granola bars

chocolate granola 7

I don’t know how best to say this in order for you all to understand the significance: My youngest son can now eat granola bars!

You may be thinking this isn’t big news or noteworthy, yet it is. He has a severe tree nut allergy, and there is not a granola bar available for purchase that is safe for him to eat. Because of this he hasn’t had a granola bar since before his diagnosis, which was about 4 years ago. But now, thanks once again to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, he has granola bars daily! And this makes him happy.

Since I started making these, we always have granola bars in the house. Not only are they easy, but the ingredients are not expensive, and are easy to keep stocked in my kitchen.

I’ve made these in different variations, and my son has declared his favorite are the ones with cocoa as well as chocolate chips that aren’t melted in the mix. I prefer the ones without the cocoa. They’re all good … but we each have our favorite!

Below are the two variations I’ve made lately.

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Chocolate Granola Bars

1 3/4 cups quick oats *Note: Important to use quick oats and not old-fashioned.

1 cup crispy rice cereal

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

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Line a 9×9 (or similar size pan) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats and cereal.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar. Stir well and often.

Once bubbles appear, simmer and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

Add cocoa. Stir well to combine then remove from heat.

Add vanilla. Stir.

Pour this mixture over the oats and cereal. Stir well to combine everything into a big sticky bowl of yumminess.

chocolate granola 1

chocolate granola 2

Spread the mix into the pan lined with parchment paper.

chocolate granola 3

Top with chocolate chips. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and press firmly to make the mixture even and to push the chips into the granola a bit.

chocolate granola 4

chocolate granola 5

Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours, slide the parchment off the pan onto a counter and cut into whatever size and shape you want.

chocolate granola 8

Note: I like cutting them into 1×1-inch pieces — a few of these are perfect for my son’s daily snack at school. Also, for Valentine’s Day I used plastic heart cookie cutters (large and small) and, as you can see, I got the cutest heart shaped granola bars! Since I make these granola bars weekly, I’ll start cutting them using other cookie cutter shapes that I have just to make my son’s daily school snack a little more fun.

Another note: In addition to — or in place of — the chocolate chips, you could add chopped dried fruit and/or crushed/chopped pretzels and/or raisins. I wouldn’t add more than a total of 1/3 cup of these items. Remember to add them to the oats and cereal before pouring on the butter and honey mixture. 

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granola 11

Granola Bars

2 cups quick oats *Note: Important to use quick oats and not old-fashioned.

1 cup crispy rice cereal

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

~

Line a 9×9 (or similar size pan) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cereal, and chocolate chips.

Note: If you don’t want the chocolate chips to melt from the heat of the liquid, keep them to the side until after the mixture is pressed into the pan (as I did in the above batch). 

granola 2

In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar. Stir well and often.

granola 1

Once bubbles appear, simmer and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir.

Pour this mixture over the oats, cereal, and chocolate chips in the large bowl. Stir well to coat all the oats and cereal.

*Update: I’ve made these so often now that I’ve changed my favorite version. Adding the chocolate chips at this point is not my favorite way of making these anymore. I prefer to add them at the end, as in the first example. By the way, if I were to add other ingredients, such as chopped pretzels, I might add the chocolate chips to the oats and cereal, because I’m not sure how well it would all stick otherwise.

granola 3

granola 4

Spread the mix into the pan lined with parchment paper.

granola 6

Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and press firmly to make the mixture even.

Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

granola 7

After the 2 hours, slide the parchment off the pan onto a counter and cut into whatever size and shape you want.

granola 8

granola 9

granola 10

Note: As noted above, in addition to — or in place of — the chocolate chips, you could add chopped dried fruit and/or crushed/chopped pretzels and/or raisins. I wouldn’t add more than a total of 1/3 cup of these items. Add them to the oats and cereal before pouring on the butter and honey mixture. 

cod fillets with curry powder

Today I made a small change to the pan seared cod fillets recipe, and it was delicious! I added 1 teaspoon curry powder to the flour, salt and pepper. So good!

And it disappeared too quickly to get a photo taken, so instead here is a photo from the original post. Just use your imagination to add a little curry powder to the fish.  🙂

cod (4)

turkey mozzarella meatballs

turkey meatballs served

Previously I posted my recipe for beef meatballs, and since that post they have quickly become one of my husband’s favorite meals, but lately I’ve been making them using ground turkey more often than with beef. Because the ingredients are identical to the beef recipe, I haven’t posted the specific recipe. So today I’m updating the recipe and posting it now.

In the past year and a half I’ve made meatballs about every other week. They are so easy, economical (one pound of ground meat makes enough for over two meals), and delicious.

Another change, other than using turkey, is that I now usually cook the meatballs in the oven instead of on the stove top. Cooking them this way allows me to kind of ignore them for a while, so that I can make the sides or do the dishes or catch up on my shows on DVR.

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Turkey Mozzarella Meatballs

1 egg

1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

garlic powder

salt

pepper

2 cups pasta sauce (any kind you prefer — homemade or from a jar), divided

1 pound ground turkey breast

1/2 – 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

olive oil

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Heat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, stir together the egg, bread crumbs, seasonings, and 1 cup of the pasta sauce. Mix in the ground turkey, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and the Parmesan.

(*Note: I do not enjoy mixing raw meat with my hands, and have found that stirring with a large serving fork mixes the meat and ingredients well.)

In a deep baking dish, pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Using a large soup spoon, form the meat into balls about the size of golf balls. From the one pound of meat I get about 15 meatballs.

Place the meatballs into the baking dish and cook for 15 minutes.

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

Use a large spoon to gently turn each meatball, then return them to the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and pour the remaining sauce over the meatballs and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, if desired.

Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce is heated and the cheese (if added) is melted. *Note: In the top photo you may notice the lack of cheese. I chose not to put it on this time. 

Enjoy!