Pecan Pie Bars

Done

AHHH, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving …

Sometimes I think the Thanksgiving is when it’s over! It’s a lot of work. A lot of cooking. For us, a LOT of driving!

And …

10 MINUTES OF EATING!

What the heck!?

And then … and then … cleaning up! HOLY COW!

Fortunately, the Dear One and I do most of the cooking, so I sit back and let others clean it up. I am GREAT at making the mess but not so great at cleaning it up!

I wanted to bring a dessert, but it had to be something that traveled well. 8 hours in a car can be brutal on a cake or pie. I love pecan pie. From what I had gathered there were at least two pies and a cake coming. So pie was out.

I had come across this recipe from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine … pardon me whilst I dry the tears from my eyes … oh, how I miss you Gourmet! Okay … so I had found this in Gourmet and it was in a megapile of recipes I had torn from magazines (never to be seen again). Fortunately someone had the good sense to make it and pin in on Pinterest! To whomever it was, thank you!

This really goes together in a snap. Tastes just like pecan pie. I am sure with the same calorie count, BUT cutting them into squares gives you a little pecan pie taste without indulging in a whole slice. (YEAH, RIGHT, let me see you eat just one! Well, all the you out there except my mother, Madam Willpower!)

Careful not to over bake them. Careful not to leave them out in a FREEZING cold solarium. They.Become.Rocks! If that happens, a very quick, very short zap in the microwave will help.

Oh, and a scoop of ice cream goes a long way!

Who was it I head saying something about these being less fattening? Oh, me! Well, in the immortal words of Gilda Radner … Never Mind …

For crust:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 2/3 C all-purpose flour
  • ½ t salt

For topping:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 2 C chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

NOTE: Not parchment. Not any thought of I don’t need to line it. No cooking spray. FOIL! You’ll thank me later!

First make the crust by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in the flour and salt and mix until crumbly.

Press the crust into the foil-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 1 minute, then stir in the chopped pecans.

Remove the crust from the oven and immediately pour the pecan filling over the hot crust spreading it to cover the entire surface.

Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Remove the pan and allow the bars to fully cool in the pan.

Use the foil overhang to lift out the bars and transfer them to a cutting board. Peel off the foil, slice into bars and serve.

Bruschetta

Done

Hello, computer, my old friend

It’s nice to type on you again

Brian fixed you, oh, so sweetly

Back on my desk, oh, so neatly …

It’s been a really long slog trying to get my iMac fixed! It just froze and died one day while I was still living in Brooklyn – it’s been dead for over one and a half years!

I tried to have it fixed while I was still living in Brooklyn. Really, I did. Brought it to the Apple store. Sadly, I have only 2 kidneys to give up and the cost would have required 4 kidneys. I found an Apple authorized dealer. HUZZAH! He could fix it for $600. Well worth it, I thought. A new computer would have cost me at least twice much. And then the phone call. Well, you see, says he, there’s far more wrong with the computer than we thought. Aside from the Logic Board, you need to replace the flaggity gimboboo and the lala hosinfeffer. We’ll have to tack another $600 onto the original estimate.

WHAT? Are you kidding me or what, says I. No way. As the time approached for me to move, I considered throwing the darn thing away. Really, it’s a planter at this point. The Dear One, so much more level headed than I, interjected and said, bring it with you in the move. I’, sure we can find someone in Maine to fix it for far less.

Okay.

And it sat.

And it sat.

And it sat some more.

Sigh …

The girls get together for breakfast quite frequently. Occasionally, the boys join us. One morning my friend Jenn’s husband joined us. I was lamenting about having to use only the Dear One’s laptop and how difficult it’s been to blog on the laptop. One, it’s so TINY. Two, it’s not mine and I wasn’t comfortable. I wanted my lovely, big, pretty iMac back! WAAAAAAHHHHH!

Jenn’s husband, the wizard Brian looked at me and said, Bring it to me. I can fix it.

It took a number of months with the summer and traveling and renting of houses and stents, but one day he calls  … he says to me … it’s done. Come and get it!

Well, I wanted to just fall off my chair!

And here I am. Back at my beloved computer, happily typing away, knowing I have a ton of blog posts to catch up on.

Please, dear followers, if you’re still out there, don’t judge the random out of order, spring, summer and fall posts you’ll read pouring out of here!

Brian, you are a genius and a dear friend. Thank you so much for fixing my computer and getting me back on track!

So, back to the Bruschetta … this may be the most requested recipe in our house. Long day, company  coming, misunderstanding, Bruschetta solves it all. Sadly, the Dear One is a little camera/social media shy. If he weren’t I would add a photo of the ginormous smile that spreads across his face every time he eats this.

It’s so easy to whip up. Even with the sins of off season tomatoes, this is wonderful. The rest of the ingredients sort of hide that flaw.

This Bruschetta was made with tomatoes straight from our garden … oh, so was the onion, garlic, and basil!

  • 1 baguette
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 C diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing baguette
  • 1/2 T balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450. Slice the baguette. brush both sides of each slice with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. In oven until golden.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl.

To serve, either put a spoonful of the tomato mixture on each toast or the toasts on a platter and the bowl of the tomato mixture beside it and let everyone help themselves.

Enjoy!

Yes, it’s that easy!

 

Strawberry Limeade

Done

I must first apologize for my absence. It’s been a long summer! There’s been WAY too much work and WAY too many things going on in the garden and greenhouse! We planted 58 – that’s not a typo – 58 tomato plants! There will be many, many tomato based recipes coming your way! And beans … and peppers … and cucumbers … yikes …

But …

One fine spring morning, the Dear One wakes up and looks at me, a twinkle in his eye … what do you want to do today? I don’t know. WHat do you want to do today? We should do something. (It’s like an often repeated scene from the film Marty!) I should have known he was waiting for this opening, this tiny bit of indecision on my part.

Well, I have an idea! Those five little words always bring a tiny bit of terror to my soul.

Let’s go pick strawberries! Ummm, okay. And off we go, girls in tow, to pick the strawberries that grow in a row. (Huh, huh, how’s that for a rhyme?!)

Here I’m thinking strawberries. The Dear One was thinking STRAWBERRIES. I think we picked fifteen quarts of strawberries. Some were greedily eaten, some went into smoothies, some into an incredible ice cream you’ll see next, and bags and bags and bags went into the freezer.

And some were lucky enough to make their way into this strawberry limeade.

I’ve made this a number of times, and used the frozen strawberries in my freezer, once the fresh ran out. Frozen strawberries quarter very easily. Lime juice, strawberries and sugar. Doesn’t get easier than that. The sugar is adjusted to your liking. We’re not an awfully sweet group here, so I always make it a bit on the tart side.

  • 1 1/2 C quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1 C fresh lime juice
  • 5 C cold water
  • 3/4 to 1 C granulated sugar (depending on how sweet the strawberries are)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime slices-for serving, if desired

Ingredients

 

Blend strawberries and lime juice in blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour strawberry and lime mixture into a large pitcher. Add cold water and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Pitcher

 Add in ice cubes and pour into individual glasses. Garnish with lime, if desired.

Glass

 Pour over ice cubes in tall glasses; garnish each with strawberry or lime wedge, if desired.

 

 

New York Crumb Cake

Ready

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” … “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.

Not that I’m one to argue with a dead, French journalist, who coined one of the most used sentences … well, EVER …

BUT, for me, truth be told, the more things have changed, the more different they have become.

I was born in New York City. Grew up in New York City. Grammar school and high school in New York City. Up until November 2013, I had never lived further than 10 miles from everyone to whom I’m related – except my sister Maria who abandoned ship to marry a great guy and now lives in Oswego, IL.

I worked for my Dad for around 30 years as a paralegal and office manager.

I had GREAT gal pals.

November came along and EVERYTHING changed. I moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the calm and quiet of Bar Harbor, Maine (well, except for July and August when town is over run by tourists). Am no longer (mostly) working for my Dad, have new jobs, added some new gal pals to my beloved inner circle, live in a beautiful home surrounded by beautiful gardens, with the MOST incredible man.

I decided as I was packing my boxes that I no longer wanted to be a paralegal. I didn’t want a 9 to 5 office grind. If I was going to change everything about my life, I may as well change everything about  my life.

BUT WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP!?

Well, who knows?! (and I refuse to grow up …) But I do know it HAS to involve food! At the moment, I’m working at Reel Pizza Cinerama – truly one of the coolest places EVER! I began my own summer based cooking business – The Maine Ingredients – which truly struggled its first summer. I even picked up a few shifts as a sous chef in a friend’s restaurant – Sweet Pea’s Cafe.

A little restless. A little bored. Feeling a little sorry for myself.

AND THEN! … an email from my friend Jennifer Steen Booher, whose photographs are the coolest I’ve ever seen (check them out on Quercus Design) arrived. Her daughter Tabby wants to cook, bake, be in the kitchen. They tried a cooking camp and it was a massive FAIL. Would I consider coming over and teaching Tabby and a couple of friends the way around a cake tin? WOULD I? HELLS YEAH!

We had a blast! We made pretzels and scones and bread and blueberry muffins and quiche and lemon meringue pie (which I had personally never made either and was knocking knees that it would work out – and it did!) and sticky buns and this New York Crumb Cake.

Jenn wrote a great piece about our time in the kitchen – check it out – and check out hr fabulous photography!

Thank you, Jenn for sharing your kitchen and daughter with me! Thank you Tabby, Anna, Irene, Geneva and Carolyn for making the lessons so much fun and for turning out some fabulous baked goods!

I’m hoping others will see this and Jenn’s piece on her blog and want some lessons too … if you do you can reach my by email themaineingredients@gmail.com or 207-801-0302!

See, the more things have changed, the more they have changed and the better they have become!

Makes one 9-by-12 1/2-inch cake

  • 2 T canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 C all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325°. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

Batter in pan

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form.

Adding crumbs

 

Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

Cooling

Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool.

Dusting

Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Slice

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, everywhere! What’s a girl to do?

There’s only so much that will fit into the freezer!

Ice Cream … done …

Cake! Yes, a nice cake would be great! I looked through my cookbooks trying to find great rhubarb recipes and came across this one from Martha Stewart Cakes.

Company coming, a little showing off in the cake department would be fun.

You know, for me, the hardest thing about moving to Maine is missing my GIRLS! I am making friends here. A couple of very dear, couldn’t live without friends, but they were the Dear One’s friends first … not that that makes a tinker’s damn bit of difference at this point, but it’s all still so new and shiny …

And sometimes … I wanna go to Txikito! I wanna sit around and watch Project Runway! I wanna go to Trader Joe’s, Fariway, Whole Foods! I wanna have lunch! Go shoe shopping! RESTAURANT WEEK! Walk to the store! Chinese food at midnight! I miss my parents and my siblings (I’m a girl who has never lived more than 8 or 9 miles away from her ENTIRE family … ever!)!

Those things ain’t gonna happen in Bar Harbor, so we gather for dinner … and we laugh and we feast and we laugh and we drink and we laugh … truthfully, it’s all DAMN good and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything.

If only I could have my old girls and my new girls (and boys) and my family in one place, like would be … not gonna say it!

TOPPING

  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Coarse salt

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sour cream

NOTE: I doubled the amount of crumb topping. The amounts above are for the original recipe.

NOTE NOTE: I didn’t cut this on a sharp diagonal. I cut it in 1/2 inch chunks and it was WAY too much rhubarb!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rhubarb

 

Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly. Set aside.

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Dot with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces). Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes. Toss again, and spread in pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb.

Crumble topping evenly over batter.

Out of oven

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

NOTE: I don’t know if it was me or the pan was too small or I over filled it, but this over flowed all over the oven. Next time less rhubarb and maybe not all the batter!

NOTE: Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. The rhubarb will be too hot to handle safely right after baking. But if the cake sits much longer, it may stick.

Invreted

 

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Brown Butter Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, lovey.”

“I’m at camp.”

“I know.”

“I’m already homesick. The food is yucky. I’m broke.”

“I’m sorry, honey. I’ll send you some money. And cookies … would cookies help?”

“Mom, your cookies always help!”

This was a conversation with my son, Tommy. The same child who is 24, living on his own, and away working at the same camp he has worked at for at least 7 years.

But he wants cookies.

What’s a Mom to do?

Bake cookies, that’s what a Mom’s to do.

So I off I went to the kitchen to bake cookies to ship to my starving, homesick child. Fortunately his favorite cookies will ship well and make enough to have in the house as well.

You can sub cranberries for the dried cherries and white or dark chocolate for the semisweet chocolate.

  • 2 1/2 C rolled oats (Use old fashioned not quick or instant)
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C dried cherries
  • 6 ozs semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnut halves, finely chopped
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Dry Ingredients

Whisk oats, flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; stir in dried cranberries, white chocolate, and nuts.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the milk solids turn golden brown, about 4 minutes; take care not to burn.

Browned Butter

Pour browned butter into a large bowl and whisk in brown sugar until combined. Whisk in cinnamon, then whisk in eggs and vanilla, beating well after each. Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Mixture will be thick. Drop by generously rounded tablespoon 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake until light golden brown and just dry to the touch, but still a little soft inside, about 10 minutes.

Cooling

Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.

One-Pan Fudge Cake

Baked

You’ll have to use your imaginations here …

RING … RINNNGGGGGG …

Me: Hello?

SS: Hi! Whatcha doing for dinner tonight. I know the Dear One is away and you’re home alone. Come over for dinner and a movie. Just me and he kids. This way I won’t have to rescue you after you’ve done something I Love Lucy-esque.

Me: Okay. That’s great.

SS: Well, not just  me and the kids … 4 or 5 other people as well.

Me: Oh? (Wishing I hadn’t answered the phone now) Sure. What can I bring? (when will I learn NOT to ask that question!?)

SS: How about dessert?

Me: Okay. What time?

SS: How about an hour?

Me: See you then.

SS: Andrea? Don’t lock the door when you leave!

AN HOUR? Come up with and make dessert and drive into town IN AN HOUR!? Now what am I going to do?

Suddenly inspiration! I remembered seeing a recipe on Relish.com for a One-Pan Fudge Cake taken from the Junior League of Nashville cookbook.

Simple ingredients. One pan. Quick to throw together. Cools in the pan. Baked in 30 minutes. I.AM.SAVED!

Fudgey and dense, chocolatey without being too sweet, this cake is the answer to any last minute guests or dinner invitations!

Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is great on top of this cake.

  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Powdered sugar

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 8-inch square cake pan.

Melt butter, sugar and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, add flour, salt and baking powder. Stir well. Add eggs, vanilla and pecans, if using.

Pouring into pan

 

Stir well and pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into squares while hot. Let cool in pan.

Sprinkling sugar

When cool, dust top with powdered sugar.