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. ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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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Kale Quinoa Salad

When I was asked to cater the bridal shower, I was told that the bride loooved kale and quinoa. This salad was the direct inspiration of that. Well, and of Smitten Kitchen. Ha. But anyways, this kale quinoa salad is just SO good, you guys. It’s so fresh and delightful, I could seriously eat it for breakfast and be happy. With a fried egg on top? Oh goodness, I think I’m going to try that really soon.

Kale Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

Like any kale or quinoa salad, the sky’s the limit on mix ins. I just used some basic, affordable pantry staples: dried cranberries, almonds, and feta, but feel free to adjust based on your preferences. I’m a huge pistachio fan myself and think think that would be yummy. Oh, and don’t skip the dressing! Sometimes I just wanna do a basic olive oil rub on kale or quinoa but taking a couple minutes to mix up this vinaigrette-eqse dressing is totally worth it. Enjoy!

Kale Quinoa Salad | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Mexican Rice
two years ago: Black Bean Wraps

Kale Quinoa Salad [adapted from Smitten Kitchen]
click to print

Ingredients:

for salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 8 ounces kale, stems removed and thinly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries [or cherries]
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

for dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, kale, cranberries, and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: olive oil, viengar,lemon juice, mustard, honey, and dill. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to set. Top with almonds and feta just before eating.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].
Yield: 6-8 servings.

Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m afraid I don’t have any lovey-dovey dessert to offer you today. For your chocolate overload or cutesy heart shape dessert, you’ll have to look elsewhere. If you need an easy red velvet dessert, check out these Red Velvet Marshmallow Bites I made last year. Yum!

Cranberry Coffee Cake | thepajamachef.com

Today all I have to offer you is breakfast. A treat for tomorrow, perhaps? I hope cranberries aren’t¬†too hard to come by in your part of the world on this fine February morning. They certainly make this cinnamon sugar-laced coffee cake something extra special.

Cranberry Coffee Cake | thepajamachef.com

This cake is so easy to make, and is a perfect buttery base for those tart berries. I added a bit of cinnamon and cloves to the original recipe, thinking those warm spices would be delicious alongside the orange zest, and you know what? I was RIGHT!

Cranberry Coffee Cake | thepajamachef.com

To top everything off, add a light powdered sugar icing. It makes all the difference! I heated up the icing just before drizzling on the cake–a¬†very good move, as it crisped up after meeting the cake. I just love crisp glaze-y icing. Delish!

Cranberry Coffee Cake | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Go-To Pancakes
two years ago: Mexican Chicken Alfredo
three years ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake [slightly adapted from Sweet Anna’s]
click to print

Ingredients:

for cake

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour [I used white whole wheat]
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • zest of one orange
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries

for icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer [or with a hand mixer], beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy, nearly doubled in size. This will take about 8 minutes.

Add in butter and vanilla, and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

Stir in flour, nutmeg, cloves, and orange zest with a wooden spoon until just combined. It will be very thick.

Spoon half of the batter into the bundt pan, then evenly top with the cranberries and reserved cinnamon sugar mixture. Spoon the rest of the batter over the cranberries [some cranberries may still be visible].

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Check after about 30 minutes, and cover with foil if cake is browning too much.

Remove to a wire rack to cool, gently using a knife to loosen cake from the bottom and sides of the pan. After cake cools completely, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, microwave for about 30 seconds, then drizzle over the cake before serving.

Time: 60 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 12 servings.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Cranberry Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Pears

If you like cranberry sauce, then you’ll love these oats! Steel cut oats are a special treat for me. They take too long to make on a weekday morning before work [who has time to babysit at the stove for 30 minutes?], so they’re reserved for the weekend in my mind–and I always make extra for leftovers. ūüôā But I digress. This past Saturday, I whipped up these easy Cranberry Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Pears, and let me tell you… they were something amazing!

Cranberry Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Pears | thepajamachef.com

I’ve only made steel cut oats a few times in the past and these were by far the best–tender with just a little bit of chewiness. These steel cut oats were the most flavorful oats I’ve ever tasted, and the prettiest too! See that pink? I cooked fresh cranberries in with the steel cut oats to achieve that gorgeous color, added some cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar to cut down the tartness of the fresh berries, then topped off with some easy, juicy caramelized pears. The subtle sweetness of the pears plays so well with the tart cranberries, I love it. I first experienced that unique flavor combo over Christmas when my mom, sister, and I were making brunch for the family and we all helped throw together the pear cranberry compote. Divine! [Everyone loved it, so I knew the flavor combo was a winner.] This breakfast may be a bit time consuming, but it’s totally worth it. If rich and indulgent oatmeal is a thing, this would be it, because, duh, caramelized pears! Enjoy! ūüôā

Cranberry Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Pears | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Mexican Cornbread Pot Pie
two years ago: Lasagna Soup
three years ago: Whole-Wheat Cornbread

Cranberry Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Pears [adapted from S. John & Sandra Ross and Martha Stewart]
click to print

Ingredients:

for oats

  • 2 cups water
  • 5 ounces fresh cranberries, washed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup pear cider [or milk, water, cranberry juice, apple juice/cider, etc.]
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

for pears

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Anjou pears, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Add water, cranberries, and sugar to a pot and bring to a boil. When berries begin to burst, add steel cut oats, pear cider, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Return to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook for 25-30 minutes until oats are softened, stirring occasionally.

To prepare pears, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When bubbly, sprinkle in sugar gradually. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add pears, carefully flipping to fully coat in sugar-butter mixture. Cook until just soft, about 2-4 minutes [depending on how thin you slice them], then gently fold in cloves and cinnamon.

Top cranberry oats with caramelized pears to serve.

Time: 40 minutes.
Yield: 4-5 servings.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

Mystery Dish: Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa

Welcome to December Mystery Dish! Should be a good post for my last recipe of the year. I didn’t intend to take a two week break, but it’s been nice to unplug. ūüôā¬†Sherri at The Well Floured Kitchen was this month’s host for Mystery Dish, and the ingredients she chose for us included:¬†Dark Chocolate,¬†Greek Yogurt,¬†Berries,¬†Coconut Oil,¬†Walnuts,¬†Fish,¬†Baby Spinach, and Pecorino Romano Cheese. We had to use at least two, and I chose to use fish and berries… cranberries to be specific. I know cranberries aren’t always thought of as traditional ‘berries’ but they are in season and I love them so I wanted to use them! For more info on berries, check out Wikipedia. ūüôā

Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa | thepajamachef.com

Ben helped extensively with this recipe–he came up with the idea to make fish tacos, and I wanted to try my hand at a cranberry salsa. Fruit salsas are so complimentary to fish tacos, and this one, though a little more tart than most, was absolutely amazing. I used two types of fresh herbs [rosemary and parsley] and tangerine to flavor it up, then added a little sweetness and tartness with honey and red raspberry vinegar. My goal was to make the salsa be different from my usual cranberry relish [fresh cranberries, sugar, and an orange], and I think I succeeded!

Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa | thepajamachef.com

While I was cranberry salsa-ing it up, Ben was busy preparing the fish tacos. He’s the fish taco expert in the family, and decided to season the tilapia with some olive oil and vinegar–but not just your average olive oil and vinegar. He used some special blood orange-infused olive oil and coconut-infused white balsamic vinegar from the Bumble Olive Oil Company in his hometown [Toledo, Ohio]. If you can get your hands on these infused oils, DO IT! So good. But if not, use extracts or juices to create the same effect. The result? A sweet, tender, flaky fish that pairs so well with some tart salsa and crunchy cabbage. I also whipped up some Mexican rice with dinner… aka my favorite side ever. Yum yum and yum! Hope you enjoy!

one year ago: White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies
two years ago: Classic Sugar Cookies
three years ago: Cranberry Scones

Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tilapia filets [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil [mine was blood-orange infused]*
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar [mine was coconut infused]*
  • 1/4 of a sweet yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tangerine, sliced and seeded [leave on peel]
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons red raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • tortillas, for serving
  • chopped red cabbage, for serving
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, then place tilapia filets in baking dish. Combine olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl, then brush mixture over tilapia, turning to coat. Cook for 13-15 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. If you use fresh fish, the cook time will be reduced.

Meanwhile, combine onion, garlic, and tangerine in a food processor. Pulse until nearly smooth, then add parsley, rosemary, vinegar, honey, and cranberries. Pulse a few times to break up cranberries, then season with pepper and salt to taste.

Gently slice fish into strips, then serve in tortillas with cabbage and sour cream, squeezing lime wedges overtop before enjoying.

Time: 25 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings.

Note: I used infused evoo and balsamic vinegar. You can add a few drops of coconut or orange extract for a similar flavor profile, or a little orange juice or zest.

Please check out the rest of the Mystery Dish posts when you have a chance too. They all look SO delicious!

Mystery Dish Collage

1. Cinnamon Coffee Cake from Buttercream Fanatic
2. Dark Chocolate Chip Coconut Oil Cookies from Chez Catey Lou
3. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart from The Dessert Chronicles
4. Berry Chocolate Streusel Bars from Baking a Moment
5. Green Berry Smoothie from I Want Crazy
6. Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa from The Pajama Chef
7. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies from Joyful Healthy Eats
8. Healthy Homemade Granola Parfait from Yummy Healthy Easy
9. Pear Cranberry Crockpot Oatmeal from See Hubby Cook
10. Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Culinary Couture
11. Raspberry Chocolate Crumb Bars from I Dig Pinterest
12. Dark Chocolate Walnut Coconut Macaroon Fingers from The Well Floured Kitchen