Chewy Cherry Coconut Granola Bars

cherry coconut granola bars

Let’s talk about weaknesses. Not to sound like a job interview, but I think it’s important to own up to what we struggle with. I’ll go first.

Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m bad with measurements, math, and grey areas.

Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

cherry coconut granola bars

Measurements: I cannot eyeball anything to save my life. I boil water for pasta and it takes 20 minutes because I completely fill the pot just to make SURE I have enough water. If I don’t do this, I never have enough water. Girl can’t win.

Math: I hesitate to even share this, but when I go to a restaurant, I take a long pause before filling out tip and calculating the total on my dinner tab. Sometimes I pretend I’m just having trouble deciding what percentage to tip. I’ll ask my dining mate, “How much are you tipping? 15%? 20%? I guess the server was pretty nice…” just to buy myself a bit more precious time. Once it’s all said and done, I sometimes need to cross things out and start again. As a reminder, I’m almost 27.

Grey Areas: Herein lies the heart of my personality. When I like things, I LOVE them, and when I dislike things, I despise them. For instance, it’s well known among my friends that purple is my favorite color. This is general knowledge not because I talk about it regularly, but because all the accessories I own are purple. In college I would literally walk down the hallway with a purple shirt, purple scarf, and purple backpack, holding my purple phone, without even realizing/caring how ridiculous I looked. Another recent lack of grey area can be seen in my newfound love for Revenge. Once I started watching it, I pretty much only stopped for sleep and work. I even watched it at the gym on my phone. This is my life.

cherry coconut granola bars

As I’ve hinted before, my food phases echo this black and white thinking as well. For instance, I’ve made a variation of this granola every week since I posted that recipe. I eat it for breakfast, I eat it for a snack, I think about it when it’s not around. This past Sunday, things got real when I found myself making both granola and granola bars within the span of four hours.

I argue that I had a completely legit excuse, of course. The boy’s weakness is remembering to eat food, which is pretty ironic since he’s with me, and I eat all the time. I’ll come home and ask what he’s feeling like for dinner, and his response will be, “Oh yeah, I am kind of hungry. I haven’t eaten anything today.” What? How? Why?

cherry coconut granola bars

I figured I’d make eating as easy as possible by providing a quick snack option. With these granola bars, he needs to only see the tupperware (which I’ve placed in the middle of the kitchen counter for easy access), open the lid, lift the bar to his mouth, and eat it. He may call me a hippie for my granola obsession, but at least I’m a persistent one.

Aaaand fine maybe I wanted a new afternoon snack for this week. These granola bars combine all of my current obsessions: oats, almonds, almond butter, coconut, and dried cherries. It took all my strength and self-discipline to leave out the white chocolate chips I had just purchased, but I did it, and it turns out they weren’t even necessary. These are sweet, chewy, and have a bit of a tart punch from the cherries. I also love the THICKNESS of these bars. None of those willy nilly itty bitty bars for me. No thanks. If it’s 3pm snack time, or if I just have a hankering for oats, which has happened a lot lately, this right here is exactly what I want.

cherry coconut granola bars

I ate one while I took pictures, I ate one yesterday a half hour before lunch to avoid the angry hunger effect, and I ate one for dessert last night after an absurdly huge falafel sandwich. I also have one sitting in my desk drawer just in case the craving hits. Always prepared.

Now the real question: Has the boy embraced granola bars as a potential daytime snack? Like, before we eat dinner at 8pm? Yes! He even said I should make more (MORE) for his next deer camp trip because he needs quick food for when he’s up in a deer stand all day. Look at him planning ahead with food. I’m so proud.
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Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

double chocolate macadamia nut cookies

After college I used to go to my parent’s house every Sunday to do my laundry. It wasn’t that I didn’t have laundry at my apartment, I was just terrified beyond belief of the laundry room beneath my apartment. When my roommate and I moved in, we looked at the dark dungeon of a laundry room and both gave it a definitive “no thanks.” I only used it a few times, and always in the middle of the day, and on my final trip I had a perfectly pleasant conversation with a man who had just moved in…which seems harmless enough looking back, but at the time I was convinced he was going to kidnap me. Yes, my mind is a weird place.

Anyway, my laundry room fear led to several cozy Sundays at my parent’s place. My sister would usually come over too, and we’d fight, as sisters do, over who got to put the first load in. While waiting for our laundry, we’d sometimes watch Grey’s Anatomy on the DVR, but usually we’d make cookies for my dad. Sure, my mom enjoys cookies (as long as they have “nothing weird” in them like peanut butter…crazy lady), but my dad is the one who really treasures baked goods. Now that my sister and I both live in places with in-unit laundry, our weekend baking adventures happen less often than my dad would like. When we do go to my parents place, my dad will inevitably come upstairs and say, “Are my girls baking me cookies? I haven’t had fresh cookies in so long…” Guilt.

A few weeks ago, this same scenario played out, but then my dad reached for a package of store-bought cookies. STORE BOUGHT! That’s what he’s succumbed to? I felt ashamed. It only got worse when he said, “Katie, give these a try. They’re really good.” Oh ARE they…We’ll see about that.

They were good. I hated them for it, but they were really good…disturbingly good, and of course full of the scary ingredients that come in store-bought cookies.

With my dad’s birthday coming up this Thursday, I decided to make him a batch of cookies that would at least keep him away from the store-bought variety for a few days. For this birthday treat, I put my own spin on those boxed white chocolate macadamia cookies he talked up so much. I wish I could say this “spin” was purely out of artistic inspiration, but in the same fashion that my sister and I usually make cookies at my parent’s place, I just went with what I had in my cupboards and made it work.
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Vegetable Soup with Gouda Dumplings

White Bean Vegetable Soup with Gouda Dumplings

This week’s theme is apparently television. After sucking dry every last bit of Revenge I could find last weekend, I just so happened to have a girl’s TV night with a couple of college friends this Monday. Not just any TV night either, but a Dawson’s Creek themed TV night (that might be the lamest sentence I’ve ever written). Dawson’s Creek held a lot of power over how I viewed the world in my late teens and early twenties. I blame it for [nearly] all of my overly-dramatic girl moments circa 2000-2008. Damn you, Joey Potter.

…but not really, cause I actually kind of love Joey Potter. And Pacey. Especially Pacey.
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Apple Banana Muffins with Brown Butter Cider Glaze

Apple Banana Muffins with a Brown Butter Glaze

I’m not proud of what happened last week. Just a few short years ago, I was a poor post-college student with a TV that basically had no purpose. My roommate and I sometimes watched movies, but network television didn’t come in, and we were against (/couldn’t afford) getting cable or a new TV. Now that I’m in my mid twenties and [slightly] less poor, I’ve upgraded to fully-functioning TV with both cable AND Netflix (fancy, I know). After finishing up How I Met Your Mother (six seasons) and Keeping Up With The Kardashians (sorry, I know), I decided to give Revenge a try this past Tuesday. By Friday, I had surged through 13 episodes, by Saturday afternoon I had finished all 22 episodes of season 1. When 6:00 on Saturday night came around, I had my credit card out, ready to subscribe to Hulu so I could watch the first two episodes of the new season. I couldn’t stop.

apple slicerapple banana cider muffins brown butter glaze

In my defense, the boy and I had our first “hibernation day” of the season on Saturday. Even though it’s sad to watch the warmth drain away from Minnesota, the colder weather makes way for these perfectly lazy days: a Saturday or a Sunday where you do not leave the house, and instead stay holed up and hibernating. For instance, Saturday we slept until noon, and then I watched episode after episode of Revenge while he worked on the headboard for the bed he’s building us…we had different levels of productivity needs that day.

apple banana cider muffins liner

Although I’m in deep with my Revenge obsession, I realize it may have been a bad idea to start watching Revenge the same week that I finished reading Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I now look at everything with a suspicious eye, finding conspiracy everywhere. After a few hours of straight TV on Saturday, I decided I needed an activity to keep my hands busy while my mind was taking in all the murder and mayhem. The boy requested I bake “something fall-ish” for our first hibernation day. I grabbed the leftover apple cider from our fridge, a honeycrisp apple, and got baking…with the TV still on in the background, obviously.

Sweet, spiced muffins with a balance of apple and banana that’s just right. These are the perfect muffins for a cool fall day. Or a fall day where you don’t leave the house at all. Whichever.
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Crispy Red Lentil Garbanzo Burgers

Crispy Red Lentil Burgers from Veggie and the Beast

In case you were wondering, I do realize that I’m a big pile of inconsistencies. I’ll eat peanut butter Nutella granola for breakfast nearly everyday, but justify it by mixing in ground flax and wheat germ. I’ll put brown butter in my pumpkin waffles, and top them with syrup, powdered sugar, and sometimes a bit of brown sugar as well, but convince myself that they make a balanced meal because they’re whole wheat. The funny thing is that when I’m not obsessing over sweets, I’m usually eating brussels sprouts and quinoa, or an absurdly huge salad with avocado and hummus (well, and a pretzel roll on the side). The way I see it, making healthy choices most of the time leaves room for naughtier choices other times (/for dessert every night). Logical, right?

Which brings me to these vibrant burger patties. This past Sunday, after returning from our two-year anniversary trip that included lots of delicious things, such as raspberry cream cheese turnovers and dark hot chocolate with pumpkin cream liquor, my body was yearning for some nutrients. Fortunately, a bag of split red lentils had been sitting in our pantry for a few months and were just begging to be used. When you cook red lentils, their texture leaves something to be desired, but their flavor remains awesome. So, I figured why not take that flavor, puree it with some chickpeas, coat it in panko, and make a sort of crispy falafel doppelgänger, if you will? Or a falafel relative of some sort? You know what I’m saying…whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty awesome. Especially if you put it on a pretzel roll (seriously, I have a problem).
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