Cranberry Filled Oatmeal Bars

I may have mentioned that I recently acquired several bags of dried cranberries.  I also may have mentioned that I am currently unemployed and looking for things to occupy my time.  This is an adaption of the first recipe in the cookie section of my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I’m playing around with the idea of baking my way through the whole section, but we will see.

At first bite I thought they were only ok cookies, but let me tell you, the entire pan was gone in 24 hours!  They were chewy, buttery, caramely, and not too sweet.  The kind of cookie where you figure you better have just a little slice every time you walk by.  And they are healthy (or so I tell myself after my 5th trip)!

Cranberry Orange Filling
3/4 cup water
2 T sugar
2 t cornstarch
1 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Zest and juice from one orange

Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat and simmer until the cranberries are soft and the mixture has thickened.  Allow to cool slightly.

Oatmeal Bars
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 t baking soda
1 stick butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening*

*Vegetable shortening and butter have about the same amount of fat, but shortening has far less saturated fat and lots of healthy fats.  By using half butter and half shortening you get all the delicious flavor of butter with less saturated fat.  I, of course, used this as an excuse to eat more cookies.

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Cut in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture.

Press the rest of the mixture in to the bottom of a baking pan (9 x 9 or 11 x 7). Spread the cranberry filling over top.  Sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup of crumb mixture over the filling

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden on top.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Cut in to bars to serve.

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