When you were a kid, did you ever make potions? Because I used to make all kinds of potions. I used to go around the house with a cup or bowl and mix together as many different liquid soaps I could find – dash a bath salt here, little bath and body works body splash there. Or the edible kind – usually consisting of the typical pantry fair like chocolate chips, confectioners sugar, peanut butter, sugar and whatever cereal that was in there mashed up and then made into “artisan” truffles. (I know it’s basically puppy chow) And, ok, maybe those weren’t potions (more like the early stages of my culinary career) but it all proves a point. Mixing a bunch of stuff together is fun. It just is! – and i’m not talking about using a whisk or fancy hand blender; just a good ole spoon and a good ole bowl, with a bunch of stuff mixed together – aka, a potion.
My point is, making your own cereal bars and granola bars lets you relive those glory days (minus the fact that you paid for those ingredients, rather than the “free” stuff in your parents cabinets). Little bit of this here, little but of that there – and voila! You have a homemade Kind or Cliff Bar that didn’t cost you $2+ a pop. Of course these concoctions don’t always work, but I think it’s the best way to practice making up your own recipes for once rather than following one step-by-step. Of course, I think you should try successful recipes first, to understand why certain ingredients are included and why others are not; but once you get the hang of it – you’re a mad scientist and the kitchen is your laboratory; you are an artist and the kitchen is your muse; you’re an accountant and the kitchen is your Microsoft excel…etc etc.
I love this granola/cereal bar recipe in particular because it allowed me to get rid of the frosted maple mini wheats that I had purchased from Trader Joe’s. They are good and all, but the box is SO big, so they have been sitting on our mantle for far too long. OR if you have stale cereal in your cabinet, DON’T THROW IT AWAY! Spread it out on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at a low temperature. My mom does 200 F overnight, but you can also crank it up if you watch it carefully. (I’d say 300 F for about 20 minutes should get the job done).
- 1½ T of unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup maple almond butter
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅔ cup quick oats
- 2 cups rice cereal
- 1 cup maple frosted mini wheats, crushed very fine
- 2 T wheat bran
- ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
- ¼ cup raw almonds, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a square pan with tin foil (your bars won't fill up the entire square)
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine the butter, almond butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar and microwave for about 30 seconds or until all of the butter has melted and the ingredients are smooth and combined. Stir in the applesauce.
- In a large bowl, add the cereals, oats, salt, and wheat bran, and mix well.
- Pour the almond butter liquid on top of the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a spatula until all of the cereal is covered and the liquid is evenly distributed.
- Add the nuts and chocolate chips and stir well.
- Pour the mixture into the pan lined with tin foil, and press down firmly so that the bars stay together. Your mixture should be about 2 inches thick (although you can make them as thick or thin as you want, just adjust the baking time accordingly.
- Bake the bars for about 15 minutes, or until just lightly golden around the edges.
- Cool completely before cutting into bars. Although these aren't very sticky, it helps to either wrap them in parchment paper or put layers between the bars so that they don't stick together or fall apart. Store the bars in an airtight container for about a week (the only dairy in the bars is the butter, so they shouldn't spoil easily if stored properly).