Cinnamon M&M Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cinnamon M&M White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

A couple of weeks ago, I was scouring Target’s 90% off post-Christmas sale. By the time that sale comes around, all of our Christmas stuff is put away in the attic, but I usually don’t have my sights set on decor at that point. I go to the 90% off sales for birthday wrapping goods. I know that sounds weird, but when you can buy bright colored curling ribbon, white or kraft tissue paper, and/or solid colored gift bags for pennies on the dollar, it’s completely worth it. Sometimes I also go in hoping to score some hidden treasures to keep Lane Bryant in business, like a bag of Ghirardelli holiday candies or in this case, a bag of cinnamon M&Ms.

When I originally saw these, I was hesitant to purchase them, because I didn’t know if these M&Ms were a subtle cinnamon spice or red hot cinnamon-like chocolate candies. I’m not a big fan of red hots, so I didn’t want to take a chance. Well, that is, until the bag was 90% off. Who can refuse a big bag of M&Ms for thirty cents?

So, I gave them a try one night and was pleasantly surprised. These M&Ms had just a hint of cinnamon spice, which proved to be a little addictive. So, before I ate the whole bag, I got to googling and saw these cookies on Picky Palate.

I thought my problems were solved. Bake up these cookies to bring to coworkers and use up all the M&Ms. However, the quality control side of me took over, and before I knew it, 3 of these cookies were gone. There’s nothing like a freshly baked cookie…just couldn’t help myself here…these were insanely good!

To prevent myself from no longer fitting in Lane Bryant (they have size limits, too haha!), I put these cookies away in a container to bring to coworkers. Thankfully, these cookies were so awesome that by the time I went back in the break room to heat up my lunch, my cookie plate only had crumbs remaining. I’d say these were a winner. :-)

Cinnamon M&M Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from: Picky Palate

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 9.90 ounce bag Cinnamon M&M’s

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Using a mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar in a bowl for 2-3 minutes on medium to medium-high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix for about a minute on low, or until well combined.
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt together with a whisk. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Add the cinnamon, rolled oats and white chocolate chips and mix on low until the mixture is just combined.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. With a medium sized cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place each cookie about an inch apart on the sheet since these cookies spread a little. Press the cookies down slightly, to just flatten them, and press 4-5 M&Ms on each cookie.
  5. Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes (I let them go for 12 minutes, which made them barely brown along the edges), and allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before moving the baked cookies to a cooling rack.

Just a quick reminder. Today is the last day to enter to win one of these four awesome cookbooks! Your chances are great, so check out this post to see how to win!

Grasshopper Cheesecake

Grasshopper Cheesecake

It’s 2012! Even though it’s really just a date, it’s cool to mentally have a new start at things. I’m not going to make BIG resolutions anymore, because I tend to let myself down. So, I have my 101 goals in 1001 days list to look to every once in a while, and I’m hoping to reach a few of those small goals sometime this year.

Every New Year’s Day, my Memaw holds a spaghetti and meatball dinner. No, we don’t have black eyed peas or cabbage. We have spaghetti and meatballs. Sounds boring, but trust me, this isn’t your average spaghetti and meatballs. Oh man. We only have it once a year, and the sauce is just the most divine, flavorful red sauce. I haven’t had a comparable red sauce, to date. It’s the best. ever.

This family meal was so much different than Christmas for us. Since we hosted Christmas last week, it was good to just sit back and enjoy good food and family time. I’m not saying we didn’t have a good time, but of course, when you host anything, it’s really hard to sit back and fully relax. ;-)

Whenever we’re invited to a meal or a party, I always offer to bring something. I’m usually told “no”, and I kind of was told “no” this year (oh well). Memaw mentioned, however, that she wanted me to find a recipe for her to give her at the party. Up until a few years ago, she used to order a grasshopper cheesecake (like the drink, not the bugs) from a company, but they discontinued making the cheesecake. She simply asked me to find a recipe for a grasshopper cheesecake, but I went a step further and brought her the cheesecake. That’s just how I roll.

Since my Memaw is diabetic, I used the Splenda baking blend in the filling instead of sugar. Keep in mind if you use Splenda to make this, you have to use 1/2 of the amount a recipe calls for. :-) Of course, I was worried about how the cheesecake would come out, since it’s a sugar substitute, but as you can see, the cheesecake came out just fine. In fact, my family could not stop eating this cheesecake and I had an empty cake stand to bring home, which always marks a good recipe.

I did mildly adapt a few things, based on comments I read on the recipe site. I also changed the crust to an oreo crust since I had some oreos to use up.

Grasshopper Cheesecake
Source: adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups of crushed oreos (cream filling removed…about 20 oreos)
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3- 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup Splenda baking blend)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup creme de menthe liquer

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F.
  2. To prepare the springform pan for the water bath, wrap foil around the outside of the pan along the bottom and sides of a 9 inch non-stick springform pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix crust ingredients with fork until crumbly. Press the crust on the bottom and about 1 inch up the side of the pan.
  4. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Once the crust is baked, place the pan in the freezer to cool down while you make the filling.
  5. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the chocolate on high for 60 seconds and stir the chocolate. Microwave in 30 second intervals until just melted and smooth. Set the chocolate aside to slightly cool.
  6. In a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down frequently. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth. Stir in liqueur on low. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cheesecake mixture.
  7. Take the pan out of the freezer and pour the rest of the filling evenly over crust.
  8. Stir the 1/4 cup of cheesecake mixture into the melted (but cooled) semi-sweet chocolate. Drop 8 to 10 spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture randomly onto filling. With a knife or small spatula, swirl the chocolate mixture into the cheesecake mixture.
  9. Fill a roasting pan with about 1 1/2 inches of hot water to make the water bath for the cheesecake. Carefully place the springform pan in the roasting pan, and place the roasting pan in the oven. Bake for 70-80 minutes, until the edge looks set. Turn oven off and open door slightly (I just leave it open by placing a wooden spoon in the door). Cool cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and remove the foil from the pan. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow it to cool at room temperature for 1 hour. After it has cooled, refrigerate the cheesecake for 3 hours or overnight.
  10. To serve, carefully remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and enjoy!

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2011

Am I the only person who is shocked that Christmas just passed? I can’t believe it. Neighbors are taking down lights, and our tree looks SO empty without gifts under it. My favorite holiday is over, and crazy enough, it’s time for a new year. 2012.

Time to take the shrink wrap off of the new planner and get used to writing “2012″ on papers/emails/etc. This is just crazy.

Also crazy…sometime in 2012, my 4 year blogiversary is happening and my 3 year wedding anniversary is happening too. WHAT?

It’s a lot to look forward to, but before everyone rings in the new year, I just wanted to share with y’all the top 10 posts of 2011. :-)

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

10. Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream – This was my first time making SMBC, and I swear, if you haven’t tried SMBC before, just do it. Please?

Pecan Pie Macarons

9. Pecan Pie Macarons – Gotta love macarons. These were really a huge favorite for Thanksgiving, and the star shape (which was a happy accident) made them super cute and festive!

Queso Blanco

8. Restaurant Style Queso Blanco – This is it. The ultimate queso blanco. If you’re as addicted to queso as me, you’d understand how wonderful it is to FINALLY have a recipe for this!

Strawberry Cream Cake

7. Strawberry Cream Cake – I’m actually glad I compiled this top 10, because I sort of forgot about this cake. Since it’s currently strawberry season in Louisiana, I think I MUST make this cake again. Yum!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

6. Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles – This is the recipe that made my year, basically. I still can’t believe I won that recipe contest, and I’ve been told by a few friends who made this that these little truffles were a hit at their holiday parties! So happy to hear that!

Banana Nutella "Ice Cream"

5. Banana Nutella “Ice Cream” – Two ingredient “ice cream”. It’s basically awesome and couldn’t be any easier. Your food processor does all the work!

Corn Grits

4. Grilled Corn Grits – I can’t be from the South, and not have a post about grits. I promise you if you make this, your hips may never be the same again, but your taste buds will tell you it’s completely worth it!

3. Easy Pasta Salad – My first (and so far, only) vlog. I might get the courage to make one again, since you guys seemed to like it so much!

Diet Cupcakes

2. Cooking For Kids – The infamous post. Yup, who’da thought that a soda cupcake would get so much response from you guys (both good and bad)…yikes!

Homemade S'mores

1. S’mores for a Shower – Nutella S’mores. I can see why you guys loved this one so much. I’m sort of craving s’mores right now, actually. :-P

I hope you have a wonderful New Year with your family and friends, and thank you so much for reading The Nifty Foodie! See y’all in 2012!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

I absolutely love making holiday treats. You know it’s the holiday season in our house when our fridge has at least 5 lbs. of butter, 8-10 packages of cream cheese at any given time and 2 extra bags of flour and sugar in the pantry to ensure that I don’t run out of the essentials. :-)

The big bake-palooza (as I like to call it) is this weekend. There’s quite a few coworker and neighbor gifts to make this year, which has me super excited! This year’s packages are going to have some old favorites and new ones too, which I plan on sharing with y’all next week.

While this particular recipe won’t be with the gifts this year (since they need to be refrigerated), I wanted to share these truffles with y’all, since this is still a delicious recipe if you’re looking for something to include with your holiday parties. I came up with this recipe for a local recipe contest with the newspaper. I was actually torn between an eggnog inspired dessert and a peppermint bark inspired dessert. This recipe idea won out though, because after asking some friends, it seems like a peppermint bark inspired recipe would be more popular, since quite a few people hate eggnog. Fair enough.

The great thing about these truffles is that they come together pretty quickly. It’s definitely an easy dessert recipe to add to your holiday menu! Just keep in mind since the recipe involves cream cheese, these truffles can’t sit out for too long without needing to be refrigerated. They actually taste a lot better cold anyway.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering how these little truffles did in the recipe contest! I won first place! FIRST PLACE! I still can’t believe it. The prize was a big deal too… $1000 to a local furniture store! (I can’t wait to share with y’all what we used that generous prize on, but I’ll save that for another post once it’s delivered.)

I’m also supposed to be in the paper tomorrow. Crazy, right? I’m completely giddy about that! I’m sure I’ll buy multiple copies for family. :-)

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles
Source: an original

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 1 pkg cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 5 candy canes
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup (appx. 6 large) ground graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, chopped

For the coating:

  • 2 cups of white chocolate chips or almond bark
  • 1/2 cup of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 2 crushed candy canes

Directions:

  1. With a spatula, whip up the cream cheese to a stirrable consistency.
  2. Using a food processor, grind 3 of your candy canes to a powder. Stir the ground candy canes, powdered sugar and ground graham crackers into the cream cheese with a spatula until everything is well-incorporated.
  3. Place the last two candy canes in a quart sized plastic ziploc-type bag, and using a heavy bowl, crush up the candy canes into small pieces (not quite a powder, since you want these to add a bit of a crunch to your truffles). Add the candy canes, along with the chopped white chocolate to your cream cheese truffle mixture.
  4. Chill the mixture well, for four hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to assemble the truffles, divide the mixture into tbsp. sized balls and put the balls on a cookie sheet. By the time you’re done making the truffle balls, the mixture probably warmed up a bit, so place the cheesecake balls in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up.
  6. In the meantime, melt your white chocolate for the coating (either in the microwave or with a double boiler).
  7. Take your cheesecake balls out of the freezer, and individually dip each ball in the white chocolate mixture. Place the finished dipped balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper for the chocolate to set.
  8. Once the white chocolate has set, melt your milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips and add a small amount on top of each truffle, along with some crushed candy canes for decoration.
  9. Enjoy these cheesecake truffles right out of the refrigerator and keep the truffles cold, since there is cream cheese in the recipe.

Banana Nutella “Ice Cream”

Banana Nutella "Ice Cream"

About a year ago, I bookmarked the popular one ingredient banana ice cream recipe. I usually don’t let bananas get super ripe in my house, because we go through them fairly quickly, but a couple of weeks ago, we forgot that I purchased a bunch to eat, and they were far too ripe to just eat on their own. I was about to make banana bread when I remembered this idea.

If you’re on a diet and you miss ice cream, I can tell you the texture is spot-on. It’s soft, creamy, frozen and very sweet, since the bananas are ripe. Since I’m a dieting rebel, though, I added a few tbsp. of nutella to the soft serve mixture. It was like eating marbled ice cream…very yummy and not too too bad for you!

If you have ripe bananas and a few extra minutes on your hands, definitely try this banana “ice cream”. It’s just too easy not to!

Banana Nutella “Ice Cream”
Source: adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 very ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp. nutella

Directions:

  1. Slice bananas into small bites and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. Freeze the bananas for 2-3 hours or overnight.
  3. Place the banana slices in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  4. Place the “ice cream” in a bowl and swirl in the nutella.
  5. Freeze for a couple of hours until set, if you’d prefer a scoop-able ice cream. Eat immediately if you prefer soft serve.

Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

I remember the first time I tried a black and white cookie. It was at Starbucks, and I really had no idea what this cookie would taste like, but I knew it had chocolate and I was craving chocolate at the time! It was a pretty decent cookie, for a Starbucks snack. I really never had a desire to eat one again, and I had no idea where this cookie idea came from. I really thought it was a Starbucks idea. Whoops!

Fast forward a few years. I noticed my food blogger/Weddingbee buddy Serena of Big Apple Nosh would tweet a lot about these cookies and she’s in NYC. So, I got to googling and found out that these cookies are VERY popular in NYC. (Shame on me…never been to NYC.) So, when Serena offered to bring me an authentic black and white cookie when she came to NOLA, how could I say “no”?

I ended up bringing the cookie home to my parents’ house, and of course, I offered my family to try a piece. This is all that was left for me to try after they had their “piece”. Ugh…

The piece that was left tasted MUCH better than the OK cookie that I had at Starbucks a few years ago, and from what I was told, the cookie that Serena brought wasn’t even the BEST cookie in NYC (that bakery was sold out). Crazy..I thought that cookie was yummy!

Since I didn’t get an adequate amount of cookie, I decided I wanted to bake some up! So, being the baking addict that I am, I started searching for a recipe to make these myself. I came across this one on Epicurious, and I went to town.

This recipe only makes 8 cookies, but black and white cookies are HUGE cookies. They came together pretty quickly, and while they puffed up more than the cookie that I tried, they tasted really good! I think I need to make them again, actually. :-)

Black and White Cookies
Source: Gourmet

Ingredients:

For cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

For icings

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
  3. Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and cool, about 5 minutes.
  4. Make the icing while the cookies cool. Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.
  5. To ice the cookies, turn them flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half. Allow the cookies to set for a few hours until the icing is completely dry.

S’mores for a Shower

Homemade S'mores

I really think the idea for virtual blog parties is so great. I sort of wish food bloggers could have real life parties/potlucks/etc., because it would be some SERIOUS good eats! I was so flattered when I was asked by Amy of Sing For Your Supper to participate in this virtual bridal shower for Kelsey of Apple A Day, but of course, the dilemma was what to bring?

I wanted it to be a simple finger food, but also something that is pretty familiar to most people. That’s when the idea of homemade s’mores somehow popped in my head. I’ve made marshmallows before, so I knew that wouldn’t be a problem and homemade graham crackers? How hard could that be?

Of course, my assumptions were wrong. While cooking my first batch of marshmallows, my candy thermometer somehow SHATTERED in the pot. And before you ask the obvious, no, the thermometer was not sitting at the bottom of the pot. Things like this only happen to me, heh. Because of this, I ran out of one of the ingredients while measuring out my second batch, so the marshmallow flavor was completely an accident. Mixed berry. Not a bad accident, though. I promise. :-)

To make the s’mores a little different, instead of using Hershey bars, I spread on a dollop of Nutella! Yummy…majorly…just sayin’.

If you’d like to check out the amazing food that other bloggers are making for Kelsey’s shower, check out Sing For Your Supper and Apple a Day!

Graham Crackers
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup  mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons milk, full-fat is best
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
  3. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Use a cutter to get the shape desired or cut into squares.
  6. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
  7. Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
  8. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.


Mixed Berry Marshmallows
Source: mildly adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for pan
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam or jelly
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam or jelly
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • Dash of salt
  • Red food coloring
  • Cornstarch, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil. Line dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides; oil parchment. Set dish aside.
  2. Pour 2/3 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle with gelatin; let stand until softened, 5 minutes.
  3. Stir together granulated sugar, jam, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Continue to boil until syrup registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).
  4. Add syrup to gelatin. Beat on low speed until slightly cooled. Gradually raise speed to high, beating until mixture is cool and peaks form, 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in red food coloring, one drop at a time, to achieve desired shade of pink.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan; smooth surface. Let stand, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours or overnight.
  6. Dust a cutting board with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around edges of marshmallow to loosen; un-mold onto cutting board. Peel off parchment. Lightly coat a large sharp knife with oil; cut marshmallow into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces, coating knife with more oil as necessary. Dust with cornstarch; toss to coat completely. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Best Fudge Ever!

Fudge

I’m sorry. I really am. Most of us are making resolutions to be healthier (myself included), and here I am posting a recipe that includes 5 cups of sugar. Please don’t hate me.

I will say, though, this is a recipe I need to share with y’all. This is the fudge that my Mom makes every holiday season. My Memaw makes a very similar version as well, except she swears by marshmallow cream instead of marshmallows.

I finally got the guts to give this recipe a whirl the week of Christmas, and I’m happy to say that I didn’t completely mess it up! I ended up slightly overcooking mine though, so it wasn’t quite as creamy as Mom makes it. I’m still working on getting better with candy making. :)

Mom’s Fudge
Source: My Mom

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Directions:

  1. Mix cocoa and sugar in a dutch oven. Add both milks and mix.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil (to where the mixture almost bubbles over).
  3. Lower the heat and stir the mixture.
  4. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches soft ball stage or 235 degrees. (This video is EXCELLENT in helping you to figure out what soft ball stage is.)
  5. Remove the mixture from the heat and working quickly, stir in the butter, peanut butter and marshmallows.
  6. Pour the batter in a parchment paper lined 9×13 inch pan. Allow it to cool for 2-3 hours. Cut and enjoy!

Pumpkin Blondies

Pumpkin Blondies

If you read my Twitter, you might already know that I’m on a major diet. A 10 week weight loss challenge for my local YMCA to be exact. I slowly freaked out inside when they took my body fat % and weight…those numbers weren’t so pretty. However, I guess I should see this as more weight to lose and alas, a good chance to win this challenge. The prizes are pretty phenomenal, too. The hard thing? It’s 10 weeks….until December 16th.

I’m pretty hardcore when it comes to competition. Just ask my family…I get pretty extreme just to get that “#1″ feeling. So, I’m back to the gym 4-5x/week and back on Weight Watchers too to kick this challenge’s booty!

Before you panic about my recipes being ALL “skinny” again, I still intend to do my cold weather baking, because my urges to bake and create things are far too strong lately. The difference this year is that a lot of my husband’s coworkers (and maybe mine) will be getting to enjoy these treats moreso than I.

These blondies, actually, were made for my family. I went to visit them this past weekend and had a blast! I thought it would be nice to bring these blondies, and with a family of 6 in the house, the pan of these were almost GONE Sunday. I’d say the recipe was pretty darn successful, no? I did try a couple (small) squares of these, and yes, yes, yes! Majorly yummy and potentially majorly addictive. It took a lot for me to hold back. :)

Pumpkin Blondies
Source: Martha Stewart (adaptation found on Smells Like Home)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.  Stir together and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in the pumpkin puree.  With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the white chocolate and 1 cup butterscotch chips with a rubber spatula.
  3. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips over the top of the batter.  Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.
  4. To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board.  Peel off the foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.

Berry Mash Bruschetta

Berry Mash Bruschetta

You know when people say, “OMG this is the best thing since sliced bread!”? Whenever someone says that, I always think about how sliced bread is actually pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong here, because I love a good sandwich, but sliced bread in a bag isn’t something (bread-wise) that I consider to be the “best thing”. In fact, the thought of sliced bread brings me back to school lunch days when I would push through trying to eat a soggy turkey sandwich, and growing envious of those who got to bring the fancy awesome Lunchables. (Mom, if you are reading this, I love you and realize how stupidly expensive Lunchables are now.)

A while back, Foodbuzz sent me some samples of Nature’s Pride bread. I wasn’t expecting to be really wow-ed by the bread, but I will say that this bread is sort of our staple now. I especially love the honey wheat and the wheat hamburger buns. They don’t have that gross, dry texture that other wheat breads in store have, and for that, we are a Nature’s Pride convert. :)

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s Program, Foodbuzz offered a coupon for a free Nature’s Pride product in exchange for making up a little ol’ recipe highlighting Nature’s Pride bread.  Six bloggers’ recipes will be chosen to be an ambassador for Nature’s Pride at this year’s Foodbuzz Festival! ::crosses fingers::

I think I would go happy-crazy if I were chosen. I’ve never been to California before, and I’d love to meet/greet other food bloggers! :D

Anyway, back to the post. I figured since I buy the bread every week, I’ll just make a recipe before the coupon comes in. :)

I definitely wanted to make sliced bread not-so-boring, so I kept the idea in my mind to make a recipe with sliced sandwich bread! I sort of just thought up this recipe in my head: cinnamon toast, cream cheese spread, fresh mashed berries and a nutella drizzle on top. What’s not to like?

This recipe is insanely delicious and sinful. The crunchy toasty bread and the juicy berries with chocolate and cream cheese made a perfect little dessert bite (or two). It’s also ridiculously easy. You could totally make this for a party, and impress the guests.

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices Nature’s Pride Honey Wheat sliced bread
  • Unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/4 cup nutella
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the bread into fourths and place on the baking sheet.
  3. While waiting for the oven to preheat, mix the granulated sugar with the cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Mix the nutella and milk in another bowl to make the nutella drizzle. Set aside.
  5. Mix the cream cheese with 1 1/2 tbsp. of the cinnamon sugar mixture in another bowl. Set aside.
  6. Rinse berries and then place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork.
  7. Place the sliced bread pieces in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until a golden, toasty brown. Turn off the oven. Immediately add a thin layer of butter and then liberally sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Place back in the oven for an additional 2 minutes to ensure that the butter/cinnamon sugar set in.
  8. Take the bread out and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
  9. Now, assemble your bruschettas. :) Add a thin layer of the cinnamon cream cheese to the bread slice, add about 1 tbsp. of the berry mash on top (making sure not to avoid adding too much berry juice), and drizzle nutella on top! Enjoy!

Makes 24.

Note: You may have some berries leftover, but there’s nothing wrong with that, right?