I used to be a pre-made kinda girl. I ate jarred spaghetti sauce, boxed dessert mixes, canned veggies and frozen meals. That all changed after I met my (future) husband. The first meal he made me was 8 days after we met. It consisted of pasta with pink vodka sauce, shrimp, scallops and lobster. Did I mention that he made the sauce from scratch? He even blanched the Roma tomatoes and peeled the skins off before crushing them into the sauce. I'm pretty sure I had to sit down to keep from passing out from the wonder of it all. How was I going to impress him now? Luckily I still had my wit because he had me whipped in the culinary arts! Don't get me wrong, I could make a mean meatloaf, the best mashed potatoes this side of Paula Dean, and some heralded deviled eggs, but that was about it from scratch.
Fast forward 5 1/2 years and I have come a long way. I now appreciate the differences fresh and locally grown (when possible) ingredients make in a dish. I have an arsenal of authentic Mexican dishes, some with Asian flare, I am even rivaling him in the Italian department now with my homemade marinara. I wanted to start my own garden and this year joined the gardening club at work and we planted 2, 4'X8' raised beds. Being our first year, we made some logistic mistakes as far as where to plant things and how much space they need, but we had a lot of success (and a few failures) in our venture. I can't wait for next year!
There are also many wonderful farms and orchards in our area that have farm stands or the ability to pick-your-own fruits in season. In the past we have gone strawberry, blueberry, apple and pumpkin picking. I love eating things straight from the source! Last weekend we did a little early apple and blueberry picking so I had tons of fresh fruit in the house. My favorite thing about blueberries is how well they freeze. Just rinse them and dump them in a freezer bag and you are all set. I had 4 pints of blueberries on hand and several apples left (even after 2 pies) so when I had to make something for our Gardening Club's pot luck, I decided to hunt for a recipe that used both of these fruits. What I found was a little piece of heaven! I got the recipe from Farmgirl Fare and everyone who has tasted it today has asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share it with you too! Do not let the 3 layers scare you off. This is so simple to make and takes less than 20 minutes to put together!
Apple Blueberry Crumble Bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks/6 ounces) butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz) butter
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 generous cups unpeeled chopped apples (I used 3 large MacIntosh)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (1/2 teaspoon if pre-ground)
For the Bottom Layer:Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" pan with butter. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan with your fingers. I also used the bottom of a stainless steel measuring cup to help make the crust flat and even.
For the Top Layer:Place the flour, brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl and use a fork or your fingers (works best) to combine until the mixture resembles large crumbs (some pea-sized clumps are okay). Set aside.
For the Middle Layer:Place the blueberries and apples in the bowl you mixed the bottom layer in. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and toss until well combined. Layer over the bottom pressed crust.
Sprinkle the top layer evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the top is golden and looks "dry," but the edges aren't too brown, about 25 to 35 minutes (I did 35 min). Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream if desired. These bars even freeze well. Wrap them individually and whala!
Try not to drool on your keyboard. I know it's hard. I'm salivating just thinking about them again. Luckily I still have some left!