peanut butter cookies

Packaged cookies are expensive. They taste inferior to homemade, too. Healthy snacks such as cut fruit and vegetables are tasty, but your family might want an occasional treat. For the days you don't want to fuss with drop cookies, bars are quick, easy and foolproof. Keep them in your recipe box for holiday time, too.

Peanut-Butter-Cup Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 package (13-ounce) miniature peanut-butter cups

Chocolate Drizzle
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon shortening

In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Using a fork or whisk, combine egg and vanilla. Mix into butter mixture. In medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gradually mix dry flour mixture into creamed mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for minimum of 1 hour. Roll into 1-1/4 inch balls. Insert a miniature peanut-butter cup into each cookie-dough ball; reshape dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. For drizzle: In a glass bowl, add the chocolate chips, peanut butter and shortening; microwave until melted, stir until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies. -- Nancy, Virginia

smore bars

S'mores Bars

3 cups graham-cracker crumbs
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups miniature marshmallows
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Combine the crumbs, butter and sugar; press half into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Top with remaining crumb mixture; press firmly. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and immediately press top firmly with spatula. Cool completely. Can chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Cut into bars. -- Lisa, Minnesota

Chewy Granola Bars

4-1/2 cups oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Mix all ingredients, then lightly press into pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars. Let cool completely in pan before removing or serving. -- Elphie

Brown-Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar together well. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir flour, soda and salt together, and add. Mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 6 to 8 minutes. -- Debbie, Minnesota

Oatmeal Bars

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups instant oatmeal

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Melt butter in microwave. Add corn syrup and vanilla. Stir in brown sugar. Mix in oatmeal. Spread in greased pan, and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool. Melt together chocolate chips and peanut butter, and pour over the bars. Refrigerate before cutting. -- Marie, Ontario