Banana Coconut Bars

I’ve been on a bar kick recently.  Not the party kind of bar, like the cookie-that-you-cut type bar.  Like this:

As for the other type of bar, I’m not cool enough to hang out in bars.  You’re more likely to find me in a park.

A few weeks ago I had decided I wanted to open a bar.  Not just any bar, I wanted it to be an outdoor bar (think park meets bar, see where I’m going with this?).  I think it’s ridiculous that Southern California has awesome weather but very few places where you can enjoy the weather with a beer/wine in your hand.

Sure, there are bars with patios, but those are usually small and there’s no grass involved.  Grass is really essential to the full outdoor enjoyment. I still want to open that bar.  Would you come?

But enough about those types of bars.  Let’s talk about this sort…

I’m a fan.  You will be too.  Unless you’re like my friend Emily who hates cooked fruit, in which case you should make this instead… or this.

But if you love cooked fruit (I do!) and more importantly bananas and coconut and sweet goodness, then you should probably give these a try!

Banana Coconut Bars

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour (or just 2 cups all purpose)
3 ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
5 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Cream together 3/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  The texture will be pretty crumbly, press into a 9 x 13 baking dish (I used a jelly roll pan and pressed it into about 2/3 of it) lined with parchment paper.

Lay banana sliced on dough.  Next spread shredded coconut on top and chocolate chips if desired.  Drizzle with 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk.

In a bowl combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup oats, 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp brown sugar.  Use your hands to work it into coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the mixture over the bars.  Drizzle with remaining sweetened condensed milk.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool complete.  Cut into bars and serve!

In case it wasn’t obvious, everyone is cool enough for this bar.

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Milk Chocolate Brownie Pie with Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Crust

Remember when I told you to look forward to pies?  Well I didn’t make you wait long.  Here it is.



And let’s be honest about this.  Not all pies are pretty, but even if they’re not pretty they can still be tasty.  Let’s call it functional, not beautiful.  I’m pretty certain this pie won’t get as many pins as other ones.

You know what makes this even more functional: it’s easy.  Not that other pies are hard to make but with this one, you don’t have to deal with rolling a crust, peeling or chopping fruit, making a topping or even pulling out the hand mixer.

This pie is essentially chocolate chess pie.  However, no one seems to know what that is (not even me really…).  So my original intention was to call this Chocolate Milk Pie, because to me, it tastes like chocolate milk in a pie form.  But when I took it to work everyone kept calling it brownie pie.  I guess that might be a more accurate descriptions.

Hence…

Milk Chocolate Brownie Pie with Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Crust

adapted from Chocolate Chess Pie

For Crust:

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For Filling:

4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz evaporated milk (you can buy 5 oz cans)

Pre-heat oven to 325F. Prepare the crust.  Melt butter and peanut butter together in a bowl.  Add sugar and graham cracker crumbs.  Combine and press into a 9inch pie dish.  Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Mix all the ingredients.  Pour filling into the pie dish.  Place use a pie shield or line the edges with aluminum foil (this really is crucial).  Bake 45 minutes to an hour or until the top is cracked but the inside still looks gooey.

Allow to cool completely and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional).

The inside will be ooey, gooey and lovely.  I can guarantee you’ll love it, even if it’s not the most visually appealing.

But you know what is totally appealing (aside from this pie of course)? Birthday countdowns.

Boyfriend’s birthday in 1 week. My birthday in 2 weeks.  That means lots of pie/cake-making is on the way.

FYI, I’m totally okay with making a birthday cake/pie for myself.  Is that weird?

Something to Look Forward To…

I’ve been out of school for over a year; it certainly doesn’t feel that long.  When you’re in school, your life is broken up in quarters or semesters.  You have clear goals and timelines to accomplish things.  While I sort of have that at work, it’s not the same.  I like having schedules and things to strive for.  Let’s paint that in a positive light and say I’m goal-oriented…

Having things to look forward to makes life more fun, and honestly, makes the unpleasant stuff go by a little bit faster.

So in the spirit of reaching milestones and breaking up life to be a bit more manageable, here are a few things we can all look forward to:

1.  Pies

We all know I’m into pie-making.  I have a few pie recipes I’ve been itching to share with you.  I’ve made both of these pies at least twice (remember when I burnt one? Moral of the Story: Don’t read a book and get totally sucked in a forget you put something in the oven), and both times photography didn’t happen.

So I’m making them again.  Actually I made this one last night:

Chocolate Chess Pie with a Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Crust, but really I’m going to call it Chocolate Milk Pie with a Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Crust because that’s what it tastes like to me.  Like ooey gooey chocolate milk.  Get excited.

I also made this one twice.  Passion Fruit Cream Pie.

My brother-in-law claimed it was the best thing I’ve ever made.  He tried to whisper this so I wouldn’t hear (not sure why).  But I heard.  That probably means I need to make it again and tell you how to do it so you can impress.  You definitely won’t want to miss that.

2. TEDx SoCal in Long Beach on Saturday 7/14

I went to this event last year and am going again this year.  If you love TED Talks (or if you don’t know what TED is, check it out at the very least watch this 3 minute video on How to Start a Movement), then you’ll get an idea of why going to an independently organized event (hence, TEDx) is pretty awesome.

You get the same time of TED-like inspiration without having to shell out thousands ($25 with an old student ID, in case you’re not a student, not bad).

You should come too! We can meet up!  So Cal Food Blogger (and reader!) meet up at TEDx So Cal! Who’s in?  I might even bring you a blog treat to sample 🙂  Let me know!

3. My birthday

In 19 days, I will be 25 years old.  Fact.

I don’t usually do much for my birthday.

In an ideal world, I would spend the day grilling and having fun drinks outside, then music would come on and we would all dance for a little bit (or a while).  But I don’t have a backyard.  So instead, I’ll probably just make a cake.  I’m alright with that.

4. More Recipes

Maybe I’ll branch out from pies.  I accidentally bought some collard greens today.  Let’s see what I do with that.

Remember when I used to cook vegetables?

Maybe I’ll take that up again (or at least blogging about it).

5. China

In November, I’m going to China for 12 days.

Sometimes I feel like I should be the spokesperson for Travel Zoo.  I am always amazed at their deals and tell everyone about them (have you checked it out?).  I got a super great deal on airfare to China.  That should be fun and is more definitely something I’m looking forward to.

So that’s how I’m breaking up the rest of the year… with a few surprises, holidays, gatherings and other fun things interspersed.

What are you looking forward to?

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (…with a touch of Bourbon)

Some people have 4th of July traditions. Not me.  Every 4th of July is different over here.  Last year, I went to Morro Bay with my sister and her friends and hung out on a boat.  That was awesome.

The year before, I went to Burlington, VT with some friends and hung out on a boat on Lake Champlain.

Also awesome… boats were becoming a trend, no complaints there.  This year was much more low-key, but equally fun.  I’ll spare you the rant about how unfortunate it was that 4th of July fell on a Wednesday this year.  Instead, let’s talk pies.


Pies feel super American to me.

You know what else feels super American? Rhubarb.

It’s probably not, but I wasn’t introduced to rhubarb until I lived in Central NY, now it feels like a hidden secret that the middle of America let me in on.  It randomly came in one of my CSA shares, and I had no idea what to do with it.  But after an apple-rhubarb crisp making adventure, I was hooked.  Ever since I pretty much think it’s the most amazing, tangy tasting vegetable on Earth.

The best part:  It’s a vegetable that gets turned into dessert.  I can get behind that.

So randomly one day last week I saw rhubarb at the grocery store.  It sparked an idea in my brain as I had coffee on Wednesday morning…  Like all good baking ideas, it was to impress a boy.  I bet he’s never tried rhubarb.   But let’s be honest, rhubarb can be intense so I went the traditional route and paired it with strawberry.

I was right.  He had never had rhubarb.  But for someone who shares my affinity for putting lemon on everything, I knew the tangy-ness was going to be a hit.

So the next time you want to feel patriotic and/or impress someone, make this pie.  It won’t disappoint… I should also warn you that like all other things, I put bourbon in this too.  Bet you didn’t think those would go together, right?

Yeah they totally do.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a Touch of Bourbon

Single Pie Crust:

175g All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Sugar
pinch of Salt
1 stick of Butter, cold
2 tbsp (maybe more) Ice Water

Filling:

2 heaping cups fresh chopped rhubarb (about 1/2 pound)
3-4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp bourbon/whiskey
1/4 cup flour

Crumble Topping:

1/2 cup Flour
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 tbsp White Sugar
pinch of Salt
3 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp bourbon

Prepare pie crust by combing flour, sugar and salt.  Using your fingers, break the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse crumbs (even pea sized is fine).  Add ice water and bring it all together into a ball using your hands.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours.  You can make this up to two days in advance.  I actually had one freezer, already in the pie dish, stored in a ziploc bag, for about a month or so (making this whole pie making business wayyy easier).

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.   Prepare the filling.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside while you make the crumble topping, by combining all the ingredients and breaking up the butter with your fingers until you get a coarse texture.

Pour filling into prepared pie pan (note: if you have an enormous pie dish, you might want to do more of the filling, the pie dish I used is way smaller than other glass pie dishes I own, so be warned), top with crumble topping, place pan on a baking sheet and put it in the oven.  Bake for about an hour (mine took about 1 hr and 10 minutes) or until juices are bubbling like woah (that’s really the best way to describe it).

Once the pie is golden, gooey and ready.  Allow it to cool completely.  Then serve.

This one was a winner.  Not to mention the crumble topping gives it a nice crunch and you don’t have to worry about rolling most crust for the top or taking on the lattice.

I might have to make it again, it might just happen, because in addition to July being the month for Independence Day, it’s also birthday month.  You know what the mean?  Pie and cake-making must happen.

Any suggestions for pie/cake flavors I should try out?