We spent a lovely afternoon at the zoo in Colorado Springs - the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. We actually haven't been to a zoo in several years, and the girls enjoyed it immensely. So did the grown-ups. Until we the rain rolled in... then it was time to go!
This recipe came from King Arthur Flour, and I modified it a bit. My version is below.
Homemade Granola Bars
1 2/3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats (dry oatmeal, for those new to cooking!) 3/4 c. brown sugar another 1/3. c oats, put in a blender or nut grinder and pulse until turned to flour consistency 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 1 1/2 c. nuts (I used a combination of pecans and almonds) 1 c. dried cranberries, chopped up in a food processor 1 tsp. vanilla 1/4 c. melted butter 1/4 c. honey or maple syrup 1 Tbsp. water
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including nuts and dried fruit.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread evenly in a lightly greased 9x13 pan, then press the mixture firmly into the pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 325°, until they're just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Use a knife or spatula to cut into bars while they're still warm. Let cool most of the way before removing from the pan, or they'll crumble. However, if they stick in the pan, you can warm them back up a little to soften them for removing.
These can be customized to your own tastes, with different dried fruits (cherries, blueberries, apples, etc.), different nut combinations (don't forget coconut!), and less sugar. Next time, I'm going to try reducing the fat by substituting applesauce for half of the butter. These are gluten-free - bonus!