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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Because, you know what? I give ‘em two.
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.
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?
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!