Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In My Kitchen: Maple Granola Bars

Each summer until I was 10, my family spent a week camping in Vermont. Those trips are my most vivid vacation memories as a kid. I distinctly remember buying a huge bottle of Vermont maple syrup that we hoped would last us most of the year, because it was just that good. We hoarded that maple syrup as if it was liquid gold around our house. I assumed that Vermont was the only state in the nation that made maple syrup (besides whatever factory Aunt Jemima worked in, of course.)

But a few weeks ago, I wrote a post for Visit Indiana all about maple syrup events going on around the state. Apparently we Hoosiers make some of the gooey sweet stuff too. And I follow Pure Michigan on Twitter, and I've been seeing lots of maple syrup-related stuff from our neighbor to the north also. Apparently maple syrup production isn't exclusively New England afterall. All you need are some hearty maple trees, something we have in abundant supply around here.

To get my In My Kitchen series rolling again, I decided to make a maple syrup-inspired dish. And for the past year, I've been reading about making granola or granola bars on a few blogs I read, so I thought I'd give that a try, too. I based my recipe on this one from Whole Foods, which I first found at the new Foodily site. (Foodily has become my new go-to recipe search engine. Check it out if you haven't already!) But since I was too lazy to visit our local health food store to pick up some of the specialty ingredients, here's my take on this recipe:

Maple Granola Bars
4 cups quick-cook oatmeal
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
Splash of vanilla extract
1 package chocolate and peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and almonds)

Spread the oats on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes at 350. Stir halfway through cooking.

Mix all the other ingredient in a large bowl. Mix in the warm oatmeal and then spread in a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350. Let cool, then cut.

I cooked my bars for 25 minutes, and then were overdone. They're a little harder than I would like, so next time I make them, I'll definitely decrease the cook time. I also think I'll use more oil and syrup... I used more chips and nuts than the original recipe called for, so I think that might be contributing to the hard/dry factor. But the taste is great so I know I'll make them again.

The sweet taste of a childhood spent savoring Vermont maple syrup, enjoyed from the comforts of my Indiana kitchen!

This post is a part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.