Chewy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars with Buttery Chocolate Frosting

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“What WERE those things?” my friend Ingrid asked.  “They were aaaamzing.”

What those “things” were is my new favorite super easy “cookie”  recipe that is impossible to resist.  These chewy, peanutty bars with soft butter chocolate frosting have everything going for them:

First, you probably have the ingredients for them on hand right now.

Secondly, they have fiber and protein to help slow down the absorption of sugar, so  you and your kids or guests can enjoy an indulgent treat with less of a sugar rush.  (I confess to have eaten a couple of them with an ice cold glass of milk and happily called it breakfast.)

They only take about 5 minutes to mix, just 18 to 20 minutes to bake. Cool to the touch, frost, cut and serve a bunch.  This makes them the perfect dessert to bake for last-minute guests, to satisfy a gotta-have-it-now craving for a sweet treat, or make n’ take to a potluck or bake sale.

Making a pan of bar cookies is so much faster and easier than baking cookies… and, I’ve not yet met a cookie I like as well as these peanuty chocolate babies.  Be sure to save the link to this recipe because I think you’ll use it again and again.

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Chewy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Frosting
(24 to 30 bars depending on what size you’d like them to be)
1/2 c. butter (or 1/4 c. coconut oil and 1/4 c. butter)
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c.  sugar (I use organic)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour  (or 3/4 c. flour plus 1/4 c. hemp seeds or ground flax  or wheat germ)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts, course chopped (I actually like them in whole or halved)
Directions:
Beat butter and peanut butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and brown sugar, beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir together flour (Or flour and seed mixture) baking soda and salt, add to beaten mixture and beat until blended, stir in oats and peanutss. Spread mixture into 9″x13″ pan.
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Bake in 350 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let it cool, then frost with the following:
Buttery Chocolate Frosting
1/4 cup softened butter
2 T. Hershey’s Cocoa
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 to 4 T. milk
Cream butter with cocoa.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla and 1 T. of milk.   Mix, adding 1 T of milk at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy and easily spreadable.  Pour over bars, spread evenly to edges.  Cut bars in squares and serve.
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Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (made with Pancake Mix)

(Becky, the Mama.)

This is our second week of condo living in regions of the U.S. where the sun is shining, the grass is green, the birds are singing and this week, in Oceanside, California, the ocean is waving.   


The sentence (and scene) above is brought to you by our much younger selves, when we each bought Time Share, never dreaming that someday we’d end up married to each another, with four vacation weeks to use up, per year, between us.  (And it is a use it or lose it proposition. So what can we do but go play?)

Neither of us would say that Time Shares are great financial investments; but man oh man, they have been AWESOME investments in terms of fun, extended get-aways  for our marriage. We’re both blessed with jobs we can do anywhere, as long as we have laptops and cell phones.

Some ways that we save money and also get business done while we’re away:

1) We drive instead of flying whenever possible, getting crazy good deals on hotels using Hotwire.com or Priceline.com.  I stock up on books on tape from the library (Greg listens with earphones while driving),  and we have wifi – via his cell phone– and a plug for my lap top (goes in the cigarette lighter)  in the car, creating a roving office-on-wheels. I get some of my best writing done on the road, my feet up on the dash, computer on lap, pillow behind my head. Greg also sees clients everywhere we go.

2) We always look for places to stay that have a full kitchen, bringing along a couple of boxes of kitchen essentials so that I can cook “on location” rather than eating out.

For whatever reason, cooking is an enormous treat for me, and especially when on vacation. I like the challenge of creating good meals from whatever supplies I bring, plus fresh local meats and produce.

It has been a long time since I’ve baked something sweet, at home or “abroad,” but today  after a nice long walk through an artsy Farmer’s Market with Greg, I began thinking that a warm coffee cake with a crunchy, buttery, cinnamon topping sure sounded good. 

Coffee cakes are one of my favorite treats to make because they typically aren’t overly sweet, they whip up and cook quickly, and it makes its own topping while baking.  If you have a good basic recipe, you can swing it a dozen ways!   Add blueberries or chopped apples, a variety of nuts, a little citrus zest, or even chocolate chips and you can dress up a basic cake anyway you want to go.  The added bonus: you get to eat cake for breakfast.  What’s not to love?

I didn’t bring baking powder or soda with me, however (a HA!) I brought some pancake mix.  Sure enough, I sleuthed up a recipe online for coffee cake made with pancake mix that got some lovely reviews.  I used it as a starting point, played with it a bit, and within 30 minutes… from stir to cut and serve…I was eating a fluffy, moist, perfectly balanced coffee cake.  So good, this will be my Go-To Coffee Cake Recipe from now on.  This recipe makes a small cake (perfect for a couple),  so I plan to double the recipe when I get home and make this for our big family next week, arriving for what we call “Thanksgiving Camp.”

Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (with Pancake Mix)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 c. pancake mix, any kind (I want to try Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancake mix! Vegans use an egg & dairy-free mix)

1/3 c. sugar

1 egg  (vegans can use fave egg substitute)

1/3 c. almond milk (or any kind of milk you like)

¼ c. butter, melted  (I used ½ olive oil, ½ butter, Or use your favorite vegan butter.)

Topping:

2 T. softened butter (or vegan butter)

¼ c. brown sugar

2 T. pancake mix (or flour)

2 T. oatmeal (or mixture of oatmeal, hemp seeds, chia seeds)

1/3 c. chopped pecans (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts)
Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl whisk pancake mix and sugar together.  Add egg, milk, butter and stir until smooth.

Butter a small pan, such as a round cake pan.  (I found a small broiler pan in the condo that worked well. It’s smaller than it looks in the pictures, only about 8 by 10 inches. )

Mix topping in another small bowl and crumble on top of batter.  

Bake for 20 minutes.  It will look a bit like the surface of a crater, but with each “dent” there’s the yumminess of melted butter and cinnamon going through the cake. Sooo delicious.  Serve warm and crumbly!!  (Or if I serve it later, I’ll zap a piece for just a few seconds in microwave.)

 This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The title: Quick Buttery Coffee Cake
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook