Random Food Gift #4

Just as I love granola, I also love granola bars. But not just any granola bar. Lots of the store bought varieties have tons of sugar and junk added to it. It's junk food disguised as health food. (Like that Eating Right brand that appeared at my local grocery store - one glance at the label, and I knew it was a sham! Trans fat and high fructose corn syrup - ew).

I decided to try to make my own granola bars, and I found a delicious recipe in Ina Garten's "Back to Basics" cookbook. It's quite tasty - lots of dried fruit and almonds. I wanted to try a variation of it with mainly apricots and pistachios. It came out a bit crumbly, so I think I needed to leave it in for 10 minutes longer to get crisp. The taste, however, was delicious! I gave them to my mother-in-law, a fellow health-nut, and she was quite pleased.

Granola Bars

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

2) Toss the oatmeal, pistachios, and coconut (and wheat germ, if it's not already toasted) together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

3) Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

4) Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the apricots and golden raisins and stir well.

6) Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown (my oven needs to bake it for over 30 minutes, so just be sure it's golden brown when you take it out of the oven, and doesn't still look like the same color as when you put it in).Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.