wanna be starbucks cherry oat bars

cherry oat bar 0454

Apparently our local Starbucks has a new pastry in stock these days. I don’t know if it’s legit new or just “new to us” new, but it is called the Michigan Cherry Oat Bar… and it happens to be Mr. Eats’ new favorite thing these days. So, of course, he requested that I make a from-scratch version. When I told him that would be difficult to do having never tasted the sweet treat, one appeared at our home within days.

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bringing the grocery store home – diy clif bars

clif bar 0074

Recently, I’ve been accused of being a little snack-heavy, it’s true.   I was actually thinking the same thing myself, I mean, a person can only eat so much whipped cream and sugar, right?  Especially during bikini-season!  While not entirely “healthy” (or un-treat-like), these homemade “Clif” bars are a great snack to sneak a bit of nutrition into your child (or lover, or own)’s lunchbox.  I mean, they’re certainly less bad for you than, say, peanut butter pie.

We all know what “Clif” bars are, right?  Those individually-wrapped bars they sell at the store for us to eat as a healthy snack?  I’d heard that they weren’t hard to make at home, but never really had a reason to make them.  Well, not until I was on this whole “no-bake” kick that I’ve been on.

I made a big batch and then stuck them in the freezer.  I’ve been sneaking a couple into the BF’s bag before he goes to work, then they’re thawed and ready to eat by the time he needs a snack!  (Not to mention taking them to work and storing them in my desk for “’emergencies”)  I mean, this is a totally normal desk drawer, right?

They aren’t exact replicas of the Clif bars you find in stores, they’re a bit crunchier (which I actually liked) but I’m sure you could get the texture a bit closer if you reduce the crisp rice cereal (or increase the dates) a bit.  I also like that I could make these smaller than the bars you find in the store.  I can’t be the only one who thinks that they are a bit big (and calorie-dense) for a snack, but still too small to be a meal-replacement.  You can cut these into any size you like, and I find these bite-size squares to be the perfect size for snacking.

clif bar 0077

I really wish that I had mini chocolate chips on hand, but I had apparently ran out, so i had to use regular size instead.  They’re definitely not as pretty.  Plus, with mini chips, the chocolate would be able to distribute more evenly throughout the bars.  I guess I could have whirled the mixture a bit more in the food processor to chop them  up a bit…

Another great thing about these bars is that they are infinitely adaptable, you could make combos like dark-chocolate-almond, peanut-butter-“jelly” (by adding other types of dried fruit), cashew-cherry, or even a berries-and-cream version with dried fruit and yogurt or white chocolate chips!  Of course, I’m sure that you will all be shocked to learn that I went with peanut butter & chocolate for my first batch.  What can I say, I’m addicted predictable.

A warning though… when I tried to switch back to the regular store-bought Clif bars, I got a text asking where the homemade ones were, and why didn’t I put those in the bag, was I hoarding them for myself?  So… yeah, if you are going to start making these, be ready to keep making them, because the regular ones just won’t do.

Of course, the reason these are here, you don’t even have to turn on the oven!

DIY Clif Bars

Makes 16 to 25 bars, or as many as you slice 😉

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1¼ cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips; plus an extra tablespoon or two, separated

1. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with saran wrap and set aside.

2. Combine peanut butter and brown rice syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50% power for one minute and stir until combined.  If you need to microwave longer, microwave in 30 second intervals until the peanut butter is melted.

3. Process pitted dates in a food process until pureed.  Add oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and continue to puree.  Once uniform in texture, add rice cereal and process until combined.  Add peanut butter mixture and continue processing until incorporated, you will probably have to scrape down the sides.  Note: It will be very sticky.

4. Finally, add the nuts and process again until they are chopped to the desired size, then add chocolate chips and pulse just a few times to distribute them through the “dough”.  Once processed, scrape into 8-inch pan and press firmly to mold to the shape of the pan.  If desired, sprinkle the extra tablespoon or two on top and gently press into the date mixture.

5.  Chill bars in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until firm. Cut into bars, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze up to a couple months. (I keep mine frozen and pop one or two into my bag before I head to work, by the time I need a snack they’re thawed and ready to eat!)

clif bar 0074 pin



[ Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker ]


gooey butter cake



I mean, really rich. And it takes a lot for me to say something is “rich”. Of course, what else could you expect from something out of the Momofuku recipe collection?


Don’t believe me? Ingredients include: A stick of butter. A package of cream cheese. Oh, and  pound of powdered sugar. No big deal.


Baked in an 8 x 8 pan, this recipe claims to make 64 servings. 64 1-inch squares. Trust me, you’ll only need one square… but you’ll probably be back for more.

gooey butter cake

Yield: 64 1-inch squares


  • 'For the base:
  • 1 pound yellow cake mix (usually one box)
  • 4 ounces butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 'For the gooey butter topping:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, make the base by mixing together the dry cake mix, butter and 1 egg. Pat it into a parchment-lined 8-by-8-inch pan.
  2. 2. Make the gooey butter topping by creaming together the cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, sugar and vanilla. Pour it over the base cake mixture, spreading all the way to the edges. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown, and the center still tender, but cooked. (think: cheesecake)
  3. 3. Allow to cool completely in pan. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch-squares.


* For easier slicing, place in the freezer until firm, cut while cold, and transfer to mini-muffin papers.

*It is also helpful to have a warm, damp, clean rag to wipe your knife on in between slicing.


[ recipe courtesy of Momofuku Milk Bar ]

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red velvet rice krispy treats

red velvet krispy

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, I know I did! BF and I opened our gifts first thing in the morning, then his family came over for Christmas brunch so we could exchange our gifts and spend time together.

The one benefit to opening gifts at our house – a ton of gifts under the tree!

The downfall? Most of them aren’t for us…

They came, they ate, they conquered… their presents at least. ^_^

BF got me some really great cookbooks and a light box, which will (hopefully) improve the quality of my photos. (Remember my last post where I was complaining about trying to photograph in poor light??) Isn’t he just the greatest?

( Yes, these rice krispy treats were photographed in that very box ) Don’t they look gorgeous?! I think the light box will improve the pictures a bit, until I save up enough for a better lens, at least. 🙂

Oh, yes, the recipe. That’s what you’re here for right? Delicious red velvet rice krispy treats?? Well, I made these for Christmas and then realized they would be even better for Halloween. These blood-red treats are a twist on the “birthday cake” rice krispy treats, just replacing the cake mix in those with red velvet cake mix, and the standard rice krispies with chocolate (since cocoa cake is the base of red velvet cake).

Just like the birthday cake rice krispies, you can use however much cake mix you like depending on how strong you want the cake flavor to be.

I finished mine with a drizzle of vanilla candy coating, but I’m sure white chocolate or even icing would do in a pinch.

Red Velvet Rice Krispy Treats

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) bag mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup red velvet cake mix (you can decrease to 1/4 for milder flavor, or increase to 3/4 for more cake flavor)
  • 6 cups Cocoa Rice Krispies cereal
  • Vanilla candy coating or white chocolate chips

1. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and coat well with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, cake mix, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Fold in the cereal until well coated.

3. Transfer sticky cereal mixture to the prepared pan, pressing down until the top is level.

4. Once cooled, drizzle with melted candy coating or chocolate top. Once set, cut into bars and serve.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Treats


So I’m on a little bit of a pumpkin kick, so sue me. Get off my back, it’s fall and, honestly, this isn’t the last pumpkin recipe you’re going to see up here…

I was having a really off day in the kitchen this Sunday, so I decided it was probably in my best interest to stick to “simple” recipes. Isn’t it weird how that happens? Some days it’s just like no matter what you make, even if it’s a recipe you’ve made 100 times before, something is just… off. Like I had kitchen amnesia or something… it was really annoying. Eventually I just gave up and sat on the couch for the rest of the day. Upsetting.

Once I saw this autumn twist on a classic treat I just had to try it. It looks easy enough, relatively difficult to mess up, I mean… it is a rice krispy treat, after all. Given my list of other krispy treat creations, how could I pass it up? Plus, um hello – PUMPKIN!

If you want an easy treat to take to a work potluck or just want a creative way to use up the rest of your crisp rice cereal (or leftover pumpkin puree), go ahead and give these bars a whirl.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispies

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 (10 ounce) bag mini marshmallows plus one cup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 cups puffed rice cereal

Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish (I like to line mine in plastic wrap – no mess to clean up!)

Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the pumpkin puree and continue to cook until it is warmed through. Fold in 10 ounces of the marshmallows, stirring frequently until almost completely melted. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt, and remove from heat.


Allow the marshmallow mixture to cool 10 minutes; fold in the remaining cup of marshmallows. Continue to cool the mixture for another 20 to 25 minutes until it is room temperature (failure to cool the mixture will result in soggy rice crispy treats.)

Add the puffed rice cereal and stir, using a silicone spatula, until combined.

Press the mixture into the greased rectangular baking dish. Let set for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

* I suspect the world will not come to a screeching halt if you use pumpkin pie filling, just reduce or omit the other spices (except vanilla)