Happy middle of Jul–wait, what?
I’m not sure how we’re already halfway through the summer–nobody ever consulted with me about this matter, or I would’ve veto’d it faster than you can say “pandas on a water slide”–but here we are, even so…and in spite of me, it seems!
These past two weeks have been unusually crazy ones…which is my way of excusing myself for the recent lack of updates. Whoops! Thankfully, we’ve finally hammered out our final plans for le big Europe trip, which is exciting because I hate travel planning with a passion, and more than one late evening ended with me simply drooping my head onto the table while the boy (bless his much more patient, level-headed penchant for these things) continued to click away at various online bookings and ticket listings, and basically making sure that the rest of the trip actually happened.
Aside from that, there hasn’t been much time for baking or photography because apart from travel planning, we’ve been having a bit of fun around here! We spent this past long weekend moseying around town, attending various picnics and potlucks, and having an early surprise birthday day for him since he’ll be home when it happens later this month. We started the day by getting massages, watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople (a VERY good film–it earned 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and we both loved it for its wit, fast-paced humor, and general ability to tell a spot-on story), and then getting dressed up to see a play called Big Sky at the local playhouse (it was also VERY good–the perfect mix of humor and dramatic insight into the workings of a dysfunctional family). Needless to say, I’ve been playing a lot of blog catch-up since he left for home yesterday, and I can’t wait to share all of the other exciting developments happening around here lately!
For now, though, let’s talk about why you’re really here: these strawberry cream cheese oat bars. Yessiree. They’re ooey, gooey, creamy, sweet, and tart to the perfect degree, and you’ll find that they’re also an absolute cinch to make! I brought them this weekend to one of our 4th of July parties and one of the linguists said: “Oh. My. WORD. These are like cheesecake and cobbler and strawberry and everything good all rolled into one!” Well, you heard the man. And believe you me, you’ll want a taste of these bars ASAP!
It starts with a brown sugared, buttery oat crust that takes about 2.2 seconds to whip up (and no pesky toughened glutens to worry about! yay!). Press half of that into a baking pan, then top it with a layer of jam, and then top THAT with this incredible 1-minute cheesecake filling, and then sprinkle everything with the remaining oat crumble. Easy never tasted more delicious!
What fun things did you jam-pack into your weekend?
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature and cubed
- 1 cup seedless strawberry jam, room temperature
- 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats. Use your fingers to gently rub butter into dry mixture until it forms the mixture of wettish, clumped sand. Pat half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of baking pan.
- Carefully spread jam over crust, taking care not to disturb the crumbs in the pan.
- In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and white sugar until smooth. Stir in yogurt (or sour cream), lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Spoon the mixture evenly over jam mixture.
- Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over cream cheese layer and pat down as evenly as possible.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until top crust is golden brown and filling is nearly set. Cool completely before removing to refrigerator. Cool for another 4-6 hours until bars are completely set before cutting into squares. (Alternatively, you can enjoy this dessert warm as a cobbler!)