Raspberry Almond Bars

Here’s another quarantine treat that we’ve perfected over here – raspberry almond bars.

I’ve made these three times since March. That’s how much the family has enjoyed them. FW even requested these (along with ice cream) be his birthday treat, instead of cake! (He takes after me — who needs cake when you can have cookies, ice cream, etc.)

These are so easy. If you are looking for a delicious almond/fruit-like treat, I highly recommend these. The first time I made these, I didn’t have almond extract and used vanilla instead. They came out good, but if you love almond as much as I do I definitely recommend using almond extract! We also made them with a few different types of jellies and jams so far. Raspberry has been my favorite so this is our favorite combination — raspberry almond. If you want to half the recipe you can, you just need to put them in an 8×8 pan and then adjust the baking time (may not take as long but keep an eye on it!).

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Easy Homemade Granola

For those of you that have been reading ICTW for a long time, you’ll be thinking, hey this isn’t the first time you’ve made granola before. And you know what – you’re right! I’ve been making granola for years. I grew up with my mom making a batch of granola nearly weekly (thanks to my brother’s obsession, which he passed along to me) and when I moved out of the house I missed it a ton. The store bought granola, while yummy, just didn’t cut it. So, every so often, I get on a granola kick and have to make a big batch for myself.

Luckily for me, my kids are loving granola these days as well. So, now I have someone to share it with!

This is another one of my mom’s recipes that she has been making for a while. I shared another one of her granola recipes here, but these days, the recipe below is what I’ve been craving.

easy homemade granola - easy to make and made with maple syrup! - i crashed the web

Easy Homemade Granola

Here’s what you need: 

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats, or organic oats
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (Note, if you can’t find and need to use sweetened, it’s okay, I’ve been there)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (I’ve also used honey)
  • Optional: 2 cups dried fruit (I love dried cherries and blueberries)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl – oats, nuts,  coconut, cinnamon and brown sugar.
  3. In a small bowl, combine avocado oil and maple syrup. Once mixed, pour over dry ingredients. Mix well so it’s evenly distributed.
  4. Pour out mixture onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking and stirring at about halfway through.
  6. Now the hardest part — let cool and enjoy!  I add in the optional dried fruit AFTER baking, so the fruit does’t also dry out any more.

Suggestions – if you’d prefer not to just eat granola right out of the jar, you can also serve over yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal or on top of your favorite smoothie bowl!

Questions for you:

  • What’s your go-to breakfast?
  • What’s your favorite type of granola?

I’m linking up with Meatless Monday with A Whisk and Two Wands and Confessions of a Mother Runner

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I’ve been doing a lot more baking (and running) during this time. It’s not that I have more free time – like many others working from home with  kids, my free time seems to be less than ever … but on the weekends, I take a break from work and enjoy baking. I don’t feel guilty if my kids don’t want to join me (though sometimes they do), because I’m with them all week. So instead, I enjoy baking something and we all enjoy it Sunday evening for dinner.

A few weeks ago, a coworker of mine shared that she had some extra masks from a friend who had made them. We have yet to get any cloth masks, and she offered to share some with me. She loves anything chocolate, so to thank her, I baked some of these cookies to share with her. If you like chocolate, and slightly salted chocolate, I highly recommend you try these out. They’re easy, don’t require and dough sitting, and require one bowl to make. And, if you make them the size I do, they’re small and you can easily enjoy more than one at a time.

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + pinch of sea salt for topping
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (you can also melt the butter over the stove top, being careful to not let it burn).
  3. Add in the cocoa powder, sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Mix until just combined and the dough has formed — do not overmix.
  5. Scoop out the dough, and make rounded tablespoon-full size balls (for larger than bite-size, you may want to do about 2 TBs of dough) Press them down slightly (they don’t really spread, so this will be how they look), and add 3-5 chocolate chips on each dough ball. Sprinkle sea salt on top of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will be soft and may look undercooked when they come out of the oven, but you don’t want to overcook them. Cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy.
  7. Makes about 2 dozen bite-size cookies.

Put them in a tupperware and share them with a friend! Or just eat them yourself.

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Some questions for you:

  • Are you a salted chocolate fan?
  • Do you have masks? What kind?

 

Fresh Berry Tart Recipe

During this social isolation time, we’ve been having Sunday dinner at our house instead of with B’s family. With this new routine, I’ve been trying to bake something new each Sunday for us to try. And a few weeks ago when I asked B what he wanted, he replied fruit tart.” Fruit tart? I had no idea what he meant by that, but after scouring a few different places for recipes, got this one, and I have to tell you – it’s a winner. B, FW and LM all loved it. Even a week after eating it, FW asked for more and B told me it was one of the best things I’ve ever baked.

So, now I’m documenting the recipe for posterity – and sharing it with you! If you like fruit desserts, you must make this.

Fresh Berry Tart - I Crashed the Web

Fresh Berry Tart

Here’s what you need:

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
  • 1 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

For the berry filling

  • About 3-4 cups of berries — I used 1 cup fresh blueberries, 2 cup fresh sliced strawberries and 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 lime (fruit and zest)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose four
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 TB water

Here’s what you do:

Make the dough:

  1. Combine butter and sugar into the food processor. Cream until they are light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs to the food processor and continue to blend.
  3. Combine flour and salt, and add to the food processor. Pulse a few times, or until the mixture comes together and appears to make a ball. Don’t overmix!
  4. Remove dough from food processor and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight.

Make the tart:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch tart or pie pan with non-stick cook spray. When chilled, remove the tart dough from refrigerator. Place the dough in the pie pan, and using your fingers, lightly press the dough and spread out onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides.  The dough should be uniform in thickness (about 1/4-inch thick).
  2. In a large bowl, toss the berries with sugar, zest and juice of the lime, and the 2 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Spoon the berries into the tart shell. Drop pieces of butter over the top.
  4. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the dough is light golden brown on the edges.  Cool about 1 hour.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the apricot jam and water until  combined.
  6. Use a pastry brush or small spatula to brush the warmed jam over the top of the tart.

I also made fresh a whipped cream to top the tart. It was great!

Some questions for you:

  • What do you prefer — fruit desserts or chocolate desserts?
  • What’s the last thing you’ve baked?

Cherry, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

When it comes to desserts, B is a big fan of anything strawberry-rhubarb related, especially pies, crisps and cobblers. I, on the other hand, are more of  a cookie fan – especially good chocolate and white chocolate chip cookies. Opposites attract? Perhaps (after all, as B says, I have more of a “sweet tooth” and he has a “meat tooth”). But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good crisp every so often.

Since strawberries, cherries and rhubarb are all in season (yay for summertime!) I decided to pair them all together for this recipe. The tanginess of the rhubarb goes great with the sweetness of the cherries and strawberries and the color of the fruit mixed together is simply gorgeous! Confession: I’ve now made a variation on this recipe THREE times this summer. Does that mean I’m now more of a fan of cookies than cobblers/crisps/etc? No … but this IS good! Definitely scroll down below the recipe for some notes to see other ways to make this delicious recipe.

Cherry, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 Tablespoons cold butter, sliced into tabs
  • 2 cups pitted cherries, sliced in half
  • 2 cups strawberries, cut in half (or cut smaller if you have really big berries – I like all my fruit to be about the size of the rhubarb)
  • 2 cups of rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pecans

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or butter.
  2. Toss rhubarb, strawberries and cherries with white sugar and spread in baking dish.
  3. Put butter in a food processor along with brown sugar, flour, oats and nuts and pulse until it is completely combined, at least one minute. It will look like a dough and no longer be separate. This is the topping.
  4. Crumble and spread the topping over the fruit and bake about 40-45 minutes or until it just starts to turn brown.

Notes:

  • You can make this with a variety of fruits, just make sure that you have 5-6 cups of fruit total. Got more cherries than strawberries? That’s fine! A cherry rhubarb crisp is delicious on its own. And, cherries and strawberries together work nicely also. If you’re doing more sweeter fruits (like strawberries) than rhubarb, you may want to cut down on the sugar, though.
  • The topping can be made with just walnuts, just pecans or a mixture of both. I prefer a mixture of both or just pecans.
  • For the topping, you must mix it well enough so it forms almost a dough. A few times I’ve made something like this but made the topping more crumb-like and it does not hold up well in baking.
  • What’s the difference between a crumble, crisp and cobbler? Why is this a crisp? Because the topping contains oats! See more, here. #nowyouknow

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like rhubarb?
  • Prefer fruit desserts or chocolate desserts?

Disclosure: Northwest Cherries provided me some cherries to sample. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Chunky Chocolate Cherry Bars

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, especially blondies. They’re one of my favorite things to bake because they not only taste delicious, but they’re so easy – just pour into a pan and bake!

So when once again Northwest Cherries reached out and asked if I’d like to try some of their cherries, I of course said yes.  I mean, look at these beauties.

This time, I was planning on doctoring up some blondies to include some of their delicious cherries. I used one of my favorite blondie recipes (found here) to come up with a chocolate cherry blondie. Because chocolate and cherries not only look good together – but they taste good, too!

And, I chose today to share these with you. Do you know why? Because it’s National Rainier Cherry Day! Did you know that was a holiday?

That’s right,  July 11 marks National Rainier Cherry Day, commemorating this sweet treat named after Washington state’s famous volcanic peak. Nutrient-rich volcanic soil along with more sunlight in the Northwest creates an optimum growing environment making for high-quality and extra sweet cherries. (So, maybe that’s why when I toss cherry seeds into our garden, they don’t grow into cherry trees?)

To celebrate, I highly suggest you make these. The chocolate + cherry combo is PERFECT.

Chunky Chocolate Cherry Bars

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips – I like to do half chocolate and half white chocolate chunks
  • 1 heaping cup of cherries, pitted and cut in half  – I used this to pit the cherries and it works SO much better than doing it by hand!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 8×8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter. When we first moved into our new home, we didn’t have a microwave, so I had to do this on the stove. Now, it’s even easier because I can do this in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar to butter (if you did this in the microwave, use the same bowl – just add the brown sugar to this bowl!).
  4. Add in egg and vanilla.
  5. Incorporate the flour and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in cherries and chocolate and white chocolate chips/chunks.
  7. Spread mixture into prepared baking pan. I like to set aside a few cherries and chocolate chunks to place on top of the batter because it looks nice 🙂
  8. Place in oven and bake for 32-38 minutes. (Mine were done in 37 minutes)
  9. Let them cool in pan for about 10-15 minutes. Then, let them cool completely outside the pan – I like to let them cool for at least 1 hour.  Cut them up into bars and enjoy!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like the chocolate+cherry combo?
  • What’s your favorite cherry dessert? Least favorite? Believe it or not, I do NOT like cherry pie!

Disclosure: Northwest Cherries provided me some cherries to sample. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites

B loves anything cinnamon sugar flavored. Snickerdoodles? Yes. Cinnamon buns? Definitely. Cinnamon French toast? Of course! Cinnamon donuts? Yes. So when searching for a different type of dessert recipe and I stumbled across these, I knew I had to make them. The warm cinnamon sugar doughy bites and sweet dipping sauce? Omg. I swear, I made them for B…not me. Not at all.

Regardless who they were for – they were SO delicious. If you have a potluck to go to and want to impress with a delicious finger-food-friendly dessert, I highly recommend you make these. They’re best eaten the day of, so get baking now!

 Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites (inspired by Cooking Classy and Cook Craft Love)
Here’s what you need for the pretzels:
  • 2¼ tsp active yeast
  • 1¼ cups warm milk
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups flour, plus up to 1/4 more for sprinkling/working the dough
  • ¼ cup baking soda

For the coating:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
For the Dipping Sauce
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs half & half
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Here’s what you do:
  1. Combine warm milk, add honey and yeast in a mixing bowl. Whisk together and let rest for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to get bubbly.
  2. Add flour to mixing bowl and mix with dough hook attachment until combined. Once the dough has combined, continue to knead on low until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Dough should be soft and somewhat sticky.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm or room temperature environment for 1 1/2 hours or until nearly doubled in size.
  3. Fill a 4 qt pot with water and bring to a boil and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Shape dough into a ball. Cut the ball into 4 quarters and roll each quarter into a log about 16-18 inches inches long. Cut each log into about 3/4 in-1 inch bite-sized pieces.
  4. Slowly add baking soda to water about one Tablespoon at a time – don’t add it all at once or you may boil over. Place about 8 dough balls into boiling water at a time and boil for 30 seconds. Remove dough from boiling water and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to dry. Do this until all pretzel bites are boiled
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or other nonstick paper and add bites to cookie sheet, evenly spaced.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-10 minutes or until brown.
  7. While the dough is cooking, feel free to make the dip. Cream together cream cheese, butter, half and half and powdered sugar until dip reaches your desired thickness.
  8. Remove bites from oven and allow to cool for 8-10 minutes. After cooled somewhat, dip the bites into melted butter and roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Enjoy with the dip!
 Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites and cream cheese dipping sauce

Mother’s Day Weekend

For some reason, this year Mother’s Day weekend, felt a little different than past years. I felt much more like a mom this year than I ever have before. Yes, it’s technically my second (or third, depending on who counts) Mother’s Day, but for some reason, I feel much more deserving of the title this year. Maybe because I have a toddler who runs around and calls me mom? Maybe because I’m (as B calls it) 1,000 months pregnant?

Anyway, being a mom is HARD, but some weekends are just great. And this was one of those weekends. It was definitely a weekend where I loved being a mom!

The weekend started actually with Muffins with Mom at school. I got to stop by FW’s classroom on Friday morning before work for breakfast!

And it was a pretty gorgeous day, so after work that night B, FW and I went for a short walk around the neighborhood. FW loves running! 

Saturday started with some flowers to celebrate Mother’s Day 🙂 Call me basic, but I will ALWAYS love a nice bouquet. 

Saturday morning ALSO started with a 5k! There was a race starting a few blocks from our house, so we decided to do it. I haven’t done a race in FOREVER and I knew it was going to be a lot of walking and VERY slow running, but I’m so glad we did it. (Disclosure – B pushed FW in the stroller while I ran)

FW’s favorite part was likely the muffins afterwards 🙂

After the race, we walked back to the house and did some baking! FW helped mix things up.

These were the “muffins” we made. The recipe was for muffins but I’m not too sure what makes these muffins and not cupcakes …

And then, FW decided he was tired and wanted to nap. On me! It’s been a while, and it was actually kind of a nice way to spend an hour. 

Later that afternoon, we went to the West Side Market to pick up some groceries. 

And then Rising Star for some coffee. FW enjoyed his chocolate milk 🙂

And then B made us pizza for dinner! We haven’t had homemade pizza in FOREVER and it was a nice change.

Sunday morning, FW didn’t wake up until around 8 – which was a great Mother’s Day gift! After he woke up, B and FW took a trip to get me a Mother’s Day specialty – a cassata cake doughnut. These are some of the only doughnuts I really enjoy and it’s mainly because of the quantity of frosting and cream.

This photo doesn’t do it justice.

After breakfast (doughnut and some fruit/yogurt per my request), we took a long walk. More than four miles while FW slept in the stroller.

We saw some geese and baby geese on the walk – it was a cute thing to see especially on Mother’s Day!

And then, FW got to spend some time at the nearby playground.

For dinner, we joined B’s family per our Sunday night tradition. B ended up making the whole family dinner and it was delicious – we had two different types of fish, grilled eggplant and an arugula salad.

Baking, a race, a long walk and cassata cake doughnut – for me, that is the perfect Mother’s Day weekend!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like doughnuts? What kind?
  • What makes something a muffin vs. a cupcake?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps.