Cranberry Date Bars

     Judy McMullen passed this recipe onto me after baking them for a family reunion in the summer of 2002.  She added nuts and  has also used lemon juice instead of the orange juice.
     Colorful and tangy, these easy bars can be mixed, baked, and out of the oven in about 45 minutes. The filling simmers while you assemble and prebake the crust. Originally from Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Cookies, 1989. 
     Note: Since I really do like to drizle the glaze over the top vs. drenching it, I cup the glaze ingredients in half.
Freezing Cranberries -- While fresh cranberries are in season, buy a couple of extra bags, insert in a freezer bag and throw in your freezer so you can enjoy cranberry recipes all year long.
Fall 2014 update -- Check  out my story about this recipe on MyAbileneKansas webpage -- Campaign for Cranberries.

Cranberry Date Bars     Makes 32 bars or 16 to 18 larger desserts
1 (12 oz.) pkg. cranberries
1  (8 oz.) pkg. chopped pitted dates
2 tablespoons water
Use a pair of kitchen scissors to easily
cut the dates. Dip scissors in a glass
of water water if they become sticky.
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (quick-cooking works, too)
1½  cup packed brown sugar
3/4  cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted  
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 tablespoons orange or lemon juice

1.     Preheat oven to 350°.
2.     For filling, in  a medium saucepan combine cranberries and dates.and water. 
Cranberries & dates are ready to be cooked.
      Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes or till cranberries pop, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Set aside.
This is what the mixture looks like once it has cooked down.
3.     For base: In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, nuts, baking soda and salt. Stir in butter until well blended. Pat half of the oat mixture on the bottom of a 13”x9”x2” baking pan (Line with parchment paper or foil and then spray).  Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. 
Leaving "wings" on the edges of the parchment paper allows for easy removal of the bars.
Check out our  Baking Tip that provides step-by-step directions.
      Carefully spread filling over baked oat mixture. 
Spread a thin layer of filling over the base.
      Sprinkle remaining oat mixture atop. Pat gently. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes more or till golden. 

      Cool on a wire rack.

4.     For glaze, in a medium mixing bowl stir together powdered sugar, vanilla, and orange juice and enough water to make of drizzling consistency. 
Glaze should be thin enough to drip from the edge of a spatula.
      Drizzle over cooled mixture in pan. Cut into bars.
I cut the bars into larger squares, topped them with whipped cream
and served them for a club meeting.

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