Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple Streusel Oatmeal Bars

Hello fall!  It is finally here!  Fall is my favorite season, which is sad because it is so short up here.  The snow is already starting to make its way down the hillside, the grass is frosty in the morning, and the days are getting noticeably shorter (five and a half minutes per day shorter).  As we get ready to hunker down for six months of snow and darkness, I am comforting myself with fall flavors--cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, squash, cloves, and more. 

These apple streusel oatmeal bars kicked off my fall baking this year.  And we certainly started with a bang.  I really loved the combination of the tart apples with the sugar and spices.  I also loved the shortbread-like cookie on the bottom combined with the crunchy oatmeal crumble on top.  They were easy to make and very forgiving--you can add more apples, take some away, add more spices, take some away, add the oatmeal crumble topping or use a creamy vanilla anglaise instead (or both!...mind blown).  

These little bars were also perfect for breakfast or dessert (I tried them for both meals).  I can't wait to  have them after a long day of skiing dipped in hot spiced cider or warm cherry wine.  I hope you love them as much as we did.  

Happy fall!

Even Mozzy Monster loved them!

Apple Streusel Oatmeal Bars:

For the shortbread pastry...
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
For the apple filling...

  • 1/2 cup of white sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/4 generous cup of flour
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of cloves (I love cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 4ish cups of tart apples, peeled and cut into small pieces (I used apples picked from a co-    worker's tree, but next time I will use honeycrisps and maybe reduce the sugar a tad)

For the oatmeal crumble...
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 1/4 cups of oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

To make the bars...

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the shortbread crust first. Mix flour, sugar salt, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.  
  3. Cut in the butter with your fingers or with a pastry blender.  Mix until you have pea-sized crumbles.
  4. Gently mix in the beaten egg.
  5. Spray an 11 x 15 baking dish (or two 9 x 13 dishes) with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Pat the shortbread mixture into the bottom of the dish.
  7. Next make the apple filling.  Combine the apples with the flour, sugar, and your assortment of spices.  Toss evenly to coat.
  8. Spread evenly over the crust.
  9. Finally, make the oatmeal crumble.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. 
  10. Add in the granulated sugar and the brown sugar.  Mix until no clumps remain.
  11. Add in the melted butter and vanilla.  Stir until evenly moistened.
  12. Loosely crumble on top of the apples.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes--until the oatmeal crumble is beginning to brown.
  14. Allow to cool.  Although I bet it would be delicious hot on top of ice cream.  
  15. ENJOY!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Baked & Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes

Who loves chocolate, donut holes, and glaze?  If you want two bites of delicious, fluffy, and creamy amazingness, these little guys are for you.  I am not sure what prompted me to make them, but I certainly am glad I did.  With the perfect amount of sweetness, these little champs won't kill your palette, but instead will leave you wanting for more.  I also love them because they are pretty...and we all know that pretty food is the best food.

Living with a Michigander, it is a mystery to me how I have never known that there is actually "donut season" in the Mitten State.  I've made baked pumpkin donut holes before, that were to die for, but now I am itching to make apple donuts and apple cider.  Yum.  I'll keep you posted for sure.

The long and the short of it is that bakes donuts are incredible.  And that's about it. 

Baked & Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes:
Adapted from this recipe.

For the donut holes...
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of nonfat milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • a very, very small dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • sprinkles for adornment, if you'd like
For the glaze...
  • 2ish cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/4ish cup of heavy cream (or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 scant teaspoon of lemon juice 
  • A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or pumpkin spice if you are interested
To make the donut holes...
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder together in a large bowl.  
  3. Mix in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and cinnamon, if using). Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the beaten eggs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla together until completely smooth.  
  5. Whisk in the melted butter until combined.  
  6. Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix!  
  7. Mix until combined and there are no more flour balls/clumps. 
  8. Spoon the batter into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.  Cut one of the corners of the bag so that you have a make-shift piping bag. 
  9. Fill the mini muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full. 
  10. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake them!  
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before glazing.
  12. Try not to eat them.
To make the glaze...
  1. In the bowl of you stand mixer, add the cream, lemon juice, vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar. 
  2. Mix well.
  3. Add more sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time until the glaze reaches your desired taste and consistency.
  4. Add any spices you want, then mix again.
Finishing up...
  1. Using two forks or tooth picks or the utensils of your choice, dunk the donut holes in the glaze.  Make sure they are fully coated.
  2. Move to a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet or paper to catch all the drips. 
  3. If you really love glaze, you can re-dunk your donut holes after the first coat has dried.
  4. Adorn with sprinkles, if you wish.
  5. ENJOY! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beer Cheese Sauce

Alaska, the nation's largest state by far, doesn't have very many people.  However, we do have a lot of microbreweries--22 of them, in fact.  Our favorite is Midnight Sun Brewing Company.  With a regular rotation of unique and flavorful beers, this wine lover actually gets excited for barley and hops!  Great beer, exceptional service, and great food!  Every single thing on the menu is delicious--trust me, we've tried every item.  A favorite among locals, visitors, and pretty much anyone that visits the establishment is the beer cheese sauce that accompanies their soft pretzels.  The pretzels are great, don't get me wrong, but I am obsessed with the cheese sauce.  While dining with friends (or even with strangers!), it is not uncommon and certainly not frowned upon to lick all of the remaining remnants of the sauce from the dipping cup.  I imagine that some people have even drank it like beer before.  It's that good.

I am not sure why I haven't attempted to try my hand at beer cheese sauce before.  Maybe because the stuff at Midnight Sun is so good that I figured I could never even come close?  I don't know.  Well, I gave it a shot last night to go with chili and my perfectly soft pretzel sticksSUCCESS!!!!  The beer cheese sauce was everything I wanted it to be--creamy, cheesy, tangy, bold, and packed with flavor.  Better yet, it took approximately five minutes to make.  By the end of the night, we were all lying on floor or dog bed making exclamations regarding belly explosions, too full to walk, bellies and mouths disagreeing, and more.  Although clearly a diet killer, it was worth it.

I will always love Midnight Sun's beer cheese sauce best, but only for nostalgic reasons.  As for taste, my beer cheese sauce is equally as good as theirs. 

Beer Cheese Sauce:
(This made a lot.  You could easily cut the recipe in half if you want.)
  • 24 ounces of amber beer (I used Fat Tire)
  • 4 cups of good quality grated sharp cheddar cheese (if you want a milder flavor, you can use a milder cheese)
  • 4ish tablespoons of flour (I am not really sure how much--I just stuck my hand in and grabbed)
  • 1ish tablespoons of dry ground mustard (you could leave this out....but it wouldn't be as good)
  • pinch of salt
  • a number of turns of fresh cracked pepper
  1. Pour the beer into a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  You'll need to watch carefully or it will grow into a frothy dome and overflow. 
  2. In the meantime, mix the flour with the cheese. 
  3. Once the beer is boiling, add the cheese/flour mixture.  Reduce the heat and stir constantly.  
  4. Once it reaches the perfect consistency (you will know when that is), add the mustard, salt, and pepper.  Taste and adjust if needed.
  5. Serve with chips, pretzels (hard or soft), veggies, or even mix it into your chili like we did.
  6. ENJOY!