Tag Archives: brown sugar

Almond Butter and Apricot Bars

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I got a call from my dad last Tuesday saying my grandma had become unresponsive. The nurse told my dad and his siblings that she would most likely pass in the coming days.  I asked my dad to call me as soon as she passed away. I waited for the call. It was excruciating. By the end of the day Thursday there was still no change. By then, I had become extremely anxious and wasn’t sleeping well. I needed to numb the pain and not deal with my feelings. I didn’t know what else to do with myself, so I started to eat and didn’t stop until Saturday night.  I ate potato chips, ice cream, pizza, chocolate and cookies. I couldn’t shove the food in fast enough to fill the hole.  I hadn’t eaten like that in years. I actually went to bed Saturday night feeling sick. My dad called Sunday morning to tell me that my grandma passed away Saturday night with several of her kids by her bedside. And just like that, the bingeing was over. Now that my grandma was gone, I could let myself feel the pain of losing her. I wanted to go for a run and process my grief while listening to music. It was the most nurturing thing I could think of to do for myself. I blared Beyonce in my earbuds and started to run, all the while thinking about my grandma’s life. It wasn’t an easy one, but I hope that she had true moments of joy and contentment.
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This recipe is an Ina Garten one that I tweaked simply because I had apricot jam in my refrigerator that I wanted to use. I love the combination of almond and apricot, especially when almond extract is involved. Of course, you can easily swap out the almond butter for peanut butter and use strawberry jam in lieu of the apricot jam if you want a straight-up classic combination. But it’s fun to try new flavors, and if you haven’t experienced the almond/apricot pairing, I encourage you to try this. Even if you’re not a seasoned baker, it’s a very approachable recipe.  It also feels a bit autumnal, which is absolutely perfect for this week.

Almond Butter and Apricot Bars
Adapted from Ina Garten

Yield:  24 bars

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups creamy almond butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups apricot jam
2/3 cups almond slivers

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x13x2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla and almond extract, eggs, and almond butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the almond butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
5. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven.
6. Sprinkle with almond slivers and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely, and cut into squares.

 

Blueberry Cobbler w. Cheddar Biscuits

DSC_5067I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog.  I recently started working full-time at a bakery in Manhattan, and I’d forgotten how mentally draining it feels after a busy day at work.  I interact with people all day long, and it is becoming increasingly hectic as we move into our busy season.   I am really enjoying it there, and frankly I’m grateful to have a full-time job in this economy.  But it’s been tricky trying to balance self-care with working full-time again.  I need to get better at learning how to schedule my time.  I think some people call that time management.  I’ve only gone to yoga a few times this month, and recent weekends have consisted mainly of basic requirements i.e. buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning, etc.  The older I get, the more I realize that perhaps I just need to accept the fact that I am the type of person who needs to keep constant lists so as not to forget what it is I need to do and/or want to do in the future.  Oh right!  I enjoy going to movies during the week!  It takes me out of my head, and sometimes even makes me feel things. 

My husband made fun of me the other night.  I was telling him that I felt guilty for bailing on next month’s book for my book club.  “I REALLY don’t like it”, I whined.  “And there are just SO MANY books on my reading list that I can’t be bothered to finish a book if it doesn’t grab me right away.”  He smiled and responded with, “Wow, sounds like you’re grappling with a big problem there.”  And that is why I love him.  He has a way of finding humor in almost anything.  If feeling guilty about not finishing a book is my biggest problem right now, I guess I’m doing ok in the self-care department.  Until I discover a movie that I can’t get through…oh god.
DSC_5054I made this Blueberry Cobbler w/ Cheddar Biscuits recipe at the peak of summer when blueberries were in the ether in this part of the country.  I was craving a baked fruit dessert and this looked tantalizing.  It fell a bit flat and I’m not sure why.  It was neither overly sweet nor too heavy.  It was just kind of bland.  I think I would make it again with a tad more sugar and cinnamon.  That said, you better believe I scraped the blueberries off the biscuits and ate them with homemade granola for added sweetness and crunch.  I couldn’t let the ENTIRE dessert go to waste.
DSC_5056Blueberry Cobbler w/ Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from How Sweet It is

3 cups blueberries
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

cheddar biscuit topping
2/3 cup all-purpose flour2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
7-8 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a bowl, toss the blueberries with the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon and add them to a 6 or 8-inch oven-safe skillet.
3.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
4.  Add in the butter and mix with a fork, pastry blender or your fingers until the butter is in crumbs and pieces.
5.  Fold in the grated cheese, then stir in the milk and vanilla extract until a dough has come together but is just combined.
6.  Spoon the dough on top of the blueberries.
7.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is set and the blueberries are juicy and bursting.