I have a bit of an odd situation.
Since I imagine some of you might be food people, I’m hoping to pick your brain. In return for said brain picking, I’ll offer you a family favourite, something that has morphed from a type-writered page of dog eared community cookbook.
This summer, to keep me busy, Mr. Ginge planted me a garden. Just a little row along the side of the house where I could grow some herbs and a few veggies.
I am a complete gardening newb. Kinda just winging it and hoping to get a successful harvest. I may have, however, underestimated my tomato plant. It’s flipping ginormous, and is covered with little green tomatoes, which are just starting to colour and ripen on the mass of vines. Now that is all fine and dandy, except my little cherry tomatoes are literally exploding. I’ll go to pick on of the vine, only to find it split from top to bottom on the side. I’ll pick another, slightly under-ripe globe, only to look down a moment later to find it burst and juices leaking over my hand.
My tomatoes literally can’t contain themselves. They are the Cadbury cream egg goo of the tomato world.
Is this normal? Is this just an effect of my monstrously huge tomato plant? Or are my tomatoes just too beautiful to live?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Ooey Gooey Bars (a.ka. Seven layer bars *)
makes 1 8×8 pan
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/4 cup graham crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped pecan
- 1pkg chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In the 8×8 pan, mix together the graham crumbs and the butter. When all the crumbs are coated, press them firmly into the bottom of the pan with the back of a spoon.
- Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the base, followed by the chocolate chips then the coconut . Pour over the can of sweetened condensed milk, trying to evenly cover the toppings.
- Bake in the preheat oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the milk is bubbly and golden brown.
- Let set for at least a half an hour, then slice into squares. Understand why they are ooey gooey.
* I lightly adapted these from a coverless blue community cookbook that as been on my Mom’s shelf for as long as I can remember. The best credit I can give is to F. MacPherson.
It has been feeling like fall around here.
I know technically there are still a few days left of summer. But I really think Mother Nature has other ideas. Leaves are changing and falling. The dry heat of the summer has bee replaced with the cool wet that I associate with fall. It feels like fall here.
Which means we’ve been craving fall foods. Come cooler weather, I crave the wonderful aroma of fall spices, cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and cloves. Add a wood burning stove and it smells exactly how Gran’s kitchen would smell this time of year.
So when Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker chose zucchini and brown sugar as ingredients for this month’s Improv Challenge, I knew I wanted to do something with lots of those spices, and full of comfort.
What I came up with were these moist bars, that before they were even gone, my mom and sister were requesting again.
Zucchini Cake Bars
makes 12 bars or 1 8×8 pan, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book
For the Bars:
- 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed dry.
- 1/4 cup cinnamon chips
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
For the Cinnamon Frosting:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2-3 tsp milk to thin as needed
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease and lightly flour an 8×8 in square pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and spices. Set aside for later.
- In a medium sauce pan, melt together the butter, brown sugar and honey. Remove from heat, let cool a little, then beat in the egg and the vanilla.
- Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just to combine. Add the shredded and squeezed dry zucchini, pecans and cinnamon chips.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about then ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, beat together the butter, icing sugar and cinnamon, adding the milk as needed to get the right consistency. Spread the frosting onto the completely cooled bars. Cut into bars and serve.
Don’t forget to check out the other great recipes using zucchini and brown sugar!
I’ve also linked this post to The Weekend Potluck, On the Menu Monday, and Strut Your Stuff Saturdays! Click the links to check out more great recipes!
Enter Exhibit A: The Nanaimo Bar.
The elusive no-bake confection that appears almost universally on dessert trays around the community. Known by it’s distinct brown and yellow striping, it’s easily spotted among the assorted brownies, wafers and marshmallow squares.
That is, until you go to choose your dessert selection, where they appear to have done a vanishing act. Nary a square to be seen among the other treats. The outlook is even worse for those who go for a second helping of the lunch fare. Only crumbs remain beside the date squares and store bought chocolate chip cookies.
For those clever enough to have raided the dessert table before sitting down to your triangle of tuna salad, beware. Guard your nanaimo bar well. One wayward glance or untimely trip to refill your styrofoam cup, and yours too will have disappeared as swiftly as the others, leaving only an errant crumb and a subtle smudge of yellow icing. Trust no one in protection of this rare treat, even those closest to you, as few can resist it’s seductive allure.
And if you, the host, have pre-emptively reserved a few to indulge in later, hide them well in the depths of your refrigerator, as no place is safe from the threat of Nanaimo bar kidnapping.
makes on 8×8 pan, adapted from Mom’s old photocopy, yellowed from age, with a grocery list on the back and no directions.
For the base:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
For the filling
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 tbsp custard powder ( like Birds) or instant vanilla pudding powder
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp milk
For the top
- 3 oz semi sweet chocolate ( or a scant 1/4 cup of chocolate chips if you prefer)
- 1 tsp butter
- Make the base: Line an 8×8 square pan wit wax or parchment paper, making sure to let some hang over the edge. In a large stainless steel or heat proof glass bowl ( or in the top of a double boiler), combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg. Set over some barely simmering water, stirring constantly until the butter has melted and the mixture is thick – about 2 or 3 minutes.
- In another bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Pour the chocolate mixture over top and mix well. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.
- Make the filling: In another bowl, cream together the butter and the custard powder. Gradually add the icing sugar, adding milk as needed until it’s smooth and spreadable. Spread over the bottom layer and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes or until firm.
- Make the topping: In a small saucepan melt together the butter and the chocolate, stirring until completely melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture evenly over the filling, spreading gently with an offset spatula to fill in any gaps or corners. Chill until the chocolate is set but not hard, lift out of the pan and slice into squares. If the chocolate hardens too much, then just let it sit for a few minutes on the counter until it softened then slice. Store any leftovers (well hidden) in the fridge.
Guard them well.
Sometimes I get creative. Throw some ingredients in a bowl and see how they turn out. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not.
Sometimes Mr. Ginge, or my parents ( I bake for them most often) are craving something I have never heard of, let alone know ho to make. Like Queen Elizabeth cake, or Gran’s Chocolate Fudge icing.
So here is the story behind these.
I had asked Dad to start thinking about what kind of treat he would like for Father’s Day. Last year he chose eclairs. The year before that was Banana Cake. While he chose Trifle for this year, these treats came up. Apparently, both my Gran and Grandma used to make them. Fortunately for me, they described them pretty well, and I was able to find a reasonably close recipe here.
Pastry bottom, jam & almondy cake, all topped with icing. Very sweet, but yum.
I won’t lie. It was late, so I cheated and used a store bought crust. I also put 1/2 a tsp of almond extract into the cake layer, just for an extra bit of almond kick.
Apparently they turned out well (they disappeared quickly!), but I already have a few tweaks in mind to make them better!
Tags: almond, bars