Cooking,  Foodies

Strawberry-Rhubarb Breakfast Bars

5 good  grand things happened in the last week:

1. We harvested our first meal out of the garden. Well, sort of a meal. I snipped some stems from our orange mint plant and made “Mason Jar Mojitos” on Friday after work. Don’t judge me. I promise it’s almost a meal.

2. I had a chance to visit with Brenda Langton from Spoonriver and the Mill City Farmers’ Market about her new cookbook. (Check out an extended post of our interview!) When staking out my own little claim of the local food world, I never dreamed I’d chat with amazing and inspiring people like her. So much good work going on in this town. So glad to be a part of it.

3. The kitchen partner and I stopped at Stockholm Pie Company on our way to a family wedding in southern Wisconsin. I totally understand why Heavy Table named it 2011 winner of the Great Upper Midwestern Pie Tasting. We shared a triple-berry mini pie and took a whole apple pie for the road. Best. Pie. Ever.

4. Fellow MN/seasonal food blogger Liz at Carpe Season welcomed a new baby into the world. She and her husband have to be totally smitten with this little guy. I think he has the most hair on a little one I’ve ever seen. Cute and adorable. Many congratulations.

5.  Strawberry-rhubarb breakfast bars entered into my world. The kitchen partner and I have tried for the past few weeks to kick peanut butter and jelly sandwiches off our breakfast menu (I’ve had one nearly every weekday since college) and replace it with a healthier whole grain option. I’ve tried granolas. I’ve tried cold cereals and hot cereals. I’ve tried oatmeals and pancakes. Nothing seems to start my day the same as a good PB & J. That was until strawberry rhubarb breakfast bars walked into my world.

I adapted a recipe for Apple Butter Oatmeal Breakfast Pockets in Country Living’s “The Little Book of Pies and Tarts” to make my new favorite breakfast treat. Substituted a strawberry-rhubarb filling with last year’s frozen berries for the apple butter, adjusted the wheat germ to a locally grown flax seed and coo-coo-cachoo: a new start to the day. The crust is a light flaky pastry made with an inappropriate amount of butter (why not!?!), filled with a the sweet and tangy springtime classic–strawberries and rhubarb. They may take a bit longer to prepare than average (a little over 2 hours start to finish), but the 8 bars are enough to last for breakfasts all week. Make a batch on Sunday and have a special treat with your cup of coffee in the morning. Starting a day off this good can only mean one thing…more grand things are on their way!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Breakfast Bars

For the Filling
2 C. frozen strawberries, thawed
2 C. rhubarb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

For the Crust
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 C. flour
1 1/4 C. oats
1/4 C. golden flax seed
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer 5-8 minutes or until rhubarb begins to fall apart. Slowly whisk in cornstarch until sauce becomes thick. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and thicken.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together on high until fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla.

3. Add in dry ingredients all at once, reduce speed to low and mix until just combined. Split the dough in two pieces, form into balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill butter.

4. Remove 1 ball of dough from refrigerator at a time. Turn it out on a lightly flour surface and roll with a rolling-pin. Dough should be a rectangle about 1/8-1/4″ thick. Cut the dough into long rectangles 2″ by 10″.

5. On each rectangle, spoon 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto one end of the dough, fold the pocket over and crimp edges together with a fork. Repeat with remaining rectangles and with 2nd ball of refrigerated dough.

6. Place each completed rectangle on a baking sheet and bake in a 375° oven for 20-25 minutes. If you are unable to fit all the bars in the oven at one time, refrigerate the rest to avoid butter melting. Transfer baked bars to a wire rack to cool.

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