Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars


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.


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. 


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!

Maple Banana Bread


A new year, a clean slate. As I welcomed in the new year, I spent time reflecting on the last year, on where I've been and where I'd like to go. In these moments, I have a tendency to focus on my weaknesses, to identify ways I feel I've come up short to my good intentions. Despite my efforts, my lifestyle leans towards the sedentary, the house is in a constant state of needing to be picked up, and my ever-present sweet tooth continues its habit of getting me into trouble. 

This year, instead of fixating on the negative, I intend to look towards the positive, to recognize all the ways I have grown (and can continue to grow). I have no list of resolutions for the new year. Instead, I am working on cultivating a series of intentions—to find the good in stressful situations, to maintain positivity when working with other people, and to push myself to become more skilled at things that I love (like teaching, baking, and woodworking). 

Luckily, practice makes perfect. I anticipate my oven will get plenty of work as I develop and play around with new recipes.


In the past, I have been guilty of loading my banana breads with so many extras that the banana flavor can be lost or overpowered. Certainly these versions have their moments—this loaf with a chocolate hazelnut swirl makes for a lovely dessert and this chocolate cacao nib loaf is best for a morning snack—but sometimes it is worth it to tend towards the traditional. 

This recipe for Maple Banana Bread is a lighter version of the classic loaf, allowing the flavor and natural sweetness of the banana to shine. With the addition of maple syrup, the sweetness hits a subtle, but pure note. Whole wheat flour is added to bring in whole grains and the loaf is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to round out the flavor. As with all of my quick breads, I like to sprinkle a little raw sugar over the top for extra sweetness, giving the loaf something unique.


Maple Banana Bread is a lighter take on the traditional loaf of banana bread. Sweetened with maple syrup and gently spiced, this recipe allows the flavor of the banana to shine. A topping of cinnamon and raw sugar give the loaf additional sweetness and texture. Serve alongside a mug of coffee or tea with breakfast or an afternoon snack. 

One Year Ago: Roasted Banana Muffins
Two Years Ago: Coconut Matcha Pudding,  
Three Years Ago: Coconut Almond Quinoa 
Four Years Ago: Almond Date Banana Smoothie 
Five Years Ago:  Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice CreamPeanut Butter Banana Oatmeal, & Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
Six Years Ago: Peppermint Hot ChocolateGreen Tea Coconut Ice Cream, & Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago: Banana Cinnamon MuffinsVanilla Pear MilkCranberry Chocolate Muffins, & Salted Caramels

Maple Banana Bread

Yields 5 x 9-inch loaf

Banana Bread
4 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups or 450 grams)
1/2 cup (156 grams) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (100 grams) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon raw or demerara sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Thinly sliced banana, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed banana, maple syrup, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until uniform. Whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir in the flours. Set aside.

For the topping, stir together the raw sugar and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth until level. Sprinkle topping evenly over the top. If desired, place two pieces of thinly sliced banana on top for garnish. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Raspberry Swirl Rolls

My family's holiday traditions have evolved throughout the years. While some traditions stay true, others have gone through revisions. Locations have changed and the guest list adapts as we welcome new faces and say goodbye to those we have loved the longest. While some changes may be bittersweet, we know the importance of gathering together to share and show our love, whether catching up over good food and conversation or stopping on each other's doorsteps for a brief hello.  

For the last few years, my family has spent Christmas close to home. On Christmas Eve, we open presents near the fireplace, as A Christmas Story plays quietly in the background. In the spirit of new holiday traditions, I wake up early on Christmas Day to bake something warm from the oven to create a new set of sweet memories. Since I fly home across state lines near Christmas Eve, I look for recipes to bake that are simple and easy to accomplish—there is no time to spend hours in the kitchen. 

This year I have partnered with Dole Sunshine to #SharetheSunshine by bringing you a holiday recipe that meets these criteria. These Raspberry Swirl Rolls give a fruity twist to the classic cinnamon roll. While a yeast dough may not appear simple at first glance, it is during a closer look. Since the dough spends the majority of time rising and baking without needing attention, there is only a half hour of active time in the preparation. Even better, the recipe can be prepped the evening before and tossed into the oven the next morning for a warm breakfast without creating a messy kitchen.

In the winter, frozen fruit can provide a superior quality in both flavor and consistency when compared to fresh fruits that are out of season or shipped in from another country. Frozen raspberries are the key to making these rolls with less mess and a more vibrant flavor. The frozen raspberries keep their shape when mixed into the filling and when rolled into the dough and sliced, which keeps the counter tops clean.

In the oven, the raspberries transform into a bubbly, gooey filling, which is brightened by the addition of orange zest. A white chocolate spread on the rolls hot from the oven makes these worthy of a second helping. 


To begin your weekend or holiday morning with warm rolls, the rolls can be assembled the night before and baked the next morning. The evening before, prepare the dough and place the sliced dough in the 9 x 13-inch pan. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven and set out the dough to warm and rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes, and bake the rolls as indicated. 

Alternatively, the rolls can be baked the evening before, covered with aluminum foil, and reheated in a 350 degree F oven until heated through. 

May your holiday mornings be filled with flavor, family, & cheer. Happy Holidays, dear friends.


Raspberry Swirl Rolls with White Chocolate Glaze make for a dreamy addition to your holiday brunch menu. The tartness of the raspberries is complemented by the sweetness of the white chocolate glaze and the hint of orange zest in the filling. The rolls have a soft, but chewy texture enhanced by the gooey fruit filling. Serve warm from the oven and share with dear family and friends.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Cream Pie
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Four Years Ago:  Sugar Cookies 
Five Years Ago: Candy Cane Cupcakes & Chocolate (Dairy-Free!) Ice Cream
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Clementine Cupcakes & Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Seven Years Ago: Gingerbread Cheesecake & Peppermint Ice Cream

Raspberry Swirl Rolls with White Chocolate Glaze

Yields 12 rolls

1 cup (240 mL) lukewarm milk (about 100 degrees F/38 degrees C)
1/4 cup (56 grams) butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour

Raspberry Filling
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
10 ounces (283 grams) Dole Frozen Raspberries

White Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces (130 grams) white chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the dough, place lukewarm milk, melted butter, yeast, egg, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until combined. Add flour and stir until the mixture begins to form a dough. On a lightly floured surface, place the dough and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Alternatively, place the dough into a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and knead on low for 5-8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Form into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm environment until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle.

For the filling, mix together the sugar and orange zest until fragrant. Mix in the cornstarch. Gently stir in the frozen raspberries. Working quickly to prevent the raspberries from thawing, sprinkle raspberry mixture uniformly on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Starting lengthwise, roll the dough into a log shape. Trim off the ends and slice the roll into 12 evenly sized pieces. Place rolls into a parchment-lined 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 

Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned (internal temperature of 190 degrees F/87 degrees C). 

While the rolls are baking, stir together the melted white chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. Spread baked rolls with glaze using an off-set spatula while still hot. Serve warm.

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!