A few months ago I shared our dirty little secret. After the kids go to bed and my husband and I have a little time together, we like to pour some wine, shut the lights and cuddle on the couch and...oh yeah, you know where this is going...somewhere hot and spicy, seductive, exciting, inspiring and oftentimes, delicious...watch the Food Network!! Hello, Iron Chef, Triple D (in layman's terms: Diners, Drive Ins & Dives), The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Next Food Network Star. Now that's some primetime excitement right there!
Many years ago we I first discovered the Food Network, I immediately fell in love with Ina Garten. Her food is doable, delicious, fancy yet not gourmet and most times, not completely drenched in butter and cream (ahem...Paula Deen, the American Heart Association called and they ain't happy y'all!). I have many of her cookbooks and love when I catch her shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. As my little tribute to Ina, this week I am posting some of my recent favorite dishes. Oddly enough, they all appeared on the same show that I was lucky enough to catch on weekend. Afterwards, I immediately ran to FoodTV.com and printed the recipes every single thing she made.
Our first stop will be granola bars. I have made these at least five times since seeing them on television and will be giving them out as gifts this Christmas as well. So, without further ado, Ina's homemade granola bars.
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8x12 baking dish and line it with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.