Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp


One of the things I missed most about the Midwest was its unique plants – moving to North Carolina made me realize that I couldn’t smell lilacs every spring, watch the corn grow into tall tasseled plants, and wouldn’t be enjoying freshly cut rhubarb desserts.  Of course, moving back to the Midwest has made me miss uniquely southern plants as well – the looming ancient magnolias and their white messy blooms, the grape-like bunches of sweet-smelling wisteria, the browning fields of tobacco plants, dots of white dogwood in the understory of the forests, the creeping cathedral-like kudzu that took over the countryside.  What are your favorite plants?  Are they tied to a location, particular time, or memory?


I often make rhubarb strawberry desserts, as the sweet strawberries complement the tangy and tart rhubarb so nicely.  However, I did not have strawberries on hand, and thus used a carton of raspberries instead.  To me, rhubarb looks like reddish-green stalks of celery.  The leaves are full and scalloped and also happen to be poisonous.  Their blooms are fascinating bunches of flowers and they happen to prefer cooler climates.

I kept this dessert on the sour side, by swapping refined white sugar for coconut sugar. It’s not as sweet in flavor, but remember, sugar is still sugar.


Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp

  1. In a 8×8′ baking dish combine: 2 large stalks of rhubarb, sliced and 6 oz of red raspberries (or more is fine too, this is just what I had on hand).
  2. In a small bowl combine: 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 cup coconut sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1 cup oats, and 8 tablespoons of cold butter.  Combine with hands until mixture is sticky and butter is completely combined.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 35-40 minutes or till fruit is bubbly and top is lightly browned.
  4. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Peanut Butter Lover’s Brownies


With the abundance of snowy, sub-freezing weather, numerous sick days from all members of the household, and general lack of outdoor time, these peanut buttery bars have been baked several times in the past couple weeks.  They have been prepared with both boxed brownie mix and from scratch.  I can happily report that both ways are equally tasty, but the box is ready in a jiffy.  Both baking methods are at the bottom of this post.


When I made these brownies from scratch, I had no unsweetened baking chocolate on hand.  So I whipped up my own using the substitution of 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter, per 1 ounce of needed unsweetened baking chocolate.


The best part of this recipe is that your marbling doesn’t have to be perfect – the baking process will cause your peanut butter to practically sink into the batter and make delicious pockets of peanut buttery goodness.  Plus, you can cover any ugly spots with peanut butter chocolate candies.  Be sure to use smooth peanut butter – if it is very thick you can stir in some water.  However, I have found that using the all-natural, no additive peanut butter works very well, as it often has a higher natural oil content and is easier to spread and drip to make the marbled effect.

m.m.sI set my cabin fevered child to work decorating with peanut butter candies.  Delighted, she only reserved a few to eat.  These brownies never last long in our household and the best part is how easy they are to make.  Not a peanut butter fan?  Swap out the peanut butter for caramel or butterscotch sauce.  You are welcome!

Peanut Butter Lover’s Brownies

To make with brownie mix:

1. Prepare 1 box of brownie mix as directed.

2. Drop dollops of creamy peanut butter on top of batter.  Use knife to draw vertical lines through batter, and then use knife to draw horizontal lines through the batter, creating a marbled look.  Top with chocolate peanut butter candies.  Bake as directed.

To bake from scratch: (Better Homes & Gardens, 2002)

1. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter and 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (or substitute additional 3 tablespoons butter and 9 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder).  Stir well and allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, grease an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.  Stir 1 cup sugar into cooled butter mixture.  Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition just until combined.  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, stir together 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.  Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture; stir just until combined.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  Drop dollops of creamy peanut butter on top of batter.  Use knife to draw vertical lines through batter, and then use knife to draw horizontal lines through the batter, creating a marbled look.  Top with chocolate peanut butter candies.

4. Bake in a 350° oven 30 minutes for 8-inch pan or 25 minutes for 9-inch pan.  Cool on wire rack.  Cut into bars.

Toddler Collage Art + Strawberry Graham Yogurt Pops

Greta and I have both been busy working on collages lately.  Greta has watched me make collages countless times and I haven’t yet thought to have her make her own at home.  I know she’s made them at school, but she blew me away with her collage skills.  Little collage artist in training, I tell ya!
This particular collage was my favorite one that she made yesterday.  It was the third one in a series of four that we completed in the morning before nap time.  She was tickled at the way the holes would allow colors beneath to show through.  She quickly learned that the glue had to go on the edges and so had to slide her papers around in order to move the glue.
The large glue bottle was perfect for her little hands.  We practiced squeezing the glue out onto the paper while the bottle was just above the paper.  She enjoyed slowly squeezing out the glue and watching it pool, as it was pooling she would ask me, “Good, Mommy?” to check on the amount of her glue.  Only a couple times did I say, “Ok that’s good,” most of the time she figured out the amount of glue on her own.

Next, Greta placed her cut papers onto the glue dots.  I enjoyed watching her choose papers based on color, size, and shape.

I used the color issue of In Style magazine for all of her shapes.  Fashion magazines make the best collage magazines due to their textures, variety of color, and size of colors.  The first collage she made was full of random shapes.  For her second one, she decided she wanted mostly circles.

This is her mostly circle collage.  As she got more used to making collages, she began to request particular colors, sizes, and shapes.  Her most frequently requested were yellow circles.  As I flipped through the magazine, she would ask me to cut out certain items she liked – such as the eye.  Her final collage used overlapping pieces with small areas cut out of the middle, this is at the top of this post.

Greta has plastic scissors and we are working on her cutting technique, but in the meantime, this mommy daughter collage collaboration is a fun way to spend a morning.

We spent part of our morning on Friday making yogurt pops.  Greta helped me layer strawberry yogurt, crumbled graham crackers, and chocolate syrup to make these delicious freezer pops.  Frozen desserts are a good way to practice patience for little kitchen helpers!