Inspired to write by a chewy granola bar…

“Marge, it’s 3 a.m. Shouldn’t you be baking?” – Homer Simpson

I have a huge announcement to make that will come as no big surprise…some days I just can’t get it into gear.

Like today. I have a few writing projects I was working on, which seemed to be going nowhere – and fast. And when re-reading my work, both pieces sounded flat and boring and I was getting a wee bit agitated. Staring into space, with no direction, or organization and wondering what to do next, I witnessed the laundry pile growing higher – right before my very eyes. Lugging the ever-expanding basket down the steps, I threw a load in the machine. Turning around, I glanced at the pantry shelf.

Big mistake. I turned my head. I looked away. It didn’t work. Game over. The can of sweetened condensed milk won.

I had bought it a few weeks ago to try out a recipe I clipped at out of a magazine eleven months ago. (On a sorting binge, I found it again last week!) Thinking I have adult ADHD, I raced up the steps, can in hand, and stopped everything I was doing to make granola bars. Nevermind the cleanser drying to a hard finish in the tub, or the mounds of laundry sitting, in damp eagerness, waiting for my return to the basement. Forget the sticky notes and voicemails and 17 windows open all at once on the laptop. I stopped it all and baked. I was energized and motivated and multi-tasking and modifying and measuring and making an enormous mess.

Whew! Although it looked like a tornado blew through the kitchen, apparently, I needed a creative break to re-engage my brain. It all hit me as the cinnamony-aroma of the sweet smell of success enveloped the kitchen and wafted towards me. My a-ha moment revealed that I wasn’t multi-tasking at all! I was tackling a project that I knew I could finish. It took my mind off of all my other incomplete projects, giving me the chance to feel creatively complete. While the granola bars baked, I mixed up a batch of granola, switched laundry and finished a few other mundane chores.  Talk about a win-win: I benefitted from freeing my mind so that I could get back to writing; my family benefitted from a yummy snack, and you, you very lucky readers, you get to benefit from my modified recipe that turned out super scrumptious.

Let me know if you give these a try. I found the original recipe in the USA Weekend magazine. Eleven months ago.

Ooey, Gooey, Chewy Granola Bars

2 cups of rolled oats

1/4 cup of wheat germ

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

3/4 cup of dried cranberries (or dried fruit of your choice)

1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk

cinnamon sugar

(Note: 1 cup of almonds were part of the original recipe)

Adjust oven rack to a lower-middle position and pre-heat oven to 325. Grease a 9″ square pan (I used an 8″ pan and baked a little longer.) I then lined the pan with greased foil (so I could use foil to lift bars from pan) and set pan aside.

Mix all ingredients (except cinnamon sugar) and pat down into prepared, foil-lined pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake about 30 minutes (35-40 if using 8″ pan). Cool to room temperature, then place pan into freezer until firm.

To cut easier, I placed a piece of parchment paper on my wooden cutting board, removed foil and using a sharp knife, carefully cut into 8 bars. You can make them smaller, but I have teenagers and they don’t care much for “fun size” goodies 🙂

I wrapped them individually, but you can store them in an air-tight container. They should last a week without refrigeration or freezing, but I am betting my stash will be gone in three days.

Enjoy!

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

The Comfort Cookie

This past Monday, June 25, 2012 would have been my dad’s 77th birthday. For the most part, I had a pretty good day. Of course, I had my moments of sadness. But the weather here was picture-perfect – “his” kind of weather. It is hard to be gloomy inside when it is so pretty outside. Plus, it was cool enough to comfortably make comfort food at the end of June 🙂

And that’s what I did. I made fried chicken for dinner. But I had no dessert in the house. So I made some awesome cookies. The sweet aroma filled the house. To brag on them, I posted a picture on Facebook. Requests for the recipe began. You now know the story behind my creation.

Let me know if you make these. They were a huge hit in my house!

“Jazzed-up” Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from cooks.com)

3/4 cup butter

1 1/4 cups of firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup of milk

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

3 cups of oats – uncooked

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup of dried cranberries

Melted chocolate for drizzle (optional – recipe below)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper OR lightly grease the baking sheets.

Combine butter, brown sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed. Slowly blend in oats.

Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared sheets, about 2″ apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and let stand for three or four minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Drizzle with chocolate if desired.

Makes between 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them.

Chocolate drizzle can be made by melting chocolate chips or my making this super-easy chocolate sauce. Use this sauce over desserts, ice cream, in iced-coffee, etc. I found it on a blog that has great recipes. Check it out: httpsss://modernchristianwoman.com/

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

1 cup of cocoa powder

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of water

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Stir constantly! Let cool. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Store for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator – if it lasts that long!

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb