a balanced plate with room for dessert


Apple Streusel Bars

Mike and I went apple picking with my family a few weeks ago and we went home with a 10+ pound bag of apples. I ate as many as I could (I think I averaged 2 a day). My new favorite snack? Apples with vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. YUM. There is such thing as too much of a good thing, though. I decided to bake something before I started to hate apples.

My only criteria was that it had to be something I’ve never made before. So, caramel apples, apple pie, baked apples, applesauce,  and apple cupcakes were all out. I finally stumbled across a recipe for apple streusel bars over at Our Best Bites. They looked pretty darn tasty and the recipe was simple, too. Simple is a must because I find myself with so little time to cook and bake now with the internship…

These bars are perfect for breakfast, dessert or even a snack. Mike likes them warmed up a bit in the microwave before he eats them. No microwave? A toaster oven or even a hair dryer might work 😉

Apple Streusel Bars

For the pastry:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups sliced, peeled baking apples

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. For the crust: combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until pea-sized crumbs form. Gently mix in beaten egg. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish.
  3. For the filling: combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Toss with apples. Spread apples on to prepared crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over apples evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. When cooked, allow to cool completely.
  4. For the glaze: whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract and milk. Place glaze into a zip-top bag and cut off a small portion of one of the corners. Drizzle glaze over cooled pastry and allow to harden. Cut into bars and serve.

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Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but fruity desserts are some of my favorites. And there’s nothing like some oatmeal in a dessert to make it seem a little healthier…

If only, right??

These bars were a hit – the first pan disappeared in just a little over a day. They are definitely in my “keep” recipe pile.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup raspberry jam

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 inch square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, and oatmeal. Rub in butter with your fingers until crumbly. Press  3/4 of mixture into bottom of pan.
  3. Warm jam up slightly in microwave. Spread over crumb layer in pan. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top, gently pressing into the jam.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes in oven, or until lightly browned. Let cool before cutting into squares.

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Peanut Butter Bars

I whipped these bars up for a work get-together. They were super easy and I had all the ingredients on hand already. This may be a go-to dish for parties when I’m short on time.

Let me give you a little nudge to try these out… Short on time for Valentine’s Day? Don’t have a dessert for your dinner? Not planning on making anything at all? Try these! They are so simple and sure to please. 🙂

Peanut Butter Bars
adpated from

12 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons peanut butter

  1. Mix melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups peanut butter together in a medium bowl until well combined. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan. Refrigerate for 10 – 15 minutes.
  2. Melt chocolate chips and 4 tablespoons peanut butter in the microwave until smooth, stirring occasionally.*  Pour over refrigerated crust and smooth with a spatula.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

*Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring carefully after each one.

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S’More Bars

It’s funny how something that I love so much can just slip to the back of my head. I apologize, once again, for not keeping up with my blog. After a whirlwind wedding, I fell into the routine of work, prepare for work, eat, sleep, and sometimes workout. I also hate to admit this, but I was making the same old food over and over again. I wasn’t exploring anymore.

I recently recovered from a horrifying 5 days of being sick. The one plus? I got to lay in bed and watch old seasons of Top Chef. It hit me one morning – I love cooking, I love watching other people cook, I love trying new things… why in the world am I not keeping up with my blog?!

I decided to start making more new dishes and challenged myself to not make anything I’ve made before, no matter how good it was. I chose 5 new types of cookies to make for my Christmas packages this year and I’m bringing new foods to work potlucks.

So here it goes. I offer you these S’More Cookie Bars. They are a perfect winter treat if you ever find yourself missing campfires in the summer.

S’More Bars
serves 16

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about  8 full size sheets)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 king sized Hershey’s chocolate bars
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place chocolate bars over dough in a single layer. The 2 king sized bars should fit perfectly side by side. Break the chocolate  if necessary to fit it into the pan.
  5. Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate with a spatula.
  6. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. This is most easily done by flattening the dough into small “pancakes” and laying them on top of the marshmallow creme.
  7. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until lightly browned.
  8. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

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Granola Bars

Granola bars are one of my favorite things to snack on. It’s perfect when I need something to hold me over from lunch to dinner. While it may be convenient to just buy a box (or two) from the grocery store, making them at home allows you to customize the bars to your tastes! I added coconut, walnuts and milk chocolate chips to the fruit and nut “base”, but you could add in an endless number of ingredients!

Granola Bars

Granola Bars

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces dried fruit
1/4 cup coconut
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup walnuts

  1. Preheat oven t 350°F. Butter a 9×9 baking dish and set aside.
  2. Mix oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts together and spread onto a half sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the brown sugar is dissolved.
  4. When the oat and nut mixture is done, remove from oven and turn the oven down to 300°F.
  5. Stir the oat and nut combination into the liquid mixture. Add in coconut, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. Stir quickly and spread into prepared 9×9 baking dish. Press down mixture firmly and distribute the mixture evenly.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and then cut into bars.

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Lemon Bars

I’m not sure why I thought summer would be less busy than the school year, because it certainly is not. I’ve spent the last few weeks packing, moving, and unpacking. The unpacking continued for several days and I still don’t think it’s quite over. I don’t really understand how I accumulated so much stuff over the last two years. I’m now in DC on vacation with my father, siblings, and my boyfriend. I felt so bad for neglecting my blog that I decided to take a time-out in my life to update.

I made these lemon bars right before I left for vacation last week – they were perfectly tart and not too sweet. I urge you to try them while it’s still summer!

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3  cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2  cups unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup lemon juice (approximately 6 large lemons)
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×7 baking dish with butter and set aside.
  2. To make crust, combine the first 3 ingredients. Pat dough into the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare filling. Whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice and flour until frothy. Pour over baked crust.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the lemon topping is just hardened. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar before serving.