Kids Have No Idea What They’re Missing And Nutty Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars

chocolate_nut_baked_granola_bars_1_mfbIt has come to my attention that there are things that my children and the children of future generations will never know, experience, or understand.

Dialing “0” for the operator. I actually tried this the other night to see if it still works.  Apparently it does. (I think I woke her up.) Don’t know why anyone would use it now, but it’s good to know that it’s there if I need it. My children, however, have no idea what it’s for. Actually, I’m not sure if I have any idea what it’s for anymore.

Riding in cars without seat belts.  Nowadays, children are not only strapped into seat belts, but they are rendered immobile by straps, and harnesses, and restraints that Houdini himself couldn’t wrestle out of.  We grew up without seat belts of any kind.  I remember babies on laps, laying on the back window of the car like a cat, riding in the bed of the pick up truck, and playing cards on the floor in the back seat. We survived…miraculously!

chocolate_nut_baked_granola_bars_2_mfbSaturday morning cartoons.  Just Saturday morning.  Not the 24/7 cartoons on a million different channels that the kids of today know.  If we wanted to watch cartoons, we had to wait an entire week and get up early.  If you slept in, you missed them and you had to wait another whole week!  Oh my, the travesty!

Televisions without remote controls.  I remember when the first remote control came out and it had a 10 foot long cable that plugged into the TV.  But it only worked if you had a new TV.  If you had a 13 channel dial TV, then forget about it, you still had to get your lazy butt off the couch and go change the channel yourself. And that’s if you were lucky enough to have all 13 channels.  Some people only had the basic 3 local channels and then you didn’t even bother changing the channel because there was nothing good on anyway.

chocolate_nut_baked_granola_bars_4_mfbFast food restaurants where the food was pre-made, kept lukewarm under glowing orange heat lamps, and it was not made to order! If you didn’t like pickles on your burger, you picked them off! There was no substitutions and there was no such thing as extra tomato, ketchup only, no onions, or sauce on the side.

Rotary dial telephones.  It took longer to dial the phone than to have a conversation once someone answered. And there was no such thing as call display.  Either you answered or you didn’t, and if you didn’t, then you had no idea who was calling.  Disturbing, I know!

chocolate_nut_baked_granola_bars_3_mfbCar windows that you had to roll up by hand.  No buttons to push, just good old-fashioned muscle power required, clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Encyclopedias. The books. Many people had the entire collection displayed in their homes in a wooden bookcase.  I can remember many, many school projects copied directly from the encyclopedia pages, and by copied I mean by hand.  Like, written out.  In handwriting. Handwriting!

And granola bars didn’t always come in a box.

Nutty Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 26 bars

This is adapted from a recipe submitted by my cousin, Juliana, to our family cookbook that we published this summer for our family reunion. These bars can be individually wrapped and frozen and tossed into lunch boxes as needed.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1-1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1-1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add honey, vanilla, and egg. Mix well. Add flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and mix well. Stir in oats, rice cereal, nuts, and 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Line a 9"x13" baking pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the pan and smooth the top as much as possible, carefully pressing all the way to the sides and into the corners.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before cutting into 1" x 4-1/2" bars. This is done by cutting the pan in half lengthwise, then cutting each half into 13 individual 1" bars.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir gently and microwave for an additional 30 seconds if required. Once chips have melted completely, drizzle melted chocolate over the cut granola bars and let it set.

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Snow Days And Hot Spinach Dip

hot_spinach_dip_2_mfbThis weekend we had a blizzard.  Not a mild dumping of snow, but an all-out, freezing cold blizzard of apocalyptic proportions.  The roads are so drifted over that you don’t even know if you’re actually on the road or not.  If you shovel the sidewalk, chances are that you’ll be shoveling it again in an hour, so you wonder why you shoveled it in the first place. It’s best to just wait it out and do it only once.

hot_spinach_dip_4_mfbThere is nowhere I need to go.  There is nothing I need to be doing.  So I’ve declared it to be a snow day!  Snow days are for wearing your pajamas from morning to night, and back to morning again.  Showering is optional on snow days, but if you choose to shower, clean pajamas are the preferred clothing option for the balance of the day.

hot_spinach_dip_1_mfbSnow days are for curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate, a bag of potato chips, and a movie marathon like The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Bourne Legacy. There is no one I’d rather spend a snow day with than Matt Damon. Snow days are for doing nothing at all. No laundry, no taking down Christmas decorations, no changing sheets, and no washing floors is permitted on a snow day.

hot_spinach_dip_3_mfbSnow days are for eating whatever you want, whenever you want to eat it.  There is no schedule, there is no right and wrong, there is no clock on the wall.  If you want grilled cheese at 3:00 in the afternoon and scrambled eggs at 7:00, then that’s OK.  If you want hot spinach dip for supper, then go for it.  I’m not going to stop you.  It’s a snow day!

Hot Spinach Dip

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 1 large, filled loaf

This delicious hot spinach dip was a recipe passed down to me from my Mom. It is a hit at every party and is always one of the first dips to disappear.


  • 10 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 package frozen spinach, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 package (8 oz/1 cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 package dry vegetable soup mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or frozen dill, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 round bread loaf, additional bread and crackers for serving


Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Cut off the top of the bread loaf. Scoop out part of the interior of the loaf and reserve the bread chunks. Set aside.

In a frying pan, cook the diced bacon until it is crispy. Drain and add it to a bowl. Add all of the other ingredients and mix until smooth. (If using baking method #2, reserve a sprinkling of cheese and bacon.)

There are 2 methods to making this hot spinach dip. Both are equally delicious!

Method #1

Place the spinach dip into the bread hollow and place the top of the bread back on the loaf, covering the spinach dip. Carefully wrap the bread in two layers of aluminum foil. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the loaf is heated all the way through the center. Remove the loaf from the oven, remove the aluminum foil and serve with reserved bread, extra bread cubes, and crackers.

Method #2

Place the spinach dip in an oven safe dish. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until it is heated through and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and scoop the hot spinach dip into the hollowed bread. Sprinkle the spinach dip with additional cheese and bacon. Place the loaf on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted. Serve with reserved bread, extra bread cubes, and crackers.


Original Recipe by My Friend's Bakery 2014

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