Apple Oatmeal Bars

There is the slightest bit of coolness most mornings now which we call cold in California! Apple season is upon us with a huge variety starting to grace the shelves of our grocery stores. Combine apples with cooler weather and upcoming holidays means cookies! And adding oatmeal can only give you claim to them being healthy so you can permit yourself to down several along with hot tea or a cold glass of milk.

Apple Oatmeal Bars

When Fall approaches, apples are in abundance. Nothing like a spicy apple and cinnamon concoction to put the sent of holidays into the air just a bit! This is a cookie-type bar cookie with a lot of taste and goes well as a snack or dressed up for dessert.

½ cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup rolled oats
2-3 green or tart apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups total)
Juice and zest of one, small lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan (approximately 12x9x2-inches) with parchment paper or use vegetable oil spray.

Cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract, and the apples. Now stir in the rolled oats, apple mixture and nuts into the flour/butter mixture. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Cut into desired-sized bars and either sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with a lemon glaze. Goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a generous portion of freshly-whipped cream.







Thinking About Holiday Baking!

Now that the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas items have joined ranks together on the shelves at the stores, I think it is okay to start sharing cookie recipes in anticipation of the holidays. I’m on an oatmeal binge right now as they can be appropriate for any of the three aforementioned holidays. Why? Because I say so!

My husband doesn’t like coconut but, for some reason, he likes these cookies! They are easy to make and a nice contrast to all the chocolate and spice cookies that show up at Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against chocolate and spice cookies but don’t mind chomping down on an extra coconutty cookie in addition to the rest! Sometimes, I use bran flakes for the called-for crushed flake cereal in the ingredients. I’m always sneaking in extra vitamins and fiber even with treats.

Crispy Coconut Chews

½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup crushed flake cereal
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Stir in egg, extract, and lemon zest. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the butter mixture. Add the oatmeal, cereal, coconut, and walnuts. Mix gently until well combined.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet, keeping them about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake for approximately ten minutes or until cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Cool on wire racks. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies depending on size.

If you are gluten-intolerant, I have heard that King Arthur’s Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Flour blend is just that . . . measure it out according to your ‘gluten’ recipe and you should have a good result. Guess who already ordered a supply last week?

Quick Almond Toffee Bites

Sharing with you my quick and easy recipe for coming up with a last-minute gift or a hostess gift to bring to a holiday party . . . or to make for yourself and indulge.

Quick Almond Toffee Bites

1 ½ sticks butter, no substitutes
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup toasted and coarsely chopped almonds

Melt the butter and sugars together in a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Maintain the rolling boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add the nuts, bring to a rolling boil and continue for another five minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

Spread the mixture on a sheet of greased foil (heavily use Pam or any other vegetable spray.). Sprinkle with chocolate chips and spread out as they melt. Put in the refrigerator until set. Break into pieces and store in a closed container in a cool place.

Christmas Anticipation – Christmas Memories

Although new Christmas memories are to be cherished, who doesn’t have one that is the comparison of every other one they ever experience? I know the childhood years put a special glow on those memories, but I have yet to experience or replicate one I enjoyed in my youth.

As far back as I can remember, we had a set ritual for Christmas Eve. while my mother stayed home to rest up for Midnight Mass, my father would take me to visit relatives and to sing a specially learned Christmas song for the nuns at the convent. It was always a very anxious evening for me because when we got back home, the Christ Child would have already been there and we would have Christmas! In our family, the Baby Jesus brought the Christmas surprises.

I could never, however, understand my parents. Why would anyone want to leave the house when this momentous event was taking place. I wanted to sneak a peek at the Christ Child. I figured if we stayed home, maybe the festivities would get an early start. We could have more time before Midnight Mass! My mother, for some reason, was very adamant about getting us out of the house for most of the evening. No matter how I approached my father about the matter, he persisted in supporting my mother in this yearly folly.

I thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas Eve visit to my Great Aunt and Uncle. They had treats, candy and gifts for us to take home. There were exceedingly kind but the visit seemed to drag. The grown ups were very placid about it all and my anguished eye contact and gestures of ‘let’s go now!’ to my father, only received gentle smiles.

The nuns at the convent always welcomed our arrival. They exclaimed over the cookies we brought and seemingly spent hours rounding up the other nuns to listen to my carefully memorized Christmas hymns. I sang carefully but swiftly and was chagrined when the nuns asked for more than one encore.

I needed no coaxing to pile back into the car for the return trip home Our tour of duty was worth it, however, and the hours spent in anticipation of Christmas were forgotten the minute we pulled into the driveway and saw the candle-lit tree shining through the window. I were suddenly shy because the Christ Child had once again been there for us!

When we entered the house, I usually discovered my mother just exiting from the bathroom where she said she had been most of the two hours we had been gone. She was always as surprised as I was to see the transformed living room. She, too, was a bit sorry not to have caught the Christ Child in action. She did say that once she thought she had heard an angel giggle. If only she had not been in the tub, she often exclaimed, she would have checked this out.

When I was eight years old, my father was serving a year-long tour of duty in Morocco. It was the first year our family would not have the holiday together. Having reached the mature age of eight, I was starting to have a few suspicions about Christmas Eve, especially my parents involvement. I was curious to see how my mother would pull off this holiday without an accomplice.

Christmas Eve my mother took me on the usual round of visits. She seemed very calm and not the least anxious. Our last visit was to friends and we spent an enjoyable hour there. I played with their children and talked excitedly about Christmas expectations. Soon my mother appeared at their bedroom door and said it was time to head home.

As we pulled into the driveway, I peeked out the car window and there was the Christmas tree sparkling through the curtains. The presents were there, the candles were lit and I truly believed in it all for a few more years. There was no explanation for our miraculous Christmas Eve.

Years later, my mother became unable to care for herself and I had to find alternative care for her. In cleaning out her home, I came across a treasure—all the letters she had sent to my father when he was stationed in Morocco. I found out how she coped on her own that long year and I found out how she managed that special Christmas Eve.

My discovery didn’t mar my memories in the least. Instead of a bit of magic it was a gift of a childhood miracle. I can’t remember what I received in the way of material presents that year. I do remember the warmth I felt and still feel in the glow of the candle light my mother provided for me.

Barbara Barthelette