Thursday, June 2, 2016

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If you have conversed with Emma recently, she has probably excitedly asked: "Did you hear the story about how I was trapped in the car?"

Let me back up. As I mentioned earlier, I took Emma and Lucy to my childhood home for a couple weeks to help take care of my youngest siblings while my parents traveled to Kansas for the college graduation of my sister Adrienne. While we were there, Emma went about our fairly normal routine of grocery shopping in the morning after exercising. I took the girls on a fairly long walk, so Emma was hungry and tired by the time we were finished. I told her that we had to stop by the store really quick but that we would then head to Panera for lunch to pick up some bagels - the Asiago Cheese bagels are Emma's favorite - to enjoy with the fruit and yogurt we were purchasing from the store.

We grabbed our groceries quickly and then headed out to the car. My normal routine when loading the children back into our vehicle is to open the side door, toss my keys onto the front seat of the car, load Emma in, close the door, walk around to the other side, load Lucy in, close the door, then walk to the driver side, get in, and drive away. So, as is my habit, I tossed my keys onto the seat, strapped Emma into her car seat, and piled the groceries onto the seat next to her. Then, I closed the door.

And this time, for whatever reason, the moment that door shut, I heard the automatic locks suddenly clicked. I paused, thinking that was odd, and timidly tried to open the door. It was locked. Emma and the groceries were locked inside the car while I was locked outside still holding a very cranky and hungry Lucy.

I didn't panic at all. After all, Emma is a pretty clever three-year-old. She has never broken out of her car seat and I have never taught her how to unlatch herself from it - for good reason, I did not want to risk her suddenly deciding to free herself while we are barreling down the highway at high speed. However, I was certain that I could instruct her how to unlatch herself through the window. I began to talk to her, instructing her to undo her strap and come open the door. She followed directions at first, managing to free herself from the shoulder straps. However, she could not, for whatever reason, unbuckle the bottom. She put on a remarkable show, straining and bearing her teeth as she grunted and howled. Then, she looked at me and said: "It's too hard, Mommy!"

"Don't give up, Emma! You can do it! Come on sweetie, you almost got it!" I cheered at her from outside the car.

However, Emma's mind was made up. She wasn't interested in freeing herself. Spying the bags of groceries nearby, she reached down (since her arms and shoulders were free from their restraints) and rifled through the bags until she found an apple that suited her and then leaned back into her seat, taking a big bite out of her chosen snack.

"Emma! NO! Come on, Emma! You can do this!" I cried, trying to encourage her.

She completely ignored me, refusing to even look in my direction as I pounded and knocked on the window. After she finished her apple, she threw the core on the floor and then reached down and grabbed a box of animal crackers out of the grocery bag. Tearing the box open, she leaned back and began munching to her hearts content. I continued to try to get her attention and she actually re-strapped her shoulder and chest restraints and continued to ignore me.

It was time to call a locksmith. Thankfully, it wasn't an overly hot day so I wasn't too worried about her overheating quickly. While I waited for the locksmith to arrive, I walked around the car several times and kept an eye on Miss Emma, who by this time had eaten her way through the majority of our groceries. When the locksmith arrived, he went to work and quickly opened the driver side door within about 30 seconds. When I popped my head inside to grab the keys and turn on the car to get the air conditioning blowing, Emma told me: "Mommy, now have that nice man unlock my door!"

As we drove away, Emma began asking me questions about the events that had just transpired: "Mom, why did you lock me in the car? Why did you do that, Mom? Why?" As if I needed another guilt trip.

Later, when my siblings arrived home from school, Emma announced: "You know what? I was trapped in the car the whole day!" She was getting a real kick out of retelling the story and painting herself as a complete victim/damsel-in-distress who had to be rescued by the "nice man with the key to the car." Even now, a couple weeks later, she is quick to tell anyone who will listen about the time she was "trapped in the car the whole day." The amount of time she spent in the car gets longer each time she retells it.

Now, I keep my keys with me at all times while loading the girls and groceries into the car. I have also since taught Emma how to unbuckle herself completely from her car seat so hopefully we can avoid a hassle like this in the future!

If I were ever trapped anywhere - be it in an airport, a bus, a train, a car, or in my bedroom hiding from the children for a few precious moments of silence - I would want to have a bunch of these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with me for nourishment. So hearty, chewy, and satisfying, these simple cookies are loved by everyone who tries them. With the addition of the oats, you can almost convince yourself that they are a health food. Like most cookies, they are easy to mix together and I personally love and prefer making bar cookies from an efficiency perspective. This batch was made for my sister Amy's 8th grade class. Amy helped make and sample the cookies and loved them so much that she sneakily concealed these cookies under the regular chocolate chip cookies we made so that there would be plenty of leftovers for her to take home and eat by herself! Of course, she had to fight the rest of us for the leftovers.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
barely adapted from Rachel Cooks

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. Lightly grease exposed pan sides. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute each. Then mix in the vanilla. Scrape bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture in small batches until fully incorporated. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips by hand.

Transfer to prepared baking pan. Press down into an even layer, spreading into all corners.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely in pan.
When bars are fully cooled and set, carefully remove bars by pulling up and out on the overhanging parchment. Carefully cut into pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container.


  1. Oh dear! But hah..hah...sorry, I'm sure it's not funny, but Emma is so cute and cheeky! Those Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie bars are irresistible. So thick and chunky, they way I like it :)

  2. Oh I laughed a lot at that story, particularly Emma ignoring you while eating all the groceries. That's one of those things I get very anxious about even though it's bound to happen at some point!

  3. Just made some to bring to my new neighbors!

  4. Even though all the cakes you've been posting look soooo good, this recipe takes about all the patience I have to make. Couldn't resist adding shredded coconut, but a really delicious and easy recipe! Thanks for sharing.