I’m back! Back from sunny Florida, refreshed and ready to work again.
Well, sort of. I mean, I’m not ready. But this is the closest I’ll be. We can’t spend life on a beach. Or maybe we can’t. I keep wondering if I could change my life and live on a beach. I mean, they need teachers everywhere, don’t they?
While I’m contemplating a change in location, I might as well bake. In fact, it’s one of the things that keeps my life grounded. Whether I stay in colder climes or not, I will always love crumb more than anything. These bars are all about the oatmeal crumb, which sandwiches a layer of fudge. The whole thing gets topped off with M & Ms. Did I say these were happy? Or was that just too obvious?
There’s so much I can share about my vacation, but I’m going to start with the fact that whenever Kenny and I go away, our getaway quickly becomes a test of how much physical activity we can squeeze into whatever time we have. Example: in one morning we rented both kayaks and paddleboards, and this was after an hourlong workout and a long beach walk. And that was just the morning. We kept the exercise up all day long.
We both love being fit, so when I realized that there was a barre studio across the street from our hotel, I called them and set up a class. If you don’t remember, I’m a huge barre girl. I started doing the workouts over two years ago, and I’ve stuck with them. I have my own barre at home, and I alternate cardio and barre (or do both) every day of the week.
The best (in my opinion) technique so far is Physique 57, which is one of the original barre methods. However, I tried another popular name-brand studio this time, feeling kind of guilty for cheating on P57. Don’t worry: the guilt didn’t last.
Friends who have done live barre, please share: does your studio amp the music up so loudly that you can only kinda sorta hear the instructor? Because that’s what happened in Florida. Everyone seemed to be in a state of confusion. One woman was following the next who then followed the one after her, resulting in a bizarre body game of telephone where the last person in the row (ahem, me) had to improvise a lot. And all the while, the instructor was walking around praising everyone (even me) for doing different things, not even noticing that some feet were pointed while others were flexed, or that I was making up a push-up series out of my own head.
So I apologized to the gods of Physique 57 in my head, and I’ll never cheat again. Well, probably. It’s hard to resist a barre studio on vacation, especially when you and your spouse are hell-bent on spending the day being active.
I’ll probably pick another day this week to talk about the sun and warmth, since I have to give a little time to these bars.
They’re heaven. That’s it. Oh, and no mixer. Just some microwave action!
It’s rough being back in the grind, but my baking will never desert me. Now all I have to do is think about whether life in D.C. can really trump a life at the beach!
Crust and Topping
1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 can (14. oz) sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup plain M & Ms
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and mix until crumbly. Add the pecans and stir until just combined.
- Set aside about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the mixture. Take the remaining crumb mixture and press it firmly into the prepared pan. Set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Heat for two minutes and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture over the bottom layer.
- Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the fudge layer evenly. Sprinkle M & Ms on top at even intervals.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.