Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Oh, thank goodness, it's not my tastebuds being wonky!

It's yet another winning recipe from Baking Bites. Seriously, I don't think any recipe that I've made from there has ever turned out bad. And I still have two or three on my 'to make' list.

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was omitting the raisins, subbing with chocolate and peanut butter chips. Dave is very much one of those "get those raisins away from my oatmeal cookies" kind of guys, so I knew the additon of pb chips would definitely be for the win. ;)

LIke Nicole mentioned, they are reminiscent of a blondie, but still retain their oatmeal cookie taste. And I really, really enjoyed the fact that it's all done in one bowl. Baking with a headache is always risky business, but far less so when there's not much to clean up afterwards!

1 cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups quick cooking oats
1½ cups chocolate and peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan.

Whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, then add the vanilla, egg, and melted butter, beating until smooth. Stir in oats and baking chips. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 22-26 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16-20 bars.


The Lemon Bars That... Weren't.

I set out the other day to make some lemon bars. Ya know, they usually have the shortbread cookie base and then the lemon-yellow almost-custardy filling. The traditional lemon bar, right?

Well, I found a recipe on Allrecipes that used a graham cracker crust instead. Which would be better for my dad since he has a hard time with really crunchy or harder textures. Alright, good deal. So I'm mixing it together, and the batter seems to taste decently enough, with some added lemon juice. It goes in the oven.

Twenty-five minutes later? It looks like some sort of lovechild between a blondie and a biscuit. And that's the nicest thing to say about it.

But the strangest part? Everyone else in this house loves it. The entire pan was gone by last night. I don't get it. It has the texture of a blondie for the most part. The bottom part, near the crust, is a bit moister, but it's still a lemon blondie as far as I'm concerned. The people living here must be crazy. ;)

I'm going with a Baking Bites recipe tomorrow morning, and I'm quite certain that one will be a winner.

And that I'll get a picture before the masses descend upon it.


Hermit Bars

I've always heard of hermit bars/cookies, but had never made them. So I made them. Then went in search of their history, so I could post it on here. It's been a two-day affair, and only now did I find something relatively decent. Joe Pastry has the best I've come across. Did you know there's not even a Wikipedia page for them? I was shocked.

I can easily imagine these being made a hundred years ago. Even further back than that. No one seems sure as to why they were named hermits, though. Either a mispronounciation, or perhaps based off the color of the hermit's robes? Either way, it makes me feel very connected to the past when making a recipe (or variant of) that's been around for so long. I have a box upstairs of my Aunt Sara's recipes that I plan on going through this autumn. I never met my Aunt Sara, she died a bit before I was born, but all the stories tell of her fabulous cooking and baking. My Uncle Ernie was a lucky man, that's another one I heard a lot. Pictures always show him smiling when Sara was around. Food and love are so intertwined, at least to me. They always looked happy together.

I digress. I think the best image that could be conjured up is one that took place about half an hour ago. I came upstairs from putting some clothes in the washer, and found my dad sitting in the table, quickly closing the cover of the container the bars are in, with a guilty look on his face. :) The bars are soft and chewy, and as they bake, fill the house with a delicious warming scent.

1-3/4 cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
½ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, beating well. Add molasses. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated. Spread into pan.

Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack before cutting into bars.


Applesauce Cake

This is really the post that just didn't want to be posted. I made this on Saturday night, but never had the chance to post about it until now. And it has to be fast because I have to get ready for work soon!

After spending Thursday and Friday not feeling very well, I wanted something really simple. And this totally fit the bill.

Classic flavors, which despite seeing more autumnal, it works for mid-August. Very moist and flavorful. My mom was raving about it for a full five minutes after trying it. :)

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼-½ tsp. ginger (if desired)
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup applesauce
¼ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and applesauce. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack. Serve warm or cold.


Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

I've made something like this before, haven't I?

I really shouldn't do blog posts while watching the Harry Potter movies. LOL But - give me one moment of fangirlishness - it IS Order of the Phoenix, and that IS one of my favorite of the movies. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super looking forward to the sixth movie coming out.

Alright. With that said, I really think I've made these before. But mom wanted chocolate and I wanted to bring some in to work on Monday, thus... these were made.

Originally from Hershey, the only thing I didn't do was the peanut butter 'icing' on top. Like most Hershey recipes, pretty easy and basic, but yummy enough to impress people. :)

1-2/3 cups flour
2/3 cups cocoa
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1¼ cups butter, melted
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
10 oz. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9-inch pan.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until completely mixed in. Stir in peanut butter chips. Spread into pan.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Makes about 36 brownies

Nectarine Cobbler

Oh, this morning was not one of my best mornings for baking. After much debating over the amount of sugar needed for a certain recipe - which included not only my dad, but our neighbor across the street - I discovered that my main ingredient had gone bad. Hmph.

But I knew I wanted to make this. We bought some nectarines, since all of the fruit-eaters in this house agreed on them, and I thought I'd surprise them with this. Cobblers are a great dessert for this time of year, especially with so many different fresh fruits in season and readily available.

After some searching, I found this recipe over at Melissa's, which seems to be similar to Whole Foods? I should probably explore the site more when I have the time. Pretty easy to put together, but next time, I would definitely add more nectarines. I'm not sure how visible in the picture (taken right after it came out of the oven), but it's a very thin fruit layer. I also used brown sugar in most places, instead of the regular white sugar.

2 nectarines
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. ground ginger

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup butter, cold
1/3 cup milk
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

Slice nectarines thinly. Stir together with sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Spread onto bottom of prepared pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut in butter, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk, and stir just until combined. (This will be very sticky.) Drop over fruit.

Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the dough and fruit.

Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, and serve either warm or at room temperature.


Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes

Alright, before I start talking about these cupcakes, I have to ask this: Has anyone else heard of Kraft's new Mallow Bites? They're chocolate-covered mini marshmallows. We found them at Target today, and they're quite yummy. Here, I took a picture. :)

(don't mind Stitch; he guards my computer) ;)

I poked around a bit online, but never found anything. *shrug*

Onto the cupcakes! After drinking Inko's Cherry Vanilla White Tea, I asked myself, "I wonder if I could make a cherry vanilla cupcake?" The tea is very smooth and has almost a subtle cherry taste, and I really wish I could find it nearby. Fast-forward to two (or three?) weeks later, and here it is. There are little to no cherry vanilla cupcake recipes on the web. Chockylit had one, but I knew I didn't want a cherry filling. So I went with the basic vanilla cupcake, but used some vanilla sugar I had made, instead of regular sugar. Then went with maraschino cherry juice in the frosting.

Maybe it's because I know it's there, but I taste the vanilla when eating the cupcake. Dave and my dad said no, that the cherry frosting overwhelms, but my mom said she picked up SOME vanilla flavor. Maybe using vanilla bean as well? This one is going to the "needs tweaking" mental file, because I'm not ready to give this up. I want that smooth cherry-vanilla flavor, goshdarnit! ;) But, despite my 'misgivings', Dave ate three and both my parents have plans for the remaining ones.

1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/16 tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup vanilla sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 10-12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time. Gradually add dry ingredients. Then add milk and vanilla. Fill cupcake liners half- to 2/3's full.

Bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack. Frost with cherry frosting.

Cherry Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. milk
¼ to ½ maraschino cherry juice (adjust to taste)
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add milk and cherry juice. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until desired consistancy is reached. Refrigerate for at least an hour in order to firm up.