Ahhhh....fall. The weather is cooling, leaves are turning, and it's time to dig deep in our closets for those comfy hoodies that we put away when spring started to bloom all those months ago. Fall is Fur Ninja's favorite season for many reasons - Halloween (who doesn't love playing dress-up?), hiking, hot chocolate, snuggling, birthdays (mine, Mike's and my sister-in-law's are all within a week of each other), pumpkin carving, and.....apples. I somehow got it stuck in my head at the end of last summer that I really just HAD to go apple picking this fall - something I haven't done since I was a child. And, as luck would have it, since Mike has some little ninjas of his own, it was a childhood memory that I got to share with the younger generation too. One Saturday a few weeks ago, we took our little modern family to Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, PA for some fun for both kids and grown-ups alike.
After a day filled with giant pillow-jumping, goat-feeding, tractor rides, haunted houses, a corn maze, pedal carts, and of course the apple-picking, we returned home to Fur Ninja headquarters tired, happy, and with an obscenely large amount of apples. I decided to whip up some kid-friendly apple-peanut-butter bars as a treat to use up some of the yummy fruit, and here's what I came up with.
This recipe is pretty healthy and low-in-sugar (especially if you forgo the powdered sugar glaze, which is optional) so I felt okie dokie serving it for breakfast. Mike's middle boy liked them, although the youngest turned them down in favor of strawberry Pop Tarts. Oh well, guess you can't win them all. The grown-up ninjas, however, thought they were delicious.
Peanut Butter Apple Bars
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non-dairy butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I used creamy but chunky is fine too)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large apples, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
Glaze topping (optional):
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 16x9 inch pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together non-dairy butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, peanut butter, non-dairy milk, and vanilla until smooth. Add wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. Fold the chopped apples into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out mostly-clean, and the top of the cake springs back when touched. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
While the bars are cooling, make the glaze. Mix together all ingredients until smooth. Pour evenly over the bars. The glaze will harden up in the refrigerator, or you can eat it right away as long as you don't mind gooey fingers!
Tips and tricks:
1. Make this recipe even healthier by substituting 1/2 of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour.
2. Let's talk apples - to be honest with you, I'm not even sure what type of apples I used for this recipe, since we picked several different types at the farm. I know we came home with Gala, Cortland, and Honey Crisp, so there was probably a mixture of all of those in the bars. As I have said before in my post about Ninja Applesauce (found HERE in case you were wondering), the only type of apple I recommend against cooking/baking with is the Delicious variety. I know there are more complicated schools of thought on this, with specific types of apples that are best for pies, applesauce, cakes, etc., but I can't remember all that. In Fur-Ninja-Land, it's simple: Delicious = bad. Everything else = good.
3. Going against my own "heck no; I'm not peeling this [insert name of produce here]" rule: I peeled the apples for this recipe because I was feeding it to kids, and because I thought the texture of peels in these rather fluffy, cake-like bars wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. If you'd like to leave your peels on, more power to you.
That's all for now. Recipe for ninja chocolate chip cookies, curried vegetable and rice soup with kale, and Fur Ninja's own recipe for cheezy spread (perfect for vegan grilled cheese sandwiches!) up soon. Also, attempt #2 on vegan mayo was undertaken in the Fur Ninja kitchen last week. We're getting closer to the goal of delicious, homemade, egg-free mayo here, folks, but some more experimentation is needed before we declare this mission accomplished. Hopefully that will soon be a success and be posted in the blog as well.
Until next time, ninjas - snuggle with the one you love and some good food!
The Fur Ninja