Crunchy Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

So, these bars were supposed to go to campus for some students who have been going above and beyond for us lately, but they didn’t quite turn out.  The taste was all there, but the bars didn’t quite scoop out the way they should.  They were, however, super easy to make and I ended up crunching these up and using them for ice cream topping, so not a total fail.  I’m sure I’ll do a take 2 with this recipe from The Good Neighbor Cookbook at some point in the future!

Crunchy Milk Chocolate Oatemeal Bars.jpg

Crunchy Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

2 c rolled oats
1 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
12 oz milk chocolate, chips or chopped
1/2 c roasted salted almonds, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang along the long sides.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the butter until well-combined.  Press into the prepared pan and bake until bubbly and the edges begin to set, 12 to 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the chcoclate over the oatmeal crust and, using a spatula, smooth it out evenly.  Sprinkle the nuts over teh chcocolate.  Let cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack, then refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

Grabbing both sides of the parchment, lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  Cut into squares.


Black-Bottom Maple Pecan Bars

With Thanksgiving only days away at this point, it’s fun to think about something slightly outside the norm for dessert.  When I made these bars from the Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook, I found them slightly addicting.  Without the complications of a pie and making sure it set, these pecan bars had a rich maple flavor and a bite was satisfying, whereas a full bar was almost too rich.  Yum.  A Thanksgiving dessert where I don’t want to eat the whole thing?  What more could I want?  So, if you realized you don’t want to make a pie for Thanksgiving, check out these bars and put them together today!

Black Bottom Maple Pecan Bars

Black-Bottom Maple-Pecan Bars

Cocoa Crust

1 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c butter, cut into cubes and chilled

Pecan Filling

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 c heavy cream

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8-in square baking pan.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.  Scatter the chilled butter cubes over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Do not overprocess; the dough will look very dry and crumbly.

Press the dough into the prepared pan evenly across the bottom and about 1 in up on the sides; it should be about 1/2 in thick.  Bake until the crust looks dry and slightly puffed, about 15 minutes.

To make the filling: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the pecans and cream, reduce to a simmer, and cook until bubbling and warmed through, about 3 minutes.

When the crust is done, gently press down on any puffed-up areas.  Pour the filling evenly over the crust.  Bake until the filling has thickened and is bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Cut into 9 squares and serve at room temperature.

Maple Mustard Pecans

I was bringing some snacks into work for one of the departmenst that met a goal they’d been working on.  I knew that at least one of the individuals in the department didn’t eat carbs and ate a mostly paleo diet, so when I saw this recipe, I knew it was a great opportunity to make these pecans and make sure that this person also had a snack they could enjoy.  I found this in the Catholic Daughters Cookbook.

Maple Mustard Pecans

Maple Mustard Pecans

2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/8 c maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2 c pecans

Mix together all ingredients except pecans.  Stir in pecans to coat evenly.  Spread on a lightly-buttered baking sheet.  Bake approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring often.  Cool and break apart.

Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix

With the various mixes I’ve been making as of late, this one for a sweet and spicy nut mix that had a little kick to it seemed to be appropriate.  Another Cooking Light recipe from the 2012 cookbook, this mix meets all of the different palate needs — sweet, salty, spicy, and perhaps a little bit savory.

It went great with a few beers with some friends and then having around the office to munch on in between meetings and such.  It’ll definitely be on my list for when a snack is needed.


From Cooking Light 2012

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 cups tiny unsalted pretzels
1 cup crispy rice cereal squares (such as Rice Chex)
2 tablespoons maple syrup


Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine brown sugar, 1 teaspoon thyme, salt, cinnamon, and red pepper in a small bowl.

3. Combine pecans and almonds on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until the nuts begin to brown. Combine the pecan mixture and butter in a medium bowl, stirring until butter melts. Gently stir in pretzels, cereal, and syrup. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over pretzel mixture; toss gently to coat. Spread pretzel mixture in a single layer on jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, stirring once. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Cool completely.

Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries

I always love a brussels sprout.  I don’t think I love any vegetable more than a brussels sprout.  Usually, I go with roasting them, but the Serving Up the Harvest cookbook had a recipe for Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries that I’ve been wanting to try.  This recipe steamed the brussels sprouts instead, and I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting to enjoy it!  This would make an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving or other holidays, but also are a nice addition to the fall.

Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries.jpg

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Chocolate-Pecan Sheet Cake

Today I needed to make a cake for a funeral.  It’s not often that someone my age passes away, but she was clearly a beloved member of the community.  When the call came for salads and desserts from the church, I knew I needed to contribute something.  I looked through a few cookbooks for things with ingredients I had on hand and some ingredients I needed to purchase and came across a recipe for a Chocolate-Pecan Sheet Cake in The Good Neighbor Cookbook.  Since the cookbook is designed to have food for individuals to take to their neighbors, it seemed like the appropriate recipe to take as a comfort food item to the funeral.

chocolate-pecan sheet cake

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