Archive | Baking RSS feed for this section

Chewy Homemade S’More Granola Bars (Better Than Store Bought Any Day!)

30 Apr

There’s no doubt about it – we are living in some strange times. Being basically “stuck” at home can be tough in a lot of ways – but it can also be rewarding in a lot of ways, too!

I always have enjoyed baking (obviously!), but now I have even more time to do it – and my husband and my son have gotten in on the fun too – baking bread together for us to enjoy (nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread, is there?).

As for me – I have been trying to be creative with what we have on hand, and taking advantage of Target drive up orders, as well as Amazon too – to help me stock my pantry so that I can try out some new treats at home!

Last week, I bought my son a variety pack of kids Clif Bars on Amazon – they came Thursday evening, and by Saturday he had eaten 11 of the 16 – eek! I am so glad he liked them, and I can of course order more, but I would love to find an alternative in the somewhat healthy breakfast bar arena that I can make at home, and keep on hand for him as his snack needs arise (which – as those of you who are parents know – they arise MANY times a day!)

So in my searches for a breakfast bar/granola bar recipe, I came across these Chewy Homemade Granola Bars – and since my son loves the store bought ones, I figured – why not give these a whirl?

He’s ready to bake (well – they are no bake,

Chewy Homemade Granola Bars
(Recipe courtesy of Dinner Then Dessert)

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons brown sugar , packed
2/3 cup honey
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cups graham crackers , crushed in pieces and crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup cereal marshmallows

Instructions
-Spray an 8×8 inch pan with canola oil or baking spray and line just the bottom of the pan with some parchment paper.
-In a small pot over medium heat add the butter, brown sugar and honey and whisk on medium low heat for 2 minutes until well combined.
-In a large bowl add the oats, cereal, graham crackers and salt then pour the butter mixture over the cereal and whisk it together carefully to combine well then let it cool for 20 minutes.
-Add in the marshmallows and mini chocolate chips gently then press into your pan gently but slightly packed down and let it solidify in the refrigerator before slicing for 2 hours.

Expert Graham Cracker Crusher

Various stages of mix (and yes I messed it up and put the chocolate chips and marshmallows in with the dry stuff before adding the honey mix – oops! Still worked out though ha!)

That’s a legit cross section right there

They are a thing of beauty, aren’t they?

These turned out SO GOOD – delicious, not at all dry, nice and chewy – and they stuck together in bar form really well!

I don’t really love the boxed kind of these bars – they are good in a pinch and taste fine, but kinda just – blah in my opinion. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from these – but i was really blown away by how good they were – I highly recommend them for those of you like me whose little ones (or bigger little ones!) are going through snacks like crazy right now! The batch made like 20 smaller bars, and the items in the recipe were all things I had on hand (minus the mini chocolate chips – but thanks to Target drive up I got those real quick!), and they taste so much better than the store bought ones!

Next time – I think I’m gonna put mini M&M’s in them…hmm…*target.com – add to cart*

What about YOU – what are you making/baking/doing during this “Quarantine” to help you and your family stay sane?

Pecan Pie Bars – The Perfect Holiday Dessert For A Crowd

31 Dec

A friend of mine has been making these DELICIOUS Pecan Pie bars at holiday time for years – and I decided this was the year I finally try to make them on my own!

Pecan Pie Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of All Recipes)

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan.
-In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in 1 cup of margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared pan, and press in firmly.
-Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
-While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, corn syrup, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread the filling evenly over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.
-Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into bars.

img_4100.jpg

Ok. So. Some notes
-Grease THE HECK out of your baking pan. Like. Grease it, then add some more. and then redo it again. Otherwise they will stick like crazy
-Cook it a little longer than the suggested time (to avoid the middle being soupy)
-Let someone super strong cut them for you – as they are hard as HECK to cut and get out of the pan

BUT – in the end – it’s all worth it – they are so good, and perfect for a big group at Thanksgiving, or anytime!

M&M’s Marshmallow Dream Bars – An Easy, Sweet Holiday Treat!

31 Dec

Hope everyone had an amazing Christmas – I know I did! It was pretty low key, got to hang out with my little family and just relax (much deserved I think, after all the work that us moms and dads put into the holiday season, am I right?). One of the best parts of Christmas in my eyes is not the presents or singing carols or waiting for Santa – those are all great don’t get me wrong, but let’s be real – I am here for the FOOD. Specifically – the SWEETS – cookies, baked goods of any kind – this is really their time to SHINE. People who don’t normally bake whip out their aprons and spatulas to create cookie trays to DIE for!

I attended a cookie exchange in November – where I brought along Snickerdoodle Blondies, and the treats I got to take home and try were SO AMAZING, everyone REALLY brought their “A” game to the table for this one! One treat really stood out for me though, and I knew after just one bite of the M&M’s Marshmallow Dream Bars that I would be making them for myself – PRONTO!

M&M’s Marshmallow Dream Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Mom On Timeout)

Ingredients
12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
11 oz package butterscotch chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows
1 cup M&Ms

Instructions
-Line a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick foil. Set aside.
-Combine first three ingredients in a large microwave safe container.
-Microwave on high heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chips are fully melted and the mixture in smooth.
-Stir in marshmallows until fully coated.
-Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
-Sprinkle on M&Ms and press down slightly.
-Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
-Cut into bars.
-Store leftovers in an airtight container.

I was lucky enough to have some adorable helpers on this one – it was the perfect recipe to let them measure and stir (and taste test the ingredients, of course!)

Are these messy? Yes
Are the delicious? YES
Will they make a perfect addition to your cookie trays? YES
Should you make them now? YES!!

Christmas Gifting – The Original Chex Party Mix

12 Nov

I love to bake for the holidays – there are few things better than giving a homemade gift, to me it really shows you care, plus – it’s delicious! I have made Snickerdoodle Pinwheels, Cutouts, Peanut Butter Balls, and plenty of other recipes for Christmas gifting. In fact, I am so serious about my Christmas baking, I usually take a whole day off so I can have time to focus and get it done since the holidays can be such a crazy time!

This year, I decided to change it up a bit. Still giving homemade gifts, but going the “treat” route instead of the traditional “cookie” route. Nothing against the cookie of course – I love it in ALL its forms, but I just wanted to try something different this year. So I have decided that the following items are on this year’s gifting “menu”:

Crock Pot “Crack”
Saltine Toffee
Rolo Pretzel Treats
-Chex Mix – the Original Version

Of course, I had to test out the Chex Mix before giving it out as gifts, and I am happy to report it went well!

Chex Mix
Ingredients
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Directions
-In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside.
-In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
-Spread mixture out onto two cookie trays lined with silicone pads or parchment paper
-Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes
-Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Ingredients are assembled and ready for action!

Looks good enough to eat as is, doesn’t it?

Butter and spices – smelling amazing

Waiting for it to cool – patience wearing thin…

Close up of the goods

So – this was easy to throw together and toss in the oven, and it made the house smell AMAZING while it baked

Once it cooled, we all deemed it worthy of gifting, so I will be making more batches in the coming weeks. The good thing about it was all the stuff I bought for the first batch will make at least 1 more batch (the cereal, nuts, etc), so it’s basically like getting two for the price of one!

Now – the official Chex website directs you to make this in the microwave, but I was not into that idea, so I looked around online and saw some recipes with the baking directions, and did that instead. I am all about shortcuts, but for this I really wanted the crispness that comes with using the oven. Besides, when the first Chex Mix recipe was introduced back in 1952, the instructions stated to bake it in the oven – and I say, if it was good enough in the 50’s, it’s good enough for now!

Snickerdoodle Blondies = Cinnamony-Sugary Heaven

15 Oct

When a friend of mine sent me a link to this recipe, I knew I had to try them – not only for her (to bring to her after her recent surgery), but also for my house and boys, too (my husband is a big snickerdoodle fan!)

So – in true “me” fashion, I decided to whip up a double batch of these – with some help from the cutest sous chef, of course!

Snickerdoodle Blondies
(Recipe Courtesy of Delish) 

Ingredients
Cooking spray
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9-x-9″ pan with cooking spray.
-In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
-In another bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until just combined.
-Press batter into prepared pan and sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar.
-Bake until golden and still slightly soft in the middle, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool before slicing into squares.

I had all the ingredients on hand for this – and since I am slightly lazy, this is always a HUGE win for me – and as I was making these more as a gift/for others, I wasn’t really expecting to like them too much, but they were AMAZING – just the right amount of chewy, and the SMELL they filled the kitchen with – WOW. These are a MUST make – trust me!

John’s Cookbook – Page 10 – Golden Grahams S’mores Bars

13 Jun

Golden Grahams S’mores Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Just So Tasty)

Ingredients
5 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
5 tablespoons butter , or margarine
1/4 cup corn syrup*
7 cups Golden Grahams
1 cup mini marshmallows

Instructions
1. Butter/grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
2. Add 5 cups marshmallows, milk chocolate, butter, and corn syrup to a large sauce pan.
3. Melt the mixture together over low heat while gently stirring with a rubber spatula.
4. Once melted remove from the heat and immediately stir in the cereal and remaining cup of marshmallows. It will be very sticky.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and flatten down using the back of your spatula (lightly greasing the spatula can help).
6. Allow to harden at room temperature for 60 minutes before cutting into squares.

Recipe Notes
*If you don’t have corn syrup use 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water instead.

**Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature. I don’t recommend storing them in the fridge because they can get too hard.

As you can see, John loved making these (and eating them!). No-bake recipes are not only perfect for little ones to help with, but they are also awesome on a hot summer day when you don’t want to turn on the oven!

This recipe in particular is perfect for when your child has been BEGGING you for a fire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores – but the dang weather just won’t cooperate (rain for days ugh!)

Brookies – A Perfect Marriage Of Two Amazing Desserts

30 May

The other day I was just dying for some cookies. But, I was also really in the mood for a brownie – dilemma, right? WRONG – enter – the BROOKIE. If you have never heard of it before, the brookie is a brownie/cookie bar that basically gives you the best of both worlds (both the cookie and brownie worlds that is!)

So I set to baking right away:

To-Die-For-Brookies
(Recipe courtesy of Debbie Net)
Ingredients
Brownie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Cookie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla exract
1 egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Brownie Layer:
-In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt; set aside.
-In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; stir mixture until it is well combined. Add 2 eggs and beat well. Stir in the cocoa powder until it is well combined. Add the flour mixture, stirring well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan.

Cookie Layer:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together 1-1/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt; set aside.
-In a large bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, the light brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; continue beating until mixture is creamy. Add 1 egg; beat about 2 more minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
-Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the dough is combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Carefully spread the cookie dough over the brownie layer in the baking pan.
-Bake in the preheated oven, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the brookies comes out clean. Cool completely; cut into bars.

I love recipes where I have everything in my pantry already, and luckily this one fit the bill! I threw them together and in no time I was enjoying these warm from the oven!

They turned out great, the only thing I wish is that the brownie flavor came out a little more, it sort of gets overpowered by the cookie portion, but otherwise these were great!

WARNING! Serious PB Lovers Only: Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake

7 May

I have been wanting to make this one for a WHILE – but I knew that it wasn’t something I could just randomly make for my husband & me – it looked insanely intense – so I waited until we had an occasion to bring a dessert to. Luckily, our friend recently celebrated his birthday, so I decided to whip this up to celebrate!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake
(Recipe Courtesy of Delish)

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE CAKE
1 box devil’s food cake, plus ingredients called for on box
2 c. peanut butter, melted
1 c. chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1 c. Reese’s Pieces
FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING
1 c. peanut butter
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. heavy cream

DIRECTIONS
Bake cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9″-x-13″ pan with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray. Prepare cake batter according to package instructions and pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cake cool completely.
Using the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over cake. Pour melted peanut butter over the entire cake, filling the holes. Set aside.
Make frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together peanut butter and butter. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in cream to loosen frosting, if needed.
Spread frosting all over the top of the cake. Top with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Pieces.

As I had predicted, this cake was INTENSE – the peanut butter both in the cake and on top in the frosting is super rich, and the chocolate cake flavor almost gets lost alongside all the PB-ness (which – for me is no issue, I don’t really care for chocolate cake by itself, but if you’re looking to have that choco-y flavor, it’s really not there in this one)

That being said, OF COURSE I loved it, and so did my husband, son and our friends – the fluffy frosting against the toppings and cake is a great blend of textures, and while it may be intense, it’s also tasty!

I HIGHLY recommend you have some milk on hand when you go to tackle this bad boy – trust me, it’s the perfect compliment!

John’s Cookbook – Page 5 – S’mores Dip

19 Mar

The snow is melting, the sun is shining, and Spring is here! It may not feel like it for sure yet, but warmer weather is on its way, and I for one can’t wait to get out there and enjoy it. Admittedly, I am NOT much of an outdoor girl AT ALL – BUT – when you have kids that have been cooped up inside for the past several years (months really – but feels like years), you gotta embrace the wonder that is the great outdoors

One of the best things about warmer weather is having campfires and roasting marshmallows for S’mores. It may not be S’more weather yet – but it is S’more dip weather (which – is really anytime!)

S’more’s Dip
(Recipe Courtesy of Wine & Glue)

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup fudge sauce
7 1/2 oz marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla

graham cracker sticks for dipping
mini chocolate chips/marshmallow bits for topping

Instructions
In a large bowl, blend together with a handheld mixer: the cream cheese, powdered sugar, fudge sauce, marshmallow creme and vanilla until smooth

Transfer to a serving bowl, top with mini chocolate chips and marshmallow bits and serve with graham crackers

John’s favorite part? Anything marshmallow related – he loved the fluff, and the tiny little marshmallows blew his mind!

He looks oddly like the Joker while “taste-testing” the ingredients

DIPPPPPPPPPP – so good!

As with most dips – this wasn’t exactly hard to make, and I love the idea of a dippable S’more!

It was enjoyed by all, big and small – and while it was great, it just made me want a REAL s’more even more! Still – a worthy winter time substitute, and I personally enjoyed it right off the spoon (no graham crackers needed!)

John’s Cookbook – Page 4 – Chocolate PB Crescent Rolls

12 Mar

For this week’s page out of John’s Cookbook, he picked something simple (which I appreciate), that also managed to incorporate Chocolate and Peanut Butter (which EVERYONE appreciates!)

Chocolate PB Crescent Rolls
(Recipe Courtesy of Stockpiling Moms)

Ingredients
1 pkg of Crescent Rolls
8 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
¼ cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Roll out Crescent Rolls to form 8 triangles.
-Spread 1 Tbsp. of Peanut Butter on each triangle.
-Sprinkle Mini Chocolate Chips amongst triangles.
-Roll up Crescent Rolls and press ends together.
-Place on 13X9 baking sheet and cook for 10 mins.
-Let cool and enjoy.

Prep work (with some help from Dad and Auntie)

Before and After oven glamour shots

John loved them so much he ate 2! 

Crescent Rolls are such a great base for a lot of things – like the Crescent Roll Cinnamon Rolls John helped make a few weeks ago, and of course Crescent dogs (crescent roll/hot dog/cheese) are a favorite at our house, and now these dessert rolls, and of course they are great by themselves alongside Thanksgiving Dinner, too!

While there was nothing special about these taste-wise (they tasted exactly like you would think – a crescent roll stuffed with Peanut butter and chocolate), they were really easy for him to do basically by himself, and they can really be customized with add-ins too – jelly, mini marshmallows, nuts, other flavors of chocolate chips, raisins/craisins – you can use whatever you have on hand to whip these up – and they are pretty tasty (especially warm out of the oven!)