Category Archives: Bars

New Take on an Old Goodie!

I have made countless banana breads and posted a few of them already so I wanted to do something different with the ripening bananas sitting on my counter top! I saw a recipe recently for ‘banana bread brownies’ on, of course, Pinterest which got me thinking of my best friend Emily’s banana bread cake she made! I settled on a combination of the two (calling them bars) and topped it with a healthier peanut butter frosting recipe to keep it as more of a breakfast pastry rather than a dessert! Although, with some chocolate chips and my go-to peanut butter frosting recipe, this would make one hell of a dessert as well…very similar to the chocolate chip banana cupcakes (referred to as Elvis Cupcakes) I posted about a while back!

Banana Bread Bars:

Moist, chewy and everything a brownie should be!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats or oat flour (grind oats in food processor)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt (Greek or regular) or sour cream
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 2 t vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13 pan. Mix/sift together flours, soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter together until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Add in yogurt or sour cream, mix until combined. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla, beating after each addition. Add in bananas. Beat in dry ingredients, mixing until well combined. You do not have to fold in the dry ingredients or mix until just combined because this is not a ‘bread’ where over-mixing the batter can leave it tough and chewy, but supposed to be more of a bar that is chewy and gooey! Pour batter into pan and bake 25-30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Yogurt Frosting:

  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 8 ounces vanilla yogurt (the vanilla is kind of important here if you do not want a ‘sour cream’ type of flavor coming through)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 T milk (I used vanilla soy which worked well)

I couldn’t resist taking a few bites!

Beat peanut butter until smooth and creamy, add in yogurt, beating until combined well. Add in powdered sugar, beating until smooth with no visible clumps. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until reach desired consistency. (I ended up using 3).

Another option would be to use plain yogurt and add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa powder to make a peanut butter chocolate version (would probably need a little more milk to reach desired consistency, and using chocolate milk would really enhance the chocolatiness)! This would go extremely well with chocolate chips in the brownie batter…next time for sure!

These turned out to be better than I thought while coming up with the recipe! I even ate an end piece (which says a whole lot)! I cut from the middle outwards, and once I reach the edges, I am done! I am not a dessert crust fan, pizza, different story, but not dessert!

Times of Sorrow…

Being from an Italian family, everything somehow involves or relates to food in some way. Food is a to celebrate, to mourn, to bring people together. This means that during times of wakes and funerals, food is in abundance…and maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but it always does make me feel at least a little better! Unfortunately, my best friend lost her grandfather last week and services were held over the weekend. I was unable to attend the funeral Saturday morning so decided to bake up a few things to bring them Sunday morning, just to say I love you and was thinking about you. Her dad is not a big sweets guy, so I baked up another loaf of the same beer bread I made a few weeks ago. Also, her sister Amy lives in Oregon and last time she was in, I had baked a banana bread but was already in bed when they called me to see if they can come and have some so for her, I made a banana bread with crumb topping and lastly, just for the extra sweet tooth in all of us, my own version of a homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I hope they enjoyed the goodies, but most importantly, I hope they know I was thinking about them and am very sorry for their loss.

Banana Bread with Crumb Topping:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • For crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9X13 loaf pan. Sift or whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, beat oil and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, then mashed bananas. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to wet ingredients, ending with dry. For crumb topping: mix flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar together until incorporated well. Using a pastry blender, fork or two knives, cut in butter until moist crumbs form. Pour into greased loaf pan and top with crumb topping. Bake 45-50 minutes.

Homemade Reese’s

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, room temp/softened
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 T peanut butter

Grease an 8X8 baking pan or line with foil and spray foil. Combine butter, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Mix well. Press into bottom of pan. Melt chocolate and peanut butter together in a double boiler or in microwave. Once melted and smooth, pour over graham cracker crust. Let cool to room temperature, then put in fridge for at least an hour before cutting to allow bars to set.

Beer Bread with Cheddar and Garlic:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 1 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Bars, Bars, and more Bars!

So I’ve been on a bar kick lately! I was on a brownie kick there for a while and now have baked at least 10 different bar type recipes in the past two weeks! This is definitely not a bad thing, just an odd turn of events for someone who as of a few weeks ago hadn’t even really ever dabbled in baking bar recipes before! Some have turned out great, while others have seriously flopped…last night was a definite success though! The bars are a combination of marshmallow, butterscotch and of course chocolate…and they turned out sooo incredibly soft and gooey, so gooey they were almost hard to get out of the pan…and to me, that’s a good thing! I got the recipe idea from pinterest, my new favorite time passer and go-to for new ideas!

Look at all of that soft, gooey chewiness!

Chocolate Butterscotch Blondies:

adapted from Baked Perfection’s Blog

1 cup butterscotch chips
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 t baking powder
dash of salt
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 bag of marshmallows
1 bag milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X9 baking dish. Melt butterscotch and butter in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Once melted, pour into bowl. While cooling, sift or whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and vanilla. Once the butterscotch mixture is cooled, add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated each time. Add in vanilla. Then add in dry ingredients slowly, 1/3 or so at a time until just incorporated. Fold in marshmallows and chocolate chips. Batter will be pretty thick, I had to smooth mine into the baking pan, as it did not pour! Bake for 20-25 minutes. Center will be somewhat liquidy/soft but will setup after cooling for an hour or so. I was a little nervous at just how liquidy my center was when taking them out but the top was already so browned, I did not want to risk over-cooking them, especially with my crappy oven that constantly over-cooks everything!! So I took them out and figured I’d let them sit and cool completely and see what happened and they ended up solidifying just enough to leave a perfect soft, creamy, buttery center! I think most of the extreme softness when removing from the oven was because of the melted marshmallows which hardened up a bit after cooling down. Absolutely delicious!

Savory Bread Pudding, aka Stuffing!!

I had three chicken breasts, a container of  mushrooms, a log of goat cheese and a fresh block of pecorino-romano in the fridge and figured they would all go great together but did not want to do yet another pasta. I also had four Trader Joe’s brioche buns that were a few days old that I didn’t want to waste since they are sooooo good…so I made my first attempt at a savory bread pudding. Overall, I am not a huge bread pudding fan, not rich enough for my dessert tastes and always seem to make a better cold breakfast to me! I do however have one go-to sweet bread pudding recipe that seems to get rave reviews so I will share that recipe as well! The savory bread pudding turned out to be very good; moist and creamy, yet reminded both Josh and I of stuffing at Thanksgiving! This is obviously not a bad thing at all, but savory bread pudding is essentially a version of homemade stuffing! I would definitely  make it again and again, adding different ingredients and seasonings each time, great recipe to play around with!

Savory Bread Pudding:

  • 8 ounce container mushrooms of choice (I happened to have Portobello)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced finely or sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 T butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 6 or so cups of torn bread (I used 4 Brioche buns from Trader Joe’s and it was a little too much actually, but I didn’t want to waste any 😉
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (or you can do 2 cups heavy cream for more richness)
  • 5 ounce log goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecorino-romano, plus more for topping
  • Thyme and rosemary to taste (this is what really gave it the Thanksgiving stuffing feel)!
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, diced

Heat oil and butter in large saucepan over medium-high until butter has melted. Add in mushrooms, zucchini and onions, saute until softened, 5-7 minutes, salt and pepper to taste (you can also add a little thyme and rosemary to the veggies as well). Add in garlic and saute a few minutes more. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan and let simmer until most of the liquid has reduced. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, seasonings to taste and cheeses. Add in bread pieces and chicken, toss to combine. Add vegetables to bread mixture, mixing so everything is coated with the liquid. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, tossing every so often. When ready to cook, top with more pecorino-romano and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through and center is heated through. We ate it right out of the oven for dinner last night and cold for breakfast this morning and I can’t say which I liked more but I am leaning towards cold breakfast, just like the sweet bread puddings I’ve had!

As is custom, no meal in our household is complete without dessert and I stumbled across an amazing looking picture online and wanted to repeat the recipe and of course after much research, could not find a recipe online! The bars are for sale online by Whimsy and Spice and look divine! Just look at this picture:

My own version of Chocolate Butterscotch Bars:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Brownie layer:

  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional but enhances that deep chocolate flavor)
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butterscotch Layer:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch morsels

For the graham cracker crust: pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together crumbs and melted butter until moistened. Press into greased 9X9 baking pan. Bake 11-12 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, for the brownie layer, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a double boiler and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan and let cool. Add 1 egg to the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining egg and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be too cakey. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Pour the batter over the top of the graham cracker crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. While cooling, for butterscotch layer, heat sweetened condensed milk and butter in saucepan over medium heat until thickens and begins to turn a nice amber color, about 10-12 minutes. Add in butterscotch morsels and remove from heat, stirring until smooth and morsels have melted completely. Pour over brownie layer in pan and let bars cool completely before cutting.

These turned out to be just ok. A little too much butterscotch in my opinion and by the end of the night when they had really fully cooled, the butterscotch layer became quite hard and unappetizing in my opinion! The only thing I can think of would be to use less condensed milk and a few tablespoons more butter next time! Here’s how mine looked…not quite as pretty as Whimsy’s!

photo.JPG

Lastly, as promised, here is the only bread pudding recipe I have yet to really like!

Cinnamon Caramel Bread Pudding:

  • 20 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Purchased caramel sauce, warmed

Cut or rip bread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place in very large bowl. Whisk eggs, milk, 1 cup cream, and next 4 ingredients in large bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour egg mixture over bread; toss to coat. Cover with plastic and chill at least 4 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Let stand at room temp 30 mins. Preheat oven to 375. Butter 13X9 baking dish and pour in bread pudding. Bake pudding until puffed, edges are golden, and tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve with caramel sauce over top!

With that much cream and fattiness, there’s no wonder this is the only one I’ve ever really cared for…sadly though, it is still a breakfast to me, fattiness and all!