I usually record Ellie Krieger on the Food Network as I never seem to be home when her show airs. Ellie is the anti-Paula and Ina, a registered dietitian who cooks healthy meals and menus, so I look to her when I want something good to eat but good for me too. What I like about her is that she appreciates great tasting food and gives ideas for swapping out ingredients to get maximum flavor with the most health benefits and the least calories. She does this without being too anal or crazy about it; for example she'll tell you when you are better off using low-fat or when a bit of full-fat is best or where you can work in non-fat ingredients and not sacrifice quality or taste.
A couple of Saturdays ago, she made some Crispy Rice Treats (think healthy Rice Krispy Treats) out of brown rice cereal and a few simple ingredients. I thought they looked good and decided to try them. (You can find a nice printable recipe here at the Food Network site).
Crispy Rice Treats
by Ellie Krieger, Food Network Television
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural chunky-style peanut butter
6 cups crispy brown rice cereal
2/3 cup chopped dried cherries (3 ounces)
Combine honey and peanut butter in a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Add brown rice cereal and cherries and stir to combine until mixture is sticky.
Press into a 9 by 13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let cool, then chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into 15 (2 1/2 by 3-inch) squares.
I ended up having to make this recipe twice (hanging head in shame) the first time I made it I would have sworn I had a nice plastic bottle of liquid honey but I guess I didn't. I used one of two honeys I had in the house--a great local honey in a jar that was thicker and not as gooey. Big mistake! You need your everyday, pourable honey for this one. My treats looked delicious until I tried to cut them and they promptly crumbled. I would CAREFULLY cut a square and VERY CAREFULLY transfer it to a serving plate and an end would break off, so I would turn the plate to take a picture and all of a sudden another chunk would fall off, and then another. I slowly worked my way through the entire batch. Did you ever see the movie The Fly (the 1986 Jeff Goldblum version) where the scientist, Seth Brundle tries to teleport himself, gets merged with a house fly and become "Brundlefly" and then pieces of him keep falling off? These crispy rice treats reminded me of that--they were my "Brundlefly". (So now you have that visual in your head--sorry but that is what I thought of!) Since they were not usable at all as square treats, were already pretty crumbled up and I hated to waste them because the flavor was still good, I "repurposed" them (one of my favorite HGTV decorating show words!) into a bag of crunchy topping for yogurt and ice cream.
On to round two... I bought more cereal and regular honey and tried them again and this time sweet success! On the show, Ellie had mentioned that you could throw some chocolate in them so I did along with the cherries which is why they look a bit dark from the melted chocolate. They were so easy--just a couple of minutes melting the honey and peanut butter together and then mixing them up and pressing them in the pan, throwing it in the fridge and that's it! I took them to work where they were very popular--even more than Monday's muffins. I will make these again and will try other flavor combos for fun like dried apricots and ginger, dried blueberries, dried apples and cinnamon, etc.