The Great Indoors: Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Is there anything good about this winter not wanting to end? An outdoor Easter egg hunt next week doesn’t look like a good idea, it’s hard to imagine we’ll be playing any rounds of golf anytime soon, and lazy days at the lake seem as far away as ever. Now that I’ve depressed all of us, let’s try and look on the bright side. There are no mosquitoes and there’s still time to enjoy warm, gooey comfort desserts that seem tastiest on blustery days.

Hannah Johnson is the host of Concordia College’s Cooking show and also a reporter at KVRR-TV. We wanted to get her off campus to share some of her favorite recipes.This one just happens to be one of those sweet concoctions that seem best suited for cold days. Johnson says her grandmother makes these Peanut Butter Oat Bars. She says she and her family enjoy them every year and they’re really easy to make. If we must endure winter in March at least we can make it a little sweeter.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars:

2/3 cup butter melted
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

1 cup milk chocolate chips (Hannah prefers milk chocolate. Tracy votes semi-sweet).
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup peanut butter

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla: gradually add the oatmeal. Press into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake 400 degrees for 12 – 14 min or until edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, for topping, melt chips and peanut butter in micro or saucepan. Stir until blended. Spread over warm bars. Cool completely; refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting.

The Great Indoors: Irish “Potato” Candies

When you’re talking about St. Patrick’s Day cuisine most likely the staples come to mind: corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, Irish soda bread, and of course green beer. But how often do you hear about dessert? We know the Irish are a fun-loving people so why wouldn’t they enjoy something sweet after dinner? One of my favorite Irish people certainly does. Kathleen Boyle Wrigley is North Dakota’s 2nd lady (husband Drew Wrigley is the lieutenant governor). She says growing up in Philadelphia, St. Patrick’s Day was always a big deal for her very Irish family and Irish Potato Candies were a must for dessert.
This recipe doesn’t actually use any potatoes. The sweet candied balls rolled in cinnamon simply look like potatoes. Consider it a sweet nod to Irish culinary culture. For your St. Patrick’s Day party plate them surrounding a loaf of Irish soda bread or serve them along with a glass of Bailey’s Irish Crème. I think they’re also good served with graham crackers or vanilla wafers. They’re super easy to make, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the party – green beer and all!

Irish Potato Candies

¼ cup butter, softened
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 -5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar; beat until smooth. Mix in the coconut. Roll into balls or potato shapes, and roll in the cinnamon. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill to set. If desired, roll potatoes in cinnamon again for darker color.

What SheSays: What’s wrong with admitting marriage is hard?

Is there anything wrong with admitting marriage is hard? Ben Affleck thanked his wife, Jennifer Garner, last week at the Oscars, adding he knew that being married to him was sometimes hard. Some took to Twitter saying he shouldn’t have admitted that on national TV. SheSays’ Heidi Shaffer, Tracy Frank and Anna Larson discuss the topic on this week’s online episode of “What SheSays.”

Hungry for More: Arizona El Camino Burger

There’s mustard, ketchup and pickles; the “average” toppings to a burger. But, then you go to Quaker Steak & Lube, and you see a whole new array and combination of burger condiments.
“Hungry for More” host Jim Manney meets up with Quaker’s kitchen manager Scott Huson to show us their jam-packed Arizona El Camino burger that will leave you drooling and want to jump through the screen to take a bite.
They start off by grilling their half-pound burger with their secret seasoning and fill their garlic buttered bun with black bean and corn salsa, bacon, pepper jack cheese, sour cream and one of their special wing sauces just to name a few.
See the rest of the toppings and Jim Manney try to take on this ginormous but gorgeous burger.

What SheSays: Flowers for Valentine’s Day, beautiful gesture or a waste of money?

Many women will get a bouquet of fresh flowers this Valentine’s Day. Some find it thoughtful, while others scorn its frivolity. The Forum’s Tracy Briggs, Heidi Shaffer and Robin Huebner weigh in on the practicality of this gift during this week’s online episode of “What SheSays.”