Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cranberry Ginger Oatmeal Bars

Ho ho ho!  Merry Hakwanza everybody.  The holiday season is upon us whether we're ready or not.

Apart from all of the decorations and lights and road-raged parking lots that give us such cheer every year, the holiday season also means many festive parties to attend.  Although it certainly is a time to gather with family and friends, it's also a time to brainstorm what to bring to the party when you're a guest.  This causes a problem for some.  What to contribute?  We tend to lean towards wine or some sort of booze as a go-to, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.  But I think it's time to broaden our horizons.

Sure, we all love a good drink, but food is an equally important part of a good shin-dig.  That's why I look to homemade baked goods when I can.  It shows you went the extra mile - spending the time to take on a recipe and bake it - and it adds a sweet finish to the party that you know everyone is looking for, even when they wont admit it.  We need something to accompany that mug of holiday-mix-of-liquors-from-the-punch-bowl, am I right?

These oatmeal bars are not only tasty, but they trump cookies in difficulty level too.  You mix a batter, spread it in a pan, and put it in the oven until they're done.  No dropping spoonfuls on baking sheets, waiting for 12 minute intervals near the oven, having to use all of the pans in your kitchen.  Once cooled you simply cut them into bars, and you instantly have individual portions of the tasty treat.  I will give you fair warning though; I wouldn't count on each person to eat just one, so plan accordingly.

Cranberry Ginger Oatmeal Bars

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup craisins
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place rack in middle position.  

-  Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

-  Beat butter and sugars together in a large bowl until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix in.

- Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture with the machine on low and mix until just combined.  Stir in the oats, craisins, and chopped ginger.  

- Spread batter in an ungreased 9x13" pan.  Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Let completely cool on a wire rack and cut into bars.