Perfect Housewarming Dessert: Oatmeal Carmelitas


PBJ

Friday night we celebrated the housewarming of our dear friend PJ. He just purchased a great house for entertaining and invited about 15 people over for dinner. He and his girlfriend BJ had an eclectic menu planned: boneless buffalo wings, steak and chicken fajitas, Spanish rice, eggrolls, salad, and oatmeal carmelitas. So I decided to show up 2 hours early, take notes and photos while they cooked, and feature them as guest chefs for my blog. Now I know that is a lot of dishes, and I lost sleep at night thinking about how to organize this blog post with so many dishes to cover. So I decided to cover my three or four-ish favorites: the boneless wings, the steak fajitas with Spanish rice and the oatmeal carmelitas–starting with dessert, of course.

(Disclaimer: This menu is not recommended for marathon runners in training the night before a long run. I barely made it to the port-o-potty before finishing mile 7)

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Oatmeal carmelitas are basically the best invention ever, combining melted chocolate, gooey caramel and a buttery, oatmeal nut crust. I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say that carmelitas are the best thing ever or is the best thing ever. I think carmelitas are meant to be cut into individual-sized bars, which would mean that they are the best thing ever, in plural form. But when I eat them the whole thing remains intact…in a fork-direct-to-pan fashion. So I think for me it’s more accurate to use the singular form and say that oatmeal carmelita is the best thing ever, even if it sounds funny.

But ANYWAY, back to the point. I love oatmeal carmelita. I love it warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. The problem is I love it too much that I eat it until I feel sick. And then there’s regret…

So my advice is: Give them/it a try. But if you’re like me and inherited the Sweet Tooth Disease from your dad, make sure to actually cut them into small bars and just eat one or two. Not out of the pan. Put it on a plate, then leave the room. Maybe the building. And yes, I think STD (as in “Sweet Tooth Disease,” not the sexually transmitted kind) is a real disease. Lol.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup quick cooking oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup melted butter

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I really like them with dark chocolate too)

1/2 cup chopped almonds (walnuts or pecans would work great too)

3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping (BJ is pretty liberal with this)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9×9-inch square pan. Combine the 1 cup flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, and melted butter. Mix to combine, mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes.Let cool slightly then sprinkle over the crust the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Mix the caramel ice cream topping with the 3 tablespoons of flour and drizzle over the chocolate chips. Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. You will need to break it into small pieces to cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let bars cool before cutting (or eat warm directly from pan with ice cream on top if you don’t have to go running or leave the house the next day). Enjoy!

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Pineapple Pie


Not picture perfect, but tasty nonetheless...

Last month Novin and I had dinner at my grandpa’s house, and he said he had a special pie for us for dessert. My first thoughts: “OoOoooOoooh!”

As a sweet-o-holic, I wanted to know what it was right away. “It’s a surprise,” he said. “I’ve never bought a pie like this before; it’s really different,” my grandpa said.

Since he was never known to be the most adventurous eater, I took a stab at guessing. “Sweet potato? Mango? Chocolate peanut butter crème?! It better not have milk in it, I’m allergic! If it does and I can’t eat it, I just might die!” The suspense was killing me.

So after we finished our last bites of chicken sausage and potato pancakes, he brought out this “surprise pie.”

I took one look at it…it was an apple pie. “Grandpa, you mean to tell me you’ve never bought an APPLE PIE before?” His face went blank. “Huh?!”

The label idiotically said “Pie apple,” which he misread as “Pineapple.” Who labels it as “Pie apple” instead of “Apple pie”? C’mon, Fred Meyer! Why did you have to confuse my poor old grandpa and make us all have to settle for apple pie when we were expecting an amazingly special pie? So of course I ate double servings of the apple pie in hopes that eating MORE of it would make me more satisfied with it. Yes, that is how my logic works. Don’t get me wrong, I like apple pie, but store-bought apple pie just doesn’t do it for me.

So my grandpa was disappointed, and I was determined to make things right. I promised to make him a pineapple pie for his birthday, which is exactly what I did.

I was apprehensive at first…the last thing I wanted was a pie full of soggy pineapple slices. So I went online in search of a good pineapple pie filling, and stumbled across a blog called “Stay @ Home Mom.”

http://sahmsite.info/2010/03/29/homemade-pineapple-pie-filling/

I followed her recipe, but tweaked the sugar and butter amounts:

Homemade Pineapple Pie Filling

1 fresh pineapple

1/3 cup sugar

2 T butter

½ cup water

2 T cornstarch

pinch of salt

Slice pineapple into small chunks. Puree ½ of the pineapple in a blender. Strain out some of the juice so the filling doesn’t become too runny. In a pot over medium-high heat, stir pineapple chunks and puree. Add sugar and salt. Mix cornstarch and water together well, making sure there are no clumps. Add to pineapple mixture, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until filling resembles a jam.

2 Crust Pie Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

2 sticks COLD butter (1 pound, yuck, I know! Shhh don’t tell anyone, this is what makes it GOOD)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

6-8 T ice water

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar. Cut cold butter into chunks, and add to flour mixture. Using hands, mix butter into dough, until it begins to clump. Make sure to leave small chunks of butter in the dough, so the dough will become flaky. Begin adding water tablespoon by tablespoon, mixing by hand as you go, just until you can pinch some of the dough together and it sticks. You may or may not have to use all of the water. Form dough into a ball (it should still feel a bit crumbly, not super sticky or smooth) and refrigerate in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes to an hour. You want the butter chunks in the dough to be nice and cold when you roll it out later, again– for that flaky crust! Split ball of dough in half, and roll out each dough on a floured surface for a 9″ 2-crust pie. Trim edges, and dust with white sugar for a shimmery top crust. Cut slits in the top crust (or cut fun shapes) so steam can escape.

Bake pie at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Try it out and let me know if you like it! Grandpa did.

Our camera battery died right before we were about to cut into it, so I didn’t get better pictures. 😦

Oregon Berry Crisp


My labor day weekend was enjoyed in pretty much the same way everyone else likely spent the holiday…with family, food and lots of sun.

Sunday we made a trip up to the Oregon coastal town of Astoria for a BBQ salmon feed at my great uncle’s house. He makes his living fixing up boats, and sometimes his payment from customers is fresh-caught Chinook salmon. I couldn’t miss out on this occasion, even if it required surviving a 2 to 3+ hour drive in an SUV jam-packed with family members…during Labor Day weekend traffic.

With tons of Oregon raspberries and blackberries in my freezer that I hand picked at one point over the summer, I decided to make a berry crisp as my contribution to this feast.

The crisp had to endure a long, bumpy and winding ride in a cooler at the back of my grandpa’s car which made the presentation less than perfect, but still oh-so-delicious.

It was a perfect finish to a smorgasboard of grilled salmon, salad, mac n’ cheese, and corn on the cob….washed down with a Coors Light.

The food was well worth the trip, but the resulting food coma made the ride back that much harder to take.

My little sis seems to approve!

Be forewarned…this is not a lightened/healthier version of crisp…just a very delicious one worthy of bringing to potlucks. Try it out–it’s an extremely easy but impressive dessert, and can be made with any fruit if you don’t live in Oregon and have berries as good as ours. 🙂

Ingredients

2-3 cups fresh blackberries (I used Oregon Triple Crown blackberries)

2-3 cups fresh raspberries

2-3 T white sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups oatmeal (I used the one-minute oatmeal)

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into chunks (do not melt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9×13 pan, add berries. Sprinkle white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon on the berries and mix so berries are coated evenly. In a large bowl, add flour, oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and butter. Using hands, mix well so butter is incorporated well in mixture (should be moist but crumbly). Crumble mixture over berries. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown and crisp. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and good company!