Chocolate Walnut Pie Bars

Hi there– I sure wish you could meet my Monday night ladies.  They come in the door in around 7:00 each week.  I can hear them talking and laughing as they come up the steps.  There are hugs and cups of coffee and when I finally get them to settle in, there is time to read and pray together. It’s a bright spot in my week.

And, of course, we eat.  This week it’s these pie bars– nutty and sweet (a little like my ladies!)

CHOCOLATE WALNUT PIE BARS

Crust:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

Filling:
3 eggs
1  1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. melted butter
1  1/2 cups chocolate chips
1  1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

To make the crust, mix together the flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Then fold in the melted 1/2 cup butter until it’s all crumbly.  Press the mixture into 9″x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s lightly browned.

While that’s baking, stir together the filling– beat the 3 eggs in a mixing bowl, then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla.  Then mix in the butter, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Spoon the filling carefully over the crust, covering it from edge to edge.  Bake it in the same 350 even for 25 to 30 minutes longer, until the filling is set.  Let it cool completely and then cute into tidy bars!

Apple Broccoli Salad

Hello friends–  Here’s the old favorite, Broccoli Salad, with a bit of a fresher taste.  Sweet apples and carrots add crunch and flavor.  And a bit of red onion sharpens up the taste.

We had it at a salad pot luck here a couple weeks ago and there were just a few shreds left at the bottom of the bowl by the time we all served ourselves up!  I think you’d like it too.

APPLE BROCCOLI SALAD

Dressing:
1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tab. sugar
1  1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt

Salad:
4 cups chopped broccoli
1 apple, cored and cut to small bits
2 carrots, peeled and cut to match sticks
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup red onion chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt to make the dressing.

Add the chopped broccoli, bits of apple, cut carrots, walnuts and chopped red onion to the dressing and mix well to coat all the veggies.   Chill about 30 minutes before serving.  Delish!

Maple Walnut Banana Bread

Hello Bakers–  I’ve been making my Grandma Rose’s banana bread for as long a I can remember,  It’s the favorite in kitchens all over our family.  But when I saw this version sweetened by maple syrup, I had to give it a try.  I can just say it smells heavenly coming out of the oven!!

MAPLE WALNUT BANANA BREAD
2 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
2 tab. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

topping:
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Prepare the topping first.  Chop the nuts, mix in 2 tab. brown sugar and set aside.

Mash those bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl.  Then stir in the oil, syrup, egg and vanilla.  Next mix in the flour, brown sugar, baking powder an salt.

Spoon the batter in to a standard 9″x5″ loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees from 35 to 40 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.  (I used two smaller pans to make one loaf to keep, one to take to my father-in-law Stu). Enjoy!!

Caramel Pear Cake

 

Hello there– It’s that time of year when dinner can shift from leaning in around the family room table, to catching cool evening breezes under the maple trees in the back yard.   So last week friends came over the share an outdoor “pot luck salad supper” — perfect summer kick off!

And for dessert we had Miriam’s tart, Glenda’s legendary lemon bars, Joanne’s super strawberry cake and this caramel pear cake.  Sweet ending to time around the table with friends.

P.S. The best thing about this cake is that there is more pears, nuts mixed in than batter– so it’s fruity sweet crunchy sweet.

CARAMEL PEAR CAKE
2 large pears, peeled, seeded & cut in bits
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1  1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
garnish:  powdered sugar,  1/4 cup salted caramel*

Prepare the pears and walnuts.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the egg, oil and vanilla (batter will be very stiff!)  Fold in the pears and walnuts until it’s thoroughly combined.

Spoon the batter into a 8″ or 9″ cake pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until a thin knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for an hour or so.  Then dust on a little powdered sugar through a sieve.  Drizzle the salted caramel over the top.

If you serve it with ice cream, be sure to have a little pitcher of warm caramel to top it all!

*You can make your own caramel– I used Smuckers salted caramel from a jar!
**I like a springform pan because it’s easier to extract the cake and set it on a pretty plate.

White Texas Sheet Cake

Hello ya’ll–  We lived in Texas for a few years when we were first married and the chocolate version of this sweet cake was a staple of friends there.  And it made it’s way into our own cake rotation.

So when I ran across this white reiteration of the old favorite, I wanted to give it a try.  Swap out cinnamon and pecans for almond flavoring and walnuts– and of course, hold the chocolate!  Love the simple, homey little cake.  Just right for a weeknight meal or a picnic with friends.

WHITE TEXAS SHEET CAKE
Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, cubed (2 sticks)
1 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp. almond extract or amaretto*

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup milk
4  1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract or amaretto
1 cup walnuts, chopped (or more if you love nuts like I do!!)

In a mixing bowl, stir up the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a saucepan, bring the 1 cup butter and water to  simmer (be sure all the butter is melted).  Them stir it completely into the flour mixture.

In a mug, whisk together the eggs, sour cram and 1 tsp. amaretto with a fork.  Then blend it into the batter.

Spoon the batter into a 15″ x 10″ x 1″ baking sheet** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 375 degrees of 18 to 20 minutes, until it’s firm to the touch.

While that’s baking make the frosting.  Bring the 1/2 cup butter and milk to a simmer in a saucepan.  Take it off the heat and then stir in the powered sugar, amaretto and walnuts.  Smooth it over the cake– delicious warm or cooled!

*I use Amaretto in place of almond extract because it it so much less expensive!  And a big bottle will last forever…
**In place of the large baking sheet, I used two 10″ inch tart pans– prettier to serve from.

Maple Walnut Banana Bread

 

Hello there– We have a treasure sitting in our fridge– it’s a huge jug of real maple syrup fresh from upstate New York!  Our daughter-in-law’s Dad, Alfie is a warm and wonderful guy.  Every year he taps trees around his town and in the spring is joined by family a friends at in the maple sugar shack to boil down gallons of maple syrup.  Then being the generous guys that he is, he mails big jugs to people far and wide (including lucky us!!).

So this little recipe uses a precious half cup of that lovely syrup and which accounts for it’s rich and wonderful flavor.  Plus while it’s baking in the oven, for kitchen smells like that New York maple sugar shack– maple luscious!

MAPLE WALNUT BANANA BREAD
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. maple extract (optional)*
3 tab. milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4  cup walnuts, chopped and divided
3 tab. brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl, smash the bananas to a creamy substance.  Then mix in the maple syrup, oil, egg, maple extract and milk until all blended.  Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir it all together.  Finally mix 3/4 cup of the walnuts.

Spoon the mixture into a 5″ by 9″ loaf pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Mix together the brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts and sprinkle them over the loaf of banana bread.

Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 50 -55 minutes until it’s browned and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.  Delicious warm from the oven– or toasted the next day for breakfast  with a smear of butter!!

*maple extract is optional– it just adds a little more maple flavoring.
** I used 2 half size loaf pans and cooked it about 5 minutes less.

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

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Hello all– Spent last weekend up in the mountains at Big Bear, 18 of us from the young adult group (We’re the old folks involved!), –for a couple days of talking, laughing, planning and praying.  The weather was glorious, snowy and crisp and the cabin was cozy.  A few of us were the cooks, mixing salads and turning breakfast bacon for a crowd.   And this was dessert on Saturday night…

CARAMEL APPLE BUNDT CAKE
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped to small bits
2 cups sugar
1  1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup walnuts chopped
garnish: caramel sauce* & chopped walnuts

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Prepare the apples bits and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs for 2 or 3 minutes until they are creamy and fluffy.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

With a spoon mix in the chopped apple and cup of walnuts.  The batter will be stiff so mix them in well.

Spoon the batter into a bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and set it into a 350 degree oven for 75 to 80 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan and then remove it to a platter.  When you are ready to eat it, drizzle on the caramel and then sprinkle on the chopped pecans or walnuts.  Pretty and ready to serve!

*You can make your own caramel sauce, but I just picked up Smuckers salted caramel sauce at the market with the ice cream toppings.

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Down on Boulder Bay by the lake–sunshine and snow…