Tag Archives: oatmeal

Apple Crisp Salted Caramel Bars

apple crisp salted caramel bar on table
apple crisp salted caramel bar

Phew. Encapsulating the past year in a blog post requires a level of dedication that someone who just made a four-layer dessert does not possess.

Now that I’m settled in yet another (new) city, I feel ready to declare myself “baaaaaack.” I have my own kitchen with every gadget I could possibly need. (All that’s left is another oven.) I am entering fall, also known as prime baking season. And, most importantly, I am healed, both mentally and physically, from the challenging experiences of the past few years.

Now I just need some more friends to share these bars with…

About those bars: imagine if an apple crisp mixed with salted caramel sauce and then melted into a shortbread cookie base.

I know this recipe looks intense, but it actually comes together pretty quickly. Then again, I have a dishwasher again. I CAN DO ANYTHING.

Shortbread base:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
2) Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar and salt briefly, then add the butter and process until the mixture begins to form small lumps.
3) Sprinkle mixture onto the baking pan and press the mixture evenly onto the bottom.
4) Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely while preparing other ingredients. Keep the oven at 350 degrees.

Salted caramel sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

1) Follow these directions from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
2) Once the caramel has cooled and thickened, pour it over the cooled shortbread base and spread evenly.

Apple filling: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 cup cornstarch

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt, then stir in the apples. Cook for about five minutes to let apples release their liquid.
2) Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Let cook for another five minutes.
3) Stir in the cornstarch and cook for another minute, until liquid has thickened. Set apples aside to cool, then spread them over the salted caramel shortbread base.

Crisp topping:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into pieces

1) Mix brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or paddle attachment on a stand mixer to combine cold butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2) Sprinkle crisp crumbs over the apples in the baking dish and press crumbs gently into the pan.
3) Place the baking pan on a center rack in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until apples are bubbling and crisp looks, well, crisp.
4) Let the bars cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing. You might even want to refrigerate them for an hour to make sure that they don’t crumble.

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Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

One day I was perusing Pinterest (addict that I am) when I came across a recipe for breakfast cookies. Read that again. Breakfast. Cookies. COOKIES YOU CAN EAT FOR BREAKFAST.

Naturally, I had to adapt them for my own. I added coconut for a little more sweetness, and nuts for crunch, but this recipe is easily altered to satisfy your tastes. I’m going to add peanut butter to mine next time. They make as good of a dessert as they do breakfast, too.

Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies:
Makes about 2 dozen
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
2 ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp cinnamonto taste cinnamon
1/8 cup chopped pecans or almonds (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2) Spoon out teaspoonfuls of batter onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
3) Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Almond Coconut Granola

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about breakfast. Perhaps it’s the promise of new beginnings that pervades this time of year–the hope for a fresh start on January 1st and, by extension, each morning. The impending possibilities make me want to wake up and eat something delicious.

Or perhaps my breakfast fixation evolved from my obsession with reading Ruth Reichl’s Twitter page. The former Gourmet editor posts an update nearly every day about what she’s eating for breakfast. I’m jealous of anyone who possesses the creativity and financial means to create a new breakfast every morning.

But you’re also looking at someone who, as a child, ate oatmeal every day for more than a year. (By choice. Or, more likely, to avoid having to make a choice.)

That little girl would be very proud of this recipe, I think. It still involves oats and brown sugar, but it’s also portable. And you can put it on practically everything without fearing judgment. There are oats! There are almonds! I’ve even done my part to Save the Bees of NC with local honey.

May all your breakfasts be so hopeful ‘n’ wholesome. Until you read my post about cheddar bacon muffins. Then you have my permission to be bad again.

Granola recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.

Toasted Almond Granola:
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup slivered raw almonds
1 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened flakes)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil in a pinch)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1) Place oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line one large with parchment paper or Silpat.
2) In a large bowl, combine oats, whole almonds, slivered almonds, coconut, cinnamon and salt.
3) In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, then whisk in coconut oil, honey and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
4) Pour the sauce over the oat mixture and toss together with a spoon or two to ensure that the oats are covered thoroughly.
5) Press mixture down gently onto baking sheet. Bake for about 9 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir granola and place back in oven. Bake for another 9 minutes, stir again and put back in the oven for about 9 minutes more.
6) Let cool on the pan before placing in an airtight container.

Also, if you’re looking for other delicious granola combinations, this basic recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini is wonderful.

I’ll be posting more breakfasts over the next few days, especially now that my classes don’t begin until 3:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays. A few recipes will involve bacon. You know how I feel about bacon.

Let me know if you’ve got a recipe I simply have to try, bacon-centric or otherwise.

Oatmeal Jumble Cookies

For years now, I’ve maintained several beliefs to which I devote myself wholeheartedly:

1) My cat possesses healing qualities. His snuggles are therapeutic.
2) Completing craft projects is a reasonable and productive alternative to studying.
3) One should always have all the ingredients on hand to make simple, buttery cookies.

The last one is particularly important. It’s the reason I buy butter on basically every grocery shopping trip. What if I run out right before a cookie dough craving? What if Paula Deen buys all the butter on the Eastern Seaboard? What if cows go on strike?

Yesterday, my belief gained affirmation in the form of a snow storm. In early December. In North Carolina. Maybe “storm” is too generous, but once I saw that dismal fluffy stuff assaulting the lawn outside of our apartment, I knew I was having a snow day. As in a no-way-am-I-going-out-in-that-stuff day.

Fortunately, I had all the ingredients I needed to make jumble cookies–just what I wanted on a cold day. (I also had all the ingredients I needed to make veggie lasagna, but that’s for another day.)

Truly one of the best things you can do in winter is bake something with a lot of spices. The smell is more pervasive than a Yankee Candle, and the result definitely tastes better.

I used this recipe as my base, then found inspiration in my taste buds’ reminiscences of Whole Foods’ jumble cookie. They throw all kinds of fun edibles in those buttery delights.

Jumble Cookies, or Oatmeal Raisin/Cranberry/Cherry/Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and white sugar for several minutes. Add the eggs one by one, then add the vanilla and almond extracts.
2) Slowly stir in the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
3) Pour in the oats, raisins, cranberries or cherries, chocolate chips and walnuts. You’ll want to taste-test the dough repeatedly to verify appropriate raisin/cranberry/cherry/chocolate chip/walnut dispersion.
4) Drop teaspoon-sized rounds of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Let set for another few minutes on the baking sheet before removing. Or eat them straight out of the oven. I won’t judge.