Monday, June 11, 2012

Strawberry Crumb Bars

This past weekend, we ventured over to a nearby farm for our annual day of strawberry picking.  The berries were abundant and we walked away with over eight quarts of ripe, juicy, gorgeous red berries.  I am looking forward to all the strawberry goodies we will be making with these babies!

Matthew loved picking the strawberries.  He probably liked eating them a little bit more.  As we were sorting through the berries we brought home, we discovered that Matthew took a bite out of most of the berries he contributed to the basket.  Lovely.  He was also very disturbed by the hulls and insisted on ripping them off each berry he managed to wrap his chubby little hands around.  He was covered in bright red berry juice by the time we were through and I was nervous that the farm would charge us double based on how many berries Matthew probably consumed during the hour we were there.  Judging by the looks of him, he probably ate about two quarts worth.

Here is a fun little look back at our strawberry picking adventures through the years:

Summer 2010


Summer 2011

Summer 2012

So sad to see my baby so big.  I do not realize how much he has grown until I look back at where he was this time last year.  At the same time, he is so much fun right now.  I love running around with him and making him laugh.  His speech is taking off to at a rather alarming rate.  Yesterday, we were walking past a small Methodist church located near our neighborhood and he pointed his little finger at the cross and said:  "Church! Jesus!"  That was a proud Mommy moment.  Whenever we go to church, I explain to Matthew that we are going to see Jesus and I guess that concept is finally starting to sink in!

Anyway, after picking all the strawberries, we immediately set out to make one of our favorite summer snacks:  Strawberry Crumb Bars.  This recipe was actually developed by Paul and I after testing a couple different recipes for various fruit crumb bars over the past couple years.  We tried various recipes for blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry crumb bars.  We combined all the elements that we enjoyed in all those recipes and adapted for the high water content of strawberries and came up with this recipe.  The end result is a delicious, buttery cookie bar that is incredibly difficult to resist.  Seriously, half the pan was gone as soon as these came out of the oven.  And the smell of them baking is intoxicating.  I plan on making many, many pans of these to freeze for Paul's lunches (or midnight snacks!).

Give these a try and don't skip on the white chocolate even if you're a white chocolate hater.  Its flavor is a subtle complement to the berries.

Strawberry Crumb Bars
Nistler Family Original

2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3-4 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2-3/4 cup white chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Measure the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, salt, and 1/3 cup white chocolate into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to combine, about 30 seconds.  Add the chilled butter and continue to pulse until coarse crumbs remain.

Press half of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Pre-bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until firm, light golden, and fragrant.  While the crust bakes, toss the sliced berries with the cornstarch.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the sliced berries.  Try to get the strawberries into a single, even layer (if you can!).  Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the berries.  Sprinkle with the remaining white chocolate and return the pan to the oven.  Bake until the top is lightly browned and the berries are bubbly, about 20 minutes longer.

Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

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