I've been trying out some recipes from a cookbook called "Perfect One-Dish Dinners" by Pam Anderson (not the one of Baywatch fame). It's a pretty decent cookbook, with lots of ideas for food for entertaining that can also be adapted to family cooking, where you want to mess up a minimum of dishes and still want something that covers all basic food groups. My favorite recipe so far, however, has been for Apricot-Date-Pistachio bars. Sort of like a magic cookie bar combined with a granola bar, it has multiple textures, and is crunchy, sweet, soft, and gooey, all at the same time. It's also a good one to make with a kid who's interested in cooking with you - opportunities abound for stirring, pistachio cracking, etc. Here's the recipe, adapted slightly:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
6 Tblsp. packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick (4 Tblsp) melted butter
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup shelled roasted pistachios
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped dried apricots
Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Take a 16 inch piece of aluminum foil, fold it in half, and fit it in the pan so that ends come up the sides a little bit. Spray pan with cooking spray.
Mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and dash of salt. Stir in melted butter until well mixed. Press 3/4 of this mixture into the pan.
In another bowl, mix together coconut, pistachios, dates, and apricots. Add condensed milk, combine. Pour entire mixture over oatmeal mixture in baking pan, sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture on top, bake at 325 for 30 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack five minutes. Lift out of pan with the foil, cool on the rack until reaching room temp. Cut and serve.