Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Snack bars loaded with favorite flavors

Several years ago, my husband and I started eating a lot of breakfast bars or granola bars.

During our weekly shopping trip, we always stop for a few minutes on the cereal aisle just to check out the latest offering of granola and fruit bars. There are so many on the market now that it's hard to keep up with all the new products. There are bars made from packaged cereals, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate.

Reggie and I particularly like the peanut butter varieties or anything with a lot of nuts, including almonds and sunflower seeds. I keep a stash of these breakfast bars in my desk drawer at work and will often have one for a mid-morning snack. It's a treat to pull out a granola bar filled with crunchy almonds!

But I like making my own treats, too.

Last week, I tried to think of some recipes that would be good for back-to-school, whether it be breakfast, snack or lunch for students or teachers. I searched the Internet for some ideas on breakfast bars and came upon a wonderful recipe that is totally versatile and can be tailored to your taste.

The recipe doesn't require baking, but you do need to heat the peanut butter/ honey/ brown sugar mixture on the stove.

The next step is up to you. The recipe calls for five cups of dry cereal, your choice, and a half to one cup (or more) of add-ins such as dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips.

I made my first batch Sunday before moving my son back to college. I wanted him to try them.

I chose chunky peanut butter, five cups of Rice Krispies and a half cup of chocolate chips.

The recipe I used as a guideline said to boil the peanut butter mixture, but my ingredients got hot way to fast and started to stick and burn, so I turned down the heat, picked out the little burned pieces, and opted not to let the mixture boil. I let it cook until it was thinned out. The next time I made it, I let the mixture start to bubble; the bars turned out too hard to even cut.

Follow the directions on this one, and stir constantly. Use a non-stick pan if you have one. If you've ever made Rice Krispies Treats, you know what marshmallow/ butter mixture looks like after it's cooked. Go for a similar consistency.

I added the chocolate chips after stirring in the cereal. The mixture was still very warm, and the chocolate chips melted quickly. I only added 1âÑ2 cup of chocolate chips, but it looks like so much more because the chips melted. (That's a good thing in my book!)

The breakfast bars don't hold together at first. But once they've cooled enough to touch, press down the mixture firmly into the pan, or use a piece of waxed paper to press down if the bars are too hot to touch. Once they have cooled, they should firm up nicely.

I think the end result was awesome. I loved the taste and the texture of the peanuts and cereal, and so did my family. And, of course, the chocolate added a nice touch. The cut bars are also pretty, revealing a nice pattern of peanut butter/ honey mixed with the cereal.

I keep imagining new combinations for this recipe. I want to make it with two cups of oatmeal and three cups of Rice Krispies, and I want to try it with granola and maybe dried fruit. I'm sure Cheerios would be good, too.

I had a bar for my mid-morning snack today. I loved the chewy texture and the peanut butter flavor with the slight taste of honey. This recipe is most definitely a keeper and would be a great treat for those of you going back to school.

Peanut Butter Honey Breakfast Bars
  • 1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter*
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Combine peanut butter, honey and brown sugar in saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thins and is very hot. Be careful not to let it stick to the pan or get too hot. Remove from heat, add in cereal, then mix in chocolate chips. Pour into square baking dish. Press down mixture firmly with a buttered spatula or waxed paper.

*Adapted from cooks.com

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