Peanut Butter and Jam Oatmeal Cookie Bars

These Peanut Butter and Jam Oatmeal Cookie Bars remind me of my childhood rolled into one sweet, peanut-buttery treat.

Like most American kids, I grew up eating peanut butter and jam (or jelly) sandwiches every day for lunch.  For a little while I would get angry that it wasn’t getting bologna and American cheese on  white bread with yellow mustard, like some of my friends, but I would always come back to PB&J.  (Even in high school and college!)  It’s still probably my favorite sandwich.

I’m still a kid at heart, I suppose.  And I will always and forever love my peanut butter with jam.

 One bite of these cookie bars is sort of like revisiting a warm afternoons on the elementary school playground, the sand creeping into my sneakers, my hands black and blistered from crossing the monkey bars over and over until I could skip one or two without falling.  I’d hurry and eat my peanut butter sandwich in the school cafeteria, gulping down my milk and rushing with the other fast eaters to the big, double doors that led outside so I could have more time to play during recess.  Morning and afternoon recesses were too short–only 15 minutes or so.  But lunch recess was where I could get down to the business of playing.

Then the school bell would ding, singling the end of recess.  I would have to wait patiently for 3:00 when it would ring again.  I would hop off the school bus, run to my house, drop my backpack by the door and head to the kitchen for a quick snack.  My mom always kept a semi-hidden tin of cookies in the pantry.  I’d pull out a few, oatmeal cookies if I was lucky, before heading back outside to play awhile longer with the neighbor kids.  We would play and play and play.  We had a list of games we loved.  We took turns playing at different houses.  My favorite places were the secluded patches of oak trees on either side of my street and the gully with the creek that ran down the middle.  I knew it was time to come inside when my bare arms became prickly with goosebumps as the sun descended and the sky darkened.

I’ve always loved March.  My birthday usually falls on the First Day of Spring.  I liked playing outside on the warmer, but still fairly cool, breezy days.  To defy the end of Winter, I would wear short sleeves and take off my jacket.  I could feel Spring coming.  I would remove my shoes and feel the cold, spiky grass between my toes, dreaming of the lush Summer grass to come.  I willed the temperature to rise and keep the snow away.

Even as a kid, I noticed that the air always felt different in March, just like it does at the end of Summer when you can feel that first nip of cold air creep into the late August, early September nights and you know that Fall is on its way.  When I feel the first nip of warm air creeping into the March days, I still feel that same excitement.  Only now, I get excited to head into my garden and watch my kids play at the park or ride their bikes.

As I watch my own kids grow like weeds, I realize how fleeting those childhood days really were and how much I wish I could go back and say to a much younger Lindsey, “Enjoy this!  Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Paying bills and driving cars isn’t nearly as fun as building a tree house or catching water skeeters in the creek.”  Some days it’s good to remind myself of that when I get too busy to enjoy my kids the way I want to and really pay attention to what they’re doing.  I like reliving those precious childhood moments of discovery through their eyes and hearing their squeals of delight at things my adult brain had long forgotten.

Making these little treats for them, like Peanut Butter and Jam Oatmeal Cooke Bars, helps in a small way.  It’s something we can do and enjoy together.  And of course, I love hearing them tell me how delicious the cookies are and seeing their little fingers sticky with jam and their upper lips milk-mustached.

Spring is really coming.  I can feel it.

Speaking of peanut butter, I actually prefer the natural kind, creamy and salted, either Adams or Trader Joe’s.  I reserve it for eating by the spoonful and slathering on rice cakes, or for dipping apples and bananas, and when I’m feeling nice, I’ll make sandwiches for the kids with it.  The other kind is mostly for baking, but will do in a pinch if I’m out of the natural stuff.  When you make these, use what you like because that’s what it’s all about.  The same goes for the jam.  We used strawberry here, but concord grape jelly would be fantastic too.

Peanut Butter and Jam Oatmeal Cookie Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Sweet and gooey oatmeal cookie bars with the favorite flavor combo – peanut butter and jam.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 dozen bars
Ingredients
  • For cookie crust:
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (can use half whole wheat)
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 10-12 oz. your favorite jam or jelly, whisked until smooth
  • For crumb topping:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • ½ cup butter, cold, cut into tablespoons
Instructions
  1. For cookie crust: Cream butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until well-combined. Add the egg and beat for another minute or two, until light, fluffy, and very creamy. Add the vanilla and mix again. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the flour to the creamed mixture in two additions. Add the rolled oats and mix until crumbly.
  2. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a buttered, 9×13″ glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread jam over the crust, being careful not to press at all into the crust. (It will still be gooey.) Prepare the crumb topping.
  3. For the crumb topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt together. Add the cold butter and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix it until crumbly. Add the peanuts and gently mix to combine. Sprinkle over the jam. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned, the top is lightly golden, and the jam filing is bubbling all over.
  4. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

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{This recipe was originally posted on Mom It Forward.}

8 Responses to “Peanut Butter and Jam Oatmeal Cookie Bars”

  1. Emily March 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I kinda wish I had a pan of these…like yesterday.

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar March 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    These are so pretty! What a fabulous bar recipe!

  3. Jenny March 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    I used to always make oatmeal jam bars for the kids when they were toddlers and never even thought of adding pb! I love chips and salsa with my pb&j. Everyone else thinks its a gross side dish for pb&j but I love it.

  4. Melissa @ Bless This Mess March 9, 2013 at 4:13 am #

    Mmmm. The texture of these looks just right. And I’m with you BP&J fan for life!

  5. Sr. Janet March 10, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    I’m one of the few people who are not peanut butter fans but I sure can see this with almond butter and my pear ginger jam. It would be to die for! I think I will have to make it tomorrow!!

  6. Mom March 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Those are right up my alley! I’m a PB fan big time! They look delicious! Can I order some now for my next birthday? malessab 453

  7. Leslie March 11, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    PB and J bars are the bomb. I made an Ina Garden version before and they were amazing!

  8. Mom March 13, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    I needed to add something … it pleased me to read about how you remembered recess at school and playing with the neighbor kids. I wished I’d baked more cookies (with you) and enjoyed you more at that age! You were wonderfully adventurous and really enjoyed your friends and being outside. I’m glad your birthday is on the first day of Spring. It’s perfect! Thanks for being you …

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