Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

Summer is a difficult time for me and this blog. Although it’s my favorite season for fruits and veggies (hello berry and peach season!), it’s also the season that I don’t want to be spending my time in the kitchen with the oven on. I want to be out and about, spending time at the pool, heading to the beach, going away on vacation, etc etc.

This recipe seems a little more spring-centric but I wanted to highlight some berries and give you a little treat that can be packed away in a cooler for a summer trip. Great for a road trip breakfast, to pack into a lunch, or something sweet while you’re sweating it out at the pool or beach. And though these bars tend to be a little on the softer side, I love the sweet, juiciness of the berry filling paired with the cinnamon-y crumble topping. And we’re rolling with it, because it’s summer and fruit bars don’t need to be fancy and perfect to be delicious. Here we go…

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

Makes 12 bars

Crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling:
1 cup chopped rhubarb (about 3 stalks)
1 quart of chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoon sugar

Topping:
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
sprinkle of salt
3 tablespoon butter, melted

Prepare a 8x8 baking pan by spraying with a light layer of cooking spray and lining with a parchment paper so two sides hang over for easy removal. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make your crust: In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt with a wooden spoon. Add in melted butter and mix until combined and clumpy. Spread into an even layer in the prepared baking sheet. 

To make your filling, combine chopped strawberries, rhubarb, corn starch, lemon juice, and sugar in a large bowl. Spoon filling into an even layer over the bottom crust.

Topping: In the same mixing bowl you made the crust in, add oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt with a wooden spoon. Add in melted butter and mix until combined and clumpy. Using your hands, sprinkle lumps of the topping onto the peaches/raspberries. You should be able to see some of the filling through the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is cooked through. Cool completely before cutting into squares. These bars are on the softer side, so I wrap them up individually and store them in the refrigerator until eating time.

Recipe: Frosted Animal Cracker Donuts

It’s probably a surprise to no one that donuts are one of my favorite desserts (or breakfast depending on the morning). In my hierarchy of desserts**, donuts are pretty high on the list (along with cookies and pie) and something that G and I are always on the hunt for when we travel or just looking for a new Philly treat.

So when G shared an IG post from a bakery making donuts with crushed up Frosted Animal Cracker on top, I new I needed to make my own spin on it. And let me tell you, these donuts are like a vanilla-y sweet flavor bomb in your mouth. Funfetti baked donuts with a lot of vanilla extract and a little sour cream to cut the sweetness, topped with a vanilla glaze and crammed with broken-up frosted animal crackers.

If you grew up loving these classic cookies, you’ll fall in love with these donuts (trust me, I ate 2 or 3 in one night when I made them 😳).

Let’s get cracking…

** Do you ever think about your hierarchy of desserts and where things rank? This is something I think about OFTEN and ask people about all the time. Let me know your top 3 desserts in the comments!

Frosted Animal Cracker Donuts

yields a dozen donuts

For donuts:

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cake flour

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream

  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup rainbow nonpareils

For glaze:

  • 5 cups powdered sugar

  • 5 tablespoon water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 12-oz package of frosted animal crackers, chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a donut baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg to combine and aerate the flours. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender (or your hands), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and sand-like. You'll want tiny pieces of butter throughout the mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in sour cream and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Lastly, add the nonpareils by sprinkling a little at a time and mixing. Mix until the color just begins to swirl.

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe the batter evenly among the wells of the greased pan. Before placing into the oven, lightly tap the donut pan on a flat countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a cooling rack. 

Once the donuts are fully cooled, place wax paper underneath your cooling rack and start making your glaze. Add powdered sugar and water into a medium saucepan and start whisking them together. The mixture will be very stiff and not come together easily. Once it is mostly combined, heat glaze over medium heat, whisking frequently. The glaze will start to come together and thin out. Remove from heat when the mixture is warm but not hot.

Here’s where it might be helpful to have an additional person (but I did it along so you can too). Dip each donut into the glaze, bringing it in and out of the glaze 2-3 times, and place it on the cooling rack. The glaze will harden quickly, so add your chopped animal crackers, pressing them softly into the glaze to get them to stick. You need to work QUICK.

I find that because of the moisture level in the donuts, it’s best to eat these within 24 hours, or stack on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap. Keeping the donuts in an airtight container may cause them to sweat and the glaze to soften. Enjoy!

Frosted Animal Cracker Donuts via Unusuallylovely.com

10 Perfect BBQ Desserts for Memorial Day

Who else is excited for a long holiday weekend?! 🙋🏼

Summer kicks off next week and with the long Memorial Day weekend upon us, you might have a BBQ or a gathering of friends and family to attend. BBQ season is a favorite of mine and I’m here to make sure you don’t have to show up empty handed.

Below is a roundup of BBQ-ready desserts that are a snap to throw together, have all those spring/summer flavors, and are easy to serve to a crowd. Hope you have relaxing long weekend!

For a Classic Crowd Pleaser | Perfect Summer Strawberry Shortcake

For the Citrus Lovers | Key Lime Pie

(Who doesn’t love a key lime pie?)

For the Donut Enthusiast | Lemon Blueberry Donuts

(Lemon and blueberries just FEELS like summer to me)

For the Slightly Healthier Snack | Peach Raspberry Bars

(I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m saying it!)

For the Ultimate Kid-Friendly Snack | Chocolate + Confetti Rice Krispie Treats

(And also perfect for adults too)

For a Twist on a Classic | Peach Shortcake

(It’s not quite peach season here in PA but if you can get good peaches, this is divine)

When You Need to Feed a Crowd | Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

(perfect for doubling)

For the Mini Lovers | Mini Strawberry Shortcakes

(after all these years, I still think these upside down cupcakes are adorable)

For the Boozy BBQ | Strawberry Mojito Popsicles

(the BBQ I’m looking to attend tbh)

For the Chocolate Lovers | S’mores Brownies

xo

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

The perfect spring Strawberry Rhubarb Galette via Unusually Lovely

It’s Wednesday morning. I’ve been up since 5:30AM since I had an hour of personal training to get through this morning and I’m already looking forward to hitting my pillow after work and watching tv from bed.

I’m finding myself more and more a homebody these days. Spring has definitely sprung in Philadelphia and (except for the weeks-worth of rain we just had) it’s been incredibly enjoyable to spend time at home, watering the plants on the deck, grilling dinner and going to bed early. Slowing down is something that I’ve been working on this year, so making less plans with people, not booking up my weeks, and planning my schedule out in advance so things don’t sneak up on me + working on my own relaxation guilt that often cause myself to have. At another stage in my life, I absolutely would have found this boring, but at this phase it helps me savor my time out and about with friends, spending time with G, and save some money without feeling like I have to give up everything to do so.

The change in the seasons means I’m looking forward to Saturdays walking around the city and happy hour negronis at outdoor bars. Spring always feels like a reset to me. You open the windows and start making summer plans. And if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you probably know that I love the feeling of change.

I recently went to the supermarket looking for rhubarb because I wasn’t sure exactly when rhubarb season was, but I knew it was coming up and wanted to work on this recipe. I went wandering around my local Sprouts, couldn’t find it and asked a woman stocking the produce if they carried it. She looked at me like I had two heads, not understanding the item I was looking for. She had never heard of rhubarb, and definitely didn’t know what it looked like. I googled it quickly and showed her a photo of it, she still had no idea. She then grabbed another person working in the produce department, who ALSO HAD NO IDEA WHAT RHUBARB IS.

These woman worked in the produce department! I could understand if you maybe didn’t know what it looked like, but to never have even heard the word rhubarb before?! It’s in a lot of pies! Moral of the story is that I did not get rhubarb for this recipe from the supermarket, but we picked it a few days later at G’s sister’s house, which honestly is wayyyy better.

Galettes are pretty great because they are quick and easy with no pie pan or pre-baking the crust needed. Made from homemade pie crust is obviously preferred, but hey, sometimes you just have a refrigerated pie crust sitting in your fridge that you need to use up, or you can’t be bothered making homemade pie crust. I’m not here to judge you, just tell you to throw some fruit in there, turn over the sides, sprinkle it with sugar and call it a day. Hope you enjoy it!

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

Yields 6 slices

  • your favorite pie crust (or a refrigerated one)

  • 2 1/2 cup rhubarb

  • 2 1/2 cup strawberries (sliced largely)

  • 1 cup sugar

  • half a lemon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn starch

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 tablespoon butter, cold and cut into small cubes

  • coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

I should begin by saying that if you don’t want to create the arranged rhubarb on top of the strawberries, you can always cut the rhubarb into smaller pieces and just mix in with the strawberry filling. Won’t be as pretty, but will taste the same and be a lot less effort.

Cut your rhubarb into similar-sized pieces, cut on the diagonal so you can create the chevron pattern. I cut my pieces about 2 1/2 inches long. I also find it easiest to assemble when I’ve laid out the pattern on a cutting board first and then move it to the galette.

In a large bowl, add sliced strawberries and rhubarb pieces, sugar, and light squeeze of juice from half a lemon. Stir until everything is covered in sugar. Place bowl in the refrigerator and let macerate for 30 mins.

Remove bowl from fridge and add vanilla extract and corn starch and stir until the corn starch has been absorbed. If you are arranging the rhubarb on top, remove them from the bowl and set aside.

Lay out your pie crust on a nonstick baking mat placed on baking sheet. Spoon the strawberries* into the center of the pie crust and flatten it so you have a flat surface to arrange your rhubarb on. You will want at least a 2-inch border around the berries to fold the galette over. Place the rhubarb in the chevron pattern on top of the strawberries. Things are going to move a little while baking, so it definitely doesn’t have to be perfect.

Fold the border over to create the crust and trap in any juices, being aware to not make any cracks or holes. Arrange the butter on the top of the galette. Brush the beaten egg on the crust and sprinkle with coarse sugar to get a golden brown when baked.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. If you do spring a leak during baking (mine definitely has), don’t panic! Galettes are made to be rustic and simple looking. A few times during cooking, use a rubber kitchen brush to brush the expelled juices on top of the rhubarb to get a nice shine.

Remove from the oven and cool. Slice and eat!

*If you aren’t arranging the rhubarb on top, cut the rhubarb into smaller pieces and keep mixed in with the berries. Spoon the entire mixture into the center of the crust, fold over, and bake.

Recipe: Salty Peanut Butter & Fluffernutter Cookie Sandwiches

Do you have those flavors from your childhood that really stick with you? Flavor combos that you don’t indulge in very often, but when you do you are immediately transported to a different time and place?

I think for many, peanut butter fluffernutter sandwiches is one of those flavor combos. A mix of sugary marshmallow fluff and sticky, salty peanut butter. The kind of sandwich that sticks to the roof of your mouth and you have to pry it off with your tongue.

I will be honest with you (because we’re all friends here) and say that as a child, not too crazy about marshmallow fluff. Not my jam. But as an adult who is constantly seeking that perfect sweet and salty combo, I’m all about a fluffernutter sandwich. And these cookies sandwiches take one of my fav recipes to date (these pb cookies) and elevates them to a holier place: the perfect sweet and salty.

And since we’re being honest, my peanut butter sandwich of choice as a child was a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich. Eating that combo instantly reminds me of being a kid. I know that’s weird. Don’t @ me. Now, let’s get to it.

Salty Peanut Butter & Fluffernutter Cookie Sandwiches

Adapted from this recipe | yields a dozen sandwiches

Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour*

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/4 tablespoon coarsely ground salt (I find that salt from a salt grinder works best)

Marshmallow Fluff:

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat.

Bake your cookies: In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter and peanut butter together. Mix in brown sugar. Add in vanilla and the egg and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to aerate and combine. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until you have a dough. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. 

While dough is chilling, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground salt into a small bowl. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in the salt/sugar mixture and place on the lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Using the tines of a fork, press the fork into the dough to create the cookie’s pattern. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to get slightly darkened. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Whisk your fluff: Whisk egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a double boiler over medium-high heat. Whisk frequently until mixture reaches 160 degrees (I used a candy thermometer). Transfer mixture into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beginning at low speed, gradually increase speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes. Mix in vanilla.

Transfer fluff to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Match up your cookies and place upside down. Pipe marshmallow fluff onto a cookie and lightly press another cookie on top to create sandwiches. Because of the strong salt and peanut butter flavors, this sandwiches can handle a decent amount of fluff inside. I would even encourage another level of fluff.

(This is the fancy way of doing things. Feel free to just slap that fluff into the cookies with an offset spatula or even a spoon.)

Store in an airtight container and eat within a few days. After that, the moisture in the fluff with start to soften the cookies.

*If you do not have cake flour, you can substitute all-purpose flour. The cake flour makes these cookies softer and more delicate, but all-purpose will do just fine in a pinch.

PB Fluff Sandwich Cookies 4.jpg