Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Ritz Bars – An Easy No-Bake Treat

16 Feb

When I saw this recipe in my inbox, I couldn’t get it out of my head – admittedly, it got a bit obsessive, but can you blame me? Chocolate = delicious. Peanut butter = amazing. Ritz and pretzels = salty and awesome on their own, but paired with the other two, we are talking some serious yumminess. I was drooling just looking at the pictures, and finally was able to stop obsessing and make these awesome treats

Ritzbars babyMy pretzel helper is ready, so let’s get down to business!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Ritz Bars (Recipe Courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything)

Ingredients
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, melted
1 cup pretzels, crushed finely then measured
1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed finely
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1½ cups milk chocolate chips

Instructions
1. Line a 9×13 baking dish with aluminum foil.
2. In medium bowl combine melted butter, crushed pretzels, crushed Ritz crackers, powdered sugar, and crunchy peanut butter.
3. Press mixture into the bottom of the foil lined baking dish.
4. In a small bowl, melt milk chocolate and ¼ cup peanut butter in microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stirring in between intervals. Pour over peanut butter cracker mix and spread evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate has set before cutting into squares.

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Crushing up some salty snacks for the bottom layer

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I made a double batch of these (because – why not?) and luckily my division skills worked out pretty well and each pan had just the right amount of each layer (really lucky since I was definitely just eyeballing it…)

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*I recommend letting them sit at room temperature for a bit before trying to cut them/free them from the pan (trust me – as I learned this the hard way!)

Chocolate and peanut butter lovers beware – these are addicting! It’s that combo of salty and sweet that really gets me, plus I love the crunchy texture of the bottom layer and the sweet chocolate topping. Not only are these delicious and easy, but they are the perfect treat to let the kids help with, or to make on a hot day, as there’s no oven required – the microwave is all that’s needed to whip up these tasty treats!

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Personally I find them reminiscent of a Reese’s Big Cup – which is basically a big peanut butter cup with extra peanut butter in it. It’s a rich treat that has it all – salty, sweet, crunchy, and chocolaty- what could be better?

Give Some Love This Valentine’s Day With These Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 Feb

Valentine’s Day is only 12 days away (not that I’m counting…)! I know it’s not exactly everyone’s favorite holiday – but I personally love it – cards, flowers, candy, chocolate – what’s not to love, right? OK – maybe you need some convincing – and I have just the thing. COOKIES! That’s right, cookies – who doesn’t love them? They come in about a million varieties, are easy to make, and are the perfect gift to give to your loved ones, because not only do they show you care enough to bake for them, but they taste delicious too!

These chocolate chocolate chip oatmeal cookies have it all – oats (one of my favorite things), a chocolate cookie, and plenty of chocolate chips

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (Recipe Courtesy of Something Swanky)

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

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The various stages of dough-ness

Instructions
In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the shortening. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar, beat until creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time and mixing in between each addition.
Add the sea salt and the vanilla. Mix well.
Mix in the cocoa powder, flour, oats, and baking soda until dough forms, but don’t over mix.
Add the chocolate chips and mix.
Scoop onto a parchment or silicon lined baking sheet by rounded tablespoons. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-14 minutes, until edges are set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Look at that huge pile of dough – isn’t it amazing? I gave them the full 14 minutes in the oven and they came out perfectly. I also used my handy scoop so that the cookies were all the same size.

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Nothing better than a huge tower of fresh cookies…

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They were Andrew approved, and I have to say I really enjoyed them as well – chewy on the edges and the middles were nice and soft. There were plenty of chocolate chips in the cookies, and the oats added a really nice texture to them too. I would definitely make these again – they were easy, quick, and delicious

This Valentine’s Day skip the generic heart shaped box of chocolates and bake some chocolate chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for your sweetie – they will be so ecstatic that they might just share them with you (or you can always hoard a few aside for yourself before you wrap them up…just sayin’…)

 

Beer Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

19 Jan

My Husband’s birthday was on Friday – and after almost nine years together, I find that it really isn’t about the money you spend on a gift, but rather the thought and work that went into it. Plus – since we just had a baby, saving money is a big thing for us right now. Which is what got me to thinking about what I could make for my husband for his birthday (versus buy), and I thought about things he likes – and the two things that top the list are BEER and FOOD. So, why not combine them both and make him something he can eat – with BEER in it!? This isn’t the first time I have done this, but it IS the first time I have tried making a beer inspired breakfast item – and the two items went together better than I thought they would!

Twenty Minute Cinnamon Roll Beer Biscuits (Recipe Courtesy of The Beeroness
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
20 minutes
Yield: 10-12
Ingredients
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
10 tbs unsalted cold butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup pale ale or wheat beer
1/3 cup buttermilk
6 tbs softened butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
For the Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
• Preheat oven to 400.
• In a processor add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
• Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter, process until well combined. Add to a large bowl.
• Add the buttermilk and beer. Mix with a fork until just combined.
• Add to a well-floured flat surface, pat into a rectangle. Using a cold rolling pin (preferably marble) gently roll into a large rectangle, about 3/4 inch in thickness, using as few strokes as possible.
• In a medium sized bowl add the softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and pinch of salt. Stir until a paste forms.
• Spread the dough with the butter mixture. Starting at the long end, roll into a tight log. Cut 2-inch rounds, place in a baking dish.
• Bake at 400 for 12 to 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
• Allow to cool.
• Stir together the powdered sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined. Serve the biscuits topped with icing.

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I followed the recipe exactly as written – and I found that the only difference was that they took a bit longer to bake – about 20 minutes total

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These were easy to throw together and were a huge hit with the birthday boy!

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In keeping with the beer and food theme, I also made White Bean Chicken Beer Chili and Beer cheese biscuits for his birthday dinner – they both turned out really great as well! If you have a beer lover in your house then I suggest you check out the Beeroness’ Blog – it’s full of great and easy recipes (plus the pictures are seriously drool-worthy!)

Gettin’ Into That Holiday Spirit With These Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies

7 Dec

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is less than three weeks away – time sure flies doesn’t it? I think for me time has gone particularly fast these past two months – as my little guy has been growing up so quickly !

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Needless to say – I haven’t had a ton of time to shop, or cook, or bake, or do much except cuddle my boy (which isn’t exactly a bad thing in my book!), but when I came across this recipe for Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies, I knew I had to make it for my man – who is a huge molasses cookie fan, and a huge chocolate fan (but who doesn’t love chocolate, right?!)

I love Averie Cooks – her recipes are easy, delicious, and most of all I love her pictures – they are so beautiful and I always strive to make my desserts look just as good as hers! I get emails when she posts new entries on her blog, and I have made a bunch of stuff from her site, and I figured what better way to get into the Christmas mood than with the scent of molasses wafting through the house?

 

Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

For the Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed (either light or dark)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsulphered molasses (not blackstrap, it’s much more pungent and bitter; I use Grandma’s Original)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
6 ounces (3/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate or dark chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks (I use Trader Joe’s 72% Pound Plus bar; use a favorite bold dark chocolate or chocolate bar)

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating for Rolling
about 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

For the Cookies – In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. To the slightly cooled butter (so you don’t scramble the egg), add the next eleven ingredients – the egg, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, molasses, oil, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and whisk vigorously to combine until batter is smooth and silky. Add the flour, baking, soda and stir to just incorporate; batter will be thick

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Fold in the chocolate chips and chocolate baking chunks (I used nearly 6 ounces; using a total of 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips is okay if you don’t have baking chocolate or a chocolate bar to chop). Cover mixing bowl or transfer batter to an airtight food storage container and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days, prior to baking.

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Preheat oven to 350F, line two baking trays with Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat liners, parchment, or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating for Rolling – In a small bowl, combine about 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and stir to combine.

Using a cookie scoop, form 2-ounce mounds of dough and roll each ball through the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on baking trays, spaced about 2 inches apart (I bake 8 to a tray).

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Allow cookies to bake in fairly domed-up, mounded, ball-like shapes. Bake for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until tops have just set, taking care not to overbake so they stay soft and chewy.

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Upon removing trays from oven, if cookies stayed domed while baking (likely they will) immediately give cookies a firm yet gentle tap or two with the back of a spoon to flatten them. This creates a crackled top appearance and exposes some of the melted chocolate chips and chunks. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before moving them to a rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months

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I followed this recipe exactly, and was very pleased with the results – a dense, chocolaty cookie with a fine cinnamon sugar coating that went perfectly with milk and hot cocoa

The only thing I would do differently next time is I used dark chocolate, I think I would like to try it with the bittersweet chocolate to give more of a flavor contrast (as the chocolate in the cookies all tasted pretty much the same)

My man was happy, and so was I – these are a great alternative to plain gingerbread or molasses cookies, and they are perfect to make and give as a gift from the heart this Christmas (just be sure to make extra for yourself…)

Pumpkin Season Continues With Easy Cookies And Delicious Oatmeal

27 Sep
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Me and my (three!) pumpkins love fall!

I already kicked off my fall baking season with this amazingly easy Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter – and I loved it so much that I figured why not keep the pumpkin-y good times rolling? Plus – I am officially 9 months pregnant now – and I figured this might be one of my last chances to bake or try some new fall recipes before our little guy arrives, so I wanted to take full advantage!

Starting with the most important meal of the day, I decided to whip up some Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal so I could get my breakfast on before I moved on to the heavy labor of making cookies

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (Recipe Courtesy of Food Network)

Ingredients
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
2 cups milk, plus more for serving
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed), plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Kosher salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), for serving

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Directions
-Whisk the pumpkin puree, milk, 2 cups of water, the dried cranberries, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, vanilla and a large pinch of salt together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then add the oats and reduce the heat to medium-low
-Gently simmer, stirring frequently, until the oats are tender and the oatmeal is the consistency you like, 10 to 15 minutes (15 minutes for very thick oatmeal)
-Ladle the oatmeal into bowls and serve drizzled with milk and sprinkled with a little extra sugar and pumpkin seeds

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The only modification I made to this was I didn’t include the toasted pumpkin seeds – not for any particular reason except that I forgot to get them at the store – whoops…but I am thinking that if you don’t have them on hand, you can substitute sliced almonds or other nuts

My husband and I both really enjoyed the way that this turned out – the oats were well cooked and it wasn’t too thick – my husband’s only complaint was “too many raisins” but that is a matter of personal opinion I think! The spices and pumpkin taste weren’t too overpowering, and since I am an oatmeal LOVER – this really hit the spot!

 

Delicious breakfast – check! Now on to the COOKIES….

Last year I tried out these Salted Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies – and they had a nice cake-y texture and were overall a success. But personally, I prefer a more dense, thick cookie – which is what led me to this recipe for Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Someone is ready to help make cookies (and eat them!)

Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe courtesy of Cooking Classy)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Yield: About 4 dozen

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger for 30 seconds, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy (occasionally stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout entire mixing process). Blend in egg then blend in vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.

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Various stages of cookie dough – is there any sight more beautiful than when butter and sugar meet?

With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans (if you want some chocolate to show through set some aside to press into tops before baking). Let batter rest 5 – 10 minutes (this just gives the oats some time to absorb the liquids so batter isn’t so sticky and cookies don’t spread so much)

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Before and after their time in the oven

Scoop dough out 2 Tbsp at a time (I used a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, which I recommend using for evenly shaped cookies and fill it heaping), and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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The deliciously moist finished product – oats, chocolate, pumpkin – what more could you want?

 Aside from the slightly selfish reason of wanting a dense cookie (which these definitely were by the way!), I wanted to make something my husband would enjoy but with a slightly fall twist – as his favorite cookie is oatmeal chocolate chip. He liked these too – and kept sneaking them off the rack when he thought I wasn’t looking! The pumpkin gave them a nice flavor but also helped to keep them moist and dense – and between the texture of the oats and the chocolate chips, I would say it’s definitely something I would make (and eat!) again!

The great thing about both of these recipes is that I had most of the items on hand, and the few items I needed (canned pumpkin and raisins) were easily and cheaply obtained. Overall these are both easy and would please just about any crowd – and are perfect for celebrating the best season of all – FALL!

Making The Most Out Of Fall With “Apple Brownies” and a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

14 Sep

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Apple season is in full swing here in Upstate NY – so every weekend I am out there picking, which is a great time – but what’s even MORE fun is then getting to figure out what new and delicious things I can make with the apples!

There’s always going to be apple pie, apple crisp (served warm with vanilla ice cream – yum!), applesauce, and apple butter – those are all basically a given, as I love to eat and share all of them with those I love – but I figure, why not try something different with this newest batch?

When I saw this recipe for Apple Brownies, my mind first assumed that it was a chocolate treat – but once I read the description that stated this was a recipe for a “Cinnamon-spiced blonde brownie” I was actually even more excited than when I was when I thought chocolate would be involved! A bar with nuts and apples sounds like the perfect fall treat, doesn’t it?

 

Apple Brownies (Recipe courtesy of All Recipes)

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3 medium apples – peeled, cored and
thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking dish
2. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, sugar, and egg until fluffy. Fold in the apples and walnuts
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon
4. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just blended. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish
5. Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean)

 20140914_090156  20140914_090605 My favorite little kitchen helper wants to make sure I don’t drop any apple peels…

I think what I like about this and other apple cakes/bars/cookies is that they really can be passed off as dessert, a snack, or even breakfast and they go well with milk, coffee, tea, or cider – so you can bake these for a ton of different occasions!

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They turned out so good – much more like a cake than a bar or brownie though- but that’s fine by me! the brown sugar gives it a nice caramelized taste, and the nuts are the perfect addition. Very moist, and if you pair paired with this delicious DIY pumpkin Spice Latte mix then you’ve basically got the perfect fall breakfast!

Pumpkin Spice Latte {homemade recipe for 1 week of yummy drinks!} – Recipe courtesy of A Farm Girl’s Dabbles.com

Ingredients
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 T. pure vanilla extract
1 T. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground dried ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
strong coffee
slightly sweetened whipped cream
cinnamon
dark chocolate shavings
Preparation
In a blender, combine all the pumpkin spice mixture ingredients. Puree for about 30 seconds. If you
want a smoother mixture, puree for a couple minutes, or until the mixture is to your desired
consistency.

Pour 1/2 cup (more or less, depending on your preference) of the pumpkin spice mixture into a large
mug. Microwave for about 20 seconds, then add 1 cup of hot strong brewed coffee and stir. Top with
a nice lofty pile of sweetened whipped cream. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. And if you’re looking for
extra deliciousness, top with chocolate shavings. So pretty!

Pour the remaining pumpkin spice mixture into a quart jar or similar sized container and top with a lid.
Store in the refrigerator. When ready to make another drink, shake the jar well and repeat the
assembly of the pumpkin spice latte. The pumpkin spice mixture will keep well for up to 1 week in the
refrigerator.

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Personally, I skipped the whipped cream and chocolate shavings – I wanted to just try the pumpkin latte mix without the frills (plus I always skip the whip on my Starbucks lattes – just doesn’t do it for me) and I really liked it, it wasn’t exactly like any of the coffeehouse versions – but I loved the pumpkin and cinnamon combo with my coffee – and I love that it will be good for the next week so I can start my mornings off the right way!

 

Fall is here – and I couldn’t be happier!

Ringing In Pumpkin Season With This Super Easy Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

6 Sep

September = Fall. You may disagree with this statement, as I know fall doesn’t technically start until the later part of the month, but I don’t care. In my world, September is when it all begins – apple picking, pie making, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin spice lattes (Starbucks helped me out with that one by releasing them early this year!), leaves changing, a cool crisp breeze in the air – it all adds up to the best season of all – and I am so glad it’s here once again!

Last year, I made tons of apple stuff – from Apple Crisp to Classic Apple Pie, to Applesauce and Apple Butter that I gave as Christmas gifts – let’s just say that we picked a LOT of apples, and not one of them went to waste!

This year, I want to try and focus a little more on Fall’s other signature flavor – the pumpkin! There’s always pumpkin pie or pumpkin cookies or pumpkin bread – all of which are amazing and delicious – but I thought maybe another item I could potentially jar and give as Christmas gifts might be just the ticket – so when I stumbled across this recipe for Pumpkin Butter I knew I had to try it out!

Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter (Recipe courtesy of Moms with Crockpots)

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 5 hours

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
½ cup apple juice
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

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The ingredient list for this one is pretty simple!

Instructions
1. Set your crock pot on low heat.
2. In the bottom of the crock pot, thoroughly combine all of your ingredients.
3. Cover and let cook for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin butter is thick enough to stick to
a spoon turned upside down.
4. Spoon pumpkin butter into a jar and let cool completely in the refrigerator before using.
5. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week or the freezer for up to 6 months.

I decided to double the recipe, since the ingredients are so few and cheap, and I figured if it turned out awesome then I would have twice as much to enjoy! So for whatever reason – I don’t have pumpkin pie spice at home – never have, I don’t know why – but luckily you can substitute the following to make the 3 teaspoons you need of pumpkin pie spice for the doubled recipe:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

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The finished product. Doesn’t look like much really, but I really love the texture of it – it turned out really smooth and the flavors combined to make it a really delicious spread (which definitely took some time to thicken up – so don’t panic if you finish making it and its still hot and seems thin – it will get thicker as it cools!). The only change I would make is that I personally would add more of the pumpkin pie spice to it – as is its great, but a little more spice would kick it up into the next flavor dimension for sure! Next time I make it I will definitely be giving that a try

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This stuff would be great on bagels, bread/toast, english muffins, or even pancakes or french toast! Hmm…maybe I can convince my husband to bake us some delicious white bread to enjoy the pumpkin butter on…HAPPY FALL!

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