Saturday, June 25, 2011

FRESH Berry White Chocolate Streusel Bars

I LOVE to bake.  Yes I do.  I also LOVE any kind of FRESH berry - strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries...they all make me happy.  When I have the opportunity to bake with berries I can't tell you how happy it makes me! VERY happy.  VERY, VERY happy.


That being said grab some berries and bake these bars!  If you only have one kind of berry that's fine as the original recipe only called for strawberries.  I just couldn't resist making these bars with all the berries I had on hand instead of just sticking with just the strawberries. 


What was really fun is that my alteration of this recipe created a RED, WHITE and BLUE dessert bar just in time for the up and coming July 4th holiday.  AND because this recipe makes such a large amount you can take this bars to a couple of BBQ's and still have enough for a stash to keep at home. :-)

Fresh Berry White Chocolate Streusel Bars
(recipe adapted from, Recipes from my Mom - a beautiful food blog that touches my heart and makes my mouth water )

Ingredients:

2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup COLD butter, cut into small pieces
4 oz. fluid strawberry jam
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups FRESH berries (chop or slice strawberries if you use them)
3 oz. fluid white chocolate (I used white chocolate bark that I melted in the microwave)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl whisk together oats, flour, both sugars, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Add in COLD butter that has been cut into small pieces.  Combine into dry ingredients either with your hands or a pastry cutter until butter is well incorporated as little crumbles.  Remove 1 cup of mixture and with remaining mixture carefully pour into a 15x10 jellyroll pan/cookie sheet.  Press mixture into pan to create an even crust.



3. Place in oven and bake for 12-13 minutes or until it is firm to the touch.  You do NOT want to brown this layer.  Remove from oven.

4. Warm jam in microwave for 30 seconds.  Add in lemon zest and then pour over warm crust.


5.  Spread berries over jam layer and then sprinkle with reserved 1 cup crumb mixture.

Pop into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until topping is a light brown.   Remove from oven and let cool 1 hour before drizzling with melted white chocolate. 


Cut into bars and then melt with happiness as you bite into one of these yummy treasures you just created.

My goodness these little treats are yummy if I do say so myself! :-)
Happy FRESH Berry White Chocolate Streusel Bars Baking!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Banana Split Dessert


Such a great dessert we have going on here.  FULL of good layers of creamy and fruity yumminess. The foundation of this dessert is made up of crushed cookies and then is built up with a creamy sweetened cream cheese layer followed up by a layer of crushed pineapple then sliced bananas, a smooth and decadent vanilla pudding layer, finalized with fluffy sweetened whipped cream which is garnished with chopped nuts and toffee bits.  So good.  SO GOOD!!!

Banana Split Dessert
(recipe comes from Butter and Oven Mitts)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Nilla Wafer cookies - crushed finely
1 1/4 cup sugar - divided
1/3 cup butter - melted
16 oz. cream cheese - at room temperature
28 oz. crushed pineapple - well drained (reserve a little bit of juice for brushing over sliced banana layer)
4 whole bananas
2 cups milk
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts...your choice)
1/4 cup toffee bits
marachino cherries (with or without stems)

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl combine crushed cookies, melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  Press cookie crumb mixture into bottom of 9x13 pan.  Set aside.

2. Beat together cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar.  Beat together until light and fluffy then gently spread over cookie crumb layer.


3. Next spread the crushed (and WELL drained) pineapple over cream cheese layer.


....and then top with sliced bananas...


To avoid bananas from getting brown you can brush the tops of them with reserved pineapple juice.

4. In a medium bowl beat together milk and pudding mixture until thickened.  Set aside. 

5. In (yet another) bowl combine heavy cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  Take 1 cup of whipped cream and gently fold into pudding mixture.  Layer over sliced bananas.....


6. Spread remaining whipped cream mixture over pudding mixture and then garnish with chopped nuts and toffee bits.  YUM!


Chill for a couple of hours and then top off with marachino cherries (and mini American flags too if you want) just before serving.


Hello there yumminess.  Goodness to you look WONDERFULLY edible!



Happy Banana Split Dessert Making!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Ahhh the beauty of summer has arrived.  HOT days filled with trips to a near by beach, ice cream cones, the smell of sunscreen (and bug spray) along with BBQ's with good friends all make summer-time so special.


Yes, I am a lover of summer.  Another thing I love to do (as many of my friends know) is talk about food.  I LOVE to discover new recipes that friends have made.  And I especially LOVE it when they pass on those recipes to me.  There are some people out there that do not like to share their recipes...which I feel is a crime! - but that's just my feeling on that issue.  I honestly think that it is one of the highest forms of a compliment when someone requests a recipe of mine.  I always feel flattered that someone enjoyed the dish or baked goodie that I made and shared with them enough to want to eat it again AND to make it themselves.  Enough said.  I think you get my point. 

Needless to say whenever my friend Diane and I see each other (especially just after the weekend) we most often chat about food and what we have made over the weekend or in the past.  Diane always surprises me with something wonderful.  Recently she passed along a lovely recipe for Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad.  As soon as she started listing off all the yummy ingredients of this salad I knew I had to make it.  Fresh broccoli and cauliflower...YES....chopped red onion...oh yeah!...crumbled feta cheese...for sure!...diced grape tomatoes...absolutely!....all tossed with a lovely dressing (that I thought I had ALL the ingredients for...not so much).  With all those yummy characters in mind I would like to share with you today my version of Diane's Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad.  I will also provide you with the original ingredients that are in Diane's salad...you know the ingredients that I didn't have on hand....;-)



Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad
(many thanks Diane for passing along this recipe to me)

1/2 head of cauliflower - chopped up into bite size pieces

1-2 good size bunches of broccoli - chopped up into bite size pieces

1/2 red onion - chopped

1 heaping cup grape tomatoes - cut into quarters

2-4 oz. feta cheese - crumbled

1 dry packet of Italian dressing (this is where I changed up Diane's recipe for lack of dry RANCH dressing on hand)

2 Tbsp water

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (Diane's recipe called for red rice vinegar)

1/2 cup olive oil (canola oil could be used in substitution)


Directions:

1. Place cut up cauliflower and broccoli into a large bowl.  Add in chopped red onion and quartered tomatoes.  Set aside.

2. Make dressing by combining dry salad dressing mix, oil, vinegar and water in a jar that can be covered tightly with a lid. Once lid is securely place on jar shake for a minute or two until well combined.  Pour dressing over veggies and toss gently to coat.  Fold in feta cheese.

3. Refrigerate salad for a good hour (if not longer if possible).  All the flavors of the dressing will melt into the veggies as it hangs out in the fridge.

Serve with happiness!



Of course you could always add in any of your favorite veggies to this refreshing summer salad.  Red peppers, cucumbers or black olives are a few additions that come to mind.  Go ahead be daring and toss in different veggies.

Happy Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad Making!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet and Tart Rhubarb Cake


I am delighted to report that I am now officially an owner of a rhubarb plant! Yes, for years now I have been wanting my very own rhubarb patch.  Many of my friends have offered me a snippet of their patch as rhubarb very easily transplanted but for some reason I never got my act together and took them up on their offer.  A couple weeks ago Jeff came home with a couple of plants from a friend's garden and guess what, rhubarb was one of them!  Happiness, I will now have my very own rhubarb patch next year!
So quick, go grab some rhubarb that may be still left in your garden or in the grocery store and make this cake.  I love this recipe for not only is it packed with tart rhubarb (which is shredded rather than cut into small chunks) and a good helping of cinnamon but it also calls for 1/2 cup of yogurt.  In all my baking experience whenever a recipe includes yogurt in it the end result is always deliciously moist.  Needless, to say this cake was indeed moist....which I blame on the yogurt.  Originally, plain non-fat yogurt was called for but all I had was Greek vanilla yogurt - the substitution worked out great!

Sweet and Tart Rhubarb Cake
(recipe slightly adapted from Confessions of a Bakeaholic - gorgeous and scrumptious blog!)

Ingredients:

4 stalks of rhubarb - peeled, cut in 1/2 and pull into strips



3 eggs

1 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

4 tsp cinnamon (yes, this is the correct amount...there is a lot of cinnamon in this cake - adjust if you so wish)

1 dash ground nutmeg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease pan of choice - BUNDT, 9x13 or two loaf pans.

2. Prepare rhubarb by peeling off thin stringy layer, then cutting stalks into 5-6" pieces and then peeling into strips (as seen in picture above).

3. In a large bowl beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Combine thoroughly.

4. Add in prepared rhubarb and yogurt - stirring until well combined.

5. Pour cake batter into prepared cake pan of choice.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool at least 10 minutes in pan before removing to serving platter.

*I served this cake without frosting but of course if you would like to kick it up a notch, frost it with your favorite Cream Cheese Frosting....super yum! You could also add in a cup of cut up strawberries to the cake batter as another variation on this recipe.


Happy Sweet and Tart Rhubarb Cake Baking!






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