Friday, March 06, 2009

favorite thing friday (& KitchenAid giveaway!)

I've written on more than one occasion about our family's ancient O'Henry Bar recipe. When I went back to search for my original O'Henry Bar post, I found that after I wrote that first O'Henry Bar entry, a mere four months after starting my blog, I have made reference to O'Henry Bars on at least 40 other occasions. If that doesn't border on obsessive, I don't know what does.

Suffice to say, I love O'Henry Bars.

Everyone in my family loves O'Henry Bars. Although seeing as other members of my family also have an insatiable appetite for sweet things, it's really no surprise. (For example, here's a link to my cousin Anne Marie's new baking blog. Once I caught a glimpse of the baked goodness that she was capable of creating, my desire to move back to Massachusetts and live next door to her, went up ten-fold.)

For that matter: everyone I've ever met in my entire life - who does not have an allergic reaction to peanuts or chocolate and is not crazy - loves O'Henry Bars.

This oatmeal, chocolate and peanut butter treat from heaven, is such a part of my heritage, such a part of who I am, that my son is named after them.

(Seriously, it's true.)

Although I've written about O'Henry Bars before and have provided basic instructions on how one might set about cooking up a batch, I have never posted a visual on how these bars are made. And based on some of the feedback that I have received over the past three years, I think a tutorial might be useful, if not downright necessary.

I would like to apologize in advance for the increase to your waist size that this recipe may precipitate. However, it may also serve as a great opportunity for you to embark upon a fitness program that you've been putting off. So with that introduction, here's to your health!

To make O'Henry Bars, you will need:
1 stick butter
¾ cup brown sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
4 cup oatmeal

¾ cup Karo syrup

Up to 2 cups of chocolate chips
Up to 2 cups of peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

** Warning: Small helpers are useful and fun to have around, although they will rapidly diminish your chocolate chip supply if left unguarded.**

In a large mixing bowl - or preferably, KitchenAid mixer - add a stick of butter.

Then add in ¾ cup of brown sugar.

Add in your 3 teaspoons of vanilla - but beware that if your small helper assisted you with adding the aforementioned stick of butter, their little hands might be especially slick and you may lose your measuring device. Fear not. Just fish it out.

Add four cups of oatmeal.

One cup ...

Two cups ...

Three cups...

Four cups.

Now, you'll need to add ¾ of a cup of Karo syrup. But if you are anything like me, you will just pour that Karo Syrup directly in to your mixing bowl because you can never get all the Karo out of your measuring cup, or off your spoon, and this way - you save yourself something to wash.

(Notice the pink breast cancer ribbon. Making O'Henry Bars is helping to raise money for cancer research. Could I just bake for a cure instead of run for a cure?)

Grab a spoon and start stirring.

Or, turn on your KitchenAid mixer and let it work it's magic.

Once everything has been thoroughly mixed, pour (dump?) this concoction on to a rimmed un-greased cookie sheet. Then, using a spatula - or a spoon - or your hands, begin the process of spreading the oatmeal base. Because of the Karo, you might find that the oatmeal base is very difficult to distribute and sticks to everything.

I have found that it helps the spreading process significantly, if you frequently dip your spatula (or spoon, or hands) in to a small bowl of water. You don't want too much water on your spreading utensil, but just enough so that it's not as sticky.

Continue the spreading process until every square inch of your ungreased cookie sheet is covered with the oatmeal base.

It should look like this.

Although, it might look like this if you decide to taste the oatmeal base.

Or like this if you determine WOW that is good.

But before you place your cookie sheet in to a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes (not a minute less, not a minute more), you'll want to be sure that there are no gobs of oatmeal base missing.

Once your base is evenly distributed, place it in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 (TEN) minutes, maximum. Do not overcook these or they will be way too hard and might break your teeth. When the bars are done, remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.

Now. In a saucepan, mix together approximately 1 cup of chocolate chips ...

With approximately one cup of peanut butter.

I'd like to add in here, that much like the Karo Syrup issue above, I do not measure out the exact quantity of peanut butter because a precise measurement is too difficult to accurately gauge. So, I just ration out what I believe to be approximately one cup of peanut butter.

Then you'll turn the stove on low, and while continuously stirring, let the peanut butter and chocolate chips INFUSE together.

Oh! Dear! God!

My heart is skipping out of my chest just looking at this picture.

As for me, I test the peanut butter / chocolate chip mixture pretty frequently and prefer it to be a little more peanut-buttery.

(Oh, and notice my saucepan? That was a gift from my sister Beth the year I moved away to college. I think she picked up an entire set of Faberware at Filene's Basement in the late 70's. Thirty years later, they still work great. Thanks again, Beth!!)

Once your peanut butter / chocolate ratio is just where you want it, pour the mixture over your cooled oatmeal base.

Then, using a spatula - or spoon - but preferably not your hands, begin the process of evenly distributing the chocolate topping.

When completed, your cookie sheet should look something like this. Notice there are no divets or obvious undulations to indicate that I ate half of the uncooked base.

You will then want to put your cookie sheet in to the refrigerator to cool. Typically, it takes at least an hour before they are ready to be cut up in to squares, although, I have witnessed people diving in to a tray of not-fully-cooled O'Henry Bars after less than 10 minutes of refrigerator time.

OK. Fine. It was me.

I would really love to show you what a picture of the finished bars looks like, but alas, as I was standing up from taking the picture directly above, I fumbled my Nikon SLR and it landed on our tile floor with a CRASH. This is the last picture that was snapped off a millisecond before my LENS broke off the camera. And trust me, if it wasn't for a tray of O'Henry bars in the refrigerator right now, I would still be crying.

The purpose of this Favorite Thing Friday post is two-fold.

First, to share with the world one of my favorite recipes. Second, to share with the world that one of my favorite kitchen appliances is my KitchenAid mixer.

We bought our KitchenAid a week before our triplets turned one. Up until that time, I could never rationalize why we needed one of these professional mixers that grace the kitchens of people who actually know how to cook. Sure, I would have loved to have owned a KitchenAid, but they are rather pricey and I had never been terribly opposed to mixing things the good old fashioned way. Mostly because I didn't KNOW better.

But when Charlie had decided that he was going to bake his family's ancient tradition five-tiered, one-year birthday cake for our children, we were told that in order to make the batter, we would absolutely, positively need a large capacity KitchenAid mixer.

We also needed specially sized baking pans and a host of cooking supplies and ingredients that I thought for sure we'd never use again.

Unless of course we had another baby. Which lo and behold we did, but due to our being on a huge road trip, three thousand miles from home when our baby turned one, he shared a sheet cake with his grandmother, that was decorated in patriotic colors.

So we bought a KitchenAid and four years later, I cannot imagine my life without it.

And whenever I was directed to this post yesterday on the King Arthur Flour website (thanks Amanda) I jumped out of my seat with joy. LOOK!! Here's one more thing I can make with my KitchenAid!! (And one more reason I must NEVER stop running.)

Do you like it?

Do you want one?

Now that Charlie and I have reached our fundraising minimums (or will once the bundle of checks we've received are deposited), fo
r a minimum $5.00 online donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via Margaret and a comment left on THIS post, you will be entered in to a raffle to win a KitchenAid Artisan Series mixer, in your choice of color. (If you donate $10.00 you will be entered twice; $20.00 four times and so on.) If you select pink, KitchenAid will make an additional $50.00 donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer fund.

The retail value
of this mixer is $350.00.

But for a minimum $5.00 donation, you can enter this contest to win one.

Your donation is 100% tax deductible.

Your donation is fueling research for a cure.

And seeing as the most recent update from Deana indicates that the newest round of "emerging" treatment that she has been receiving is having a dramatic effect against her highly aggressive cancer, your donation will help someone live a longer life. I can't think of anything more awesome than Deana winning this fight and watching those two beautiful little boys grow up.

If you have concerns with donating on line, you can write a check made payable to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and mail your donation to:

The Amazing Trip to Cure Cancer
2220 Otay Lakes Road
Suite 502, PMB #99
Chula Vista, CA 91915

However, if you chose to donate online, please add KA next to your name so that is clearly visible.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, April 1.


Please for the love of all that is good and right, help us spread the word. It is our goal to not only reach our fundraising minimums but to EXCEED them. By forwarding the link to this post to anyone you know who doesn't have a KitchenAid mixer but sure would like one, you will earn yourself a special place in the heart of anyone who has been touched by cancer.

OK, ready ... set ... GO!

This concludes the longest post I have ever written. Now, I'm off to eat an O'Henry bar and mourn the loss of my lens.


  1. I am sending my friend Trish over right away. Her son is named Henry and O'Henry bars are the party favor of choice in their house!

    Nice mixer.

    Do I need to donate again to enter? :-)

  2. cool Jen! we've been wanting a Kitchen Aid but haven't been willing to drop the cash on it yet. More importantly I was planning to donate to all three of you (Charlie, Margaret & you) but was waiting for payday. I'll just donate 3 times for Margaret then. My mom is a breast cancer survivor & my dad's first wife passed away from melanoma (her mom & dad from lung cancer) . . . . needless to say, it's present in our family and we're big supporters of the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen & so on! We're on your team & can't wait to see you all finish!
    Way to go, you guys rock!

  3. I will trying that recipe soon - yum! You must buy the pampered chef's "Measure-All" cup - it's perfect for peanut butter, mayo, etc...

    Thanks for all you're doing to raise money for cancer.


  4. not to try to mess with perfection or anything, but can you use peanut butter chips instead of peanut butter? i was thinking that pouring 1 cup each of chips into the melting pot might be easier?!? BUT, i am going to make these as soon as i can round up the ingredients, whether i have to scoop peanut butter out of the jar with my fingers to circumvent the stickiness situation or not :) mmmmm....peanut butter fingers (FRIENDS reference!)! thanks for posting the tutorial...i'm kind of a dunce in the kitchen, so i really need to visual aids!!!

  5. I'm off to donate another $20 but to be clear, I put KA next to my name where?

  6. Hi Jen ~
    I had the warm fuzzies as I read your post. I remember making O'Henry Bars with Beth in the Maynard kitchen ... and then remembered Francis teasing me as I went back into the kitchen for a second helping (not so fuzzy here - but who could blame me?) I agree O'Henry Bars are a favorite thing here, too and my kids love to mush the oatmeal into the pan (clean hands ONLY, no nose pickers, please!).
    I've donated $100 to Marg (but have yet to mail the check). For some reason, my name isnt on her site. I won't take it personally! No hard feelings for only sponsoring her -- she has a longer way to go with fundraising then you and Charlie.
    Oh ... and the CakePOPs my sister is into these days. I have one word for you ... DON'T try them. They are the "BIG O" --- I mean "Oh so good!" I've given her strict instructions NOT to bring any over, because I can't say no.

  7. That my friend was not the longest, but the most de-lish post I have ever seen at 7am:) I have always wanted a mixer but could not ever justify the purchase of one. Hmmmmm maybe its my lucky day. $30 is my donation.

  8. sorry you lost me at your camera falling and your lens breaking. Yikes! Off to donate again!

  9. Cheri: Good question!

    If I wasn't trying to raise as much as I could for research - I would say that you'd only need to donate once.

    But seeing as we're personally funding these contests > we want the money that we raise to be GREATER than the cost of the prize. Otherwise, we'd just skip the prize and make a taxable deductible donation directly to research.

    I'm trying to keep the raffle cost low, because I know times are tough for everyone and I'm hopeful that a $5.00 donation doesn't break anyone's bank.

  10. Oh my good Lord. Those bars are GLUTEN-FREE.

    Did I mention I'm getting fat not eating gluten? I am. Can't wait to try these!

    And I have a Kitchen-Aid!

  11. So sorry about your lens! That is tragic. I've only recently entered the world of the DSLR and have only begun to discover how expensive lenses can be. Ah, well. At least with a DSLR, you can replace JUST the lens, rather than the whole camera that you'd have to replace with a point and shoot...

    And those O'Henry Bars look eeeevil. I am all about the sweet stuff, and peanut butter and chocolate are two of my favorite forms of sweets. I'll have to give these a try!

  12. Oh, and I forgot- I gave a $10 donation to Margaret's fund- please enter me in the drawing for the mixer!

  13. My sister Carolyn came down to S. C. when we first moved here thirty five years ago and was a-gast that I did not have a kitchen aid. I immediatly went out with her and bought one, and still have it, green in color but still working beautifully. Carolyn is no longer here as you know, but my kitchen aid is still wonderfull

  14. I didn't even read the post. The pics told the whole story for me.

    After reading some of the comments, I guess I missed something - but now I'm off to the store for some ingredients...

  15. Thank you for the recipe. I am so excited to make them. I can not live without my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Not sure how i ever baked without it. I saved up birthday money for I think two or three years to get my Silver Beauty.

    Question on the O'Henry Bars...what size pan did you use? I have half-sheet pans...but I think those may be too big?

  16. I am made another donation because the cause is great. Keep up your good work.
    Your children are beautiful.

  17. I remember thos O'Henry bars...Yum. I don't bake very often, but I really love chocolate and peanut butter. And, oatmeal is really good for you. So it is a healthy treat!

    How can you keep up with all these give aways? You are a very generous person.

    Keep up the good works,

    Peg O

  18. I don't like O'Henry bars and I'm not crazy. I just thought I would throw that out there for ya. I don't know of anyone else who does not like stuff in their chocolate...

    But I was definitely the kid to go trick or treating with in the day, because I would trade ALL the good candy for boring hershey bars...

  19. Are you able to accept pledges via paypal?

  20. oops, i donated online for margaret but forgot to put KA next to my name. But those are my initials, maybe that can count! hehe

  21. OK, I made the bars, but mine are STUCK to the pan. I did not grease it per your directions! What went wrong???

    I'm donating $100 in honor of my Mom who battled breast cancer 12 years ago and is currently battling liver cancer and is WINNING the battle--GO MOM!

    Thanks for all you are doing!

    Kate- who would love a Kitchen Aid and a fellow triplet Mom
    D,J,Z born 8-8-06

  22. I am heartbroken for your lens... that must have royally sucked! At least you had the O'Henry bars to console you... I said 'had' because I assume they are gone by now ;~) Glad to hear Charlie met his minimum! I will head to Margaret's page and donate in the next day or 2 ;~)

  23. ohhh.... I have been wanting a Kitchen Aid mixer forever! I have already donated to you, but I am now on my way to donate to Margaret! I currently use a mixer I purchased from Walgreens back when I was in college! Only $8, and it still works!

    Go Deana Go!

    ps. Check out for the queen of cake pops! Besides yours, she is the other blog I am addicted to! Tell your aunt I love her strawberry cake idea! Yum!

  24. Since you guys already met your minimum, I donated to Margaret's site! Put my name into the raffle, por favor...
    --Lorie :)

  25. See?? I TOLD you we had chocolate running in our veins. I broke out into a sweat just reading your post. Well done! Chocolate AND oatmeal together?
    Please put me down for a $20 donation.


  26. So i made them yesterday, naughty I know but so yummy. I did half the pan with the chocolate and the other half with butterscotch chips 9I love butterscoth). They are very very good. If you ever need the fix for the taste but are lazy about not wanting to wash dishes( I hate washing dishes) try making some no bake cookies, they are so good and basically the same ingrediants so you get the taste and just dirty up one saucepan. Now if you you want to take these somewhere as a dessert take the bars they look alot better then the cookies.

  27. I'm in.
    And thanks to you, I'm now wishing I had chocolate in the HOUSE.

  28. I've been looking through your blog for a week trying to find the recipe for the O'Henry bars! Thanks for posting this! I'm going to donate and I'd love to be entered to win the mixer.

  29. Hi! So this comment has nothing to do with O'Henry bars (though my hubby looked at the pictures over my shoulder and declared that we must make them!) but with your beloved BOB stroller. I have scanned your posts and couldn't find a post where you mentioned what model you have. I have 11 month old twins and am in the market for a BOB. I am debating the model, though. I would use it mostly for jogs in the neighborhood, but would like to be able to use it at a local state park with rougher trails. Any suggestions or direction you could give me??? I would appreciate it so much. Thanks!!

  30. Yum! Oh the wonder of Peanut Butter and Chocolate mixed together!!! Deliciouso!

    Your Amazing...Thanks so much for doing so much to generate donations. However, If people don't contribute I'm afraid you'll be raffling off our homes next! (I really like my house!);-) (Although...maybe we could raffle having one built by My Dad!!) ;-)

    Love, Marg.

    PS The first picture is just Adorable! (so are the others)

  31. Oh Jen I donated on Margaret's page but forgot to put KA next to my name - not enough coffee yet this morning - can't follow instructions!

    Please enter me for the mixer!

    Good Luck - and Go Deana!


  32. Jen - I've never commented on your blog but have followed it for a while now and I look forward to each new post, story and set of pictures. Thanks for all you share. You are amazing and I wish you, Charlie and Margaret continued success in fundraising for a cure for cancer!! I've donated $100 to Margaret's campaign and would love to win a pink KitchenAid. Next I'm going to buy some ingredients to make those O'Henry bars. Yum!
    Linda Olivo

  33. Okay, that's it. It's the perfect storm. Money to cancer research, the potential of owning that amazing blender, and then the potential of the jaw-dropping O'Henry bars.

    Done and done.

  34. I just donated again to Margaret online. Great job and great post!

    Steph Asheim

  35. Okay! I drooled so much on my computer I had to buy a new one, and then I bought three raffle tickets. I have a KitchenAid mixer, but one of the twins pulled it down off the counter and now it, semi-functional. Plus, it is boring old white, and I got it as a present for my FIRST wedding, so, um, I wouldn't mind replacing it.

  36. I trained with TnT for my first half marathon last winter (in sub zero temperatures!) and completed it about a year while raising about $3000 for LLS. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I've been meaning to donate to you, but since you and Charlie have reached your goals, I'll make my donation to Margaret. And I could definitely use a new mixer--espeically a pink one :) Good luck training!

  37. Jen just made a donation wish I could do more. I would love to win the mixer because I would love to make those O Henry bars:) They look delicious. On second thought I don't NEED to make them though.

  38. Jen - I have always wanted a Kitchen Aid and planned to donate to your cause. Win-win for both of us! Like many, cancer has sadly touched so very many members of my family. I'm forever humbled by those working on cures and new research to rid us of a dreadful disease. And now I am off to make some yummy O'Henry bars.

  39. Rebecca Biggin3/9/09, 2:13 PM

    Hi Jen,

    First time commenter, but frequent reader of your blog.

    I have donated $50 to Margaret's cause, and will also submit for company matching. I have been wanting a KitchenAid mixer for a while.

    Good luck with your training and the race! You are an inspiration!

  40. Hi Jen, I am happy to report all of the Dunnigan family are doing their best to send Margaret to San Diego. I have your logo up on my blog too!

    Good luck and go team!

    Meg Lessard

  41. You don't have to enter me again. I was totally kidding around. I think what you are doing here is wonderful and inspirational. I'm glad to be a very small part of it.

  42. ok, i finally got around to contributing. i donated through margaret's site.

    thanks for doing this...and for giving away a kitchen aid! how cool. we definitely need on. i have gotten lots of good kitchen tool tips from you.

    i was an only child so i am having to learn fast how to feed a big family. thanks again for sharing

  43. oh, that previous post was me, jennifer from

  44. I donated! I have one on my wedding registry, but I don't think anyone would have gotten me it so I am crossing my fingers!

  45. O'Henry Bars have been my family's go-to dessert for-ever. Love.

    And yes, now they are even easier with my KitchenAid mixer. What a great contest!

  46. Ok, excellent cause and happy to donate!

    Also, I do really, really want a KitchenAid. Like, really. In light blue. :)

    Those O'Henry bars look amazing, cannot wait to try them!

  47. I donated on Margaret's page-I hope this Kitchen Aid raffle puts her over her goal! Thanks for motivating me to donate-it's a great cause. I donated in memory of my grandma who died of leukemia. ~ Rebecca Del Busto

  48. Good gravy. The MINUTE Lent is over and I am able to bake yummy treats again, this is going to be the absolute first thing I make.

    I have had a KitchenAid for the last five years and cannot imagine life without it. But, I have a sister and a mom who need one (so I can bake when I am at their houses, too!) and so I will donate in honor of my mom - a breast cancer survivor!

    Thanks for what you are doing for the cause. And for the recipes, I will run extra hard the next few weeks until Easter so I can make these yummies!

  49. K I donated on Marg site! Her numbers are starting to ROCK! I just found out an old neighbor has a blood cancer.

  50. I donated - great cause! :)

  51. What a great idea! I just made a $20 online donation, please enter me in the contest! It looks like it's going beautifully, too-- Margaret is pretty close to her posted fundraising goal. Awesome!

    And now I must go make this recipe, immediately, because YUM. IT LOOKS AMAZING.

  52. I found your blog through Swistle and am thrilled! I love to read blogs about families w/ lots of young children, as I have 4 myself. I am impressed w/ all you do. I can barely get out the door in the morning w/ my youngsters, let alone contemplating training for a marathon! I've donated for this great cause and am excited about the possibility of a Kitchen Aid. We do lots and lots of baking here, and that would be handy! (No more broken wooden spoons!)

  53. I made a donation of $25 and it looks like shes getting close to her goal!! How exciting... I also will be making me some O'Henry bars YUMMM ... it would be nice to have a pretty pink kitchenaid mixer to make them with :)

  54. I'm going to make these tonight for my scrapbooking workshop!However, I KNOW I'm going to need a KitchenAid after I'm done b/c I am going to have to stir it by hand. GAH!

    I have a donation but I'm not sure how to get it to you. (cash)

  55. I have been a lurker for some time. I love your blog. You are funny, creative, warm, and an extremely talented writer of everyday things!

    I would love to contribute and get into the Kitchenaid giveaway.

    How do I go about doing this?


  56. Dawn Clabeaux3/15/09, 10:15 AM

    I just contributed $25 to Margaret Hoverath’s fund. Unfortunately, I only skimmed the blog and didn’t see that you asked people to write KA next to their name. Could you please enter me in the drawing for my donation.

    I think this is such a neat idea to entice people to help a worthy cause. And so fun too! I love to enter contests! My step-mother and grandmother are both battling cancer and my family and I have a daily reminder how short and how precious life is. Many blessings to you and you friends for raising funds for research.

  57. You are an inspiration! As a fellow triplet +1 mom, I am amazed how you and your hubby do this! Please sign me up for the KA give away. I would love to win it for my mom - a stomach cancer survivor!

  58. DOn't know how I missed this earlier - but I am drooling over that mixer - what a sorry life, huh?

    I have always wanted one but never been able to splurge.

    however, I am happy to donate because then even if I don't win, it helps someone be a winner in the fight against cancer. Sadly, my mother did not win her battle.


  59. OK I'm ready to upgrade my little portable mixer to a wonderful Kitchen Aid! I just donated to Margaret's total. Count me in and thanks for doing this.

  60. My husband is convinced we don't need a Kitchen Aid... So I'll see if we can win one! :) I just donated to Margaret's site.


  61. I'm FINALLY getting around to making a small donation. Just in time to get entered in the Kitchenmaid raffle. Because it's about the only way I'd end up with one and doing some serious baking, no matter how good those O'Henry bars are.

  62. I know I'm really late. I'm not here to win a mixer. I don't know how I found your blog (though I think I found it first only a few hours ago) but I love it already. I love that you're real. I love that you are true to yourself. I love that you love - deeply, truly, without reserve.

    And I love the picture of your friend, Deana, and her boys. When I saw the photo I swear I felt my heart moving, fluttering. It is one of the most beautiful images I've seen.

    I love real images with real people doing real things. I love that it's not all smiles with white polos and matching khakis. Images we have of people being themselves are my favorites - those images we snap when we become acutely aware that these may be the last. Certainly we hope they are not, but the reality hits us that it could be.

    I do hope and pray and wish that your friend Deana beats this thing. Some friends of mine are saying goodbye right now to their friend Alex and are setting up the Alex Laynor Foundation in his memory.

    I hope there comes a day when we don't lose moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, children or grandparents to cancer.

    Thank you using your giveaway to help a most worthy and necessary cause. You are a gift. ♥

  63. Just here for...well you'll know when you see the date of this comment.

    See you in the kitchen :)


  64. Me again...guess what Mark wants???

  65. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.