Peanut Butter Bars

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Once long ago, school cafeteria’s served roomfuls of burbling elementary kids hot spoonfuls of processed food on melamine trays. Well, at least that’s how it was when I was a Utah schoolgirl at Hooper Elementary School. We’d wait in a long line for our piping hot food delivered by the stainless-steel spoonful. Plop would go the instant mashed potatoes or the canned corn. Glunk, a heap of ground-beef-in-gravy would find it’s way over the entire plate.
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All the kids would be squealing in line, “Ew!!!” and “Gross!” but not me. Because, you see. I have a secret passion for cafeteria food. It was likely because my mother so rarely let me partake of lunch-lady made eats, so the mere thought of waiting in line for a hunk of warm, salty, overprocessed anything was significantly better that the healthy, well-packed sack she usually sent me with.
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Then again, it could have been because my loving, health-conscious mother always packed a plethora of veggies, a handful of fruit, but nary a dessert. And the lunch ladies always slid a dessert on my tray. Always. How they loved me, those hair-netted gals. They’d plop a piece of strawberry poke cake piled high with Cool Whip on the tray. Or a sprinkle dipped sugar cookie. Or a slice of chocolate pie. But, on the best days, those white-aproned dears would slide a peanut butter bar into my plate. Chewy and oaty, thick with frosted chocolate. Sometimes, the slices they proffered were crisp-burnt edge pieces. Sometimes they were cut to a standard size. But, sometimes those peanut butter bars were cut the size of a Barbara Streisand cassette tape. Monstrously large and just waiting to rock my lunchtime world.
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Nowadays our district lunch program mandates that dessert be served to students only once a month through the school lunch program. And not a one of those desserts has even the least little smear of icing on top. Pity, isn’t it?
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Not really. Because if you were to ask my kids, they’d tell you quite glumly: I pack them brown bags for lunch nearly everyday, full of veggies and fruit and lots of love. More love than those durned lunch ladies could ever give ‘em with a thick slice of a peanut butter bar.
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Because, you know what? I give ‘em two.

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Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Bars
A pan full of peanut buttered dough, barely baked and packed with the goodness of oats and whole wheat and butter. Allright, so butter may not be quite as wholesome as those other two ingredients, but it sure tastes good, therein justifying that first sentence quite completely, thank you very much. Frost it all with the most divine chocolate confection since the development of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, and you’ve got a batch big enough to share. But, let’s be honest. You’ll probably want to keep every.single.rich-and-creamy bite to yourself.
1 c. peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. Coach’s Oats
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. white flour
1/2 tsp. soda
In a large bowl, cream together peanut butter, egg, butter and brown sugar until light an whippy. Add remaining ingredients, then press into a small cookies sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for exactly nine minutes. Don’t overcook it! It might look a little soft and gooey, but it will set as it cools. Allow to cool before frosting & cutting into bars.

Whippy Cocoa Fudge Frosting
Who knew that four ingredients could make a frosting so, so divine? Well, now we do. Shall we tell the world or keep it secret and eat it all ourselves?
2 sticks butter, softened
4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips just until barely melted. Using and electric beater/mixer, beat in the butter, then slowly add the powdered sugar and just enough milk to make the frosting a nice, spreadable consistency. Frost cooled bars. Allow frosting to set up for about 30 minutes before cutting. ENJOY!

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Cafteria Food: Love or Loathe?

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22 Responses to “Peanut Butter Bars”

  1. 1

    memoryminded on May 17, 2010 at 7:27 am Reply

    Loathe cafeteria food. Love this recipe. My kids are going to give me lotsa whippy fudge cocoa kisses for this. Thank you!!

  2. 2

    Scarehaircare on May 17, 2010 at 7:47 am Reply

    This post had me giggling. The only reason I ever wanted to have hot lunch was for the coffee cake. If I had cold lunch on those coffee cake days, I would somehow trade half of my well-packed veggie-stocked lunch (made by a mom who was into nutritious whole-slow foods long before it became mainstream)for that fabulous steusel-topped confection that made my heart swoon.

  3. 3

    I run for cake! on May 17, 2010 at 9:06 am Reply

    YUM! Those sound delicious! I absolutely love the the combination of chocolate and peanut butter! I made a 3 layer chocolate cake this weekend with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a chocolate peanut butter glaze…it was RICH!

  4. 4

    Julie on May 17, 2010 at 9:29 am Reply

    I cannot wait to make these!! They look so yummy. As for cafeteria food…no thanks. ;-)

  5. 5

    Federica on May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am Reply

    mmmmmmm..che golose!!

  6. 6

    Kristi on May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm Reply

    I am totally rockin' these this week!!! They look heavenly! Maybe when my hubby is out of town so there will be more for me!

  7. 7

    Marisa@make*happy on May 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm Reply

    These look fabulous. And with oats and whole wheat flour? They're totally healthy. It means you can eat twice as much.

  8. 8

    a. maren on May 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm Reply

    utah girl here too! and i always loved cafeteria food! still remember the day everyone gave me their chicken-fried steaks, and i ate like, seven. had to re-think a few things after that.

    these look AMAZING! my husband is always complaining i don't make enough things with peanut butter. this oughtta satisfy!

  9. 9

    Jellybean Mama on May 18, 2010 at 8:44 am Reply

    LOVE cafeteria food. My parents were hippy vegetarians, so most of my babysitting money in high school went to the precious over-saltiness of whatever was being served. I buy the 99 cent Banquet TV dinners once in a while because they remind me of cafeteria food.

    My fave cafeteria dessert was chocolate donut day. Once in a blue moon they'd do fresh donuts with chocolate frosting. OMG so good, I'd kill for one (and I live in the South now and can get Krispie Kremes!).

    LOVE your blog. Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Thanks!

  10. 10

    Coach's Oats on May 18, 2010 at 11:16 am Reply

    These look delicious! Can't wait to try them :)

  11. 11

    cassie on May 18, 2010 at 11:38 am Reply

    I didn't mind school lunch- my favorite dessert was maple bars. But peanut butter bars were a close second.

  12. 12

    Jen T on May 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm Reply

    My kids favorite school lunch, and the one I go and eat with them is homemade chicken and noodles, and the dessert with this meal is always peanut butter bars with chocolate frosting!!!! My kids are lucky to live in a small town with a small school where the food is made–yummy!

  13. 13

    smalltownoven on May 18, 2010 at 9:23 pm Reply

    Loathe cafeteria food but loving the frosting on these bars! I'm sure the bars themselves are good but I'll probably be making this for the frosting alone it looks so creamy and delicious!

  14. 14

    cookies and cups on May 19, 2010 at 6:28 am Reply

    as a kid love cafeteria food…as an adult loathe. I used to LOVE Luby's when I was a teen. geeeeross!

  15. 15

    Eliana on May 19, 2010 at 7:54 am Reply

    Oh yum is right – these look amazing. Love anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter.

  16. 16

    screwdestiny on May 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm Reply

    Aren't you just an awesome mother. :) I wish I'd had packed lunches growing up. That cafeteria food was just NOT good. Not even the desserts. By the time I got into high school, I started doing what I could to make my meals as healthy as possible, and leaving half the stuff on my plate. Thank goodness that is behind me.

  17. 17

    Jenn on May 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm Reply

    Making these right now and all I can say is YUMMMMMMMMMY to the frosting!

    Haven't tried the PB part yet, but the frosting is so good. I didn't melt the chocolate chips 100% so it's more like chocolate chocolate chip frosting!

  18. 18

    mamabeck on May 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm Reply

    oh, YEAAAAHHHHHH.
    Peanut butter bars and fluffy white-rolls. Oh! And that spaghetti. That only CafeteriaLadies could make.
    But never, NEVER "crusty beef sandwiches". EW.

    ;) (printing your recipe now. I must make these tomorrow.)

  19. 19

    Cynthia on June 5, 2010 at 7:09 pm Reply

    Made them, Loved them! And love your blog!

  20. 20

    Kristin on June 8, 2010 at 11:26 am Reply

    Just made these and am dying over their delicousness and simplicity. Wow. My family is going to looove me tonight.

  21. 21

    Jamica on September 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm Reply

    Maybe peanut butter bars for 'second dinner' and chicken pot pie for 'third dinner'….

    I would eat cafeteria food 'til it came out my nose (which it did sometimes when I sat next to Jeremy Harvey who could always get me laughing) if it meant partaking of THIS goodness!
    Oh, this takes me back! YUM!

  22. 22

    Sarah on July 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm Reply

    I grew up with Utah school lunch too, and loved some dishes, despised others. I LOVED these bars – my favorite part about Track Meet was finding these babies in the white baggie with the questionable occasionally green mayonnaise covered “turkey” or “ham” sandwiches. Thanks for this recipe!

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