Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

Raspberry Oatmeal BarsBelly Up To The Bar
I am probably the least OCD person you could meet…and all you have to do is look at my office for proof. I am very much a visual learner. So, if I can’t see it, I forget about it. This means I have stacks of important stuff in various piles on my desk. I also have some similar stacks at home. It drives my very tidy husband bananas. If there is one area where I am a bit compulsive though, it would be school lunches.

I make my kids lunch every morning because the thought of them buying what passes for lunch at school makes me cringe. The good news is they would prefer to not buy their lunch. So, that battle is avoided. I have a strict formula. And, if I run out of one of the components, and am forced to send them without it, I develop a tick. I got issues, man.

The formula goes something like this:
There will always be a main component in either the form of a protein-filled sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner. (My daughter is the queen of leftovers.) There will always be a bottle of water and fresh fruit. A snack item is essential in the form of some pretzels, crackers or maybe some nuts. And, last but not least, lunch must always have a little something sweet at the end.

That last component serves two purposes. First, it’s a nice to get a little treat during the day. And second, I can use it as an excuse to randomly make yummy things. Why, as a mature adult, would I need an excuse you may ask? Because I can enjoy the occasional cookie—but my husband has no self-control. When it comes to home-baked goodness, he will eat them by the dozen. If I tell him that they are for lunches though, he is able to stifle his inner cookie monster. (Most of the time…sometimes I gotta sacrifice a handful to the cookie gods because, and I quote, “he is concerned that I may be poisoning the children and would sacrifice himself for their health and welfare”. Way to take one for the team, babe.)

I made these Raspberry Oatmeal Bars over the weekend “to put in the kid’s lunches”. The flavors really remind me of fall. The brightness of the raspberry jam will make you smile and I think we could all use a few more smiles these days…

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Makes 16 to 24 bars (depending on how you cut them)

2 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Two 10 to 12-ounce jars raspberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan.

Strain raspberry preserves through a sieve to remove the seeds.
You should be left with approximately 1-1/2 to 2 cups of seedless preserves.

Place the butter, flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined.

Press half the oat mixture into the prepared pan.

Gently spread 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the strained preserves on top of the oat mixture. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly.

Bake until light brown (about 30 to 40 minutes). Start checking after 30 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake the bars.

Let cool completely in the pan, and then cut into squares.

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