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I can’t believe the holiday season is here already!!  Where did 2015 go?  Looking back over my year, I realized that it’s been a crazy busy year and that’s why it all seems like a blur.  This year brought one daughter’s college graduation, one daughter’s high school graduation, the oldest daughter’s wedding, and the birth of my first grandson.  The craziness has been challenging, but considering we’re ending the year with the addition of a son-in-law and new baby, I’d say we came out ahead!  As much fun as the holidays were when my girls were younger, I can’t wait to enjoy them with our new family members.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday is all the baked goods and spending time with my girls in the kitchen.  I don’t ordinarily bake much during the rest of the year because it feels like a special holiday activity to me.  I like to share what I bake; it’s fun to eat some and gift some.  Kind of a win-win for everyone, wouldn’t you say?  Plus, anytime I decide to bake cookies or brownies, I can almost guarantee my girls will hang out in the kitchen with me.  They take after me with my love of sweets and desserts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much time we’ve spent lingering in the baking goods aisle at Target!  There are limitless possibilities to what deliciousness can be created from only the ingredients in that one aisle (okay, so maybe you’ll need some milk or eggs or something too, but Target has everything).   They may not actually get involved with the baking, but it’s still nice to share the time with them and listen to what’s been going on in their lives.  Now that they are both adults, I love hearing their perspective on “adulting” as they call it.

Since my oldest daughter works at a college, I thought it would be nice to make some oatmeal squares with M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis to help get the students through finals and ready to head home for the holidays.  I also found some super cute Glad® holiday containers at Target that are perfect for sending homemade treats to the college kids.  Homemade treats always go over well with college students!

These oatmeal squares were super quick and easy to make and the M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis add a nice pop of color too!

Now on to the recipe:

While you’re shopping at Target (c’mon, I know you’re there regularly), pick up Quaker Oats from the special holiday end cap or from the baking section.  I even got a little crazy and decided to use Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oats to add in a little more flavor.  You’ll find the M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis and Glad holiday containers in the seasonal section at the back of the store.  Everything else will be in the baking aisle too (except the eggs and butter, of course).  That seems to be where they keep all the good stuff

Gather these ingredients together.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  You may be wondering why I didn’t use baking soda like most baked goods.  Well, you see, it’s like this:  I was out of baking soda.  And to be completely honest, the only time I really have baking soda on hand is to keep my fridge smelling fresh.  I wouldn’t use that in baked goods ever so a quick search on Google suggests using 3 teaspoons of baking powder for each teaspoon of baking soda.  That’s the solution I needed since I had 2 full containers of baking powder (this is what happens when you don’t make a list before grocery shopping).  Since baking powder has salt in it, when you substitute like this, you don’t need to add salt.  Nobody likes salty baked goods!  That also explains why you don’t see any salt in this recipe.

Add in the oatmeal and stir.  Like I said earlier, I used Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oats but Quaker Old Fashioned Oats work just as well.

Mix in brown sugar.

Add in the melted butter and stir until all ingredients are combined (mixture will seem a little dry at this point).

Add in eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined (mixture will still be a bit crumbly which it totally fine).

Mix in M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis and chocolate chips.  This may seem like a lot of chocolate with the M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis and chocolate chips but, hey, has anyone ever said “this is too much chocolate”?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!  But you can always reduce it a bit or even experiment with other flavor combinations like M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis and butterscotch chips, or M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis with white chocolate chips.  I think the M&M’S® Holiday Baking Minis are a requirement though – they make these oatmeal squares so much fun to look at and eat!

Lightly oil (or spray with cooking spray) a 9×13 pan and press the dough into it.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely and cut into squares.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week (as if they’ll last that long).  With the festive Glad® holiday containers, put a bow on top for a perfect teacher or hostess gift or to take into your co-workers.

Oatmeal M&M’s Squares

Ingredients

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups Quaker Old Fashioned Oats or 8 packets of Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oats
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups M&M;’S® Holiday Baking Minis
1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
Add in oatmeal and stir.
Mix in brown sugar.
Add in the melted butter and stir until all ingredients are combined (mixture will seem a little dry at this point).
Add in eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined (mixture will still be a bit crumbly.
Mix in M&M;’S® Holiday Baking Minis and chocolate chips.
Lightly oil (or spray with cooking spray) a 9×13 pan and press the dough into it.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely and cut into squares.

What is your favorite holiday recipe or holiday memory?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!  And be sure to check out more amazing holiday treats your family and friends will love along with special savings available only at Target!

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