Baked Sunday Mornings: Good Morning Sunshine Bars


Life has been hectic of late, forcing me to curtail my baking projects. Even my meal plans have fallen by the wayside, although I’m working on getting back on that. As usual, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and am looking for ways to simplify and slow down.

Lucky for me, this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings project was a very simple recipe, requiring very little actual cooking and minimum cleanup. We are a peanut butter-and-chocolate-loving family, as well as a cereal-dessert-bar-loving family, so this one was a no brainer.

Hoo-boy, are these things rich! A cup of brown sugar and a cup of corn syrup create a thick sauce, the sweetness of which is tempered by a cup of peanut butter. (Thank goodness I used natural, unsweetened peanut butter, otherwise these bars would put anyone on the fast track to DIABEETUS.) I cut the pan into about 16 bars; I think I’ll go back through and cut the larger ones in half because in the case of these treats, a little goes a long way.

I think these bars would be great to bring to any upcoming holiday potlucks; I plan to send a *tiny* square in the BK’s lunchbox once or twice this week. My husband didn’t care for them (he’s not a sweets guy), and I’m counting Weight Watchers points, so the bulk of them will go to work with my guy tomorrow.

Check out the other Bakers’ experience with this recipe here. There are a lot of cakes and highly involved projects on the bake-along calendar for the next few weeks, so this may be my last Baked Sunday Mornings post for a while. We’ll see where the day takes us!

Meal Plan: Week of 11/3/13-11/9/13

beef stew

I write this on Monday afternoon, perhaps one of the crappiest Mondays in recent Mondays. I mean, it’s like the Universe is saying, “HERE’S THE MONDAYEST OF ALL MONDAYS. PLEASE DO ENJOY.” And yes, the Universe writes in all caps because sometimes the Universe is a dick.

Let’s start with the good news first, though. First piece of news is that tonight is my book launch party! I am so excited about it, especially since it kicks off an avalanche of events between now and the end of the year. I am so thrilled that the book is taking on a life beyond my kitchen table, where the bulk of it was written. People seem really excited about it, which is very gratifying indeed.

The other piece of good news on this Monday is that I’ve had a paper that I’m really excited about accepted to the Popular Culture Association’s national conference, which takes place in Chicago in April.  It’s about Orange Is the New Black  and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The bad news is that my car is apparently a death trap and it’s spending the night at the mechanic’s and I’ll have to pay a pretty hefty ransom tomorrow to get it out. This on top of us having to shell out one large to the plumber last week when our 22-year-old hot water heater failed. Also, LK is really sick, and I’m really worried about her. (Every fall, her allergies and asthma go berserk. October was very quiet, but the snot really hit the fan last night.)

I know, I am going all Job on y’all. I don’t mean to. Let’s talk about food. Fittingly, before all of this crap blew up, I had planned a comfort food-heavy menu, as the forecast calls for gloomy skies and snuggly temperatures for the bulk of the week. I’m really going to have to work for it at the gym over the next couple of days, but these are some of my favorite fall dishes and are totally worth every calorie/Weight Watchers point.

Sunday: We had pie and other treats at a preview event for Royer’s Pie Haven, so we came home and had veggies and cereal.
Monday: Goulash and roasted broccoli.
Tuesday: Casserole Queens chicken pot pie with a drop-biscuit topping instead of the puff pastry sheet.
Wednesday: Beef stew (recipe below). This is one of the husband’s favorites. I just made it a few weeks ago and when I asked him what he wanted from the slow cooker on Wednesday, this was his request.
Thursday: Husband is in charge of dinner, as I have a book event. Maybe leftovers? But probably tacos.
Friday: Husband will be at Fun Fun Fun fest, so the kids and I will have dinner at Phil’s.
Saturday: Husband at FFF, kids will want McDonald’s, but I will try to steer them toward homemade pizza. But probably tacos.

Mom’s Beef Stew
Recipe adapted minimally from Not Your Mom’s Slow Cooker

10-12 small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
4 large carrots, cut into 1- inch chunks
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon chile mole pipian
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1- 1/2 pounds stew meat (I buy it pre-trimmed and cubed to save time)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
1 large onion, cut into a total of 6 or 8 wedges
1 large rib of celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick
6 to 8 medium sized mushrooms, cut in half
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of ground cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bay leaf

  • Place the potatoes and carrots in the slow cooker.
  • Place the flour, mole pipian, salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag. Toss half of the beef in the mixture, shaking off any excess, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Once the meat is brown, transfer it to the to slow cooker.
  • Add the onion, celery and mushrooms to the slow cooker, nestling them gently among the chunks of meat.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the broth, tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and cloves. Pour into the cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the bay leaf and cover. Cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.
  • When it is time to serve the stew, discard the bay leaf and ladle the stew into bowls. I like to serve it with hunks of crusty bread.