Category: Easy


I always forget how simple it is to make pesto. Stuff everything into the food processor, turn it on, and presto – Pesto!

Basil-Walnut PestoThe hardest part for me is taking the food processor out of the box and fitting it back into the box when I’m done with it. I keep quite a few kitchen toys in their boxes in the garage – the ones I don’t use often enough to justify keeping them in my kitchen, because I don’t have much storage. So far I’m impressed with my skill at pulling out a multi-piece appliance that’s packed in 3 rows of Styrofoam and getting it all back into the box like it was never taken out. I’m good! Haha!

The second hardest part is not killing the basil plant. I’ve killed 3 or 4 or 6 – and that includes those that “just need water.” *sigh* Recently I bought a large basil plant for $3.99. I couldn’t pass it up, even though I expect it also to die. I’m trying something different this year. Instead of baking the plant in my western-facing kitchen window, I’ve got it outside my front door to catch the morning sun. So far, so good!

 

So Pesto. What do you do with it?

  • Toss it with some hot pasta for an easy dinner,
  • smear it on crostini for an appetizer,
  • bake it into a chicken dish,
  • or do what my boss does and put it on your freshly cooked corn on the cob.

Doesn’t that sound good??

Pesto is a nice, forgiving recipe. If you don’t make it exactly like the recipe, it will most likely still be good! In fact, I used a little less oil than recommended and a little more cheese than called for. I switched out the nuts, the oil and the cheese from the recipe I was using for inspiration. And you know what? It’s fantastic! You should try this. You’ll be pleased with how simple it is. If you don’t burn up you basil plant. And if you can get your food processor out of the box.  ;)

Walnut-Basil Pesto

Inspired by Food Network Kitchen

Stuff you need
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic [I used minced garlic in a jar.]
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or a combination of walnut oil and olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 grated Romano cheese [Or Pecorino, Parmesan, or a combination.]

Now what?
Combine basil, garlic and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add 1/2 cup oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.

If using immediately, add remaining oil and pulse until smooth.
Add the cheese and pulse until just mixed.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw and stir in cheese.

Chipotle Cheddar Cheese SpreadLooking for something new to try for Super Bowl Sunday? Here is a wonderfully versatile Cheddar Cheese spread that is awesome as a dip, spread on cocktail rye and broiled, on a burger, or as a grilled cheese sandwich…. This spread/condiment will last in your fridge for a good couple of weeks, so put your creative mind to work!!

You can make this as spicy or mild as you want by adjusting the amount of chipotle pepper and sauce you add. You can also add fresh jalepenos if you really want it “kicky!” (pardon my football pun!)

It’s kind of like a pimiento cheese spread with chipotles instead of pimientos! Very easy to make and you will LOVE it!!

Here’s the recipe!

Kitchen Kween Chipotle Cheddar Cheese Spread

Makes approximately 2 cups of spread

Stuff you need:

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (aged cheddar is great, but pre-shredded store brand is fine, too)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 green onion, chopped
3.5 oz can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (this is a cute little can!)

Now what?

Put first 3 ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth.
Add canned chipotles and sauce. Process until smooth.
Refrigerate for 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Here is how to get the spice level you want:

Mild – 2 chipotles, chopped with a spoonful of sauce from the can
Medium – 4 chipotles, chopped with a few spoonfuls of sauce from the can
Spicy – entire can with all of the sauce from the can
4 alarm – add entire can with all of the sauce, plus one fresh chopped jalapeno.

Put however many chipotles you want in the cheese mixture, give the processor a whirl, AND TASTE.
**Remember, as the flavors blend in the fridge, it will get a bit “warmer” than when you initially taste it, so adjust. You can always add more later if it isn’t spicy enough for you!

Serve with crackers, spread on your burger, broil open face on cocktail rye….. use your imagination!! :)

I made dinner with a blender and a crock pot! I’m not sure I’ve said that before.  :)  

Last weekend I was looking for something new and different to make for dinner, something I could make ahead and re-heat for easy dinners on my late nights. I found this Plum-Sauced Chicken in Tortillas in my Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.Plum-Sauced Chicken Tacos

I love plums but I’ve never had them with chicken, or anything savory, for that matter. The recipe sounded interesting, but the kicker was how easy it looked! This was the one to try.

I followed the recipe as written, but because I’m me, next time I will make a tweak or two. Chinese Five Spice Powder is a mixture of five spices used primarily in Chinese cuisine. It may include star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, licorice, black pepper, mandarin orange peel or other spices. It can be a bit sweet, depending on the mixture in your particular jar. Mine is sweet, which I like. However, I will add more grated ginger next time for some pop. The fresh ginger mellows a little when it’s cooked.

I could only find a large can of plums, so I used half the can of drained plums and saved the remaining plums to throw in my morning protein shakes. I’ve never used tapioca before, and think the little beady things are cute, but if they get loose they roll all over your counters!

This is really an Asian chicken taco, and who doesn’t like tacos, right? Be sure to top them with the broccoli slaw or some bean sprouts or something crunchy that complements the chicken and tortillas.

I liked the flavor of this for something different! Sometimes I get in a cooking rut and a new recipe adds some spice. Or five spices, in this case.  ;) I don’t know that I’ll make it often, but it’s a nice change of pace from my usual flavor profiles.

This would be a great addition to a buffet menu. Your guests will be wondering what’s in them! They’re easy to throw together, easy to cook, and easy to clean up. Perfect-o!

Plum-Sauced Chicken in Tortillas

Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

Stuff you need:

16 ounces canned whole, unpitted purple plums, drained
1 cup hot-style vegetable juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
5 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 -3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoons 5-spice powder
1 – 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
6 x 7-8 inch flour tortillas
2 cups packaged shredded broccoli or packaged shredded cabbage with carrot

Now what?

Remove pits from plums. Place plums in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Add vegetable juice, hoisin sauce, tapioca, ginger, and 5-spice powder and briefly blend until mixed.

Transfer plum mixture to a 3 1/2 or 4-quart crockery cooker. Stir chicken into crockery cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours, or high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove chicken from cooker, reserving sauce.

Spoon about 1/3 cup from the chicken mixture onto each warm tortilla just below the center. Drizzle with the reserved sauce. Top each with 1/3 cup shredded slaw mix. Roll up Tortillas.

* To warm up tortillas, wrap a stack in foil. Heat in a 350 degree for 10 minutes to soften.

Indulgent Brown Butter Scallops

OK, let’s just get this out there. Scallops are an indulgence. Why? Sea scallops – especially good, dry-pack scallops – are pricey. They cost more than a good t-bone steak. But worth it? Oh yeah. They’re worth every penny!

Brown Butter ScallopsYears ago I worked at a fresh seafood restaurant in West Des Moines, Iowa. Yes, I said fresh seafood and Iowa in the same sentence.  :)  It was called 8th Street Seafood Bar & Grill, and that’s where I learned that all seafood and all fresh veggies were not evil tasting. In fact, I learned some of them were very tasty! My experience with seafood to that point had been frozen white fish (full of bones) topped with lemon butter and baked. Blech. That turned me off from eating seafood! And veggies? They mostly consisted of canned veggies dumped in a pan and heated up. Again, blech.

One of the rules at the restaurant was we all tried all new dishes. Since we opened the restaurant from scratch we were all new and we all tried everything. My stint at 8th Street really opened up my eyes and my taste buds to a whole new world. To my surprise, I liked quite a bit of it! (I STILL don’t like lemon on fish because it makes it taste “fishy”, but I like lime on it.)

It was at 8th Street that I discovered scallops, in the form of Coquille St. Jacques. Yum! I really enjoyed the mild, creamy flavor of the scallops, and I was encouraged to try scallops later on when I visited other seafood restaurants. But it wasn’t until recently that I cooked them for myself. I was thrilled to discover how easy they are to make!Brown Butter Scallops

My scallops were tender and delicious. The brown butter sauce adds a nice, carmelized flavor. I like a bit more of a sear on my scallops so next time I will cook them either at a higher temperature or for a little longer before flipping them and adding the butter. However, that means I will have to watch them VERY closely so they don’t burn or become tough, and I’ll have to remember to reduce the heat when the butter is added so it doesn’t burn. A little squeeze of fresh lime over the scallops adds a citrusy brightness and contrast to the creaminess of the brown butter sauce.

If you’re new to cooking scallops, this is a great recipe to start with. It’s simple yet sophisticated. If you’re not feeling the breadcrumbs, I think the dish is still excellent without them. You’ll lose the texture contrast but if you serve the scallops with something like a kale salad, you’ll be fine.

Note that scallops cook very quickly, so it’s important to do all your prep work before you start cooking! Keep all the ingredients close at hand.

Like I said in the beginning, this is a pricey indulgence, but since you only need 3-4 scallops per serving it’s not ridiculous. I will make these again and I’m excited to try a couple more scallop recipes I’ve got tucked away! 

Brown Butter Scallops with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Very slightly adapted from Framed Cooks

Stuff you need:

2 slices white bread
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 Tablespoons white wine
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 sea scallops (A good number is 3-4 per person, but feel free to add or subtract as you like!)
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons cold butter, sliced
1 small lemon or lime, optional [I used lime.]
Now what?
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Put bread slices in food processor and process until you have breadcrumbs. Mix crumbs with melted butter and white wine (don’t worry if it looks mushy) and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes.
3. When crumbs are done, make scallops. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and season both sides of scallops with a little salt and pepper.
4. Add scallops to skillet and sear on one side for about 3 minutes. Don’t move them once they are in the pan to get a nice firm sear. [I did mine for 4 minutes. My heat may not have been as high as the original blogger. Keep an eye on yours and do what's best.]
5. Turn the scallops over (tongs work best for this) and add the sliced cold butter. Stir the butter around and dribble some of it over the scallops. Do this for about 2-3 minutes until the butter turns brown.
6. Divide the scallops among warmed plates, drizzle the butter from the skillet over the top and scatter generously with breadcrumbs.
7. Add a small squeeze of lemon or lime juice if desired.

Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

Here’s a pecan pie for those who don’t really love pecan pie. I love pecan pie but I couldn’t resist the idea of adding more good stuff to one of my favorites.

The result? My kids, who don’t really care for pecan pie, LOVED this! Me? Turns out I’m a pecan pie purist. I love all the ingredients in this pie and thought I would absolutely love it, so I was surprised to discover I liked it but didn’t love it. Or it could have been that I was stuffed on the Chicken Artichoke Lasagna my daughter made for dinner and the plethora of sweets I’ve had lately. I’m not sure. I might have to make this one more time to decide.  :)Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

Alex said he isn’t really a nut person – I beg to differ ;) – but he really liked this pie. Tish liked it because she doesn’t like the texture of regular pecan pie. She also might be a bit of a chocoholic so that helped, I’m sure. When she was younger, maybe in junior high, I remember coming home from work and her telling me she had spent the day reading a book and eating the chocolate cookies she’d found in the kitchen. That’s my girl!

I’d say this pie is definitely worth the try! It’s super easy to throw together, and you can use a pre-made pie crust if you don’t want to make it from scratch. I’m lazy. I used the refrigerated pie crust. The crust is not pre-baked and you should not prick the crust before loading it with the filling.

One thing I didn’t do well, though – I didn’t rub enough flour on the pie crust before putting it into the pie pan. Shame on me for not following the directions on the box! If you’re making a pie with a high sugar content, such as pecan, you need to put flour on the pie crust to help absorb some of the sugar and prevent the filling from leaking through the crust. Mine leaked through the crust and the result was a pie that didn’t come out of the pan cleanly. Lesson learned!

Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

from Culinary Covers

Stuff you need:

1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)
2 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest [I use the jarred grated zest found in the spice aisle.]
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup mini pretzels (about 18), broken into pieces
3/4 cup semi-sweet, bittersweet or extra dark chocolate [I used semi-sweet because that's what I had. The kids liked it so I'd use that again.]

Now what?

Preheat the oven to 350F. Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Fold the edges over and crimp as desired. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. [Make sure you flour the crust first! Rub a Tablespoon or so on each side.]

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the pecans, pretzels and chocolate.

Pour into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes.

Cover the pie with foil and continue to bake until the filling is puffed and the center is just set, another 15 to 20 minutes. [I think mine took about 65-75 minutes. Might be my oven because my pecan pies take longer than the recipes suggest, so keep an eye on yours.]

Let cool and serve at room temperature.

We have 3 July birthdays in karate, and they’re all within 10 days. That means 3 different birthday treats. Yikes!!Karate Flowers

The middle birthday is mine, and this year I got ice cream treats and flowers. Ice cream after karate? Fantastic!! And I’m still enjoying the flowers!

I made desserts for the other two birthdays: strawberry cheesecake for Alex, and these Oreo Fluff Brownies for John. John loves brownies, and last week he was saying how much he loves Oreos. So after a little poking around on the internet and looking at various ideas, I settled on the idea of Oreo Brownies.

Oreo Fluff BrowniesI found a recipe for Oreo Truffle Brownies, which is the delicious combination of Oreos and cream cheese atop a brownie base, and thought those sounded good. But I was really sugared-out from Birthday Week and all the treats I was given for my birthday, and it just sounded too rich and too chocolatey – if you can believe that!

I was thinking about how to lighten them up a bit and decided to use one of my favorite frosting additions – marshmallow fluff. It’s something I use to “customize” a can of pre-made frosting, or to combine with a block of cream cheese to make a lighter cream cheese frosting. It adds a little “something” that can really make a difference!

I used a boxed brownie mix because I was having a challenging week at work and made the “cake” version. If you want to make brownies from scratch, try the Craggy-Topped Fudge Brownies on the Mix it Up! page. After they cooled, I mixed up the topping, smeared it over the brownies, drizzled on some quick-setting chocolate ice cream topping, and popped them in the frig to set up.Oreo Fluff Brownies

I think the marshmallow addition was just right! It kept the topping from setting too hard, and provided a lightness that was really nice. The birthday boy was happy, too!

Oreo Fluff Brownies

Stuff you need:

1 9×13” pan of brownies, baked according to directions and cooled.

2 8-oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 jar marshmallow fluff (7 oz, I think)

Magic Shell chocolate ice cream topping

1 14-ounce package of Oreos, crushed in a large zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. [I left some chunks of Oreos for a little texture but you can crush yours more finely if that's your preference. This isn’t an exact science, so if you eat a few, it won’t ruin the brownies. ;)]

Now what?

Beat the softened cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.

Set aside ½ cup crushed Oreos and add the rest to the cream cheese and mix well.

Now stir in marshmallow fluff and mix until there are no streaks.

Spread the Oreo mixture on the brownies.

Drizzle with the Magic Shell chocolate topping and quickly sprinkle the remaining Oreo crumbs on top.

Place in frig to let the topping set up.

Store in frig. The topping will still be somewhat soft, but it will set up some.

Kyoshi's Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Congratulations, Kyoshi Colahan! Banzai!!

A couple of months ago our karate instructor was promoted to 6th Degree Black Belt and awarded the title of Kyoshi.

This is a big deal in our system! It takes 3 1/2 or more years to earn your first degree black belt, and even longer to earn higher ranks. Kyoshi’s been studying karate for over 20 years.

Our club was at the belt test to celebrate with Kyoshi, and when we returned to class the following week decided an additional celebration was in order. Celebrations for us include food, of course! We love our Banzai Treats!

One of Kyoshi’s favorite cakes is a Chocolate Pistachio Cake. This is also a favorite of several friends at work. I’ve made this several times and in many forms – as a bundt cake, layer cake, regular and jumbo muffins, and as a sheet cake. This time, in celebration of Kyoshi’s promotion, I wanted to make a cake that represented his new rank / belt, so I went with a sheet cake.

This is a super moist cake, thanks to the pistachio pudding and it’ll hold for several days, assuming it lasts that long. If you want the cake a little bit greener, add a couple of drops of food coloring. I did to this batch and you can see the color in the picture below, but normally I don’t add any extra green.

Chocolate Pistachio Kyoshi CakeThe cake is just sweet enough that it doesn’t need a rich frosting. I frosted this with the butter cream frosting typically used to decorate cakes. If I wasn’t decorating it, I probably would have either dusted it with powdered sugar or just used a light chocolate glaze.

The Kyoshi belt in our system is red and white, so I used fondant to create the belt for the cake. I haven’t used fondant much, and could probably have done a better job, but it turned out OK. The more I use it, the more skilled I’ll become. At least that’s the hope!

Don’t wait for a big karate promotion to try this cake. ;-) It’ll quickly become one of your favorites!

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Adapted from Ann Byrn’s The Cake Doctor

Stuff you need:

1 (18.25 ounce) package white or yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package INSTANT pistachio pudding mix
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
A few drops of green food coloring (optional)
Powdered sugar or light chocolate glaze, if desired

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix and sugar.
Add water, oil and eggs and mix well.
Reserve 1 cup batter and pour the rest of it into the prepared pan.
Stir the chocolate syrup into the 1 cup reserved batter.
Pour the chocolate batter over the pistachio batter and use a butter knife to swirl them. Don’t overmix or you will lose the swirly effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

NOTE: If you choose a different pan size / shape, follow the baking directions on the cake mix box. This will make a 9 X 13″, about 2 dozen normal sized muffins, 2 9″ cake layers…basically, whatever the cake mix would make.

I kept seeing this recipe pop up on Pinterest. I like spaghetti squash and I love cheese, so I thought I should try it!

Spaghetti Squash au GratinIf you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, you should. I normally don’t care for squash, but I think it’s mostly a texture thing. I kept hearing spaghetti squash was different. That it was “just like spaghetti” and could be used in recipes in place of spaghetti.

Not wanting to make a whole squash in case I didn’t like it, I saw it on the menu at a restaurant one day. I ordered it, and my friend and I both gave it a try. We were both happy to find we liked it, and it’s now something we both cook in our homes.

Usually I rub the inside with garlic, salt and pepper before baking it and then eat it with just a bit of butter. I didn’t season the squash for this dish because it looked like there were enough seasonings once it was all put together, and I was right.

You can add more or less seasoning to match your tastes and desire for heat. You can also change out the cheeses to use what you like best. I used a sharp white cheddar for flavor and a mild colby jack cheese for melting. If you click on the “dandy dishes” link and read the comments, you’ll see some other ideas from people who’ve tried it.

I wouldn’t say spaghetti squash is the same as eating a noodle. And I wouldn’t say this recipe was just like hash brown casserole that some people said it was. But it’s good in its own way, and I’d make it again. The Pretty One didn’t care for it, but at least he tried it. I shared it with the resident veggie lover on our team at work. She declared it YUMMMYYYYY and said she especially liked the pepperiness of it.

If you’re interested in trying something new, try this. If you’re already a fan of spaghetti squash, try this! I think you’ll enjoy the dish.

Spaghetti Squash au Gratin

Adapted from dandy dishes

Stuff you need:
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese [Use whatever combination of cheeses you like.]
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Now what?
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass dish with 1/4 inch water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, garlic, red pepper or cayenne and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and add to the skillet. Add the sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded cheese, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining shredded cheese and sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake at 375F 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and hot inside.

Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake“What did you bring me?” That’s my son-in-law’s usual greeting for me. The last couple of times I saw him I didn’t have anything for him. My daughter’s no slouch in the kitchen but I like baking for him, so this time I sacrificed my beauty sleep and dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning to bake for him. Seriously – this is a sacrifice. I love my sleep.

If you like glazed donuts or those commercially baked honey buns, you’ll like this. I made these for my friend’s birthday one year. Actually, I made 2 pans to take to work for her birthday – one with nuts and one without. She immediately took a pan to her car so she didn’t have to share!

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey. Cute, isn’t he?

You’ll be pleased with how simple this cake is to put together. The hardest part is putting on the topping – and doing it right. :D  As many times as I’ve made this, for some reason this time I mixed all the topping ingredients together. It made a cinnamon mud and that just didn’t look right, so I went back and read the instructions. Good idea, huh? I had forgotten it was just a matter of drizzling and sprinkling the topping ingredients and then swirling them with a knife.

My only excuse for making it harder than it had to be was that the oven was fired up long before my brain was!

I’m not a donut fan but I really like this cake. It’s good warm, and it’s good after it cools. It holds well due to the sour cream and oil that are added. This also travels well, and would be great for a picnic or BBQ. Enjoy!

Honey Bun Cake

from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn

Stuff you need:

Cake:
1 (18 ounce) package plain yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 – 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon [I use 2 Tablespoons. We like cinnamon!!]
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted [Or be lazy like me and just stir well.]
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
Place cake mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in large mixing bowl.
Blend with electric mixture on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides as needed. The batter should look thick and well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.

Time for the filling!
Drizzle the honey on top of the batter.
Next sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
Using a butter knife, swril through the batter to slightly blend the topping with the batter.
Bake for 38-40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla in small mixing bowl and whisk or stir until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the top of the hot cake in the pan, spreading it to the sides with a spoon.
Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes more, and then serve warm.

Apricot Pecan BarsWow – these are good!

Make a buttery shortbread crust, top it with your favorite jam, crumble some topping and nuts over the jam, and bake until set.

Doesn’t that sound easy? It IS! And the result is AMAZING!!

These have been on my To-Bake list for quite a while, so when I needed a quick Banzai Un-Birthday treat for our Karate Club, I was ready to try them!

The recipe is adapted from the C&H Sugar website. I changed out the jam and the nuts to work with what I had in my pantry. We all really enjoyed the apricot/pecan combination! I’m sure several other combos would be good, too: strawberry/almonds and raspberry/walnut come to mind.

I suggest using real butter for the crust and crumble, because it’ll make a much better shortbread than margarine or shortening. The recipe has a glaze, but it’s really not necessary. I wasn’t going to add it, since my taste-tester and I both thought they were delish without it, but changed my mind and added it before I took the rest of the bars to Karate. Add the glaze or don’t, according to your preference. You’ll like them either way!

Apricot Pecan Bars

Adapted from C&H Sugar’s Glazed Peach Bars

Stuff you’ll need:

Crust and Filling Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened [I highly recommend real butter!]
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup apricot preserves [or peach, raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb...]

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted if you’re not lazy like me (see Quick Tip)

Glaze Ingredients (Optional):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk (or to desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now what?
Crust and Filling Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F; arrange rack to center position.
Beat butter with sugar and flour; press evenly on bottom of lightly greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Don’t bother to clean the bowl; just use it for the topping.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden around edges. Remove from oven. Stir up preserves and pour into center of the crust. Allow to stand 2-3 minutes, then spread preserves evenly over crust with back of large spoon.

Topping Instructions

Combine flour with sugar, butter and almond extract; beat slowly several minutes to blend.
Crumble evenly over top of preserves.
Sprinkle pecans over topping and return pan to oven.
Continue baking 20-25 minutes or until bubbly with golden edges. [I baked mine about 30 minutes until the filling wasn't sloshy.]
Cool thoroughly.

Glaze Instructions (Optional)

Whisk powdered sugar with milk and almond extract until smooth. Drizzle randomly over top of cooled, baked crust/filling/topping mixture. Cut into squares.

Quick Tip(s)
To toast nuts, arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet and “toast” under your oven’s broiler until golden, stirring frequently for even browning.

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