We've been doing a lot of snacking lately.
We've been eating a little later in the day because Paul has been working late. However, the kids (and this pregnant gal!) are usually starving by 5:30pm and when dinner is not until 7:00, we better have something to chow down on in the meantime. It's a family trait to turn into monsters when hungry. (Paul is the WORST).
Enter these granola bars. The kids love them, they are not the worst things for you - and you can definitely cut down on the sugar in the recipe and I doubt they would notice. You can throw in a variety of "add-ins" like chocolate chips. white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips (hold on - the healthier stuff is coming), sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, and any combination of dried fruit. You can even switch the cereal out if you do not have crispy rice cereal (aka Rice Krispies) on hand - this time, I actually used a knock-off brand of Cinnamon Toast Crunch that I lightly crushed before mixing with the oats. Worked great.
These bars have been a sanity-saver during this crazy week. The kids and I have actually been in a little routine of snacking on these at 5:30 while watching an episode of Home Improvement and cuddling on the couch.
This recipe has been in my files for quite some time, but I haven't broken it out in a while. Now, I'll probably make it the next time I need to bring treats for Matthew's preschool or when I need something on hand for a play-date. I love how portable and relatively non-messy they are. These yummy bars would also be great to bring on a road trip if you have to leave early in the morning and plan on literally transferring the sleeping children from their beds to their car seats (we almost always do this!). You can fight the grumpy protests and sleepy convulsions by offering them one of these to munch on!
Crispy, Chewy No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars
adapted from Cooking Classy who adapted it from Kraft
2 cups quick-cooking oats (NOT instant)
1 1/2 - 2 cups Rice Krispies cereal (or other rice-based cereal of choice that works)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (or 1 cup chunky)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 cup add-ins of choice (I used 1/2 cup dried cranberries this time)
Line a 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil, being sure to leave a 2-inch overhang so you can easily remove the bars from the pan.
In a large bowl, toss together the oats and cereal.
In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey, sugar, and salt. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Take the bowl out of the microwave, give it a good stir, and then microwave for another minute on HIGH. Remove from the microwave, whisk in the vanilla and make sure that everything is smooth and combined.
Pour the warm peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. You might have to get your hands in there to ensure that everything is properly coated. Scrape into the prepared pan and press it down as evenly as you can.
Chill the pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or until firm. Lift the bars out of the pan using the foil overhang and cut with a knife or a bench scraper into the desired shapes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.