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For this family, cooking is for the dogs | TribLIVE.com
North Hills

For this family, cooking is for the dogs

Sherry Esser
| Thursday, February 28, 2019 1:30 a.m.
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Creating and modifying recipes is entertainment for Julie Hilldofer and her family. The entertainment comes into play when they all cook together getting that meal on the table. Taking on a standard recipe to refine generates fun and brainstorming for the group, but so many times they return to the original recipe.

Implementing recipes for Julie has been a natural thing from childhood. Her first creative project were dog treats for Gizmo, her Jack Russell Terrier. These treats are now gifts for her friend’s dogs.

For her two-legged friends, Julie’s granola bars are time-tested and family approved.

One thing that can’t be modified for Julie is that cooking for fun is the ability to spend time with friends and family, incorporating everyone’s ideas into the recipes that can be enjoyed together in the end.

Dog Treats

(makes about three dozen)

4-5 cups oats (old fashioned/rolled)

1 large apple

2-3 tablespoons peanut butter (must be smooth, no additives or sugar/xylitol)

1 cup canned pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, grind the oats. Core the apple then coarsely grate it into a large mixing bowl. Add the peanut butter and the canned pumpkin and mix until combined. Add the oats one cup at a time by slowly folding the flour into the wet mixture. The mixture will be stiff.

Once the mixture becomes malleable dough, place onto a lightly oat flour-dusted surface. Roll the dough to about one-half-inch-thick. Cut with a cookie cutter and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake the treats 14-16 minutes until slightly crispy on the edges. Remove and cool. Store in airtight container at room temp. Can vacuum pack them; shelf life will be 3-6 weeks.

Granola Bars

2 ½ cups of old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cups whole almonds (can use pecans)

cooking spray

¼ cup of maple syrup

¼ cup honey

¼ cup unsalted butter (cubed)

¼ cup brown sugar (packed)

¼ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup dried raisins (or any dried fruit)

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of two 9-inch-square pans with parchment paper. Add oats and almonds to the first baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, then stir and bake another 5 minutes until slightly toasted. Be careful not to burn or over bake the oats and nuts.

After 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and pour the oats into large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, add butter, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and the salt over med/low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves. Do not simmer or boil the mixture. Pour mixture into the large mixing bowl over the roasted oats, almonds, and raisins. Mix well and evenly with a spatula. Let the mix cool for about 5 minutes then mix in chocolate chips.

Pour the entire granola mixture onto the second lined pan using a spatula slightly coated with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick to the spatula. Firmly press the mixture into the pan. The more tightly the granola is packed, the better the bars will hold their shape after cutting. Cover the granola and then refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Remove block of granola mixture from pan then peel away parchment paper. Cut into bars carefully with a thick bladed knife. Bars should be kept in an airtight container, this way they will last for one week at room temperature. Can also be refrigerated.

Categories: Local | North Hills
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