Blueberry Pie Bars

Hi Friends!

Can I just say that I am really enjoying the cooler weather?  I was actually excited when I woke up a couple days this past week and the gray wall of clouds hid the sun and a slight mist dotted my windows.  It seemed refreshing.. and oddly comforting.

Portland must be changing me if I’m pining for cool weather and clouds instead of an extended stay of sunshine.  Next thing I know I’ll give up my umbrella completely, because we all know that a true Pacific Northwesterner does NOT use an umbrella.  Frankly, I’d rather not get my shoes wet.  The umbrella will stay for now.

On a completely different note, do you ever have those days when you just want to eat everything in sight?  Me too.

Scone for breakfast?  Sure!  Giant chocolate chip cookie?  Why the heck not?  Part of my BF’s salty cheesy quesadilla?  I better at least have one bite…

Sometimes you just need an eat day.  Sometimes you need to treat yo self!

Fall is officially here, but summer bounty is still holdin on by its finger tips.  Lets just keep buying berries as long as we can.  Lets buy berries and freeze them, can them, eat them fresh.  Lets buy berries and make pie with them.  Lets buy berries and have an EAT day.

These blueberry pie bars are a sweet treat that will leave you hopped up on sugar and ready to tackle anything (until you crash 3 hours later).  Just kidding…  Sort of.

These bars start off with a brow sugary oatmeal crust.  A dash of cinnamon gives them some warmth and that familiar pie flavor.

Butter is a delicious, necessary ingredient.  It gets cut into the dry ingredients until the dough forms into large chunks.

Blueberries are the star ingredient, and rightfully so.  Their deep blue colors turn royal purple after a trip to the oven, and fresh summer blueberries offer the right sweet to tart ratio.  I used fresh but frozen is definitely an option as well!

Cinnamon and brown sugar along with a little flour are mixed with berries.  Lemon zest gives these bars a much needed pop of freshness.

A little bit of the crust is set aside while the remaining gets pressed into the pan.  Top that with the berries and crumble the rest of the crust on top.

Then they take a little trip to the oven.

I’m not gonna lie, these pie bars are sweet, and a little square goes a long way.  I might try reducing the brown sugar next time I make them, or using another type of fruit (Deb used raspberries in the original).

Have an eat day now or freeze some for a rainy day.  Either way, you’ll be glad these are in your tummy.

Blueberry Pie Bars

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

For the crust and crumb:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the blueberry filling:

  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
  2. Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.
  3. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. (Note: The book suggests you reserve one cup only.  Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hans or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.
  4. Make the blueberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the blueberries are evenly coated.
  5. Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the blueberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Nectarine Huckleberry Tart

I often think way too much about what others think of me.  My decisions, my actions, my thoughts so quickly go toward what the person next to me is thinking.  I get taken captive, in a sense, by the possible judgement or objection of somebody else’s thinking, someone else’s moral compass, someone else’s way of doing things, someone else’s opinion.

I decide things based on what I believe other people would like.  I look for approval. I want someone else’s “okay.”  I look to someone else to validate me.

I was reminded last week that everyone has some kind of ugly baggage that they are carrying around with them.  Or even just a part of their life that they think others might label as wrong or weird or what have you.

I was reminded that those people I am so worried about are just like me.  No better.  No worse.  We are on equal ground.

I can live my life even when someone disagrees.

Sigh.

This past week I decided to make a tart.  This tart took forever to decide upon because I was worried about how it would turn out.  And I was worried about that because I was taking it to a work bbq and I wanted everyone there to like.

I really get ridiculous sometimes.  I mean who doesn’t like a buttery crust topped with fruit?  Someone, I am sure of it.

The crust for this tart is super simple.  Flour, almond, and butter get weighed and measured.  Then lemon zest is mixed into the sugar.  This helps release the oils in the zest which means a more pronounce lemon flavor in the final product.

All of these ingredients are worked together until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is crumbly. The dough is then pressed into a tart pan.

Just use your fingers thats definitely the best way to do it.

Huckleberries, which I proudly picked myself, are rinsed and dried off a bit.

Deliciously fragrant nectarines are split open and cut into small wedges.

Take a minute to admire the gorgeous fruit!  Such brilliant colors…

Huckleberries go in first.  Nectarines are layered on top.  I start around the outside edge first and move toward the center.  It doesn’t have to be perfect… quit caring about what other people will think. (I’m talking to myself here)

Now, bake that beauty!

I absolutely love the colors of this tart after its been baked.  Deep purple, mauve, and taupe.  Perfect.

I have to say this tart was a success.  There is a thick layer of lemony crust, which I greatly appreciate.  A touch of cinnamon adds a warmth to the sweet nectarines and tart huckleberries.  A scoop of gelato is a nice touch… just a suggestion.

And yes, the co-workers thought it was delicious.

Nectarine Huckleberry Tart

Recipe from Pease Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed or use almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • zest of one lemon
  • 4 nectarines, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup huckleberries
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter or spray a 9 1/2 inch removable bottom tart pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix the lemon zest into the sugar until its incorporated well.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in the almonds and sugar.
  4. Add the butter to the dry ingredients.  Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture and continue to mix just until flour is incorporated.  Dough should be clumpy not one solid ball.
  5. Dump the dough into the prepared tart pan and press dough into pan using your fingers or the flat bottom of a cup.  The dough should be flush with the top of the pan.  Place tart crust in freezer while you prepare the fruit.
  6. In a medium bowl, gently mix together the nectarines, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Let sit for a few minutes to release some of the juices of the fruit.
  7. Remove crust from freezer and sprinkle the huckleberries on top of the crust so that they lie in one single layer.
  8. Beginning with the outer edge place the nectarines along the whole outside edge of the tart pan.  Continue this process until the crust in filled with nectarines.
  9. Bake tart for about 40 minutes or until the edge of the crust is browned slightly.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack or at least 10 minutes.  Serve warm or cooled… both are delicious!

Banana Ice Cream

Dear Future Me,

Its me.. I mean you.  Uhhh same thing.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned lately that you might want to remember.

One:  Wear a suit to an interview.  You might feel like your body is in some strange universe since you’ve been wearing stretchy pants for the last five months, BUT a suit is the way to go.  You’ll be looking mighty sharp next to all the people wearing t-shirts and jeans.  Also, bring cookies with you if you are telling them that you went to culinary school and like to bake.  It will be a good move.  Promise!

Two: Don’t be self conscious about going to the movies by yourself.  Yeah maybe you’re seeing a sappy love story sitting all by your lonesome while everyone else in the theater is sitting next to their best friend or significant other.  That says nothing about your self worth.. it just builds character.. somehow.  P.S.- Peanut m&ms build character too.

Three: Buying the Whole Foods brand of peanut butter might not be a good idea.  Yes, it tastes so good and reminds you of Peter Pan peanut butter cups but those four or five spoonfuls will catch up to.

Four:  Quit being a worry wart.  Its just unnecessary stress that leads to a dead end. Nothing good comes of it.

Five: Listen to people.  I mean like eye contact lots of empathy type listening.  It will make them feel loved and understood.  Its what you really want. We all need that.

Six: Write a handwritten letter to someone you love, appreciate, admire, or are thankful for.  Bring snail mail back in vogue.  The receiver will be delightfully surprised.

Seven: Make banana ice cream.  Again.

Let me tell you about this “ice cream.”  No cream.  No eggs.  No sugar even.  Its just bananas.

Yep, thats it!  Peeled. Frozen. Pureed.  Its that easy.

The result is a creamy, ice cream like treat that lends itself well to a multitude of toppings. I made three types from this batch; plain with a little cinnamon on top, peanut butter with a touch of cocoa powder, and chocolate chocolate.. cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and chocolate sprinkles.

The possibilities are many.  Let your imagination guide your taste buds.

Banana Ice Cream

I first saw this from Zuzanna a while back.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 frozen bananas (I used 2 and it made about 11/2 cups)
  • Extra toppings- nut butters, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, fruit, coconut, vanilla extract, etc.

Directions

  1. Peel, then cut bananas into bite sized pieces.  Place in freezer for 2-3 hours.
  2. Remove from freezer and place in food processor.  Process bananas until they blend into a creamy ice cream like consistency.
  3. Mix in any extras you’d like.
  4. Enjoy!

*Store any extras in air tight container in freezer.

Lime Curd

You guys!  Guess what?  I’m finished with college.  Yep, totally finished.

I was excited.  I gave myself a high five.  That was about it… slightly anti-climatic.

I wanted to eat like 5 cupcakes and relish in my accomplishment.  I want to travel the world for a little bit.  I want to bake a lot… with expensive chocolate.  I want win a bunch of money and just be set for a while.  Or maybe someone who really loves me a lot would just want to fund all of my travel/baking adventures… maybe take me on a shopping spree or two?

No?  Thats not gonna happen?  Shoot!

In the mean time, while the rain is pouring down and I’m avoiding sifting through job listings, lets talk about limes!  And curd!

I had a large bag of limes leftover after catering my friends wedding this past weekend so I decided to turn those green gems into something really tasty.

First limes get washed, zested, and juiced.  Time to pucker!

Next it’s time to separate eggs.  This curd uses two whole eggs and 4 yolks.  All those eggs  create a rich, smooth, creamy curd.

Butter and honey get satiny together and are whipped up before adding in the eggs and lime juice.

After a little heat, stirring, and lime zest your curd is finished!

Seriously, this curd is good.  I’m usually not a huge citrus fan but I really enjoyed this.  It has the perfect balance of tart and sweet.   Its smooth and creamy and literally melts in your mouth.

I just took another bite to be sure I was correctly describing this.  I was but I might need another bite just to be sure…

The yellow hue with dots of green zest make it perfect for spring.  Its like Easter in a jar.

Speaking of Easter, these little parfaits would be a perfect addition to an Easter brunch.

Really, they’d be a great addition to anything… breakfast, a lunchtime dessert, a healthy snack, or light after dinner sweet.  Layers of greek yogurt, lime curd, strawberries, and hazelnuts are a treat for both your eyes and your tummy.  Yes!

Lime Curd

Recipe from Cookie and Kate

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft and cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 10-12 limes)
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lime zest

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream butter and honey.
  2. Add egg slowly, beating until incorporated.
  3. Pour in lime juice and mix until combined.  Pour mixture into a non-reactive saucepan.
  4. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.  Be sure to continue stirring through the whole process to avoid the eggs curdling or mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Once the mixture is about at boiling point it will thicken quickly.
  5. Remove curd from heat and stir in lime zest.
  6. Pour into glass jar and let sit until completely cool.  Once cooled, screw on the lid and store in the refrigerator.  Makes about 2 cups.

Blood Oranges with Basalmic Cream

When I was little I was very much a girly girl.

I loved Barbies and baby dolls and playing dress up.  I loved dancing and make-up and twirly skirts.  As far as I can remember I enjoyed shiny things.  I liked jewelry and big bows in my hair.

Nowadays I like to punch my boyfriend in the arm to show him how tough I am.  I hardly ever wear make-up and I fee self-conscious if I wear anything super bright or shiny.

I think I was cooler back then.

When I was little I wanted to work at McDonalds and be a cheerleader when I grew up.  I thought it would be really cool to have a headset and pom poms caught my eye.

My aspirations were low, which means I can pretty much do anything now and I’ll have accomplished my goals and then some.  Winning.

When I was little I didn’t like cartoons and instead opted for soap operas.  I’d quickly change the channel back to Nick Jr. if my babysitter walked in though.  I’m pretty sure I never got caught.  I learned to be sneaky at a young age.. ninja like.

I’ve since lost a bit of my skill.  Now I just get caught looking at blog posts about donuts while I’m at my internship.  At a gym.  Where people are trying to get healthy.  Failing.

When I was little I played soccer for one year.  I wasn’t good.  I didn’t understand what was going on and my hand did this weird twisting thing when I was trying to handle the ball.  It felt awkward.  Luckily they stuck me in goalie and, since the rest of my team was good, I hardly got any action.  I was always so relieved.

At half time, someone’s mom would bring the token snack– orange slices.  I wasn’t impressed.  Couldn’t they have picked up some Little Debbie’s or something?

I’ve been unimpressed by oranges ever since.  Then God sent blood oranges into my life.

Sometimes unassuming with a bright orange peel and at other times giving away their beauty with a blush of their covering, blood oranges are special all by themselves.  These ruby jewels vary in color intensity but their sweet, tart flavor is never lacking.

These particular blood oranges are topped with a basalmic cream that will have your tasted buds slightly confused at first, but then wanting more and more.  Cream fraiche, a touch of sugar, and basalmic vinegar combine to create a unique sauce that is perfect for topping fresh fruit, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

This dessert is fresh, easy, and beautiful all in one!  Winning.  Definitely winning.

Blood Orange Segments with Basalmic Cream

Recipe from Giada’s Family Dinners

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 Blood Oranges
  • 3/4 cup inexpensive basalmic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends off of the oranges and then cut the rest of the peel and white pith away from the orange. Cut between the membranes to release the segments.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, creme fraiche, and sugar. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.
  3. Arranges orange segments on a plate and top with basalmic cream.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Peach and Blueberry Galette

I grew up in New Mexico.  Not Mexico, NEW Mexico.  It’s a state. Some people don’t know that.

I grew up in a small town called Alamogordo.  Alamo what?   It means fat cottonwood.  Classy, right?  Anyway, summers in NM are hot and dry.  Lots of brown, lots of dust, very little green, and not much fresh produce.  So how did I come by these lovely peaches and plump blueberries?

Cue Portland, OR!  Thats where I currently call home.  Summers here are completely different.  First of all, they are short.  People start going crazy by June because it’s still mostly cloudy and our sleep cycles aren’t normal due to a lack of melatonin.  That statement isn’t completely true.  But some people get really grouchy.

Once summer hits its filled with the most beautiful days that anyone could ask for.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Some would say it’s just right.  One of the best parts of summer in Portland is the vast amount of fresh produce filling the markets and grocery stores.  So beautiful.  So colorful.  So Delicious!

Summer is nearing its end, and this blueberry peach galette is great way to savor the last bites of summer before ushering in Fall.  Galettes are super simple to make.  They have all the flavor of a traditional pie, without all of the fuss.

First things first… the dough!  This dough is really simple to put together.  Make sure all of your ingredients are cold, especially the butter.  This is important because if the butter is soft, the dough won’t be as flaky once it’s baked.

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty!  Add the butter to the dry ingredients.  “Cut” the butter, using you fingers, into the flour until you get pea sized bits of butter.  You can also use a pastry cutter if you don’t want to get your hands all messy.  After this you will add your cold water, and then mix the dough until it comes together.

After you dough comes together, chill it for at least 30 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the fruit.  Once the dough is chilled roll it out on a silpat or parchment paper.  You want the dough to be about a 1/4 in thick all the way around.  Top the dough with your peaches and blueberries, leaving about two inches of dough uncovered.  Next, fold over the edges of the dough.  The galette is supposed to look rustic, so don’t worry if the dough cracks or looks uneven!  Brush the top of the galette with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar before baking.

Voila!  A perfect way to enjoy the last of those fresh summer fruits.

Peach and Blueberry Galette

Adapted from Cookie and Kate.

Whole wheat crust ingredients

  • 1 1/4  cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water
  • sugar for dusting

Filling ingredients

  • Five peaches, sliced
  • 6 ounces of blueberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

  1.  In a bowl, mix together flour and salt.
  2.  Cut butter into dry ingredients, using a pastry cutter or your hands, until butter is about the size of a pea.
  3.  Add water, about 4 tablespoons at first.  Mix into butter and flour until dough comes together.  If the dough needs more water keep adding until it comes together.
  4.  Form dough into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5.  In a bowl, mix together the filling ingredients.
  6.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  7.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  If your dough cracks or gets a hole don’t freak out.  Just pat it back together and no one will ever know. Place dough onto baking sheet.
  8.  Top the crust with the prepared filling.  Be sure to leave about 2 inches around the outside of the crust.
  9.  Now, start to fold over the outer 2 inches of the crust and continue until it is all folded in.  Brush the top of the crush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  10.  Bake the galette for 30-40 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.
Enjoy!