COLLABORATION, INSPIRATION, & FRIENDSHIP

This past weekend my friend Christine came over for an afternoon of chatting, dreaming and creating. I first met Christine (who most people lovingly refer to simply as “Perez”) through my PIC CJ. CJ’s day job is as a CrossFit coach and personal trainer. His journey with Perez began as a fellow athlete, then as her coach and now additionally as a friend. Eventually they started to spend more time together outside of box, grabbing coffee at the coffeeshop I work at. And, so I got to spend more time with this delightful human.

Christine runs a blog called PaleoishPerez.com and if you don’t know about it, you should definitely get it and her on your radar. This lady is awesome. She is so kind, smart and fun and you just wanna chat chat chat the more you are around her. Her energy is instantly warm and welcoming, and isn’t that what we all want from someone who is our friend and a foodie?!?!

We talked all about our mutual wants to demystify cooking and baking. To make this fun and accessible for anyone who wants to do it. We discussed our like-minded thoughts about starting our own business’ that were community and collaborative based. We discussed our journeys to this point and certain experiences, which helped us to embrace this present so strongly. And we baked! Pretty much a perfect Sunday afternoon!

This little bar is a collaborative, creative, and kinda spur of the moment creation. I had some idea about where I was going with this, but no idea how it would all turn out. And like everything I bake, I will probably do some more experimentation and playing with the recipe. But I whole-heartedly believe that any endeavor embarked upon in the spirit of fun and collective enjoyment should be shared. And this bar is quite delightful as is, so perhaps no tweaking is really necessary!

Just a side note…if strawberry-rhubarb jam is not your jam…don’t worry! Sub in a jam you love! Blueberry, Fig, Apricot, and play around with the spice combos. Baking is fun and should be individually inspiring. So go wild! Create! Don’t be afraid to see what happens. You could surprise yourself!

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 STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COOKIE BAR

Approx. 12-18 servings

For the Cookie Layer:

1 Cup Earth Balance (or butter)

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 Tsp. Butterscotch Extract

2 Large Eggs

2 ½ Cups Gluten Free Flour (see earlier post)

2 ¾ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Salt

For the Jam Layer:

1 20oz Jar of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

For the Crumb Topping:

¼ Cup Gluten Free Flour

¾ Cup Nut Flour (almond, coconut, or a blend will work ~ if you don’t have or like nut flour simply use 1 total Cup of Gluten Free Flour)

½ Cup Earth Balance (or butter)

½ Cup Coconut Sugar

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1Tsp. Almond Extract

1 ½ Tsp. Ground Ginger

For the Drizzle:

¼ Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tblsp. Cashew Milk (or any kind of milk)

¼ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

¾ Tsp Almond Extract

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 pan with shortening or butter or Earth Balance.

To make the cookie layer, in a medium-size mixing bowl combine the Flour, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, and Salt. Set aside.

Cream together the Earth Balance, Coconut Sugar, Vanilla extract, and Butterscotch extract in your stand mixer, a hand mixer or by hand.

Once combined and slightly fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure to blend completely before adding the next egg.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Pour the mixture evenly into the pan.

Scoop the jam onto the mixture and gently cover the entire top.

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To make the crumb topping, in a medium-size mixing bowl combine all the ingredients. Using either a pastry cutter (see last week’s post), two knives or your hands to mix all the ingredients. The topping should be slightly wet and sandy once combined.

Crumble on top of the jam layer.

Bake for 30 mins.

Once removed, the bars will look undercooked and wobbly.

This is ok!

Allow the pan to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled to room temperature, put in fridge for at least an hour.

While the bars are in the fridge, make the drizzle by combining the Powdered Sugar, Milk, Vanilla extract and Almond extract. The result should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, add a little more Powdered Sugar. If too thick, add a touch more milk.

Once the bars are cool, drizzle the mixture on in any pattern your heart desires!

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THIS TIME OF YEAR…

Perhaps it was Better Than Ezra who said it best…

“You can feel it in the air
Feelin’ right this time of year
Well there’s a feelin’ in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon
Yeah you can go there if you want”

There is nothing quite like that song or the beginning of Fall. They both come into my life quiet and unassuming and then BLAM…I am in love.

I love the first time you open the windows wide and that cool air rushes in, when you put your well worn favorite sweater on in the morning to enjoy your coffee and a book, and when the skies elicit a glow that is magical and welcoming with its warmth.

This time of year I want to snuggle on the couch and watch “The Goonies”, drink Ho-Cho on a brisk walk, throw a football around and dream of wide open spaces filled with trees golden, red and burnt sienna.

And ohh, what a time for baking! Apples, berries, pears, cinnamon, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chocolate, pecans, maple syrup, and more…oh my!!

My mom used to make blueberry peach cobbler for us as kids. It was blueberry muffin mix topped with blueberries, peaches and an amazing homemade cinnamon sugar crumble. Now some may say that this is not true cobbler or scoff at using boxed mix, well I counter that all baking no matter the substance or name, is connected with a common theme: LOVE. Everything my mom made us was with love and warmth. She wanted to feed her family. She wanted to make memories. And she succeeded in both. It was such a special treat; cobbler days were always the best days.

With that delight in mind, I wanted my first fall treat to be pay homage to those special mornings. Berries, peaches, buttery cinnamon sugar goodness (which, let’s not lie about it, is basically my favorite part of this whole thing and my mom’s original!). And the chance to use my favorite tool – a pastry blender. fullsizerender-3

Now we didn’t have this when I was growing up. My mom delicately cut the butter into the flour, cinnamon and sugar using two knives. I thought it was MAGIC! Then when I was old enough, I indelicately cut the butter in using the same method. Because I am nothing if not a whirling dervish in both my kitchen and in my life! However, last year my mother bought me this pastry cutter for Christmas. And let me tell you, it has changed my life! So easy, so fun to use, and it makes the process of cutting in butter to anything life changing. Plus it is inexpensive! Which is always a bonus in my world!

So I you are a fan of fall, warmth, berries and buttery cinnamon goodness this recipe is for you!

 

PEACH BERRY CRUMBLE

Makes approx. 8 cups

4 Cups frozen/fresh mixed berries (or any berries you prefer)

1 ½ Cup Sliced Peaches (canned or fresh)

1 1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar, divided

¼ Cup Gluten Free Cornstarch

3 ½ Tsp. Cinnamon, divided

½ Cup Earth Balance (or butter or margarine)

1 Cup Gluten Free Rolled Oats (not quick cooking oats)

¾ Cup Gluten Free Flour (see previous post)

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease, with butter or shortening, an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish or round ceramic dish:

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Like this one which is 2 ½ quarts (which I used for this dish)

In a large mixing bowl, mix to combine Berries, Peaches, ½ Cup of Coconut Sugar, Cornstarch and 1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon.fullsizerender

Pour into baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together (with pastry cutter, 2 knives, or your hands!) Earth Balance, Oats, Flour, remaining ¾ Cup Coconut Flour, Salt, Vanilla Extract and remaining 2 tsp. Cinnamon.

Once mixture is combined, it will be somewhere between paste and just getting to that sandy consistency.

Top the berries with the Cinnamon Oat mixture, making sure to cover the entire top of the berries.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned.

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Enjoy warm, with ice cream or even cold for breakfast!

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