Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No Bake Granola "Cupcakes"

Five years ago next month when the 8 year old was just barely 3 1/2, my mom got terribly sick.  My dad, who is paralyzed on the right side of his body called me after three days and asked if I'd make the 2 hour drive to their house to help care for both of them until my mom was well.  The two of them thought she had the stomach flu.  I, of course, agreed, but I told my dad to make sure my mom was prepared to go to the ER when I got there.  She hadn't been able to keep anything on her stomach for three days, so I knew she was dehydrated.

What was to be a few days' stay to get my mom on the mend again turn in to me living with them for 3 months.  Upon admittance to the ER at 9:00p.m., it was determined that my mom was indeed dehydrated, but also severely anemic.  She was rushed by ambulance to a larger hospital. (One of the EMT's was, by chance, an old friend from high school; he will probably never know how comforting that was).  Long story short, my mom had a bleeding ulcer and a bowel obstruction and ended up having surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor from her colon.  Even after I moved back home, I still made a week long trip to check on them once a month for a year.  To say it was a tough time, is an understatement.

At first the then 3 1/2 year old stayed with his dad here at home.  My husband was working for himself at the time and was able to take a couple weeks off.  But when weeks turned into a month, the 3 1/2 year old was sent to my in-laws.  It was the right thing to do, but one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and even now I feel tremendous guilt over doing so.

We lost a lot, he and I.  We lost bedtimes and cuddles, and giggles and tears, lazy days and busy days, and just days we'll never get back.  One of the weird things we lost was that I forgot about some of the foods the then 3 1/2 year old liked.  I remembered most of it, but there were a few things that fell by the wayside that even now he'll say "Why don't you ever fix me XYZ anymore?"  Sometimes he doesn't even know the name for what it was.  He just knows what it looked like or tasted like or some strange word he put with it.  Once he was trying to ask for ricotta stuffed pasta shells with Alfredo sauce and could only come up with "those big balls of cheese."

These little granola "cupcakes" were one of those things I forgot about.  I don't even know where the recipe came from now.  I just have a photocopy of a magazine or book page to go by, and I've adapted that quite a bit.  But this weekend I was looking for a good breakfast item I could make and eat on all week and found this recipe hiding in the back of my recipe binder.  When the now 8 year old saw them, as I was pulling them out of the pan to put in a storage container, his eyes lit up and he immediately wanted one.  He never said, but I know it was another of those foods his brain was wondering where it had gone.

You can use any dried fruit you like, but I generally prefer a mix of raisins and dried cranberries.  Make sure you pack these into the little cups very well.  They also seem to hold their shape better if they are stored in the fridge.

Granola "Cupcakes"

7 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons honey
1 3/4 cups oatmeal
1 3/4 cups rice crispy cereal
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/2 scant cup chocolate chips (optional)

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and honey over low heat.

Mix the oatmeal, cereal, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Once the butter and honey is melted, pour over the dry mixture and stir well to combine.  The butter and honey will melt down most of the chocolate chips.

Spoon into a well buttered or oiled cupcake pan, pressing down well.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before serving.

Makes 12.

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