to make the same way twice.

Honey Oat Granola Bars

2 cups oat meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chip
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
6 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sunflower kernels. Stir in butter, honey and vanilla. The oats will be crumbly. Press into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes and score with a knife. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

Adapted from A Taste Home’s Best Loved Cookies and More