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.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

March is going swimmingly well so far, which is good since its one of the best months of the year.  Lots of good stuff to look forward to this month.  And good things have already happened… the sun was out on Friday AND Sunday last weekend.  Say what?  If thats not a sign of a good month ahead then I don’t know what is.

Later this month my friend Becky and her lover boy, Pete, are getting married.  So exciting!   And guess what?  My mom and I are making all the food.  It should be an adventure!

A crazy, stress filled one, I’m sure.  But it should be fun… I think.  I’m projecting that I’ll cry at least once because I’ll be all frazzled.  No biggie.  I used to cry at the drop of a hat.  I finally got ahold of myself though.

Really, the wedding will be a piece of cake compared to facing the fact that I’m graduating from college in 2 weeks.  Really? Graduating? Like totally done?

Oh, geez.  I have to find a job.  Just the thought makes me cry.  I’m just kidding.  I’ve only cried about 10 times over having no idea what I’m doing after graduation.  Its a big milestone so more cry sessions are allowed.  Right?

There are two things that I won’t be crying about at all this March.

First, march madness.  I love college basketball and this is the best championship tournament of any sport.  Imo.  Oh man I can’t wait til it starts!

I have to say that if Duke loses at the buzzer at any point in the tourney I might shed a couple tears.  I love that team.  And coach K.

So now I’m down to one event that I won’t cry at.  Fingers crossed.  The day of my birth!  Yes, birthday month is upon me and I’m just a few days away.  I’m quite looking forward to a nice dinner out… and maybe a few presents.  My love language is gifts after all.

But, if no presents await me on Friday I will hold in the tears and count my many blessings. Seriously.  I don’t need presents.  I have too much already.

I just really like them.  A lot.  I can’t help it!  Thats how God made me.

Okay, enough about me.  Lets talk about these cookies!  Something that is good for any of life’s events, for sure.

These particular cookies are filled with whole wheat flour, oats, banana, and chocolate.  Good stuff in there!  I was curious how olive oil would substitute for butter and it worked out great.  Though you can’t particularly taste the olive oil at least there are a few healthy fats in this treat.

That makes me feel better about eating one after a workout.  Oops!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

slightly adapted from Cookie and Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp or 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 heaping cup banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray pan with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and olive oil until sugar looks similar to wet sand.  Add egg and mix until combined.  Mix in banana and vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients and oats to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop a rounded tablespoon full of dough onto cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.  Pour a glass of milk, eat, and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Isn’t it crazy that we all make hundreds of decisions every day?

So many things going on in our heads.  So many choices before us.

And not only having all those choices before us, but realizing that each one of them can influence our day, our mood, or our outlook on a given situation.

I’ve been thinking about my choices and decisions a lot the past couple days.  Thinking about how my mood is affected by the choice I make.

I’m in school right now, and not particularly fond of the classes I’m taking or the amount of homework I have to get done.  My attitude has been less than stellar since week one.  Not wanting to read, write papers, go to class.  Forcing myself into doing them all.

But when I got to thinking about it the other day, I realized how blessed I am to be in this position.  Granted, my interest isn’t particularly piqued with the classes that I’m taking right now, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t beneficial at all.

And more than that, how many people would love to be in my shoes right now but can’t because they don’t have the time, money, opportunity, etc.?

I have been keeping such a negative mindset, choosing to be pessimistic for the last 6 weeks and it’s definitely not making my life more enjoyable.

Sometimes- well many times- in life we get put into situations that we don’t want to be in.

Things happen that are unexpected.   I thought this term was going to be a breeze.  Then after week one I was depressed.  Not really.  I wasn’t depressed, but I definitely wasn’t excited.

But, again, I made a choice to think the worst about it.  I made the decision that I was going to have a hard time.  I let the clouds cover the blue sky.

And there is always a blue sky underneath those clouds.  Thats so cheesy!  But I know it’s true.  There is the choice to make the most of the circumstance that you are in.  It probably won’t be easy to get through, but when it’s all said and done, making the decision to embrace it and learn as much as you can from it will ease the difficulty.

And if the situation seems too difficult.  The choice to be positive is too hard to make then set it aside, and make these peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal bars.  They might help with the situation!  At least your tummy will be happy.

These bar are loaded with good things.  Whole wheat flour, oatmeal, peanut butter, and dark chocolate.  This is a great sweet treat if you’re watching your kcals.  A little square is hearty, not overly sweet, and completely satisfying.

And if you end up eating the whole pan because you’re craming for finals or stressed about work?  Well, at least you’re getting a lot of fiber!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Makes 9 squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups peanut butter (I used Adam’s crunchy, but you can use creamy!)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8×8 baking dish by spraying it lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a stand or hand held mixer, cream together the peanut butter and brown sugar on high until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined on medium speed.
  6. On low speed incorporate the milk into the peanut butter mixture.  Mix until dough forms.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Roll dough into a large ball.  Place dough in the center of the prepared baking dish and press out into the dish, pushing dough to all the corners.
  9. Bake until set and the top is golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut into squares.
Enjoy!