spiced apple butter bars

Back a few months ago when I made these Strawberry-Lime Crumble Bars, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to make a fall-inspired version! The strawberry and lime ones were amazing, but when the weather turns cool, you just want something with cinnamon, vanilla and warm spices, preferably with some apples included, to ring in the season.

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raw apricot + ginger nut bars (happy birthday, dad!)


This is probably the most health-conscious recipe I’ve ever posted. It may be the most health-conscious recipe I’ve ever made. No butter? No added sugar? No white flour, chocolate, bacon, or glazed donuts? I know, I know. It shocked me, too.

I’ll allow a super healthy recipe on occasion though, especially cause these were a birthday gift for my dad. Today’s his big 5-8! Since his diagnosis, he’s basically gone vegan and gluten free, so I wasn’t about to make him a pile of caramel turtle brownies (mmm, those do sound good though…) and totally wreck his healthy diet! What kind of a daughter would I be?

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grapefruit brûlée bars

I have many fond memories of spending time at my grandma’s house as a kid. She lived right next door to us, so it wasn’t unusual to go over and spend the night at her house on the occasional weekend. When it came to meals, breakfast was one that my grandma always wanted immediately after she woke up, even it that meant sitting down at the table around 5:30 a.m. My grandma was never one for hearty breakfasts of fried eggs, bacon, pancakes and the like. She’d make little muffins that she called “breakfast cakes”, usually with healthy things like raisins and bran cereal flakes, or chunks of pineapple. My sisters and I would each get a microwave-warmed “breakfast cake” which she’d pulled from her ever-present stash the freezer, accompanied by a tiny glass of orange juice and a steaming, scald-your-lips hot mug of hot cocoa, always made with water and not milk.

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My grandma’s breakfast of choice, the one that she always came back to after countless batches of tiny muffins, was a simple grapefruit half and a cup of hot tea. I never knew anyone who ate as much grapefruit as my grandma! I don’t recall if she ever put sugar on her grapefruit before she dug in with one of her little sharp-edged grapefruit spoons, but whenever she’d serve me a half for breakfast, I was sure to load it up with lots of crunchy white sugar. My favorite part? Drinking the super sweet grapefruit juice left in the rind once all the fruit had been eaten.

Fancy was not necessarily my grandma’s style when it came to breakfast, so there’s no wonder that she never sprinkled sugar on her half of grapefruit and then shoved it into the broiler to create a thin layer of caramelized goodness on top of the fruit. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve always been intrigued by the idea. Grapefruit? Good. Sugar? Good. Grapefruit and sugar? Gooooooood.

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strawberry-lime crumble bars

Growing up, my mom had a Land O Lakes cookbook that was given to her as a Christmas gift by one of our neighbors. Of any cookbook my mom had (aside from her ragged and worn 1970s edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook), we seemed to make things from this book more than most. One such item was a raspberry crumble bar. It was the simplest thing in the world, instructing you to mix up a quick crumbly dough, press half in the pan, spread that half with raspberry jam and crumble the reserved dough on top. Once baked, the bars had a soft and buttery base, topped with tart-sweet jam and tasty little crumbly crunchy bits. My sister and I loved them, and they were basically irresistible cause I never remember any pan of them lasting very long.

Bars Cut3

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