Oatmeal Cookie Bars

I bake with oatmeal quite a bit. Chiefly because it’s cheap and lasts a long time in the pantry though also for it’s health benefits. During our baby years while there were infants to nurse, I’d eat plenty of oats everyday to help boost my milk supply. Now, I like to feed oatmeal to my kids in their snacks.

This recipe is one I make frequently because it’s quick to throw together and my husband in particular loves it. I adapted itIMG_0359_1 from a Holly Clegg recipe for low fat Oatmeal Cookies, making changes for convenience and our own personal taste preferences. This cookie bar has a creamy, chewy center and crispy exterior. It’s great for dipping in milk or to eat crumbled over ice cream. We also have them as a quick breakfast bar on the go or for a filling snack. I make a batch of these for my family every weekend to keep on hand for the school/work week. To change things up or for a special occasion I’ll add chocolate chips. This can also be made into a birthday cookie by baking into a pizza pan prepared with nonstick baking spray.

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 C oil (I prefer canola, use what you like)
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 or 4 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C all purpose flour (or 1 1/2 C whole wheat & 1 1/2 C AP flour)
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned or quick cooking oatmeal

Method

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a jelly roll pan with parchment paper overlapping the sides. You could also just spray the pan with baking spray but parchment allows for easy removal once the bars are cooked and cooled as well as much easier clean up when it’s time to do those dishes.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In your mixing bowl combine the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir until dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Stir in the oats.

Drop by heaping spatula or spoonfuls onto your prepared baking pan, dispersing evenly. This dough is a bit thick & sticky so rather than dropping the whole bowlful into the middle it helps to drop in little bits all over the pan and work the blobs together as evenly as possible. Once you’ve got the cookie dough spread across the pan place into the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Once baked remove to a cooling rack and cool in the pan. If baking with parchment, allow the bars to set a few minutes then you can pull them out by grasping the paper and remove to the cooling rack. Otherwise allow to cool in pan. Once cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

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Homemade Fabric Softener!

I’ll admit to being a laundry nerd. Removing tough stains gives me joy and a sense of accomplishment. Caring for my family’s clothing allows it to last as long as possible while ensuring they’re clean and presentable and I find that strangely fulfilling. I’ve even been known to wash other people’s clothes (coats, blankies, kids car seat covers…) when they come to my house because I have have uptight perfectionist issues. It drives me nuts when my husband does a load because he doesn’t do it the way I would. I have to bite my tongue and thank him for his help though I’m dying to just rewash it all. What can I say? I’m a weirdo.

Perhaps the isolation of being a stay at home mom has made me a bit odd and I don’t have much else to keep me busy other than housework. At any rate, laundry is my thing. Also vacuuming- I look forward to getting our carpets clean and fluffy each day. Ah, the thrilling life of the homemaker! Anyhoo…

I’ve been using plain white vinegar as a fabric softener for the past 5 years and can vouch for the fact that it does work. It’s undoubtedly better than using nothing at all, which we did for several months before discovering the vinegar trick. White vinegar is cheap and eliminates static cling as well as build-up in your washer, but it isn’t the same as having luxuriously soft garments and towels like you’d get from Downy or Snuggle.

When I found that there were other alternatives to buying traditional fabric softener I had to try them out. Since this recipe (originally found on Wikihow) has been a success I’m excited to share it with you. This is a cheap and effective alternative to store bought softeners.

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Ingredients

  • 6 Cups (1500 ml) hot water
  • 3 Cups (750 ml) white vinegar
  • 2 Cups (500 ml) hair conditioner

method

In a large pitcher, combine the hot water and conditioner then mix until smooth. I like to use a whisk for this step. Once the conditioner is completely mixed in, add the white vinegar and stir to combine. Transfer to your container (I reuse old vinegar bottles for this) and allow to cool completely before use. I like to let it sit overnight. Measure out 1/4 to 1/2 C of softener for each load of laundry. Administer as you would any other fabric softener, either via Downy ball, by adding before the rinse cycle or placing in your machine’s built-in dispenser. This amount makes about 3/4 of a gallon or 44 loads at a 1/4 cup each.

Your own cost will vary but here is what I spent:

  • 2 gal. of white vinegar for $4.83 (2 gal. makes 10 batches at about 48 cents a piece)
  • 2 12 oz. bottles of hair conditioner at 88 cents each (I used 1 and a half for this recipe, so we’ll say $1.32)

Total for about 88 oz. or 44 loads = $1.80

For the sake of comparison, in the first quarter of 2015, a 50 oz bottle of Snuggle costs about $4 and a 96 oz. bottle is about $7.