Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Starting to Celebrate the Season - Early!

We had a family photo taken at church last weekend.  
What do you think?  Do Jamie and I each have a carbon copy?

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars

Life has gotten in the way of blogging lately, but I found time last weekend to make homemade granola bars for the first time, and they were scrumptious!  I used a recipe from Pioneer Woman, and they were a hit both at home and at the office.  The recipe is very tweakable, too. (Yes, that can be a word.  It makes sense, right?)  Jamie and I have already decided that the next batch should include raisins and have a white chocolate maple-dipped bottom instead of dark chocolate.  Oooh - or one with dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips in it!  Yum!

Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars
adapted, barely, from Pioneer Woman

1 (18oz) container rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
4 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup molasses
3 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup rice krispies
1 cup wheat germ*
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans**
1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds***
8 oz bittersweet (60%) chocolate

-Preheat the oven to 350.
-Toss the oats with the oil, melted butter and salt. Spread the mixture out on 2 foil-lined baking sheets (easy clean-up!) and toast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring a couple times to make sure they don't burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.  (They should be a nice golden brown.)
-Reduce the heat to 325.
-In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, apple juice and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until all combined. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
-In a large mixing bowl, stir together the toasted oats, rice krispies, wheat germ, pecans and almonds. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour to combine thoroughly.  It will be sticky!
-Spray one of the foil-lined baking sheets with cooking spray, and then press all of the granola mixture onto the one sheet.  (I found it easiest to use my Rice Krispie Treat method - cover the top of the granola mixture with waxed paper and press firmly on that.)
-Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
-Cover a couple of cooling racks with parchment paper to prepare for the cooling process.
-Cut the granola mixture into bar-shaped pieces (while still in the pan) with a sharp knife while they're still slightly warm, then carefully remove from the pan onto the parchment-lined cooling racks.
-When the bars have cooled completely, melt the chocolate, and then dip the granola bars straight into the melted chocolate so that the top is plain and the bottom is chocolate-covered. Put them back on the parchment until the chocolate has set.  (This can take a while, so feel free to set the racks in the fridge to speed up the process.)

*I found wheat germ in the "healthy cereal" area, on the bottom shelf.
**I bought already-finely-chopped pecans, which cut down on prep time.
***I used a 1/4 cup bag of whole almonds, and simply processed them in the mini-chopper for a few pulses until they were roughly chopped.  Again, cutting down on prep time was my goal!


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween 2012

Can you guess who decorated each pumpkin?
(And the bonus 5th pumpkin - the ones Jamie and Gisèle did together at her class Halloween Celebration?)

Halloween was a lot of fun this year - Miles was old enough to know what "going trick-or-treating" meant, and both kids were confident in their costume choices.  ("Belle" and "'Piderman.")  Miles even made it all the way around the block without asking to be picked up!  By the end of the night, though, he told us he should lay down because his arms were tired from carrying his candy.

My favorite memory of trick-or-treating this year:

After the first couple houses, both of which had dogs, Gisèle would say "Trick or treat!" and Miles would worriedly ask "Do you have a doggie??"

Don't worry - we made him go potty before we left.

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