Raspberry Almond Bars

raspberry almond bars

My husband and I joined a gym this week.  Of course, I tell myself that this year will be different.  This year, I will stick to my resolutions and will exist solely on lettuce, carrots, and water.  I will get up at 5:00am every morning and happily prance to the gym, chipper and eager to torture my body with endless running and muscle persecuting exercises.  I like to afflict agony on my body...at least this is what I have to convince myself in the next few weeks.

My intentions were solidified this morning, by the innocent ponderings of my 4 year old son.  Preschoolers have a way of baldly stating their observations, which somehow always come out like an insult.  Our conversation (which took place in the bathroom - another favorite pastime of preschoolers - watching you go pee) went something like this:

"Mommy, how come you don't fall in the toilet when you pee?"

"Well, that's because the seat keeps me from falling in."

"Oh, I know....it's because you're butt is big."

"Yes, my butt is bigGER  than the seat, which keeps me from falling in."

I tell myself that my eagerness to point out the difference between the adjectives of "big" and "bigger", was the chance to teach him something new.  Of course, it had nothing to do with my own pride:)  Oh, and our other lesson for today - Helpful Uses Of A Butt: A keep-you-from-falling-in-the-toilet device.

So in light of my need to keep the size of my rear in check, I made these bars to indulge in while I could.  They are sweet, buttery and very tasty. You can also customize them by using any preserves you like.  Don't worry though, I'll still be making yummy treats, I just won't be wallowing in them every chance I can:)

Raspberry Almond Bars

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 egg whites
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut (optional)
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour and mix well.

  Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. 

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven. 

Spread the raspberry preserves over the crust. 

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the coconut (if using) and 1/2 cup almonds.  Spread the meringue evenly over the jam. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the top.  Return to oven and bake for another 18-22 minutes or until golden.

(adapted from Taste of Home, December 2010)

Smores Cookies

We've had a bit of snow lately, not a lot, but enough to make going anywhere not much fun.  Consequently we tend to stay inside, puttering around the house, guiltily enjoying being lazy and unproductive.  As most people do, I rashly resolved with the new year to eat more healthily. (healthy = eat only 5 cookies instead of 10).

However, being confined inside a house on a cold snowy day, with my cabinets piled with sugar, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, and my refrigerator well stocked with butter - my resolutions went out the window.  Since I'd been wanting to make some form of s'mores cookies for a while, and that bag of mini marshmallows looked awfully lonely on that shelf, I used this as an excuse and whipped up these little bites of heaven.

I have to say, these cookies are up there with my Chunky Twix Cookies, and I foresee a happy future with lots of S'mores Cookies, studded with little pillows of happiness (read: marshmallows) and full of sinful, melty goodness (read: chocolate).

This recipe has made it's away around food blogs, but it is originally from Anna of Cookie Madness.  And while my taste buds may praise her genius in creating these bad boys, my waist line a month from now may not:)  Eat one warm and fresh from the oven, you won't be sorry.

S'mores Cookies
(adapted from Cookies Madness)

1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups mini chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows, or large ones cut up
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, and mix until combined. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use 2 tablespoons or a medium-sized ice cream scoop to drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from oven. Push a few marshmallows and pieces of chocolate into each cookie and return to the oven to bake an additional 3-4 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack before inhaling the entire batch!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples

I like vegetables, but I get bored with fixing them the same old way.  It doesn't help that I have a picky husband whose list of "approved" vegetables can be listed on one hand.  Add to the mix a veggie cautious preschooler, who peeks curiously at his Daddy whenever a new vegetable is served, waiting to see if this is something he should eat or not.  Because of this, I have threatened - er - nicely requested that my husband give a big grin and two thumbs up to any veggie served, to avoid the dreaded picky-eater-syndrome being passed on.

My husband complies with me on this, since I nonchalantly pointed out that the aforementioned "non-approved" veggies could come back to haunt him...anywhere, at any time.

Stuffed in his socks for instance.

Or piled under his pillow.

My imagination could come up with any number of possibilities I told him...and that was the end of my wifely persuasion:)

So, after being on the search for a new vegetable dish one day, I came across this recipe that I just had to try.  Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples.  I quickly headed to the store and picked up the squash, loaded a few apples in the cart, and was on my way home to roast the heck out of some veggies.  This dish is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and is a great source of fiber, magnesium, and potassium.

Not to worry, you're kids will never know it's good for them, once you sprinkle a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter on top.  My little guy even ate his with no prodding, while my big guy kept wisely silent.

I'm guessing he didn't wan't to find squishy squash in suspect places.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples
Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 40-60 minutes / Serves: 8

1 Tbsp vegetable oil  (to grease pan)
1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
3-4 medium apples (peeled, cored, and cubed)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a large baking dish.  In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Peel and cube your butternut squash.  Peel, core, and cube your apples.

Combine the butternut squash and apples in the pan.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the squash and apples, then pour the melted butter over the top.  Cover the dish and bake for about 45 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.  Uncover the dish, and continue baking until the apples and squash turn golden.  About 15 more minutes. 

Remove from oven and enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls

Hello! Yes, I know...it's been a while.  Yes, I've been playing hooky....but I had a really good excuse - I promise.  I've been out of town for a while visiting my brother and sister-in-law who just had a new arrival. Here she is, my new niece Lilly Joy.

Would your mind be on blogging when you had this much cuteness to behold?

I thought not:)

I did manage to bake up my Twix cookies while I was there, and was wheedled by my brother to make a second batch so he could take them to work.  He called that morning and said the entire plate was gone by 8:15am.

I was also in the mood to bake cinnamon rolls, and made this version, which is a great cinnamon roll, but a bit too sweet for me.  Yes, I know! Cinnamon rolls are meant to be loaded with a sinful amount of sugar:)  When my husband (who stayed home) found out that I had made cinnamon rolls for everyone, he guilted me into agreeing to make some for him as soon as I got home.  So, once home I decided to make my usual recipe to see which roll I preferred. 

I have to say that I still prefer my tried and true recipe.  I don't even remember where I found it - I've had it for years - but the dough has real mashed potato and sour cream mixed into it, which keeps the dough tender and moist.  The filling, called "The Smear", is soooo good.  These rolls are best the day they are baked, but if they are still around the next day, just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds.  If they are still around a third day...well, then something is wrong with you:)  Give 'em a try, they're good!

Cinnamon Rolls
Yield: 12  Printable Recipe

2 pkgs active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes (plain)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 cups unbleached flour

1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 egg whites
2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs soft butter
enough milk or orange juice to make a thick pouring glaze

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar; set aside to foam for about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the warm mashed potato (just plain mashed potato, nothing added to it), sugar, sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and salt. Add the flour and yeast mixture.  Using the dough hook, mix the dough on speed 2, for 2 minutes.

Add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough just cleans the bowl, but is very soft. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to raise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Punch down and let rise again (about another 2 hours.) On a lightly flour surface, roll the dough into a rectangle and spread with smear. (The size of the rectangle will depend on how large you want the finished rolls.) Roll dough into cylinder. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. Place in a greased 9x13 oblong pan.

If baking immediately: Allow the rolls to rise again until doubled. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes at 350. Remove from oven when done and brush with melted butter. Drizzle with glaze while still hot.

Overnight method: Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to raise overnight.  When ready to bake in the morning, remove rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  Then bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.  Drizzle with glaze while still hot.

While the rolls are baking, combine the powdered sugar, butter, and enough milk to make a thick pouring glaze.  Use a spoon or the tines of a fork to drizzle the glaze over the rolls.  Use as much or as little as you like.

I had intentions to make a step-by-step tutorial, but since these were made the night before to bake in the morning, my step-by-step photos had horrible lighting and did not turn out well.  Maybe next time.

**02/2013: I recently posted these Cinnamon Rolls in a new post, you can see the updated photos here.**

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