inspired by http://www.inspiredtaste.net/21462/soft-and-chewy-granola-bars-recipe/#itr-recipe-21462
2 1/2 cups quick oats (I like Quaker Oats)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped chocolate covered almonds (I like Blue Diamond)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dates coarsely chopped
1. Put the dates in a small bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of water. They are nice and sticky and adding the water will help spread the stickiness around and keep the bars together.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the oats and almonds and mix with a spoon. Using a jellyroll pan, lay down a silicone liner and spread the oats and nuts evenly. If you don't have a silicone mat, line the pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
3.Bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.
5. Pour butter mixture into the large bowl with toasted oats and almonds. Add the dates (with water) and mix well.
6. Spray a 8x8 glass cooking pan with cooking spray and put the mixture into the pan. Press the mixture down evenly for at LEAST one minute. You can use a rubber spatula or your fingers or both!
7. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove block of granola mixture from pan (it can seriously come out all at once because it sticks together so well) cut into the desired length and width you desire.
8. Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For the softest bars, keep at room temperature. For slightly harder bars, store in the fridge.
The original recipe called for cranberries and chocolate chips but I like the chocolate covered almonds because I get the flavor without the melting and mess. I had also read another blog that mentioned dates really help everything stick together and I like the way they taste. Using something else like cut up cranberries or raisins with water might work well too, I just haven't tried it. You can probably try adding other things, I was mostly just using what was on hand.