Some people make fun of Sandra Lee’s “Semi-Homemade Cooking” show on the Food Network because Lee uses shortcuts including store-bought, premade ingredients.

Those people don’t have three boxes of Pillsbury Halloween Funfetti Sugar Cookie Mix in their cupboards, courtesy of a thrifty friend who picks up post-holiday bargains.

I was in the mood to bake — I wanted to make treats to take to work the day before Thanksgiving — but I didn’t have the energy to make batch after batch of cookies. So I turned to the Internet and, after a surprisingly long search, found a recipe for Snow Covered Crunch Bars using a prepackaged sugar cookie mix on

Problem was, the recipe called for 2ƒ cups of peanut butter. I had about a cup and a half. Also, a 12-ounce package of semisweet chocolate chips. I had about 10 ounces remaining of a package after someone had a chocolate fit and tore into the package. Oh, and I needed six (six!) cups of Rice Chex cereal. That was almost the deal breaker, but I did what any determined baker would do: I improvised.

I used the peanut butter I had on hand, and the slightly smaller amount of chocolate chips than the recipe called for. As for the cereal? A much smaller amount of Kashi Go Lean Crunch, with a handful of walnuts thrown in.

My experiment yielded two interesting results: One, the bars tasted terrific. The second, which I guess could be expected given that the base of the bars (the sugar cookie mix) contains plenty of preservatives, is that a full week later the cookies I’d put in my husband’s lunchbox weren’t rock-hard. They were just as good as the day they were made, even though he’d failed to completely close the airtight container I’d placed them in.

If you prefer an honest-to-goodness homemade bar cookie, just substitute your favorite sugar cookie recipe for the mix. Me? I still have two boxes to go, and I plan to do more experimenting.

Contact Food Editor Tiffany Kjos at or 807-7776.