Friday, August 12, 2011

Anatomy of a Road Trip

Whenever I embark on any kind of event (or any thing at all, really), after spending a short time thinking about how much fun it will be, I think about what would be good to eat while I'm doing it. So, when a friend proposed that I come with them to visit another friend in Rochester, NY, (7 hour car ride, anyone?) I was overwhelmed with ideas for what kind of baked good would satisfy us on a mini-road trip. I wanted something sweet, but not necessarily dessert-like; an any-time-of-day treat. It had to be easy to eat with your hands and not too crumbly. Finally, I needed something that was durable- something that would taste good after it had been left in the backseat of the car for several hours (or overnight, 'cause I forget sometimes). This recipe, the Strawberry Jam Granola Bar, seemed to slide on down a light beam from heaven right into my lap (It's called Foodbuzz).

Miraculously, I had all of the ingredients on hand. Although Granola is typically expensive (flax ain't cheap), I found a gem of a product a few months ago: Stop and Shop Brand low-fat granola. It is literally the cheapest cereal you can buy at $2.50 a box, and is just what I want from granola- honey/cinnamon flavored oat clusters with a few almonds mixed in. Obviously, you can use any kind of jam you want, and I really think anything would go here, but I opted for strawberry because it was in my fridge. I think blueberry jam would also be amazing, or apple, because of the cinnamon. I also imagine fig or quince preserves would work, if you're actually a 16th century monarch.
Another fun thing about these bars is they take almost no time. I made these before I went to my 10am class and they only took about 45 minutes, from start to finish. There is nothing too complicated in here, so it is unlikely you will mess it up even if you're baking at 7am. Also, they make your kitchen smell great. I mean, wholesome, I-live-a-privileged-life-in-the-county-great. There is some cutting in of the butter, which always grinds my gears, but if you use a big wide bowl with enough room for your hands, it should be just find.
While I did intend on taking pictures of my lovely friends eating them in the car, my camera was trapped in the backseat under a pile of pillows. And if there is one thing my Mom drilled into me it is that you do not unbuckle your seat belt while you're on the highway. So, there are no pictures of that. However, I assure you, I did in fact take these into a car, and then we ate them while still in the car.
Ultimately this is a great bar to have under your belt because it smells amazing and is an absolute crowd pleaser. And, although the original recipe said you were supposed to keep them refrigerated, and they are good and gooey when they're cold, they're pretty great at room temperature.
Makes 12 Bars

1 1/2 cups granola
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 tbs cold butter
1 cup strawberry jam (Honestly I think the bars would have been good with a thinner layer, so go with your gut on this one)

Prepare an 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the granola, flour, cinnamon, and cut in the butter until even and crumbly. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.

Spread the jam evenly over the crust, and then top with reserved granola mixture. Bake for 15 minutes longer, until tiny bubbles form on the sides. Pack 'em up, tLinkhrow 'em in the car. Store in refrigerator for best results (if they last the ride).

Recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny

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