Cherry Pie Bars

Cherry Pie Bars

I have always loved when my aunt, Debbie, comes to visit. Since I can remember, I’ve looked forward to her trips to see my parents and me and spend time with us.

She’s my cool aunt. You know, the member of my family, other than my parents, that I look up to, admire, want to spend time with. I distinctly remember her past visits fondly. They involved lots of shopping, watching movies, and going out to eat.

Cherry Pie Bars

I think my all-time favorite visit of hers was a long time ago when we spent a day painting our nails purple, eating pretzel nuggets right from the bag, and watching Spice World. I told you it was a long time ago! I sometimes wish I could transport back to that day.

It had been a very long time since Debbie came to visit, so late last year I asked her if she’d like to take a trip here and go to the Justin Timberlake concert with Mom and me (more on that fabulous show next week!). She said yes! It just took Justin Timberlake to get her to visit; no one can say no to Justin! While it seemed like the concert was eons away at the time, it came up super quickly.

We didn’t waste a single moment of the long weekend. The time flew by and was full of talking, a day of shopping, and some baking! We had to get in the kitchen for some bonding time.

Cherry Pie Bars

We made Cherry Pie Bars. Blackberry Pie Bars are one of my favorite recipes, so I was excited to mix them up with cherries. They did not disappoint. The crisp buttery shortbread with the creamy vanilla filling, and those juicy, sweet cherries is an irresistible combination. Plus, they are equally tasty warm from the oven or cold from the refrigerator. We could not stop eating them!

Even better than the bars was the time spent with Mom and Debbie in the kitchen talking and baking the day away. It’s a memory forever treasured in my mind. I really hope Debbie’s next visit is soon . . . even if it doesn’t involve Justin or Cherry Pie Bars.

Cherry Pie Bars

Cherry Pie Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

Shortbread

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Filling

4 large eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

6 cups fresh Bing cherries, washed, dried, stemmed, and pitted

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9 by 13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, stir together orange and lemon zest, sugar, flour, and salt until combined. Add butter and work in with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the butter is about the size of peas and has been well distributed.

Reserve 1 ½ cups of the shortbread in a small bowl. Pour the remainder of the shortbread into the pan and press it in firmly. Bake 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.

While the crust cools, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, and vanilla bean paste until fully incorporated. Fold in the cherries. Pour the filling over the baked crust and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping.

Place the pan on a baking sheet larger than the pan to catch any drips (mine dripped a lot) and bake for an additional 45-55 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool at least one hour before cutting. Bars may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped individually in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator about 1 hour.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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How Suits Inspires Me + Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

I have been wanting to write a letter to Suits creator Aaron Korsh for awhile now, but I couldn’t find an address to send it to him. Then I realized I have a vehicle through my blog. I figured I’d post the letter here and cross my fingers he’ll read it. Here goes nothing!

Dear Aaron,

When I watch Suits, I think three things. First, “Yay, Suits is on,” because it’s pretty much my favorite show. Second, I wish Harvey was real and would be my boyfriend since he’s smart and handsome and charismatic and basically perfect (am I right, ladies?). Third, I want nothing more from life than to have the opportunity to create a show as wonderful as Suits.

Suits takes me away from my life and all its problems. It makes me happy, makes me cheer for the characters, makes me wish I was a part of the characters’ world. Very few people have the talent you do to create such escapism, but I believe I do.

I have several completed novels, two completed screenplays, and a spec script. I have submitted my novels to agents on several occasions without success. I have submitted one of my screenplays to contests and received positive feedback, which is inspiring. There are, however, very few agents that accept unsolicited submissions from screenwriters.

Because I so admire your work, I was wondering if you would help me get my foot in the door and start my career. I’d appreciate any advice you could offer or any connections you could give me. Seriously, only a moment of your time would mean the world to me. I hope you have had the chance to read this letter. And if you have, thank you for doing so! It only takes one person to make my dreams come true, and I think that person just might be you. Oh, and thank you for creating Suits!

Best,
Laura Dembowski

Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

For those of you here for a recipe and not to hear about my dreams, you’ll be glad you stuck around. These cherry crumb bars are crazy good. Yes, making them means pitting a little less than two hundred cherries, but they are worth every moment of the messy work. I recommend investing in a cherry pitter, but you can also pit cherries easily with a paring knife. I’ve done it both ways because summer means pitting lots of cherries for treats like this. The slightly crispy, slightly crumbly shortbread crust, paired with the sweet, juicy cherries, and the slightly sandy, melt in your mouth topping is the perfect combination, just like the world of Suits!

Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 24 bars

Ingredients

5 heaping cups Bing cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cubed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9 by 13 inch pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and work it in using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the butter is evenly distributed in pea sized pieces and the mixture is crumbly.

In a medium bowl, stir together cherries, 1 cup of the crumb mixture, remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon until well combined.

Pour half of the remaining crumb mixture into the prepared pan. Press it down firmly with your hands and bake for about 12 minutes, until light golden brown.

Allow crust to cool slightly before spreading the cherry mixture on to it in an even layer. Top cherries with remaining crumb topping. Press the topping gently into the cherries. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cherries are bubbling. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about an hour or in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Crepes of Wrath

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Vegan, Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Vegan Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Up until a few years ago, dinner without meat was pretty much unthinkable.  Whether beef, chicken, or pork, my dinner plate was a balance of meat, starch, and vegetables.  Then my taste buds changed and my horizons broadened dramatically.

I realized I don’t even really like chicken, beef and pork taste a lot better when eaten less frequently, and even fish doesn’t need to be on the plate every night.  Some of my favorite dinners are not only meatless, but also vegan.  Quinoa salads, chickpea salads, guacamole, pureed vegetable soups.  I crave these foods regularly.  My ten year old self would be shocked at my current food preferences.

Vegan Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Because this is primarily a baking blog, almost everything I make is meatless.  So for this meatless Sunday Supper, I wanted to challenge myself and make something vegan.  I can whip up a gluten free recipe in a heartbeat, but vegan recipes are much more difficult.  A lot of recipes just need eggs and/or butter.

Rest assured neither is present in these Vegan, Gluten Free Breakfast Bars.  These are an awesome on the go breakfast or snack.  Though they fell apart a little, their irresistible flavor and soft texture make them a recipe I’ll make again and again.  The almond butter and maple syrup shine through, but the orange juice soaked prunes and apricots are the real stars.  They are little flavor explosions in your mouth!  I’ll be starting many more days with these healthy bars.

Vegan Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Vegan Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Vegan, Gluten Free Breakfast Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 bars

Ingredients

Zest and juice of one orange

½ cup dried apricots, chopped

½ cup prunes, chopped

1 cup almonds, chopped

2 cups quick cooking oats

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ cup almond butter

¼ cup canola oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment, leaving overhang for easy removal later.

Place the orange zest in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, apricots, and prunes. Set aside to soak while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

In a large bowl, stir together almonds, oats, and cinnamon.

In the same bowl as the orange zest, add almond butter, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir until fully combined.

Pour the orange zest mixture over the oats, and add the dried fruit, leaving excess orange juice in the bowl. Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed and the mixture comes together. Press it into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly golden brown and set. Cool completely in the pan before slicing and enjoying. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Notes

Recipe adapted from The Bojon Gourmet

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Don’t forget to check out all the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Salads, Soups, Stews and Starters

“Meat”balls

Pastas, Pizzas and Casseroles

Burgers

Tacos & Everything Wrapped

Other Main and Side Dishes

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Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday!
 We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

 

Pecan Bars #SundaySupper

 Pecan Bars

First of all thank you so much for voting for Pies and Plots in The Kitchn’s The Homies Best Sweets and Baking Blog Contest!  Your support means so much to me <3  I finished in fourth place.  While I didn’t technically win, I feel like a winner thanks to all of you.  I mean who would have thought this little blog could compete with all the others out there?!?  I can already tell this is going to be an awesome year!

Here in the Detroit area Fat Tuesday is also known as Paczki Day.  If you are unfamiliar with them, paczki are big, yeast doughnuts typically filled with jelly or custard and coated with glaze or sugar.  They are buttery, dense, soft, and pillowy.  The best jelly doughnut you’ll ever have.  At least that’s what people say and what I remember from being a kid.

Pecan Bars

Last year, Mom, Dad, and I went to Hamtramck, the paczki capital, to pick up some super authentic and sure to be delicious paczki from one of the best bakeries that make the time consuming treats.  It was a cold, snowy day, but it was gonna be so worth it to sink our teeth into these glorious goodies.

The bakery wasn’t that crowded since we went the weekend before Paczki Day, as wait times on the actual day routinely exceed an hour.  It smelled intoxicating and they looked great.  I could barely wait until after dinner for my treat.

Pecan Bars

But wait I did, and when I took that first bite . . . I was not impressed.  They were hard and chewy, almost like bread.  There wasn’t enough glaze.  Or was there any at all?  And the jam tasted like nothing.  I tore open almost all of the paczki, hoping one of them would be good, but they just weren’t.  How could this be possible?  Even the guys at Dad’s work were unimpressed when he took in the leftovers. 

This year, I figured I’d stick to my own treats (though Brown Eyed Baker’s Paczki are on my list for next year!), so I made Pecan Bars and I am so glad I did.  These are the best Fat Tuesday treat ever!  The crust is so buttery and crumbly, and then there’s that filling.  Gooey and caramel-y with tons of toasty pecans.  I kept taking little tastes of these bars just to make sure they were good ;)   Plus, I found these really easy to make.  I think Paczki Day just became Pecan Bar Day!

Pecan Bars

Pecan Bars

Pecan Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

Crust

1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons cold water

Filling

1 stick unsalted butter, very soft, almost melted

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups pecans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan and line with parchment. Butter the parchment.

Make the crust. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it is in pea sized pieces. Add the water and continue working the dough until it comes together when pressed. Firmly press the dough in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.

While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, and vanilla until fully combined and all streaks of butter are gone. Stir in flour until just incorporated. Stir in the pecans until fully coated.

Pour the pecan mixture over the baked crust and spread into an even layer. Return to the oven and bake for about 30 additional minutes. Cool bars completely in the pan. Once cool, cut bars and store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bars may also be frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour or in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Claire Robinson

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Don’t forget to check out all the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Cocktails & Other Beverages:

Appetizers:

Main Dishes:

Side Dishes:

Desserts:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars #SundaySupper

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

Today is a big day!  I’m celebrating two birthdays: Dad’s and Sunday Supper’s.  I’m so excited!  Some celebrations are just what this dreary January needs.  Clearly, Dad’s birthday is a big deal; it’s even a milestone birthday . . . I won’t say which one.  His present is waiting to be opened and he’s already devoured his birthday treat (ah, the life of a blogger), but I’ll make sure he has plenty of tasty food today.

He is such an important part of my life.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  I cherish our conversations and one on one time together.  I love when he, Mom, and I do something fun together.  He never stops fighting for me and my dreams, even when we all grow a little frustrated and discouraged.  He is my faithful taste tester, errand runner, and flower planter, and is an invaluable part of my everyday life.  The three of us go together like peanut butter, jelly, and caramel :)   Happy Birthday, Dad!  Here’s to an amazing year, and many more to follow.

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

It’s also Sunday Supper’s birthday!  Sunday Supper is one of the most important parts of my blog life.  It’s no secret I often struggle with my blog and its failure to live up to my lofty expectations.  Sunday Supper has helped my blog grow leaps and bounds, which I really appreciate, but more than that, it’s introduced me to so many other bloggers.  I am part of a community with Sunday Supper.

I look forward to seeing the themes each week.  And then I bound to my computer on Sunday to interact with my blog friends and see what they created.  It has opened up a new world for me and made me feel like I’m a part of something for the first time EVER!  So thank you Isabel and the Sunday Supper team for creating this movement and allowing me to be a part of it.

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

To celebrate these birthdays, I needed a seriously awesome treat, and these Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars did not disappoint.  I knew Dad would love these and I was right.  He still can’t stop talking about them.  I love them too with the peanut butter-oat crust and topping that is a little soft, a little chewy, and sturdy enough to support the fabulous filling of cherry preserves (though you can use whatever flavor you like) and caramel sauce.  I happened to have a jar of Jeni’s Salty Caramel Sauce that was calling my name and it was perfect in these bars.  Plus, they are gluten free and you would NEVER know it!  Though I have a giant sweet tooth, I did find these to be a little too sweet.  I cut down the amount of sugar in the recipe below to combat that.  In addition, a thin layer of peanut butter under the jelly and/or a few peanuts in the topping would be a great twist to add a little more complexity.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love these bars and know you will too.  I think Dad will be requesting them every year for his birthday!

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

 

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: PT10 M

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 9 bars

Ingredients

½ stick unsalted butter

¾ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free)

½ cup jam/jelly/preserves, whatever flavor you like (I used American Spoon Cherry Spoon Fruit)

¼ cup salted caramel sauce (I used Jeni’s)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch square pan and line it with parchment. Lightly butter the parchment.

In a large microwave safe bowl, microwave butter until melted, 60-75 seconds. Add the peanut butter and microwave for an additional 45 seconds. Stir the butter and peanut butter together before adding sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir until fully combined. Add the oats and stir until a thick dough is formed.

Press about ¾ of the peanut butter-oat mixture into the prepared pan very firmly. Spread the preserves in an even layer over the crust. Spread the caramel in an even layer over the preserves. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the caramel.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no crumbs (it will have preserves and caramel on it), the top is golden brown, and the caramel is bubbling. Cool completely in pan.

Bars may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature about an hour or in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks

To add more peanut flavor to the bars, spread ¼ cup peanut butter on the crust before the preserves and caramel and/or add ¼ cup peanuts to the dough reserved for the topping.

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Don’t forget to check out all the other celebration Sunday Supper dishes!

Brilliant Breads and Breakfast Fare:

 

Amazing Appetizers and Cocktails:

 

Spectacular Soups and Salads:

 

Enticing Entrees:

 

Decadent Desserts:

 

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

 

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

SundaySupper

 

Favorite Recipes of 2013

Another year has come and gone.  This was actually my first full year of blogging.  2013 flew by.  While I’m already planning recipes for 2014, this is the perfect time to look back at my personal favorite recipes of the past year.  Hopefully you’ll discover a recipe or two you missed the first time around.  Happy New Year!

Frostedn Clementine Cookies

Frosted Clementine Cookies

These unique cookies have amazing orange flavor in both the cookies and icing.  They are the perfect winter treat!

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Brown sugar shortbread covered with a thick layer of gooey caramel with salty pretzels.  What’s not to love about these bars?  They were a hit on Pinterest and featured on both Food Porn Daily and the FoodBuzz Top 9!

Homemade Marshmallows

Homemade Marshmallows

I make these all the time and never get tired of them.  I only wish I hadn’t waited 23 years of my life to make them.  You’ll never want store bought marshmallows again!

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

I had never so much as tasted Coconut Cream Pie before I made it.  Man was I missing out!  The silky smooth filling with toasted coconut on top is a tropical treat.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Homemade bread is one of my favorite things to make and eat.  This is my favorite bread, with the subtle spice of cinnamon and tons of raisins.  Plus, it makes the house smell amazing!

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

I know not everyone likes coconut (I didn’t like it for most of my youth), but it’s one of my favorite flavors.  I am so proud of this original recipe and often crave the moist layers of cake and insanely creamy filling.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Whether for breakfast, snack, or dessert, this buttery snack cake with a carmelized crust, complements the sweet-tart rhubarb perfectly.  The crumb topping is pretty addictive too.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Topped with a mound of homemade marshmallow meringue, the tart lemon filling and buttery crust go together perfectly.  This is a show stopping dessert!  It was Mom’s Mother’s Day treat and she loved it even more than I did.

Homemade Nutter Butters

Homemade Nutter Butters

Dad’s Father’s Day treat, these nutty-oaty cookies are sandwiched with peanut butter Italian buttercream.  A recipe from Thomas Keller, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was left speechless by the amazing taste of these giant cookies.

Sour Cherry Crisp

Sour Cherry Crisp

A trip to a local farm inspired this fruity treat.  I devoured it for breakfast several days in a row.  Vegan and gluten free, the syrupy cherries and crispy topping are a match made in heaven!

Flourless Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

These are my favorite peanut butter cookies ever!  In fact, I may never make another kind again.  They don’t have any butter or flour, so I don’t have to feel too guilty about eating them; plus they pack serious peanut butter flavor!  If you are a peanut butter addict, you must try these cookies!

Peach Granola Bars

Peach Granola Bars

I know these might not sound like one of the best recipes of the year, but they are.  In fact they’re one of my favorite recipes of all time.  Chewy granola, crunchy nuts, soft peaches, these bars are one of my favorite breakfasts.  And one of the many reasons I can’t wait for summer and peach season!

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies

By far the most popular recipe on my site (thanks Google!), these gluten free, butter free cookies are outstanding.  The almond flavor shines through and they hold up better than the peanut butter ones.  Crispy exteriors and chewy interiors make these cookies totally irresistible.  I love them so much I even made a video with Mom about them!

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

Whether you love pumpkin pie or not, you have to try these bars!  The crunchy crust, the silky, spiced filling, the crumbles, some soft, some crunchy.  When is Thanksgiving again?

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This is my go-to apple pie.  I used the same crust that I adore, and the inside is filled with thinly sliced apples that cook perfectly, but it’s the salted caramel sauce layered with the apples in the filling and poured onto the crust before baking that make this a winner.

I think I need to get in the kitchen and make some of these things again.  I bet you want to start baking too!

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts #SundaySupper

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

Sweet and spicy.  That’s how I would describe 2013.  Some of it was pretty great.  I feel like I’m doing the best writing of my life (2014 will show if I’m right), I spent a lot of quality time with my parents doing fun things like shopping, going out to dinner with friends, and seeing plays, musicals, and even a concert.  My blog has started to grow, though it is still not where I’d like it to be, and I made some rather tasty food.  But my struggles with trying to get my dreams to become reality, frustrations over blogging, fears about what the future holds, and a few other things I didn’t talk about here on the blog, made it a tough year.

Isn’t that how most of us feel about the years?  That they were good and bad, sweet and spicy.  We look back and think of the things that didn’t go right, the things that didn’t get done, the regrets we have.  And then a decade down the line, when we look back, those mostly little things have hopefully vanished and we only remember the good parts.  Life is always a series of ups and downs, and hopefully in the end, there are more ups than downs.

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

2013 wasn’t my favorite year.  I wanted it to be better.  I hoped it would be better.  And now I’m looking to 2014, hoping, wishing that it has some good things in store.  Only time will tell.  For now, I sit, thinking about this year, and all the things that occurred during it.  Reliving the good bits, and trying to forget the bad ones. 

Regardless of my feelings about the year, it certainly went quickly.  Thinking back, it seems like January was just yesterday, like 2013 just commenced, like I want it back, to do over again, to use my time better.  I was just filled with that nostalgia for 2012, pleading with it to come back; now here I am again.  This time, I’m not asking 2013 to come back.  I don’t want it back.  I’m proud of a lot of the things I accomplished.  And this time, I’m really looking forward to 2014, because I think it has great things in store for me.  I think it’s going to work out.  So, 2014, here’s to you; may you be far more sweet than spicy.

Speaking of sweet and spicy, these Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts are just that.  Okay, so these are definitely more sweet than spicy, but two heaping tablespoons of cinnamon bring that warm, comforting heat, I crave this time of year.  I thought these would be dense and chewy like a blondies, but instead they baked up soft and moist, a dense, cake-like bar that I fell in love with after one bite.  I’m much happier they’re cakey instead of chewy.  The crunchy walnuts are the perfect complement to the cinnamon cake and the vanilla glaze is quite literally the icing on top.  If 2014 is anything like these bars, I think we’ll all be just fine!

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

 

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

Bars

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups walnuts

Topping

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Glaze

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, line it with parchment and lightly butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cream of tartar, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer will work too. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until once again light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the walnuts until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread into an even layer. In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and sugar for topping. Sprinkle the topping into an even layer over the batter. Use it all.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan.

Once the bars are cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, water, and vanilla until a thick, but spreadable glaze forms. Add more water to make it thinner or sugar to make it thicker as necessary. Immediately spread glaze evenly over bars. Cut into pieces and serve. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in pieces in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl Cookbook via Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Breakfast

Appetizers & Snacks

Main Dishes & Sides

Desserts & Drinks

Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

 

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars #SundaySupper

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars #SundaySupper

Everyone has problems.  That’s what my seventh grade science teacher once told Mom.  I was pretty smart, a straight A student, but socially, I didn’t fit in.  I pretty much never chatted with my peers.  Instead I minded my own business, moving quickly from class to class, sitting silently, being ignored at lunch and standing alone at recess, contemplating life’s big issues . . . or my weekend plans, unless Mom was there helping out, in which case, I happily talked to her.

It was easy to look at the popular kids and think they led perfect lives, but they didn’t.  I’m not sure why this didn’t dawn on me until that teacher said this.  It was like a revelation.  It didn’t make us all best friends, far from it, but it made me understand that I was not the only one struggling in some way.  I may not have known the issues they dealt with, but they were there.  Whether they couldn’t make the grades, didn’t earn a spot on a sports team, or had issues outside of school, no one was immune.

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

The same is true today.  I am constantly guilty of looking at others and assuming their lives must be absolutely fantastic, but everyone has issues.  Maybe I’m wishing I was a fearless traveler like a family friend.  Perhaps I’m admiring the fame, fashion, and friends of my favorite celebrity.  Or even just wanting the career of a fellow food blogger.  But all those people, they have issues too.  We always think the grass is greener on the other side, when in fact that probably isn’t the case.

It’s important to remember that anyone can suffer; anyone can want to curl into a ball and cry the day away; no one’s life is perfect.  Because if you’re anything like me, you’ve looked at other people’s lives and believed them to be perfect, when in reality you’re only seeing the surface.  We need to take time to appreciate the perfect and imperfect parts of our lives and find happiness with what we have and work to change the things we aren’t happy with.

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

If anything is perfect, it’s these Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars.  Seriously, I may never eat pumpkin pie again – these are that good.  The bottom shortbread crust is super firm and crunchy with a deep, complex, caramelized flavor.  Then there’s the filling.  It’s just like pumpkin pie filling with tons of warm spices.  The only way I’d improve it is to add a little bourbon because bourbon makes everything better!  And then there’s the crumb topping, crunchy in spots, soft in others.  The individual components are rock stars, but together – OMG!  This is irresistible!  This must be on your Thanksgiving table!

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

 Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 9 bars

Ingredients

Crust and Crumb

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups quick cooking oats

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups pumpkin puree (I used homemade, but canned will work)

1/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, salt, baking soda, and sugars until fully combined. Add butter and vanilla and stir until all ingredients are moistened. Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, pumpkin, and cream until a homogeneous mixture is formed. Pour filling over baked crust and return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes more.

After the filling has baked, remove it from the oven and sprinkle remaining crust mixture over the top, breaking it into crumbs of various sizes. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown and the center is still slightly jiggly. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour and then cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 additional hour before carefully cutting (the bottom crust is tough to cut through) and serving. Bars may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen, individually wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

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Don’t forget to check out all the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Breakfasts and Breads

 

Appetizers, Starters, and Condiments

 

Soups, Sandwiches, and Salads

 

Main Dishes

 

Side Dishes

 

Desserts

Wine Pairing Recommendations for Squashin’ Winter #SundaySupper from Enofylz Wine Blog

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

I am near-sighted.  I started having trouble seeing in fifth grade.  Most people would say this isn’t a big deal, and it’s not in the scheme of things.  But I didn’t want to wear glasses; they weren’t for me.  So for two years, I didn’t wear glasses to school.  When I was at home I wore them in increasing amounts until I became comfortable with them, but I didn’t wear them to school.  It wasn’t easy, but I managed to swing it.  After those two years, I got tired of having to go sit in front of the chalkboard to copy down notes or read the day’s assignments, so I started wearing them to school.  I’d take them off at lunch or when I didn’t need to see, but I got over it and wore them.

However, to this day, I still don’t wear my glasses in public.  Crazy, I know, but I don’t like how I look in glasses.  When I picture myself, it never involves glasses.  When I’m shopping or out to eat, I keep them in my purse for emergencies.  When I go see a play, I often put them on after the lights go down.  So if you see me at the mall and wave and I don’t wave back, it’s only because I can’t see you.

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

I can kind of see and make do quite well.  I also have prescription sunglasses I sometimes leave on when I’m grocery shopping or the like.  It’s not ‘cause I think I’m cool.  I know I’m not cool.

I have tried contact lenses before and it didn’t work out.  The discomfort and thought of touching my eye were simply too much for me to handle.  I’ve also considered Lasik, but that sounds pretty freakin’ scary.  So for now I make do with sunglasses and squinting.  Really, it’s served me pretty well so far.

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

It’s not hard to see why these Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars are delicious.  You’ll never know they are vegan with a firm, crunchy oat and coconut topping and crust, surrounding sweet blackberries.  Even though summer is over :( , you can probably still find them in the stores.  I also think frozen, thawed, and drained blackberries would probably work.  The filling might be a little juicer, but I think that would be a good addition.  Make these bars and see how good they are for yourself!

 Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

Vegan Blackberry Coconut Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 9 bars

Ingredients

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

¾ cup virgin coconut oil, solid

3 ½ - 4 cups blackberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment, leaving overhang for easy removal later.

In a medium bowl, stir together ½ cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and coconut until combined. Add coconut oil and stir until it is distributed evenly and a crumbly mixture forms. Press half of it into the pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together blackberries with remaining tablespoon sugar and lemon juice. Pour over the dough in the pan. Top with the remaining dough. Bake for 50-60 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the top is golden brown. Be sure dough is set and fully cooked on top. Cool bars completely in pan before slicing and serving. Bars may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour or in a 350 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen

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Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

I’m not much of a fan of Halloween.  Sure, I like decorating the house a little and find myself unable to resist the festive cartoons that air on TV, even though I’ve seen them about a million times.  But I don’t like being scared and I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since second grade.  Seriously.

There is one thing I absolutely, positively love about Halloween: CANDY!  I’ve already stocked up on Williams Sonoma’s amazing candy and I need to get my Jelly Belly order in soon.  I also head to Target and drug stores to stock up.  I’ve only hit Target so far this year and was unimpressed by the selection.  It was all chocolate with a little candy corn.  I don’t mind candy corn, but as you know, chocolate is not an option for me with my allergy.  It was a pretty big bummer.  Maybe more gummy candy will come in, and I definitely need to head to some other stores.

Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

The trip wasn’t a total bust, though, because then I spotted Halloween cereals.  In the blink of an eye my arms were filled with cereal boxes.  Boo Berry (which I tried and loved last year), Frute Brute, and Fruity Yummy Mummy are now in my pantry calling my name.  I didn’t pick up Franken Berry, but you know I’ll be making another trip for a box.  These are old school cereals that had previously been discontinued but are now back for the season.  I think this is a great idea and I love them.  Seasonal treats are always so fun to stock up on.  If there’s a shortage of Candy Corn Oreos, I’m probably to blame.

Like candy, I also have a thing for cereal.  I don’t eat it all the time, but there are always at least five boxes of cereal in my pantry.  Chex (mostly for those Puppy Chow cravings), Rice Krispies, Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Cheerios, and now these fun, fruity, marshmallow-y cereals have joined the assortment.

Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

I wasn’t planning on baking with them, but then I saw that this week’s Sunday Supper theme was crunchy and I put two and two together.  Enter Boo Berry Cereal Treats.  These no bake treats are ooey, gooey, messy, but I think that makes them taste even better.  The Boo Berry flavor shines through and they stay super crunchy.  These easy to make treats are sure to be a Halloween hit!

Don’t forget to enter my Food Should Taste Good giveaway!

Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

Boo Berry Cereal Treats #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

5 ½ cups Boo Berry Cereal

5 cups mini marshmallows

½ stick unsalted butter

Instructions

Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with parchment, leaving overhang for easy removal.

In a large bowl, place marshmallows and butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir very well to promote melting. An additional 15-30 seconds may be necessary to be sure the mixture is fully melted. Once melted, add the cereal and stir until it is fully coated in marshmallow goo.

Working quickly because the mixture gets stickier and harder to work with by the second, pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer using your hands or the back of a spoon. Allow to cool for about 2 hours to set. Cut into bars and serve. Bars may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Please check out all the other crunchy Sunday Supper dishes!

Crispy Appetizers:

Bitterballen from The Urban Mrs.
Caprese Wontons from Jane’s Adventure in Dinner
Crispy Broccoli Cheddar Bites from Curious Cuisiniere
Waldorf Salad from Noshing With The Nolands

Crunchy Entrees and Sides:

Crunchy Baked Chicken with Homemade Shake and Bake from Growing Up Gabel
Crunchy Crusted Chicken Strips with Chipotle Honey Mustard from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventure
Flautas de Rajas con Queso (Cheesy Poblano Pepper Taquitos) from La Cocina de Leslie
Penny’s Taco Salad from Webicurean
Popcorn Chowder from The ROXX Box
Rosemary Garlic Croutons on layered Savoy Cabbage Soup from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Strawberry and Mozzarella Flatbread from Family Foodie

Munch on Snacks:

Crunchy & Chewy Chocolate Hazelnut Granola from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Crunchy Granola Bars (Better than Nature Valley) from Shockingly Delicious
Crunchy Pumpkin Pie Spice Roasted Chickpeas from Daily Dish Recipes
Duck Fat Chex Mix from The Texan New Yorker
Easy Vegan Granola from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Fried Veg Momos with Cheese Recipe from Masala Herb
How to Make Homemade Sweet and Salty Trail Mix from Neighborfood
Orange Spiced Cashews from Hip Foodie Mom
Peanut and Pretzel Popcorn Balls from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from Hezzi-D’s Cooks and Books
Slow Cooker Bar-B-Q Party Mix from Hot Mamma’s Kitchen Chaos
Sourdough Grissini from girlichef
Spicy Lentil Crackers from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pepitas from Alida’s Kitchen
Sweet Potato Chips from Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Unbaked Healthy Oatmeal Sesame Bars from My Trials In The Kitchen
Vanilla Almonds from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Crisp Dessert:

Boo Berry Cereal Treats from Pies and Plots
Choco-Caramel Squares from Basic N Delicious
Chocolate Covered Potato Chip Rice Krispie Treats from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chocolate Pecan Biscotti from The Food Army Wife
Cookie Brittle from Juanita’s Cocina
Double Banana Pie Krispie Treats from What Smells So Good?
Honeycomb Crunch Candy from Food Lust People Love
Momofuku Chocolate Chip Cornflakes Cookies from Ninja Baking
Nutty Wedges with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream from Magnolia Days
Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies from Mess Makes Food
 
 

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.