Pineapple Chocolate Bars

This week our students are all returning to campus and on Monday we will start classes.  You read that right.  We start classes on Labor Day.  Not the day after.  In fact, this is the second campus on which I’ve worked where classes have been regularly held on this particular holiday.  I admit, though, that I have been anticipating the return of students since the start of August.  Actually, since the last week of July.  I had a friend over that week who mentioned casually that it seemed as though I was awake later than normal, and when I talked through why that might be, the only logical conclusion was that the start of the academic year was upon us and my mind has started to be thinking, thinking, thinking.

The other reality of this is that I have not slept well since the end of the academic year when a series of events transpired that led me to visit campus in the middle of the night on more than one occasion.  I found myself driving through campus between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. each day.  I am hopeful we can enter into this year with a refreshed point of view, and am doing what I can to help create some community on-campus.

In early August, our campus participated in Iowa Private College Week, a week when students can travel to various private colleges in Iowa, where each campus holds open houses each morning AND afternoon.  This means that staff, faculty, and alums of campus, have put in long hours of presentations and helping students to know why they should choose our campus.  Which they should.  But, that’s for another time.  I love seeing our folks share great messages with students during this time to highlight how the campus might be a good fit for them.  Ultimately, while I want us to make our class and do all the things that from the business side are important, I also really want us to admit and bring in students who can be successful and thrive.

To thank our staff for their hard work during this week, I decided to bring in some treats to our Admissions staff, reminding them how much we appreciate their work.  I took a look through some cookbooks and came across this intriguing recipe for Pineapple Chocolate Bars in the Catholic Daughters Cookbook.  I’ve been not having dessert, as I recently mentioned, but the folks who ate these indicated they tasted yummy!

Chocolate Pineapple Bars

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Cucumber Cashew Salad

I’m in the midst of planning a great backyard overhaul.  When I say that I’m “in the midst of planning” I really mean that on my list of things to do when I win the lottery has been an item that says, “fix the landscaping.”  But, as I had my first year of really trying to do some gardening, I find myself thinking about where in my yard has the best lighting, and what I can do to improve this.  I think it’s going to mean trading out my garden space for where the hostas are currently located.  But, this will be a good thing as well.

In the meantime, my garden is producing lots and lots of cucumbers.  So I have been looking at recipes that incorporate the cucumber into my meal in interesting ways.  This recipe for Cucumber-Cashew Salad from the Serving Up the Harvest cookbook was just that.  After grabbing three cucumbers fresh off the vine in my backyard, I mowed the lawn, spent an hour weeding some of the garden beds and then was looking for a refreshing evening meal.  In my assorted randomness of items to eat, I ate some cantaloupe, hard-boiled eggs, and paired it with this crisp and refreshing salad, which added a touch of exciting flavor to my meal!

Cucumber Cashew Salad.jpg

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Bars

When I was home visiting the family earlier this month, my mom shared these super rich peanut butter cheesecake brownie bars.  As a non-coffee drinker, I found myself cutting the sweetness with a diet coke.  I think that was last dessert I’ve eaten and the last diet coke I drank.  I’ve been on a bit of a detox as we enter into the academic year since the week of desserts, where we were eating all the desserts left and right.

As a last dessert, this one served me pretty well.  I don’t know that I’ve eaten something this rich in a long time.  And all the sugar.  Really, everyone should have these at least once in their life, but that might be the only time someone decides to eat them.  So, the next time you’re looking for something that is over-the-top delicious, you should consider making these.

My mom originally printed the recipe from the A Savory Feast blog.  They look even more scrumptious on their web site.  Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Bars.jpg

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Cinnamon Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

When I was back in Minnesota earlier this month, we ate dessert, drank whiskey, and celebrated togetherness.  My mom made a couple of great desserts that were worth taking note.  So, while I can’t provide any step-by-step instructions on what she put together, these recipes were definitely worth noting.

The first recipe I’ll note is for Cinnamon Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.Cinnamon Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.jpg

Cinnamon Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

3 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c applesauce
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 c shredded zucchini


1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/4 c butter, softened
3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 9x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, sugars, and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Fold in zucchini.  Pour batter into a prepared 9×13 pan.

Bake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake cools, mix together frosting ingredients and spread onto the cake.

Taco Pasta Salad

A few weeks ago the family joined together because my sister and her family were visiting from Ohio.  It was the oldest nephew’s birthday — he turned 5 years old — and he picked the menu for much of the weekend.

One of the items we ate was from my mom’s recipe collection.  I didn’t quite get where the recipe came from, but it was this great Taco Pasta Salad.  The recipe seems great for a potluck, picnic, or as a side during these hot summer months.

Taco Pasta Salad.jpg

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Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust

My birthday buddy came to visit a few weeks ago with his partner.  We got together with my roommate-status friend here in Iowa and after dinner, I invited the crew back to my place for a little dessert.

You may have noticed a trend of berries and/or cornmeal-related item lately.  Berries have been on sale like crazy and after making the biscuits I mentioned in a post a week or so ago, I couldn’t help but look for some more of these recipes which put berries and cornmeal together.

I had never made a galette before.  But, I had eaten one over the holidays at a gathering I was invited to following my dissertation defense.  I figured it was time I put one together.  This recipe came from Cooking Light.  I’m sure it’s in an annual cookbook, but I found it on their web site and recommend you consider making it as well.

Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust

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