walnuts

Date Bar Dessert

When Owen and I got married, I was excited about learning to cook. Finally, I had my own kitchen! At my wedding shower, a longtime family friend gave me the instructions for her favorite brownies written on a recipe card (along with her gift) and on the day of our wedding, one of my sister’s high school friends gave us The Best of Country Cooking 2001 by Taste of Home. She had glued on the front page “A Recipe for a Happy Marriage” and a hand written note. That was where it all began. I love that cookbook, it’s full of memories and sentiment. It also contains the recipe for Date Bar Dessert, one of the first desserts I brought as a newlywed to our Thanksgiving family gathering. Of course, it’s always exciting when people enjoy what you’ve made! (It’s hard to go wrong with oats, butter, brown sugar and sticky sweet dried fruit.) Owen and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, so I happily share this gift with you! In time for the holidays I might add, although on any given day it really makes for a delicious breakfast with a cup of coffee. Just sayin’.

As organic as possible:

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned Oats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour

1 cup packed Brown Sugar

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup cold Butter

2 1/2 cups chopped Dates

3/4 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Water

1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. *I prefer the old school two knives instead of a pastry cutter for this large amount, but do as you please.

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Press into a greased 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking pan.

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In a saucepan, combine dates, sugar and water.

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Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in walnuts. Spread over crust.

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Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or bars.

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*It is recommended to serve with whip topping, but I have to tell you I like it without. You choose!

Date Bar Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned Oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold Butter
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped Dates
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. *I prefer the old school two knives instead of a pastry cutter for this large amount, but do as you please.
  3. Press into a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan.
  4. In a saucepan, combine dates, sugar and water. Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in walnuts. Spread over crust.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or bars.
  6. *It is recommended to serve with whip topping, but I have to tell you I like it without. You choose!
http://sadiesnest.com/date-bar-dessert/

The Richmond Avenue’s Black Bean Brownies

I love how Jasmine at The Richmond Avenue can take something that usually holds very little nutritional value and turn it into health food. (That’s what I call it, with complete justification.) In this case incorporating the black beans added protein and fiber. I can honestly say the brownies were moist and tasted like chocolate. So much so that my chocolate lover approved of them, and I felt guilt-free saying he could have them for an after school snack.

As organic as possible (from me as usual)

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp instant coffee
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup coconut or olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional toppings: Chocolate Chips, Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients (except for toppings and chocolate chips) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

*Jasmine left this “1/4” chocolate chips up to personal interpretation and some might have opted for a 1/4 cup, but I knew it meant a 1/4 of the bag 😉

*As you can see I used walnuts on half, for the non-nut loving members of my family

Sadie’s Fruitcake

I can’t tell you why fruitcake gets a bad rap. Maybe I haven’t eaten a bad one. I can tell you that I could eat this one every day. I’m really proud of it. A blogger friend of mine, Natascha of Natascha’s Palace, made a fruitcake challenge and I accepted. I’ve tweaked this cake to perfection, if I do say so myself. It’s a little sugar, spice and everything nice (with less emphasis on spice or heavy on the everything). This fruitcake is dense and moist and outright delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

As organic as possible:

3 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cup chopped dates, pitted

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or angel food pan. (Do yourself a favor and do not choose a decorative bundt cake pan, trust me on this one.) Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large a bowl. Gently toss the pecans and walnuts in the flour mixture. Next add the dates. I like to toss these carefully (a few at a time) in the flour nut mixture because they are the stickiest. Once the chopped dates are coated with the flour mixture, add the cherries, cranberries, regular and golden raisins, and coconut. Gently toss until all fruit is lightly coated with flour mixture.

In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and beat with the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, a scoop full at a time to creamed butter mixture, until all is combined. (I like to mix this part by hand, to not over-mix.) The batter will be very thick (like the consistency of  a thick drop cookie). Spoon the batter in the prepared pan, and gently even out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2  hours. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake and place onto cooling rack to cool completely before serving.

 

White Chocolate-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I am crazy about these cookies. Simply put they are just really good. It’s everything I want in a cookie; sweet, chewy and loaded with flavor in every bite. They are like perfect. And because they have oats, cranberries, and walnuts (and white chocolate chips- but just mumble that under your breath) I feel good about eating them for breakfast. Or in between meals. Or after lunch. and dinner.

As organic as possible:

3/4 cup Butter, softened

1 cup packed Brown sugar

1/2 cup Sugar

1 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1 3/4 cups Flour

2 cups Oats

1 cup White chocolate chips

1 cup Cranberries

3/4 cup chopped Walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375º. Beat butter by hand or with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugars, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and continue to beat until creamy, light and fluffy (scraping the sides as necessary). Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Mix in the flour (I like to do this 1 cup and 3/4 cup at a time). Stir in oats. Batter will be getting thick! Fold in white chocolate chips, cranberries and nuts until all are evenly incorporated.

I have said it in the past, we like our cookies big. So I use an ice cream scoop, but you can use smaller spoons if you’d like. Drop the cookies onto an un-greased cookie sheet (leaving space for growth in between). Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until edges are turning brown and center is soft (not wet). Allow to cool for a minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

*I adapted (dare I say perfected) this recipe many moons ago from a Better Homes and Gardens oatmeal cookie recipe. And you may take any liberties you’d like with substituting ingredients because this recipe is flexible, but if I were you I’d try it like this at least once.

Banana Bread

Banana Nut Bread is one of the easiest homemade delights around. To top that, it is so versatile! It’s a great breakfast treat to make ahead for family and overnighting guests. It’s an ideal addition to any brunch. It’s delicious eaten sliced right off of the loaf or toasted with a slab of butter. Banana bread is a perfect accompaniment for a light salad. It is easily toted to potluck gatherings and good for bake sales. If it were running for office, I would be its campaign manager.

Makes 1 Loaf

2 cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg (I like freshly grated)

¼ tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

4 medium bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp milk

¾ cup sugar, plus 1 Tbsp for topping

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup sunflower oil (or oil of your choice)

½ cup chopped walnuts, 1 Tbsp reserved for topping

1 pat butter or baking spray

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with butter or baking spray, set aside. Now that you got all of the work done, let’s create! In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla (because all baked goods need vanilla), milk, sugars, and oil. When combined add wet egg mixture to dry flour mixture.

Side note: There are certain baking rules that I just follow without question. One of them is adding wet to dry ingredients, which is the rule; unless there is a butter mixture involved in which you alternate adding dry and wet ingredients, in that order and sometimes even specified to start and finish with dry. These are just the common practices, and I follow them. If you want to be crazy and spontaneous that’s up to you, but heed my words I don’t know what you’ll end up with… probably banana bread.

When wet and dry ingredients are incorporated (mixture will be lumpy), gently fold in walnuts.

Another side note: If you know me, you know that I prefer banana baked goods with pecans, and they are perfectly substitutable in this recipe. I am also very traditional. So I do make my banana bread with walnuts… most of the time.

Pour the banana mixture in the greased loaf pan. Evenly spread the sugar and reserved walnuts across the top of the banana batter and place in the oven for 55 – 60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean from the center of the bread. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the loaf pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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