While sorting through my photo archive, I came across some fun pictures I had forgotten about from a visit to my parents' house a couple months ago. On this particular visit, Mom and I took my kids and a couple of my younger siblings to the zoo. We had a great time except for getting absolutely drenched by a sudden cloud burst. Highlights for the kids included petting a sting ray, watching the very active sea lions swim about, and chasing the peacocks. The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is definitely one of the nicest zoos we have ever visited. Not too big, very clean, very beautiful, and with lots of well-cared for happy animals to enjoy!
No idea what was up with the punk faces in this photo. Matthew and Bruce just think they're so cool.
The highlight for me was making friends with this very weird little monkey.
Cooler temperatures means our days to walk the zoo are numbered before we become too encumbered by snow and frigid wind. The best part about Fall is the many varieties of local apples that are finally appearing in the supermarket and the roadside farm stands. The kids and I are going to the orchards to pick some apples later this week and Matthew has a long list of apple treats he wants to help me make and apple pie is at the top of his list. He wants me to enter the Apple Pie Contest again this year. We'll see if I have time for that!
This recipe for Apple Pie Bars is not new. I have been making these bars for over eight years now and they are still a family favorite. I posted this recipe in during the very early years of this blog and it instantly became the most popular recipe and held that spot for nearly a year. It has since been forgotten, but we love it so much and think it's such an insanely easy and wonderful treat to share with friends and family that I am pulling it out of the archives, jazzing it up with some new pictures, and bringing it to your attention once again. Since I have made these a gazillion times, we tend to like them with a bit more butterscotch chips than the original recipe calls for and the addition of one cup of coarsely chopped and toasted walnuts. The bars soften even more as they sit and really take on a gooey, apple pie texture about 24 hours after baking. That is how I like them best.
Matthew, Emma, and I made this most recent batch of Apple Pie Bars together. Lucy contributed some quality control in the form of taste-testing the butterscotch chips and diced apples. She also provided some mood music by baby-babbling her way through "Angels Watching Over Me", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Let It Go" at the top of her lungs. Matthew was extremely helpful by volunteering to peel the apples for me, a task I truly abhor. Twenty minutes later, Matthew had precisely peeled exactly one apple. So I ended up having to do some peeling anyway. While I was distracted doing that, Emma started eating teaspoonfuls of baking soda and drinking the vanilla extract. I then banished her from the kitchen and finished off the baking with Matthew alone. Thus is baking with kids. Or just Emma. Most kids beg to sample the chocolate chips; Emma sneaks the baking powder and raw flour.
When fall comes around, forget pumpkin pie or apple crisp. These cookies are the first thing we pull out of our oven!
Apple Pie Bars
this recipe first appeared on the blog in 2012
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1 cup butterscotch chips (we like to heap it!)
1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 baking dish.
Using a stand mixer, beat the oil, sugar, and eggs until fully combined (about 2 minutes). The mixture should be thick and pale yellow.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add to the sugar mixture in the mixer and beat until completely combined. Using a sturdy spoon or spatula, fold in the apples, butterscotch chips, and walnuts. The batter should be very thick.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few, moist crumbs attached. Be careful not to over-bake. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve the bars warm or at room temperature.