Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Square Jam

It's Teacher Appreciation Week again, and I generally love it. Our teachers do so much for us, and they don't get near the kudos they deserve. I can't imagine not just controlling a class of kindergartners but actually getting every one of them to learn the required subjects. It takes talent.

That said, there are some parts I'm not such a fan of. Little Miss's school had them write acrostic poems to their teachers. Her teacher's name has a "Z" in it. Good luck having a first grader come up with a descriptive word for that one. In the end she put "zoo" - and I decided it was best to let it be her own work and let it go.

Today was bring a flower to your teacher day. A single flower. Just one. I remembered just before I pulled out of the garage for carpool. Fortunately my perennials have some pretty purplish flowers, so I cut off a couple of those and sent them in. When I dropped off Little Miss's backpack at lunchtime (it was one of those days - and since she can't eat the school lunch, I had to bring it to her), I saw that our four flowers plus two others were the only ones anyone had brought in. Ouch.

Tomorrow I fortunately need to do nothing for her school. For Mister Man's? They're hosting a luncheon for the teachers, and I'm bringing in Spanish Rice. I was going to make that tonight, but after getting home from softball, I decided to skip the gym tomorrow and make in the am instead. Besides, I don't have room for it in the fridge anyway. Ahem.

Today, Mister Man brought in a treat for his teachers - now that is the kind of teacher spoiling that I can get behind. We'll forget for the moment that he left it sitting on the seat of my car and that I had to drive back to his school to give it to him. These are the kinds of treats I love to make.

Six ingredients

A pan bake, so no batches

A half hour to cook

Ingredients I always have in my house

This is definitely one of my go-to recipes when I need something quick. And oh is it good. This time, I made it with Costco's organic cherry pomegranate spread, and ohhhh was that a good choice!

Square Jam

3/4 c butter (1 1/2 sticks to most people)
3/4 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1/2 t grated nutmeg
2 c oats
1 c jam (berry jams are perfect for this - pick your fave!)

Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8 pan well.

Place the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, and nutmeg in the bowl. Stir well to combine.

The butter is going to go in next. You want it cold so that it melts when you cook it and not when you're stirring it. I find it best to cut it into pieces before I put it into the bowl - I can get a better grip on it to start combining it with the other ingredients. And since I'm using a pastry cutter....

Once you have the butter in, use your pastry cutter - or two knives or a large fork or your fingers - to cut the butter into the other ingredients. You want to keep at it until the you have small pea sized lumps. If you do it too much, you'll have a tough crust as the flour gets worked too much and forms gluten strands and the butter will melt at this stage. If you don't do it enough, you end up with dry bits of floury stuff after you've baked it, and your topping won't stick together. This is about 80 percent of the way there, but not quite mixed enough.

Once it's mixed well, pour half the mixture into the bowl, and press firmly to the bottom to create a good base.

Place your jam carefully atop the crust. You don't want to have to spread it too much so that you start to pull the crust up, and you want to keep it from the edges. If it gets to closes to the edges, it will bake onto them, and you won't be able get them out cleanly. I wouldn't know this from experience, of course!

Then pour the remainder of your topping into the pan and very lightly press it into place. You don't want to create a firm crust like you did with the bottom, but you want it enough so that it sorta adheres to the bar you're making.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until it turns golden. Because the crust completely surrounds the filling, this isn't one of the recipes where you'll see the filling bubbling to let you know that it's done. Let it cool for at least 4 hours before you cut it into squares. (I know, I know - this is why I make this at the end of the day so it can just cool overnight. Don't ask what I ate for breakfast this morning!)

Yum! Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed with Grace!

Wacoal br@ or shapewear giveaway here


Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 2:03 AM  

Yum! Those look good and easy, my fave. =)

Susie May 4, 2011 at 6:21 AM  

We love teacher appreciation week! Great recipe:-)

Megryansmom May 4, 2011 at 6:56 AM  

I CAN make these! Thanks, they look so yummy. We sent grapes and strawberries on Tuesday and flowers on Monday. How sad that so many parents overlook even the simple gestures.

Laural Out Loud May 4, 2011 at 11:58 AM  

Um... YUM!! I'm totally going to make these, but not for anyone else or anything special. JUST FOR ME. And my family, I guess, lol.

septembermom May 4, 2011 at 12:44 PM  

That's a real nice treat for a teacher! Looks very yummy! I'm on the teacher appreciation committee here. I'm in charge of finding an inspirational poem and putting one in each teacher's mailbox. So far they have enjoyed that little bit of inspiration.

Michelle May 4, 2011 at 8:56 PM  

The Blue Zoo - That describes them perfectly. Gotta love those, especially when there's so much else to do!

Susie - It's so needed for them, but sometimes the stress of it... bleh! :)

Megryansmom - Ummm YEAH you can make these! I think if it were multiple flowers, it would have been easier. The single flower thing threw people, I think?

Laural - Oops, I just realized I forgot to give one to Mister Man again tonight. Apparently they are going to be just for me (except that I promised I wouldn't eat any without him - can't break that one, I guess!)

Kelly - Ummm does each teacher need a different inspirational poem, or do they all get the same one? That one might not be my strong suit. I suppose I should look to see what we do for tomorrow. Oops!

Laura May 4, 2011 at 10:47 PM  

Heck yeah! I love jam bars and the name square jam is great. So you can keep them from sticking by not spreading it to the edge? DUH me!

Heather E May 5, 2011 at 8:07 PM  

OMG yum. Yum :( I want!

Michelle May 6, 2011 at 12:28 PM  

Laura - Ummm yep. If you don't have the jam bake itself to the dish, it makes a huge difference. See, even when you already know a recipe, there's always a tip in there somewhere from me, right? ;)

Heather - Soon... soon. SO yummy though!

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