easy, throw-together, can’t-fail fruit cobbler

Sometimes my grandparents like to shop at Costco.

Which is great! I love Costco! The only problem: there are only three of us in the house. None of us are teenage boys with roaring appetites. And my Grandma likes to buy fruit at Costco.

Which means we sometimes often have a whole bunch of fruit ripening all at once.

So I devised this fruit cobbler recipe out of necessity. I really hate throwing away/wasting food, but a girl can only stir so many strawberries into her morning oatmeal. So one day I chopped up a bunch of strawberries that were on the verge of going bad, added some squishy blueberries and a sad, mealy apple, and topped the whole thing with some stale, also-bought-at-Costco oatmeal cookies that I crushed up with a rolling pin.

I slid the whole thing into the oven and crossed my fingers that when I pulled it out half an hour later, the concoction would have magically transformed into deliciousness.

Well, guess what? IT DID.

costco fruit cobbler

This disappeared from the pan in record time and is a new favorite dessert of my cousin Bianca. {Don’t tell her how easy it is to make… she thinks I’m a superhero every time I bring her some!}

Since then, I’ve made this recipe with a variety of different fruit and topping combinations, and it comes out delectable every single time. So I wanted to share it with you! If you’re looking for an easy, can’t-fail way to use up some past-its-prime fruit — or if you’re just looking for an easy, delicious dessert to make for your family or bring to a party — this is a wonderful recipe!

And {shhhh}… it’s actually healthy! There is no extra sugar added into this dish, unless you use crumbled cookies as the topping — most of the sweetness comes from the baked fruit!

cant fail fruit cobbler

ingredients:
– fruit: strawberries, apples, pears, grapes… whatever is in your fridge! blueberries and raspberries work well, too!
– if you are using less-juicy fruit such as apples or pears, add a little fruit juice {apple, cranberry, orange, whatever you have on hand!}
– topping: stale cookies {I’ve used oatmeal raisin, sugar, even animal crackers} OR granola OR mix up rolled oats with cold butter
– spices to taste {I like cinnamon!}

directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out a glass pie pan or a shallow glass dish and set aside.

2. Slice up the fruit until relatively small, even chunks. Mix together. If you are using drier fruit, add about 1/4 cup of fruit juice.

3. Pour the fruit mixture into the glass pan.

fruit in pan

4. Make your topping. If you’re using stale cookies, place them inside a plastic Ziplock baggie and crush them with a rolling pin until they are crumbled. To make a homemade topping, use your fingers to crumble a few small pieces of cold butter through about 1 cup of rolled oats. Add spices to taste, and a bit of brown sugar if you would like. I’m also a fan of sprinkling the cobbler with granola, like I did here:

fruit cobbler with granola topping

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown on top. It will make your kitchen smell delicious!

fruit cobbler

I like to eat this fruit cobbler on its own, or serve it warm topped with iced cream, or stir it into yogurt! Hope you enjoy!

fabulous friday #12

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I hope each and every one of you feels loved today. If you’re still looking for inexpensive + creative ideas to make those around you feel loved, here’s a post I did a couple weeks ago on the topic!

valentines week

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Valentine’s Day cards & texts. My sweet parents both sent me cards, and I’ve received so many thoughtful messages from friends today. I feel very loved!

valentines cards

2. New Girl. My brother and I are both hooked on this show — it’s sort of become “our” show! Even when we’re apart, we watch it and laugh about it together. I’m a few episodes behind, but I just watched the “Birthday” episode last night and I was laughing so much, I nearly fell out of bed.

Greg sent me this photo of Schmidt and it made me bust out laughing. Even without context, I think it’s still funny! Why is he holding a giant bowl of grapes??

crying Schmidt

3. My church community. This is my first time really being involved with a spiritual community, and it is such a joyous and comforting feeling. One of my church friends had an operation yesterday, and I drove her to and from the doctor and stayed with her for the afternoon. I was blown away by how many people from church called or texted to check in on her, including our minister. And our young adult group has organized a whole schedule of people to drop by and check on her and bring her meals while she is recuperating. It warms my heart and makes me feel very grateful to have found such a supportive and genuinely caring community.

4. This moving blog post by Single Dad Laughing. I could not agree more. Every dad — every parent — should read this. And reading it made me realize, more than ever, how lucky I am to have won the Dad Lottery. {And the Mom Lottery, too!}

mom & dad anniversary

{And happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!}

5. The song “Pompeii” by Bastille. Whenever this song comes on the radio, I turn it waaaay up and start rocking out! I love it.

Now I’m off to bake a batch of red velvet crinkle cookies to deliver to the nursing home … Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Sending lots of love your way today and every day ❤

red velvet cookies

Questions of the day:

  • Are you doing anything to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans for the weekend?

year of kindness challenge: week 17

year of kindness button

Hello from California! I have moved back to my home state after finishing up my last semester of grad school, and it feels so nice to be back home in the sunshine with my family!

Last week flew by as I tried to get all my stuff packed up, my furniture sold on Craigslist, my apartment cleaned out … not to mention saying goodbye to the wonderful friends I made at Purdue! I was glad that the kindness challenge this past week was to focus on smiling at everyone you meet, because I was sad about having to say goodbye to people I love, and the extra smiles were a big boost that got me through an emotional week.

with friends

Saying goodbye to some friends at one of our favorite restaurants, an Irish pub

fiction friends

Saying goodbye to MFA friends Natalie and Tiffany.

My mom was so sweet and took off work the whole week to stay with me and help me get ready to move. We worked hard all day and in the evenings had a great time cooking dinner to use up the food left in my pantry, drinking wine and watching marathons of Friday Night Lights. I am a lucky daughter!

Here are some other kind acts I am grateful for that happened this past week:

  • my friend Terrance helped carry carried all by himself two heavy boxes of my stuff to ship home via UPS
  • my friends Shavonne and Tiffany gave me rides to the store and a professor’s goodbye party after I had sold my car and didn’t have transportation
  • my aunt Annie left a sweet message on my voicemail just checking in to see how I was doing
  • a group of students on Purdue’s campus were passing out free popcorn to boost spirits during finals week
  • I received a nice email from one of my students thanking me for “being a great teacher”

The Week 17 Kindness Challenge is to fight back against the litterbugs! Go on a walk at one of your favorite spots, bring along a plastic grocery bag, and pick up every piece of trash you see. Another option would be to challenge yourself to pick up at least one piece of litter every day this week. Or do both! 🙂

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 3-ingredient banana cookies

kttovenmittbanner425

Hi everyone! Time for another Kitchen Tip Tuesdays post! {Here are links to my previous posts about making the most of oven time and reusing leftovers in new recipes.}

I have a quick recipe to share with you today — it’s an easy and delicious cookie that is also healthy for you! And it only has three ingredients {one of which is chocolate!} 🙂 That’s my kind of recipe!

This would make the perfect sweet dessert, kid-friendly snack, or grab-and-go breakfast. It’s also a great way to use up spotty bananas before they go bad.

banana cookies

All you need to make these babies are:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips {if desired; I used mini chocolate chips for mine}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mash bananas in a bowl. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

banana dough

3. Plop dough onto a greased cookie sheet {I greased mine with coconut oil} and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Done and YUM! How easy is that?

banana cookies done

This recipe is also easily customizable to suit your tastes! You can add chopped nuts, raisins, peanut butter, coconut … whatever your taste buds desire!

What are some of your favorite grab-and-go recipes?

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if you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
peanut butter breakfast cookies
chocolate strawberry coconut cookies
2-ingredient pumpkin spice cookies

year of kindness challenge: week 5

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! I’ve heard that it takes four weeks of a behavior before it really becomes a habit. Perhaps that is true, because these kindness challenges are becoming a habit — one that I am loving! It is brightening my everyday life and way of thinking. Concentrating on doing kind acts for others has made more aware of the kindnesses that are done to me. Quite simply, even after just one month, it has made me a more grateful and happy person!

This past week was my favorite yet for the #yearofkindness challenge! The Week 4 Kindness Challenge was to give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth. I immediately knew who I wanted to reach out to: the kind older man who works as the parking lot attendant for the local public library, which is just a couple blocks from Purdue’s campus. He reminds me a little of my Gramps and whenever I go to the library, I always wave hello to him.

Last week was a cold, snowy week in Indiana, especially on Wednesday. I woke up and thought, “Today’s the day! I’m doing my act of kindness!” During my lunch break, I walked to the Einstein Bros. that is right next to the library. I had a coupon for a free coffee or frappuccino, but I wasn’t sure if my friend would want caffeine, so I opted for a hot chocolate instead. My act of kindness was a team effort because the nice people working at Einstein Bros. let me use my coupon for a hot chocolate instead of a coffee. {Of course, I *would* have paid for the hot chocolate if need be, but I thought I might as well use the coupon that I had. It’s a frugal act of kindness!} 🙂

I felt a little nervous as I carried the warm cup of hot chocolate over to the parking garage. Doing acts of kindness can feel like putting yourself out on a limb, and I hoped he would like it.

Well, I should not have worried one bit! He smiled and waved hello when he saw me walking over. I said, “I thought you might like some hot chocolate on such a cold day” and handed him the cup, and he just lit up. It was such a neat moment! He smiled the biggest smile and said, “Thank you so much, dearie. That is so nice!”

I beamed the entire cold, snowy walk back to my office. It was the best part of my day and surely a highlight of my week!

Here are some other good things that happened in my world this past week:

  • I received a beautiful card from my dad telling me he loves me and is proud of me. I am incredibly lucky to have the best dad who tells me those two things all the time, but I could never get tired of hearing it! I miss him so much and it is always a wonderful surprise to see his handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox.
  • A waitress gave me a to-go glass of the tea I’d ordered in the restaurant so I could enjoy it on the drive home.
  • A kind maintenance worker came out to my apartment one evening when the heater stopped working. He not only got it working again, he also brought space heaters just in case and could not have been nicer. 

Now on to the Week 5 Kindness Challenge: do something kind for a neighbor. This might mean bringing the newspaper up from their driveway to their front door, shoveling their front walk after you shovel your own, taking their trash barrels up their driveway after the trash is collected, striking up a conversation in the hallway of your apartment complex, baking cookies or making a casserole to bring over … or whatever idea strikes you!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

I read in a magazine recently that popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables! Adding to that, one cup of popcorn {the healthy, air-popped variety, that is} has less than 50 calories! Hello, my new favorite snack. I also love popcorn because it is so versatile – you can add seasonings to make it salty, cheesy, spicy, or sweet.

Or … kick it up a step further and add some chocolate to the mix! {I know, I know, this definitely crashes-and-burns the whole “under 50 calories” thing … but the way I see it, chocolate-covered popcorn is pretty healthy on the dessert scale!} I made mine with dark chocolate to take advantage of even more antioxidant power.

chocolate popcorn

Before making this dish, I had never even attempted to melt chocolate before. I do not have a double-broiler so I just used my microwave. I was worried it would be difficult or time-consuming, but it was incredibly easy. I am already looking forward to livening up my next movie night in with Mike by whipping up another batch of this addicting treat!

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

– 1 package popcorn of choice {I like to use a healthy, whole-grain version with no added butter or salt}
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tsp butter
– salt, cinnamon, or other spices to taste

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Dump into a big bowl and pick out any unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.

2. Melt chocolate and butter over a double-burner or in a microwave-safe bowl. {Melting times vary based on the power of your microwave, but I’d recommend using a series of shorter time increments and stirring more often so as not to burn the chocolate by cooking too long!}

3. Pour melted chocolate onto the popcorn.

popcorn

4. Using a spoon {or your hands!} mix popcorn and chocolate together, breaking apart any large clumps of chocolate, until the popcorn is evenly coated.

chocolate covered popcorn

5. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

I gifted a batch of this popcorn to a coworker using a homemade “upcycled” gift container. I’ll share more about making homemade gift containers in my post tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂

upcycled gift containers

Have a wonderful day!

Till soon,
Dallas

midnight snack: pancakes!

I don’t know if I had a lighter dinner than usual last night, or if I burned more calories yesterday zipping around campus in the rain, or what … but late last night I found myself feeling hungry. And you know what was calling to me from the pantry? Pancake mix! So I decided to whip up a quick small batch of butterscotch/chocolate-chip pancakes for a special late-night treat.

Here is the recipe I used to make my perfect, sweetly satisfying late-night snack in case you’d like to try it out yourself sometime. If not for a midnight snack, perhaps for breakfast? 😉

chocolatey butterscotch pancakes

– 1 cup pancake mix {I used Aunt Jemima}
– 3/4 cup water
– handful of chocolate chips
– handful of butterscotch chips
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– butter for greasing the griddle

1. Stir together ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Batter will be lumpy.

2. Let batter sit for 3-5 minutes. While batter is resting, warm griddle pan on stove over medium-low heat.

3. When griddle is hot, grease pan with a little butter. {I always use butter because it is the way my mom makes pancakes … I love the crispy edges it gives them!}

4. Cook pancakes 4-5 minutes per side, flipping over when the middle starts to bubble.

5. Serve warm, with syrup if desired. {I prefer mine plain, with the chocolate all melty!}

Mmmm … the perfect end to a blustery autumn day. I was so excited to eat them that I completely forgot to take a picture! Sorry about that. I’m sure you can imagine them!

It could be that my pancake craving comes because I’ve been missing my brother Greg an extra lot lately. Pancakes always make me think of him. He is a pancake fiend! He’s coming to visit me in just a couple weeks and I could not be more excited.

What are some of your favorite late-night foods?

-Dallas

You might also enjoy:

strawberry & chocolate-chip pancakes
midnight stroll around the neighborhood
chocolate, strawberry & coconut cookies

cranberry ice cubes & cherry-cranberry jello

I came down with the stomach flu last week and completely lost my appetite. But it has been so hot outside that I wanted to make sure I kept hydrated. What really sounded good to me were ice cubes {for the coldness} and cranberry juice {for the flavor and Vitamin C!} My sweetie Mike had the genius idea of combining the two things to make cranberry ice cubes. They are the perfect way to stay cool in the summer heat while also enjoying a pop of flavor!

cranberry ice cubes

-cranberry juice {we used 100% juice, a mixture of cranberry and apple}
– water
– ice cube tray
– toothpicks {optional, to make little popsicles}

1. Fill a large cup with half water and half cranberry juice.

2. Carefully fill the ice cube tray.

3. If desired, add a toothpick to each ice cube for easy removal.

4. Freeze until solid, remove, and enjoy!.

Mike also used these cranberry ice cubes to make Jello for me, which was hands-down the BEST Jello I have ever had! He used the sugar-free cherry flavor and combined with the cranberry ice cubes it was the perfect mixture of sweet and tart!

cherry-cranberry jello

– 1 package sugar-free cherry jello
– cranberry ice cubes
– water

1. Make jello according to package directions, except instead of using regular ice cubes, use cranberry ice cubes!

2. Put into the fridge to chill for an hour, until jello-jiggly!

YUM!

Hope you have a cool, relaxing weekend! Stay healthy!
-Dallas

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Time spent: 15 minutes, plus fridge & freezer time
Cost: $2.00

lemon bars for my gramps

I have always been especially close with my Gramps — I’m even named after him! {His middle name is Dallas.} I’m really grateful to be home for this week and get to spend time with my family. I love being able to just hop in the car, drive three minutes down the road, and pop into my Gramps’s house to say hi. We usually end up chatting over TCM movies, episodes of M*A*S*H or “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

Speaking of The Food Channel, my Gramps loves lemony desserts. Lemon meringue pie, lemon cake, lemon sorbet. He was diagnosed with cancer this past December {that is mercifully in remission now} but ever since undergoing radiation his taste buds really crave sour food. So I decided to make him some lemon bars after I was inspired by this recipe on a blog I love, Recipes Happen.

I’d never attempted lemon bars before, but these were easy-peasy and turned out really well! I like the shortbread texture of the crust mixed with the smooth tartness of the lemon and the sweetness of the powdered sugar on top.

gramps’s favorite lemon bars

for the crust:
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 cup flour
-1/3 cup powdered sugar

for the lemon topping:
– 1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
– 3 eggs
– 3 tablespoons flour
– 1/3 cup lemon juice {I used two medium-sized lemons}
– zest from one lemon {about 2 tablespoons}
– powdered sugar to dust on top

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside.

2. Combine the softened butter, flour and sugar to make the crust. Dough will be crumbly. Press into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

3. While crust is baking, make the lemon topping: beat the eggs and add the sugar and flour. Juice the lemon and pour the juice through a sieve to make sure no seeds get into the dessert! Grate the lemon peel and add to the mixture. Blend well.

4. Pour the lemon topping over the hot crust and put back into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. When done, lemon bars should be solid in the middle, not soupy. Dust with powdered sugar. I’d recommend letting them cool before attempting to cut them. {I personally think lemon bars are delicious refrigerated!}

Enjoy! Gramps and I sure did! 🙂

Hope you have a wonderful weekend with lots of time with your loved ones,
Dallas

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Time: 40 minutes {including bake time}
Cost: about $3.00