Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Go to" desserts - Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

If you're like me, you enjoy having a few (or possibly more) "go to" recipes that are both crowd pleasers and can be put together rather easily. If you have a recipe that will work for a larger crowd, that's even better. 
Over the past few years, this recipe has become one of my stand by or "go to" desserts for a number of different potluck events. This is, in part, because these peanut butter oatmeal bars are really quite easy to prepare. They also tend to be very well received, meaning that I won't end up with a lot of leftovers.
Peanuts and products containing peanuts can get a bit of a bad rap because of food allergies, however, peanuts actually are very nutritious. Here's a little background on the history of peanuts and peanut butter.
Although peanuts are often eaten as nuts, they actually are a legume, similar to beans and peas. As you can see from the picture to the right, the pods containing the peanuts actually grow underground. Peanuts are believed to have been first cultivated in Bolivia, and the origins of peanut butter can be traced back to the Aztecs. 
The patent for peanut butter in the United States was issued in 1884 to a Canadian named Marcellus Gilmore Edson. Edson's patent described his process for milling peanuts into a paste and adding sugar. His idea was to create a staple food for people who were unable to chew solid food. His product initially sold for six cents per pound.
Here's how to make peanut butter oatmeal bars. This recipe will fit a sheet cake pan.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
Ingredients and instructions:

Cream together the following: 
1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Mix in:
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup peanut butter (you can use either smooth or chunky - most of the time the type I use is dictated by what is available in the pantry)
1 tsp vanilla

Stir in: 
2 C flour
2 C oats
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda

Spread on greased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. When adequately baked, the "bar cookie" will be pulling away from the sides of the pan, and the top will spring back when lightly touched.
Remove the pan from the oven, and sprinkle a 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the top. 
Once the chocolate chips have softened, spread them over the top of the bar cookie. Allow to cool completely.
Prepare peanut butter frosting by combining: 
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (again, you really can use either smooth or chunky)
6-8 tbsp milk
Spread the frosting over the chocolate, and cut into bars.

On occasion, I have been known to have a peanut butter oatmeal bar for breakfast. After all, oats are very healthy for you and peanut butter is a great source of protein. That makes them pretty much the same thing as a granola bar, right?