July 21, 2009

Apricot bars!!

Picky has finally discovered dried apricots! I've been trying to get her to taste one for awhile, but it finally took eating a cookie with daddy that had pureed dried apricots for her to decide that she liked them. (go figures it was a cookie - oh well!) And I was surprised when she then decided she could eat them plain! Of course, this gives me reason to make this apricot bar recipe (which I love). I've made it before, and she's tried it before, but she's never shown much interest. Now, all of a sudden, she loves them! Not only that, but she's decided to also love dried cranberries (which are in there too), and she's been eating them plain as well!! Well, I feel like I won the lottery - that's two fruits just in the last week! I know fresh fruit would be better, but dried is still pretty darn good for you, as long as you brush your teeth regularly...
These bars travel really well - I made them last week to take camping with us, and they were all gone by the end of the first day - they are that good! I modified this recipe from a cookbook that I found in Canada called Whining & Dining by Emma Waverman and Eshun Mott:
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose would work fine too)
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Place apricots, water and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the water has been absorbed. (5-10 min) Set aside to cool. (if the apricots are really hard and/or tart, put in 3/4 cups water and simmer for 20 min - then drain)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line the base of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, and spray lightly with spray oil. (I don't think I actually have a pan this size, so I've improvised in several different sized pans - I think the one I used here is 9 by 9, which seems to work fine...)

Combine brown sugar, eggs, canola oil and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix in oatmeal. Set aside.

Combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl; stir with a fork to blend. Add to oatmeal mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in reserved apricots, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips.

Spread mixture in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into squares. (really wait until it's all-the-way cool - I can never seem to do this, and they tend to fall apart really easily...)

Makes 16 2-inch bars.

On a different note - Picky told me today that she hopes her children will love to cook with her! How sweet is that! I told her that if she loved to cook, and shared that with them, they would love it too! :)

Tip: I've offered dried cranberries to Picky on numerous occasions, but it took buying a different brand for her to really enjoy them! I guess the ones I was getting at Trader Joe's were a little too chewy for her - I bought Ocean Spray "craisens" at Costco, and she loves them - they are much softer, and are even a brighter color. I try to stay away from the major brands when I can, and I try to buy organic as well, but if she prefers the softer ones, then that's what I will get!

The Wheat Germ I use is called "Mother's toasted wheat germ", and it's found in health food stores, and probably in regular grocery stores as well with the hot cereals. The apricots I prefer are the Turkish ones (the California ones are much chewier and have a tarter flavor); I buy mine at Trader Joe's.

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