Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Annual (?) ICLW Cookie Exchange: Apricot Oatmeal Bars

 (Welcome ICLW visitors!  If you want a brief back story, click here: the short version is that I am chronicling a journey through life and pregnancy after RPL and a diagnosis of secondary IF; I'm just about to round the corner into week 34.  I make, talk about and take pictures of food, because doing so makes me happy and keeps me mostly out of trouble.)

Since many of us are careening full tilt into the holidays, even though it might be more attractive to hide under a table or in a dark room, I thought I'd do something a little different for this ICLW.  About two weeks ago, I joined an online blogger cookie exchange.  The way it was going to work was this: each of us would bake 1-2 dozen cookies, and send them off to a partner (blogger we've never met) that the organizer would assign to us.  It sounded like a neat idea, and I sent my cookies off to my partner Emily from Life On Food last week, with some trepidation, afraid that she would not like my cookies, or think them too plain, or that they'd be stale or crushed upon arrival (I packed them tightly together, thinking maybe that would help).  But she said that they enjoyed them, and that my box is on its way!

I love cookie exchanges, for the same reason I like ICLW: you get introduced to a bunch of new cookies (blogs), get to talk with the bakers (comment), and make new friends over shared recipes (stories).  So here's my invitation to you: sort of like Mel's Virtual Lushary, I'd like to host a virtual cookie exchange.  Post your favorite cookie below, and if you like, include a link to the recipe (or post the whole recipe, or just send it to me).  If it's a special recipe (handed down through the generations, or if there's a good story behind it), include that, too.

Here's what's on the cookie menu at my house (click for links to previous posts and recipes):

Chocolate Toffee Cookies : these were the first cookies I tried from a blog.
Jam (or Whatever You Like) Filled Pinwheels :  
Sugar Cookies : my sister-in-law's recipe
Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip : my husband's favorite cookie 
Gingerbread People (Vegan and Regular) : one chey, one crispy 
Chocolate (Mint) Crinkles : from a co-worker, and adapted to make them my own
... and these Apricot Bars (from my neighbor across the street)

And if anyone wants to do a real cookie exchange, just drop me a line ... I'm all for sending baked goods where they're needed.

Apricot Filled Oatmeal Bars

1 c. flour (regular)
1 c. quick-cooking oats (regular oats work OK)
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, very soft
1 c. apricot preserves (I use Polaner All Fruit, no sugar added)

Stir together flour, oats, brown sugar and baking soda.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  (I've also melted the butter once before and that worked OK, too, if you don't have a pastry blender.  You might need just a little bit more flour in that case.)  Pat 2/3 of the crumbs into the bottom of a 13 x 9" baking pan; spread with preserves.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cool and cut into bars, as big or as small as you like them!
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  1. Those look absolutely scrumptious! I will definitely have to try them ;) Thanks for posting the recipe! Happy ICLW and God bless!

  2. mmm, your cookies look terrific! I am going to start my annual bake-fest tonight, the doughs were made last week and are waiting to come out of the freezer. I would love to exchange a recipe or two but I am at the office and recipe-less.

  3. Great idea...although I am not the best baker...:) Those cookies look great!

  4. mmmmm....those bars look super yummy and easy!! I have no energy right now but I think I could make those!!!

    happy ICLW #50

  5. I LOVE this idea. I'm posting my mom's recipe for Almond Cookies. My husband calls them crack cookies and we groan every year when the two pound tub arrives in the mail because we know we are defenseless! They're simple but taste like you spent hours crafting these confections.

    Put parchment paper on an 11x17 cookie tray and line it with Club crackers.

    -Cover the crackers with 10oz of sliced almonds

    -Put 2/3 cup sugar and 3 sticks butter on the stove on low. Bring to a boil and stir for 3 minutes once boiling.

    -Pour bubbling brew over almonds; bake at 350 for 25-30 mins. Wait at least 5 mins to cut. Try to keep them in the house for longer than 24 hours. Impossible.

  6. Visiting from ICLW.

    This is an awesome idea! However I am a horrible cookie baker, they never come out round. But I do have a cookie bar recipe that my kids like, similar to this in that it makes a great breakfast bar. I'm at work now, but will come back and leave the link in the next week or so.

  7. I'm so pleased I visited your blog today! I love to cook and bake but rarely get the time and have no cookie recipes to share :(
    But, I am pleased to say that I will be trying out your one these holidays. I love that you have recipes on your blog. Congrats on being week 34/40!! The home stretch :)

  8. What a brilliant idea!!

    ~Happy ICLW~
    #14 http://themissruby.blogspot.com/
    May your Christmas be filled with Peace
    Your New Year with Hope

  9. Good idea, but I don't have a biscuit recipe on me. So I'll share a recipe I've made a billion times and is the reason my in-laws like me: a very easy Chocolate Mousse. I don't know that you'll like it - it's not vegan and the raw egg-whites mean you probably won't want to go near it right now, but here it is because I know it off by heart! It only takes a couple minutes to make and for some reason impresses people.

    200 g dark, good-quality chocolate - broken up
    3 egg whites
    300 g cream
    4 tsp water (or 2 tsp water and 2 tsp of a liqueur of your choice)

    You'll need 3 bowls. In the largest bowl, add the chocolate and water (and liqueur if you're using it). Melt either over a double boiler or in a low microwave. I then whisk it until smooth - and keep whisking occasionally as I deal with the other things to help cool it down.

    In the second bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks.

    In the third bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks.

    Now a add the whipped egg whites and whipped cream to the chocolate a bit at a time; I sort of cut it through with the whisk. You won't want to do this if the chocolate is still hot (not that you should have let it get too hot), but if it's still warm the recipe if fairly forgiving.

    Once all is incorporated, you now have chocolate mousse. How easy was that?! You can now put it into serving dishes to chill or just put the bowl into the fridge. You'll want to chill it for at least two hours before serving, but it can also be made up to a couple days in advance. For my in-laws I just serve it in a bowl and put strawberries, raspberries and other fruits next to it in case they want some fruit with it (usually they don't). The recipe can easily be doubled - just double all the ingredients and make sure you have a big enough bowl!

  10. Okay great idea! My favourite is muddy buddies... i don't have the exact recipe but here goes:

    Buy Crispix cereal
    melt peanut butter and milk chocolate in a pan with a bit of butter
    pour crispix into the mixture
    put icing sugar in a large bag with no holes in it
    pour coated crispix into the bag and shake a lot
    transfer to a container
    freeze or refrigerate


    happy iclw!

  11. Oh My God you make me sooooo hungry I could go and make those bars right now if only I knew how to cut in butter...

  12. I am so making those bars! They look delish! I am totally up for a virtual cookie exchange... I will dig up my favourite cookie recipe tomorrow and come back and post.
    ICLW #28

  13. Those bars look yummy! Happy ICLW!


  14. Oh another delicious recipe and this sort of thing is right up my alley. I do have a question though. When you say preserves are you referring to an all fruit jam (jelly?? in USA?) or more actual preserved fruit in a bottle? Enquiring minds want to know!

    I don't have a recipe on me right now either but I was planning to make your choc toffee cookies over the holidays. I will try and post a belated cookie recipe later.

    Also just wanted to stop by and wish you and your family all the very best for the sparkly season. :)

  15. @Andie: all fruit jam is fine ... just something that is thick enough to spread, and won't turn into water in the oven.

    @Mrs.H: cutting in butter is pretty easy ... just take a fork and mash it all together, or two knives and, starting in the middle of the bowl with knives crossed, move them out to the edges. You could even (provided the butter is soft enough) use your fingers to mush is all together. You can do it!!

    @everyone: Thanks for the wonderful recipes, and hope you will try some others here!

  16. Happy ICLW!!! Those cookies look incredible. Good thing I didn't bake while pregnant or I'd have gained 100 pounds. I craved sweets the whole time!

  17. Oh man, those look like the perfect pre-breakfast snack.

  18. Those cookies look fantastic. If I wasn't a couple of hundred miles from my cookbooks I'd dig something out... sorry!


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