Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars

Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars are an easy no-bake afternoon snack or lunch box addition. Plus, they last nearly a month in the fridge and even longer in the freezer, so make a batch today and be set for awhile if you can restrain yourself. :)

Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars | thepajamachef.com

I am so excited about these chewy granola bars, you guys! They are simply the best. I’ve shared other granola bar recipes on my blog before, but these take the cake. Literally. I think I’d have one before I had a piece of cake, if only because they are healthy AND chocolately at the same time. Win win, I say!

Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars | thepajamachef.com

In the past, homemade chewy granola bars just haven’t cut it for me because they’ve included ingredients I want to avoid on a normal basis [corn syrup] or because they’ve been so full of liquid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup that they’ve just been sticky and hard to eat on the go. So one day I was thinking about what could make chewy granola bars better [I'm in the car alot... this is what I do when I'm not paying attention to my book on CD--ha!] and it dawned on me. Coconut oil! Duh. Everyone’s favorite trendy all-purpose health/beauty/cooking product of choice these days.  So I gave it a whirl and was SO pleased with the results. These granola bars hold together well, are easy to cut, and just taste amazing. For those who are curious… they don’t really taste much like coconut, for better or worse–it’s just a hint, and it’s almost more the smell than anything.

Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars | thepajamachef.com

When you make them–note that I said “when,” not “if”–be sure to follow the instructions to a T in regard to boiling the honey, brown sugar, and salt. It’s similar to making candy in that you need the mixture to come to a boil so that it gets to the soft ball stage to set. Then you just mix everything up, add your mix-ins, and spread it in the pan. Simple! For this batch, my mix-ins were chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chunks. There’s just something about dark chocolate chunks that makes everything better, righttt?! It practically goes without saying, but you can obviously use whatever dried fruit or nuts or chocolate suits your fancy. I think I might make a batch this weekend and have some white chocolate chips burning a hole in my pantry! :)

Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars | thepajamachef.com

When you take these yummy chewy granola bars to work or your kids take them to school, I guarantee that they’ll be the talk of the lunchroom. They look pretty similar to the storebought kind, but just have a homemade appeal that will make people super jealous. Ben’s even shared some with his colleagues to spread the love… the granola bar love, that is! Enjoy, friends! Happy Friday! :)

one year ago: Oreo Popcorn
two years ago: Cilantro Lime Hummus
three years ago: Tangy Chicken Pasta

Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 2hr 15mins
  • Print

[adapted slightly from Money Saving Mom]
Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars | thepajamachef.com

  • 2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed [or wheat germ, wheat bran, or more rolled oats]
  • 1/2 cup mix-ins of your choice [I used 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts--you can use dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc.]
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Directions:

Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil or wax paper, and grease well with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together cereal, oats, flaxseed, and mix-ins. In a saucepan, stir together honey, brown sugar, and salt. Turn heat onto medium-low, then stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 60 seconds, then remove from heat and gently mix in coconut oil and peanut butter [be careful of splashes!]. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix to combine.

Press mixture into prepared pan, then evenly distribute chocolate chunks over top. If you mix the chocolate in, it will melt. Press into granola mixture with a spatula then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to set. Cut into bars and wrap in aluminum foil or wax paper for easy transport. Granola bars freeze well and stay fresh in the refrigerator.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

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Book Review: Meant to Be Mine

Meant to Be Mine is Becky Wade’s newest novel, and is wonderful just like her other two [click here for my reviews of her other books]. I was sent a complimentary copy of this novel as part of Bethany House Publishers‘ book review program.

Book Review - Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade | thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school–irresistible. When their paths cross again after college–still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel. 

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia’s ready to be Ty’s wife, but Ty’s not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood. 

Five and a half years pass. Celia’s buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty’s achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn’t forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime? 

As usual, my five point review:

  • This is the second book in a series about the Porter family, and it was just as precious, romantic, and indulgent as the first! I love how the author makes her characters come alive. I always walk away from a Becky Wade novel in a happy mood [and not because I read this one on the beach last month!]. I feel like the characters are friends, and not every author can create consistently endearing characters, novel after novel.
  • One thing that impressed me about this book was its unpredictability and uniqueness. First off–what wasn’t unpredictable: that Celia and Ty will fall back in love. That’s the premise of ALL these books, and I’m sorry if I ruined anything for you. :) But anyways…the book begins with Ty’s proposal to Celia…and it’s not written in retrospect. See? Unique. What book does that? The rest of the novel is a series of unpredictable choices and plot twists all related to the way Celia and Ty rekindle their relationship. It is adorable the way that Ty works to redeem himself in Celia’s eyes. Adorable AND inspirational. If only we could be so dedicated to someone we love!
  • I also appreciated the secondary characters in this book. Addie, Celia and Ty’s daughter, is great. She’s five but wise beyond her years and serves an important role in the story. She is precious and shy, with a big heart, love for fairytales, and cowboy boots. Celia’s uncle has a big personality and is an amusing foil for Addie’s seriousness, and his role as protector of his girls is awesome. He’s the kinda guy you want on your court!
  • My least favorite character is Ty’s “other woman,” Tawny. She sounds exactly as her name makes her sound [and my apologies to the nice Tawnys out there... tv and books just give that name a bad rap, imo]. What was a bit disturbing about her was her pursuit of Ty as a married man. I wish this had been more denounced in the book–though Ty’s refusal of her affections was pretty strong.
  • This book was just great. Another unique love story by Becky Wade, with a setting just as great [a small Texas town]. I wish I lived in one of the charming Victorians described in the book. Oh, and for you foodies… Celia is a baker and has a sweet gig in the local bakery. Becky, you did good with this one! :) Thanks for another good read. Hope you guys all check it out!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Book Review - Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade | thepajamachef.com

 

Best Ever Homemade Pizza

This homemade pizza dough bakes up golden brown, soft, and chewy, and is the perfect base for your favorite pizza toppings!

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

I used to think homemade pizza was lame. When I made it, it just never seemed as good as delivery or pizza shop pizza. Even though I shared recipes for pizza here on my blog I kinda thought homemade pizza was a frugal substitute for the real deal. But then I had GOOD homemade pizza, made by several different friends, and realized I was just doing it wrong. C’est la vie, right?

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

That’s what prompted me to do something about it and put “homemade pizza dough” on my 30 before 30 list. I was determined to find the BEST homemade pizza dough. I tried several recipes… and you guys… I think this it it! [And not because of those delicious brown cheese bubbles there. :)]

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

This dough is chewy, flavorful, and the perfect palate for any pizza topping. I haven’t added any seasoning to the dough because I don’t think it needs it, but feel free to doctor it up if it’s your thing… especially if that helps your pizza toppings succeed. Prefer something traditional? Great. Perfect a taco pizza? Awesome. Anything goes–really! This is dough bakes into a beautiful golden brown crust reminiscent of Pizza Hut pan pizza–not too thick or too thin, just right.

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

Though this recipe is yeast based, it’s really easy. Seriously–it’s hard to mess up since it just has one rise. The dough is so soft and smooth after it rises that you can easily press or roll  it into the pizza pan. Some doughs are sticky–this isn’t one of them! Definitely try it and see what you think. I’m going to use it for calzones next! YUM!

Best Ever Homemade Pizza4

P.S. I did some work on my blog this week–what do you think? Let me know if anything looks funky and I’ll check it out. Thanks!

one year ago: Mango Quick Cake Squares
two years ago: Cookie Dough Dip
three years ago: Rhubarb Muffins

Best Ever Homemade Pizza

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Print

from Creative Savings
Ingredients:

for pizza dough

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package [2 1/4 teaspoons] active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

for rest of pizza

  • cornmeal for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce – I like this recipe from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and usually add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • toppings as desired – pepperoni, diced peppers, sliced mushrooms, spinach, chopped tomatoes, etc.

Directions:

In a large bowl [I usually use my stand mixer but you don't have to], whisk together warm water and yeast to dissolve. I heat the water about 15-20 seconds in the microwave so it feels like bathwater–too hot will kill the yeast. Then add warm milk, olive oil, salt, and sugar. Whisk or blend on low to combine. Add in 2 cups flour and stir or blend to incorporate. Gradually add in another cup to 1 1/4 cups of flour in 1/4 cup increments to form a soft dough.

Knead [either in mixer or on a clean, flour-dusted surface] for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl and place pizza dough in it, turning once to coat. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Partway through the dough rising process, preheat oven to 400 degrees so it’s nice and hot when it’s time to bake.

When dough is ready, punch down and press or roll onto a pizza pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Top with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Bake for 18-20 minutes, broiling the last minute or so to brown the cheese. Let cool for 5-8 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

We even made a his and hers version of this pizza this weekend… SO GOOD! Make it now! Please. :)

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This is not your classic macaroni salad… and in my opinion, that’s okay. It’s even BETTER! This macaroni salad is sweet and creamy and has a nice, satisfying crunch to it. There’s fruit and vegetables and all sorts of yummy things! I know that sounds odd, but don’t turn away!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com

I’ve never made a “real” macaroni salad before because I don’t really like pickles or relish and it seems like every macaroni salad calls for that. I’m not going to buy a jar for just one recipe [but spices on the other hand...]! So when I saw this recipe, I was sold. I don’t really know what made the original recipe “Hawaiian” because to me, you need pineapple to make a recipe Hawaiian. [BTW I know that is SO NOT TRUE but that's where my mind goes!] So I added some. Duh.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com

And I also added some mint for good measure. This addicting salad was just calling for some. Seriously. This is a great dish to make for summer picnics and BBQs, or just an ordinary dinner at home. Ben doesn’t even like mayo-based salads but he willingly ate [and enjoyed] several bowls of this. How’s that for rave reviews? Enjoy!

one year ago: Thai Tofu Ramen
two years ago: Strawberry Coconut Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Margarita Cupcakes

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 3hr 20mins
  • Print

adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook and drain macaroni to al dente according to package directions.

Stir together hot macaroni, mayo, carrots, celery, and vinegar. Combine sugar, pepper, and onion powder, add to macaroni, and stir well. Fold in pineapple and mint, then season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to set, overnight if possible. Add a little more mayo before serving if desired. Enjoy!

Author: Sarah K. @ thepajamachef.com

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.