Oatmeal Carmelita Bars

If you know me, you know I have a mahooooosive sweet tooth. When I was asked to review the new cookbook, “Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story” by Kimberly “Momma” Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero, how could I possibly say no with a title like that?

I really enjoy Kimberly and Jenna’s approach to desserts we all remember from pot lucks, fundraisers and bake sales of our childhood. Each recipe is presented with a family story behind the recipe. As someone who started blogging as a way to catalogue those family stories, this book: it speaks to me.

Most of the time when I make something for Bluebonnets & Brownies, I do the choosing. Cooking is an escape, an art, for me. I used to paint – but now food is my medium of choice.

When we received the Sugar, Sugar cookbook, I flipped through it, post-it note marking the recipes that caught my fancy. But then The Brit caught site of this beautiful book with it’s gorgeous cookie-filled cover and grabbed it from me. The look on his face as he turned the pages reading each recipe’s description made me realize that this time, I should let him do the choosing.

James did me proud, y’all. He chose Oatmeal Carmelitas from the “Cool Bars and Summer Stars” section. I don’t think I’ve ever made a bar cookie that was quite so tasty. Filled to the brim with oatmeal, chocolate and ooey-gooey caramel, what is not to love?

Kimberly and Jenna recommend these bars for summer barbecues and potlucks, but I think they would be the talk of any holiday cookie swap you choose to attend. James took the majority of this recipe’s yield to work, as he usually does. Even the one overly health-conscious-never-indulges co-worker could not control herself.

James had to laugh when he caught her scoping out the leftovers at the end of the day, planning to sneak them home instead of leaving them for everyone to share the next day. They’re just that good. Oatmeal Carmelita bars will drive good women to do rather naughty things, which I think was Kimberly and Jenna’s intention all along in writing Sugar, Sugar!

Need more Sugar, Sugar in your holiday baking repertoire? (Who doesn’t?)


Enter to win one copy of “Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story” by Kimberly “Momma” Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero!

How you win:

{Required Entry}
Leave a comment below. Tell me your favorite family cooking story. It doesn’t have to be about cookies or holiday baking, but those sure are fun.

Who wants bonus entries?!

For each item below that you do, you will get one extra chance to win. If you already do any of these items, they DO count. You MUST leave a separate comment for each item. If you leave one cumulative comment, it will only count as one extra entry.

1. Like The Sugar Mommas on Facebook.
2. Like Bluebonnets & Brownies on Facebook.
3. Follow @SugarMommas and @BluebonnetBaker on Twitter and tweet the following. Then come back and leave a comment that you did so.

I want to win the Sugar, Sugar Cookbook for my holiday baking from @SugarMommas and @BluebonnetBaker! http://su.pr/1EPKSL #giveaway

4. Subscribe to Bluebonnets & Brownies email updates. When you click the link, you will see “Get Bluebonnets & Brownies Delivered By Email.” Once you subscribe to the email updates, you will get an emailing confirming your subscription. Leave a comment after you’ve confirmed your subscription.

Important Details:

-This giveaway is open to USA and Canadian residents only and will run until Wednesday, December 7th at 11:59 pm EST.
-Winner(s) will be generated via a random number generator software program. Winner will be notified via the contact email provided on the comment contact form.
-Winner(s) will have until 12/9/11 to claim their cookbook or we will choose another winner.
-Winner will receive one copy of Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story (Hardcopy){$29.99 MSRP}. Product will be shipped by publisher.


This giveaway is provided to you by Bluebonnets & Brownies. The views and opinions expressed by Amber Bracegirdle on Bluebonnets & Brownies are my own, and based upon my cooking experiences with Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story. I was given the product free of charge to test and review it; however, I was not monetarily compensated for the review or giveaway.

Oatmeal Carmelita Bars
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  1. says

    I think my favorite family cooking story takes place during a very snowy Christmas when I was a kid. We had Christmas dinner at my great-uncle’s house–a man who is a former firefighter and thus used to cooking for an entire firehouse of hungry men–and it had begun to blizzard like all get-out. My youngest sister, who was something of a picky eater at that point, turned down the Christmas turkey, the Christmas ham, everything but the mashed potatoes. So my intrepid uncle went out on his deck in the snowstorm and grilled her a hot dog.

    This is a true story.

  2. says

    My favorite cooking memory is when I used to ask my dad to let me stir in the chocolate chips for the 12-dozen cookie recipe he always makes (in a bowl I could’ve napped in), but my arms would always get tired before I could properly mix them all in!

  3. says

    one of the most vivid memories i have about cooking with my mom is when she used to make crepes. she would just dump in however much she thought she needed, mixed everything up and started cooking them. the first one would always be misshapen and sad looking and that was the one i’d run up and steal, burning my tongue and fingers, but it was so good plain and it would tide me over until she finished the entire huge batch of crepes. i secretly think that she made the first one sloppy just for me because the rest came out perfect after that. :)

  4. Kel says

    Each year the holiday table of desserts is almost as large as the main table for the rest of the meal. This makes me smile each year and know that I probably inherited my sweet tooth!

  5. says

    hmm my favorite holiday memory is putting up our holiday Christmas village on our family room table every year! We have acquired lots of houses, buildings, and accessories for it over the years and we like to bake cookies, turn on the Christmas lights, and drink eggnog to get in the mood! :)

  6. says

    My mom can hold her own in the kitchen, but growing up she didn’t have time for more than chocolate chip cookies. This also happens to be my brother I’s favorite cookies! She had a hand mixer and would give us each a beater to lick. After we found out heart disease runs in the family, she tried to develop the healthiest chocolate chip cookie recipe she could manage, and I still remember my brother writing it on a sheet of notebook paper in his new 3rd-grade cursive. She still has that recipe (still her favorite for chocolate chip cookies!) and one of these days, when she’s not looking, I’m going to frame it for her. Or me. Not sure yet. :)

  7. Gigi Cuccaro says

    My parents make 3 candy cane shaped coffee cakes on Christmad Eve eve. The coffee cakes are filled with cherries and apricots. It is truly a labor of love. We drop one of at the Rectory. One is for Christmas morning. The other is frozen to eat on Epiphany. We used to live in Italy and as part of our Italian heritage we put our shoes out for Befana to fill with treats. They have been making this for over 40 years!

  8. Evelyn R says

    I standing on a stool beside my grandmother in the kitchen. It did not matter what she was making, I was there.

  9. says

    My most favorite cooking story is when my son decided to make chocolate chips cookies for his first time. He ended up mixing up the salt amount with the sugar amount. We still tease him to this day but he is growing into a wonderful cook!

  10. Mike says

    The family was sitting down to a BBQ meal with ribs and as usual, I had practically inhaled my share of the ribs. I was sitting there, eying my mom’s ribs on her plate, watching her eat one. She noticed me, narrowed her eyes and growled at me (like a dog). Still funny after all these years and I miss her each and every day.

  11. angela says

    my favorite story is when i used 2 tbsp of ginger instead of 2 tsp of ginger in to make ginger snaps. nobody ate them…. but taught me look twice when i measure now.

  12. Kathy F. says

    One of my favorite cooking stories was one Thanksgiving, quite a few years ago, when my sister make sugar free jello for her contribution to the meal and my son asked my mother “Grandma, is this sugar free pumpkin pie too?”. She took a bite only to discover she had forgotten to put in the sugar!!

  13. Denise B says

    My favorite story is the year my mom decided to make dewberry cream pie for a church function, decided at the last minute not to take it, and was SO glad she did because when we cut it to eat it we found she had forgotten the sugar!

  14. Christi P. says

    I used to get sick at school :) every Christmas season on the day that I knew mom and her girlfriend were making Christmas candy!! Mom knew I wasn’t sick, but would always come to get me!!

  15. Susan Hatcher says

    My favorite story is my first Christmas as a newlywed….many years ago. I knew you were supposed to bake cakes at Christmas but didn’t really have a clue how. My dear grandmother came to spend Christmas with me and taught me how to bake chocolate and coconut cakes. She has since passed away, but I’ll always cherish the memories we made in the kitchen baking together.

  16. Bonnie K says

    Christmas is the time when we have traditions. My mother is from England; so, we will have some traditional English food. For dessert, there’s always mincemeat pies and plum pudding. The kids (and adults, too) get excited about seeing the blue flame on the plum pudding and looking for a charm in our bites.

  17. Tupo says

    One of the 2 pecan pies I baked on Thanksgiving Day was balanced carefully on the kitchen counter. My husband knocked it onto the newly scrubbed kitchen floor accidently where it landed upside down. Several helpful guests in the kitchen came to the rescue, easing the pie carefully back into the pie plate, cleaning up the spilled crumbles, and then nibbling on the now-cracked, but still very yummy, pecan pie. I wouldn’t have even known of this catastrophe, except I caught all the co-conspirators munching on the pie before dinner. They were absolutely right — it tasted just fine!

  18. helga says

    when i was a little girl (maybe 9 or 10) my dad taught me how to make pie crust. what a revelation….we would bake apple pies, tiny mincemeat tarts, jam-filled pastries. to this day i use the same dough recipe:-0

  19. Lorelei says

    I have wonderful memories of my mother making batch after batch of peanut brittle in her cast iron skillet to give away. No one made it like she did!

  20. says

    My twin sister and I would often help our mom bake chocolate chip cookies, and she would constantly caution us against eating the raw cookie dough because of the eggs. When she wasn’t looking, my sister and I would do it anyway. One time we ate close to half of what was in the recipe, and she finally noticed. We all had a laugh about it. Now I make cookies without eggs–let’s just say my mom approves. 😉


  21. says

    Favorite cooking story is opening my grandmother’s box of sugar cookies every Christmas. She lived in CA and we got boxes every year, no matter how far away (even in New Jersey). Filled the boxes with popcorn (the real stuff) and it was a treasure hunt to find the embedded cookies. We’re still looking for her secret recipe.

  22. Linda O says

    A favorite true story in our family pokes fun at an uncle who shall be unnamed, and it was all about food identification. My dad, a meat hunter, had taken a nice deer, and my parents enjoyed the budget relief venison in the freezer meant for the grocery bill. They’d invited my aunt and uncle to come for Sunday dinner–a nice Midwestern meal of roast, carrots and potatoes, with jello salad and pie for dessert–when my uncle, who was not a hunter, was talking about how a nice beef roast was superior to venison roast, which he declared was always gamey, no matter how it was prepared. Little did he know the roast he was requesting second and third servings was venison. My parents had the good manners not to mention he was enjoying venison not beef, though I think my aunt knew.

  23. says

    These bars sound so yummy. I don’t really have a family cooking story. How boring is that?! I learned to cook from my Nanny who prepared me with family recipes and lessons before I went to University. Clearly the lessons were worth it – I’ve been cooking all the time ever since!

  24. says

    These look so good – favorite cooking story – i just think me being the bartender at all my parents dinner parties was a blast for me – i learned how to make all kinds of stuff at a young age :)

  25. Kim says

    Favorite story? Not so much a story but a memory. Always standing on the chair and helping my mom and grandmom bake.

  26. says

    My favorite baking story is making pecan tassies with my mom and grandma, a completely necessary christmas cookie in our house! :)

  27. suzanne says

    My grandma made blackberry jam cake every year for Christmas. Unfortunately she didn’t have a written recipe and no matter how I try my cake doesn’t taste the same.

  28. Rachel Blom says

    Hmmm…the only cookie baking memories I remember right now is the yr I decided to make cookies as gifts and then burned every single batch I baked :(

  29. Allison C says

    I love Christmas cookie day at my parents house. We always get together as a family and bake lots of cookies. THe kids get to sprinkle and decorate the cookies and the adults get to transfer to cooling racks, pack up in tupperware, and portion out. Plus there is lots of taste testing!

  30. Marlene says

    My favorite memory involving food is the day my soon to be son in law asked me to teach him how to make my daughter’s favorite meal. He learned it and proposed to my daughter during the meal…how could she ever say No? She didn’t! Love the premise behind the title of this book.

  31. Angie R. says

    When my sister and I were with our cousins, which was pretty much every weekend, we would always make chocolate chip cookies.

  32. Maria says

    Great recipe, can’t wait to try! My dad makes the BEST pasta sauce… Everyone wants the recipe, but of course, he doesn’t have one. So my brother stood over his shoulder one day and wrote down every step. Now we can pass down Papa’s Famous Sauce and use it in our Christmas Lasagna… Just like dad:)

  33. says

    Looks like a fun cookbook!

    Family cooking story: my favorite thing my family cooks together is smoked turkey for the holidays. My mom & I take the day shift, adding wood as necessary, then my dad stays up all night to make sure the fire doesn’t go out. By the time we serve it, it’s a family bird!

  34. Ali says

    My favorite holiday memories is every Christmas Eve helping my grandmother bake so many little cookies and pastries. My sister and cousins are there too, and it is a really nice family time. Plus my grandmothers antics in the kitchen are also amusing.

  35. Erin says

    my favorite family cooking story was 3 years ago when we purchased our first home. my mom refused to come for thanksgiving if we didn’t have an appropriate dining room table. we had only been in the house a week but we bought that darn table and my mom came and cooked a wonderful thanksgiving meal for our family and the in-laws. it was wonderful :)

  36. tikeyla fuhrer says

    I’m a mom of four kids 11, 7, 5, and 3 the one thing that i think about when I think about cookies is them. They love making cookies, fighting over who gets to lick the spoon and betters. If they had it their way we would just eat the batter and the cookies would appear in the oven. So we always make a double batch that way we all know that their will be some fresh cookies to dunk in milk later.

  37. Katie L. says

    My favorite cooking stories all come from cooking and baking with my little sisters. We have a great time, even though everything doesn’t always come out as we had hoped.

  38. Jill J says

    Some of my favorite memories are of my Mother and Grandmother baking together the week before Christmas. They would make sugar cookies, fudge, and toffee. The thing that always amazed me was they would hang the candy thermometer in the pot for the toffee, but I would watch both of them in amazement as they put this hot boiling concoction on their fingers and attempted to shape the “soft ball” until it would hold…. I still don’t know how they did that!! (ouch!!)

  39. Jill J says

    I follow @SugarMommas and @BluebonnetBaker on Twitter and tweeted the giveaway (jilliebean_j)

  40. Carolyn says

    When I was nine years old, I had helped my mother enough that I knew I knew how to cook. . . ahem. . . . So, I opened up the cupboards and gathered all the things I thought I needed. I can remember specifically yellow food coloring for I was going to make a yellow cake. Well I poured in exactly what I wanted to, turned on the oven and baked it. Then I let it cool and had a bite. I can still remember exactly how it tastes, and it was wretched. That was the day I learned a lesson in humility, and became a recipe user, and now a collector. We learn the most from our mistakes, and I realized what I forgot in my cake – sugar. I have NEVER made that mistake when baking a cake again :-)

  41. says

    I remember when we were young we would make Christmas cookies with a cookie press. It was such a big ordeal with the shapes and different sprinkles, my mom would even add food coloring to the dough to make green and red cookies. Oh we loved it! I also remember her coloring dough and adding peppermint flavoring – twisting white and pink dough together and forming into candy cane shaped cookies. And they were so good. I thought my mom was brilliant! Years pass and every year now we spend hours and hours in my mom’s commercial kitchen making and decorating Christmas cookies – with more sophistication (i.e. sans cookie press) they look gorgeous…she owns and runs a bakery and sells thousands of dozens of cookies :) It is so fun!

  42. Makenna says

    I’m probably the one who bakes the most in my family, but EVERY Christmas my mom and I make a large batch of our cut-out cookies together. We really get into the decorating, and it is so much fun. I’m pretty picky about my sugar cookies!

  43. Morgan says

    My mother recently moved to a new house, and it has the worlds tiniest kitchen. We did not let that stop us from going full out on christmas baking last year. We blasted the christmas music and got to work until the whole kitchen was packed with treats.

  44. says

    My favorite cooking memory is baking cookies for holidays. Every holiday! We would break down each task so that one of us would mix dry ingredients, one wet ingredients, one would combine them. It all seemed so complicated as a kid, but now I do it all the time. I still love it!

  45. Christy says

    My favorite memory is of my whole family sitting together eating dinner and talking about their day. So mundane, but so vital to familes!

  46. Erika says

    One of my favorite cooking memories is making peanut butter and chocolate candy with my grandmother every Christmas. We lived 13 hours away from her and only got to see her two or three times a year. For that candy, everybody knew that it was a recipe that just the two of us made together in her kitchen, the night before Christmas. Lovely memories!

  47. Mitzi says

    Hmm, the hurly-burly of all the women in the family (4 women) working together in the kitchen to create entirely too much food for the number of people eating at the house (11 people). Or the Christmas breakfast tradition which doesn’t include cooking at all: plain cake donuts with blue cheese.

  48. sunny says

    oo fun recipe and fun contest! my (least?) favorite cooking story is the time i accidentally forgot to add flour to a cake i was baking :(

  49. Erin says

    Growing up, my mom would bake cookies all day one day the week before Christmas. When I was on Christmas break from school, I would help her and we had so much fun baking cookies while listening to Christmas music all day! I kept the tradition alive and take a day off work the week before Christmas so I can get my holiday bake on! :)

  50. Adriane C says

    My sister and I would bake Christmas cookies together every year and we would spent hours if not days baking. One year we were all done and my sister was at her car about to put a large container of cookies in her trunk and my cat who was an indoor cat got out. So she dropped the container and helped me catch the cat. After the cat was safely inside I said good-bye and she had forgotten in all the excitement to put the cookie container in her trunk and proceeded to run over the container. We laughed and laughed. She died six years ago from cancer but every Christmas when I bake I think of her driving over the container and I have a good laugh.

  51. Holly says

    My favorite times cooking together as a family were when my son was a cub scout and we would cook fancy meals on a tiny portable butane stove while everyone else had deluxe camp stoves. Everyone always raved about the aromas and great food we made.

  52. Liane R says

    We have a cranberry salad recipe that we refuse to share outside of the family. We have a family joke about it because some ex-husbands have actually come back and tried to get the recipe. My daughter wanted to make it for her dad’s thanksgiving and I told her I’d have to make it ahead and send it with her rather than giving her the recipe :)

  53. says

    Every year my mom would make tons of Zongzi, a traditional Chinese dish made during the Dragon Boat Festival. It’s basically a mound of sticky rice, with some savoury fillings (ie. cured meats, mushrooms, etc) and then wrapped into a crazy many sided triangle shape that takes a lot of practice. I loved the smell of the steaming ingredients and trying to learn how to do the complicated wrapping. Two years ago, she taught my husband (who’s not Chinese) and we spent hours in the kitchen together, wrapping zongzi. It’s a tradition I hope we continue every year!

  54. Claire says

    Every Thanksgiving/Christmas we drink sparkling juice out of wine glasses. IDK why! But it’s become tradition!

  55. Joyce Mosby says

    Years ago when I was a young teacher in Canada salt came in boxes or bags and I had put some in a canister ( plainly labeled-I thought). One of my students put a cup of what he thought was sugar in his recipe. Imagine his surprise when he tasted his salty cookies!

  56. erin johnson says

    My favorite cooking story is when I was teaching my daughter to cook… One day I set her up on the counter, (she was about 4) and she exclaimed, “first ub’all!!!”
    I hadnt realized that everytime I set up to bake something with her, I said, “First of all…” 😉

  57. Virginia says

    When I was little my dad and I would bake those Chinese almond cookies from scratch. Those were the times my dad and I really bonded