When I was a kid, we always had rhubarb around.  My mother had a huge garden in the back yard, and about a third of it was full of rhubarb.  There was always pie, and strudel, and stewed rhubarb, and rhubarb jelly.

But it doesn’t seem to grow in Texas – the internet says it can be done, but I’ve never seen it.  Every once in a while, I see some in the grocery store, but it’s always expensive and sort of sad looking.

But this weekend I was at Randall’s, and they had a whole pile that didn’t look too bad, and wasn’t terribly expensive.  I picked out a generous handful, thinking I’d make a pie.

When I got it home and started chopping, I realized I’d sadly miscalculated.  I had about twice as much as I needed for a pie. So I started by cutting up the first half.

I cheated and used a refrigerated pie crust.  I’m terrible at them – sometimes I try one just to see if I’ve gotten any better, but I rarely have, and I didn’t have the patience to mess with one. 

RhubarbThe whole thing is very easy – put a pie crust in the pan, put some sugar and flour on top, then add three cups of rhubarb.  Bake for about an hour, or until done.

Rhubarb

It was a very good pie.  But it left me with half the rhubarb still in my fridge.

So, the next day, I made a strudel.  I actually had enough for two, but I just doubled the recipe and put it in a 13×9 instead of an 8-inch square.

Another simple recipe – a basic crust, 3 more cups of rhubarb, and a package of cherry jello sprinkled on top.  Then a streusel made from flour, sugar, and some melted butter. Rhubarb

Rhubarb

The pie was perfect – exactly like I remembered it.  My mother’s was always redder, but that’s because her rhubarb was better.  The strudel came out a bit less-sweet then I remembered it, but it was still good.

It felt like spring, even if it is August!

( see the pie recipe )

( see the strudel recipe )

For some reason, I seem to have an excessive amount of Nutella in my life.  There’s the big batch of homemade nutella in the fridge.  Then, we went to TechMunch a few weeks ago, where we each got a jar of the organic Whole Foods version in our goody bags.

And there is only so much toast one household can eat.  So I went out looking for recipes, and I found this one.  It’s a cake mix on the bottom, with a nutella cheesecake on the top.  I don’t usually buy cake mixes, and I was tempted to replace it with some sort of homemade cake, but I figured I’d make this once the way it was written.  I’m glad I did, because the cake mix doesn’t really mix up to be a cake – it’s just got barely enough liquid to come together.  If you don’t want to use a cake mix, I’d recommend a chocolate shortbread crust – there’s a good one at The Hungry Mouse.

The recipe calls for one egg and a stick of melted butter, mixed with one devil’s food cake mix.  It took a lot of mixing to get it to come together, and it ended up much like a shortbread dough.  Pat it into a (well-greased!) 13×9:

Nutella Brownies

The cheesecake topping is easy – just mix a cup of Nutella and a block of cream cheese until they’re creamy and completely combined.  Add some eggs, vanilla, another stick of melted butter, and powdered sugar.  The recipe calls for 16 ounces, and you should weigh it.  If you don’t have a scale, you can just buy a 16-ounce package at the store and use the whole thing. Be careful to add the sugar slowly, or it will end up all over your kitchen!

You’ll end up with a nice, thick cheesecake batter.  Mine’s got texture because my nutella had texture – if you use the store-bought version, it will come out smooth.  Yes, that is powdered sugar all over my kitchen, why do you ask?

Nutella Brownies

Pour the cheesecake over the crust, and bake for 45 minutes or so.  This is what you’ll end up with:

Nutella Brownies

They’re really good.  The crust is firm enough to give them structural stability, but the top is creamy and cheese-cake-y.

For an interesting variation, you could use plain, smooth peanut butter as a replacement for the nutella.  You’d get a peanut butter cheesecake over a chocolate crust.  You could make it in tiny tart pans, too, but you’d have to cut the cooking time significantly.

I’d make them again!

( see the recipe )

Frosted Chewies

Like everyone else in the 80’s, I grew up repurposing cereal into snacks and desserts.  Rice Krispy bars, Chex Mix in a million variations, and chocolate-covered cereal and pretzel mixes.    I’ve grown out of most of them -although I do have a great browned-butter Rice Krispy treat recipe – but this one I’ve kept around. 

I put the Special K in my biggest mixing bowl while the sugar/peanut butter/corn syrup comes to a boil.  Then pour the syrup over the cereal, being very careful not to spill it – it’s both hot and sticky, so if you get it on your skin, it will cause burns fast. 

Mix it up to get all the cereal coated, and then press it into a buttered pan.  I butter the pan first, then pour in the cereal mixture, then butter my fingers to press it down until it’s firmly packed.  You could also butter a piece of parchment paper and press down on that, if you don’t want to get your fingers greasy.

Then melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips – this is my mother’s recipe, so it says to use a double-boiler, but I just melt them in the microwave.  Put them in for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until they’re melted.  When I’m feeling particularly decadent, I double the topping and use one entire bag each of chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Put them in the fridge to set, but take them out before you plan to cut them.  At room temperature, they’re gooey and wonderful.  Straight out of the fridge, they tend to be a bit hard to cut (or bite), but I eat them that way occasionally too.

( see the recipe )

Snickerdoodle bars

Sometimes I don’t want to spend 4 hours putting together dessert. Sometimes, I just want to put a bunch of stuff in the mixer, pour it into a pan, bake it, and eat it. This is one of those recipes.

Mike really likes snickerdoodles, and I don’t make them very often. So when I saw this recipe come through an RSS feed one day, I bookmarked it. I’ve lost the link by now, but the original recipe went in an 8-inch square pan, and I wasn’t thrilled with the cookie-to-topping ratio. So I doubled it, and put it in a 9-inch pan, to make them thicker and chewier in the middle.

The recipe itself is simple, and very close to a cookie recipe – cream the butter and the sugar, add the dry ingredients, and put it in a pan lined with foil or parchment paper (to help get them out without breaking).  Then mix up the topping, sprinkle it on top, and bake. 

I loved these, Mike loved these, and when my mother took a pan to her church lunch, they all disappeared – so they’re going in my "make again" list.

( see the recipe )