Chewy Granola Bars – No Bake and Super Easy!

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Thank you Lauren’s Latest for this wonderful recipe.  When I saw that I could make my own chewy granola bars, in a healthier way, I was all in.  BONUS: They are no bake!! Here is the recipe as she writes it and how I made it:

Yield: 10 bars

Prep Time: 2 hours including cooling time

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats {not rolled oats!}
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan {about 12x8x1} and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. {If your pan isn’t small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together.} Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Recipe Notes: If your granola bars don’t seem to be staying together when you cut them, you may have not boiled the mixture long enough…you want it to make it just past the softball stage. OR you made them too thin or you didn’t pack them in tight enough. Stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes and that should help keep them together. {Be sure not to keep them in there too long or else they’ll become super hard!} The next time you make them, try boiling for an extra 15 seconds or so.

After making these I am filled with possibilities of where this could go.  I can sub peanut butter for the butter to make chocolate chip peanut butter granola bars, or stir in nuts/seeds/fruit to make a healthy breakfast bar, or use dark cocoa powder with coconut flakes to make dark chocolate coconut bars as a treat. And this is just the beginning of my ideas – think cinnamon raisin, or maple brown sugar, or so many more.  Please comment ideas for add ins and let me know what you make!

PS – I did use rolled oats, even though she said not to.  I got a huge container cheap at Aldi and decided to go with it – they tasted great and held together without an issue.

Easy Halloween Ghost Decorations

Easy Halloween Ghost Decorations

It may only be October 4th, but my kids are excited about Halloween. My son is gearing up to be Link from the Zelda games (the geek in me is doing a happy dance right with him) and my daughter is ready to be the cutest Snow White there ever was! To keep the excitement rolling, I decided we needed some decorations. So, we made our own! It was easy, fun, and they are adorable. All you need is:

-White Tissue Paper (Yay dollar store!)
-White Yarn
-Black Marker
-Clear Tape
-Scissors

Start by having the kids ball up pieces of tissue paper, one for each ghost you want to make. While they are balling the paper, cut pieces of yarn into varying lengths. Tie a piece of yarn around each ball of tissue paper. Use the scissors to cut a slice into the middle of a full piece of tissue paper. Pull the string through and tape the tissue paper around the ball. Let your children create whatever face they want on each ghost. I used the tape to affix it to the ceiling.

VOILA – Halloween comes home. 🙂

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Have you ever noticed how expensive Laundry Detergent is?  After a well-meaning relative went through a detergent that was supposed to last for 96 loads in one day, it really hit me how much I was spending.  I was buying the big Wegmans detergent for $12.99.  It lasts me two months, so I was buying 6 a year.  That is $77.94!  So, when I heard about laundry detergent that costs $28 for a year, if you do 6 loads a week, I had to try it.

You start by collecting your ingredients:

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borox – Found in the detergent aisle

1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – Found in the detergent aisle

1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean – Found in the detergent aisle. (This is optional but I highly recommend adding it)

2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap – Found in the detergent aisle (You can also use Fels Naptha, we weren’t able to find the Zote Soap)

1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda – Found in the cooking aisle (You could also get four 1 lb box, I couldn’t find the larger 4lb box when I went)

1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener- Found in the detergent aisle

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Once you have the ingredients, the only thing you need to prep is the Zote Soap/Fels Naptha.   This needs to be grated.  I tried to use my food processor and found the grating attachment was broken.  I have a hand grater I could have used, but decided to try another option.  The microwave!  I cut it into smaller pieces, put it on a large plate, and microwaved it for 1.5 minutes.  It then looks like this:

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WARNING: It is VERY HOT!  I tried crumbling it right away and burned myself.  I found if I put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes, it was cool and crumbled easily.  It does not crumble well when it is still warm.  Once you have all of the soap crumbled in a bowl, you get to the fun part!

Edit: The microwave method is very stinky. Both my microwave and freezer  stunk for weeks. The next time I made it, a year later, I used the hand grater. While it took for effort, I preferred the texture and the lack of stink. 

Layer your ingredients and mix in a large container.  I had a 30 qt rubbermaid bin and it worked really well.  I did about 1/4 of each ingredients at a time to make sure it mixed well.

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Once all the ingredients are in and mixed, you are done!  This detergents is safe for HE washers.  I filled the OxyClean bin with the detergent so I don’t have to open the large bin every time.  You can also put it in the Purex bottle.

To use, measure 1-2 tbsp into your washer with your laundry.  That is it!  A little bit goes a long way.  It does not sud like traditional detergent, which is actually better for your wash.  I will note, if you keep the measuring lid from your Purex you can fill to the middle line for 2 tbsp.  I, however, managed to purchase the one bottle without a lid. 

We also took a minute to practice shaping letters in the mix.  She may be home sick, but that doesn’t mean she can’t learn! And now our hands are super soft. 🙂

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