whole-grain fruit bars

Wow, it’s been a long time.  Way back to August, right after school started.  What happened to September and October?  That’s a very good question.  I’m not sure about September, but October was fondly dubbed “The Month of Lisa,” by my family.  It was my birthday month.  A BIG birthday month, and my peeps surprised me with a long weekend in southern Utah in St. George and Zion National Park.  My oldest niece lives in Utah and she drove down to spend the weekend with us.  So grateful for her and for my husband and daughter.  They made it a really fun birthday.

If that wasn’t enough, I took a week and headed back to our house in Michigan…by myself!  It was a week of work, for the most part, gardening, doing some weatherizing projects before closing up the house for winter, and knocking around with some great friends enjoying the fall color, good food, wine, etc.  It finally culminated in a birthday celebration I shared with the son of some friends of ours who shares the same birthday.  He was game to do a combined party, so they came for dinner, cake, ice cream, and a quiet evening where he turned 10, and I turned…well…let’s just say it was a BIG birthday.

So, before I head off to the post office to mail my AARP membership application (ha ha), I thought I’d at least share a recipe.  These are really delicious fruit bars, perfect for lunch snacks, after school treats, or with a cup of coffee in the morning.  Unlike my last attempt at a granola-type bar (which I ended up using as crushed granola over yogurt), they held together really well.  They’re still flaky because of the crumble crust (and I probably could have pressed the top layer a little more firmly), but didn’t fall apart when eaten.

They’re not too sweet and I used Smucker’s Simply Fruit fruit spread, which has no added sugar, unlike typical preserves or jam.  Whole wheat flour and whole rolled oats keep them in the realm of “minimally processed.”  Will definitely make these again.  Enjoy!!

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Whole Grain Fruit Bars (recipe courtesy Two Peas And Their Pod)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c cold, unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp ice-cold water
  • 3/4 c fruit preserves or jam (your choice, I used strawberry)
  • 9×13 baking pan
  • parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine first four ingredients (in food processor or mixing bowl) and mix well, making sure brown sugar doesn’t have any lumps. (If using food processor, pulse for about 30 seconds.
  3. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in cold, unsalted butter and ice-cold water until dough just holds together.
  4. Line 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Dividing dough in about half, press half firmly into bottom of pan.
  5. Spread jam or fruit preserves evenly over pressed dough.
  6. Sprinkle remaining dough over top of jam, pressing down very gently.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool completely before cutting.

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four fruit oatmeal crumble bars

I haven’t baked for a while, in some small part because 2/3 of the house has been down with the creeping crud.  I generally prefer not to hack and cough all over my goodies even if they’re going to bake at 350° for 40 minutes.  Yeah, that’s just gross!  So I’ve been out of the kitchen for a couple of weeks.  Good man that he is, hubs has been picking up the slack at meal time, but he’s not about to photograph it – even though last night he put together an amazingly good Shrimp Scampi….garlic heaven, people.  Garlic. Heaven!!!

Of course, this mandatory time off has forced allowed me to spend an awful lot of time perusing recipes on the interwebs.  That’s what laptops and iPads are for, right?  Just because you feel like death-warmed-over doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make yourself feel better by indulging in some foodie fantasy.  I might not have been capable of much else, but I could prop myself up on my pillow and imagine what I’d cook/bake if I ever stopped feeling like death-warmed-over.

This recipe caught my eye because it was so easy and so adaptable.  The original recipe calls for strawberry preserves, but a four fruit preserve made up of  cherries, strawberries, red currants, and raspberries sounded particularly delicious when I was picking up some other ingredients at the grocery store.  If you’re moved by a certain fruit preserve, have at it.  If I can find some pear preserves, that has the makings of a good combination, as well.

These fruit crumble bars are easy to assemble and make great school or after-school snacks for the kids, too.  Enjoy!!

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Strawberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars (recipe courtesy The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 stick cold butter, unsalted, cut into pieces
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup Oats (quick or regular)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar (10 To 12 Ounce) strawberry preserves (or the preserve of your choice)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 or 8 x 10 baking dish.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it a little tight. Spoon strawberry preserves evenly over the surface, then use a dinner knife to carefully spread it around. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly again.

Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan.

When cool, cut into squares and serve.

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Baker’s Notes:  I used regular rolled oats in the recipe.  The original recipe did mention slight differences in texture based on whether you use regular or quick cooking oats.  The regular rolled oats result in a crisper bottom crust and more crunchiness.  I think the quick cooking oats would result in a softer, chewier cookie.  Again, like the preserves, it’s all personal preference.