Apricot (or your favorite flavor) Almond Streusel Bars

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Apricot Almond Streusel Bars

Apricot Almond Streusel Bars

I can just see some of you out there rolling your eyes, saying, “My God, woman, enough with the streusel! How many streusel baked goods can you post!?” To which I say, in response, “All of them”. I ๐Ÿ˜€ like me some streusel , what can I say? Streusel makes me happy. it also makes me have to sweep off the bed when I decide to try and eat a slice of this while laying in bed reading “The Clan Of The Cave Bear”. But I think Ayla would have liked streusel. Heck, if those books are any indication, Ayla was the one to discover streusel. Lord knows she and her “mate”, Jondolar, discovered everything else we have nowadays, from the bow and arrow to nuclear weapons and modern plane travel. I think they were also the first ones to bake twinkies :-p

Well now… that was a random tangent, even for me. But so long as I’m on it…. I just finished rereading that book. I read it back in the day when it came out and probably about 4 or five times since.ย  While portions of that book are rather ridiculous and tedious, Jean Auel did have one hell of a knack for describing food. The woman had me wanting Mammoth pot roast (I swear, every time I read that book, I start craving a juicy tender pot roast) and planning on hunting down acorns in the hopes that I could “leech the bitterness out of them”. And I STILL want to try the one flatcake she mentioned that was soaked in maple syrup, then dried in the sun.

But, until I come across a live mammoth or have time to pound and dry a butt ton of acorns, I will stick to streusel. Streusel for the win! Especially when they are layered with apricot preserves and chocolate chips. I love chocolate covered apricots but can never figure out whether to eat the white chocolate covered ones or the dark chocolate ones, so in these bars, I just used both. These are a simple bar… both to make and in their hominess. They are a perfect snack (just stay out of bed with them), good school or after school snack and great for a family dessert or a pot luck. Crispy, fruity, chocolatey… what more do you need?

(Originally from Better Baking)

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Mrs. Cupcake… who needs to go vacuum the bed again

Apricot Almond Streusel Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups apricot preserves (use your favorite flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cups white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil; butter or spray the foil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, oats, almonds, both kinds of sugar, baking powder,ย  and salt.
  3. Use a pastry blender or your fingers (I usually start out with the pastry blender to cut the large pieces down, then use my hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients) to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You want to get it to about the size of peas and nice and crumbly looking.
  4. Take outย  1 1/2 cups of the streusel and set it aside. Pour the rest into the prepared pan and pat it firmly down into the bottom of the pan for the crust.
  5. Combine the preserves with the extracts; stir well. Spoon this over the crust; spread to the edges. Top with the two types of chips, then sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top.
  6. Bake at 350 until the top is golden brown and you can see the preserves bubbling at the sides of the pan, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack until completely cool, then use the foil to help lift the bars out of the pan. Slice into desired sized squares, remembering that these are fairly sweet, so make them somewhat small.

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Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries


I remember how back when I was a kid, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and we wore Saber Tooth Tiger skins for clothing,ย  some years at Christmas time, my mom would get a fruit tray to set out. She also got a bag of shell on mixed nuts every year that we loved but that’s neither here nor there other than a memory I have. As for the fruit tray, you know the kind I mean; all neatly set up, with dried peaches, pears, apricots, prunes and dates on it. In our household, the peaches and apricots would get eaten first and the prunes would sit there until we kids got desperate. I actually like prunes sometimes now but I still prefer the apricots.

When I got older, I got into the whole cover perfectly good and nutritious fruit with chocolate thing. Easy enough; take a nice piece of fruit, fresh or dried and dip it into chocolate and cover up any nutritional value it ever had. What’s wrong with that, right? ๐Ÿ˜€ My favorite was of course to take a dried apricot and cover it in either semi sweet or white chocolate. The chewy tangy fruit mixed with the sweet chocolate… pure Heaven. So when my friend Jenni over at Pastry Chef Online came up with an utterly delicious Apricot Swirl Brownie, it got me craving that fruit/chocolate combo again.

So what did I do? It isn’t entirely original because I have seen cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate in them before but I combined two of my favorite fruit flavors (in the Summer, I am constantly eating sliced fresh apricots and fresh blueberries with a little sugar and cream) in a cookie with both white and dark chocolate. I love the way this turned out; fairly reminiscent of those chocolate covered fruits I love. The soft sweet cookie, tangy fruits and bites of chocolate just go together so well! These are extremely easy to make so….

You know the drill….

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 6 ounce package dried apricots
  • 1 6 ounce package dried blueberries
  • 1 cup good quality white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup good quality bittersweet or dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli makes a good 60% dark chocolate chip; not too sweet or too bitter)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. ย Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the dried fruit into a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain well. Lay the berries in a paper towel and gently blot dry. Blot dry the apricots and chop into small bite sized pieces.ย  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugars, and extracts. Beat well, until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix, then add to the butter mixture all at once. Beat at low speed until fully combined. Alternately, you can use a heavy wooden spoon to mix.
  4. Add in the white and dark chips; stir well. Add the apricots; stir well. Last, gently add the blueberries, being careful to not break them up more than can be avoided.
  5. Roll golf ball sized pieces of dough in your palms to get them rounded, then lay about 3 inches apart on large ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and the cookies look just set in the middle. They will firm up as they cool. If you prefer a crisper cookie, let cook for maybe an extra 2 minutes, until the top is golden brown and looks dry.
  7. Let sit on the pans for two minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
  8. I got 27 good sized cookies from this. You could make them smaller but make sure to adjust your cooking time.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

 

A Blogger By Any Other Name…

…is NOT a good thing. The other day I went to a blog I go to frequently. I loved what I saw, made a comment and realized a few hours later when it popped into my mind, that I had called the lovely lady, a blogger I know (know as in blogs) by the wrong name. Needless to say, when I went back and looked, the comment I had made had NOT been approved. Lol… this aging thing sucks. In my defense I had been to about 40 gazillion blogs that day (t’was before I got sick and kind of disappeared), reading and buzzing and commenting and at that point, I’m surprised I remembered my own name, much less that of anyone else.

Anyone else find things like that happening as you age? And by as you age, I mean anyone over 25 hehe because God help me, I remember it happening back then too. I blame my kids. The memory loss and the fact that I haven’t had a full nights sleep or hot meal since 1985 are all the fault of my kids ๐Ÿ˜› I’ve found though that It really does get worse as you get older. I can think to myself, while sitting here at the computer, “Oh, I need to look up such and such” and literally by the time I get Google pulled up to do a search, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to look up. Talk about wanting to slam my head into my desk! I frequently decide I’m just gonna give up trying to remember things and go adopt 36 cats, buy a pair of glasses that hangs by a string around my neck (though I just know I’ll still forget where they are), a case of Geritol and call myself the Crazy Old Cat Lady. It suits me… the crazy part anyway. Right now we only have 4 cats so that isn’t enough to qualify me. At least I think we have four cats. I can’t remember. Continue reading

Drunk Fruits (*Hicccc…cuppppp*)

I was playing with the editing setting and liked the glowing look here. It fits for drunk fruit ๐Ÿ˜€

I like drunk fruits. I like the way they giggle and the way they look at their hands like they have just discovered the most amazing thing since sliced bread (especially since it would be hard to slice said bread w/out the hands). I like the way their cheeks get all red and glowy looking when they have become drunk fruit. I like the way they lose all inhibitions and start talking a mile a minute and are no longer timid and shy.

Wait. Fruits don’t have hands do they? And they can’t slice bread. Nor do they giggle and I’m pretty sure that they have no inhibitions to lose. Sigh. I think…maybe…possibly that what I was describing is what happens when I get a hold of fruits that have been made drunk, i.e., shoved into a bottle of alcohol and left to get pickled… sloshed, tipsy…. totally and completely wasted.

But wouldn’t it be awesomeย  if fruit could do all of those things?! It would probably be far more entertaining to watch a giggling talkative Apricot than it is when I am the one talking a mile a minute with red cheeks and looking at my hands like they are doing things that a disco ball can only dream of.

So in honor of drunk fruits…or a tipsy me; pick whichever makes you giggle more, I am sharing a recipe for a drunken Apricot. Many many of them as a matter of fact. And these little boogers appreciate it because they start out all dried and shriveled and end up looking like Meg Ryan after more collagen injections (can anyone please explain to me why she did that btw? ICK! She was cute before but now my apricots look better!).

I originally got this recipe off of food.com but have changed it quite a bit over the years. The bottle I have right now (it’s not the first I’ve made) is now over 2 years old and as smooth as a babies bottom. Ok, maybe equating the booze I’m trying to get you to drink with a baby tush isn’t the greatest analogy but you know what I mean ๐Ÿ˜€ Give this a try. the longer it sits, the smoother it gets. Just don’t be fooled; this packs a punch. The sweet mild taste can be deceiving. Believe me… I know. ๐Ÿ˜›

Apricot Liqueur

  • 4 cups decent quality vodka
  • 1 cup sugar
  • rind from one small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces dried apricots
  1. Mix the sugar with 1/4 cup hot water to dissolve it somewhat.
  2. In a large scrupulously clean bottle (I have used bottles I have found at yard sales, a large glass crock and what actually worked best was an empty gallon wine glass wine jug.), mix together all of your ingredients. Shake well and then cap or put lid on if using a crock.
  3. Store in a dark cool place for at least one week. Remember, the flavor will get more intense and the alcohol bite smoother the longer it sits so if you’d like to make this as say, gifts for Christmas, I’d say to start now to give it time to pick up flavors.
  4. You can strain this through cheesecloth if the little tiny bits of fruit in it annoy you aesthetically but to be honest, I’ve never bothered. There isn’t actual fruit in it and there is not even to notice. You can only see it in bright light like what these photos were taken in.
  5. Serve in SMALL glasses (lol) or use in baking. It goes wonderfully in an apricot pound cake.

Momma Hands

When I was younger I hated my hands. I would look at the hands of other women and then compare them to my own. Theirs would be slender and dainty with nicely shaped nails that were usually painted a beautiful color. Mine however were big and squarish with long fingers and I rarely painted my nails because I could almost never get my nails long enough to paint. Even when I tried it didn’t work because my big bulky somewhat clutzy fingers would have me end up with more polish on my fingers than on my nails. And as I got even older and had more kids and the life that goes with that, things like wanting nice nails had to be put aside. My hands were, in my mind, just tools and not very pretty ones either. My only pride was that they were soft and smooth and I never got age spots and all the rest of the signs of getting older that tend to show on a womans hands.

But as I’ve aged (I’m an ancient 46 now ๐Ÿ˜› ), I’ve realized that my hands were never just tools; they were instruments. One day, they would be the sound of a flute as I would tickle my children and make them laugh. At other times, they would be the discordant but necessary bang of an out of tune piano when I had to deliver a spanking. Then later, they would be the whisper of a harp as I used them to brush back the hair of a sleeping child. Over time, my hands have played a symphony of different instruments. They have seen a life that while rarely easy and sometimes harsh, was one that has been useful, has maybe made some difference.

I looked at my hands yesterday and saw age. They are still soft, but the smoothness is giving way to the ravages of time as my skin thins. I see wrinkles and I still see nails that rarely look feminine, rarely look pretty. But I also saw so much more. I saw hands that were used inย  raising three children to adulthood and happy independent lives and are still being used to take care of three that aren’t grown yet.ย  I saw hands that have tenderly and gently held the heads of so many tiny babies in them, that have stroked the faces of crying toddlers, have held the hand of angry young adults and have now begun the same cycle with my grandchildren. I saw hands that have been used to knead pain out of my husbands shoulders; something I couldn’t do as well with tiny dainty hands and short fingers. I saw hands that have held his face between them when he was in pain and comforted him with my touch. These hands of mine are so much more than just utilitarian. They are instruments given to me and yes they are also tools but tools that have done so much. These hands have been used in love and in anger, to give pleasure and to, unfortunately, at times, to give a miniscule measure of pain meant to help someone grow. They have been mistreated and not well cared for and have begun to get knobby looking at the knuckles as arthritis begins to ravage them, but they have always served me well. I use them every day to create food that gives my family nourishment and joy, to take care of four human beings that depend on me. They bathe a toddler, they hug two teenagers, they love a husband. They hold a phone while I talk to my other children who live far away now and they cuddle grandchildren. I see now that I have momma hands and that, because of that, they are indeed…beautiful.

 

 

Honey & Spice Blueberry Apricot Jam

This is a sweet yet tart jam that combines the flavors of the two fruits wonderfully. The predominant flavor is Blueberry and then you get the subtle taste of Apricots, honey and spice. I was loved how this turned out. It’s a small batch, only three half pints because when I’m making new jams, I prefer to start small just in case. But this could be easily doubled or tripled. Just expect a longer cooking time. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to try to teach full out canning techniques. There are web sites that can do that much better than I and here is one of the best of them.

Here is a good link to learn proper canning techniques. ๐Ÿ™‚

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html

  • 1 lb fresh apricots, finely chopped (See step two)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, crushed
  • 1 cup good quality honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Wash and sterilize 3 half pint canning jars. Keep ready in hot water while preparing the jam.
  2. For the apricots and blueberries- you can use a food processor to do the chopping, but don’t puree this. You want to leave some small bits and pieces.ย  Just do a couple of short pulses.
  3. Combine the fruits, honey, sugar and spices in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the jam until it has thickened, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. Ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims of your jars well with a clean, hot damp washcloth. As I have said before, when it comes to canning, you HAVE to have everything scrupulously clean to prevent bacteria and germs from growing when the jars are stored.
  6. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Removed from canner (or plain old large pot in my case ๐Ÿ˜› )and let sit until cool. Wipe down jars, label, then store in a cool dark place.

Momma Hands

 

 

This Is Not Your Grandmas Bread Pudding

 

I have had a love/hate relationship with bread pudding for years now. I used to think I hated it because the ones I had tried were dry nasty overly sweet things with hardened raisins. But something about the idea of bread pudding continued to appeal to me so I kept looking for a good one. When I worked at a hotel many moons ago, the restaurant there had an awesome one. It was the stereotypical raisin filled kind but it was moist and not too sweet and smothered in a creamy caramel sauce. Eating that one over a decade ago sent me on a quest for good bread puddings.

For a while they were the “it” dessert. Not so much anymore. They were pushed out by cupcakes and now by the current trend, Macarons.But I still like creating new flavors every now and then. I had planned on making a white chocolate/cherry bread pudding until I realized that the 2 cans of cherries I was going to use expired in 2009. Erhmmmm… I might wanna check those things more often huh? So I decided on White Chocolate/ Apricot. This is moist, very rich and the Apricots, white chocolate and hint of Cinnamon go together very well. Warning- this is NOT cheap to make but on the up side, it is also easily cut in half if, unlike me, you’re not feeding teenage boys and one grown man (I don’t count my toddler since I am still mean to him about his intake of sweets :-P). You can serve this with or without the caramel sauce; it’s pretty darn tasty either way if I do say so myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, this gives the words “this is not diet food” a new meaning.

White Chocolate & Apricot Bread Pudding

  1. 1 1/2 1lb loaves Kings Hawaiian bread, bottom crust cut off and discarded (or eaten ๐Ÿ˜€ ) and the bread cubed
  2. 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  3. 1 cup milk
  4. 5 large eggs
  5. 1 lb white chocolate
  6. 1/2 cup sugar
  7. 2 15 oz cans Apricots in heavy syrup, drained (but reserve 1/2 cup of the juice)
  8. 1/2 cup Apricot Preserves
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  11. 2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Caramel Sauce

  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a medium bowl, mix your white chocolate and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Microwave on high in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the five eggs. Add the remaining cream and one cup milk; beat until well mixed. Mix in the vanilla & almond extracts,ย  1/4 cup sugar, reserved syrup from the apricots, the apricots, the preserves, the cinnamon and the white chocolate mixture.
  • Take your cubed bread and add it a handful at a time to the custard mixture, pushing down each handful into the custard before adding the next. When you have it all in there, make sure all the bread is covered and let it sit for an hour or so. This gives the bread time to soak up the custard, which makes a moister pudding.
  • While it soaks, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F
  • When ready, put the pudding mix into a well buttered 3 quart casserole dish (I use a rectangular pyrex; seems to cook it best) and cook until firm and golden brown about 70 minutes. You want to be able to stick a knife in the middle and not come out with liquid on it.

For the caramel sauce (If using)-

  1. Melt your butter in a small saucepan
  2. Add the brown sugar and stir until it’s blended.
  3. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla and stir until well combined.
  4. Eat straight from the spoon or actually use it on the bread pudding. Your choice. ๐Ÿ˜€