Welcome to Tack Trunk Tuesday! I don’t own a fancy wooden custom tack trunk with my name embossed on the front, but I am always intrigued by what other people chose to store in them; therefore, I present to you…drumroll, please…my very own virtual tack trunk. Once or twice a month on Tuesday I’ll add an item to my virtual tack trunk that I think is very cool and worth sharing. I tend to blend my sports, so it won’t always be horse-related as the title might imply. If you have a favorite item you think I should know about, please comment. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll initiate the tack trunk packing process with my homemade trail blazing granola bars. This is a recipe I found on the internet years ago. It’s forgiving, adaptable and portable, so I think that is why I like it so much. I tried to find similar energy bars in the grocery store that would curb my ‘I want to eat my T-shirt now’ hunger pains, but didn’t find anything comparable or without at least one ingredient I didn’t recognize. I am by no means a food perfectionist, but I do like quality when it comes to re-fueling my body. Growing up my mom would say if we wanted a treat bad enough we should be willing to make it ourselves. I learned how to make at a very young age. I still prefer to make rather than buy when I have the time to do so.
So the trick to this recipe is using the raw ingredients that you like.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add parchment paper to an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and set aside. Toss together 2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal, 1 cup of sliced almonds (or any nut you prefer, I like pecans) and 1 cup of coconut. If you don’t like coconut, add extra oatmeal.
Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly toasted.
Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of bran or wheat germ.
Chop up your dried fruit. You can use almost anything as long as you have 1 cup of dried fruit mixture plus 1/2 cup of chopped pitted dates. I used 1/2 cup of apricots, 1/4 cup of cranberries and 1/4 cup of golden raisins.
Here is the cooking part. Put 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 2/3 cup of local honey (mine was race swag), 1/4 cup of brown sugar (or less if you prefer), 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Cook and stir for one minute until everything dissolves then pour into the large mixing bowl. Add your chopped dried fruit. My hubby strongly suggests that you also add a handful or 2 of dark chocolate chips. These will melt as you blend everything together. Don’t worry!
From the large mixing bowl into the baking dish. Spread out evenly and press down gently. Bake at 300 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours at room temperature. This is the hardest part of the recipe.
Cut into squares or eat the entire thing, your choice. If you are planning to store them in a container, separate the layers with parchment paper or you will end up with a giant granola bar. Really it’s up to you!