I know at this day in age, it's easy to go to the store and buy a box from any number of major brands, but I'm more of a DIY kind of girl when it comes to food.
I started experimenting with different ideas, looking through other blogger's and chef's recipes for staple ingredients. Cut out the fancy stuff, look for the bare essentials, and develop a formula for making any kind of simple oat-based bars quickly and easily, with room for your own customization.
I think I've got it.
The key here, like I said, is customization, so my recipe is less of a recipe and more of guidelines to develop your own uniquely flavored bars.
Step 1: Pick 2 1/2 cups of any basic grain. I went with oatmeal, easy and reliable.
Step 2: Pick 1 cup of your favorite dried fruit. Dried cranberrys, craisins, apricots, blueberries, cherrys, whatever you feel. You can also combine 1/2 cup berries with 1/2 cup of your favorite nuts if you're looking for more protein. Peanuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and almonds all work well with this recipe.
I went with dried cranberries
Step 3: Get a can of low-fat sweetened condensed milk. This is your binding agent.
Start by placing your grains onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes until golden and crispy, stirring around halfway through baking time.
Meanwhile, heat 14 oz of sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat, constantly stirring. When the mixture is thin, it's ready.
Grab two corners of the parchment paper and funnel your oats into the saucepan. Add your 8 oz dried berries and/or nuts. Stir to combine.
Place the parchment paper back on the baking sheet. Pour your mixture onto the parchment paper and flatten it out into a rectangle. Lower the heat to 300 degrees F and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Allow to cool for 2-3 hours before cutting into bars. When you're done, you have your sweet and crunchy homemade creation.