Apricot Oat Bars

These apricot oat bars are great additions to camp or school lunches.  I love the oaty taste and texture paired with apricots.  If you don't like apricots, you could use another kind of jam and fruit, like cherry or plum. When I make these, I usually freeze half the batch for later in the week.

Apricot Oat Bars
Adapted from Weeknights with Giada
Makes about 24

1 (13oz) jar apricot jam or preserves (about 1 1/4 cups)
8 dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 3/4 cups flour (use Cup4cup for a gluten-free version)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free oats for a gluten-free version)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
12 Tblsp butter, melted (about1 1/2 sticks)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in center position.  Line a 9x13" pan with parchment and spray bottom and sides of the lined pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl mix the jam with the apricots.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Stir in the oats and walnuts.  Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla and stir until well mixed.

Use half the crust mixture and drop by tablespoonfuls into the prepared pan to cover the bottom.  Press down lightly with fingers to make an even bottom layer.  Use a rubber spatula to spread the filling over the crust, leaving a 1/2" border around the edge of the pan.  Drop spoonfuls of crust on top of the filling and lightly press with your fingers to form the top crust.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool and cut into bars.  Store in an airtight container or freeze.