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Celebrating Fall With Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

22 Sep

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL! I don’t know about you, but I personally wait for this season all year long – the crispness in the air, the breeze, the leaves, the apples and pumpkins, the excess of pumpkin flavored products and ability to wear scarves…I love it ALL (what can I say, I’m a bit of a “basic white girl” – and while I don’t love the term, I have to admit it’s shockingly accurate sometimes…)

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…Not gonna lie, this would TOTALLY work on me.

But ok – seriously – now that it’s FALL and all things apple/pumpkin/autumn can OFFICIALLY commence, I thought the best thing to do would be to kick things off with a twist on a favorite cookie – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip – with PUMPKIN!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies are so great – it’s like the Chocolate Chip Cookie’s crunchier cousin (and slightly healthier cuz it has oats in it? maybe?) – and they are my husband’s favorite of all time – and so when I came across this fall-infused variation, I knew they would be the perfect way to kick off Autumn

Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookie
(Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Classy)

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)

Instructions
-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
-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)

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The Beauty that is raw cookie dough – just slightly more orange tinted thanks to the canned pumpkin

-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)
-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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Cookies – pre and post oven

Couple of things that are great about these cookies – they stay super moist thanks to the pumpkin, and the combo of pumpkin and chocolate is pretty great. Also, even if you’re not a huge pumpkin fan, you’ll still like these – the pumpkin isn’t overpowering, and the cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger just lends a nice spice to them

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Best of all – they are easy to make. Cookies generally are, and these are no exception (ease of creation is probably one of the reasons why I love baking cookies so much!)

FallYall

(No – I don’t say Y’all – I am not Southern, not even a little – but I just love the saying “Happy Fall Y’all – so – whatever. It’s happening)

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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!

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?!)

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!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies – A Seriously Easy And Delicious Addition To Any Cookie Exchange

4 Dec

Holiday Time = FOOD TIME. Seriously – there’s always so much to eat at the holidays, and it’s all so amazingly delicious! Personally, I enjoy the baked goods the most (big surprise, right?) – and while I love to spend time in the kitchen baking away, sometimes I like to whip out a fast and easy recipe that will get me in and out in no time.

These cookies are perfect for last minute party invitations, or in case you forgot about that cookie exchange you agreed to go to…just two ingredients, 8 minutes in the oven plus some cooling time, and you’ve got a delicious, “cookie exchange worthy” dessert!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

You Will Need:
-Premade Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Logs
-Reese’s mini peanut butter cups (unwrapped)
-Mini muffin tin(s)
-nonstick spray/shortening

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375
2. Grease mini muffin tins using nonstick spray or shortening
3. Cut peanut butter cookie dough log into 1 ¼ inch pieces, and then cut each of the pieces into quarters
4. Place one piece into each greased muffin tin
5. Bake at 375 for about 8 minutes
6. Once removed from the oven, IMMEDIATELY press an unwrapped Reese’s cup into each cookie
7. Let them cool before removing from the muffin tins

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The biggest pain about this? The fact that you have to unwrap a bunch of peanut butter cups and NOT eat them all immediately – willpower is a tricky thing…

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Here they are before and after baking – they are ready for their chocolaty additions!

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Quick work done by me – I pressed all those suckers in quick!

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The holidays are a BUSY time – and these cookies are the perfect way for me to make something for a party without too much time in the kitchen. Frees up my time for this guy – ain’t he cute? He liked the cookies too!

Holiday Gift Ideas For Bakers

3 Dec

The holiday season is upon us! Carols, snow, lights, trees, baking and SHOPPING are all on my “to-do” list this year – and baking is the one I am most looking forward to – measuring and mixing, feeling the kitchen fill up with the scent of cookies and cakes while Christmas carols play softly in the background – that’s my favorite Christmas tradition.

Me, my turkey, my boy and my Minnie Mouse Apron on Thanksgiving!

Me, my turkey, my boy and my Minnie Mouse Apron on  Thanksgiving!

If you know someone like me who LOVES baking, but you aren’t sure what to get them this year, then check out my list of Holiday Gift Ideas For The Baker In Your Life:

A Really Good Spatula: A thick bladed, wooden handled spatula is a must have for every baker out there – as scraping the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated is an essential part of most any recipe. I love my spatula so much I even wrote about it last year, and a set like this would be a great addition to any Baker’s utensil collection!

Cookie Cutters: Ok, so most bakers probably have at least some cookie cutters already, but if you could find a unique one for them that fits their personality, it’s a great (and usually pretty cheap!) gift option. For example, I love Disney, and dogs, and reading – so any type of cookie cutter that is related to those themes would be something I would LOVE to receive. Or you can give a set of mini cookie cutters – like these adorable animals, or some seasonally appropriate Mini Christmas cookie cutters

An Apron: Ok, so this one may seem kind of lame – but aprons have come a long way – they are no longer just some frilly thing that housewives wear – they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. If you’re crafty, you can sew your baker a custom one like my mother in law did for me – it is Minnie Mouse themed on one side, and apple patterned on the other – two of my very favorite things! If you aren’t great with a sewing machine, then check out the TONS of amazing options on Etsy – all you have to do is search for “apron” and up come a whole bunch of results, and the great thing about Etsy is that most shops will work with you to customize your gift to your specifications – so initials, words, material – it’s all able to be chosen by you to create a super amazing gift for your baker

Tools For Their Littlest Bakers: Most bakers enjoy sharing their love of baking with others – I know I do – and I can’t WAIT until my son is old enough to help me roll out dough and cut the shapes out with cookie cutters. If the baker on your shopping list has kids or nieces or nephews, you might want to consider getting them something they can use with them – like a Kid-friendly cupcake decorating set, or a copy of this Better Homes & Gardens Junior Cookbook

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Something Pretty and Shiny: My husband got me this necklace a few years ago for Christmas – and I just love it. You can find necklaces, bracelets, earring and more on etsy – I’ve seen ones with little whisk and spoon charms too – perfect for a baker!

Baking-Themed Gift Basket: You can put a ton of different things in here – a roll of parchment paper, kitchen towels, cute measuring spoons, an apron, a cookbook, nice wooden spoons or spatulas – and you can package it all up nicely in a big mixing bowl or measuring cup. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just some things you think your baker might like, put together with love and care. Wal-Mart currently has a new line of Pioneer Woman cookware & dinnerware – it’s decorative, with plenty of different pieces to pick from, and best of all – it won’t break the bank, and would make a perfect addition to your gift basket!

A Kitchen Aid Mixer: This is the ultimate kitchen tool that every baker lusts after – I have a vintage one from the 50’s that still works great, so not only is it cool and old school, but I didn’t have to pay for it (as it was my grandmother’s) – so that makes me extra happy – as they are NOT cheap – the smallest models start at around $200, and go up from there. One that is big enough to handle a double or triple batch of cookies will run around $500 or more. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it – and it’s a gift your baker will absolutely LOVE. Bonus – they come in all kinds of colors now, so you can even get one that will match their kitchen!

A Recipe Book Stand/Tablet Stand: Give one of these so your baker can keep their recipes nearby and easy to read. You could go for an easy to clean, budget friendly plastic version, or you could go with a slightly more decorative version. If your baker likes to get most of their recipes electronically, then check out this awesome kitchen mount/stand for Ipad/tablets – perfect for viewing recipes or watching how to videos on different cooking and baking techniques

Hopefully these ideas will help you check at least one person off your shopping list – and if you’re a baker like me, then you may want to consider asking Santa for some of these items – they will make your Christmas even more Merry and Bright!

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…)