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!

Yogurt Lemon Cake

Hi friends!

Its been a few days (slash weeks)… again.  And I’ve been missing you!… (again).

I’ve been out of the kitchen and in the workplace lately.  I’ve been entertaining family and wearing a graduation cap.  Life has had me busy and time has passed by leaving my measuring cups empty and my oven cold.

There are a lot of things I could tell you about from the last several weeks.  I could talk about my new job and how I work with feet.  I could tell you about the older man who couldn’t reach his foot leading me to put toe socks on his feet for him.  I could tell you that his feet were kind of gross and the toe sock definitely did not slide on easily.  Awkward.

I could also tell you about the running group that I agreed to lead since my boss was on vacation.  The one in which all the participants smoked me in the run… who knew pick ups would be so dang hard?  They all ran six.  I stopped at four.  Total fail.  I decided then that I am not a runner.  And I don’t think I want to be… I was debating for a few months.

I could tell you about the ridiculously boring speech given at my graduation ceremony.  You know its bad when she starts recounting life stories starting in 1950.  Don’t they screen these speeches beforehand?  Probably not.  No, definitely not.  What I want to tell you about is this cake

This cake tastes like summer! (even when its still raining in Portland)

Lemons are zested, sugar is measured.   Combined together and you get lemon sugar!  The zest permeates the sugar which helps with more even distribution in the cake. Sugar also helps release the oils in the zest.  Oil equals flavor.

Greek yogurt makes things tender and moist.  A lot of people hate the word moist.  I really don’t mind it.  Just so you know… fun, useless fact.

The recipe called for whole-milk Greek yogurt but I had 0% on hand.  You’ve got choices!

After the eggs, oil, and vanilla are added the dry ingredients get folded in.  Then into the loaf pan it goes.

Stray batter gets eaten with your fingers.  Taste test!

Real talk:  By the time this cake came out of the oven it was too dark to take pictures.  The next day was packed with events so I didn’t have time for a photo op then either.  Sooo, I ended up leaving the cake in the loaf pan for a few days, wrapped with a bunch of plastic wrap to ensure it didn’t get dried out.

The result?  Faaaantastic.  Really, I love this cake.  It tender and lemony… even after sitting a few days.  Fresh strawberries make it extra special!

You deserve good cake this summer.  Get into it!

Yogurt Lemon Cake

Recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine (called French yogurt cake in the magazine)

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 8.5 x 4.25 inch loaf pan.  Dust pan with flour, tap out excess flour.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, using your fingers rub together lemon zest and sugar until zest is completely incorporated and sugar is moist.  Whisk in yogurt, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.  Fold in dry ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Place pan in oven and bake until cake is golden and skewer inserted comes out clean; about 50 minutes.
  5. Let cake cool for about 15 minutes in pan.  Invert cake onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Enjoy with summer berries, ice cream, whipped cream, or wherever your imagination takes you!