Peanut Butter Pick-Me-Up Soft "Granola" Bars

Pinterest should really come with a warning: do not pin while hungry. It's really as bad as grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I've saved a huge number of recipes to try at some point, but when I pinned these yesterday, I really had to go straight to the kitchen.  I've talked about How Sweet It Is before. Its author, Jessica, is a genius in the kitchen. I resisted "celebrating" National Peanut Butter Day all day on Tuesday despite the deluge of tasty PB treats popping up on my feed reader. So yesterday my willpower was running a little low, these looked at least somewhat healthy (whole wheat? oats? no eggs, butter, or oil?), and I had everything I needed to throw them together. Snack time. :)

These bars are what you really want an energy or diet bar to be, what you might try to convince yourself something called "Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Fiber FatErase Bar" will taste like when you survey it in the store when what you're really craving is a donut. These are soft and chewy and reminiscent of a hearty bowl of granola and a gooey blondie at the same time. After my additions, they also have the flavors of my favorite peanut butter cookies and nuts and raisins like trail mix, making them a super afternoon pick-me-up.

I have a back log of posts...Sausage & Kale Soup, my husband's Indian birthday feast, a frittata that we love so much that I've made it 3 times in the last last 2 months (quite the repeat rate for our house), a list and reviews of our family's favorite games, some books I want to talk about...but these were too good not to share right away. Hope you like them!  They're like brownies posing as health food. :)

Peanut Butter Pick-Me-Up Soft "Granola" Bars (adapted from Oatmeal Peanut Butter Snack Squares)

1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. old fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 c. + 1 T. milk
1/3 c. mini chocolate chips
1/4 c. lightly salted peanuts
1/4 c. raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in vanilla extract, cinnamon, and ginger, and mix until combined.
3. Add in flour, oats, salt, and baking soda, and mix on medium speed. It will appear crumbly. Add milk with the mixer on low speed, and mix until a dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts, and raisins.
4. Gather the dough into a ball with your hands and place it in the middle of a greased 8×8 baking dish, and press it down into an even layer.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until set and golden on top. Let cool completely, then cut into squares.


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