Apple Crumb Pie Bars

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not a big pie lover. That’s why, for this Thanksgiving, B and I decided to make a few pie-themed recipes in a non-pie form. So, desserts that are inspired by pie, but aren’t actually pie. Make sense? (or as my mom would say, Capeesh?) Yesterday I shared some awesome pecan pie bars. And today, it’s apple crumb pie bars!

Apple crumb pie MAY just be my favorite type of pie. Growing up, for Thanksgiving, we’d often pick up pies from a local farm in Upstate New York – and my favorite was always the apple crumb. And this bar recipe definitely reminded me of those pies – but even better, it’s in a cookie bar form! Oh yeah – these cookie bars also have oats and apples, so they have to be healthy, right?

Full disclaimer – these are very easy, just time consuming to make all three parts. It helps if you have someone peel and cut the apples while you prepare everything else. Thank you to B for taking on this oh-so-fun task!

apple crumb pie bars - i crashed the web

Apple Crumb Pie Bars

Here’s what you need:

For the Crust

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Pie Filling:

  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin (I used Granny Smith)
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 2 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, sliced and cold from the refrigerator

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Start by making the crust. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar with an electric mixer. Add in flour and sugar and mix until just combined – don’t overmix.
  3. This will be your crust! Using your hands, place mixture onto the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish prepared with parchment paper. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until crust is just starting to brown. Cool crust.
  4. Prepare the pie filling. In a large pan, melt butter and mix in brown sugar. Add sliced/peeled apples and cook on medium to medium-high heat until apples start to turn translucent (about 10-12 minutes). Add cinnamon and nutmeg and cook about 10 more minutes, or until apple liquid has almost nearly disappeared. If it starts to burn/turns too dry before the apples are fully cooked, feel free to add a little water while you cook. Cool.
  5. Make the crumb topping. Combine rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda. Cut in the 1 1/2 sticks butter using a knife and combine with a fork (or your hands) until the mixture is in crumbly clumps (again, yes that is the scientific term).
  6. Put it together! Place the apple filling over crust and then sprinkle crumb topping down over the apple layer. Press down lightly over apple layer until it’s thoroughly covered
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the oatmeal crumb topping is lightly browned.

apple crumb pie squares - thanksgiving - i crashed the web

apple crumb pie bars - i crashed the web

Enjoy!

These are inspired by a few recipes, mostly this one from Food + Wine Mag.

Pecan Pie Bars

I’m not a big pie person. I know, I know – pies are somewhat trendy (well they were a year or so ago) and therefore I should like them. I’ve just never been a big fan. Don’t get me wrong – I love desserts of ALL kinds, but if I had a choice between an apple pie or apple cookie – I’d choose cookie all the way.

So when B and I got charged with bringing dessert to his family’s Thanksgiving this year, I wasn’t really looking to make enough pie to serve 20ish people for three days (yes, it’s a pretty big family gathering). But of course, for B some people,you can’t have Thanksgiving without pie. So in addition to making a pie, or two, we decided that we’d also bring some bars – inspired of course by popular Thanksgiving pies. First up? Pecan Pie Bars. These are great for both pie AND non-pie lovers. The sugar cookie dough crust could be eaten alone and works marvelously (I’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife) with the pecan filling.

Oh, and besides having these for Thanksgiving? I’m very seriously thinking about making these for Christmas – because they really are that good.

pecan pie bars - i crashed the web

Here’s what you need:

For the crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened

For the filling

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (I put mine in a food processor and c

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour with powdered sugar. Cut in 3/4 cup softened butter using a knife and combine with a fork (or your hands) until the mixture is in crumbly clumps (yes that is the scientific term).
  2. Using your hands, place the mixture on the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish prepared with parchment paper. Allow mixture to come up the sides of the dish a little as well.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges are starting to brown. Cool crust.
  4. Combine brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and heavy whipping cream in a skillet. Bring to a boil. Stir in pecans, and combine. Pour hot pecan mixture into cooled crust.
  5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until the pecan filling is a dark golden color and bubbling. Cool before cutting into bars.
  6. Enjoy!
sugar cookie crust

sugar cookie crust

pecan pie filling

pecan pie filling

Bars are done!

Bars are done!

Recipe inspired by this Food Network recipe – minus the corn syrup! – and this one.

Sweet Cornbread (aka the best cornbread you’ll ever eat)

I should start this post with two disclaimers:

One: This is not “southern style” savory cornbread. This is a recipe for  sweet, nearly dessert-like cornbread, that goes well with more sweetness (like a maple butter), chili, soups and even stuffed squash.

Two: If you like sweet, dessert-like breads, you will love this cornbread. You won’t be able to stop eating it. Good luck 🙂

The past few weeks have been perfect for some fall cooking. I’ve made a few chili recipes, soups, and a ton of squash. While these are each good recipes on their own – they are only made better by one thing – the perfect cornbread. So here you go – enjoy!

sweet cornbread - i crashed the web

Sweet Cornbread (The Best Cornbread Ever)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray, like Pam.
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe large boil. Once melted, add sugar and eggs, well beaten. Add in buttermilk and continue to mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add to wet mixture. Stir in cornmeal and mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until edges start to brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: I keep powdered buttermilk in the fridge almost all the time – it stays longer than liquid buttermilk and comes in handy for recipes like this. If using powdered buttermilk, follow instructions on the container.

sweet cornbread - i crashed the web

Waiting in the oven. yes I also made two small heart-shaped pans.

sweet cornbread - i crashed the web

All done!

B’s Weekend

I’ll be the first to admit it – I haven’t been the nicest person lately. I’ve been stressed, busy, not getting as much sleep as I need, and all that makes for a not-so-nice Melissa. And B has been great through it all. When I have a few moments, he’s more than willing to watch whatever I want on TV – even if it’s my new favorite series Call the Midwife – make me breakfast AND dinner and even buy me flowers just because. So Thursday night I declared that this would be B’s weekend. We would do whatever he wanted to do, starting Friday night.

It may not have been my idea of a perfect weekend – but don’t tell B, I still had a pretty good time.

Here’s what we did:

Friday started with Happy Hour after work at Moriarty’s. After consuming a few Christmas Ales, it was decided that we’d go to our favorite BYOB sushi place (yes, Sushi 86 again). Post-sushi? Stopping by Parnell’s for the perfectly poured Guinness. Not too shabby right?

My standard - rainbow roll and mackerel sashimi

My standard – rainbow roll and mackerel sashimi

LOVE THIS PLACE

LOVE THIS PLACE

THE perfect pour

THE perfect pour

Saturday started early – B’s alarm went off and he declared we’d be running the St. Luke Church Pilgrim Run 5K, a race his aunt, uncle and cousins were running. Normally I’m all for the occasional Saturday morning 5k race. Especially with sunny, 50 degree weather, as it somehow was this Saturday. Plus, the race was in one of my old favorite neighborhoods and the course was on a street lined with beautiful still colorful fall trees. But after a few Friday evening drinks, my body did not want to get out of bed. Or run. College Melissa – I am not. But – as I had said, it was B’s weekend. So off to the race we went, the last two to register that day and the last two to arrive to the starting line just as it was getting started. Guess I’m glad we went – I somehow placed First Overall Female and B took home the award for Second Male in his age group! Oh yeah, his uncle and cousins (did I mention that they’re under ten years old??) also took home awards. Not too bad 🙂
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The race was followed by a trip to the West Side Market to pick up some food for the week and then Gallucci’s for wine and supplies for dinner – pizza, B’s favorite.

West Side Market - making shopping fun!

West Side Market – making shopping fun!

Gallucci's!

Gallucci’s!

After making sauce and pizza, it was time to head out to B’s choice of Saturday evening entertainment – checking out the Cleveland Comedy Festival, including the headliner, Todd Barry. B listens to his podcast and had heard he was in town – just down the street from where we live, so it was easy to walk over, get tickets, and enjoy the show.

homemade sauce

homemade sauce

Pizza! Crust from Fresh Fork, Cheese from Gallucci's, Chicken Sausage from West Side Market

Pizza! Crust from Fresh Fork, Cheese from Gallucci’s, Chicken Sausage from West Side Market

pear martini
And an after-show drink at the District. How pretty is this pear martini? It was delicious, too! We’ll have to go back another time.
cleveland-comedy-festival

We often spend Sundays cleaning, and this weekend was no different. The day started with espresso beverages (mocha for B, latte for me) and doughnuts, followed by cleaning our bathrooms and kitchen. B could probably tell I was antsy to told me that he’d handle most of the cleaning if I wanted to enjoy the 60 degree weather and go for a run. Of course I did! I ended up staying indoors but was still grateful and happy to get in a run.

Post-run, B and I went to Winks to watch the Browns game with Dave and Anson who are both from greater Cincinnati. Sadly, it was NOT a good game for us Browns fans. Ahh well. Maybe next week? Thus is the life of a Browns fan.

How were your weekends? Some questions for you:

  • Did you run any races this weekend?
  • What is your idea of the perfect weekend? Mine would probably include some sunshine/sunbathing, some froyo, some sushi, some baking, some running, shopping and perhaps sleeping in. Oh, and maybe some bubbly just because.
  • What was the best thing you ate this weekend? Hmm, it’s a toss up – either my Friday night sushi or the homemade sauce we had Saturday night. Or the apple fritter at the West Side Market.

Chicken Sausage, Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash

When my brother Greggypoo came and visited for the weekend (he loves when I call him that) we decided to spend some time cooking a dinner together. Of course, since it was a Saturday, we went the West Side Market to pick up fresh produce first and see what would inspire us. The only request from my brother? He wanted something fall-like, and delicious, of course. Something fall-like? What says “fall” more than squash? And since B and I have been eating quite a bit of roasted squash lately (2-3x a week), I decided to try something different – stuffed squash.

greg cooking the meat

Greg cooking!

This recipe was really good. Both B and Greggypoo cleaned their plates and declared they were full. I served the squash with some sweet cornbread, which I made for the second day this week. Because the cornbread recipe really is that good. I may have to share it soon!

Chicken sausage quinoa and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash

Chicken Sausage, Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 medium butternut squash
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1-2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces fresh italian chicken sausage, casing removed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped Spanish or yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds; place cut sides facedown in a baking pan filled with 1 inch hot water. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until squash is soft or done.
  2. While squash is cooking, prepare stuffing. First, make the quinoa. Boil the chicken broth in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, add quinoa. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove sausage from casing and add to a nonstick pan. Cook sausage for 5-7 minutes, using a spatula to evenly cook and break up the meat. Once meat is no longer pink, add Italian seasoning, onion, pepper and garlic. Cook 5-7 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in quinoa and put heat on low, cook for another minute or so.
  4. When squash is cooked, remove water from baking dishes and turn squash so cut side is up. Mix filling with goat cheese, and fill each squash with the same amount of filling. Sprinkle squashes with cumin and chili powder. Bake squashes for another 15-20 minutes.

collage - Chicken sausage and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash - i crashed the web

Chicken sausage and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash - i crashed the web

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

Whether I like it or not, the weather is getting cooler and we’re well on our way to fall and … winter. I don’t mind the weather getting cooler – especially since it means it’s finally officially soup and chili weather!

We got a lot of sweet potatoes in our last summer Fresh Fork CSA, and though I’m a fan of roasting them, making fries, and more – I really wanted to make a chili with them. So I did. Typically I make my chicken or turkey chili in the crock pot to save time, and energy, but for being a chili recipe, this is pretty easy and painless to prepare AND make. You could probably use ground beef – but I always prefer turkey or chicken personally so I haven’t tried it.

sweet potato chicken chili photo - i crashed the web

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 16 oz lean ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 medium yellow or Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 10 oz can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 16 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cans our favorite beans – I used kidney and Great Northern beans
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes about 1/2-1 inch thick

Here’s what you do:

  1. In a Dutch oven, brown the ground chicken over 1 Tbs olive oil. Cook, on medium-high, and break apart chicken as it cooks. Season with some of the garlic powder and cumin as it cooks.
  2. After chicken is cooked through, add onion and pepper and some more of the cumin and garlic powder. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until onion starts to become translucent.
  3. Add the can of tomatoes with chilies, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and sweet potato.
  4. Add rest of spices – rest of cumin, garlic powder and then chili powder. Stir to combine mixture.
  5. Cover Dutch oven most of the way and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for about 25-40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft and full cooked. Stir often.
  6. Serve in a bowl. Mine made about 9 cups and I had about 1 1/2 cup for my dinner serving.
  7. Enjoy alone, over rice or with corn bread. I chose the corn bread — because why not?

And that, my friends, is the perfect fall meal!

sweet potato chicken chili image - i crashed the web

sweet potato chicken chili

sweet potato chicken chili 2- i crashed the web

Something about Siblings – A Weekend in CLE with My Brother

This past weekend my brother visited me in Cleveland. The last time he came to see me on his own was more than 3 years ago – I was living in Lakewood, had somewhat just moved to Cleveland and well, it was WAY too long ago. I try to go visit him and stay with him on campus (he goes to Columbia) pretty much once a year – but I’m getting too old for his college lifestyle. The last time I visited him we didn’t go out until nearly midnight – I’m almost 30, which is waaay too old to be going out that late. I had to seriously rally and drink a Diet Dr. Pepper just to pull myself off the blowup mattress in his dorm room.

Greg and me the last time he came to see me on his own

Greg and me the last time he came to see me on his own

Anyway, this weekend turned out to be a pretty a relaxing weekend with my brother. We both had work to do (he more so than I – a thesis plus hundreds of pages of reading … oh college!) so there wasn’t much going out. But it was great to just hang out with him and do everyday things with him. I hope he had a good time and it’s not another 3 years before he comes back to Cleveland!

Friday included some working at a coffee shop, some vegan food at The Flaming Ice Cube and some dinner at Noodlecat.

At Flaming Ice Cube

At Flaming Ice Cube

Some of our awesome food from Friday is below (not pictured – appetizers or main course at Noodlecat, pumpkin cookies, my PUMPKING beer, Buckeyes or zucchini bread):

From top left, corn chowder from Flaming Ice Cube, Soba Noodle Salad from FI, Braised Beef Bun from Noodlecat, Pesto Burger from FI

From top left, corn chowder from Flaming Ice Cube, Soba Noodle Salad from FI, Braised Beef Bun from Noodlecat, Pesto Burger from FI

Saturday, B and I started our day by going for a leisurely run outside. I was having a hard time breathing for some reason, but it felt SO good to just be having a relaxing run – no racing. Then we decided to head to Tremont for some coffee and pastries, and holed up in Loop to do some work.

A little work in a coffee shop

A little work in a coffee shop

We of course enjoyed the fall colors that are still here and took a few pictures in the park while we were hanging out in Tremont.

Greg in me in Tremont

Greg in me in Tremont

Then we hit the West Side Market to pick up groceries for dinner. We bought some butternut squash, chicken sausage, peppers and onions. And made an awesome dinner together of some goat cheese, quinoa and chicken sausage stuffed squash – recipe coming soon 🙂

Chicken sausage and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash - i crashed the web

The finished product.

Greg is cooking!

Greg is cooking!

Saturday night included some more studying (I’m an awesome study helper. Just ask Greg. He’ll probably remember 3 more Russian vocab words thanks to my mad studying skills) and some deep chatting / thoughts about the future and me passing out from a corn bread coma pretty early.

Sunday meant dropping my brother back off at the airport 😦 I was sad to see him go, but am so excited to see him in just over a month for the holidays! After the airport, B knew I was sad to see my brother go, so he took me to Starbucks and then to the park for a fiveish mile walk. It was another great fall day in Cleveland and it was great to walk among the colorful leaves.

Yes, I took a selfie.

Yes, I took a selfie.

weekend walk with b

Hope you had a fabulous fall weekend as well!