First Things First – I want to say thank you to foodieblogroll.com for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this weeks featured blogs! I am so excited! You can find the other featured blogs here. Check it out!
Halloween weekend is finally here! Unfortunately, Jacob and I didn’t make it to the farmers market last weekend to pick out our pumpkins. The Williamsburg market is located right in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg and William and Mary’s Campus, and unbeknownst to us, last weekend was the University’s homecoming. We navigated through the tailgaters and finally made it to the parking lots. There are three parking lots near the market that allow 2 hour free parking. Usually finding a spot isn’t a problem, and I don’t mind having to walk a little ways, but this was insane. Not being one for chaotic large crowds, we got out of there ASAP. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty disappointed, and maybe just a little bit grumpy about it… maybe.
I’ve given up on picking out pumpkins at the market. It just isn’t in the cards for us this year. Tomorrow morning is the last regular market for the season, and I’m not going to be able to make it. Luckily though, I found the perfect pumpkin at the grocery store tonight. It’s definitely not the same experience, but it still works. The pumpkin I picked out is adorable. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture for you (yet), but it is a small, squat, very pale colored pumpkin! I love it! It looks perfect on the table in my entry way.
With the candy-focused holiday this weekend, I thought I might share with you a great homemade fall treat, that’s a little on the healthier side: pumpkin granola bars.
I became interested in making my own granola bars about 2 years ago. I tried several recipes, that all turned out terrible, and ended up in the trash. Then last year I stumbled upon a recipe from The Kitchen Sink that seemed much more promising. They were better, much better actually, but still not quite what I was looking for. I prefer a somewhat soft bar and these were very hard, like regular granola. This fall though, I think I have finally figured it out, thanks to some simple words from Mark Bittman. He had this to say about homemade granola bars:
“…Kind of like rice crispy treats, but… not total junk”.
So simple and such an “ah-ha” moment for me. Mr. Bittman’s recipe looks great, and I hope to give it a try sometime, but I was hoping to incorporate some fall flavor into my bars. Specifically, pumpkin. One of my favorite store bought bars are Kashi’s pumpkin spice flax. I decided to combine everything I’ve learned from experimenting, and here is what I came up with. These bars can be baked, or not, depending on your preference. If you bake them, they will last longer and will hold together better. If you don’t bake them, and let them “harden” in the fridge, they will be gooier and have a more “treat-like” consistency. If you are making them for only one person, I would recommend cutting the recipe in half. Have a fun, safe, and healthy halloween!
Pumpkin Granola Bars
2 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats
1 Cup Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
1/4 Cup Flax Seed (whole or milled)
1/2 Cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 Cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
1/2 Cup Natural Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1/4 Cup honey
1 Tbs. maple syrup
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F if choosing to bake the bars. Grease or line with parchment paper, a square or rectangular baking pan. The smaller the pan the thicker the bars will be and vice-versa.
2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown rice cereal, flax seed, walnuts, and dried fruit. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, over low-medium heat melt together the peanut butter, bumpkin, honey, maple syrup. Stir until smooth, then blend in cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt.
4. Pour pumpkin-peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture, and stir until well blended.
5. Shape the granola into the pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or place in the fridge for about an hour.
6. Once completely cool using a sharp knife cut into squares or bars.