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Strawberry Nectarine Oat Squares

26 Aug

There are so manya fewone or two…ok, there’s one good thing about the quarter system, and that’s the fact that while all the other kiddies are wrapping up their endless days of summer and getting ready to ship off back to school, there’s still another month before our fall quarter starts.

HOWEVER,…and that’s a big-time HOWEVER, I love the “back to school” fever that seems to infect students and moms alike, spurring sales on school supplies & shelves stocked with fall clothes, and by the time I’m actually supposed to be doing my “back to schooling,” the hype is all hyped out, the sales are done salesing, and all the good fall clothes are all tapped out.

I think the fact that I haven’t actually had a summer break and have been attending classes basically non-stop since Christmas break of 2010 is completely irrelevant in this situation, too, so let’s not bring that up. Just because I haven’t gotten my fix of bright, summery fun, carefree, class free summer days filled with the beach, boys, and iced coffee doesn’t mean I can’t lament the fact that summer will soon be coming to an end, and then self medicate that loss with a hefty dose of hope that back to school is truly more about good times with friends at football games and frat parties rather than hours of mind-numbing, soul crushing classwork. That’s what all the magazines and ads say, anyway.

So anyway, the moral of this babbling is, I want the “back to school” time of year to last longer. Ya, maybe stretch those sales out til say, the end of September? I wanna get on that band wagon when that time actually comes for us quarter system kiddies (not to mention us Californians, who dread the thought of cool weather clothing well into October), and not a moment sooner…because obviously, I don’t want summer to end at all, EVER! But, if it has to, it should end in crisp, cool weather, new school supplies, fluffy sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, tailgate parties, and all the hype that everyone else gets to embrace when the summer gravy train departs until next year.

The other moral of the story is, make these yummy strawberry nectarine oat-y bars for busy, get the kids or yourself out the door mornings! They’re like strawberry topped oatmeal on the go =)

Strawberry Nectarine Oat Squares
Adapted from Oh She Glows


* 1 1/2 Cups Oats
* 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (I needed to add about 1/2 cup more to get a thick enough “dough”)
* 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
* 1/2 tsp Salt
* 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
* 1 Egg
* 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Margarine, melted
* 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
* 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
* 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds to sprinkle on top

Strawberry Nectarine Jam:
* 2 1/4 Cups Chopped Strawberry & Nectarine (Any ratio is fine- I used 1 nectarine and the rest strawberry)
* 3-4 Tbsp Sugar
* 1 Tbsp Cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease or line an 8 x 8″ pan.

For the oat base, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

Combine the melted margarine, maple syrup, almond milk, and egg in a separate bowl.

Add the wet mixture to the dry oat mixture, and stir to combine. You should get a pretty thick “dough”…if it seems too wet, add in a little extra flour, or more oats, or both until you get the right consistency.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the oat dough and set it aside. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of your pan.

Add your strawberry and nectarine mixture into a saucepan and heat on low for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar slowly, to taste. Heat for another 5 minutes until the mixture is juicy- use a spoon to pull out a few teaspoons of the juice in a mug or small bowl. Stir in the cornstarch. Add the juice and cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and simmer on low for about 10 more minutes, or until the jam thickens up. Take off heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour the jam on top of the oat base and spread evenly. Crumble the 1/2 cup of oat dough you reserved on top of the jam. Sprinkle with Sesame seeds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

For now, I think I’ll call these “back to summer school bars.” The calm before the fall!

Candied Ginger Bars

21 Aug

As it turns out, it didn’t actually hit me until today that I am really moving.  For whatever reason, the last several weeks of gathering boxes, stressing, and packing weren’t enough to get me thinking about what all of it really means until now.

Most of the times I have moved in the past (there have been A LOT of those times), I knew exactly where I was going next.  I had time to mentally adjust and prepare to be in my new space, and that’s always pretty comforting to me.  You know, like preparing to hit the ground rather than  blindly stepping off the side of a cliff and not knowing what to expect.  It’s the same, for sure…

This time, not so much.  I don’t know what to expect or where I’ll be.  What hit me possibly the most is the limited time I have left in my tiny kitchen of two years, and the limited number of baked good items I can produce from said kitchen in that limited amount of time.  The countdown begins!
(And yes, I realize there are ridiculous-looking water spots on that cutty-thingy…haha!)

Oh, while I’m on the topic of moving, I wish I could say I have a bunch of tried and true, handy moving tips for you that make the whole process a breeze. But unfortunately, I still don’t have it all figured out, even with practically 10 moves in the last 10 years. I can tell you this, though:

DO NOT under any circumstances wait until the very last minute. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve underestimated the amount of stuff I have, the number of boxes I’ll need, or the amount of time it will take to actually move everything!

Also, DO NOT help anyone else move (for instance, your brother!) in hopes that they will return the favor just out of the goodness of their hearts. Get it in writing!

Last but not least, if you plan to move, I suggest you have a place to move all your stuff to. Unlike me. Learn from my mistakes, will you?

There you have it. And now, for real, the good stuff.

Candied Ginger Bars
The bars themselves aren’t as gingery as a ginger cookie, but I figured if they were, it’d probably be a little too overpowering with the spicy candied ginger in there! Think balance =)

* 3 Cups Flour (I used 1 Cup Whole Wheat Bread Flour, 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour)
* 1 tsp Baking Powder
* 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
* 1/2 tsp Salt
* 1 tsp Ground Ginger

* 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
* 1/2 Cup White Sugar
* 1/4 Cup Molasses
* 1/4 Cup Canola Oil + 1/2 Cup Margarine
* 1/4 Cup Almond Milk
* 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
* 2 Eggs

* 1 Cup Candied Ginger, minced
* 2 Tbsp White sugar or Turbinado Sugar for sprinkling on top.

Preheat oven to 350* F and line or grease an 8×8″ square pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the oil, margarine, brown sugar, white sugar, and molasses. Add in the almond milk, vanilla extract, and the eggs, mixing well between each.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger.

Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically.

Stir in the minced candied ginger by hand.

Scoop the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle sugar on top.
Bake for 20 minutes, then check. If it’s browning too quickly, turn the oven down to 325* and bake for 10 more minutes. Otherwise, just leave it at 350* and bake for 10 more minutes. Keep your eye on it!

Oh, and I’m just throwing this out there, but if you happen to see a girl wandering around campus occasionally, and it looks like she’s living in the library’s 24 hour Study Room and showering in the locker room…it’s totally NOT me. Definitely not. At all. =D

4th of July S’mores Bars

4 Jul

Happy 4th of July!!

This picture was from the 3rd of July Fireworks Jubilee in my home-town last night!

I’m spending the weekend with my family, taking small breaks from studying for midterms to relax & trying to stay cool in this crazy heat!

I’m already a pretty patriotic person. I have a giant American flag adorning my bedroom wall.  I may or may not own a stars & stripes bikini.  Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the Marine Corps. birthday aren’t just days off from school, but reasons to bake star-shaped cookies.  And, just hearing “Proud to be an American” makes me cry.  Needless to say, the 4th of July is really just an excuse to go all-out…even more.  Grilling, hanging by the pool, sipping a frosty beverage.  Celebrating America.  Pretty much nothing out of the ordinary, at least for me.  Except with this particular day, there are fireworks.  Assuming there are already toasty, melty marshmallows, and gooey chocolate involved, nothing could make me love a summer holiday more than adding fireworks into the mix.  The bombs bursting in air get me teary-eyed every time, no joke.  Turn on “Proud to be an American” during a fireworks display, and forget it, I’m a mess.  Fireworks, check.  Marshmallowy treats, check!

All-American S’mores Bars

* 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7-8 graham crackers)
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
* 1 jar marshmallow fluff

Preheat your oven to 350* F, and line or grease an 8″ square baking pan.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy with a mixer or just mix it up in a bowl by hand.
Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and graham cracker crumbs.
Add to the butter mixture and beat together until combined. Divide the dough in half, and push half of the dough into the bottom of your pan.
It will look a little bit thin, but don’t worry, the layer will puff up a bit when it bakes.

Layer the chocolate bars on top of the dough. 2 king-size bars should fit perfectly side-by-side in an 8″ square pan.

Smooth the marshmallow creme or fluff over the chocolate bar layer, using a knife or whatever is convenient.

Layer the remaining half of the dough over the top of the marshmallow layer. To do this, it’s easiest if you take small pieces of dough, smoosh them out into a small sheet, and piece them together in the pan.  Sprinkle extra graham cracker crumbles over the top of the dough.

Bake 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and delicious! Allow the bars to cool in the pan before slicing.

I love you, America!!

Brownie Truffles

4 Apr

I’m only a couple of posts in to my newborn blog, but I am getting the feeling that something isn’t right. No, smarty-pants, it’s not the fact that I only have 3 posts so far! =p I scrolled through {all 3 of those posts} and couldn’t help but notice: a cookie, a fruit spread, a pastry….but only a smattering of chocolate! How could this be? Chocolate is a prominent, daily occurrence in my life, so I surprised even myself when it didn’t immediately come to mind. Fortunately, not all my faculties failed me, because like a 6th sense {not like the movie} my intuition nagged me until it became obvious. Thank you, faculties and nagging intuition!
These brownie truffles are ridiculously simple to assemble, and ridiculously tasty to eat! The texture inside is definitely reminiscent of a creamy truffle rather than a chewy brownie, but the chocolatey brownie flavor is certainly in full-force. I made a classic chocolate-chocolate-chocolate truffle, but these are infinitely adaptable if you want to create a whole different flavor profile! I can imagine these being amazing with a vanilla (or any other flavor!) frosting brownie center, a cream cheese brownie center, or even a Nutella-brownie filling. You could also dip these in white chocolate instead of dark chocolate for a different flavor and look! These are sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, but I wouldn’t stop you if you wanted to go a little heavy-handed with some sprinkles!

Brownie Truffles

* 1 box brownie mix (+ eggs, oil, water and whatever is required for the recipe), or your favorite brownie recipe
* 1/2 cup chocolate frosting (or any other type of frosting you like)
* ~6 squares chocolate almond bark
* Confectioner’s sugar, for sprinkling


Bake brownies according to the box mix directions, or your favorite brownie recipe directions. Let cool in the pan.
Once cooled, scoop the brownie out into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the frosting, cream cheese, or Nutella until smooth.
Use a cookie scoop or spoon to scoop out equally-sized brownie blobs, and roll in the palm of your hand to shape. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer to firm up, at least 1 hour.
Once brownie blobs are firm enough, take them out and let them sit for about 15 minutes to take a little of the freezer edge off.
Melt your almond bark in a microwave safe bowl according to melting instructions on the package. Roll each brownie blob in the melted almond bark, and place on another sheet of parchment paper or a silpat to set. Make sure you sprinkle them with powdered sugar or sprinkles quickly, they set pretty fast!
Once finished, place in the freezer or refrigerator to firm up. These are best stored in the fridge since they get a little soft if left out.

Ya, I feel much better now that my blog has its chocolate fix!

I think it’s best you found out I’m a chocolate addict early on.