In my home there’s one item that the kids and the adults agree on. Can you guess what it is? If you said Craisins® Dried Cranberries, you’d be 100 percent, absolutely right! You see, many of you know that one of my new year’s goals has been to add more fruits and veggies to my family’s diet. While I’ve had some success in the veggie area, I knocking it out of the ballpark by adding a delicious zing to favorite foods that everybody adores with the help of Craisins®!
It’s only fair that I tell you that Craisins® are not a new thing at all for my family. From lunchbox stuffers to after school snacks to toppers for amazing salads, we’ve been using Craisins® to add flavor to our food for years. But recently I’ve rediscovered my love of these tiny nuggets of flavor and I’ll admit it – I’ve gone a little Craisins® crazy! But when you can make snacks, meals and even baked good into a little bite of heaven just by adding Craisins®, well, why wouldn’t you? To show you exactly what I mean come on in my kitchen and let’s whip up one of my kids’ favorite after school snacks, Gooey Oatmeal and Craisins® Bars.
This flavorful snack idea started as single layered Oatmeal and Craisins® bars – which, by the way are amazing – and evolved as the kids begged for more Craisins® in every bite and my cooking skills got a little better. I have to say that after mastering these, there will never be another snack in my home that truly measures up! But instead of going on and on about this amazing snack idea, let me show you how I make it and better yet how I make it awesome by adding the taste of Craisins® to each and every bite.
As always, my days of cooking start with a trip to Walmart. With as cold as it’s been outside lately, I’ve been heading to the aisles of Walmart to get in some of my walking and it stands to reason that while I’m there I always pick up a bag of Craisins® for the kids. But just this past week, I noticed that Craisins® were a little different! There in the dried fruit section at Walmart, were flavored Craisins® and Craisins® Fruit Clusters!
After calming myself down over this game changer, I grabbed some Craisins® Fruit Clusters in Cranberry Almond, my classic Craisins® Dried Cranberries and some Craisins® Dried Cranberries – Cherry Juice Infused. With a variety of sizes and flavors, I quickly found myself filling up my cart as visions of tasty dishes danced in my head.
After finishing a few laps around the store, I headed home and decided I’d surprise my guys with an after school snack that they were sure to love!
While I knew they would be thrilled with their Craisins® plain, I’m one of those moms who loves to bake up amazing after school treats so that the minute the kids walk in the door and the smell of baked goods hits them, their mouths start to water and they run to the table. But since I’m also a mom who like to keep things wholesome, I decided the only way to thrill my hungry boys was through Gooey Oatmeal and Craisins® snack bars! I started by setting out all of my ingredients.
What You Will Need:
(for the filling)
2 Cups + 1 Tablespoon of Water
1/2 Cup of Sugar Substitute
2 Tablespoons of Flour
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch
(for the bars)
1/2 Cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 Tablespoon of Baking Soda
1 Cup of Quick Cooking Oatmeal
1 Cup of Craisins® Dried Cranberries – Cherry Juice Infused
How to Make It:
Honestly, this snack is so simple to make and so worth the effort of actually making it! To start off, I knew I needed to make my filling and only Craisins® Dried Cranberries – Cherry Juice Infused filling would do for what I had in mind. So I started by adding 2 cups of water, my sugar substitute, flour, salt, vanilla extract, butter and lemon juice to a pan over low heat and stirring it all together. Then I quickly added my two cups of Craisins® Dried Cranberries – Cherry Juice Infused.
With my heat on low, I cooked down my mixture until it was a soupy consistency. However, I wanted it to be thicker in order to work as the filling for my bars so after about ten minutes of simmering the mixture, I mixed together one tablespoon of cornstarch and one tablespoon of water in a bowl and then poured it into my mixture, stirring well to help my Craisins® Dried Cranberries – Cherry Juice Infused filling thicken up.
After about two more minutes over low heat, my filling was the thickness I wanted so I removed it from the heat and sat it in the refrigerator to cool while I mixed up the batter for my bars.
To make my Oatmeal and Craisins® bars, I added my butter and sugar to my mixer and blended it until it was creamy. Then I added in my egg, vanilla extract, flour and baking soda and blended it together until it was a smooth batter.
Into the batter went my oatmeal and my Craisins® Dried Cranberries – Cherry Juice Infused and I gently stirred everything together until the batter was thick and well combined.
With my batter for my bars and my filling ready, all that was left to do was assemble my Gooey Oatmeal and Craisins® Bars. I quickly preheated my oven to 350 degrees and started putting my bars together. To do this, I placed a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a square baking dish and greased it so that the bars would not stick. Then I added three fourths of my bar batter to the bottom of my bowl and used my hands to gently push it down.
Next, I poured about a cup of my filling mixture over the bar batter and smoothed it out.
Finally, I added the remainder of my batter over the top of my filling, using my fingers to gently flatten it out and seal the filling into the middle. Once the remainder of my batter was covering my filling, my bars were ready to go into the oven.
As I waited for them to cook for thirty minutes, I headed out on the porch and relaxed with my own delicious snack of Craisins® Fruit Clusters. While I love adding them to salads and trail mix, they are the perfect snack to enjoy minus the kids as well! And since I had a little time before my bars were ready, I figured that after all that cooking, I deserved a way to add a little flavor to my day as well.
After thirty minutes, I checked my bars and confirmed that the top of them was brown and felt slightly crunchy to the touch and then removed them from the oven.
Onto a cooling rack they went to cool COMPLETELY (let me stress the importance of this since they will fall apart if you cut them when they are hot). Once my bars were completely cooled, I removed them from my pan by pulling up on the sides of the parchment paper.
Them I simply cut them into squares so that they were ready to serve.
I have to say, this is a snack that my guys will never get tired of and the combination of sweet and tangy flavors that the Craisins® add make them the perfect snack for after school! And since these amazing bars boast tons of fruit thanks to the fact that 1/4 cup of Craisins® Dried Cranberries provides 1/2 cup serving of fruit, they are a wholesome way to make sure my boys have a treat on hand at the end of each day.
So moms, foodies and connoisseurs of amazing flavors, it’s time to up your culinary game! Whether you feel like heading to the kitchen to whip up something delicious or simply want to make your salad unforgettable, head to Walmart today and pick up your favorite variety of Craisins® Dried Cranberries or Craisins® Fruit Clusters. Then mix it up, flavor it up and add an unforgettable zing to every dish you create!
Tell me, which of the flavors of Craisins® Dried Cranberries would you like to try first?