Baked Vanilla Berry Oatmeal

Nothing is more comforting on a crisp autumn morning that a bowl of warm, homemade oatmeal. Driscoll’s Berries asked me to participate in their Berries & Oats celebration this month, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share this recipe that has been a favorite in our home for a couple years now!

It’s filling and delicious, not to mention super easy to throw together. The warm flavors of vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon are combined with oats, milk and cream to form the base of this breakfast – then the additions are pretty much left to your creativity…

I like to add some nuts for a little crunch, and usually I’ll throw some fresh berries into the mix. I love the burst of freshness and color that they lend. But, other additions like apples or peaches are great too. I think it’s fun to create seasonal twists, and this recipe makes it so easy!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. After our trip to the mountains last weekend, I’ve got some work in the kitchen with apples on my agenda for the weekend. Boiled cider and apple cider caramels are on the to-do list.

It’s also Homecoming in our small town tonight, our football team is undefeated this year! So, we’re walking down the street to the parade, then heading to the game tonight to cheer the team on. I think the boys will really enjoy themselves. Go Chincoteague Ponies! We’re so lucky to call this little island home. 

Source: adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson via Annie’s Eats

Apple Pie Bars

So, there’s this apple tree in the front yard of the new house. Well, it’s really more like it’s in the backyard of the commercial property in front of us that a dog groomer rents…but no one else wants them, so they’re as good as mine!  It’s a huge Granny Smith tree, and it produced a hefty harvest of baseball-sized apples this Fall. The boys have been having such fun plucking apples off the tree to enjoy.

They’ve got unbeatable flavor too – tart and fruity, but much sweeter than the traditional Granny Smith you pick up in the supermarket. Almost pear-like qualities in the flavor. They are out of this world good, just simply enjoyed alone. But you know I couldn’t resist wrapping them up in some form of dough and baking!

So without further adieu, I give you these apple pie bars. It’s pretty much an apple pie, in a much more portable format. Basic pie dough is rolled out into a rectangle, filled with peeled apples that have been flavored with brown sugar and cinnamon, then topped with another rectangle of pie dough and baked. After cooling they’re sliced into perfect squares and drizzled with a simple vanilla glaze. Perfect for a tailgating treat!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! My BFF and I are heading to the mountains (we’re 6-inches above sea level here, my ears are already popping!) this afternoon to visit Thurmont, MD and the Catoctin Colorfest tomorrow. I used to go all the time as a little girl, and we went last year – so it’s kind of a reinstated tradition for me. Tons of craft vendors, local churches with their kitchens set up selling various regional foods, apple orchards and fresh pressed cider. It’s alot of fun, and it’s going to be great to have some girl time. Although, I’m worried about missing my boys! Isn’t it funny how we look forward to getting away – then when we do, we can’t wait to get back? Heh. Wish me luck, guys!

Apple Pie Bars

2 9-inch pie dough rounds (click for recipe)
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 lbs Granny Smith apples (about 4 medium)
1 lb Honeycrisp apples (about 2 medium)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg white
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp half and half or milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Peel, core and dice apples into thin and small pieces. Place diced apples in a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla and toss apples to evenly coat. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, granulated sugar, light-brown sugar, 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour flour mixture over apple mixture and toss to evenly coat, set aside.

To assemble, roll one portion of your dough into a 13×9 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Lift rolled dough into an ungreased 13×9 inch baking dish. Toss apple mixture once more and pour into baking dish over pie crust. Roll remaining dough into another 13×9-inch rectangle and place rolled dough over apples, pinching the seam together with the bottom piece of dough.

In a small mixing bowl whisk egg white, and brush over top pie crust evenly. In a separate small mixing bowl whisk together 1 Tbsp sugar with 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over top pie crust.

Bake in preheated oven around 50-60 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 1 hour before cutting.

To make the glaze combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the bars with a spoon.

Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Source: adapted from Cooking Classy

threecheesemacaroniandcheese

Is there anything more comforting than a tray of homemade macaroni & cheese? I can’t believe that up to a few years ago, I was still cracking open one of those blue boxes for my mac & cheese fix. But once I learned how easy it was to make at home, I haven’t looked back.

A quick sauce is made up of butter, flour, and milk. Then once it’s thickened, I’ll add close to a metric ton of shredded cheese. I like to shred my own – the stuff that’s pre-shredded from the store has anti-clumping agents, which doesn’t lead to the same melty, gooey consistency that the blocked cheese will give you.

I used yellow sharp cheddar (for a nice bite), Gruyere (for a mellow sweetness), and Parmesan (for a salty kick). They all blend together so beautifully in the sauce to create a symphony of cheesiness. But, feel free to experiment with whatever you like! This sauce is just a blank canvas for whatever cheesy goodness you can dream up. Enjoy!

Caramel Pumpkin BlondiesWell, it’s official. Fall is finally here. So, in true food blogger fashion I wanted to celebrate by sharing my first pumpkin recipe with you guys for the year! I came across these Caramel Pumpkin Blondies on Pinterest a couple weeks ago, and pretty much had to have them going into my mouth immediately once I saw them.

A basic blondie batter is loaded with pumpkin puree, then studded with white chocolate, dark chocolate, and toffee pieces. Then a swirl of caramel sauce is layered into the blondies before being baked to perfection.

They turned out a little fluffier and more cake-like than most blondies I’ve had, but I think I liked it better. Dense and moist, yet light and fluffy too – this cake has all the flavors of fall that I adore. Cinnamon, pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg, caramel…what’s not to love?

Do yourself a favor and make these soon. I can’t think of a more perfect way to welcome autumn into our kitchens!

Source: adapted from Taste and Tell