Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

One morning when I was little, I awoke with hives from an allergic reaction. This occurred right before a trip to the dentist to get several molars pulled. I desperately wanted to jump out of the chair in the dental office in order to scratch my skin, but instead I got injected with novocaine, temporarily blind-siding me from my intense itch. My binge drink the day before of ten boxes of Minute Maid Very Berry juice, which contained raspberry juice, was the only potential culprit of my allergy. To this day, I enjoy raspberries but in moderation.

Now, let’s focus in on these babies: Raspberry Oatmeal Bars. They remind me of Nutri-Grain bars, which subsequently reminds me of recess in elementary school. These are twenty times more delicious than the processed bars. Use the best raspberry (or apricot, strawberry, etc.) preserves you can find. The seedless type is the best, but ultimately you can use any preserves, so long as it tastes good when you swipe a spoonful out of the jar. The only change I would make to these bars would be to prepare more dry, oatmeal mixture to crumble on top. But, I can’t complain: these were out-of-this-world amazing.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup canola oil

3 tbs water

1 10oz. jar raspberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman”brand which worked out tremendously)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8″x12″ pan.

Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in large bowl until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Pour oil and water over oats and mix with fingers or spatula until evenly moistened. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture for topping. Press remainder in pan. Spread preserves on top. Sprinkle remaining oats on top. 

Bake until golden 30-40 minutes. 

A Long Run, and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Coming home from Mexico, with only four weeks until the Boston Marathon, I vowed to eat more protein, vegetables, and whole grains. I was doing a tremendous job, eating hard-boiled eggs, hummus, vegetable-filled sandwiches, and Greek yogurt. What loomed over my head all week was my 21 mile training run. I carbo-loaded on Thursday night, eating bowls of cereal instead of my vegetables (I know how my digestive system would act if I ate my traditional vegetables and legumes right before running 21 miles). Then, I ran and ran and ran and ran. Until my legs felt like goop, my sweat caked to my forehead, and my  body felt arthritic. Success!

I counteracted this extreme exercise with an extreme dessert, as a gift to my friend who vigilantly held water for me during the run.  My friends gathered around the pan of gooey, crunchy, sweet and salty masterpiece. The pretzels take this cookie bar over the top.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz. bag peanut butter chips

1 1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, chopped.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Fold in half a bag of chocolate chips, half a bag of peanut butter chips, and chopped pretzels. Spread batter in pan, press down. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. While still hot, sprinkle bars with additional chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, as well as pretzels. Place in oven for a minute so that chocolate and peanut butter melt. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Many times when I was little, I would try baking cookies on my own and forget and/or mix up ingredients. Take for example the time I filmed my friend and I making chocolate chip cookies, as if we were on a cooking show. We left out the vanilla extract. There’s the time I put in baking soda rather than powder in a recipe. And then there’s the big “no-no” of melting butter in cookie recipes.

Using stiff butter is the proper way to make cookie dough, regardless of how difficult it is to cream. One of those $200 pink KitchenAid stand mixers is what I lust after. Unfortunately, as a college student, I don’t have a stand mixer or even a hand mixer, nor are my arms and willpower strong enough to cream butter and sugar by hand. This is when cookie bars come into the picture.

Like brownies, bar cookies typically involve (cooled) melted butter, whether in the microwave or on the stovetop, in order to add consistency to the batter. The recipe I used to make these devilishly good Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars is essentially a cookie recipe, but suitable to be baked in one flat sheet. I avoided an arm workout and got to enjoy the taste of chocolate chip cookies. As if the mention of not having to cream butter is enough, let me reiterate how simple this recipe is. If you need a dessert in a flash, this is it. I used a good brand of chocolate chips, which I recommend for taking these bars up a notch.You of course could add nuts, other kinds of chocolate, or even dried fruit.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.

Mix butter with sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.