Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the ultimate shortbread crust

While I was looking for the perfect pumpkin bar recipe this week, I surprised myself with a long-sought find: the perfect shortbread crust. My crust had some variations on the original recipe (big surprise!) and I'm sharing them here along with my superfast shortbread method.

After I made these bars and tasted that crust, my mind was adrift with all the yummy things you could put on top of the shortbread layer. Pecan pie, melted chocolate, chocolate and caramel, chocolate and peanut butter, cheesecake. Yum...the possibilities are virtually endless.

My girls and I look forward to developing many shortbread-crusted creations (And yes, the pumpkin bars made a great start. Pumpkin pie on top, shortbread on the bottom, frozen pumpkin from last autumn finally put to good use.)


1/2 cup almond meal (this is something I stock from Trader Joe's and often have on hand, but you could also use coconut flour or mild-tasting finely ground unsalted nuts that you happen to have on hand. I think peanut butter would be a little too strong in taste)

1 cup unbleached flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 stick butter cut into 6 or 7 pieces

1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp molasses (I never have brown sugar on hand so I always add a little molasses to white sugar instead)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract

 Superfast Directions

In your food processor, combine the almond meal, flour, salt & sugar.

Pulse in the butter chunks until the mixture looks like small crumbs.

Add the molasses and vanilla or almond extract and pulse until the mixture starts to cling together like a dough.

Press into a pie pan or a 9 x 9 (give or take) baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to set the crust before adding your topping.

Pumpkin Filling Ingredients
Just in case you're curious what I did for the pumpkin filling, read on!

In my food processor, I combined:
2 cups cooked pumpkin, pureed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cream (I had to use evaporated milk this time)

I topped the lightly baked shortbread crust with this mixture and baked for another 30-40 minutes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

amish leftover oatmeal coffee cake

While I can't attest to whether or not this recipe is actually Amish in origin, I can attest that is darn good and darn useful! My children always leave some of their oatmeal in their bowls when I make it, so I love having a recipe to use up the extra.


2 cups leftover breakfast oatmeal
2/3 cup fruit (apples, raisins, blueberries, blackberries)
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup brown sugar (or use my usual trick - 1 cup white sugar + 1 Tbls. molasses)
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla 


After water has boiled, add the fruit to the water. If using dried fruit, let the fruit sit for 10 minutes. Add the oatmeal to the water and stir until smooth.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Make a small well in the center. Pour in the brown sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and oatmeal/fruit mixture. Mix just until combined.

Pour into a greased and floured 9" x 13" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.