Peanut Butter Granola Bars

My idea of a perfect weekend is going hiking with my husband and two dogs. We usually do a lot of hiking and camping during the summer and fall months, but since we moved to Peoria a few months ago we haven’t had the time to go hiking. That all changed yesterday! :) We stuffed these granola bars into our backpacks and headed out to Sand Ridge State Forest. When we arrived we were very surprised to find that the 7,200 acre forest was full of sand prairies, open fields, and pine forests. Not at all what I expected to find in Illinois. I was hoping to see the autumn foliage, but since it was a pine forest we had no such luck. I was so surprised to see desert-like conditions with prickly pear cactus everywhere. All the 44 miles of hiking trails were composed of sand. On some of the hiking trails that were open to equestrian traffic, the sand was very soft and made hiking a bit difficult. We had lots of fun but I am hoping to find another place in Illinois where we can hike and see the leaves change colors next weekend. If you are from Illinois and know of some great hiking and camping locations I would love to hear about them! :)

These granola bars are perfect when hunger strikes, the sweet and salty combination is always satisfying! They are great for an on the go breakfast, afternoon snack or a long fall hike. Packed with almonds, pecans, flax seeds, wheat germ, raisins, peanut butter and chocolate chips-this granola bar has it all! Give these delicious granola bars a try and I promise you will never buy store-bought granola bars again! :)

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Yield: 12 bars

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons flax seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends.
In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, flax seed, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and honey together. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until well combined.
Spread the granola evenly in a thin layer on a large baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. (Do not overcook; the granola will crisp more when cooled.)
Cool the granola on the baking sheet on top of a wire rack and stir in the raisins. When the granola is completely cooled, place in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the brown sugar, corn syrup and peanut butter to a boil. Cook and stir for 30 seconds, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture, stirring to coat well. Cool slightly then stir in chocolate chips. Press into the prepared baking dish and let cool completely and harden before cutting into rectangles.

Source: adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Check out a few more of my favorite Granola Recipes: :D

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Pancakes