Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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I hate doing the same things over and over again.

Repeating myself because you didn’t listen to me the first time I said that awesome thing I said. Getting up after just having sat down because I forgot my water on the counter. Painting my nails AGAIN because I always seem to paint them when I am the most antsy I could ever possibly be. Laundry. Hearing the same commercial on three different radio stations, play some tunes man!

But, there are exceptions.

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Playing my song obsession of the moment twice in a row. Or three times, who’s counting? Finding an adorable outfit and wearing it twice in the same week. Rewinding a part in a movie that made you laugh so hard you almost peed just so you can almost pee again! Playing that level of Angry Birds until you get all three stars.

And most importantly, making a recipe that you just LOVE over and over again. And in my kitchen, that’s a pretty big deal. Recipes rarely get a repeat performance. So many recipes, so little time.

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But once in a while I make something delicious that I can’t stop thinking about. Like these bars.

Soft and chewy oatmeal bars with a great hit of banana flavor, speckled with chocolate chips, baked and served warm. Don’t let the oatmeal fool you, these are breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, if you ask me! Customize them to your liking: add peanut butter cups/chips, toss in some nuts, top with ice cream, whatever you like!

Make these and eat them. Then make them again. Then eat them again. Again. What a lovely vicious cycle.

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Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Yield about 12-16 servings

Ingredients:

1 very ripe banana (mine was 115 g)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8″ glass baking dish with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork and then add the oil and brown sugar. With a whisk, mix well until there are no sugar lumps left.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and oats until combined. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pat batter down evenly into the prepared pan with the rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden and the center looks set. Let cool before cutting into squares. Or throw caution to the wind and eat them warm straight from the pan. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Eat, Live Run

Oatmeal Cream Pies

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Today is a special day.

It’s Mr. Picky-pants’ birthday today!!

It’s also Pi Day (03/14 = 3.14). How lucky he is to be born on Pi Day?! (I was born on Pecan Day and even though I have a very soft spot in my heart for pecans, I firmly believe that I was meant to be born on Brownie Day or I-ate-way-too-many-cookies day, just sayin’). He gets to enjoy all the wonderful pies that people around him make. Oh, wait… he doesn’t like pie. Not one single flavor. Commence eye roll. He’s Mr. Picky-pants for a reason, after-all.

Pie hating aside, I love him and I hope to make his birthday as special as I can. I’m taking him out for some of his fave food with good friends and sending him to work with his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

If you’re nice, I’ll share that recipe soon.

Until then, have some oatmeal cream pies.

Originally I wanted to make a mini fruit pie or at least a chocolate pie but motivation and ingredients were low. So Tracey helped remind me that there were loopholes. I quickly exploited that loophole and made these “pies.”

So, grab a cookie-pie and celebrate! Happy Pi Day!

Happy birthday hubby, I love you sooo much!!

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Oatmeal Cream Pies
Yields about 12 cookie sandwiches (24 cookies)

Ingredients:

For the cookies
1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick cook oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 /2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the marshmallow filling
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 7-ounce container marshmallow creme
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer) cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix together until thoroughly mixed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Scrape down the bowl with the butter/sugar mixture. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix on low setting until just combined (the flour just disappears).

Use a cookie scoop (mine holds 2 Tablespoons) to measure out dough balls on your prepared cookie sheets. Leave at least 1 inch between cookies (I fit 12 on each cookie sheet and it worked great!)

Bake for 8-11 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the filling:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and marshmallow creme. Slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add a generous dollop of filling to half of the cookies and top with another cookie, lightly pressing down. Enjoy!

Recipe from Baked Bree

Apple Nut Muffin Cake – TWD

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I need an extension cord.

You see, I live in Southern Texas were we don’t have Autumn. To prove my point: just a few days ago it was 96 degrees outside. But today, right now it is 66 degrees outside. SIXTY-SIX, people. I realize it’s only 9:30am. But one takes what one can get 🙂

But instead of typing up this post, sitting indian-style on my “back porch” being enveloped in the cool morning air, I am sitting on the couch. No extension cord. I am positive that this is to be remedied.

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Extension cord is going on the shopping list 🙂

This cake is a great choice for a Fall day (like today!!) so I couldn’t skip it. It is lightly sweet, filled with small bites of apple and perfectly spiced. The texture, for me, wasn’t that of a muffin but rather a soft, slightly dense cake… I guess that it what a muffin is supposed to be; but I’m not lucky enough to churn out muffins with this texuture.

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I halved the recipe, omitted the nuts, ramped up the cinnamon, added nutmeg, cloves and some ginger then baked it in an 8×4″ loaf pan and glazed with a simple icing (3/4 cup confectioners sugar + small splash of heavy cream + tiny bit of vanilla, real simple), sliced thick and enjoyed with a fork and a cup of tea. Today couldn’t get any better.

Unless, of course, I had that extension cord.

Thanks to Katrina of Baking and Boys for choosing this gem. Head on over to her blog for the recipe (or simply click here.)

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Happy Autumn (finally)!!!

Sandwich Thins

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Confession time: I went through at least three packs of sandwich thins for work lunches… and made peanut butter and jelly samiches with them. I’m boring when it comes to sandwiches. But these lovely thin breads just stuck with me. You can use them as a fluffy bread replacement, as a hamburger bun replacement… heck toast em and schmear Nutella on them for dessert!

Done, done and done!!

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When I saw on Tracey’s blog that I could make these at home, I was thrilled. But I forewarn you, the packaged ones may have chemicals and other things in them that are no-nos to some people, but they stay softer longer. The homemade version went stale after about 3 days. So if you make the whole batch, I suggest bagging up the amount you’ll eat in a few days’ time and freezing the rest, taking them out to thaw as you need/want them.

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As Tracey states “the recipe does call for a few ingredients you may not have in your pantry – vital wheat gluten and wheat bran. If you didn’t have the wheat gluten, you could try using additional all-purpose flour instead.” I didn’t have either the gluten or bran so I subbed AP and whole wheat flour respectively.

Homemade Sandwich Thins
adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups warm water (about 100 F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
rolled oats (for sprinkling on top of the sandwich thins)

Directions:
Crack the egg into a 2-cup measuring cup and beat lightly with a whisk. Whisk in the water and olive oil. Add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat bran, wheat gluten, yeast, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix briefly just to combine. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the bowl. Once completely incorporated, continue kneading on low speed until the dough is soft and elastic, about 7-8 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour; if it is too dry, add a little water.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the dough to the bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 16 equal portions. I weighed the ball of dough first and then used the scale to verify each portion was approximately the same size, but you could definitely just eyeball it. Roll each portion into a ball, then flatten it into a circle between your palms. Transfer to the baking sheet and, using your fingertips, press the circle into a thin round, about 5-inches in diameter. Brush the dough with water and sprinkle each thin with rolled oats. Cover each baking sheet with plastic wrap and let the thins rise just slightly while the oven preheats, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Use a wooden skewer to poke 9 holes in each thin. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until puffed and dry on top. Cool completely before slicing.

Makes 16

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Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp – TWD

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Rhubarb is one of the least utilized fruits in this house next to papayas.

I’m not averse to it. Heck I’m the girl who used to run around the house with a stick of it and a small bowl of sugar and closely follow my fool proof rhubarb eating regimen: lick rhubarb, dip in sugar, bite, swoon.

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But that was a long time ago. I haven’t had fresh rhubarb since I was a little girl and a little part of me rejoices when a rhubarb dessert is chosen. I usually use frozen rather than fresh as it’s much more accessible here.

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This crisp was delicious. Not one, but TWO layers of oatmealy, nutty crisp and in the center a wonderful combination of strawberries and rhubarb bubbling merrily away. Top that with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got yourself a winner.

For the recipe head on over to Sarah’s blog Teapots and Cakestands (click here to be taken directly to the recipe)

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Tune in next Tuesday for my TWD pick!! A billion years of waiting and it’s finally my turn 🙂

TWD – Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

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Oatmeal is something that I never really liked.

The texture was just all wrong, the cookies didn’t have illegal amounts of chocolate in them… oatmeal just wasn’t for me. I mean take a good long look at cooked oatmeal: it’s gloopy and smooshy and this odd cross between grey and brown. What about that was so enticing to grown ups, I never understood.

But now I’m an adult and my adult taste buds have apparently come in because I love oatmeal!! And sweet potatoes. And broccoli. Yep, even broccoli.

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The name pretty much tells you all you need to know about these cookies and the oatmeal in them made me snap to attention. Ok, ok… the fact that ‘chocolate’ came first is what drew me… but I get points for making these anyway, right?

I expected these cookies to spread thinner than they did, almost like a chocolate chip cookie, but they stayed almost the same size and shape as their unbaked brethren. I also think that I baked them a bit too long as they were a tiny bit on the crumbly side. But nit-picking aside, these were delicious.

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I, of course, had to up the amount of chocolate in these cookies so I added a few handfuls of chocolate chips. A perfect addition for the 5 year old with undeveloped taste buds in me. 🙂

For the recipe, head on over to Caroline and Claire’s blog Bake With Us.

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Day 13 – Cranberry Dark Cherry Coffee Cake

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Cleaning out the freezer always seems like a treasure hunt!! Or should I say an adventure…? Would adventure make you feel better?

Treasure implies finding something fantastic rather than the only-god-knows-how-old bananas you’ve pulled out of the back. Or the sticky neon blue and orange mess you have to clean up from busted Pop-Ices. Or frost bitten ground beef that you’re SURE you just bought a few weeks ago.

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None-the-less, sometimes cleaning out that frozen garbage disposal can yield some great things! Like a bag of frozen cranberries that you were smart enough to wash and freeze at their prime, or black berries, blueberries even rhubarb!

I tell ya, sometimes… I’m a pretty smart cookie!

And if you are a smart cookie and tucked away some cranberries, you should be an even smarter cookie and make this coffee cake. It’s divine.

It’s day 13 of my Christmas baking Extravaganza!! And cranberries are quintessential on my holiday table. And this is such a lovely coffee cake. Fluffy, tender, not too sweet cake bursting with plump red berries and topped with a clinically insane amount of pecan crumble. Yep, it’s pretty much perfect!!

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Cranberry Coffee Cake
Adapted from Joy The Baker

Cake:
4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream mixed with 2 Tablespoons of milk
3 cups cranberries (frozen works great)
1 cup halved black cherries (frozen works great)

Crumble Topping:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup quick oats (optional, but I skipped it cus I was out)

Put a rack in middle oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

Combine butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla extract.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and sour cream mixture in alternate batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and mixing until just incorporated. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into baking dish and spread evenly.

For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Take two full handful of the topping and spread it over the cake batter. Use a knife to swirl the topping into the batter. No need to massacre it, just a few swirls and you’re good to go. Spread the rest of the topping evenly over the cranberry cake batter.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Serve in big warm slices with a cup of creamy coffee.

Shipping Safe: NO. This is a make and share treat. Make this for your family on a coooold morning.
Make ahead and Freeze: NO, but not certain. There could be a loss in cake texture if you were to freeze it. This is best enjoyed the day it is made 🙂