Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baking Frenzy

Trail Mix Bars

3 cups toasted oat cereal (I used Kelloggs Brand Fiber Plus Antioxidant Cinnamon Oat Crunch Cereal)
3 cups crispy rice cereal
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 to 1 ½ cups raisins or dried sweetened cranberries (or combination of the two)
1 cup honey (I ran out of honey so I used ¾ cup honey and ¼ cup light corn syrup)
¾ cup light brown sugar (lightly packed) [next time I'll use less]
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-16 ounce jar of natural peanut butter (I used Jiff Brand – Extra Crunchy)

1. Combine oat cereal, rice cereal, sunflower seeds, and raisins/dried cranberries in a large mixing bowls. Set aside. Spray a jelly roll pan 10”x15”x1” with non-stick cooking spray (such as PAM).

2. In a medium sized pot, over medium to medium high heat, combine the honey, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture reaches a boil, allow the mixture to cook an additional 1 minute, stirring frequently.  I mis-read the instructions and let it boil about 3 minutes and it was just fine.

3. Remove pot from heat; stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over cereal mixture. Stir with a spatula or spoon until coated. Dump into prepared pan. Spread evenly in pan using hands or a large spoon (spray the spoon with PAM first so it doesn’t stick). Ensure the coated cereal mixture is patted down relatively well or the bars may break up some when slicing.

4. Allow to cool; slice in to squares or rectangles. Store in an airtight storage container or plastic zip close bag.

I have my friend Vicki to thank for this recipe. We enjoy sharing recipes and she sent me a version of this recipe earlier this week.  I don't have the entire printed pamplet in front of me but I believe it's from an organization called "Colorado Women's Mountain Biking Association".  When I was on my baking frenzy (see below) Tuesday night, it occurred to me that I pretty much had the ingredients on hand to make these great looking bars.  I altered a few ingredients to use up what I had on hand.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of honey and 3/4 cup of sugar (or agave nectar). I used 3/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup corn syrup, and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  The recipe also recommends Smucker's Chunky Natural Peanut Butter (stirred) but I used Jiff which of course includes more oil and sugar.  The bars are great and I think the recipe is quite forgiving.  It also leaves a lot of room for creativity just as long as you keep the ratio of dry goods to wet ingredients relatively the same. 

I had a great day today.  A gal at work asked me to give a cooking presentation at work for Administrative Professional's Day (formerly known as Secretary's Day).  Despite my reservations about public speaking, I agreed given that I really like to talk about cooking and baking and I like to share recipes.  I had quite a baking frenzy Tuesday night in order to prepare... can't give a talk about cooking and not bring samples, right?

I made two batches of "Triple Lemon Cookies."  Click HERE for the recipe link.

I felt like a caterer! My kitchen smelled really, REALLY sweet!

And I made two batches of Scotcheroos (growing up, my mom made these and called these tasty treats "Chocolate Messies").  Click HERE for the recipe.

I wish I could say the talking part of my presentation was as good as the tasty treats.  Ugh! Public speaking!  Something I would like to improve upon.  There were several moments where I wished I was a turtle and could retract my head and arms and legs into my shell... to disappear. I felt uncomfortable and flustered. But there were some parts where I finally relaxed and could be myself and I actually enjoyed talking.  I know if I were to give the same presentation again tomorrow, I could do a 1,000 times better knowing what I learned today.  But no use fretting about it now... life is too short for that!  I made a promise to myself today... if given the opportunity to speak in front of a group again I should NOT shy away from it despite today's difficulties... can't improve if I don't practice. 

After the presentation, I went home and then my husband and I went for a three mile walk along the Arkansas River.  Any absolutely gorgeous Spring day in Southern Colorado today.  New leaves on the cottonwood trees lining the river, sunlight sparkling on the river, vibrant blue cloudless sky, & lots of pairs of Canadian Geese flying overhead and on the river's banks.  We went out for a late breakfast at a nice cafe after the walk.  Later in the day, I brought my five "Snuggles" to the Humane Society (click HERE for more information about Snuggles).  Late this afternoon, we went for another three mile walk along a different portion of the Arkansas River (Tunnel Drive).  I should sleep well tonight... although, I have to admit... I am half tempted to wake up in the wee hours to get a glimpse of the Royal Wedding on TV!  

Alas, there is still a little girl inside me with a bit of a Princess Fantasy!


ColoradoMom said...

And I'm sure you are your harshest critic... no one probably even noticed...they would be too busy looking at your delicious food!!!

Anonymous said...

You are a great cook and so generous to share that love with your
I can tell you from personal experience that it does get easier the more
times you do it. I now really enjoy teaching my cooking classes.
And nothing beats the treats.