Yep, I leave for Hawaii tomorrow for a whole week of nothing but Pina Colada's and fresh Mahi Mahi. I will be sad to not get to bake for a whole week, but I did a lot of pre-vacation baking to get it all out of my system. I wanted to make some granola bars because they are easy to pack and seemed like the healthier option with all the vacation eating that will be going on. Does anyone else own "vacation shorts" or is that just me?
I couldn't decide which type of granola bars to make, so I made both. Making two nearly identical recipes at the exact same time is a great idea. One kind is for the chocolate lover in me and it has dark chocolate chips, raisins, almonds, and sunflower seeds. The other is a Hawaiian themed bar with white chocolate chips, crushed almonds, dried mangoes, apricots, and pineapple chunks. They are both amazing, it really just depends on what mood you are in to decide which one to eat first!
1 and 2/3 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 cups dried fruits and nuts
1/3 cup peanut butter
6 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, light corn syrup
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, then grease exposing pan and parchment paper. Combine oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and dried fruits and nuts, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, honey or syrup, light corn syrup, and water. Mix wet and dry ingredients, adding in peanut butter, until well combined and crumbly. Press mixture into pan, try using a greased piece of plastic wrap. Bake bars for 25-30 minutes or until slightly brown on edges. Let bars cool to room temperature, then place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until chilled. Remove from pan, cut bars, and enjoy.
This recipe was adapted from the King Arthur Flour site. It called for Sticky Bun Sugar, which I have never heard of so I didn't have it. The site gave a substitution of 3/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 tbsp light corn syrup + 2 tbsp melted butter, which you see above in the recipe. I also did not add as much sugar as suggested because I added a bunch of fruit and chocolate, if you are using less sweet fruits and nuts then I would recommend adding more sugar. For the chocolate granola bars I used honey, but ran out so for the Hawaiian granola bars I used maple syrup and you could taste both in each bar, both tasted equally great! Lastly I did not have oat flour, so I used 1/3 cup of oats and put it in the food processor for 15 seconds.
Also in preparation for my trip, I have really been trying to learn the features of my new camera. I took a class at the Houston Center for Photography with a friend and it has helped immensely. I used the granola bars as practice for trying out the different lighting settings and manual focus on the camera.
Below are camera light settings Tungsten, Sunlight, and Auto taken in a room with all the window blinds open at 5PM and my overhead kitchen lighting.
Looks like auto setting wins for my inside food photography.
Something you cannot get with a point and shoot are all the focusing options. Here I used manual focus to bring each object in the scene into focus.
Any last minute photo tips for landscape and water photography?