Strawberry Pickin’

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Last week our little family took a trip to Washington Farms to pick strawberries. My kiddos eat them by the cartons on the daily and I knew this would be a fun (and useful) family outing they would enjoy. If you are in North East Georgia, Washington Farms is located near Athens and it is definitely worth a visit. We found this little gem last fall during a field trip with Luke’s preschool class. They went to pick pumpkins, but as soon as I saw their flier about strawberries, I wrote it on my mental to-do list to make sure we came back in the Spring.

IMG_3567The berries were $12 for a gallon bucket and let me tell you, they tasted NOTHING like the berries that you buy at the grocery. They were amazing! Of course, doesn’t everything taste better straight from the farm. You weren’t allowed to eat them while picking, but it was SO tempting! The kids had so much fun picking the berries and they each had their own strategy. Luke would search and search for the biggest ones and Lyla would pick all of them she could find, even the bright green itty bitty ones.

IMG_3596Washington Farms also grows blueberries and blackberries that will be ready for picking later this Spring and Summer. We can’t wait to go back for more!

IMG_3599This picture makes me laugh… I had Lyla Rae in her strawberry appliqued dress with her bonnet because that just seemed like perfectnstrawberry picking attire and Luke, well, he was wearing all black Nike dri-fit gear. Boys and their clothes. Oh well, thankful for my girl to dress up! People are always asking me how I get her to keep her bonnets on and she actually likes them. She asks for her “princess hat” when it’s sunny, but to get her to wear them all the time, I just give her the option. If she wants to be outside, she has to wear her bonnet. She always chooses to be outside and the battle is over. Not only do I ADORE the way it looks on her, it provides excellent sun protection for my blonde haired, blue eyed princess.

IMG_8721After we picked two gallon buckets full of berries, we treated ourselves to homemade strawberry ice cream at the farm. It.was.awesome. I mean, I’m sure I burned off plenty of calories chasing kiddos up and down the rows of berries, right?

On the way home I researched how to make strawberry jam and we stopped by the grocery to grab the ingredients. The only thing I needed to buy was Sure-jell and sugar. My gracious, I didn’t know how much sugar was in jam. Guess that’s why it’s so yummy! I used the recipe right off the back of the yellow Sure-Jell Box and it worked perfectly on the first try. I don’t like “lumps” of berries in my jam, so I blended the berries to a puree to prep them and it worked great. Below are the results of my first shot at jam. Luke had one taste and proudly said, “Mom, it tastes just like the stuff you buy at the store!” Hah! Not exactly the response I was looking for, but I think he was amazed that I didn’t screw it up!

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Low Iodine Diet Dinners

After completely falling off the blogging bandwagon, I decided to jump back on after a comment from a reader. She found me through a Pinterest search on low iodine diets and requested more information. Well, Jeni, you have inspired me to share, so thank you! I know this information has zero relevance for the vast majority of people, but I’ve been getting lots of pins from my LID posts. This excites me because I’m glad to be helping spread tips and tricks to surviving the LID. On the other hand, each time I get a notification that someone pinned my LID posts, it means that someone is getting radioactive iodine, as a likely result of a thyroid cancer diagnosis. Ugh. But, read on to learn how to survive dinner time on the LID!

LId Dinner Recipes

I LOVE to cook and try new recipes, however, while on the LID, I tend to keep things simple. There are lots of other dinner recipes for the LID online, but I stuck to my three tried and true meals. We literally ate the same dinner every third night for three weeks. I’m not sure who was more sick of them me or Jacob! Hah! He was a good sport and didn’t complain. Mainly because they are actually really great meals… at least I think so!

Meal #1: Steak, Green Beans, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
I know some people (especially men) feel VERY strongly about their grills and grilling skills, however, we never cook our steaks on the grill. Four years ago, I learned how to cook the perfect steak in an iron skillet/oven and I’ll never go back! Below are the recipes for Meal #1.

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Steak– I usually buy filet mignon from our local butcher shop, Kroger, Costco or Whole Foods. You can buy another cut of steak, but when you are on the LID I think you should treat yo’ self whenever you can! Hah! Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. For all you grill lovers, don’t freak out about putting your steak in the oven. Get your iron (or other) skillet hot and pour in 1-2 tbs of olive oil. Coat your steak on all sides with non-iodized salt and pepper. Place your steak in the skillet and let it brown for approximately 4 minutes on each side. Transfer your steak to a shallow baking dish and cook in the oven for 10 minutes for medium (or longer if you prefer). Always use a meat thermometer to get your steak to the temperature of your liking.

Green Beans – I don’t really have measurements for my green beans. Brown garlic in a large sauce pan with some olive oil and then add the beans and a small amount of water. Stir to coat the beans and then cover to simmer. Check periodically until they are tender enough to cut with a fork. Salt to taste with non-iodized salt.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes– My family LOVES these! We eat them nearly weekly and my kiddos can’t get enough. The recipe below is easy to adapt to the LID by using non-iodized salt.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Meal #2: Baked Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Red Potatoes

IMG_5979I accidentally photographed this meal without the red potatoes. I had these sweet potatoes left over from the night before, but we usually ate this meal with the roasted red potatoes.

Baked Chicken – Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat a chicken breast with olive oil, non-iodized salt and pepper. Place in shallow baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Again, use your meat thermometer to make sure the center of the meat reaches 165 degrees.

Roasted Broccoli  – Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash your broccoli and cut in to florets, or just buy them already prepared. Place florets in a large mixing bowl and toss in 2-3 tbs of olive oil, 1-2 tbs of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Roast broccoli for 10-12 minutes.

Roasted Red Potatoes – Repeat steps for the roasted broccoli, except the potatoes will need to be peeled and cut into quarters and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

Meal #3: LID Safe Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

I adapted this from one of our family’s favorite dinners found here.

LID Safe Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice 2-3 chicken breasts into thin strips and place them in a greased 13×9 oven safe dish. Slice one red pepper, one green pepper and one large onion into thin strips and add them to the dish with chicken. In a small bowl mix: 2 tbs vegetable oil, 2 tbs paprika, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Pour spice mix over chicken and vegetables and mix with a large spoon to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with No Salt Tortilla chips and slices of avocado.

I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of this dish probably due to the fact that it was inhaled as soon as it came out of the oven!

I am not a doctor or a chef, so please use these recipes for your low iodine diet prep with caution. Each doctor has their own set of guidelines for the diet, so check to make sure each ingredient is safe.

Good luck and let me know if you are on the LID so I can pray for you! It’s not easy, but you CAN DO IT!

 

Low Iodine Diet Snacks and Treats

Last week, I discussed the importance of the low iodine diet for thyroid cancer patients. Although it’s of extreme importance for the treatment (I like to call it murder of cancer cells) and scans, it is not a bit fun. Due to the strict dietary rules on the LID, it’s often difficult to cook a large meal. I often prefer to snack throughout the day and after three rounds of the LID, I have a few go-to snacks and treats that I love.

I always keep a bag of almonds and raisins in the middle console of my car in case my kiddos get grumpy or I get hangry. For the LID, this snack is perfect to just replace the almonds with unsalted ones. I usually buy my unsalted ones at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but they should be available at most grocery stores. I always purchase several Lara bars and a couple of bags of unsalted Kettle chips to snack on throughout the diet as well. Of course, fresh fruits and veggie slices are always a good snack choice too. For dessert, I buy Hagaan Dazs lemon sorbet.

Popcorn is a must for me on the LID. We quit eating microwave popcorn after I was diagnosed and you should too! If you aren’t convinced read this. Not only is it bad for your health, stove top cooked popcorn tastes SO much better. My kids love to help cook it and it literally takes less than 5 minutes. The only switch I make for the LID is using non-iodine salt instead of sea salt.

LID Safe Stove Top Popcorn
1/2 Cup Popcorn (preferably white popping corn)
3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Non-iodine Salt to taste

Directions: On medium-high, heat olive oil in a medium size pot (make sure it has a lid). When you add the oil, drop 3 kernels into the oil and cover with lid. When those three kernels pop, add the 1/2 cup of kernels. Shake the pan to coat the kernels with oil and let the magic begin. After popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops, pour popcorn into a large bowl and salt to taste.

And now for my FAVORITE low iodine treat of all time. Drum roll, please…

LID safe no bake cookies!
LID Safe No Bake Cookies

Seriously, y’all they are SO good and I’m pretty proud to say I created this recipe myself. I had to hide them to keep Jacob and my babies from stealing my cookies each night. I have to admit that I made these twice a week while on the LID because they are so delicious. And if I’m being 100% honest, I usually didn’t even make them into cookies… I just poured the cookie mix from the pan into a bowl and ate them with a spoon. When you’re on the LID you just need a guilty pleasure food and these certainly fit the bill.

LID Safe No Bake Cookies
1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/4 Cup Cocoa
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla1 3/4 Cup Quick Oats

Directions
In a medium saucepan, melt the oil and peanut butter. Stir continuously. Once melted and combined, add cocoa and sugar and mix until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir. Add oats and stir until combined. Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper. Or pour into a bowl and eat with a spoon. Enjoy!

IMG_6227Here’s how I enjoyed the “cookies”!

Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe + the Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER

Most of us are in a state of  PCDDS- Post Christmas Diet Distress Syndrome. If you happen to be one of the lucky few who escaped the Christmas season with your waistline in tact, bless your heart… but I have two recipes that will have you trading your jeans in for leggings in no time!

But seriously, if you read my blog at all, you know that our family isn’t scared of butter. We eat healthy for most of our meals, but we definitely indulge in treats a couple times of week.

Baking biscuits from scratch was on my 30 in 30 list, and the weekend before Thanksgiving I decided to give it a go. I usually shy away from making recipes for the first time when serving guests, but we don’t consider our family to be a guest in our house, so I made them anyway.

I spent entirely WAY too long searching for the perfect biscuit recipe on Pinterest. What started as a search for a recipe led to looking at spring fashion, which then led to vacay research and then ended up with a search for a front door for our new house. Pinterest is a black hole, y’all. Don’t go in, you might come of out there and find out it’s three days later! Seriously, you.are.warned.

Classic Buttermilk Biscuits

Anyway, I chose a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, because it looked simple and it used the word “classic” in the title. I consider myself to be pretty classic… old, boring, not a risk taker, so this is the one I chose:

Classic Buttermilk Biscuits

They turned out perfect the very first time. And my goodness… they are delicious! I served them with an assortment of jellies, maple syrup and of course, honey butter. We didn’t have a single biscuit left!

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These were flaky, buttery, delicious morning goodness! And oh, so easy! You probably have the ingredients in your house right now. Except for buttermilk… who keeps that on hand?

Last week, I posted on Instagram that I had found THE perfect sugar cookie recipe. Several people asked me to share, so here it is:

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER

I will seriously never make another sugar cookie without using this recipe. You don’t have to chill the dough, I really did have every single ingredient in my kitchen already, they kept their shape perfectly and they are DELICIOUS! Santa said these were his favorite cookies he had ever eaten, and I know because I asked him myself!

Sugar Cookies

And here’s, my last little baking tip for the day: use parchment paper! If you don’t, I’m not sure why you don’t love yourself, but you are worth the $3 it costs to buy yourself a roll!

Happy baking, y’all!

This is How We Do It: Our Thanksgiving Menu

Luke and Lyla TammeI’m so thankful for my two little turkeys!

Thanksgiving is one  of my favorite holidays of the year… I love to cook; I love to eat; I have SO many things to be thankful for! We are among the few that don’t put up any Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. We simply don’t like to rush things and prefer to take it one holiday at a time. We also LOVE the Christmas season, and I don’t find fault in those that put their Christmas tree the day after Halloween (seriously though, who is that on top of things?), but we are traditionalists to the core and don’t want to skip over Thanksgiving.

We are having three Thanksgiving dinners this year. Yup, THREE! After this week, I may never cook again. Hah! In all seriousness, the kitchen is my happy place and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Last weekend, we had Thanksgiving with Jacob’s immediate family and his aunt and uncle from Arizona. Tomorrow, it will just be my little family of four plus a few of Jacob’s teammates that don’t have family to celebrate with. We are not having a traditional meal though, I couldn’t bring myself to cook three turkeys, so we are having steaks. I know my oven is silently thanking me! Then, on Friday, I will be hosting my family and it will be the first time in eight years that I’ve had Thanksgiving with my family. To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’m pretty much doing a repeat of last weekend’s menu for our Friday meal. Below is our menu and links to the recipes.
Enjoy!

The Tamme’s Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Turkey and Gravy
Broccoli Casserole (This is a family recipe that I can’t share)
Baked Pineapple Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Bundt Pan Stuffing
Yeast Rolls & Honey Butter
Corn Souffle Pumpkin Pie with homemade whipped cream

After typing out this menu, I realized I don’t always follow recipes. I pretty much wing it (pun intended) on the turkey and gravy, as well as the mashed potatoes. Below are some side notes about the menu above.

For our turkey, I stuff it with carrots, onions, celery, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Then, I butter underneath and on top of the skin and pop it in the oven under a foil tent. I baste it every 20-30 minutes with chicken stock and butter.
As for the mashed potatoes, ours are nothing special… potatoes, butter, milk, and salt.

To make honey butter, soften a stick of butter (not in the microwave, just let it sit on the counter) and stir in honey to taste. Place in an air tight container for storage

Y’all, please, please, please don’t put Reddi Whip on your pumpkin pie this year. If you buy that red aerosol can, your taste buds will die and Thanksgiving will be ruined. We don’t want that to happen, right? Follow the instructions below to make your own whipped cream. Your taste buds will be singing praise songs and you will save yourself from ingesting chemicals

Whipped Cream
1. Chill your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Pour 2 Cups of heavy whipping cream in bowl and whip on medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.
3. Add 1/2 Cup of sugar slowly and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until combined.
4. Use immediately and enjoy your homemade goodness!

I promise you will never buy store bought whipped cream again

I would love to hear what your go-to recipes are for Thanksgiving! Please share in the comments below!

Free Teacher Gift Printable + Maple Glazed Donut Recipe

Smart Cookie Free Teacher Gift printableOn Thursday, we met Luke’s new preschool teachers and since first impressions always count I wanted him to take them a sweet little gift. We decided to give them cookies in a jar, because who doesn’t LOVE cookies? We used Bakerella’s Cowboy Cookie recipe (we left out the nuts because he goes to a nut free school) and packaged it in a quart sized mason jar.

Smart Cookie Free Teacher Gift Printable

I created a printable that reads “I’ll be one smart cookie with you as my teacher” and attached it to the front along with some ribbon with double sided tape. I used a border from “Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists”, which is funny because all three of those things consume my life right now! The baking instructions for the cookies are also included in the file and fit perfectly on the lid. This was by total accident. I actually designed the directions to be attached to the back of the jar, but since it was a perfect fit, I attached it to the lid with double sided tape too.

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To download the Smart Cookie labels click here.

Free Smart Cookie Teacher Gift Printable

These are so easy and quick to put together and perfect for kiddos to help with as well. Luke’s job was to use a pastry tool to pack the each layer down. Of course, we had to keep remeasuring the m&m’s because my little helper kept eating them.

While the kids were playing, I snuck out to the front porch to photograph the cookie jars. About halfway through taking the pictures I looked up and saw this…

IMG_0922My girl is *never* far from her mama. At times it is tough because she wants to constantly be held, but I know that this time is short and I almost always oblige. Some say she is spoiled, but I like it that way!

IMG_2336I posted this photo on my social media accounts yesterday and got lots of questions about how these were made. I’m happy to tell you they are super easy and probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.

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I made a big mistake and bought the 5 count can of biscuits instead of 8. My jeans are thanking me, but my taste buds were pretty ticked off! Hah! Here are two of the five beauties after being dropped in the frying oil.

Easy 15-Minute Maple Bars
Recipe from Butter with a Side of Bread

  • 1 8-count can refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grand Homestyle Buttermilk biscuits)
  • 2 cups canola oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP corn syrup
  • 2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Pour 2 cups of canola oil into a medium sized saucepan and begin heating on medium-low heat (I set mine at 4.)

Open the biscuit dough and separate. Gently stretch the biscuits into an oblong shape, as opposed to the round shape they come in.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Whisk in milk and heat for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add in corn syrup and maple extract. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until smooth between additions. Add 1-2 tsp more milk if necessary. Glaze will begin to harden if you leave it sitting- which is what you want! Once all powdered sugar is added, keep maple glaze warm on the stove, whisking occasionally.

Check the temperature of the oil using a meat thermometer- it needs to read 350 degrees F. Increase heat gradually if necessary.

Once oil is ready, drop bars in 2 at a time. Let cook for about 2 minutes, then turn and cook an additional 2 minutes on the other side. This process of cooking the doughnuts goes very fast, so have a paper towel covered plate ready to set the bars on when cooked. Bars should be a nice golden brown.

Let bars cool for a few minutes, then whisk the glaze to make sure it’s smooth enough to dip each bar. Dip the bar, then immediately turn glaze side up on a cooling rack.

*We rolled two of the donuts in a cinnamon sugar mix to have a variety of donut flavors*

Repeat this process until all bars are fried and glazed.

They’re best eaten within an hour, but even the next morning they’re amazing!

IMG_2327I cannot attest to how long these stay fresh because we inhaled them with in minutes. However, we did have leftover maple icing and we used it as a dip for sliced apples… amazing!

Tamale Pie Recipe

I meant to post this recipe on Tuesday for Cinco de Mayo, and well, that didn’t happen! While we don’t really celebrate this Mexican holiday, we certainly celebrate Mexican food! It’s one of the Tamme family favorites. I made this tamale pie for our family last week and it was a hit! I had made it once before, but it was even better this go around! It’s a super easy dish to throw together and is oh, so good!

I found this recipe on Pinterest in the wee hours of the morning while I was rocking Lyla. I’m not sure what moms did before iPhones when they were up all night with their babies, but I can’t imagine not having mine! I shop, read my Bible, shop, peruse Pinterest and Instagram, shop… Anyway, this recipe is from Skinny Mom and calls for reduced fat versions of everything. We don’t really believe in low-fat items in our house (other than 2% milk, which we rarely drink), so I use full fat versions and it works just fine.

Also, if you haven’t seen how to make Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken, you should really check it out here. It’s seriously life changing! I make a batch on Sundays and it lasts us most of the week. It’s great to throw on salads, make chicken noodle soup or this tamale pie.

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Tamale Pie (from Skinny Mom)

Ingredients
12 ounces boneless chicken breast cooked and shredded (see link above)
10 oz red enchilada sauce
2 eggs
1/3 C. milk
1 can cream style corn
4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 packet of taco seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (you can omit this if you don’t like the heat)
1/2 C. shredded cheese, Mexican Blend
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine skim milk, egg whites, ½ Tbsp taco seasoning, red pepper, cream-style corn, corn muffin mix and green chilies.
  3. Stir ingredients until moist and then transfer mixture into a round pie plate coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Corn cake will be done when golden brown.
  5. While corn cake is baking, toss shredded chicken with remaining 1 Tbsp taco seasoning in a small bowl.
  6. Remove corn cake from oven and pierce generously with fork, making indentations all over corn cake.

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    Corn cake fresh from the oven. I’m always tempted just to eat this before adding the rest of the ingredients!

  7. Pour red enchilada sauce over pierced corn cake.
  8. Top enchilada sauce with chicken and sprinkle with cheese.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
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  10. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
  11. Top with fresh cilantro  before serving.IMG_8675

Don’t forget that Saturday is the last day to enter the Children’s Book Week Giveaway! We’ve had lots of entries so far and I’m so excited to see who will win! You have to get your comment in by midnight on Saturday and I will be announcing the winner on Monday, May 11th!

 

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola Bars

These granola bars became a Tamme Family favorite after searching for a granola bar that wasn’t hard as a rock and didn’t have a ton of what I call “non food” ingredients (chemicals). Now, these little scrumptious bars are not what I call healthy because they do have quite a bit of sugar in them. We usually eat them as a treat or dessert. However, I have been known to eat one for breakfast!

Last week, Jacob went on his annual golf trip that he set up five years ago with his buddies. I often joke that I get about three weeks in between being a football widow and a golf widow. In our family, football pays the bills, but golf is the main focus! I’m hoping that Luke is a golfer, NOT a football player, because I’m all about non-contact sports! I just can’t imagine my baby getting hit! Ugh! It’s hard enough to watch my husband get hit, but my little boy? It ain’t happening! Anyway, back to the granola bars. Each year I make a big batch of these granola bars for Jacob to take on the trip and they are always a hit! Last year, I got complaints from some of the guys that they were not shared evenly. So, this year I made each twosome their own box of granola bars to be fair. This year, there were no complaints… only praise! Trust me when I say – these.are.awesome.

I adapted my recipe from Rachel Ray’s. She added raisins and pretzels to hers. Why in the world would you do that when you could add chocolate and peanut butter chips? Obviously, I need to teach her a thing or two about cooking. Hah! I double her recipe because I think that it fills the 13×9 pan better and doesn’t leave you with wimpy granola bars. I realize that this is the third recipe I’ve blogged about and all three have peanut butter and chocolate in them. I promise I’ll branch out more, but peanut butter is a staple in our household and chocolate, well, I think that just speaks for itself!

Ingredients
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. honey
4 C. plain granola
2 C. rice cereal
approx. 1/4 C. mini chocolate chips
approx. 1/4 C. peanut butter chips

Directions
1. Line a 13×9 pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter (or non-stick spray). I’m a fan of real butter, so that’s what I use.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, brown sugar, and honey to a boil; stirring often. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for two minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.

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3. In a large bowl, combine the granola and rice cereal. Pour the honey mixture over the cereal mixture and stir with a spatula to evenly coat the dry ingredients.

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4. Pour the the granola mixture in to the lined 13×9 pan and press down evenly with the spatula.

5. After setting for 2-3 minutes, sprinkle as many chocolate chips and peanut butter chips as you would like on top and gently press them into the granola with the spatula.

6. Let cool for 20-30 minutes and remove the bars from the pan and cut into 16 bars.

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