Back to School has been more of a new year to me than the first of January since I was a little girl. It marks the end of a usually long and rather lazy summer with a return to schedules, and bedtimes, and yes, homework too. It means my house stays a whole lot cleaner...but also that I do a lot more driving around town...especially between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m. And it means, for me, more time to spend in the kitchen--planning, creating, baking and cooking for the ones I love.
I won't lie to you, they take quite awhile to prepare. But if you are lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom left with nothing but a cup of coffee and a quiet house after you usher your offspring out the door on their way to school, it's not a bad way to spend the morning. Use the time between steps to get your Tracy Anderson on..or catch up on your book club book...or clean out a closet...or make your list of all you'd like to accomplish during the fresh new (school) year. And when your kids get home in the afternoon all sweaty and tired and hungry, give them a kiss, and a cookie, and they will sing your praises. I promise.
Blueberry Granola Cookie Bars
These delicious bars, adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies are layered with shortbread crust, jam and homemade oatmeal. You can save time by using packaged granola, but the small effort to make your own from scratch is well worth it. Plus, you will have some left over to sprinkle on yogurt for breakfast.
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 1/2 hours (includes chilling time)
Yield: 2 dozen bars
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (1 1/2 sticks)
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberry jam
Almond Coconut Granola
(makes about 5 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1. Make granola. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter with honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the water. Stir together the oats, almonds, and coconut in a large bowl. Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the oats and stir to coat evenly. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden and brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
2. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
3. Process 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Lightly beat egg, yolk and vanilla in a Small bowl. Add egg mixture to the processor through the chute while the processor is running. Pulse just until clumps form. Pat dough into the prepared dish, evenly covering the bottom. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
6. Spread jam over crust and top with about 2 cups of granola. Bake until jam is bubbling and the granola is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Lift from the pan and cut into 2-inch squares. Bars should be eaten within a few days, or frozen for up to a month.