Thursday, August 1, 2013

Celebrating Statehood with Sunrise Bars

This morning as I was driving to work and listening to the radio, I learned that it was the anniversary of Colorado becoming a state.  On August 1, 1876 Ulysses S. Grant issued the proclamation of statehood.

Colorado State Flag
A Colorado state flag features the sun on it.  It is said that Colorado has the most sunny days of the year than any other state in the country.    I can say that it is nice to enjoy really beautiful sunrises during the summer mornings here.  The first half of my life in Alaska, during the summer the sun doesn't go down, which means no sunrise to see.  The second half of my life thus far in the Palm Springs area, the summers were too hot to go outside and try to enjoy a sunrise (typically 105 degrees at 7 am on some days).  So now that I live in Colorado, this is the first time in my life I have actually been able to take in a beautiful summer morning sunrise.

This led me to make my Sunrise Bars that day for entry into the Boulder County State Fair, which started today.  These bars are so delicious for breakfast or a light snack, and couldn't be easier to make.  When my husband and I both take a tray of these to our offices, it is always a race to see which company finishes them first.

Sunrise Bars
Sunrise Bars 
Inspired by Giada De Laurentis' Apricot Oat Bars

Canola oil cooking spray

1 (13 ounce) jar apricot preserves
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries (Giada uses chopped dried apricots)

1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped pecans (Giada uses walnuts)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 metal baking dish with canola oil cooking spray.  Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper.  Spray the parchment paper with canola oil cooking spray and set aside.

Filling:  In a small bowl, mix together the preserves and dried cranberries.  Set aside.

Crust:  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Stir in the oats and pecans.  Add the melted butter, egg and vanilla and stir until incorporated.

Using a fork or clean fingers, lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.  Using a spatula, spread the filling over the crust leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the pan.  Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten.  Bake until light golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool for at least 1 hour.  Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (if they last that long).

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