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Large Batch Cookie Bars – The Perfect Picnic Dessert

6 Sep

Last weekend I attended a family Labor Day picnic – which in itself was weird – like – how is summer OVER? Where did it GO? Well – I don’t know about you, but I spent my summer swimming, taking family walks, visiting the zoo, hanging out with friends, and playing on the playground with my son. It was a summer well spent for sure – and Labor Day is always the perfect long weekend to relax and soak up the last little bit of sun and fun! Since the weather here in Upstate NY sucked (aka I wouldn’t get to go swimming boo) I decided to concentrate my efforts elsewhere – in the KITCHEN of course, baking up a batch of these treats to take along to the last family picnic of the summer:

Large Batch Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Jamie Cooks It Up)

Ingredients
1 1/2 C butter
2 C brown sugar
1 C white sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
4 tsp vanilla
4 1/4 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 C milk chocolate chips
2 C M&Ms

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place 1 1/2 C butter into a large glass bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave.
3. Add 2 C brown sugar and 1 C white sugar and stir to combine. Then add 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and 4 tsp vanilla. Whisk it together until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl combine 4 1/4 C flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda.
5. Stir the dry mixture into the sugar mixture. Don’t mix it in all the way. The trick to making these bars nice and soft on the inside is not to over mix and not to over bake. So, at this stage…leave a bit of the flour showing. It will incorporate nicely for you as you stir in the chocolate.

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I was lucky enough to have a tiny adorable helper who was willing to assist me with getting these together!

6. Add 2 C milk chocolate chips and 2 C of M and M’s (almost all of a medium sized bag). You can use any kind of chocolate chips.
7. Stir the chocolate in to combine.

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Someone insisted we make a couple Mickey shaped ones – luckily there was still plenty afterwards to fill the pan with dough!

8. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray (mine is 12 x 17). Press the dough evenly into the pan.

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Golden brown perfection

9. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the outside is slightly golden. You want to be sure not to over bake. They are much better if the inside is nice and soft.
10. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes then slice into bars and enjoy!

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And enjoy them we did!

These were super easy to make – didn’t even need to get out the hand mixer – since the butter is melted, it’s pretty easy to mix together by hand

This makes a TON of cookie bars – which makes sense because it is called “large batch chocolate chip cookie bars” ha – but seriously it made way more than enough for my picnic, and it would be the perfect thing to make for like a kid’s birthday party or something – as the cookies are not too messy and can be cut up pretty small for little hands to easily handle.

And you can mix up what you put in them too – different colored M&M’s for different holidays, or different flavor chocolate chips – I personally used a combo of peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and mini M & M’s – which turned out great! I love the chewiness factor to them too – and the fact that they use a hefty amount of brown sugar gives them a nice caramel-y color and quality too

They were a hit at the picnic – with those of all ages from 2 to 85! Will make again for sure – just as soon as those Halloween colored M&M’s are released!

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4th Of July Sweets (Because It’s Not A Holiday Without Desserts!)

5 Jul

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Hope everyone had a great time celebrating our Nation and all that makes it great yesterday! 4th of July is the perfect holiday for grilling, hanging with friends, and having fun – which is exactly what we did! We went over to a friends house have a little cookout – and I brought the desserts. Yes – desserts plural. I made 3 desserts and I am not ashamed of it – I just couldn’t narrow it down to one, and besides, doesn’t everyone like to have choices? I know I do!

I made Red White and Blue Cheesecake bars, red white and blue strawberries, and cannoli dip

Read On For The Details:

Red White And Blue Cheesecake Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Inside Bru Crew Life)

Ingredients
For the Crust
30 Oreo cookies
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
3 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
3 eggs
red & blue gel food colors

Instructions
-Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with foil.
-Place the cookies (cream included) in a food processor. Pulse until the cookies become crumbs.
-Stir in the butter until mixed in. Press the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
-Place a large baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. Fill it halfway with water. Let the oven preheat again.
-Beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and flour and beat again.
-Add the eggs and beat until they are mixed in. Divide the batter evenly into 3 bowls. Use the food coloring to tint two of the bowls red and blue.
-Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust, alternating the colors. Drag a butter knife through the batter going up and down and back and forth until you get a good swirl pattern. Do not over mix.
-Place the pan on the oven rack above the pan of water. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven immediately and place on a wire rack. Let the cheesecake cool on the counter for 1 hour, then refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Cut into squares and serve with Cool Whip and sprinkles, if desired.

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Crust? Check!

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Colored fillings swirled prettily? Check!

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Patriotic and delicious cheesecake bars? CHECK!

I am normally not a huge cheesecake fan – but when i came across these I knew I wanted to try them – for two reasons. The first being that it had an OREO crust (yum), and the second being the fact that it was red white and blue had me sucked in upon viewing the very first picture! They were easy to make, and turned out really nicely – creamy and delicious – and since its a 9 by 13 pan, it can easily be cut into smaller piece to bring along to a big family picnic or potluck

Ok – so – one down, two to go. On to the “healthy” dessert (stated as such since it’s base is fruit…kinda healthy, right?

Red White And Blue Strawberries
(Recipe courtesy of The Spruce)

Ingredients
-White Chocolate Candy Melts
-Strawberries
-Blue Sprinkles

Instructions
-Melt White Chocolate in microwave until smooth
-Dip Strawberries 2/3 of the way into the white chocolate
-Roll bottom 1/3 of strawberries into blue sprinkles
-Lay on wax paper covered sheet tray to dry, chill until ready to serve

TIPS:
*Do NOT use white chocolate chips – they tend to melt weirdly and clumpily, and I personally have always had better luck with melting chocolate or candy melts
*Make sure your strawberries are clean and DRY when you start this – and when I say dry I don’t mean just air dried – I mean like patted down each individually with a paper towel kind of dry

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Taking the time to dip each individual berry is kind of a pain – but they are so pretty that it makes it worth it!

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And on to the final dessert in the trifecta – Cannoli Dip!

Cannoli Dip
(Recipe Courtesy of Homemade Hooplah)

Ingredients
1 cup ricotta
8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
waffle cones broken

Instructions
-Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whisk together ricotta, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add in vanilla extract and whip for another 30 seconds
-Taste test the dip – if you’d like it sweeter, add more powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. You can safely add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar (8 tablespoons) without negatively impacting consistency
-Fold in mini chocolate chips, reserving some to sprinkle on top for decoration if desired
-Serve dip immediately with broken waffle cones for dipping

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Easy, tasty, no baking required!

One of the best parts about summer holidays like the 4th of July is the chance to get to try out some new recipes at BBQ’s, picnics, and family reunions – and when you’re indecisive like me, you end up trying multiple things at a time, and this time I have to say I am glad I did – as they are truly all winners!

Using Cake Batter For Cookies – A (Deliciously) Lazy Shortcut

28 Jun

It’s not secret that an amazing shortcut for making cookies involves utilizing Cake mix as the base – I have done it before myself many many times – and the cookies always turn out fantastic!

So being a big fan of cookies, and chocolate, and shortcuts – I knew that these Lazy Cookie Bars would be right up my alley. Easy, fast, and I had everything on hand already. Boom. Done.

Lazy Cookie Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of The Country Cook)

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs beaten
5 tbsp salted butter melted
1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

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Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
-Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
-In your mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix with melted butter and beaten eggs.
*This is easier if you have an electric or stand mixer because batter will be very thick.
-Stir in bag of chocolate chips.
-Spread batter into greased baking dish.
-Once it is evenly spread out, put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
-It will puff up as it is cooking and be golden brown around the edges when it is done.

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Allow to cool.

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Devour.

These turned out perfectly – what a foolproof and easy dessert you can make last minute, and it would be easy to mix it up too – use different flavor cake mixes or different add ins – I am thinking next time I will try a chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips (yum!)

These S’more Cookie Bars Have Me Saying “Gimme S’more!”

14 Jun

Ok, I know – the title is a ridiculously bad pun – but I just couldn’t help myself – it was so punny!!!! Ok. Done now – for real. But what’s no joke is how deliciously easy these bars are – I mean, basically you take a chocolate chip cookie, and add marshmallow creme and graham cracker – what’s not to love about that?

Truth be told – I already have a S’more’s Bar Recipe that I love – but I am all about trying new things, and these looked easy (translation – I already had most of the items on hand – which is really the big seller for any recipe in my book, cuz, well… #lazy)

Ok – time to get down to it:

S’more Cookie Bars
(Recipe courtesy of Something Swanky)

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
1/2 cup chocolate semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper or foil.
-Beat together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
-Mix in the baking soda, salt, flour, and graham cracker crumbs until dough forms.
-Press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the marshmallow cream over top. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cream.
-Press the remaining cookie dough over top of the chocolate chips. Bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool before cutting and serving.

Some “Work In Progress” Photos:

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Basically cookie dough with graham cracker crumbs in it (YUM).

Oh and I doubled the recipe because – well – why not?

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My thought process was “oh maybe the marshmallow cream will be easier to spread with my hands than the spatula!” It wasn’t. At all. Take my word for it – use the spatula – and you can even coat it in non-stick spray before attempting to spread the creme around. This is the hardest part of the whole recipe – stickiest stuff ever!

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I am not sure why – but that dough just looks so goodddddd – and I love that you can see each “s’more” component in the pan

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Oh – hello lovelies. Boy am I glad I made two pans of you!

So – the original recipe says to cut the pan into 9 squares – but – I cut mine into WAY more than that (mostly so I can eat a bunch of them but not feel guilty because “they were tiny!” HA)

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They were an instant hit with the husband – kid took a minute but also declared his love for these cookie bars soon after his initial taste test!

These are perfect for those moments when you’re craving a s’more but the weather isn’t cooperating so you can’t have a bonfire (which – here in Upstate NY is like most of the time, since we spend over half the year with snow on the ground!)

As for their comparison to my original beloved S’mores Bars – overall – they are pretty similar in taste, with the main difference being ease of eating – in that these cookie bars are much easier to pick up and eat without making a mess (the original ones have a thicker chocolate layer which makes them a bit trickier to eat). These would be really great to make for a picnic or BBQ – especially if you do like me and cut them up small (and make a double batch – because – who doesn’t need S’more of these?!)

Looks Aren’t Everything – TASTE Is! (Also Known As – The Tale Of How I Botched These Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies But Ate Them Anyway)

24 May

I follow so many food sites/pages on Facebook that my feed is like 90% recipe videos – which is basically amazing, and also a curse – as it always makes me starving, and then cranky when I realize I don’t have a personal chef to whip up said recipes for me on demand (boo!)

But – luckily I DID have all the ingredients for these Buckeye Brownies on hand (Damn you Tasty – your recipe videos are the prettiest and most tempting of all!), so here goes nothing!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (AKA Buckeye Brownies)

INGREDIENTS

1 box brownie mix, with additional ingredients according to box instructions

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

½ cup butter, melted

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk chocolate chips

PREPARATION

1. Prepare brownie mix according to box instructions.

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2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and melted butter.

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3. Distribute scoops of the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie and flatten the mixture to achieve an even layer.

4. In a small bowl, combine the milk chocolate chips and butter. Microwave in 15-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the brownies, then evenly spread to achieve a flat, even layer.

6. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

7. Enjoy!

Here’s the Step By Step Video to help you along – and to make you drool a bunch (You’re Welcome!)

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So – ok. A few side notes

I didn’t actually have any boxed brownie mix on hand – so I turned to the Best Brownie recipe I have made several times before – as I did have all that stuff on hand already – yay! However – that recipe makes an 8×8 pan – so – that’s where things got a bit dicey….

The brownies turned out amazing – but since it was a smaller pan, I decided to half the topping, and when I made the peanut butter layer it just seemed so dry and clumpy, that I ended up adding a bit of milk and some vanilla to give it a more frosting like consistency. Delicious? Yes. The best idea? Not really…

Clearly mine did NOT turn out as pictures/depicted on Tasty – and honestly, that’s my own fault entirely – as the “peanut butter frosting” layer (which seemed like the best idea ever at the time) was never going to fully set/harden up, so then the chocolate on top (which DID harden up in the fridge) cracked a bunch when it was cut up.

The End Result – a not so pretty brownie. That being said, it tasted AMAZING – the rich fudge-y brownie, the the smooth, sweet peanut butter, and then the chocolate topping – what a dessert! Next time I will definitely follow the recipe as written, but for now if anyone needs me I will be off sloppily devouring these gems

Cookie Dough Fudge (AKA The Stuff Of My Teenage Dreams)

18 May

Packages of “Slice’N’Bake” Cookie Dough were basically a staple for every sleepover I attended or hosted when I was younger. And of course, we were lucky if even half of the dough got made into actual cookies – because the best part was eating the dough! Was it unsafe? Marginally, yes – since it contained raw eggs. But did we care? NO. Are we still alive to tell about it? YES. And has the world come up with an amazing alternative that makes me feel like a kid again as a eat the whole pan? HELL TO THE YES IT HAS!!!!

Enter – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge Bars. Thick, egg-less cookie dough topped with a rich layer of chocolate peanut butter goodness. Oh – and there’s no baking involved either – making these the perfect treat to whip up as the days get hotter (and the oven becomes a much less appealing option)

Ok. Must stop drooling long enough to actually make these beauties.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge Bars (Recipe courtesy of Wishes & Dishes)

Prep time:  30 mins
Total time:  4 hours 30 mins
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 c. mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together butter and brown sugar until it is fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and alternate the flour and the sweetened condensed milk until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
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When you’re making the dough and desperately want to try it – and then you remember you CAN because there’s NO EGG IN IT! Oh happy day

  1. Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the 8×8 pan that has been lined with parchment paper. It will be sticky so lightly flour your hands if needed.
  2. Cover your bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight until firm.
  3. To make the topping, combine the peanut butter and ½ cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.
  4. Stir every 30 seconds until smooth.
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Here’s where that thing called “restraint” comes in – utilize it to not dig in with a giant spoon at this point. Must let chocolate set

  1. Pour and spread over the top of the chilled dough and chill for at least 1 hour until firm.
  2. Let sit out for 5-10 minutes to soften before cutting into.

 

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OH HELLO LOVELIES

Ok – so – the original recipe states that there are 16 servings here – but I cut it into 36 squares – as it is pretty rich, and also when I think of fudge I think of cute little square pieces – and 36 is perfect for this size batch!

There’s definitely a “cookie dough craze” happening right now – with places like The Cookie Dough Cafe and Cookie DO NYC popping up all over – places that serve up safe to eat “raw” cookie dough with all kinds of flavors, toppings, and mix-ins. This recipe feeds into that craze – and I am MORE than happy to partake – as everyone knows the DOUGH is the best part!

These No Bake Toffee Fudge Bars Are The Perfect Holiday Gift!

23 Nov

Well. It’s that time again – the holidays. It really snuck up on me this year, not sure about you – but suddenly it was September and fall, then Halloween, and now Thanksgiving, and Christmas is looming, too! 2016 is quickly coming to an end, and if you haven’t started Christmas shopping already, then you might want to get on it!

I love to incorporate handmade gifts whenever and wherever I can – I make applesauce and jar it every year to share with friends and family, and cookies are another item I love to give (and receive!). This year I plan to make at least two kinds to share (maybe more, time permitting!), and I came across a recipe that would make a perfect addition to my sweet gifts – these No Bake Toffee Fudge Bars. Whipped them up in no time and they were so easy and delicious! Check it out:

No Bake Toffee Fudge Bars Recipe

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter , divided
1 cup sugar
1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 bag (10 oz.) miniature marshmallows
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup HEATH Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
1 cup HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

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1. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with foil. Melt 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter; combine with graham cracker crumbs. Press crumb mixture evenly in bottom of prepared pan.

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2. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, remaining 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter and marshmallows in large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, stirring until chips are melted.

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3. Immediately pour over crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle surface with milk chocolate toffee bits and milk chocolate chips, pressing in lightly. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into bars. Store leftover bars covered in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

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These set up nicely and were easy to remove from the pan and cut after being in the fridge all morning

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These were loved by all – big and small!

And the great thing is the recipe makes 24 – so they are great to share (as they are pretty sweet so you only need to tuck a couple in each gift package!).  What’s better than an easy and delicious recipe that you can share with those you love this Christmas? Not much in my book!