Chocolate Spritz Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Icing

Disclosure: I wrote this post as a part of OXO’s Bake a Difference for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer (#OXOGoodCookies) campaign. I received no compensation for this post, but was given OXO products to use to make this recipe.

Chocolate Spritz Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Icing

My best friend is about to have her first baby. It blows my mind, because um…wasn’t college last week? Not really, but time is just flying by. My husband and I want to have kids some day, but oh man, I sometimes still feel like I’m too young for this. When did I reach my 30s? Weird.

Anyway, I’m super thrilled for her and her husband. I can’t wait to meet their sweet little baby and spoil him/her rotten with random craft-y things. :-P

I have been in a major cooking mood this past week, which means fall is really around the corner. I rarely cook in the summer, and if I do, it’s slow cooker meals, because I don’t want to heat things up in the house when it’s 100+ heat index outside (kitchen slacker). So, now my kitchen is about to be crazy haha! I made these chocolate spritz cookies for coworkers, and then two pans of chicken enchiladas (one for us and one for my friend/her husband, just so they have one less thing to worry about when prepping for baby). :-)

These chocolate spritz cookies are very simple to throw together. It’s not fussy…just one bowl needed, and the dough comes together in no time! I got this recipe off of OXO’s recipe book, but decided to add my own little fall twist by icing the cookies with pumpkin spice peanut butter icing. Perfect combination for the fall! I used OXO’s cookie press to make them, and I was especially excited to use the fleur de lis disk, since it’s football season. (Yay Saints!)

I made these cookies to Bake a Difference with OXO for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This fall, keep your eyes peeled for certain OXO products with this sticker on the tag.


(Image courtesy of OXO, used with their permission.)

For every stickered item sold, OXO will donate 25 cents in support of pediatric cancer research as part of its $100,000* pledge to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Look for specially marked OXO products at participating retailers in September.

* In 2014, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer through specially marked baking tools, bake sale matches and other fundraising efforts. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. Your donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.

If you’re looking to purchase some new kitchen products very soon, it’s the perfect time to bake a difference, especially with the holidays coming up!

Chocolate Spritz Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Icing
Source: cookies from OXO and icing is adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 For the icing:

  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside two un-greased baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and salt together, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, and add the vanilla extract and egg into the bowl, mixing on low.
  3. Slowly add in the flour and cocoa powder, beating until the mixture is well mixed.
  4. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown on the edges.
  5. To make the icing, whisk the peanut butter, pumpkin pie spice, milk and vanilla extract together in a bowl until well mixed. Add in the powdered sugar and mix until there are no clumps in the icing. It will be a thin icing.
  6. Once the cookies have cooled, place them close together on a cooling rack and using a fork, drizzle the tops of the cookies with the glaze. If you’d like, you can add sprinkles on top right after icing them. Enjoy!

 

Peanut Thai Quinoa Salad

Disclosure: I received a selection of whole grain products from the Whole Grain Council to sample, as a whole grain ambassador for “Whole Grain Sampling Day”, but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thai Quinoa Salad

There’s nothing better than finally feeling in control of things again…at least diet-wise. Sure, I still have my splurge days, but for the most part, I don’t go over my calorie count. I have to admit, it really helps that the new office discourages eating at your desk. Walking to the break room for a handful of dried fruit or a granola bar makes me think twice before snacking. I actually like it….mindless snacking while at work was one of my biggest issues, and the new job sort of figured it out for me. :-)

I’ve also started trying new food items again. I was recently approached by the Whole Grains Council about being a Whole Grains Ambassador this year, along with some other fantastic food bloggers. I definitely jumped at the chance, because one thing I’ve learned throughout my weight loss journey, is that there is nothing wrong with giving new foods a try. One of my favorite whole grains is quinoa, which I wouldn’t have ordinarily tried when I was almost 300 pounds. I was looking for other options for lunch at the office, and there were so many great recipes out there involving quinoa…I just had to give it a try! I know it’s all the rage lately, but I can’t get enough of it. Not only is it tasty (it reminds me of brown rice, but with a nuttier taste), but I also think it’s versatile. You can serve it hot or cold, savory or sweet, and you can easily enjoy it anytime of the day!

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies & A Giveaway

pbchocchipcookies

One of the hardest things about the holidays is facing the scale. I’ve been watching those numbers creep higher and higher, and well….it’s sort of depressing. Usually I can catch myself, and just go back to hardcore dieting. However, training for this half marathon has turned me into a crazy, hungry person. I’m hungry for junk food, too. It’s a real struggle, especially with all of the holiday baking that has been going on in our house!

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Southern Living’s The Slim Down South Cookbook. I was definitely intrigued, because I feel like this book (just based on the title alone) totally gets me. Living in Louisiana, most dishes aren’t the healthiest. While I was hardcore calorie counting, I would have one cheat meal a week to enjoy those comforting southern dishes that I missed. With this book, I’m super excited to try lightened up versions of my favorites. No cheat day necessary!

Some of the recipes that stuck out to me are baked cheese grits, buttermilk biscuits, bourbon balls, and baked smokin’ mac & cheese…I mean…seriously? Every recipe (there’s 120 of them) also has the nutritional information below it, and the book is full of tips/tricks for slimming down. There’s also a whole chapter dedicated to healthier eating, and there’s even a 14 day eating plan, featuring recipes throughout the book.

Since I’m all about cookies lately, I decided to make these flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies out of the cookbook first. I was skeptical, because I’ve never made a peanut butter cookie without flour. However, these cookies were fantastic. and at 137 calories a cookie (vs. well over 200), it’s not a bad indulgence at all!

slimdownsouth

The generous folks at Southern Living/YC Media are offering a giveaway for a copy of The Slim Down South Cookbook to one lucky reader!

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Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Brownies

pbmissmudbrownies

It’s finally that time of the year. The weather finally got a clue and cooled down. I was super giddy about it all, until I remembered that my allergies usually hate weather changes. Let’s just say that I raided the grocery store today, and amongst the things in my cart were Mucinex, zinc drops, vitamin C, Benadryl & Reese’s cups. Priorities, people!

One of the great things about the weather cooling down is that I just want to bake up a storm. I naturally purchase more butter, flour, sugar and eggs. I already have a stockpile of chocolate chips & random candies to mix into baked goodies, so I don’t have to go to the store when the urge to bake strikes.  :-) I also really crave comfort foods, like pot roast, gumbo and chili.

Recently, I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Southern Living’s new book “No Taste Like Home”, which was released yesterday.

cover

As a fan of Southern Living, I couldn’t say no, and with Southern Living being known for the typical Southern, comforting recipes, it was perfect timing with the weather cooling down. This book basically highlights recipes from different regions of the South, including:

  • The Heart of Dixie
  • Cajun Country
  • Big, Bold Texas
  • The Piedmont & the Mountains
  • The Bluegrass, Bourbon & Barbecue Trail
  • The Coastal South

Basically, if you’re from the South, there’s a good chance that you’ll see some familiar hometown recipes. If you’re not from the South, you’ll probably want to start cooking from this book immediately to introduce yourself to some amazing Southern fare.  :-)

When I got the book in my hands, I immediately had to skim through it with my sticky note pad handy to bookmark recipes that caught my eye. Let’s just say that the copy I have is full of sticky notes. So many wonderful recipes, and the photos are just lovely. I typically would have first made a recipe from the “Cajun Country” (Louisiana) chapter, but this recipe, from “The Heart of Dixie” (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) chapter was just pulling me in. Rich chocolate brownies with peanut butter batter swirled in, topped with melted, gooey marshmallows, peanuts and a decadent chocolate frosting. I mean…c’mon. How could I not?

Do I even have to say that they were beyond delicious? Oh my gosh…insanely good! You will definitely want a glass of milk (or heck, a scoop of ice cream) handy for these, though. They’re definitely indulgent, and while there’s a few steps involved, they are just completely worth it. I promise!

Now, of course I wouldn’t gush about this book without sharing some of the love! The wonderful folks at Southern Living/YC Media are offering a lucky Nifty Foodie reader a copy of this book. To enter the giveaway, just check out the Rafflecopter widget below! [Read more...]

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

reesescookies

My husband and I are huge fans of warehouse club shopping. The only one out here is Sam’s Club, but we’re getting a Costco soon, and I couldn’t be more excited to check that place out!

Even though there’s just two of us in the house, we buy a lot of staples there. To name a few, we like to buy cheap spices, baking ingredients, frozen fruits, meat (we use our FoodSaver religiously), dog treats and a lot of times, even clothes!

Clothes are a new thing, for sure. Before my weight loss journey began, I barely fit in the shirts they would sell there. It’s very odd to now go to Sam’s, and purchase jeans/shirts/cardigans from there. It all fits now! It’s awesome, because it’s dirt cheap and most of the time, they offer fairly classic pieces.

The nemesis of warehouse club shopping, however, are the impulse buys. Whew…can’t tell you how many times random things just hop in our cart! In fact, just recently, there was a bulk box of Reese’s mini cups (the already unwrapped kind) that somehow found its way in our cart. :-P

Since I had a plethora of Reese’s cups to now use up, I decided that cookies would be an awesome idea. I searched the Internet, and found these giant cookies. I was immediately smitten. These were so good…they have the classic chewy peanut butter cookie flavor with Reese’s all throughout. Can’t go wrong here, folks!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Source: Real Mom Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 32 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, quartered

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Scrape down the bowl, and add the peanut butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix until well-combined
    2. With the mixer on low, add in the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and Reese’s cups using a spatula.
    3. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet. For me, 6 cookies fit on each sheet. Slightly flatten each scoop with your hand, and then bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes.
    4. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes, then place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

 

 

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake

This past week, I’ve been spending my afternoons prepping the gardens/weeding/planting annuals. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Man…can’t believe it’s almost April, y’all! With the weather starting to warm up over here, the colder the beverages, the better. I started making iced coffees a couple of weeks ago, and now, I just can’t get enough of smoothies/shakes.

As far as this shake goes, peanut butter and jelly is a favorite of mine. Move over ham sandwiches…if you offer me a PB&J, I’m going for it! I wanted to try these flavors in a shake, and while I used frozen fruit instead of jelly, the flavors (strawberry/peanut butter) work beautifully together. This was so refreshing, and filling (thanks to the protein powder). It’s definitely a goodie!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Shake
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until everything is smooth (about 2 minutes).

Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies

In the 13 months that I’ve been on my weight loss journey, I’ve never found myself as challenged as I am this month. Last January, when I started counting calories, I was on a weight loss high. I was dropping weight left and right, and it was completely motivating to stay on track. This January, however, my weight isn’t coming off as quickly as it did (of course), and for some reason, I keep having a raging craving for all things sweet. I usually have some awesome willpower to say “no”, but I’m finding that I can’t trust myself lately.

Example: I bought a king cake for the first time this season. That same day, I ate THREE slices. The scale went up 2 lbs. ::sad:: Must.find.willpower.ASAP!

Now, I find that I’m improving a bit since Christmas. Y’all….the holidays had a ton of food. It all started with a cruise that my husband and I went on. Unlimited food that was already included? Well, let’s just say five pounds later I found myself standing on the scale in awe. You would think my mind would say GET BACK ON TRACK, but no…my mind said WHERE’S THE CHOCOLATE? Ugh.

So, all of the candy had to go. All of it. The best way I’ve discovered to get rid of a bunch of random candy? Add oatmeal and peanut butter and make some monster cookies! This was my first time making these cookies, and y’all….I think these were a worse temptation than the darn candy! I had to revert back to the days when I couldn’t resist baked goods, and immediately wrap the cookies in saran wrap, and ask my husband to just take them to his office. I know…I really need my willpower back, y’all. My husband told me some people took 5-6 of these cookies with them, so I know they were a hit in the office!

Monster Cookies
Source: adapted from Paula Deen

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup assorted chocolate candy (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

Directions:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
    2. In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugars for about a minute on medium, or until mixed well. Scrape down the bowl and add the salt, vanilla extract, peanut butter and butter. Mix everything on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and using a silicone spatula or spoon, stir in the M&Ms, chocolate candy, chocolate chips, raisins, baking soda and oatmeal.
    3. Scoop the cookies out with a medium sized scoop, allowing 2 inches between each cookie, onto the already prepared baking sheets.
    4. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, making sure not to over-bake the cookies. Allow the cookies to cool for about 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling. Enjoy!

 

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream – These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal – My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies – Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles – Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie – I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes – Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade – Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies – These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette – This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013”. :-)

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

I’ve been making a ton of frozen treats lately. With the crazy heat outside, I feel like the best way to “cook” is to not use any heat at all. Sure, some ice creams use eggs, but since you have to cook the ice cream mixture in that case, I’ve been trying quite a few quick (egg free) ice cream recipes.

One of my favorite ice cream treats is a Sonic Blast with Reese’s cup pieces mixed in. Reese’s cups for me is just one of those candies I can’t say no to. I can only buy them if I have a recipe in mind, otherwise I tend to black out and find myself surrounded by Reese’s wrappers. Those things are my weakness.

In a brief, insane (yep, insane…I’m trying to lose some weight y’all!) moment, I thought to look up recipes for Reese’s ice cream, and I came across this one. Two great things…it comes together quickly and it’s egg free (no cooking!). Taste wise? Let’s just say that I’m thankful that I bought the fancy little ice cream cup that I have, because 1/2 cup of ice cream fits in there and in my mind, it feels like I’m eating a full bowl. I really could have eaten the whole container in one serving, I imagine.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Source: barely adapted from Recipe Girl (originally found in the Cuisinart Ice Cream book)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the peanut butter and sugar and beat the mixture for 2 minutes until it’s very smooth. Add the milk to the bowl and mix everything on low for another 2 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and beat the mixture on low for another 2 minutes, until the ice cream base is well-combined. Chill the mixture in the fridge for an hour.
  2. Take the ice cream mixture out of the fridge, give it a quick stir to make sure nothing settled and add the ice cream to your ice cream machine, and churn the mixture according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Add the chopped peanut butter cups, and stir them into the churned ice cream. At this point, the ice cream will be like a soft serve ice cream. If you’d prefer a more scoopable consistency, place the ice cream in a freezer safe container and freeze the ice cream for a few hours. Enjoy!

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

A few weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to organize the pantry. Food was just stacked all over the place, and it became pretty darn difficult to figure out what we already had when it came time for grocery shopping. The shelf I spent the most time on was the baking shelf. Y’all…I can’t even tell y’all how many extra boxes and bags of baking supplies were in there, and sadly some of them were expired. :( What a waste. Within that, I also discovered that I had two unopened jars of peanut butter, and one of them was expiring in a month. So, of course I needed to use it up ASAP. Lesson learned….I’m cleaning the pantry more often from now on!

I’m a big fan of cookies, but for some reason, I hardly ever make peanut butter cookies. I like them, but I’m so used to making cookies involving chocolate or just good ol’ sugar cookies. To me, these are sort of the forgotten cookie, and there’s really no reason for that, because peanut butter cookies are delish!

Peanut Butter Cookies
Source: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla and peanut butter, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Scrape down the bowl and add the flour, baking soda and salt to the wet mixture, beating slowly until the mixture is just combined. This is a dry dough, so it could take a while to come together. If the dough is too crumbly, add a little water at a time until the dough is no longer crumbly.
  4. Using a tablespoon scoop, drop the cookie dough onto your baking sheets, making sure to leave 2 inches between each cookie. Take a fork and flatten the cookie to a 1/2 inch thickness, making a cross-hatch type of design on them.
  5. Bake the cookies for 12-16 minutes, until they just start to brown around the edges of the cookies. The tops will not brown at this point. Cool the cookies on a rack and enjoy!