Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Have you ever wanted to make a pan of cookie bars so you just made a regular recipe of cookie dough, threw it in a pan and then were disappointed with the final results?  I think it has something to do with the amount of leavening required to make the bars rise enough in a pan vs just as a small cookie on a sheet pan.  Enough science though, let’s talk dessert. These oatmeal bars are a real gem – they don’t contain any butter or eggs, and bake for less than 20 minutes – peanut butter and milk provide the glue to hold these together, and lend a more earthy and hearty flavor to the end product.  They’re great served warm with milk, like their cookie cousins, but will leave you feeling a little more full thanks to the oatmeal and peanut butter.  And just like a cookie (or a Lay’s potato chip), I bet you can’t eat just one. 

Oatmeal bars v1

Oatmeal bars v2

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
Yields 24
A hearty and sweet dessert bar filled with oats, peanut butter and chocolate
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup light brown sugar
  2. 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  3. 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 cups flour
  5. 2 cups quick-rise oatmeal (not instant)
  6. 2 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1 cup milk
  9. 12oz mini chocolate chips (1 regular bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two 9x11 metal baking pans.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until light in color and well blended. Scrape down the sides.
  4. Add the dry ingredients - flour, oats, baking soda and salt - and mix to combine. The dough will be dry and crumbly.
  5. Add the milk to the dough and stir just to combine.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and fold in to incorporate.
  7. Place half the dough in each greased baking pan. Wet hands with water and flatten dough into the pan.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
  9. Let cool, then cut 12 squares from each pan.
Notes
  1. This recipe is delicious using a gluten free flour like Bob's Red Mill or Betty Crocker's Rice Flour blend.
  2. This recipe can be halved to make 12 squares, or one 9x11 pan of bars.
  3. These bars can be frozen and defrosted to serve at a later date. Will freeze well for at least 4 weeks.
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Pumpkin bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

As summer turns to fall I love enjoying all the seasonal foods that come with the changing seasons – warm soups, apple crisp and most of all, pumpkin bars.  I once had a lengthy debate with a friend about this recipe – if bars or cake was the right name for this pumpkin dessert – and we agreed that the name didn’t really matter because it’s delicious!

This dessert is a moist, dense cake, and is relatively thin because it’s baked in a large jelly roll pan, spiced with cinnamon and flavored with pumpkin puree.  The cream cheese frosting is coated on thick – smoothy and creamy, with a little tang from the cream cheese.  If you don’t want to make the frosting from scratch two cans of pre-made cream cheese frosting do very nicely – but be sure to use two cans (not one) to ensure you can get nice, thick coverage on these bars.

Once the bars are prepared, find some friends to share them with since the recipe makes at least 30 bars of generous size – I found out the hard way that if these hang around my home too long I’ll eat them all myself!

Pumpkin bars 1

Pumpkin bars 2

 

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 30
This pumpkin bars are moist and delicious and with cream cheese frosting coating the top are the perfect fall dessert!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 1 cup vegetable oil
  4. 15 oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  5. 1 cup rice flour
  6. 1 cup cornstarch
  7. 1 tsp xanthan gum
  8. 2 tsp baking powder
  9. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  10. 1 tsp salt
  11. 1 tsp baking soda
  12. 2 cans of pre-made cream cheese frosting (16oz each)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a large jelly roll pan with PAM spray.
  3. Using an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin on medium speed, mixing until light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl stir together the dry ingredients (rice flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda). Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until well combined.
  5. Spread the batter into the greased pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the bars begin to pull away from the edges. Remove from the oven before they begin to darken and brown.
  7. Let cool completely, then frost.
Notes
  1. If you prefer to make these non-gluten free, substitute 2 cups of unbleached flour for the rice flour and cornstarch, and exclude the xanthan gum.
Adapted from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Lemon Bars

Somewhere along the way I became a person who almost always eats some sort of dessert after dinner – this could involve a cookie, ice cream or just a piece of chocolate.  I feel the need to impress my love of dessert on others when they come over to eat, and in the summer months I like to rotate out the warm, dense desserts of winter for something lighter, brighter and more refreshing.  Enter – lemon bars!  A buttery cookie crust topped with a gooey lemon filling and sprinkled with powdered sugar is just what the doctor ordered after a BBQ or outdoor meal while you lounge on the deck.  This dessert is great to make ahead and serve at room temperature – even if you’re not the patient type, these bars need a few hours to rest before you cut them to allow the lemon filling to firm up.

DSCF7758 

DSCF7755

Lemon Bars
This light and refreshing dessert is great to make ahead and serve outside on a warm summer night.
Write a review
Print
CRUST
  1. 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 1/8 tsp kosher salt
FILLING
  1. 6 eggs, room temperature
  2. 3 cups sugar
  3. Grated lemon zest of 2 lemons
  4. 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. 1 cup flour
  6. Powdered sugar, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the flour and sugar on low, mixing just to combine.
  3. Remove the dough and press into a 9x11 baking pan, creating a flat surface.
  4. Chill the dough in the pan for 30 minutes.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or just until beginning to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and let rest while you prepare the remaining ingredients. (Leave the oven on)
  7. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, zest, lemon juice and flour, whisking to thoroughly combine.
  8. Pour the whisked mixture into the baking pan over the baked dough, and return to the oven.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the filling has set.
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few hours until the filling has cooled and firmed up.
  11. Cut into small squares and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Notes
  1. This recipe is easily prepared gluten free by substituting the flour for a gluten-free flour blend and excluding any xanthan gum.
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and Vanilla Ice Cream

That title there is a long one, isn’t it?  I’ll be forthcoming – there is no recipe for ice cream in this link, though maybe another day.  It’s really just a serving suggestion. 🙂 This here post is about fruit crisp, summer farmers markets and knowing your audience.  

First, fruit crisps.  Know them?  Love them.  They are a cinch to make, flexible to include almost any fruit you have on hand and are somehow easy to make but still feel a little fancy when served, especially when topped with ice cream.

 DSCF7582

Second, I was a late-joiner to the farmers market craze but am now hooked on my weekly Saturday morning visit.  It’s a great way to start the weekend, to explore local produce and product offerings, and to experiment with foods you might not otherwise try.  This last week there were lots of strawberries and rhubarb for sale so the makings of this fruit crisp were decided for me.

 Finally, know your audience.  This doesn’t apply just to food, but to life.  It’s probably the most important professional advice I’ve ever received when it comes to formal presentations at work, and is equally important (if not more) to keep this in mind in the kitchen.  Who are you feeding?  Do they have special dietary concerns, aversions or passions?  What did you feed them last time they were over?  (This one is hard to keep track of, and in my case, the answer is almost always “Mexican food”)  Is there something special they love to eat that would make them feel like the whole meal was in their honor?  If I can find something to hit that last point, I will go that route 100% of the time, time permitting.  In the case of this recipe I was looking for something to make for dessert for a belated Father’s Day celebration for my beloved Daddio and know that this man loves desserts, homemade treats and rhubarb, so a fruit crisp in his honor it would be the ticket.

 

DSCF7585

 

The dessert was a hit on the patio on a hot summer Saturday night and some of us (*ahem me*) made it back for seconds.  If rhubarb isn’t your thing, leave it out, add some other berries, or go for straight strawberries.  Find your bliss here, my friends.  And don’t forget the ice cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves 8
This fruit crisp is super easy to prepare and bake, and delicious when served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 5-6 stalks of rhubarb, washed and diced into 1 inch pieces
  2. 1 lb fresh strawberries, washed and quartered
  3. 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
  4. 1/2 lemon, zested
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  7. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  8. ½ cup light brown sugar
  9. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  10. 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  11. 3/4 cup cold butter, diced (1 1/2 sticks)
  12. Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and the lemon zest.
  3. In a measuring cup, measure the orange juice and add the cornstarch, stirring until dissolved, then mix it into the fruit.
  4. Pour the fruit mixture into an 9 × 13 inch baking dish.
  5. For the topping, combine the flour, the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt, and oatmeal.
  6. Add the cold butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles (the butter should be the size of grapes).
  7. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering the fruit completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is light brown.
  8. Serve while warm, topped with ice cream.
Notes
  1. This recipe is easily prepared gluten free by substituting gluten free flour and oatmeal.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa "How Easy Is That"
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Buttermilk Brownies

Oh boy, this one is a keeper – if you’ve never made a recipe off this site, no hard feelings, but this is the place to start.  These brownies are incredibly moist, have a delicate cake texture and are oh so full of chocolate.  So tasty.  And you know what’s the icing on the cake?  The frosting for these brownies is made in the same bowl as the batter – no dish washing required.  And that’s a good thing because you need to pour the frosting on the brownies immediately when it comes out of the oven so there’s no time for dish washing at this stage of the game.  

DSCF7360

 This recipes comes from my mother via a woman named Carol Jacobsen, and my mom used to serve this as part of an awesome menu of homemade bread, lasagna and salad, followed up by this tasty treat.  And since my memory is terrible I’m sure I have the whole menu I just listed entirely wrong, but whatever, it ended with this dessert.  Additionally, because you pour the frosting onto the cake right when it comes out of the oven the frosting spreads over the cake incredibly quickly and soaks into the cake – check out the line where the cake and frosting meet.  Y. U. M.

I brought these bars to work a few years back and a coworker’s sister had moved to Texas and made him a similar recipe on a visit – but she called them “Texas Sheet Cake”.  Heck, I probably call these things cake, bars and dessert all in one conversation, and it doesn’t really matter what you them as long as you think they’re delicious and gobble them up.  With a glass of cold milk.

DSCF7364

 UPDATE:

  • My sister sent me a note after this post and I thought it was worth sharing – due to the risk of salmonella in raw eggs it’s risky to skip on washing the bowl before making the frosting.  Just to be safe, wash it up while the brownies are baking then head straight to making the frosting.
Buttermilk Brownies
Be sure to use a jelly roll pan when baking these brownies - it's important that these brownies are very thin.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. DRY INGREDIENTS
  2. 2 cups flour
  3. 2 cups sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. WET INGREDIENTS - TO BOIL
  6. 1/2 cup butter
  7. 1 cup water
  8. 1/4 cup cocoa
  9. 1/2 cup Crisco
  10. WET INGREDIENTS - DO NOT BOIL
  11. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  12. 2 eggs
  13. 1 tsp. baking soda
  14. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  15. FROSTING
  16. 1/2 cup butter
  17. 1/4 cup cocoa
  18. 1/3 cup buttermilk
  19. 4 cups powdered sugar (unsifted)
  20. 1 tsp. vanilla
  21. A few grains of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease a large jelly roll pan with Crisco and coat the pan with flour. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt.
  4. In a 1 quart saucepan over medium heat combine butter, water, cocoa and Crisco, and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour the boiling liquid over the dry ingredients, and stir just to combine.
  6. Add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla and mix well, quickly. Do not whip or overheat.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the greased and floured cake pan and spread evenly.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then test with a toothpick. If it doesn't come out clean cook 1-2 minutes longer, then test again with a new toothpick. Watch the brownies closely as the edges will easily burn.
  9. While the cake is baking in the oven, pour 4 cups of powdered sugar into the same bowl used for the brownie batter.
  10. Using the same saucepan as used for the cake batter liquid, combine butter, cocoa and buttermilk and bring to a boil, removing from the heat as soon as it does.
  11. Add the boiling mixture to the powdered sugar and stir until smooth, then add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine.
  12. Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately pour the frosting over them as it will spread more smoothly than when the brownies have cooled.
  13. Let the bars cool completely then cut into rectangles to serve.
  14. Wrap the remaining brownies in the original pan with plastic wrap to keep this fresh for a few days.
Notes
  1. You can easily make this recipe gluten free by substituting Betty Crocker GF Rice Blend flour 1-to-1 for the flour in the recipe - no need to use xanthan gum.
  2. And yes, I call this dessert both cake and brownies - feel free to use the terms interchangeably as there's no right name. 🙂
Adapted from Carol Jacobsen
Adapted from Carol Jacobsen
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

 

Peanut Butter Cookies!

Looking for a surefire cookie recipe?  Look no further than here.  I decided to venture out to try a new peanut butter cookie recipe last week and was SO disappointed.  Probably because they were terrible, but also because I was comparing them to this version.  This recipe originates back in Northfield with my mom like most good recipes on this blog do so far.  These cookies are crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with amazing flavors of butter, vanilla and peanut butter.  So good.

DSCF7242

The original recipe involves rolling little balls of dough in sugar (as the images demonstrate) but also pressing a cross-mark into the cookie with a fork before baking.  I prefer the unhatched cookies but there’s really no difference in flavor, just appearance.  

If you want to make these puppies gluten free, just substitute GF rice blend flour and don’t add any xanthan gum.

DSCF7236

Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields 60
Moist peanut butter cookies rolled in sugar are a cinch to make and so delicious.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter, softened
  2. 1 cup white sugar
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 cup peanut butter
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1/4 cup milk
  7. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 3 1/2 cup flour
  9. 2 tsp. baking soda
  10. 1 tsp. salt
  11. 1 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugars and peanut butter, and cream for 2-3 minutes until well combined, smooth and paled in color.
  4. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat thoroughly to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl and then mixing again.
  5. Carefully pour the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing slowly to combine.
  6. Pour the 1 cup sugar into a medium bowl.
  7. Using a 1 inch ice cream scoop, make small balls with the cookie batter and roll them in the bowl of sugar.
  8. Place rolled balls of dough on a cookie sheets covered with parchment paper, and bake for 9-11 minutes.
  9. Check the cookies frequently at the end of the baking cycle and remove from the oven before they begin to brown on the edges, as they will continue to bake on the pan once removed from the oven.
  10. Let cool on the pan 5 minutes below removing to a baking rack to fully cool.
Notes
  1. If you want to make these cookies gluten free, substitute gluten free rice blend flour (Betty Crocker brand) and don't add any xanthan gum.
Adapted from Pat Remes
Adapted from Pat Remes
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Better than Tom Selleck Cake

What in God’s name does Tom Selleck have to do with cake?  Take a look at this bad boy.

 DSCF7034

Yep, it tastes as good as it looks.  Maybe even better.  

This, my friends, is known as “Better than sex” cake but for those of you with a robust Catholic upbringing you may read that dessert name and inwardly cringe and become suddenly uncomfortable and don’t know where to direct your eyes.  I know I’m not alone in this weird Catholic guilt thing – you know why?  My friend’s grandma fessed up to it too.  Ha!  In an effort to not have to say the “s” word in front of her grandchildren (yea, it’s considered the “s” word if you’re Catholic) this grandma renamed it “Better than Tom Selleck” cake.  So while that’s a little silly it’s also a lot funny, so I’m going with it.  Call this cake whichever name you like better, or create your own.  My vote is on “Better than sleeping in on Sunday” cake.

DSCF7039 

So with no further ado – let’s get to it.  This cake is incredibly moist, sweet and decadent.  To prepare it you need to make a chocolate cake – from scratch or a from a box, milk chocolate or German, doesn’t really matter in my book. (I opt for a gluten free box mix)  Once baked you’re going to stab a million little holes into it with the blunt handle end of a wooden spoon and then… pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over it.  And because that isn’t enough, then you’re going to pour on a jar of caramel sauce.  Refrigerate overnight, top with cool whip and chopped Heath bars.  Decide how much of the cake you’re going to allow yourself to eat (I don’t know, maybe one slice, like a normal person)… then eat said amount… and then try to stop there. 

 

My mother in law made this for a baby shower a year or two ago and made me my own gluten-free version (read: an entire cake for just little ol’ me) – while I love her for the personal touch, it forced me to recognize that my metabolism is no longer running at pre-teen levels (duh) and taught me that this cake keeps great in the fridge for a few days.  

Enjoy!

DSCF7036

 

 

Better than Tom Selleck Cake
Serves 15
Chocolate cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream and chopped Heath bars.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box mix, chocolate cake (gluten free, if desired)
  2. 14oz sweetened condensed milk
  3. 10oz caramel sauce
  4. 8oz Cool Whip
  5. 4oz Heath Bar bits
Instructions
  1. Prepare chocolate cake in a 9x11 metal pan according to the directions on the box and bake.
  2. Remove from the oven and immediately poke 50-100 holes into the cake using the handle end of a wooden spoon or a chop stick.
  3. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
  4. Heat the caramel sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds, then pour over the cake.
  5. Cover the cake and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  6. When ready to serve the cake, spread with Cool Whip and sprinkle heavily with Heath Bar bits.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Slutty Brownies

A quick search on Pinterest will reveal that I am not the first person to indulge in a pan of slutty brownies… what’s unique about my recipe is that it’s both gluten free and painfully easy thanks to the help of two Betty Crocker gluten free box mixes.

IMG_1383

 

“What is a slutty brownie?” you may ask – well, it’s three desserts in one, because one treat is never enough.  Chocolate chip cookie dough, topped with Oreo cookies, topped with brownie batter, baked and served warm – that’s a slutty brownie.  “Why the name?” you may ask – well, I have no idea, but that’s what they’re called so I’m sticking with it.

Serve this up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgence, as if three kinds of dessert combined into one wasn’t enough.

Slutty Brownies
 
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Bryna Krentz
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 15
Slutty brownies are chocolate chip cookies, Oreos and brownies all in one! I like the Glutino brand of Oreos but any brand will do.
Ingredients
  • Betty Crocker, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (19 oz)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • Betty Crocker, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownie Mix (16 oz)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 1 package Glutino Gluten Free Chocolate Creme Cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×11 baking dish.
  3. Prepare the chocolate chip cookie mix according to the package instructions.
  4. Place the cookie dough in the pan, spreading flat to cover the entire pan surface.
  5. Place the oreo cookies evenly on the cooking dough, pressing in just slightly.
  6. Prepare the brownie batter (in the same bowl used to make the cookie dough) according to the package instructions, add the chocolate syrup to the mix.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the pan, spreading evenly over the cookie dough and cookies, covering both entirely.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes, testing with a toothpick to ensure the dough and batter are cooked through. Cook another 5 minutes if the toothpick comes out with wet batter on it.
  9. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.