We have new neighbors on our street - which is both sad and fun...sad that our old neighbors moved away but fun that we get to meet new people. Also a bit scary because now I have new people who have to be warned about the mister and his antics...walking around half-naked when he works in the yard, swearing at will, sitting on the deck late into the evening singing along with Pandora...out loud...yes, lots of things to warn them about and apologize for!!! Good thing Grumpy Old Man Syndrome isn't contagious!
One of our new neighbors recently moved here from China and she and her family are just adorable. Rui has a 2 year old daughter, whose name I mangle every time I try to say it...I thought her name was pronounced Shoo-Shoo...but apparently it's something like Shoorzeshorze! I wondered why the little girl never looked at me when I said her name!! Stupido Americano strikes again! I've gotten to know Rui a little bit (I'm helping her learn to drive!!!!) and have discovered that she is quite a good cook/baker!!
Rui brought me over these bars, she called them Grain Energy Bars, and they looked like granola/Kind Bars but they tasted much better!! I couldn't leave them alone, every time I walked into the kitchen I grabbed another bar! I changed the name of her recipe to Breakfast Bars, strictly so I could remember it and find it easily. Hope you don't mind Rui! I asked Rui for the recipe and she said it was in Chinese and she would translate it for me...which she did...but there were a few things that didn't translate!
One of the items listed on Rui's recipe is semen juglandis...Wikipedia said this is walnut seed or walnut kernel, which I assumed was the same as a walnut nut! But as I read further I discovered this:
"Semen Juglandis is used to; 1. tonify the lungs and kidneys; 2. To moisten the intestines and move feces." Good to know! Obviously I didn't have any semen juglandis nor did I want to after reading that!
But this recipe is easy and very adaptable...you can use any kind of nut(s) you want and any kind of dried fruit. If you want to add coconut or cinnamon or chocolate chips (YUM! Wish I'd thought of that sooner!) then add them - you can make them to suit whatever kind of depression you have!! I used what I had on hand...which was macadamias,almonds and hazelnuts and for the dried fruit I used Goji berries and dates...they worked beautifully!
This is an easy recipe, made in 3 simple steps: Toast the nuts and oats, mix everything together then press into the prepared pan (line it with parchment for easy removal and to prevent sticking) and bake. That's it!
Once it's out of the oven, allow to cool and then slice into bars...it's kind of pretty just like this, no? I didn't bake this as long as I should have so it's lighter in color than the bars Rui brought me. Next time I will bake for the full time, but know these bars are not crispy and hard, they are chewy and they definitely hit the spot when you're running out the door on an empty stomach!
Rui's Breakfast Bars - Adapted from Rui Zhang
1 cup oats (I used Old-Fashioned Oats, not quick-cooking)
1 cup nuts, finely chopped (I used 1/3 cup each of hazelnuts, macadamias and slivered almonds)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (white or black)
1/2 cup dried fruit, finely diced (I used Goji Berries and Dates but cranberries, apricots, raisins, any dried fruit will work)
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons honey
*8-inch square pan with straight sides and parchment paper (or foil) are needed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepared pan by lining with parchment paper (or foil). Set aside. Spread finely chopped nuts and oats evenly on a rimmed-baking sheet, bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just beginning to become fragrant and toasted. Remove and allow to cool. When cool, put nuts and oats into a large mixing bowl and add in finely chopped dried fruit. Set aside. In small sauce pan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar and honey. Stir until melted and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour butter mixture over nuts, oats and fruit and stir until combined. Scoop mixture into prepared baking pan and push into pan and into corners until all is even. Putting another piece of parchment on top and pressing down works great to make everything compact. Bake in over approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 12 bars, approximately 1 1/2 x 4 x 1/2-inch. These will keep in an air-tight container for up to one week.
Thank you Rui!!! We are so happy you moved into our neighborhood!