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Back-To-School Lunchbox Treats

Betty Crocker had it right – “nothing says lovin' like something from the oven.”

It's especially true as school time rolls around. Nothing eases the transition back to school like home-baked cookies packed in a lunch box or waiting after school.

Today's moms don't have as much time in the kitchen as Betty did, so today's cookie recipes are streamlined versions that come in and out of the oven in record time. Fat and sugar content is a concern these days as well, so healthier ingredients give these treats their tasty flavor.

In a rush the first days of school? Send them off with homemade Granola Breakfast Bars. Other recipes include: Hermits, Apple-Oatmeal Cookies, Coconut Pecan Blondies.

GRANOLA BREAKFAST BARS

2 c. old-fashioned oats, 1 c. flour, 3/4 c. packed brown sugar, 1/2 c. wheat germ, 3/4 tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 c. honey, 2 tsp. vanilla, 1 lg. egg, 3/4 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 x 9-in. metal baking pan. Line with foil; grease foil. In large bowl mix oats, flour, brown sugar, raisins, wheat germ, salt and cinnamon until combined. Stir in vegetable oil and remaining ingredients until blended. With wet hand, pat oat mixture into pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until pale golden around edges. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cool transfer with foil to cutting board. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces. Makes 2 dozen bars.

HERMITS

2 c. flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. cloves, 1 c. packed brown sugar, 1/2 c. margarine, softened, 1/3 c. dark molasses, 1 c. raisins, 1 c. pecans, chopped, 1 lg. egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 large cookie sheets. On waxed paper combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cloves. In large bowl with mixer at medium, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses until well combined. Beat in egg. With mixer at low, beat in flour mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl. With spoon, stir in raisins and pecans until combined. Divide dough into quarters. With lightly floured hands shape each quarter into 12 by 1-1/2 inch log. On each prepared cookie sheet, place 2 logs, leaving about 3 inches in between. Bake logs on 2 oven racks 13 to 15 minutes until logs flatten and edges are firm, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through. Cool logs 15 minutes on cookie sheet son wire rack. Transfer logs to cutting board. Slice each log crosswise into 8 cookies. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes 32 cookies.

APPLE OATMEAL COOKIES

1-1/2 quick rolled oats, 3/4 c. flour, 3/4 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. packed brown sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. raisins, 1 c. apple, chopped, 1 egg, beaten slightly, 1/2 c. honey, 1/2 c. oil, 1/3 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl combine oats, flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Stir in raisins and apples. In large bowl combine egg, honey, oil and milk. Stir in dry ingredients. Mix to form a smooth batter. Drop onto ungreased baking sheets, using a rounded teaspoon of dough for each and leaving 2 inches between. Dip fingers into water. Press dough down to about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove sheet from oven. Cool cookies on wire rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

COCONUT PECAN BLONDIES

1 egg, 3/4 c. plus 2 T. brown sugar, 1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted and cooled, 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla, 3/4 c. plus 2 T. flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/8 tsp. salt, 3/4 c. pecans, toasted, 2/3 c. flaked coconut, 4 sq. white baking chocolate (chopped)

In mixing bowl beat egg and brown sugar for 3 minutes. Add butter and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the brown sugar mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in pecans, coconut and white chocolate. Spread into greased 8-in square pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.