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Peanut Butter Balls – An Easy No-Bake Addition To Any Get Together

28 Dec

Growing up, my aunts always made peanut butter balls at Christmas time – there were never a ton, but those first to the cookie trays would be rewarded with the sweet heaven that is peanut butter & sugar mixed together and dipped in chocolate. They have become more scarce over the years, and this year I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands – if I wanted peanut butter balls at Christmas time, I would just have to make them myself!

When I was looking for a recipe, I was intrigued by the ones that included crispy rice cereal in the peanut butter mixture – I really loved the idea of that bite/crunch to cut through the sweetness – so I decided on This Recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
(Recipe Courtesy of Idaho Mom)
Ingredients:
2 c peanut butter
2 c powdered sugar
3 c rice krispies
2 bags chocolate chips, melted or 1 bag light cocoa wilton candy melts

Directions:
mix the first 3 ingredients together and then roll into balls.
dip the balls in chocolate to coat.
let the chocolate peanut butter balls set to harden.

Pretty simple, right? 

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As I assembled my ingredients, only the furry helper emerged (he sensed the presence of peanut butter). But once I turned on the mixer, the toddler helper came scurrying into the kitchen wanting in on the action

 

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He helped me mix up the peanut butter and sugar – and I added a little vanilla for flavor, too

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I had the help of both my boys when it came to making the balls! I actually froze them for a while – just to ensure they weren’t going to fall apart on me when it was chocolate time!

 

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I used part wilton melts and part chocolate chips – worked fine for melting/coating the balls. And I also did some fully coated, and some half-coated in chocolate – just for variety’s sake

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My helper really enjoyed the finished product (and the furry helper was dying to get in on it too – but sadly couldn’t partake – see him trying to sneak in on the balls?)

These were easy to make, and the ingredients were all things I already had on hand. They didn’t turn out exactly like I remember the peanut butter balls of my childhood- but they are still delicious!

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Easy, No Bake “Reindeer Bait” Is The Perfect Christmas Treat

21 Dec

These days, my Facebook feed is mostly composed of food videos – you know the ones – that have cutesy music in the background and take you through a recipe in under a minute and make it look not only delicious – but easy and super enticing? I try not to be so easily taken in by a flashy video – but I have to admit – I love a good recipe – and enjoy watching these types of videos. I don’t often end up making them in real life, but this one was too good to pass up. I had already done a ton of Christmas Cookie Baking – so the fact that this one didn’t involve the oven sealed the deal for me – to the store I went to pick up the few ingredients I didn’t already have on hand for this delicious Reindeer Bait!

Reindeer Bait
(Recipe Courtesy of Delish)

Ingredients
3 c. corn chex
2 c. wheat chex
2 c. mini pretzels
2 c. mini marshmallows
1 c. red and green M&Ms
20 oz. white chocolate
Red and green sprinkles, for garnish

Directions
-In a large bowl, mix together Corn Chex, Wheat Chex, pretzels, mini marshmallows, and M&Ms.
-Melt white chocolate and pour over mixture. Stir until fully coated.
-Transfer mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet or dish and top with sprinkles, then refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
-Break up into bite-size pieces and serve
**There should be a final step of this recipe – “Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting”**

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I picked this recipe in part because I knew it was one my son could easily help with – he really enjoyed measuring the ingredients and stirring them up

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While he stirred the dry stuff, I melted the white chocolate and then mixed it all together into a gorgeous blob

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Adding the sprinkles was his favorite part – he kept asking “now?” with the sprinkles poised over the pan. He did a great job making it extra festive

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The finished product was enjoyed by all!

This recipe was easy to put together and the end result was delicious – the only thing I changed was I added some Craisins I happened to have on hand, but you could really add just about anything to it – nuts, raisins, Reese’s Pieces instead of M&M’s, or you could change up the candy and sprinkle colors depending on the season/holiday you’re making it for

Well – it’s Thursday – and I seriously doubt this “Reindeer Bait” will make it to the weekend – much less Monday (Christmas) – so I hope the reindeer don’t mind if we leave them carrots and extra cookies instead!

The Day Of Cookies

14 Dec

As someone who loves to bake, I have always enjoyed baking for others, and when the holidays roll around, I like to make a BUNCH of cookies to share with my loved ones – what better way to let family and friends know how much you care than with goodies baked with love?

This year I decided that instead of trying to bake in the evenings and on weekends inbetween activities and such, I would just take a day off from work for baking – a day where my husband was at work and my son was at daycare, so that I could focus on the task at hand – COOKIES!

If you’re planning on doing some Christmas baking – here’s a few tips:
-Pick cookies that all cook at the same temperature
-Stick with the “tried and true” – this is NOT a time to try out new recipes – stick to what you know!
-Prep ahead of time if you can – get the supplies the week before, make the dough(s) the night before, get out all your bakeware before you start, etc

In following my own advice, I chose these 3 recipes (that all baked at 375 – which made my life much easier!)
White Chocolate Craisin Cookies – everyone loves these!
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies – I replaced half of the chocolate chips with Christmas M&M’s for a festive touch
Peanut Butter Cup Cookies – an easy (but delicious!) one I could throw together between batches of the other 2

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I prepped the doughs the night before – two double batches of each (that’s a LOT OF DOUGH!) and I also unwrapped the peanut butter cups the night before, too

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Just a fraction of the delicious results

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All frozen and ready to pull out as needed for gifts, parties, and snacking of course!

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When you realize it’s only Tuesday…but then you remember Mom made you cookies! (as his shirt says, he’s just here for the cookies anyway!)

So – to recap:
-Set aside some time JUST for baking – take a day off like I did, send the kids (and husband!) to the grandparents, do what you need to do to get an empty house so you can focus on baking and get it all done at once with no interruptions!
-Pick recipes that can all bake at the same temperature
-Do as much prep ahead of time as you can – supply shopping, dough making etc
-Don’t use this as an experiment – stick with recipes you know and trust!

When it comes time to actually bake – crank up the Christmas music, slap on an apron – and HAVE FUN! Baking should feel like something you WANT to do – not a chore you HAVE to get done – for me, following the tips I outlined help ensure I have a good time – and that I am baking with LOVE!

Happy Baking!

Candy Cane Danish = Christmas Brunch Win!

13 Dec

Ah, Brunch. It’s really the most perfect meal ever created. Not only can you sleep in and still get to enjoy it, but it includes basically all the best foods ever – breakfast meats, eggs, carbs galore, sweets, fruit, and of course – booze and coffee generally play a part as well. I love brunch – eating it, hosting it, going out to it – it’s all the best. And team up a winner of a meal like brunch and the holidays, and you have something truly amazing – an excuse to eat copious amounts of amazing food and get tipsy while wearing ugly Christmas sweaters.

I took my brunch game to the next level last weekend with this Candy Cane Breakfast Pastry – cream cheese and cherries nestled inside crescent roll dough – it was delicious – plus the shape was perfect for getting into the festive holiday spirit!

Candy Cane Crescent Roll Breakfast Pastry
(Recipe Courtesy of 3 Yummy Tummies)

Ingredients
2 packages of refrigerated crescent rolls
1 8 oz. Cream Cheese; softened
1 egg
1/3 C. Sugar
1 Can Cherry Pie Filling
Glaze:
1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Milk

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-On a cookie sheet, arrange crescent roll triangles pointing inward into the shape of a candy cane with edges overlapping. Lightly press triangles together to seal. I used exactly 1 1/2 packages of crescent rolls to make the candy cane shape.
-In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar, add egg; beat until smooth.
-Using a teaspoon, spoon cream cheese filling onto the larger part of each triangle; leaving around 1/2 on inch from the edges. You will have extra cheese left.
-Add teaspoons of cherry filling over the top of the cream cheese.
-Fold tops of triangles towards the base end of each triangle and press lightly to seal. Using the extra croissant roll dough, cut the triangle ends off of 2 rolls to fill in extra spaces at the top of the candy cane as necessary.
-Bake for around 15 minutes or until top of pastry is golden brown.
Allow to cool slightly before adding glaze.
Prepare Glaze:
-Beat together powdered sugar and milk until smooth. May add an additional 1/2 Tbsp. of milk if too thick.
-Using a teaspoon, drizzle glaze over crescent tops of candy cane.

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At this point I was unsure if it would fold together to actually resemble a candy cane…(the suspense was killing me!)

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Luckily – it did fold together nicely and actually look sort of like a candy cane!! Yay!

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Literally just realized right now that I forgot to even make much less use the glaze. Oh well. Still turned out pretty!

This was pretty easy to put together – I am glad I had some extra crescent rolls so that I could use them to keep the filling from leaking out as I folded it all into the candy cane shape – otherwise things would have gotten messy

Like I said, I forgot the glaze – and it was still delicious. It might have looked a bit cuter to have the glaze but taste wise I was really happy with how this turned out – festive, easy, and yummy – a win all around!

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)

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?!)