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Everyone needs a go-to cookie recipe and this is mine.  I have made it more times than I can remember for snacks, parties, camping trips, gift bags, potlucks, you name it.  They are my favorite!  Adapt it to what you have on hand by adding nuts (walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, etc.) or leaving them out.  The chocolate chips can be replaced with peanut butter chips or white chocolate, but do not dare leave those out!

Mix up the dough, then chill it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them (at least two hours).  You can also freeze the dough if you want to make it in advance.  Portion out the dough before freezing to make it easier to use.  The cookies bake up slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  They are great straight from the oven,  as well as days later.  There is never a shortage of taste testers!

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Oatmeal Jam Bars

April 22, 2011

With Easter around the corner, the house is a buzz with preparations for the Easter bunny.  The chickens are busy laying eggs, the kids are dying them and collecting greens from the garden to leave for a bunny snack.  As the Easter bunny’s executive assistant, I have collected some items for the bunny to present the children.  We  (the grown-ups at least) are not big on candy in our house (especially when the kids would presumably start eating it upon rising and discovering their baskets.)

So this year, there are books, stickers, and as a compromise, a small cache of jelly beans.  I wanted there to be something special as well, something beautiful, exciting, sweet, but not so over the top that I would cringe as my kids ripped into them at 7 am.  Ah ha!  This year the Easter Bunny takes up baking!

Strolling through the supermarket aisles, I found a large cookie cutter in the shape of an egg.  Inspired, I sought out a recipe for an oat bar which I would top with jam to create a colorful egg-shaped cookie bar.  After an extensive search, I settled on a recipe for Raspberry Breakfast Bars from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  Since my pantry is still full of jam, I adapted the recipe to skip the raspberry filling (though it looks quite good and I may revisit it in raspberry season) and use my homemade jam instead.  I also added coconut flakes to the crust, just because I am on a coconut kick right now.
The real trick here was to figure out a way to make sure the jam would show through.  The original recipe calls for the crumb topping to cover the entire bar, but I wanted colorful polka dots of jam.  To accomplish this, I  tried multiple methods and settled on dotting the top of the crust with jam.  Once cool, I cut them into egg shapes and bagged them individually for the Easter bunny to present.  Mmmm, the smell of these bars is out of control.

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Whoever invented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was a genius.  What other meal takes only minutes to prepare, but is incredibly nutritious, and with any luck will inspire cheers from the happy and hungry youngsters (or more mature eaters) ready to devour their sandwich?   This sandwich has saved the day millions of times for mothers and fathers around the world, myself included.

As with any meal, the quality of the product is dependent on the quality of the ingredients with which you start.   In our house, PB & J stands for peanut butter and jam since the pantry is generally loaded with various homemade jams and very little jelly.  Our favorite is berry jam, either blackberry (as pictured above), ollalie berry, or raspberry.  The next layer is organic, natural peanut butter (surprisingly enough Costco makes a great one), and of course the bread.

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread is my go-to slicing bread.  In the summer when my kids and I hide from the world (and the grocery stores) in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this is the bread that feeds us between the weekly trips to town for provisions.  It is very easy to put together and turns out beautifully every time. The bread is slightly sweet from the maple syrup which makes it perfect for peanut butter and jam sandwiches or even grilled cheese.  The bread also toasts beautifully, so in the off-chance you have leftovers the next morning, it will taste great toasted and slathered in butter and jam or honey.

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

makes 1 loaf (enough for 6 sandwiches)

adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 egg

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon  salt

Mix warm water with yeast.  Allow to sit 5 minutes while the yeast dissolves.  Pour yeast mixture into a mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour.  Mix until dough ball forms, then knead on a lightly floured board until dough in stretchy and supple.  Add some of the reserved flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough is soft, but not sticky.

Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with a plate or plastic wrap.  Let rise 1 1/2 hours in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured board.  Press into a  8-inch square.  Roll the square into a log.  Place log seam side down in a buttered 8 x 5 x 3 inch bread pan.  Let rise 45 minutes until 1 1/2 inches higher than pan. (see picture)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 30-40 minutes until center registers 180 degrees.  Cool 15 minutes, turn out on rack.  Bread will slice most easily if you allow it to cool completely.

Here is a printer friendly version of the recipe:

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

You may also like:

Weeknight No-Knead Bread


Cardamom Bread

Beer Bread

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