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Archive for the ‘Bars & Squares’ Category

Hi there!

I’ve decided that I’m just going to start where I left off. And that’s with these autumn apple cheddar squares.

I made them in September when people were driving to the country to pick apples on Sunday afternoons, kids were back in school, and us mom’s were trying to come up with new lunch box or after-school snack ideas.

These squares remind me of something my mom used to make … date squares.  Remember those? But instead of dates, the filling is made with apples, a touch of cinnamon, brown sugar and some old cheddar cheese.Yes that’s right.  Cheddar.  As in orange cheese.

Growing up, I remember seeing apple pie served with slices of cheddar cheese and often wondering just what the cheese doing there because, after-all, pie was dessert and well, cheese just wasn’t.

Well, now that I’ve tried these squares, I know that apples, cinnamon and cheese belong together.

Cheddar Apple Squares

Adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks: The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book

Makes 20 squares

Ingredients

4 apples of your choice (Crispin or Golden Delicious are recommended)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cheddar Crust and Crumble

11/2 cups large-flake rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup shredded extra-old Cheddar cheese

Method

1. Grease or line a 9-inch square metal or glass cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Cheddar Crust Crumble

2. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt.  With a fork, stir in butter until mixture clumps and is crumbly.  Add cheese, tossing to mix.  Press all but 1 cup evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake in centre of a 350 degree oven until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.

3. Meanwhile, peel, core and cut apples into 1/2-inch  thick slices.  In a skillet or shallow saucepan, bring the apples, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon to a boil, adding up to 1/4 cup of water if the apples stick to the pan.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.

4. Spread apple mixture over the base; sprinkle with remaining oat mixture.  Bake in centre of 350 degree oven until golden, about 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan on rack.

5. Cut into squares.

These squares can be made-ahead wrapped well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

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It’s still August, right??

Phew! That’s good!

I’m relentless when it comes to hanging onto summer and if it’s still August, that means it’s still summer, so kids can still enjoy this great summer treat.

During the summer months, my guys likes to snack on ice cream sandwiches.  Two rectangular chocolate cookies with vanilla ice cream in the middle. We go through a lot of them to say the least.

This Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwich, is my version of the ice cream sandwich.

Even though we ate ours plain, coloured sprinkles make these a fun treat to serve kids. The vanilla ice cream was delicious with the Rice Krispies but I’m sure any flavour would be good.

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwiches

All you need is a pan of Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats, you can find the recipe here.

Cut out large squares, cut them in half evenly and fill with your favourite ice cream (I used vanilla). Dip the sides in sprinkles, chopped peanuts, chocolate shavings, Nerds, mini M&M’s, candy or any of your favourite toppings and enjoy!

Serve immediately or store in a container in the freezer until ready to eat.

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I love squares that sparkle because they look like jewels. Close your eyes and imagine a delicious burst of citrus in every bite of these tangy grapefruit bars.

Sprinkled with a kiss of powdered sugar, they magically dance on your tongue and leave you with a taste of summer.

Grapefruit Bars

Cookie Base:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar

3/4 cup cold butter

Filling:

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

zest of 1/2 grapefruit

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons flour

pinch of salt

Confectioners’ sugar

Method

1. In a small bowl, combine flour and confectioners’ sugar; cut in the butter until crumbly.  Press into a lightly greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the edges brown slightly. Set aside and let cool.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Whisk in the eggs, grapefruit juice, zest, and yogurt until combined.

3. Pour the mixture evenly over the cooled crust and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until just set – the centre should jiggle but not be fluid when you gently shake the pan.

4. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then run the tip of a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it.

5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 12  Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

With rhubarb  in season, I’m also making Rhubarb Honey Yogurt Scones.

I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

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At some point in our lives we’ll all take a phone call, where immediately we can tell that something is wrong.  It’s either because it’s from someone we don’t usually hear from or there’s a detectable strain in the person’s voice.  Immediately we hold our breath and pray that everything is okay. Last week, I had one of those phone calls.

My mom and my cousin who live in Newfoundland, had been travelling on the highway and had been in a car accident.  One that could have quite easily, been much more devastating than it was. While slowed to turn, a truck carrying a full load of jet fuel could not slow down and in order to avoid hitting them, veered around them on the right shoulder.  While doing this he collided with their right back bumper and pushed them across the highway and onto the opposite shoulder. Thankfully there was no other traffic and each vehicle was able to stop before hitting the guard rail, which was by this point a barrier between the highway and the water below.

At times like this you stop to take stock of the situation and you get a sense that, “if this” or “if that” had happened, the outcome could have been much worse. Which makes you grateful that things turned out the way they did.

This got me thinking about my mom and all of the things she’s accomplished over the years.  When we were growing up as kids she worked in The Kitchen’s of Sara Lee.  I remember as a kid how she would cook, clean and bake all day before heading out for her shift in the afternoon.  She always wanted to have food ready for us kids when we came home from school and she couldn’t be there.

One of the things she often made were marshmallow squares.  The crust was always thick, buttery and flaky and I remember it often crumbled when you bit into it. The marshmallow was super thick, twice as thick as mine (so I think she must have used a 9″ x 9″ pan whereas, I’ve used a 9″ x 13″) and the palest pink.  Often they were cut into squares, rolled in fine white coconut and placed out on a sheet of waxed paper in a square Tupperware container. When we came home, all we had to do was peel back that lid and bite into the sticky sweetness.

These squares go way back to my grandmother’s era when gelatin desserts were all the rage.  The ingredients are simple, right down to the nostalgic Club House food colouring. Not wanting to bother mom for the recipe, I  once again thumbed through my Anglican Church Ladies cookbook and found a recipe for Marshmallow Squares and immediately knew I would make these in honour of my mom. I don’t ever remember cherries in them but this particular recipe suggested them, and since my husband loves cherries, I thought that would be the way to go.

Working from memory, I don’t think these squares are exactly like mom’s — they seem somewhat sweeter than I remember but everyone enjoyed them because of course, my family’s fond of sweet.  The addition of cherries adds a second level of sweetness so I took it easy on the coconut, just sprinkling some on the top instead of rolling each side in it. I think the next time I make them, I may experiment and reduce the sugar slightly, leave out the cherries and roll them in coconut to see if I can match my childhood memories.  Or I may even give mom a call and see if she still has her old recipe 😉

Old Fashioned Coconut Marshmallow Squares

Base:

3/4 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. salt

Mix together and press into a 9″ x 13″ pan.  Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Topping:

2 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup red cherries, chopped, optional

1/2 tsp. almond flavouring, optional

1 tsp. Club House red food colouring (any brand of liquid colouring will do)

1/4 cup fine coconut

Method:

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.

In a saucepan, put sugar and hot water to boil for 2 minutes over high heat. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture to the hot syrup.  Stir until dissolved.  Beat in electric mixer until thick and stiff. Fold in cherries, flavouring, and food colouring.  Spoon mixture over shortbread and smooth out with a spatula.  You can dip your spatula in hot water if the marshmallow is sticking.

Cool several hours at room temperature until firm.  Cut into squares and sprinkle with, or roll in, coconut. Store in a airtight container.

Makes 1-1/2 dozen squares

Note:  These square would be beautiful cut small and served at a shower.

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There’s a page in my cookbook that’s tattered and torn, grease stained and smeared with chocolate.  There are notes and exclamation marks in the margins, a few things crossed out here and there and some new additions penciled in.  It’s the most worn out page in my “Best Recipes This Side of Heaven” Home-Tested Recipes from Anglican Church Ladies, cookbook.  The cookbook itself is in poor condition.  The pages are dog-eared and stained, the back cover is ripped in half, the front cover is worn, creased and faded and little sticky tabs pop out on every side.  It was given to me by my husband’s aunt Mary in 1989, and reminds me fondly of her. For many years it was my most thumbed-through cookbook and as a new mom, helped me get a tasty, if not well-balanced meal on the table.  Never underestimate the culinary power of a home-tested church-lady recipe.  It can bring you fame, if only at your own kitchen table.

There must be a gazillion brownie recipes of various methods and ingredients and everyone seems to have their own personal favourite.  Brownies are like perfume or cologne ~ you have to find the one that suits you.  I’ve found one that suits me … perfectly. The surprising thing is, that it isn’t the one that’s all smeared and stained in my Anglican church ladies cookbook.  It’s new.

But these brownies, are officially my new:

sit-on-the-counter –

I-love-you –

I-have-to-have-chocolate –

let-me-comfort-you –

the-world-is-a-wonderful-place –

 brownies

Do you want to know a secret about this recipe?  It’s been directly above the one I’ve been using for the last 25 years.  Sitting there all the time.

The one I’d never tried and it took all these years to find. 

And do you know what my kids said when I asked them how they compared to the ones I had made them for the last quarter century.

“Oh, yeah, these are way better! 

There’s something about brownies that make everything better and these brownies are no exception.  Fudgy, moist and full of satisfying chocolate flavour, they rival my oldest tried and true go-to-brownie recipe.

Wonderful Brownies

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

 1-1/2 cups flour

10 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

milk chocolate/semi-sweet chocolate chips or slivered almonds, optional, to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Pour into your prepared pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with optional chocolate chips and/or nuts.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove pan to a rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Source:  Best Recipes This Side of Heaven, St. Andrew’s church lady in Sidney, B.C.

 

 

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A couple of weeks ago, on February 9th, Paula, of Vanilla Bean Baker, who is

an ultra talented baker, introduced 16 year old Angelyn, of Everyday

Desserts.  Angelyn bakes some seriously decadent cookies, brownies and

treats that are highly addictive and almost always contain chocolate in some

form or another.  I can’t wait  to try a TON of her recipes. 

As a guest blogger for Paula, Angelyn’s post was an awesome Deep Dish Milky

Way Cookie that she’d baked up in a “Whoopie pie pan”.  These cookies looked

so good that I decided right then and there that I wanted to give them a try. 

I immediately rang my husband and asked him would he pret-ty, pret-ty 

please pick me up some “Milky Ways”, if I promised to bake him something

pret-ty special and delicious.  What I didn’t know, is that Milky Way chocolate

bars aren’t sold in Canada, and so I was presented with a package of Snickers

chocolate bars and a package of Mars chocolate bars instead.  I could have my

pick. No problem ~ either would work perfectly.  I decided to go with the

Snickers because the thought of peanuts AND caramel AND cookie dough

sounded like something I’d dreamed of. 

Unfortunately this brought me to my next problem, which was that I didn’t

have a whoopie pie pan. I’m smart enough to know, no amount of pret-ty

pleasing was going to get me a whoopie pan, and since I’d rather stay home

than go out, I decided to be resourceful, and pulled out my 9″x9″ pan and

made bars instead.

Yum. Yum. Yum. 

Look, you can see the Snickers chocolate bar right there

surrounded by all that yummy cookie dough.

I made some tea and we ate some bars and it was … JOY-ful.

  Served warm, these are rich, chewy and delicious. 

In fact, I like them best, served warm, it brings out the chewiness.  

Even though it may look like it, we didn’t actually eat outside.  Unfortunately,

it’ll be at least a month before spring arrives, though it does feel like it’s close

by at times. The sun wasn’t coming in the window when I tried to take these

pictures so I decided to take the party outside.  The good news, is that as of

yesterday, I now have a whoopie pan and can’t wait to make these bars

again.  Whoop–ie!!

Deep Dish Snickers Bars

1 cup butter (250 ml), room temperature

1 cup (250 ml) dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp (5 ml)vanilla

1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda

1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) baking soda

1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) coarse sea salt

2 1/2 cups ( 625 ml) all purpose flour

4 Snickers chocolate bars, chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).  Prepare a 9″ x 9″ pan by first spraying it with cooking spray.

2. Mix flour, baking soda and sea salt and set aside.

3. Cream butter and sugars together in electric mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed until really creamy (approximately 5 minutes). Turn speed to low and add eggs, one at a time until completely mixed.  Add vanilla and mix. With mixer on low, add flour, baking soda and sea salt. When just mixed, fold in chopped Snickers bars.

4. Press batter into prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes until the edges are golden and the center is JUST set.  Remove from the oven and let cook in pan. When cool, turn out onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and serve.

Makes 1 dozen large bars or 2 dozen medium bars

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