Strawberry Rhubarb Oat Bars

The sweet-tart combo of strawberries and rhubarb is to die for, in my humble opinion. And since my rhubarb is threatening to take over the world this spring, I’m trying to find new and creative ways to use it up. When I saw a recipe on Better Homes & Garden’s website for bars using my favorite fruit duo, I said, “I’m in!” Then once I started perusing the recipe, I realized 1) the pan/batch was waaaaaaay too small to serve my family or co-workers, and 2) it looked strikingly similar to my blueberry breakfast bars previously posted! (Which DOES make a large enough batch to serve my family or co-workers…)

So I kinda combined my blueberry bar recipe with the BH&G recipe, and I think we’ve got us a winner here, people! Rhubarb is a little more finicky fruit than the berries, though. So it took a little trial and error to get it simmered the right length of time, and make sure the sugar ratio was on point. Now I’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is bake up a batch!

Makes 15 bars

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups all-purpose flour*
¾ cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease an 11″x17″ pan with butter and set aside. In large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. Add melted butter and stir until all of oat mixture is combined with butter. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture and set aside. Press remaining oat mixture in bottom of prepared baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

While crust is baking, combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, water, and ginger in large saucepan and heat on high. Once mixture starts to boil, turn to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rhubarb should start breaking up, and it should thicken up. Add strawberries and return heat to high. Once it starts to boil again, turn down to medium and simmer for 3-5 minutes. In small bowl or cup, combine cornstarch and water. Drizzle in to rhubarb and strawberries and stir until mixture thickens up a bit. Pour on top of baked crust and sprinkle with reserved oat crumbs. Bake for additional 30** minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

*NOTE: I’ve started using Costco’s Ultragrain flour, which is a non-GMO flour and may be tolerable to those who are sensitive to gluten. But it’s not for those with celiac disease!

**Next time I make these, I may try baking these 40 minutes once crust is topped with fruit. Rhubarb seems to require a longer baking time than berries, peaches, pears, etc. I was concerned about the top burning if I did them longer than 30 minutes, but I think they would have been fine.

Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

FullSizeRenderTart, tangy rhubarb makes a perfect fresh, summery jam, especially with a subtle hint of strawberry. So if you’ve got more rhubarb than you know what to do with, stir up a batch of this and give grape jelly a break from kitchen duty. I got this recipe from my friends Tom and Kim, who got the recipe from Tom’s mother, Clara. Clara immigrated to America as a young woman, so English wasn’t her first language. That’s why I smile when I read my copy of her neatly typed recipe, with sugar consistently spelled “suger.” And there’s another twist to this tale—I now work with Clara’s granddaughter, Lauren, and I love it when she shares memories of her “Oma,” who has since passed away.

I’m glad Clara shared this recipe with me 20+ years ago, because it’s become a favorite with my sons who prefer this over the sweeter berry jams. My Mom was kind enough to cut me a wheelbarrow full of rhubarb from her garden this year, as I’d used most of mine making rhubarb cake for parties. This recipe takes a whopping 18 cups of fresh rhubarb, but after soaking it in the sugar (or “suger”) overnight, it shrinks. (I don’t quite get the science of that…) Once you’ve done your overnight duty, this jam is a snap to make. You can freeze it or can it. My directions below are for canning it, which is my preference. And our favorite bread on which to slather this jam? Old Country Potato Dill Bread, previously posted.

Makes 12 pints

18 cups chopped rhubarb
5 cups granulated sugar
2 (6 ounce) packages of strawberry flavored Jell-O®

In large plastic bowl* combine chopped rhubarb and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and let set overnight. Juices from the rhubarb will create a simple syrup from the sugar. (See “before” and “after” pictures below.)

Gather a dozen Kerr® or Ball® pint canning jars and wash in hot soapy water, or run through dishwasher. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to boil. Add a dozen fresh canning lids and rings to boiling water. Turn off heat, and let lids sit for 5 minutes in the hot water. Now your jars and lids are ready for canning.

Pour rhubarb and sugar syrup into large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring as it cooks. Stir in both packages of strawberry Jell-O and stir to combine. Remove from heat and use clean ladle to pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rim of each jar with clean, wet rag to remove any excess jam from jar as it will prevent a clean seal. Top jar with clean, sterilized lid, and tightly screw on band. Invert jar. Repeat process with all 12 jars, turning all of them upside down once filled. Let sit for 5 minutes, then turn all of the jars right-side up and wait for them to “plink.” (As they seal, you will hear the sound of the lid creating a vacuum seal. It may take up to an hour for them to all seal.) Test the tops of jars by pressing lightly in center of lid. They are sealed when the center of lid stays down and doesn’t pop back up. Store in cool, dry place for up to a year.

NOTE: Metal bowls will react with the rhubarb, so it’s best to use a plastic bowl. I use the top of a cake carrier. It’s the perfect size for this amount of rhubarb, and since I never make and take cake, the poor container gets used for something, rather than being ignored and neglected in my basement.



Raspberry-Rhubarb Slab Pie

FullSizeRenderWhen my rhubarb plant got beaten up in a fierce summer storm, I needed to get creative in the kitchen and use it or lose it. Browsing online, I came across this raspberry and rhubarb dessert (from that sounded like a fun departure from my usual go-to rhubarb recipes. Plus, I’ve never made a pie crust—unless we did a pastry session in 7th grade foods class. Who can remember? At any rate, I thought I should get outside my baked-goods comfort zone and challenge myself a little.

Whoever coined the phrase “easy as pie” was on drugs. What’s so “easy” about PIE??? I followed the instructions for making the pastry, and got ready to roll out the dough. The directions were to roll it out between layers of waxed paper, but it was too flimsy and the dough was slipping all over the counter and the flour was flying. So I switched to floured parchment paper, and that worked a little better, but it was still no picnic. (That’s another expression I don’t get… Doesn’t making a full meal to bring on a picnic rank up there in culinary challenges? I find it exhausting.)

The next hurdle was trying to get the dough evenly distributed—equal thickness, and sorta in a rectangular shape. After 3 hours (or so it seemed) of huffing and puffing, I did finally get the bottom piece rolled and ready for the fruit filling. But then I had to do it again for the top! Ugh. I just about stabbed myself with the rolling pin. The end result was quite tasty, but I don’t think I’ll be winning any ribbons at the Fair in my lifetime.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it an 8. I loved the sweet-tart combination of the raspberry and rhubarb, and it was a nice change of pace from strawberry-rhubarb. It would be a fabulous treat to bring to a potluck, as it serves two dozen. I also liked that it was slimmer than a piece of pie, and the crust to fruit-filling ratio was perfect. Had my crust not been so tough, it would have been a perfect dessert. Next time, I’ll buy the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts* and save my sanity.

Makes 18-24 servings

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk
1 egg yolk
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
5 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed and drained
3 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained


1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 to 6 teaspoons 2% milk

 In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Whisk 3/4 cup milk and the egg yolk; gradually add to flour mixture, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Divide dough into two portions so that one is slightly larger than the other. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Roll out larger portion of dough between two large sheets of lightly floured parchment paper into an 18″x13″ rectangle. Transfer to an ungreased 15″x10″x1″ baking pan. Press onto the bottom and up sides of pan. Trim pastry to edges of pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add raspberries and rhubarb, tossing to coat. Spoon into pastry. Roll out remaining dough and place over filling. Fold bottom pastry over edge of top pastry; seal with a fork. Prick top with a fork.

Bake 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For icing, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve a drizzling consistency; drizzle over pie. Cut pie into squares. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream.

NOTE: If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press liquid out.

* Pillsbury also makes a gluten-free refrigerated pie crust option.

Marynona’s Rhubarb Cake

IMG_0826My mother-in-law was one of those women who turned all the food she touched into culinary gold. This rhubarb cake was one of her masterpieces—a simple, sweet and tangy dessert that’s a perfect finish to any summer meal. When she moved to Florida, she missed making this treat, as rhubarb doesn’t like the heat in the southern states. So I always tried to make it for her when she came up for a visit. It was the least I could do, since she shared the recipe with me! Now, savoring this treat is nostalgic for us, as my mother-in-law passed away a couple years ago. Two of my sons like grandma’s cake recipe so much they request it on their birthdays each year, over chocolate cake—which makes me question if they are truly my offspring. The appeal of this particular recipe is the moist, velvety texture of the cake, which it gets from the addition of sour milk as well as the rhubarb. 

Serves 8-12


1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour milk (or purchased buttermilk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped rhubarb


1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. To make sour milk, put 1 tablespoon white vinegar in glass measuring cup. Add milk to 1 cup line. Stir, and set aside for 15-30 minutes to allow milk to sour. (Best to use 1%, 2%, or whole milk. There needs to be some fat in the milk to curdle.) Prepare 3-quart rectangular glass baking dish* by coating with shortening, and sprinkling with sparse amount of flour. Remove excess flour from pan. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment, cream together shortening and brown sugar. Add egg, and cream again. Add sour milk and vanilla, and stir. Scrape down sides of bowl and stir again until all ingredients are combined. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to creamed shortening and sugar mixture, stirring on low until all flour is incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and fold rhubarb into batter with rubber scraper or large wooden spoon. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.

In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of cake batter. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched gently in center. Cool on wire rack for 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla or strawberry ice cream, if desired.

*NOTE: You need to bake this cake in a glass dish, as the acid from the rhubarb will eat into the finish of metal pans, and can given the cake an unpleasant metallic flavor, in addition to ruining your pans.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

IMG_0748Crisp, crumble, cobbler…what’s the difference? Researching this question, I got as many different answers as there are names for baked pastry-topped fruit desserts. Here’s the general consensus: cobblers have biscuits on top, and crisps and crumbles have similar streusel toppings. But crisps usually have oats, whereas crumbles have flour and no oats. (Huffington Post flips this difference in an article they published, but my cookbooks and other online sources are consistent with a crisp including oats not vice versa, so I’m sticking with that.) However, “crisp” and “crumble” have come to be used interchangeably in recipes, oats or not. Whew!

Here’s another recipe for the previously promised rhubarb-o-rama. Nothing beats the pairing of tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries, and since they both pop up in spring, how perfect is that? You’ll have to limit your enjoyment of this dish to when these fruits are fresh, because you can’t sneak in frozen fruit—the water content is too high and you’ll get a pile of mush. Rhubarb needs some prep to get it ready for baking, so this isn’t quite as quick as a crisp made from apples or peaches or berries. Serve with a dollop of real vanilla bean ice cream or heavy cream, and your guests will be oohing and aahing and asking for more.

Another plus? You don’t even have to get your electric mixer out to do this dessert—a couple bowls and spoons are all that’s needed. This topping comes from a recipe clipped out of Family Fun magazine many moons ago. I use this on a multitude of fruit combinations, depending on what’s in season. (Sugar and fruit amounts need to vary depending on the fruits, so I’ll post some of those combos later.) Took me a while to come up with the right ratios of sugar, rhubarb, and strawberries, so I’ve saved you all that hassle. Sweet, huh?

Serves 8-12

Fruit base

6 cups chopped (1/2″ pieces) fresh rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
2 – 16 ounce containers or 5-6 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4-1/2 cup all-purpose flour


2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, add rhubarb and sugar. Stir to combine. Let stand for 1 hour. Add in sliced strawberries. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup flour, and stir. If mixture is still too soupy, add additional 1/4 cup flour and stir again.

Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit.* Grease 9″x13″ or other 3 quart baking dish. Pour prepared strawberry-rhubarb mixture into pan. In medium mixing bowl, add oats, sugar, flour, and spices, and stir to combine. Pour melted butter over oats and toss until butter is incorporated. Sprinkle oat mixture over fruit and bake uncovered in preheated oven for 1 hour. Let cool 10-15 minutes so rhubarb juices set before serving.

*NOTE: You can also bake this dish at 375° Fahrenheit for 30 minutes if you’re in a rush, and it’ll be just as tasty.

Rhubarb Mint Coolers

Rhubarb Coolers IMG_0150Rhubarb is one of those early starters, and we usually have something on the table made with the tart ruby red stalks by end of May. Over the next couple weeks, there’s gonna be a rhubarb-o-rama as I post some favorite rhubarb recipes. Those of you in warmer climes probably can’t grow it since it’s a chill baby—it loves colder climates like Canada and the northern half of U.S. You Floridians will have to purchase frozen rhubarb in order to make the recipe below.

This recipe comes from the Epicurious website, and my friend Karin made the cooler and brought it to our house last July 4th. The pinkish-red color made it a natural for celebrating Independence Day, but she said she’s also served it on Valentine’s Day as well. (To serve mid-winter, make in the summer when rhubarb and mint are in abundance, and then freeze the mixture. Or make it in winter with frozen rhubarb, which is available all year.) She doubled the rhubarb amount from the Epicurious recipe, and then diluted the beverage with club soda* for fizz—half rhubarb drink and half club soda in each glass. Topped with a sprig of fresh mint, it was gorgeous as well as refreshing.

IMG_0636Even though the foliage is so pretty and impressive, remember that rhubarb leaves are toxic. Apparently this came to light in WWI when rhubarb leaves were used as a food source in Britain. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) Another fun fact about rhubarb, is that it’s useful for helping with constipation. (Thanks again, Wikipedia!) Not quite sure how much of it you need to ingest in order to reap those benefits… But I digress! Take a break from soft drinks and lemonade, and try this cooler as for a fresh, tart beverage to go with any meal.

Makes approximately 4 cups

4-5 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
5 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

Cut rhubarb into 1/4-inch pieces and, in a saucepan, combine with water, sugar, and mint leaves. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer, and stir occasionally for 15 minutes (rhubarb will disintegrate). Cool for 15 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher, pressing hard on solids to release extra flavor from the fruit. (Or is it vegetable? A New York court decided in 1947 that it would be classified as a fruit not a vegetable, which reduced the tariffs for importing and exporting. But again, I digress.) Chill mixture, covered, until cold, about 3 hours, and up to 2 days.

*NOTE: You can use club soda or seltzer. Both are inexpensive options compared to mineral water, which is naturally carbonated, and therefore more pricey. Club soda has some minerals added to it for flavor in addition to the bubbles, but seltzer is just carbonated water, and nothing else.