How about a little Hippie Chow in the ol' stocking?

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Looking for a hand-made, all-natural stocking stuffer?
  • Looking for a hand-made, all-natural stocking stuffer?
The season to be jolly is here, so Fat City is looking around for

holiday gift ideas, preferably the kind that can be eaten (or used to

make something that can be devoured).

In three weeks, local entrepreneur Valerie Jennings will be getting an unusual, belated holiday gift. She'll officially leave her full-time job dealing with defaulted commercial mortgage loans to focus exclusively on the culinary business she started a year ago: Hippie Chow, a hand-made, all-natural granola.

"Hippie Chow is demanding a lot more attention from me now," says Jennings, who started selling the product last May at the Overland Park Farmers Market.

Hippie Chow began its existence in the summer of 2009 as a gift idea. Jennings was concerned about the highly processed, commercially manufactured snack product -- a savory concoction made with squares of cereal -- that her boyfriend, Joe Parrish, was taking to work every morning.

"One day I read the list of ingredients on the box," Jennings says, "and I was stunned by the amount of salt and sugar, not to mention ingredients that I couldn't even pronounce. I told Joe that I could make something better than that."

Jennings had never made granola before, but she did some research on what were the common ingredients in granola -- and, for the next six months, began a series of trial-and-error recipes, creating different batches for Joe to take to work.

"He came home with some good positive feedback," Jennings says. "And he shared the granola with his co-workers, and they provided feedback, too. It was about this time that I thought I could actually market this product and started thinking of names. I found out that Hippie Chow wasn't being used as a name for granola or anything else. And it just seemed a perfect fit for this creation."

After introducing her product at the Overland Park Farmers Market, Jennings began distributing it to local stores: Dean & DeLuca, Foo's Frozen Custard in Leawood, five Cosentino's Markets and eight Kansas Sampler locations. In September, Jennings added two new flavors to her granola line-up, including a peanut butter version -- which is becoming a top seller -- and chocolate.

She's planning to introduce more new flavors in 2011, including seasonal offerings. The granola makes a great holiday gift, says Jennings, because it can be eaten as a breakfast cereal, as a snack, as an ingredient in pancake batter or in dough for crunchy cookies. Her favorite cookie recipe using Hippie Chow granola follows:

Granola and White Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon brandy
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups original mix Hippie Chow granola
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar until smooth. Combine the flour and baking soda. Stir into sugar mixture. Mix in the granola and white chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. For best results, take cookies out of the oven while they are still doughy. Allow the cookies to cool for one minute on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.




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