After I graduated from college I did a short stint at an advertising agency and then I took my first full-time job in the cube-laden world of corporate America. As most young, eager college graduates, I looked at my new opportunity as a mountain of potential. I felt like a bona fide grown up – I got up early every morning, got dressed in my business casual attire, went to meetings, and became better at what I did. Ahh, the enthusiasm of the young buck (in my case, young doe, of course). By the end of my time in corporate America I had a plethora of stomach issues, was getting migraines about once every 7-10 days, and loathed my boss’ voice more than anything in the world. If I got to my desk in the morning and the red voicemail link was blinking (she was notorious for leaving messages at 5am, because she enjoyed working that early), I got nauseous. When I heard the wheels of her little pull-along briefcase rolling down the cube aisle I wanted to hide under my desk. The phrase “going above and beyond” was showing up in my nightmares. Clearly, corporate America had taken a toll on me. The one constant through all of my time spent there? Through the good, the bad, and the ugly?
Chocolate chip granola bars.
I always had a box stashed in my desk drawer just in case I got a case of the hungries and had to rush off to a meeting or needed an afternoon pick-me-up. I loved that they were soft and chewy, and of course that they had chocolate in them. I am honestly not sure if I’ve eaten even one since I stopped working in an office, but they’re the one food that I associate with that time in my life. They got me through some killer afternoons.
Recently, one of my best friends mentioned that she was trying out some of my granola bar recipes to find a homemade replacement for her husband’s infatuation with the same packaged chewy chocolate chip granola bars that I loved. I wasn’t sure that any of them would be an exact match, but lo and behold less than a week later this recipe popped up on Lauren’s blog. I was certain that it was fate and set out to make them immediately so I could report back to my friend on a possible recipe for her. The verdict? These taste pretty much EXACTLY like the ones I lived on for years. They have a tad bit more honey flavor, but aside from that the flavor, the texture, the appearance – a spot-on match. I was astounded, actually! Throw in the fact that these can be whipped up in 10 minutes and require no oven, it’s pretty much a no-brainer to make these instead of going to the store to buy the packaged version!
This recipe is dedicated to everyone toiling away in a cubicle. Make these, keep them at your desk, and enjoy a homemade, non-processed treat when you get a craving in the middle of the work day.
Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan; set aside.
In a large bowl, stir the oats and rice cereal together; set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar, honey, and butter together over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan and press down to ensure that the ingredients are tightly compacted in the pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the miniature chocolate chips and press down on the top lightly with the back of a spoon.
Cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in plastic wrap or keep in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.