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.

Toddler-Friendly Foods: Spinach, Zucchini and Carrot Muffins

FW is a picky eater. He won’t touch any vegetables or meat*, and there are even just a few fruits he enjoys. His favorite food groups are: bread, bananas, plain Greek yogurt and cheese.

FW does, however, LOVE muffins. And anything remotely sweet. So, I’ve been making a lot of muffins lately, and trying to hide in as many veggies as I can. These muffins are a go-to in our house. You could probably omit some of the honey if you wanted them even lower sugar, but each muffin has about 9 g. of sugar, which is less than is in most non-plain yogurts.

These are easy, a fun color, and I enjoy eating them too! Try them out for yourself. They’re also FW (aka picky eater)-approved 🙂 AND, with their bright green color, they’d be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Spinach, Zucchini and Carrot Muffins - i crashed the web - toddler friendly food and breakfast

Spinach, Zucchini and Carrot Muffins
Makes 18-20 muffins

Here’s what you need:

  • 6 ounces raw spinach
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large banana
  • 1/2 cup milk (I’ve used unsweetened almond milk as well as whole milk, it depends on what I have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten (I’ve also used .25 c Egg Beaters)
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, or use silicone muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray (I have green and pink ones which FW loves to eat out of, so that’s what I tend to use).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In your blender or food processor (I put mine in my Vitamix), mix first 7 ingredients (spinach through butter) until completely pureed. Add in egg.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Mix together until just combined. Do not over-mix or muffins will be tough!
  5. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean.

Spinach, Zucchini and Carrot Muffins - i crashed the web - toddler friendly food and breakfast

*Confession – FW did eat some meat somewhat recently – I snuck some ham into (you guessed it) a corn muffin!

Some questions for you:

  • Any tips for picky eaters?
  • Any favorite lower sugar muffin recipe?

Another Wintry Weekend In the CLE

Is anyone else sick of this winter? It has been cold and icy and snowy here for weeks and I’m so ready for warm weather and sunshine and a clear sidewalk to walk and run on!

Okay – enough complaining I suppose. Because despite the weather, it was still a good weekend spent with B and FW. I was sick most of the weekend, so it was pretty laid back and low key.

We of course had to start the weekend by celebrating National Pizza Day with my favorite pizza- Marottas!

Saturday, B made FW and I some pancakes to kick off breakfast. Fun fact- I never used to like pancakes or sweet stuff for breakfast- I was much more of a savory breakfast food lover – until pregnancy.

We spent some time later that afternoon at the West Side Market; we used to shop there all the time when we lived downtown, but now we only make it there maybe once every other month or so.

And of course we had to visit Rising Star for some coffee and chocolate milk (tea for me from Cleveland Tea Revival).

After the Market it was time to hit up the Great Big Home and Garden Show! I had won tickets in an online giveaway from Cleveland Magazine and it was a great way for us to get in some running around time and get Francis moving even with the cold weather.

Saturday night, B made us dinner – spaghetti, meatballs and homemade sauce.

Sunday morning we decided it was warm enough and finally not snowing/icing/raining/sleeting/etc. to go for a walk, so we walked to brunch!

FW got tired of walking, so B carried him. He then fell asleep in the carrier

We split some eggs and a  lemon crepe. FW was suspicious of the crepe until I told him it was like a  cookie 🙂

Sunday afternoon after our walk was pretty lazy. I got in some rest, some baking and some peanut butter making.

I realize I can’t remember the last time I bought any nut butter at the store! I got my Vitamix about a year ago and it has been the only way we’ve been doing peanut or almond butter. I LOVE having it and need to use it more!

Sunday night included dinner with B’s family and that was about it. We watched the Olympics with them for a little bit – it was the first time I’ve watched any of the events! I need to start getting into them.

Some questions for you:

  • Are you watching the Olympics?
  • What type of nut butter(s) do you like?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Cousin Weekend – One Sentence Per Photo Style

It was another cold weekend in Cleveland, filled with plenty of fun indoor activities to keep us busy. Here are some of the highlights – and let’s see if I can keep it to one sentence per photos.

First, FW started a new daycare – he enjoyed snacktime as you can see!

We did some baking this weekend – starting with cookies. 

And of course some more spinach muffins; this time they had zucchini.

Some Vietnamese food takeout for dinner.

Out to breakfast Saturday morning!

FW’s cousin came up from Columbus, so we seen some time indoors. 

The Natural History Museum was a great place for two toddlers to run around and scream/growl at dinosaur bones.

And look at lots of big animals!

And yes, we did play a little bit outside. 

Sunday was a little “warm” (36 degrees!) so it included a mid-morning walk – we went to the bakery and FW fell asleep.

We picked up lunch and brought it over to Celia’s house, where FW played with the new baby Maura. 

And of course, we watched the Super Bowl – but it mostly meant FW got to hang out and play with his cousins (yes, more cousins!).

And, that’s a wrap! Another winter weekend is in the books. Can’t believe it’s February – 2018 is flying by. I hate when time goes by fast, but I wouldn’t mind warmer weather soon!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you watch the Super Bowl for the game or the commercials?
  • What do you do if you need to spend time indoors? Where do you go to stay entertained?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!