WHERE did summer go?
Already it's back-to-school time (did I hear a cheer from all the mothers out there?) and the brown-bag set will be hoping to find something yummy waiting for them when lunchtime rolls around.
Here are some simple recipes for treats that'll put smiles on their faces - they're light-years ahead of those tasteless store-bought granola bars.
APPLE TOFFEE SQUARES
Â½ cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1Â¼ tsp apple pie spice or
cinnamon Â½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1 ?3 cups all-purpose flour
1Â½ tsp baking powder
Â¼ tsp salt
1Â¼ cups peeled, chopped tart apple (like Granny Smith)
Â½ cup Skor Toffee Bits
Â½ cup chopped pecans or raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11x7x2inch baking pan. Beat sugar, brown sugar and apple pie spice in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until mixed well. Remove two tablespoons of the mixture and set aside. Add butter to mixing bowl and mix well; add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Fold in the apples, toffee bits and pecans or raisins, if using. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle with the reserved sugar mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown and a tester inserted in centre of pan comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack then cut into 15 squares to serve.
A hybrid of shortbread and chocolate chip cookies - you can customize these by using toffee bits or peanut butter, butterscotch or milk chocolate chips, or a combination of those to total three cups, plus Â½ cup for on top.
1 cup butter, softened
1Â½ tsp vanilla
Â¼ tsp salt
Â½ cup sugar
Â½ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, or more chocolate chips
Â½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter, vanilla, salt and sugars in a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in flour until just mixed; add two cups of chips and nuts. Press the dough evenly into a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan.
Bake for 15-25 minutes until light golden brown. (Check after 15 minutes then watch carefully, since these cookies can quickly burn around the edges). Let cool on wire rack. Melt the Â½ cup of chocolate chips in the microwave (50 per cent power for one minute); stir until melted, then drizzle over the cooled cookies.
Once the chocolate has hardened break cookies into irregular pieces.
HOMEMADE CHEWY GRANOLA BARS
Toast the wheat germ and sesame seeds together in a dry skillet over medium heat - just until they turn slightly golden and smell toasty.
Â¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 ?3 cup peanut butter
Â½ cup light corn syrup or liquid honey
Â½ cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
2Â½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats
Â½ cup coconut
Â½ cup sunflower kernels
Â½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 ?3 cup toasted wheat germ 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds Â½ cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9x2inch pan. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, peanut butter, syrup, butter and vanilla and blend well. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly (you might want to use your hands - messy but it works better).
Press evenly and firmly into prepared pan (easier if you place a piece of waxed paper on top and press with that). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for one hour then cut into bars; wrap each bar in plastic wrap.