Raspberry Crumb Bars…a Bit Too Crumbly

Cold weather always makes me want to eat more…and bake more.  We had a friend’s birthday party this weekend, so I decided to dust off my baking supplies and try a new recipe.  I really wanted to make this blueberry crumb recipe, but blueberries were MIA at our local neighborhood store.  I was too lazy to make the trek to another store, so opted to substitute blueberries for raspberries instead.

The finished product?  See for yourself above.  As pretty as they look in the pictures and as much as I like to toot my own horn, the final bars were just OK.  I think a couple things I would have done differently.  Per other people’s suggestions, I would have used butter instead of the shortening indicated in the recipe.  Texture was a bit too crumbly and messy (could have been the weird vegetable shortening I used, too).  I think butter would have made it more clumpy and rich.  Raspberries were a bit too tart, so next go around, I would either use more sugar, or actually go the distance to get those darn blueberries.  Alas, this did not stop anybody from devouring them.  Clean plate by the end of the night!

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If you know me, then you know that I love a good sweet and savory combo….like this salted caramel apple recipe that looks OMFG so good! I try not to bake because I have a sweet tooth, but no willpower- deadly combo. I might have to break down for this one!

omfg. so good.

Move over pumpkin spice, there’s another fall flavor in town. And his name is Salted Caramel Apple.

I grew up in Upstate NY where apples are serious business. When I was a kid, every weekend during Fall, we would go to the local produce grower and load up bushel baskets with freshly picked McIntosh, Red and Golden Delicious, sample freshly pressed cider and DROOL over the hand-dipped caramel apples. Good old fashioned, tart Granny Smiths dipped in warm, gooey caramel then rolled in crushed salted peanuts.

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Adventures in Strawberry Picking

I had a yearning to do something very “American” for Labor Day, so decided to drag my sis to Davenport to go strawberry picking at Swanton Berry Farm.  Before you get too excited, let me spoil it by telling you it was a BUST.  There were NO strawberries to pick…nada, zilch.  As you can see from the pix below, not a speck of red in the strawberry patches.  So disappointing!  Thank goodness, the strawberry shortcake and olallieberry pie were to die for!  Shortcake was buttery and yummy with the perfect ratio of strawberries to cream.  Ollalieberry mini pie was heaven- thick, flaky crust with tart filling.  Oh man, I love a good sweet!  Check out the pix below.

Good roadside signage to get your attention.

Empty basket = no strawberries

Inside the general store.  Kitsch’d out.

Olallieberry pie- AMAZE

Bed of sunflowers blowing in the wind…

Move over PB and Nutella, make room for Justin’s and Speculoos

I’ve recently become obsessed with spreads on brown rice cakes.  It’s a great tasty dessert that’ll satisfy your craving, but yet it’s easy on the waistline (or so I’d like to think).

Rather than the traditional PB or Nutella spreads, I slather on Justin’s Nut Butter or Speculoos.  Say what, you say?  What are those?  Some of you might have stumbled across Justin’s at Whole Foods.  I personally love the Chocolate Almond or Maple Almond flavor.  Haven’t tried all of them, but I bet they’re delish!  I think they’re all natural and stuff, so yay….another reason to consume it.  As for Speculoos, it’s a Belgian gingerbread cookie spread.  Sounds, amazing, right?  It’s great on crepes, any sort of carb like bready goodness, and of brown rice cakes!  You can buy the real deal from their website (ships from abroad), or opt for the Trader Joe’s version.  The original has a better, smoother consistency, but shipping is just as much as the product.  Oh, and it’s also all natural and less calories that PB.  Double yeah!  Are you sold yet?

As for the rice cakes, I’d recommend Lundberg’s brown rice or wild rice cakes.  They don’t taste like styrofoam.