No-Bake Cereal Bars – Perfect For Breakfast On The Go

22 Mar

First things first – important announcement – I AM AN AUNTIE! My beautiful niece was born last week, and I can’t WAIT to meet her – we are headed there this weekend, and I am SO EXCITED!

Normally I would make a meal or two and some cookies or something and bring it all over for the new family – but since they live 4 hours away, transporting perishable food wasn’t really something I was prepared to deal with – so of course the next best thing would be to do some major baking for them, right? Cookies are great – but what about cookie bars, scones, brownies, and cereal bars – because 4 things are way better than 1, right? Needless to say – I had my hands full getting this all together. First thing I made was the one that would easily freeze and keep the longest – the No Bake Cereal Bars

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Strangely enough, my little sous chef originally had no interest in helping me (which is rare!). When it was time to make the bars he was preoccupied (Play-doh) and only ran to my assistance when I said the magic word  – CHOCOLATE  and I can’t blame him – that is my magic word too!

No Bake Cereal Bars (Recipe Courtesy of Buzzfeed Tasty)
INGREDIENTS
½ cup honey
¼ cup peanut butter
3 cups toasted oat cereal
1 cup yogurt chips (save ½ cup for melting)
½ cup unsalted toasted almonds, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)

PREPARATION
1. In a bowl, mix honey with peanut butter. Microwave for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, or until melted.
2. In a large bowl, combine oat cereal, ½ of the yogurt chips (save the other half for later), chopped almonds, and dried cranberries.
3. Pour the melted honey mixture into the bowl and stir until well mixed.
4. Pour into an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper, and gently flatten the mixture evenly around the pan.
5. Freeze for 30 minutes, or until the mixture has hardened enough to cut it into 8 pieces.
6. Melt the other half of the yogurt chips in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time, until melted. (Optional: adding 1 tsp of coconut oil will help with the melting process)
7. Dip the bottom of the bars in the melted yogurt chips and place on a piece of parchment paper. Freeze for another 15 minutes.
8. Wrap each bar in parchment paper & store in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 3 months.
9. Enjoy!

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NOTES: As with most recipes, I figured “why not double it?” – have some for us to keep here at home and then give some to my brother and sister in law.

The only thing I would actually change about this recipe is they didn’t stick together super well (the white chocolate coating on the bottom helped!) – so I might use a bit more of the honey/peanut butter mix next time to help everything stay together and maintain bar form more easily

Also. The recipe calls for “yogurt chips” What the hell is a yogurt chip I mean really?? I searched all over the grocery store – and even asked the grocery manager – who had never even heard of them. Just – ok. So – I substituted white chocolate for the dipping, and then a mix of white chocolate and mini semi sweet chips in the bars

You can really customize these to your liking – different cereals, dried fruits, and chocolates can easily be substituted in. As is – I really like the flavor though – they turned out pretty well, and I would definitely make them again!

Easy to make, and even easier to grab on the way to work for breakfast – or in my in laws case – easy to eat one handed while the baby is asleep on your other arm

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I actually managed to not make a huge mess with the dipping (normally me plus melted chocolate is a disaster – so if even I can make these look good, you can too!)

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These Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies Pack Some SERIOUS PB Punch (Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You…)

9 Mar

I have come across these Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies a few times now – on Pinterest and via Facebook recipe vidoes (which – these days – it seems most of my Facebook feed is made up of food videos – probably because I love food and Facebook knows that!) – and finally the other day I decided screw it – I am gonna make these bad boys!

I think what really pushed me over the edge into wanting to make these was the fact that there was a whole layer of peanut butter cups sandwiched between the brownie and crunchy fudge layers – I love Reese’s cups so much that I could eat them for every meal and snack forever. Seriously – that’s how amazing I think they are. So – these brownies were basically my destiny come to life, in dessert form

Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies
(Recipe Courtesy of Dinners Dishes And Desserts)

Ingredients
Brownies
2 oz unsweetened chocolate , melted
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2nd Layer
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups
Fudge Layer
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tbls butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup crispy rice cereal

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 inch baking dish. Or line with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.
-In a bowl combine melted chocolate with canola oil. Add sugar, and eggs. Mix until well combined. Stir in flour and salt.
-Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean.
-Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle peanut butter cups over the brownies. Let sit for 5 minutes, then gently use the back of a spoon and spread the melted chocolate over the brownies. Let cool completely.
-In a microwave safe bowl melt together chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter; heat for 1 minute, stir. Heat at 15 second intervals until smooth. Stir in vanilla and cereal. Pour over brownies.
-Place in fridge to completely set up before serving.

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As usual – my tiny sous chef was ready to help out! Mostly with peanut butter and chocolate chip eating – but still – gotta take what I can get (After all -it’s hard to find good kitchen help these days!)

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Brownie? Check. Amazing Peanut butter cup layer? Check!

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While the peanut butter cup topped brownies are cooling, I prepped the top layer – crunchy fudge-y goodness!

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The finished product – layer upon layer of yum

Overall – these were easy to make, and ingredient wise I had everything on hand so that is always a plus for me if I don’t have to run to the store before starting a recipe!

As for the taste – like I said in the title – these pack some SERIOUS PB power – so if you’re super into Peanut Butter, these are for you, but if you’re expecting to distinctly taste the Peanut butter cups and brownie layers – you might be disappointed.

I personally think the top layer of “fudge” overpowered the whole thing – it was all I could taste, and while it was good and I really loved the crunchy texture, I wanted more brownie and especially more peanut butter cup taste

If I was to make these again I think I would dial down the amount of fudge on top – about half of what the recipe calls for would still provide a decent layer, and it would allow the other tastes to come through

Oh – and I would add more peanut butter cups. A lot more. like double. Because – peanut butter cups are life.

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies – A Seriously Fast Treat

1 Mar

Sometimes you just NEED a sweet treat – and FAST. Sure, you can go buy some candy or pre-made baked goods from the grocery store – but that involves a lot – getting dressed, jackets, shoes, strapping the kids in the car, loading them into the cart, selecting the perfect treat – might not seem like a lot, but why go to all that trouble when you probably have all the necessary ingredients on hand to make these No Bake Oatmeal Cookies?

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
(Recipe courtesy of Sugar Apron)
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 – 3 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Instructions
-Add the butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder in a saucepan
-Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute
-Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and oats and drop onto parchment paper paper
-Let cool until set, about 10-15 minutes

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My Little Sous Chef loved helping with these – he even got to work on the stove this time (with supervision of course!)

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These were easy as can be to throw together!

I stuck mine in the freezer right after getting them onto the cookie sheet to speed up the cooling process (and the “getting it to my mouth” process) – so after about 10-15 minutes they were hard enough to handle and test out – and anyone who loves peanut butter and chocolate will surely love these – the richness of the chocolate and the texture of the oats is a winning combo in my book!

Oh and since they have oats in them – they are not only an amazing option for breakfast – but they are also “healthy” (ok jk – they aren’t really healthy – but we can pretend, right?)

Pro Tip: make a double batch if you want them to be around for longer than a day (learned THAT the hard way)

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars – An Easy, Delicious Addition To Any Brunch!

28 Feb

Ah, Brunch. It’s the best meal ever, don’t you think? It’s a meal where basically anything goes – breakfast items, lunch items, sweet and savory on the same plate. Plus it’s often served late enough that you can sleep in, and alcohol is usually on the menu too – what could be better? I am always looking for new additions to my brunch recipe rotation, and when I stumbled across this one for Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars, I knew I had to give them a shot for my next brunch date:

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars
INGREDIENTS:
Crust and Crumble Topping
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (don’t use quick cook or instant, they’re finer and behave like flour and will make mixture too dry)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Blueberry Layer
12 ounces (2 cups) blueberries (fresh or frozen; I used frozen and didn’t thaw)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside. Lining the pan helps with cleanup and is recommended.
-Make Crust and Crumble Topping – In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. Add the flour, oats, sugars, optional salt, and stir to combine. Mixture will be dry and sandy with some larger, well-formed crumble pieces. Set 1 heaping cup mixture aside to be sprinkled on later as crumble topping.
Transfer remaining mixture to prepared pan, and using a spatula or your fingers, hard-pack the mixture to create an even, smooth, flat crust; set aside.
-Make Blueberry Layer – In a large mixing bowl (same one used for crust and crumble is okay), add all ingredients and toss to combine. If sugar hasn’t dissolved fully that’s okay because it liquifies while baking. Evenly distribute blueberry mixture over the crust.
-Evenly sprinkle with the reserved heaping 1 cup crumble topping mixture. Before sprinkling, I squeeze the mixture in my palm to encourage bigger crumble pieces to form.
-Bake for about 55 minutes, or until edges are set and center has just set. Crumble topping should appear set and very pale golden. I used frozen berries without thawing and the pan was very cold going into the oven. If using fresh berries, baking time will be reduced, but I’m not sure by how much, I’d guess at least 10-15 minutes, possibly less. Bars may take longer than 55 minutes if blueberries are very juicy. Watch your bars, not the clock, when evaluating doneness. Place pan on a wire rack and allow bars to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. If you try to slice bars before they’ve cooled completely, they’ll be extremely messy and could fall apart. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the fridge for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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Various stages of bar preparation

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Adorable tiny sous chef preps the crust

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Layering it up and getting it ready for the oven

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The finished product – golden and delicious

It was easy to put this together (especially since I had a helper!) and get it in the oven – it took a bit longer to bake than 55 minutes for me though – I would say an additional 15 on top of that before it even started to brown on top

Additionally, I should have waited longer than half an hour after it came out to try and cut it – it was a MESS. Next time I think I will leave them to cool/set up overnight before attempting to cut them

All that being said – they were pretty tasty – the buttery crumble of the crust against the slightly tart berries was lovely – an easy, delicious addition to brunch – one that could easily be changed up with different fruits/berries depending on the season!

“Big Ass Chocolate Chip Cookies” For My Man’s Birthday

25 Jan

When I asked my husband what he might want for his birthday cake this year, I expected the usual – something chocolate, maybe with the inclusion of raspberry or beer (or both!) – but he surprised me by saying “I want big ass chocolate chip cookies to make ice cream sandwiches with”. Well, easy enough! Not exactly a traditional birthday cake, but it’s nice to mix it up sometimes!

I knew I could go with a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I wanted to try one that was specifically designed with “bigger is better” in mind – so I did a bit of searching and came across these Best Big Fat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – seemed easy enough, and the name certainly fit what I was looking for

Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
-Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
-Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
-In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
-Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
-Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
-Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
-Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
-Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

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As I gathered the ingredients I thought “why not make a double batch?” Because too few cookies is not a problem anyone wants to have – EVER

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Various stages of dough-ness – from scoop to done

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These came out perfectly golden brown (note just how big they are – with my hand next to one for comparison)

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The Birthday boy is Making A Wish – and enjoying an ice cream sandwich too!

These were a big hit with the Birthday Boy – they certainly were what he asked for – and he loved making ice cream sandwiches with them, too! He was kind enough to share some with our son and I – and we really enjoyed them, too!

Recipe wise, I like that you start out with melted butter (mostly out of laziness – as it’s easier to stir the dough together if it’s melted vs just softened), and it helps make for a bigger/crispier cookie – which is not my personal preference, but my husband really enjoyed it – and that’s really all that matters!

Happy 31st Birthday to my husband – may your year be full of laughter, fun, bike rides, great food and beer, family, and hugs – you deserve it all and more!

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!

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!