Crunchy Granola and Proud

My mornings are pretty routine each week. After waking up at 5:00, I only have eyes for my coffee. Breakfast is pretty distant in my mind. If I remember, I might just grab a granola bar, a Luna bar or something of that power/energy bar ilk. Once in a blue moon, I go high style and pick up an egg sandwich somewhere in Manhattan on my way to work. Between the coffee and the energy bars, my mornings can get expensive. I also feel guilty eating the overly processed granola bar products? I mean, really. I do love that whole coated in chocolate aspect of the Luna bars. At $1-2 a pop though, is it really worth it?
I started researching homemade granola, and homemade granola bars. To be honest, diving into this realm is not the best idea for me. My gut truly can’t handle most homemade granola bars. My gut should can only handle that processed stuff. Still, I wanted to try to make my own power/energy granola bar and feel some crunchy granola bar power.

I knew what I wanted in there: some combo of oats, flax, wheat germ, almonds, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. But what else goes into that perfect bar, and how much? There are many recipes out there. Using my math skills, I came up with what I think works for us. Even my picky 8-year-old, who prefers bars of the “Kudos” variety approved of this nutty good-for-you power bar.
There are some modifications I may make next time, aside from processing my ingredients, so it isn’t too nutty for me. I may go all honey and no sunflower butter. Also switch up the fruit. I would like to play with some nut combinations. Maybe throwing in a pecan or two.

Granola Bars

4 cups oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped, dried fruit
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sunflower nut butter
2 tbsp vanilla
4 tbsp butter
pinch or two of salt
Combine all the nutty stuff on to a baking sheet and toast at 350 for 15 minutes.

Stir the mixture around every five minutes. When done, dump in a large mixing bowl and cool down. Stir in the coconut, dried fruits, and choco chips in to the mixture. Turn the oven down to 300.

Get a 9×13 pan ready. Line it with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, add the sugar, the nut butter, the honey, the vanilla, and the salt. Stir up until the brown sugar has dissolved. Just a few minutes. Let cool a couple minutes.

Pour the sticky mixture over the granola mixture and stir. Press the mixture into the pan. Press down so it’s all even.

Bake at 300 for around 25 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and let cool on counter for a good 30 minutes or so.

Slice into granola bar shapes – anything goes really. Enjoy!

Wrap in plastic wrap. I prefer the “Stretch-Tite” brand. Saran is for wimps. Enjoy your bars.

Homemade Bagels

Whenever I go back home to the midwest, bagels are at the top of the list of delicacies to bring home to the parents. Along with a list of good smelly food from Zabars, bagels rank pretty high. Maybe higher than lox even. You see, where I grew up, bagels can come in the form of the Lenders bagel, or the flavored bagels at Bruegers and Byerlys. If the bagels were only as simple as an onion and garlic bagel or a salted bagel, we would be ok. In Minnesota, bagels come in flavors like Cinnamon Streusel, Blueberry Pie, and other unmentionables. We were taught that you hoarde the precious bounty of East Coast bagels in your basement freezers and they only come out when the VIPs come for brunch.

Back when my office was in Chelsea, I had some decent bagel buying options, albeit a bit overpriced. Way downtown in the financial district, our options are slim. My options are even slimmer near my house. The one bagel place in the neighborhood, serves overpriced, raw, lead-filled bagels. They even add a toasting fee when you visit the store. Crazy stuff, right?

So I have been researching various bagel recipes. The whole boiling step always scared me away. I learned that it really is easy to make bagels. It is not much more difficult than any other bread recipe. The recipe that I am posting below, was perfect for us. It was light, but crusty and chewy and came out perfectly when toasted. It reminded me of a Toronto bagel, which is perfectly fine with me.


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cup warm water
4 cups bread flour (very important since you need to gluten to aid in the chewy factor)
1 tablespoon salt
extra sugar or honey and a pinch of baking soda for the bagel bath

1 egg for the egg wash
assorted toppings (minced onion, minced garlic, kosher salt)
In the bowl of your mixer, combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough until it comes together in a large ball and pulls away from the mixing bowl. I ended up needing to add some additional water, around a tablespoon. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for 10 minutes. The dough should be very elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F. Add some sugar and/or honey and a pinch of baking soda to the water. Make sure to keep the water at a low boil.
When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball . Let though dough balls rest for around 15 minutes. Do not let them sit too long or they will be over-proofed and end up very flat after baking.

Now it is time to turn that dough ball into a bagel. Poke a hole through the center of the dough ball with your finger. Twirl the ring round and round a bit to stretch the hole. Let bagels rest for about 7 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, lower the bagels into the bagel bath. You can “bathe” about 3-4 bagels at a time. Boil for 2 minutes and then then flip and boil for an additional minute. Transfer the bagels to a wire rack to drain and then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Do this for all 12 bagels. Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and toast to serve.

These bagels freeze well.

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