Rhubarb Almond Bars

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Last summer, I built a trio of large, self-watering cedar planters to start a deck garden. Our home is blessed with a large deck and, since the main living space overlooks the deck, I wanted to give it a little more life. Although we have plenty of yard space for a garden, we also have many critters (and deer) visiting frequently so it made more sense to elevate the garden to keep the plants safe from late night nibblers.

Each planter is 2 ft. by 6 ft., which leaves plenty of room for experimentation.

My interest in gardening is relatively new, but this hobby has quickly turned me into an enthusiastic plant lady. After killing every houseplant I attempted to grow up for many years, I was astonished when my black thumb seemingly turned green after moving into our house.

Apparently the trick for a green thumb is simply having large southeast facing windows—who knew?

Unfortunately, the first attempt at gardening in the outdoor planters was not very successful. In my eagerness to grow my own vegetables, I overplanted the space and didn’t do enough research on how to individually care for each plant. In addition, because the planters are self-watering (through a process of diffusion and soil osmosis), the plants with deep root systems ended up with root rot by midsummer.

By summer’s end, the only “successful” plants were the bell peppers (which grew only one picture perfect pepper each), the green beans, and the herb garden. Everything else—the tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, etc.—ended up producing very little or finally completing their slow death.

While the self-watering feature was definitely a curse, I only needed to water the plants once the entire season, so my laziness is more than willing to find a way to work within these constraints.

This year I am taking the failures of the previous summer and using them to (hopefully) do better this time around. To start, I did a little more planning and left more space for the plants to expand. Only plants with shallow root systems are allowed (peppers, onions, shallots, lettuce, carrots, herbs, green beans, flowers); the plants with larger root systems have been relegated to individual, well-draining containers (tomatoes).

I have my fingers crossed for now, but it will be another month or two before I’ll be able to label it a success or failure. Stay tuned.

I have plans to do a little landscaping and put in a rhubarb plant later this summer, but it will still be a couple years before we can harvest. Until then, the farmer’s market has everything I need.

I originally planned to make a strawberry rhubarb dessert, but I didn’t get around to baking until after the strawberries were past their prime. This recipe is all the better for it, because it allows the rhubarb flavor to truly shine. Paired with an almond oatmeal crust, these rhubarb-filled bars are a new way to enjoy this spring vegetable.

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This recipe for Rhubarb Almond Bars is an easy way to use and enjoy rhubarb. Almonds and oatmeal come together to form the base of the bars. Sliced raw rhubarb is added to the center (no cooking required!) before the bars are topped with the remaining crust and placed in the oven to bake. The nutty almond flavor compliments the tart rhubarb well. Cut into squares and serve warm, cold, or room temperature.

Rhubarb Almond Bars

Yields 16 servings (or 8 x 8-inch pan)

Almond Bars
6 tablespoons (100 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned oats
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams) sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Rhubarb Filling
3 cups (~14 ounces or 400 grams) fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan.

For the almond base, beat together the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until uniform. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract, mixing until blended. Stir in the oats, flour, sliced almonds, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside remaining batter.

For the rhubarb filling, stir together the sliced rhubarb, sugar, and cornstarch.

Spread the rhubarb filling over the top of the almond base. Crumble the remaining batter evenly on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in pan before serving.

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies

This post is sponsored by Bob’s red mill. Thank you for supporting the brands I love and use in my own kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Bob’s red mill. Thank you for supporting the brands I love and use in my own kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

With the holidays right around the corner (and a baby on the way!), December is shaping up to be a busy month for my family. In year’s past, it has been my holiday tradition to spend days in the kitchen meticulously cutting out and decorating my favorite holiday cookies—like these honey, sugar, and chocolate sugar cookies—to share with my family and friends.

This year I honestly don’t have the time to spare.

Instead, I’m going to feel out a new holiday baking tradition. My goal is to spend the next few days filling the freezer with cookies from easy-to-make recipes, and enjoying the remaining days by relaxing before our sweet baby arrives.

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These Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies meet all of my criteria this year: simple to make, freeze well, and quickly disappears from the serving plate.

For this cookie recipe, I turned to Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour. I prefer to use unbleached flour in my baking because it means the flour is not chemically treated. To create the classic light colored appearance and delicate texture of all-purpose flour, the wheat bran and germ are removed during the milling process (which is the key difference between whole wheat and all-purpose flour).

Crinkle cookies get their crackled appearance from being rolled in powdered sugar before baking. The sugar draws out moisture from the outside of the cookie, causing the edges to dry out before the interior is finished baking. This difference in moisture levels causes the top of the cookie to take on a crinkled appearance.

With a handful of chocolate chips to provide a richer chocolate flavor and ground ginger and cinnamon to give the cookie a spiced warmth, these cookies are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.

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One of the qualities I look for in a good holiday cookie is its ability to freeze well. Knowing I have homemade cookies stashed away that can be ready at a moment’s notice is a relief during a busy season when events pop up or unexpected guests drop by. Happily, these chocolate ginger crinkle cookies can be easily frozen using two methods.

The first method is to form the cookie dough into balls and freeze them before rolling them in powdered sugar. When ready to bake, the frozen cookie dough balls can be rolled in the sugar and head straight towards the oven. This method is great when you can spare a few minutes to bake or you want to serve hot cookies straight from the oven.

The second method is to bake the cookies as directed and allow them to fully cool before placing them in an airtight container in the freezer. When ready to be served, pull the cookies from the freezer and allow them to thaw. This method is best when you anticipate the cookies being eaten quickly since the powdered sugar can become sticky if the cookies are left out for longer periods of time.

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These Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies are a seasonal take on the classic cookie. The chocolatey cookies are spiced with ginger and cinnamon to bring out traditional holiday flavors. After chilling the dough, the cookies are dipped in powdered sugar and baked until they take on a crinkled appearance. These cookies are best served alongside friends and family with a tall glass of milk.

One Year Ago: Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cake & Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Gingersnap Tart
Three Years Ago: Caramel Apple Crumble Pie & Rosemary Olive Bread
Four Years Ago: Maple Syrup Cake with Toasted Almonds & Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-Free!)
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts & Stovetop Popcorn
Six Years Ago: Molasses Ginger Cookies, Marbled Butternut Squash Bread, Chai Pear Scones, & Hot Bourbon Apple Cider
Seven Years Ago: Grandma’s Applesauce, Honey Roasted Chickpeas, Caramel Apple Tart, & Cranberry Orange Brioche
Eight Years Ago: Fig & Balsamic Jam, Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, & Raspberry Vanilla Creme Brulee

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Yield 18-22 cookies

1 cup (120 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (43 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (85 grams) powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, spices, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until a uniform batter forms. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place cookie dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight) until completely chilled through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll chilled cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Drop cookie dough balls into the powdered sugar and coat evenly on all sides. Place balls at least 2-inches apart onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until cookies have a crackled appearance. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars

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As a teacher, January is a busy month. With one semester coming to an end and the second semester beginning, the workload feels like it doubles, and my intentions for the new year are put to an honest test. When I finally do get home for the evening, I sink into the couch and settle in for a night in front of the television. It turns out the tension and stress of high school finals week can be hard to shake off—even for a teacher.

As my personal history has shown, when hunger strikes during these busy times I tend to choose the easiest (and often the least healthy) option—takeout and candy bars, anyone? For this reason, I have learned to prep a few dinners and snacks in advance. With flavor and convenience in mind, I have partnered with Dole Sunshine to #SharetheSunshine by bringing you a recipe for mixed berry oatmeal bars that will add a bright spot to your busy weekdays.

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During winter months, I prefer to use frozen fruit in my baking because it provides consistent quality while maintaining a bright flavor. As an added bonus, using frozen fruit avoids the process of sorting, washing, and slicing that comes with fresh fruit, which is a real timesaver when you have a busy schedule. For these mixed berry oatmeal bars, I used a variety of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, but you could customize the bars to the berries of your choosing. 

In the oven, the berries bubble down into a sweet, fruity filling. Many of the larger berries partially hold their shape, delivering pockets of bright flavor throughout. The oatmeal crust bakes up soft and chewy, which provides a texture reminiscent of cereal bars. 

After these bars finished baking, I cut them into 2-inch squares and wrapped them up individually to toss into my lunchbox for an afternoon pick-me-up. The next couple weeks may be busy for me, but I'm ready for the challenge. 

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Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars are simple to make and bring out a bright fruit flavor. An oatmeal crust—made from oats, honey, and brown sugar—forms the base of the bars. Frozen berries are spread throughout the middle, which bubble into a sweet filling in the oven. The bars bake up chewy on the edges and stay soft in the middle, making for a quick and delicious snack on a busy weekday.

One Year Ago: Baked Lemon Poppyseed Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Cacao Hot Chocolate 
Three Years Ago: Cranberry Orange Muffins & Pear Vanilla Sorbet
FourYears Ago: Double Chocolate Brownies & Pear Chocolate Scones
Five Years Ago:  Rosemary Sandwich BreadCranberry Flax MuffinsChocolate Ginger Cookies, & Vanilla Marshmallows
Six Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar CakeVanilla Bean PuddingSoft Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Marbled Banana BreadCranberry Wine Spritzer, & Quick Chocolate Cake

Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars

Yields 16 servings (or 8 x 8-inch pan)

Oatmeal Bars
6 tablespoons (100 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mixed Berry Filling
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 340 grams) Dole Frozen Mixed Berries
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan.

For the oatmeal base, beat together the butter and brown sugar until uniform in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the egg, honey, and vanilla, mixing until blended. Stir in the oats, flours, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

For the mixed berry filling, cut down any large frozen berries to keep the fruit about the same size. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the frozen berries, sugar, and cornstarch.

Spread the berry mixture evenly over the top of the oatmeal bars. Crumble the remaining batter on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in pan before serving.


This post is sponsored through a partnership with Dole Sunshine. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I am incredibly excited to be working with Dole Sunshine because of the excellent quality of their frozen & preserved fruits. Thank you for supporting Pastry Affair & my wonderful sponsors!