(Nostalgic) Oatmeal Bars

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My parents are from central California, Hollister to be exact (shout out to my Hollister fam!) Anywho- I grew up visiting Hollister with my family every year and there are so many delicious things that I remember from there! My grandparents have a walnut orchard so we always had lots of tasty treats with walnuts. My Aunt Mary Louise is an excellent cook and would make homemade tamales, pies and the most delicious breakfasts. My Nana and cousins lived in Gilroy- the garlic capitol- so you can only imagine the mouth-watering dishes that we would eat! To this day when I smell garlic it takes me right back there.

But by far, my ABSOLUTE, most FAVORITE food that will always take me right back to sitting in my grandma’s kitchen is her homemade Apricot Freezer Jam- OH ME, OH MY!!! You don’t even know! I could eat it with a spoon right out of the jar! (Drooling…right…now)

So last summer I was really missing this jam so I went and bought 10 lbs of apricots and attempted to make my own. And you know, when something is so perfect in your mind you can never duplicate it. I came close but my jam just wasn’t as good as grandma’s. And I made A LOT of it. So this week I decided to use some of that jam to make these scrumdidly-umptious Oatmeal Bars with the Apricot Jam!

The Oatmeal bars are perfect for summer mornings, to throw in a sack lunch for a trip to the zoo or as a sweet treat with fresh whipped cream after a BBQ. Mmmmm. I made them one evening as we prepared so go Salmon fishing very… very early the next morning (4:00am)- I am not an EARLY morning person. But these bars and strong black coffee helped.

What you will need:
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9×13 baking pan
Butter or non-stick spray to grease the pan
1 ½ cup old fashioned oats
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ sticks of melted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
16 oz of apricot jam or preserves

This is how you do it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease your pan

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
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Once dry ingredients are combined, pour in melted butter and add vanilla. Combine mixture until it is in crumbles.

OK- now try not to eat spoonfuls of this buttery, sugary mixture
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Take half of this mixture and press it in the bottom of the baking pan
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Cover that bottom layer with jam
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Use the rest of the oat mixture and cover the jam. Press slightly to make a firm top.
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Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.

Remove from oven and allow cooling before slicing in to squares (this will be quite a feat and a lesson in self control but I know you can do it!)
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*Note: My jam was slightly too running and made the bars a bit too soft a day later. I previously made these with marionberry preserves and didn’t have this problem. Make sure you use a firm jam.

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