According to my brother, I shouldn't have to make anything for my own party, the "Boo! Christine in moving to Albany party" that is. Truth is, I volunteered -- I just can't resist the opportunity to make and share something yummy with people I care about. Also true is the fact that my brother was really only saying this because I was already in the middle of baking, and he would much prefer that I left the final product at home for him to enjoy! Well, in the end he got his wish. My first attempt was to make Mini Jam Tarts (which I've made and written about previously), but they ended up a crumbling (but delicious!) mess because my silicone muffin pans are tucked away in a box in my in-laws basement. I thought they would come out OK in regular muffin pans, but I was sadly mistaken. They tasted good, but let's just say they wouldn't have survived the trip to Astoria without oozing everywhere. So my family got to enjoy my first attempt while I went to work on Attempt #2 for the party. Since I was not in the mood to face another potential mess, I decided to go with a tried and true recipe and picked a family favorite: Apricot Squares. This recipe was passed down from a friend of my grandmother's to my grandmother, to my mother, to me. I used Raspberry Jam instead of Apricot Preserves because I had a homemade jar our landlord gave us as a parting gift when we moved out. I've tried this recipe with all sorts of homemade jams and they always come out delicious. So here it is, our family recipe:
1 1/4 cup oats
1 1/4 cup flour (I often use whole wheat or white whole wheat & am still very happy with the results)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
12 oz. apricot preserves (or other flavor jam or preserves, just don't use jelly because it's too thin)
Combine all ingredients, except preserves, in a large bowl. Reserve approximately 1 cup of crumb mixture and press the rest into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Spread preserves over base. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes, cut into bars.
Note: If you are having trouble covering the bottom of the pan, you can reserve less crumb for the topping, it will still work out fine.