Monday, January 24, 2011

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars and Can Oatmeal Each Day Keep the Doctor Away?

It has been awhile since I posted...not since last year! *Insert snickers at lame joke here since "last year" was just a few days ago!* So, a belated "Happy New Year" to you all! I wish you the blessings of health, peace and prosperity in 2011!

I don't believe in luck, but I do believe in tradition and fun, so we ate our traditional "Good Luck" foods on New Year's Day, but I did put my own personal twists on them. We had my delicious Russian Stuffed Cabbage with Sweet and Sour Topping (cabbage is green and leafy, like folding money, and represents good fortune), Black-Eyed Peas (which represent coins for prosperity) with Pickled Pork (a delightful Cajun-style way to serve your pig...pork is for progress, for pigs are ever rooting forward) and Corn Cakes (corn represents gold, therefore is eaten for wealth). The meal was wonderful and a fun way to celebrate the New Year.

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Did you know that January is National Oatmeal Month? Today's recipe uses oatmeal as a base for a delightful dessert! I love oatmeal. I use it in many recipes, and it has always been a key ingredient in my meatloaf as a binding agent and nutritious (and delicious) filler to extend the meat. It's just so good for you! Oatmeal's fiber actually binds with the cholesterol in your system and takes it out of your body to help keep your arteries clear! Oatmeal reduces your cravings for many "bad" foods. It is very good for your heart, colon and general health. It provides many vitamins and minerals, contains no fat and has cancer-fighting properties in that it attacks certain bile acids that are linked to cancer! Oatmeal has many healing properties for the skin, topically...yes, you put it ON your skin. Put oatmeal in a blender or food processor and grind it to fine powder. Mix it with distilled or purified water to make a paste. Mix it in your bath water for soft skin; soak in it or apply it to sunburn, chickenpox, bug bites, acne and other skin irritations to take away the sting or burn and soothe the skin. It contains no harmful chemicals and is an all-natural home remedy. Oatmeal is just so good for you in so many ways! YAY Oatmeal! Celebrate National Oatmeal Month by making this YUMMY recipe:

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 cups instant or quick-cooking rolled oats (not old fashioned)
• ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
• 8 ounces (1 large block) cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
• 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (not jellied cranberry sauce)
• 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (used separately from the ¾ cup above)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper.

Combine flour, rolled oats, ¾ cup brown sugar and butter with a pastry blender, mixing until crumbly. Remove 1-1/2 cups of mixture and set aside for later use. Press remaining mixture into bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice; whip until very well-blended. Pour evenly over warm bottom layer crust.

Scoop whole berry cranberry sauce into a bowl, stirring gently with a fork to break up the jelly. Add the 1 tablespoon brown sugar and cornstarch. Mix until combined. Drop cranberry mixture by spoonfuls over the cream cheese layer. Gently smooth with the back of a spoon to cover. Sprinkle top with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake 45 minutes, until top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into cookie bars. Refrigerate before serving.