Friday, August 31, 2012

Snickerdoodle Bars

I love making bar cookies whenever I need to make dessert for a crowd.  I love to bake, but I also value my time!  Bar cookies/brownies are just easier and quicker than making individual desserts.  I have made these several times now for church functions, and each time people ask me for the recipe!  These are pretty rich (possibly because of the 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of brown sugar...) so be sure to cut them in small pieces!

TIP- Whenever I bake a type of bar, I always line the pan with foil.  Not only does this make for easier clean-up, but it makes it SO much easier to remove the bars from the pan, and to cut them cleanly.  This is how I do it:

1. Turn the baking dish upside-down, tear off a piece of foil that's bigger than the dish, and mold the foil to the edges of the pan.

2. Turn the baking dish over, then place your molded piece of foil inside it.  It should be easy to press the foil into the pan now.  Lightly spray with nonstick spray before adding batter.

This is the cinnamon mixture that you sprinkle on top.  This cinnamon is from Costco, and it's delicious!

My little helper, Megan!  This is just before baking the bars.

Recipe source:

Snickerdoodle Bars
Printable version here

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg (optional)
2 cups packed brown sugar (14 oz.)
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350º.  Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil (or grease the pan); set aside.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla.  Beat, scraping the bowl, until thoroughly combined.  On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.  Give the dough a final stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure the flour is incorporated.

4. Spread the dough evenly into the pan- using an offset spatula will help, as it's a thick batter.  Combine the granulated sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed.  Cool completely in pan before cutting.  Cut into small pieces.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature. (May also be frozen for 1-2 months.)

Why I love it?  I have always loved snickerdoodles, and this is an even faster way to make them!  They have a healthy dose of cinnamon in them, but not too much.  I like that they make a lot and they freeze well!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread

 Both last summer & this summer, I have been given gigantic zucchinis from friends' gardens.  This is my favorite thing to make with it!  It makes 2 loaves, so I get to stick one in the freezer for later.  I found this recipe on, and followed the changes suggested by many of the reviewers, plus threw in some mini chocolate chips for good measure. :) All of my kids love this, including my "I don't like bread" eater!

 This was my 3 cups of grated zucchini (I used a grating attachment on my KitchenAid to grate it).  My zucchini was so big, I still had 4 cups left over!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread
Printable version here

3 cups flour (I use half white & half wheat)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup oil (such as canola or vegetable)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 cups grated zucchini, loosely packed
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Grease and flour two 8x4-inch pans, set aside.  Combine dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside.

2. Beat eggs, applesauce, oil, vanilla, and sugars in a large bowl until combined.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.  Pour evenly into the two loaf pans.

3. Bake at 325º for 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry when poked in the middle of the loaf.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pans, then cool completely on the rack.  Store in a covered container at room temperature for a couple days, or freeze (wrapped in plastic wrap and foil) for longer storage.

Yield: Two loaves (Alternately, you could make this into 24 muffins, and cook those about 27 minutes)

Recipe source: Adapted from this recipe

Why I love it? I asked my kids, and they said: "It has chocolate chips, and the zucchini bread tastes good...  I like it because of the chocolate, and I might not have liked the zucchini by itself, but I couldn't even taste it!  It just tastes like chocolate chip bread, that's it!" There you have it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Peach Blueberry Cobbler


Last night we had friends over for dinner, which was a good excuse to make a yummy dessert!  I've made this once each of the last 3 summers- and each time I wonder why I don't make it more often!  It is a great use for all the good summer produce around here!  The original recipe calls for just blueberries, but I like to mix it up with a little bit of peaches, as well.  I like that it provides some contrast.

Parts of the recipe can be made ahead of time.  I made the fruit mixture and put it in a dish (below), and mixed up the wet and the dry ingredients in separate bowls.  All I had to do when our company was here was put the fruit in the oven, bake for a little bit, mix the wet & dry ingredients, top with the biscuits, and bake.  It took less than 5 minutes of my time.

Also, I have made a half-sized batch of this before.  Don't let the size of the recipe keep you from making it! :)


Peach Blueberry Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
4 cups (18 oz.) fresh blueberries, rinsed
2 peaches, peeled & cut into chunks
1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup flour
2 tbsp. cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Cinnamon/sugar mixture for sprinkling on top

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375º. 

2. For the filling: Stir the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the berries, peaches, and lemon juice and mix gently with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Transfer the fruit mixture to a 9-inch glass pie plate (or similar sized dish), place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the filling is hot and bubbling around the edges, about 25 minutes. 

3. For the biscuit topping: Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to combine. Whisk the melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla together in a small bowl. One minute before the berries come out of the oven, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir with a rubber spatula until just combined and no dry pockets remain. 

4. To assemble and bake the cobbler: Remove the fruit from the oven; increase the oven temperature to 425º. Pinch off 8-10 equal pieces of biscuit dough and place them on the hot berry filling, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle each mound of dough with cinnamon sugar. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown on top and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool the cobbler on a wire rack 20 minutes and serve.

Serves: 6-8

Adapted from: Baking Illustrated
(This website has the directions for how to make this using frozen blueberries.)

Why I love it? This recipe just screams SUMMER to me!  It's a great way to use up, and enjoy, all the fresh produce we're blessed with at this time of year.  As much as I love the fruit filling, the part of this recipe I find the most unique is the topping.  As usual, Cook's Illustrated has figured out how to make the perfect biscuit- it's completely cooked through, soft on the inside, and crisp on the outside.  Every recipe I have made from this book has been amazing!