Apple Oatmeal Bars

Apple Oatmeal Bars

When Fall approaches, apples are in abundance. Nothing like a spicy apple and cinnamon concoction to put the scent of holidays into the air just a bit! This is a cookie-type bar cookie with a lot of taste and goes well as a snack or dressed up for dessert.

½ cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup rolled oats
2-3 green or tart apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups total)
Juice and zest of one, small lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan (approximately 12x9x2-inches) with parchment paper or use vegetable oil spray.

Cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract, and the apples. Now stir in the rolled oats, apple mixture and nuts into the flour/butter mixture. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Cut into desired-sized bars and either sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with a lemon glaze. Goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a generous portion of freshly-whipped cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mocha Hazelnut Orange Brownies

One of the favorite cookies on a plate always seems to be brownies. While I have several recipes, I’m sharing one that is usually popular. For me, the combination of chocolate, orange, and hazel nut is hard to resist.

Mocha Hazelnut Orange Brownies

Eight ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter (two sticks)
5 eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 tablespoons coffee crystals
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. Stir in coffee crystals. Cool slightly. In another bowl, beat all, sugar and vanilla on high speed for five to eight minutes. Blend in melted chocolate mixture on low speed. All flour, beating just to blend. Stir in nuts.

Spread mixture in greased 13 x 9-inch jelly roll pan or in two 8 x 8-inch cake pans. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake.

Frosting

½ cup butter (one stick)
1 pound powdered sugar
3 heaping tablespoons Nutella spread.
Juice of one orange
Grated rind of one orange

Beat the butter and Nutella with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well incorporated. Add grated orange rind and enough juice to make the frosting spreadable but not runny.

When the brownies are completely cooled in the pan, generously frost. To make them easier to cut, refrigerate until frosting is set.

Busy Baking Day!

One of my darling offspring has a birthday, today! Besides a choice of what she would like for dinner, I also spent the morning making her a birthday cake. The choice this year was a lemon cake with lemon filling. The task also gave me a chance to try out some cake decorating tools I got over four years ago and have never had time to try out.

Although I was thrilled to have the fun of decorating a cake, once I stood back to admire, the ‘flaws’ showed up all too clearly. I’m thinking eating cake by the light of the birthday candles might be called for this evening!

Making Biscuits in a Hurry

Okay, everything takes some time but this is a pretty quick recipe to get into the oven. Just make sure you read the recipe a couple of times, line up your ingredients so you don’t have to go scurrying around the kitchen and . . . Bake!

Hurry Up Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a parchment lined baking sheet.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Dice up the cold butter and using your hands, mix it in with the dry ingredients. You don’t want to warm up the butter so rather quickly rub the butter into the dry mix between your fingers until there are rough crumbs of it in the flour. Add the milk gradually and using a fork gently mix until it forms a soft dough.

Flour a surface and roll out the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Don’t have a biscuit cutter? No problem! Just use a glass to cut out rounds of biscuits and place on your prepared baking sheet. You can brush the tops lightly with melted butter before putting them into your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe makes about a dozen biscuits (depends on how big you cut them!) The recipe doubles nicely.

Ideas:

Add a quarter cup of granulated sugar to the dry mixture for a sweeter biscuit. It would even work for the base of strawberry shortcake.

Roll the biscuits a bit thinner than directed, put a bit of jam in the center of one and another thin biscuit on top sealing well. A great surprise to your family for a special breakfast.

Brush the tops with melted butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

You could even cut a middle hole in your biscuits and deep fry them for donuts. Toss them in cinnamon and sugar while warm. Adding an extra quarter cup of sugar to the dough will make it sweeter but I like the taste of the biscuit with the sweet coming from the coating.

Quick Change Brownies!

My daughter made a batch of brownies for work this week. She went according to directions and went to an expert (not!), my husband! to get an opinion on whether they were adequately baked. At one in the morning, she was cutting her brownies and discovered she needed another expert but what to do now. I found her sad note on the counter in the morning along with two containers of semi-baked brownie goo. Since she had doubled the batch and used eight eggs, a pound of butter and all of my baking chocolate, I figured there had to be a remedy.

Since I had nothing to lose at this point, I put all the ‘goo’ into the mixing bowl, added a couple more eggs and a bit of baking powder and blended it until smooth and could hold it’s shape. I dropped balls of dough onto the parchment paper and flattened them down a bit with some Valentine’s Day sprinkles. They rose nicely, had a thin crust and a cake-like interior and retained that intense chocolate taste. Ended up with enough for my husband to take to work, my daughter’s party at work as well as a plate of perimeter brownies in the original form.

Barbara’s Dessert Squares

Barbara’s Dessert Squares

This is a fast and easy dessert to put in the oven about an hour before dinner so the melting ice cream I’m sure you will want on this will melt a bit into the little cakes. Hey, I would condone a serious helping of freshly whipped cream, too, if you felt so inclined!

1/3 cup softened butter (no margarine, please!)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter, sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl until combined. Add the eggs and beat until light an fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Combine the vanilla, milk, and grated zest. Add to the butter mixture alternately until just combined and smooth. Stir in the walnuts to distribute evenly.

Vegetable oil spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. I like the glass Pyrex baking dishes but any pan will work. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking pan and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until it springs back when gently touched in the center.

When partly cooled down, dust with powdered sugar. If you have a small strainer, this works well for evenly distributing the sugar easily on the cake. Cut into squares and serve.

Sherry Lemon Bundt Cake

Years and years ago, my mother came across a recipe that we have been baking for the family almost every holiday since then. The cake takes on the subtle tang of the included cream sherry and the spices enhance the overall flavor. If it lasts more than one day, it gets better with a little age. Top it with a lemon glaze and people will think you spent hours in the kitchen. Just don’t let them catch you putting the cake mix in your grocery cart!

Sherry Lemon Bundt Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 four-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cream sherry
4 eggs
Grated zest of one lemon

In a mixing bowl, add the cake mix, pudding mix, spices, oil, sherry, eggs and lemon zest and blend with the mixer until blended. Pour batter into a vegetable oil-sprayed bundt pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted toward the center comes up clean. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes and then turn out onto serving plate.

Glaze:
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Ideas:

If you don’t care for the taste of the sherry, you can use juice, water, or milk.

Not crazy about lemon? Substitute orange for the lemon in the cake and glaze recipe.

Want to add some mini chocolate chips? Well, no one will stop you.

½ cup of finely chopped nuts can only add to the ‘health’ factor, right?

Don’t have a bundt pan? You can bake the batter in cake tin rounds or in an oblong baking pan.

With this basic recipe, you can use any flavor cake mix or pudding you like. This is the basis for some very creative cake inventions.