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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Round Up

 Each week for the past 11 weeks, I have joined a group of bloggers in sharing a variety of holiday treats as part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (I missed week #1).  I can’t believe we started all the way back in September, and here we are less than a week away from Christmas!  In the event you still have some holiday treats to make (or if you’re like me and stockpiling recipes for next year!), below is a round up of the treats I shared.  Just click on the recipe name after the Week # and you’ll be directed to the corresponding post.

I have also selected an “Alida’s Pick” from each week, featuring a link to a recipe by another blogger.  There are so many delicious recipes that were shared over the past weeks, it was hard to choose.

I want to thank Brenda from Meal Planning Magic for hosting the blog event 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, as well as all the other fellow bloggers for participating.  My list of recipes to make has increased exponentially as a result!

Week #2: Grandma’s Lemon Bars

Alida’s pick from Week #2:  Pumpkin Coffee Cake by Baker Street

Week #3: Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alida’s pick from Week #3: Peppermint Marshmallows by The Redhead Baker

Week #4: Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Alida’s pick from Week #4: Snickersnaps by Cooking to Perfection

Week #5: Mounds Brownies

Alida’s pick from Week #5:  Peppermint Patties by Delicious Melicious

Week #6: Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Alida’s pick from Week #6:  White Hot Fudge Sauce by Baked Bree

Week #7: Sunny Blossoms

Alida’s pick from Week #7:  Candy Cane S’mores by Roxana’s Home Baking

Week #8: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Alida’s pick from Week #8:  Pretzel S’mores by Books ‘n Cooks

Week #9:  Pumpkin Surprise Cupcakes

Alida’s pick from Week #9:  Peppermint Blondies by Kitchen Meets Girl

Week #10:  Grandma’s Caramel Bars

Alida’s pick from Week #10:  Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Week #11:  Peppermint Twist Kiss Cookies

Alida’s pick from Week #11:  Soft Sugar Cookies from Midwestern Girl

 Week #12:  Chewy Ginger Cookies 

Alida’s pick from Week #12:  Peppermint Cake Roll by Baking and Boys

cream cheese cookies with lemon glaze

Cream Cheese Meltaways

cream cheese meltaways with lemon glaze

Cream Cheese Meltaways with Lemon Glaze are little bite-sized cookies that are a light and delicious addition to any holiday cookie platter.  These cookies were a new addition this year, and they were an instant favorite!  The lemon glaze gives just a hint of lemony sweetness to the cream cheesy butter cookies.  The recipe for glaze makes plenty.  You could probably get by with using half the glaze recipe, or better yet – double the cookie recipe…these will go fast!

Cream Cheese Meltaways
 
Yields: 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened (I used light butter)
  • 2 ounces block-style Neufachtel cream cheese (1/3 less fat/light)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Glaze:
  • 1¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • assorted sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch and salt until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, add powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until combined. (Note: dough will be dry and crumbly).
  5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (be careful not to overwork dough) and place on prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes of pan and then move to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. GLAZE: In a medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Dip the tops of cooled cookies into glaze and place on wire rack. Decorate with sprinkles, as desired. Let cookies stand until glaze is set.

Source:  Cooking Light

cream cheese meltaways from Alida's Kitchen

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Chewy Ginger Cookies

This is my favorite recipe for Chewy Ginger Cookies. They are soft, chewy, with warm flavors of ginger and molasses, plus they take 10 minutes to prepare!

When it comes to holiday baking, I enjoy trying new recipes, but I also like to have some go-to recipes.   Standby recipes that are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers and are easy to make.  For years, I have been trying to find that special recipe for a ginger cookies.  These Chewy Ginger Cookies are the top contender for becoming that special recipe.  They are super soft and chewy with the warm flavors of ginger and molasses in each bite.   The dough takes less than 10 minutes to make, which is always a bonus!

This marks the final week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Mom.  Be sure to check out the thumbnails at the bottom of this post for more delicious holiday treats!

Chewy Ginger Cookies
 
Yields: 30 cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup water
  • Additional sugar, for rolling
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Mix molasses and water in a liquid measuring cup, and stir until combined (Note: you may need to stir again before adding to butter mixture).
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until combined. Beating on low, alternately add flour mixture and molasses mixture to the butter mixture, until fully combined. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. Roll a rounded tablespoonful of dough into a ball and then roll the ball in granulated sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are set (be careful not to overbake). Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Slightly adapted from Taste of Home: Best Loved Cookies and Bars

 

We are to Week #12 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop.

 

Peppermint Twist Kiss Cookies

 Peppermint Twist Kiss Cookies are a fun variation of the ever-popular “blossom” cookies with a candy kiss in the middle. These light-tasting peppermint cookies have a red and white swirl that are cute and festive for the holidays or any time! 
Peppermint Twist Kiss Cookies are tasty, fun and festive…perfect for this time of year!  The red and white cookie is a light-tasting peppermint butter cookie, and then topped with a chocolate kiss.

Grandma’s Caramel Bars

 My grandma was always impressive in the kitchen, especially with her holiday treats.  This recipe she created for Caramel Bars is no exception!  Most caramel bars I’ve had have been underwhelming and have had a relatively stiff caramel layer in the center.  So is not the case with these Caramel Bars.  The caramel layer is gooey, melty and wonderful.   The oat crust and crumbly topping are simple and delicious, and the chocolate chips add some chocolate and texture.  Her recipe also includes 1 cup walnuts, which I do not use.  No holiday treat platter is complete without caramel bars!

Speaking of holiday treats, we are in Week 10 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!  This recipe makes a generous amount, so is definitely a good treat to have on hand for your holiday celebrations.

Grandma’s Caramel Bars
 
Yields: 3 to 4 dozen bars, depending on size
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick oats work fine)
  • 1 cup butter, softened (I use light butter)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 14-ounce package caramels
  • ⅓ cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, put the flour, oats, butter, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Using an electric mixer on low (I use a hand mixer), slowly beat in the butter until combined, moist, and pea-sized crumbs form. Press ½ of mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, slowly melt caramels and evaporated milk over a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water), stirring frequently.
  4. Once crust is done, pour caramel mixture over crust. Sprinkle chocolate chips (and walnuts, if using) over caramel. Crumble remaining oat mixture over caramel and chocolate chips. Bake for 12 minutes and move to a wire rack to cool completely.

We are already to week #10 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us.

 

pumpkin cream cheese filled cupcakes

Pumpkin Surprise Cupcakes

So I couldn’t help myself…I had to share one last pumpkin recipe with you.  It’s a good one.  Pumpkin Surprise Cupcakes are a moist, delicious pumpkin cake with a cream cheese surprise in the middle.  A little sprinkling of powdered sugar on top is all these cupcakes need before presenting, which makes them ideal for travel or eating at a gathering since they won’t get all messy.  While these cupcakes can hold their own without any frosting, they would also be really good with a little Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting if you want to get fancy.  Pumpkin Surprise Cupcakes are an easy, portable and fun little pumpkin alternative to tomorrow’s traditional pie.

 

By the way, can you believe we’re already in Week #9 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!  Due to the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday, many of us are posting starting today through the rest of the week, so be sure to check out all of the yummy treats by clicking on the thumbnails at the bottom of this post.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Pumpkin Surprise Cupcakes
 
Yields: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Powdered sugar, for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, gently folding until well-blended.
  4. FILLING: In a separate small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add egg and beat on low until just combined.
  5. Fill muffin cups approximately one-third full. Distribute evenly among cupcakes, dropping a generous tablespoonful in the enter of each cupcake. Cover with remaining batter.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the pumpkin cake portion comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving (or frost as desired).

Source: Taste of Home


Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars combine pumpkin and cheesecake into a beautiful layered bar that are as delicious as they are simple to make.  First you make a graham cracker crust.  While that cools completely, you make the cheesecake filling, reserving a portion to add in some pumpkin.  Pour the plain cheesecake layer over the crust.  Dollop the pumpkin layer over the cheesecake layer and try for a swirl effect, if you desire, by running a knife through the batter.  I was liking the simple layered look, so left it as is.  Either way, they taste like a decadent cheesecake with a pumpkin twist.

With the holidays coming up, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are a light alternative to those heavier desserts (or in addition to…I don’t judge!!)  You would never guess it, but they are made on the lighter side, coming in around 115 calories per bar.

If you’re looking for other lighter dessert options, this Crustless Pumpkin Pie is my favorite pie of all time!

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
 
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (approx 9 sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light butter, melted (regular butter would work too)
  • Cooking spray
  • 11 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchatel, ⅓ less fat)
  • ⅓ cup light sour cream
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9" square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. CRUST: In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; add butter and stir until moistened. Press mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. FILLING: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Add egg, and beat on low until just combined.
  4. Pour ¾ cup batter into a small bowl. Add pumpkin, brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring until well blended.
  5. Pour plain batter over cooled crust. Drop dollops of pumpkin batter over the plain batter. Cut through batter with knife to swirl.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to overnight.

 

Source:  Taste of Home

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us.

Sunny Blossoms

Sunny Blossoms are a peanut-free twist on the classic cookie.  While Peanut Blossoms are always a favorite, the need for peanut-free treats are becoming more common.  So in an effort to make a peanut-free alternative, enter Sunny Blossoms, made with sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter.  I used my grandma’s recipe as a base and went from there.  Being the peanut butter diehard that I am, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  While it is obviously not peanut butter, they still taste really good!  Mike loved them as well and noted the next day they tasted almost peanut-y.  Sunflower seed butter is mild enough to not overpower the cookie.  Frankly if you put chocolate with anything, it’s going to be good! 🙂

Time sure flies!  We are to Week 7 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!  We all know that no holiday cookie platter is complete without some form of a ‘blossom’ cookie.  Not only are they tasty, but they are so darn cute with the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle!  Sunny Blossoms offer a delicious, peanut-free alternative.

Sunny Blossoms
 
Yields: approximately 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter (I used light butter)
  • ⅓ cup sunflower seed butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • granulated sugar, for rolling
  • 36 chocolate Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sunflower butter until blended.
  3. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar to sunflower butter mixture - cream well. Add egg and vanilla - beat well.
  4. Blend in dry ingredients gradually (Note: I do this step by hand using a wooden spoon) and mix thoroughly. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (Note: I typically chill overnight).
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Shape dough into balls using a rounded teaspoonful for each. Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Top each cookie with a Hershey's Kiss candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge. Return to oven and bake 2 to 5 minutes longer until golden brown. Move cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

 

Pumpkin Bundt Cake from Alida's Kitchen

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make using simple pantry ingredients! Pumpkin Bundt Cake | alidaskitchen.com

Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a simple and delicious pumpkin pound cake, with warm spices and pumpkin-y goodness throughout.  What attracted me to this recipe, aside from a slight pumpkin obsession, is that the ingredients are simple pantry items that I have on hand at all times.  What made me fall in love with the recipe, aside from it being delicious, was how easy it was to make. The batter took me less than 10 minutes to whip together.  Then bake for about an hour, let it cool, and voila!  You have an elegant and versatile dessert that will happily feed a crowd or, in our case, treat a small family for a week. 🙂

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Not only will this Pumpkin Bundt Cake be excellent served alongside your holiday cookie platter, but it would also be a tasty alternative at Thanksgiving dinner or even served at a brunch.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
 
Yields: 24 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10-inch bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and add vanilla with the last egg.
  4. To the egg mixture, alternate adding flour mixture and pumpkin, beating well on medium-low after each addition.
  5. Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a tootpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Let cool completely and then dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Slightly adapted from Taste of Home

Pumpkin Bundt Cake | alidaskitchen.com

Mounds Brownies

With Halloween just around the corner, the excitement is building for fun costumes and candy.  We always somehow end up with more candy than we need to give out (thanks to the person who buys the candy, *ahem* Mike).  While that may be intentional, I’m always happy to try new and tasty recipes using “leftover” candy ~ these Mounds Brownies being one of them!

Mounds Brownies take a basic brownie recipe and dress it up with coconut, simply by adding Mounds candy bars.  It’s amazing how such a simple addition can really transform an otherwise ordinary dessert into something unique and seemingly decadant.  You get a nice-sized chunk of candy bar in each brownie, and fans of chocolate and coconut will enjoy the complementary flavors.

By the way, it’s that time of week again.  We are now in Week 5 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!  While this recipe is shared in part to use up Halloween candy, these Mounds Brownies would be a super fun addition to your holiday treat platter.  They’re something a little different yet delicious and very easy to make too.

Mounds Brownies
 
Yields: 16 brownies
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 snack-size Mounds candy bars
  • Baking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square pan with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or a use double-boiler), stirring frequently until melted. Remove bowl from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well-blended. Stir in vanilla and chocolate mixture. Fold in flour mixture until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place Mounds bars on top of batter, pressing down slightly. (I did 3 rows of 4).
  6. Bake until just set, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Slightly adapted from All You, October, 2012

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us.

Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies are a simplified version of a chewy homemade Oreo cookie.  The chocolate cookies are soft, yet sturdy and the filling is a sweetened cream cheese frosting.  The dough literally took me 5 minutes minutes to whip together.  I feared the dough would be gooey and messy to work with, but it was quite firm and rolled into balls by hand without a huge sticky mess.

These cookies are fun any holiday or celebration because you can color the filling to suit any occasion or simply roll the sides in sprinkles for a cute, colorful decoration.  The recipe yields a generous amount of cookies, which is perfect if you’re looking to share.  It also halves easily, which is what I did…(I still shared though) 🙂

I am sharing these delicious yet super easy cookies as part of Week 4 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  While this recipe makes plenty and these cookies are perfect for any holiday cookie platter, I made them pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Week hosted by Erin of Dinners, Dishes and DessertsTo conclude Breast Cancer Awareness Week, tomorrow Erin is hosting a giveaway, so be sure to visit Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on Friday for a chance to win!

Be sure to check out the thumbnails at the bottom of this post and visit the other bloggers who are posting amazing recipes today in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, and also for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!

Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
 
Yields: approximately 4 dozen sandwich cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 packages devil's food cake mix
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened - (I used Neufachtel / ⅓ less fat)
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring or sprinkles for decorating, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat cake mixes, eggs and oil until combined (Note: I used a hand mixer; batter will be very stiff).
  3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Using the side of a silicone spatula, press to flatten the balls slightly.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling. (Note: I baked the cookies the night before and did the filling the next day).
  5. For the filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add food coloring, if desired.
  6. Spread filling on bottom of half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies. Finish decorating, as desired.

Source:  Taste of Home: Best Loved Cookies and Bars

Be sure to check out the bloggers who are supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Week for some delicious pink and/or healthy recipes! 

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies from Alida's Kitchen

Every time I drop Adam off at Preschool, he asks what I’m going to do while he’s at school.  Last week I told him laundry and other boring things.  He told me I should make something…I should make something with pumpkin.  Little did he know, I had these Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies on my list of things to do, so easy enough.  I told him I would make some pumpkin cookies, and he just beamed!  That definitely sounds better than laundry 🙂

These Pumpkin White Chocolate Chips cookies are very soft with a little chewy bite from the oats.  I changed up the sugar ratio a bit from the original recipe because I love what brown sugar does to baked goods.  The original recipe calls for 1 egg, but I initially made a half recipe.  How do you cut an egg in half?  I used the full egg in half, and 2 in a full recipe.  The dough is a little gooey, so it helps to refrigerate it a bit before baking.    Otherwise I don’t know exactly how this impacts the recipe, but I do know these cookies are perfection and would not change a thing.

I am sharing these delightful cookies for week 3 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  While these cookies are perfect for any holiday cookie platter, I do think they would also make an excellent Halloween or Thanksgiving treat, or any time treat for other fellow pumpkin lovers!  

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Yields: approximately 48 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cram butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.
  3. Stir in flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with pumpkin. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
  6. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Taste of Home

If you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us!

Grandma’s Lemon Bars

For the next 11 weeks, I am excited to join a group, hosted by Meal Planning Magic, called 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.   I missed last week due to somebody’s pesky 2 year old molars, hence 11 weeks 🙂   So every Thursday, I will be sharing a delicious Holiday-inspired treat.  I know what you’re thinking…Christmas? It’s only October!  It’s never too early to plan.  Time to dust off those holiday cookie platters!

For my first Christmas treat post, it is only fitting that I share a favorite recipe that my Grandma used to make for the Holidays ~ Lemon Bars.  There was always something extra special about her lemon bars.  They had a perfect balance of tangy and sweet, they had the lovely dusting of powdered sugar on top, and they literally melted in your mouth.  Of our favorites she made, my grandma’s lemon bars topped the list of many (and there definitely were many).  To me, no Holiday cookie platter is complete without lemon bars.  I never realized how easy they were to make, which is an added bonus!

Grandma’s Lemon Bars
 
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • powdered sugar, for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8" square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together butter, 1 cup flour and ¼ cup powdered sugar. Press into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and baking powder. Add eggs, juice and zest, folding gently until combined.
  4. Pour lemon mixture over baked crust.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely and then dust with powdered sugar.

 

 

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us!

Golden Grahams S’mores Bars

This post is sponsored by Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels, the perfect special ingredient for all of your family’s favorite treats!
Golden Graham’s S’mores Bars are a no-bake, graham, chocolate, and marshmallow bar that is super easy to make.  These classic flavors never get old, and it is always fun to find new ways to enjoy the taste of s’more.  These bars are similar to a rice krispie treat, only using graham squares cereal , and chocolate is melted with the marshmallow mixture.  They take about 10 minutes to melt and mix together and then about an hour in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.

I found the recipe years ago on the back of a Nestlé® Toll House®Morsels bag, but had not had an opportunity to make them. Fortunately, as part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program with Nestlé® Toll House®Morsels, I received a baking kit and coupon for free Nestlé® Toll House®Morsels and was invited to spend the afternoon baking with my favorite little man. It just so happens that Adam is very interested in all that goes on in the kitchen these days. He was more than excited to help!

This was the perfect recipe to get Adam involved in the kitchen. He served as chief ingredient pour-er and chief mixer (before melting, of course), and may have done some on-the-job sampling. He took his jobs very seriously and took great pride in his work. It was fun to have a little baking buddy, and fun to have an excuse to make these Golden Grahams S’mores Bars!

Golden Grahams S’mores Bars
 
Yields: 24 bars
Ingredients
  • 12.5 ounce box Golden Graham's Cereal
  • 6 cups (10.5 ounce bag) miniature marshmallows, divided
  • 1½ cups NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Milk Chocolate morsels
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Pour cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. 5 cups of marshmallows, chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal, stirring until well coated. Add remaining marshmallows and stir.
  4. Spray 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan, using a spatula or back of wooden spoon to press the mixture into the pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour, until firm. Cut into bars and serve.

Source: back of the Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels bag

Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a baking kit, a coupon for free bag of Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels, and a stipend.  Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content.

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies


Black Bean Brownies

Black beans and brownies…sounds crazy right?  Well, as many have discovered, using black beans in place of flour is a clever way to make brownies a bit healthier (and gluten free) without sacrificing a delicious chocolaty, rich-tasting dessert.  Black Bean Brownies have been on my list of things to make for years, and had I realized how easy they are to make, they would have been made a long time ago!  Essentially you just throw everything in a food processor (or blender), process for a minute, pour in pan and bake.

Then comes the true test…how are they?  Amazing!  Mike and I were both excited to try them and very pleasantly surprised how good they are (or were…the brownies are long gone!)  They have a deep chocolate flavor, a not quite cakey and not quite fudgy texture, and were some of the best brownies I’ve had in a long time!

Black Bean Brownies
 
Yields: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • Cooking spray (or additional oil)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray (or brush with oil) and set aside.
  2. Put black beans in a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add eggs, oil, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla and brown sugar, and process until completely blended. (Note: You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a couple times during this step).
  4. Add ¼ cup chocolate chips and pulse 5 times.
  5. Pour mixture in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Put on a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Source:  Whole Living

chocolate cream cheese chocolate chips cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts to make (and eat!).  They are chocolate cake and chocolate chip cheesecake at its finest, and they are so quick and easy to make.  The chocolate cake is a nice and light basic chocolate cake, which pairs nicely with the rich chocolate chip cheesecake filling.  The cheesecake filling takes the place of buttery frosting, which makes these cupcakes a lighter option.  They’re also less messy, making these one of my go-tos when I’m in charge of bringing a dessert.  Everybody always loves them.  Black Bottom Cupcakes are made with simple ingredients that can be kept on hand at all times, making them perfect for parties, travel, potlucks, or simply when the craving strikes.


Black Bottom Cupcakes
 
Yields: 18-24 cupcakes
Ingredients
FILLING:
  • 8-ounce block Neufachtel cream cheese (1/3 less fat), room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used miniature chips)
CAKE:
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin cups with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. First make the filling: In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and egg until combined and fluffy. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.
  3. Then make then cake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt (if using). Make a well in the center.
  4. In a small bowl, stir water, oil, vinegar and vanilla until combined. (Note: I just mix everything in my liquid measuring cup...one less dish to wash).
  5. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, pouring into the well. Fold gently until well blended.
  6. Divide cake batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Then divide the filling evenly over cake batter by spooning a dollop of the cream cheese filling over the cake batter.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is set. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Adapted from allrecipes.com

peanut butter peanut butter chip chocolate chewy cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

I don’t even know where to begin about these cookies. They have the peanut butter and chocolate combination, which we all know and love. But these Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies are truly not any ordinary chocolate and peanut butter cookie. They are amazingly chewy, without being cakey. They have a delicious balance of peanut butter and chocolate. These cookies are made without any butter and have yogurt and oats to add some wholesome goodness (dare I suggest this makes them fit for breakfast?)

A couple tips:  When flattening the cookies before baking, keep in mind they will spread.  Just flatten them a little bit and you will be fine.  Keep an eye on the bake time, because over baking the cookies will result in a less chewy cookie.  I baked mine for 8 minutes and that was perfect with my oven…but definitely keep an eye on them.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies
 
Yields: 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup rolled oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until blended. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
  5. On prepared cookie sheets, place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart.
  6. Dip the bottom of a class in water, and then dip the class in turbinado sugar. Using the sugared glass, flatten the dough slightly, leaving a thin layer of sugar on top. Re-wet glass, as needed.
  7. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (be sure not to over bake!). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Barely adapted from Eating Well

frozen strawberries and cream cool whip graham cracker sandwiches

Strawberries and Cream Sandwiches

 Thank you COOL WHIP for sponsoring this post. Join us on Facebook for inspiration and recipes for everyday treats. What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms
We recently picked up several pounds of fresh strawberries from our local farm.  While we will happily eat a majority of them plain, I also have a long list of things to make with these delicious strawberries.  Muffins and pancakes were at the top of the list (of course), but I wanted to make a dessert as well.  Nothing elaborate or fussy, just something simple and tasty to enjoy at the end of our day.

Strawberries and cream immediately came to mind.  It is such a classic combination that is simple and tasty.  But I wanted something a little more interesting, while still being easy.  With a toddler in the house, we of course have lots of graham crackers.  With COOL WHIP whipped topping, strawberries and graham crackers on hand, it seemed all the pieces were falling into place to make these cute little Strawberries and Cream Sandwiches.

Strawberries and Cream Sandwiches are a chilly version of strawberries and cream.  They are similar to an ice cream sandwich except made with COOL WHIP whipped topping instead of ice cream.

I like the flexibility and the simplicity of these Strawberries and Cream Sandwiches. The recipe is super quick and easy to make, can be made ahead, and can be multiplied or adjusted to suit your preferences.

Do you have a special dessert you’d like to share? Enter COOL WHIP’s Fan Dessert of the Month Contest for a chance to win $500! Simply make a COOL WHIP dessert, take a photo, and upload it here. Enter now!

Strawberries and Cream Sandwiches
 
Yields: 3 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • ½ cup COOL WHIP whipped topping, thawed
  • ¼ cup diced strawberries
  • 6 graham cracker squares (3 sheets broken in half)
Instructions
  1. Place 3 graham cracker squares on a plate or baking sheet.
  2. Put strawberries in a bowl. Fold in COOL WHIP whipped topping until combined.
  3. Spoon an even amount of COOL WHIP mixture on top of each square. Top with remaining graham cracker square.
  4. Place in freezer until COOL WHIP whipped topping has set, about 30 minutes.

Disclaimer:  Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I was flipping through one of my holiday cookie publications recently, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.  Made with no flour and only 3 simple ingredients, I was intrigued by how seemingly easy these cookies were.  Not only are these Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies easy to make, they are super tasty too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how something so simple can be so incredible!  The result is a soft and chewy cookie that is perfectly peanut buttery.  While perfect as-is, a cup of chocolate chips or chopped peanuts would be a delicious addition to this recipe.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar and egg together until blended. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up the dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  3. Drop dough by tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheet and flatten with the tines of a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern. (Tip: It is helpful to spray fork with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to cookie).
  4. Bake for 8 minutes (Note: Be careful not to overbake, otherwise it will result in a crisper cookie). Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Taste of Home: Holiday Cookies

Easy Creamy S’more Pie

This Easy Creamy S’more Pie is very simple to make and tastes like a chilly, creamy version of a s’more.  It starts with a graham cracker crust, topped with a smooth chocolate layer. It is then topped with a fluffy marshmallow layer, which has a similar consistency to the soft, pillow center of a marshmallow that has been toasted in the fire. The result is a creamy, delicious s’more pie.
This pie is made with only 5 simple ingredients, which can be kept on hand at all times. The hands on time takes less than 10 minutes, making this pie a cinch to make any time.
Easy Creamy S’more Pie pie is a refreshing treat for a hot summer day, a tasty way to end any day or share with family and friends. The recipe is easily doubled, making it perfect for get-togethers or to have one as a spare. Enjoy!

Easy Creamy S’more Pie
 
Yields: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust
  • 1½ cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1¼ cup skim milk, divided
  • 1 (1.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 ounces COOL WHIP whipped topping
  • COOL WHIP whipped topping, optional, for garnish
  • graham cracker crumbs, optional for garnish
  • chocolate squares, optional for garnish
Instructions
  1. Stir marshmallows and ¼ cup milk together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1½ minutes and stir. Continue to microwave and stir in 30 second increments until marshmallows are melted. Refrigerate until cooled (about 40 minutes).
  2. Once marshmallow mixture has cooled, fold in 4 ounces of COOL WHIP whipped topping.
  3. Whisk together the pudding mix and remaining 1 cup of milk for about 2 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  4. Pour pudding mixture into graham cracker pie crust.
  5. Spoon dollops of marshmallow mixture on top of pudding mixture, and then gently spread using a silicone spatula.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. Decorate with additional COOL WHIP whipped topping, chocolate squares, and graham cracker crumbs, as desired.

 

Adapted from Kraft and allrecipes

Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received coupons for free COOL WHIP Whipped Topping and a stipend. Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content.

What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Last Saturday was a special anniversary.  An anniversary worthy of these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes made with chocolate cake, filled with peanut butter and topped with a fluffy chocolate frosting.  These cupcakes are light, decadent and perfect to celebrate this milestone anniversary.  This anniversary in question, or blog-o-versary as some call it, marks the 1 year anniversary of Alida’s Kitchen!

The chocolate/peanut butter combination is always a winner for any celebration.  I doubled the amount of peanut butter filling from the original recipe, which resulted in a generous amount of peanut butter.  It had a good peanut butter to chocolate ratio, which is key.  I used my go-to chocolate frosting, which is a classic and pipes really nicely. 

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes were super easy to make and the result was the perfect treat to celebrate the 1 year blog-o-versary of Alida’s Kitchen.  I want to thank you all so much for visiting and for cooking and baking with me this past year! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Yields 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
FILLING:
6 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese (the 1/3 less fat kind), at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons skim milk

CAKE:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FROSTING:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make Filling:  In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and milk until combined.  Set aside.
  2. Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, water, milk, oil and vanilla.  Fold into dry ingredients until just moistened.  (note: batter will be thin).
  5. Fill prepared muffin cups half full with batter. 
  6. Divide filling evenly amongst the 24 cups, dropping spoonfuls of filling in the center of each cup (Tip: using a scale is handy for measuring and even distribution.  If you don’t have a scale, The filling amounts to approx. a generous rounded tablespoon per cupcake). 
  7. Cover each cup with remaining batter.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and the move cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once cooled, frost with chocolate frosting and decorate as desired.  
  10. Make Frosting:  Melt the butter. Whisk in the cocoa powder, whisking until smooth.
  11. Stir in vanilla and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to beat to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

Source for cake and filling: Taste of Home; frosting: Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

My initial impression of this No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie was that it’s a perfect pie for summer. While I still believe that to be true, let’s be honest. This pie is so amazingly delicious (and easy!) it should not be limited to any single season or occasion.  This pie is the perfect any time pie!

We all know, some of the best desserts are quick and easy.  This No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie is no exception.  It can be whipped together in a matter of minutes, and then just popped in the freezer until time to serve.  The texture is smooth and creamy, almost like an ice cream pie. The peanut butter flavor is nicely balanced with the COOL WHIP whipped topping and cream cheese. I halved the amount sugar from the original recipe, and the result was just the right amount of sweetness.

The recipe makes two pies, one for now, one to share, or to simply make ahead for later.  It’s great for a holiday, potluck or really any day.  The ingredients will soon become pantry staples in my house (thanks to Mike!), so we can enjoy this any time pie…any time!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
 
Yields: 2 pies, 8-10 servings per pie
Ingredients
  • 1 block (8 ounces) ⅓ less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 can (14 ounces) fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 ounces COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (I used COOL WHIP FREE Whipped Topping)
  • 2 ready made pie crusts (graham cracker or chocolate cookie)
  • additional COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, for topping
  • chocolate syrup, for topping
  • peanut butter cup candies, chopped, for topping
Instructions
  1. Put cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Beat on medium for about 3 minutes, or until combined and fluffy. Gradually add milk, beating until well-blended.
  2. Fold in COOL WHIP until combined.
  3. Divided mixture evenly between 2 pie crusts.
  4. Freeze pies until set (at least 2 hours hour to overnight).
  5. Before serving, remove from freezer and (if solid) let sit for 10 minutes before cutting. In the meantime, decorate as desired using COOL WHIP whipped topping, chocolate syrup, peanut butter cup candies or whatever inspires you. Then slice, serve and enjoy!

Adapted from Cooking Light

Disclaimer:  As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received coupons for free COOL WHIP Whipped Topping and a stipend. Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content.

What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms

Root Beer Float Cookies

Sometimes nothing beats a good root beer float. Or at least that’s what I thought until I tried these Root Beer Float Cookies.  While at first I was not quite sure what to expect, that first bite tasted so familiar.  Then it hit me – these cookies taste like a root beer float!

The dough is very simple to make and takes around 10 minutes. To make it easier to work with, I recommend refrigerating the dough for a couple hours (if you can wait overnight, even better).

There are flecks of root beer barrel candies studded throughout each cookie, adding some texture, color and root beer flavor. They are topped with a simple root beer drizzle and additional crushed candies, if desired.  The best part…each cookie comes in around 70 calories!

Root Beer Float Cookies
 
Yields: approximately 4 dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup crushed root beer flavored hard candies (approx 8)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 to 5 teaspoons root beer (or milk)
  • additional crushed root beer flavored hard candies (optional, for garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and allspice.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, mix the flour mixture with the butter mixture until just combined. Stir in crushed candies. For best results, refrigerate dough for 1 hour to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet and then move cookies to wire rack to cool completely (at least 20 minutes).
  7. Root Beer Glaze: Stir powdered sugar and root beer, adding the root beer by the teaspoonful, until desired consistency is achieved.
  8. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies, as desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 72 Fat: 2g

Adapted from Eat Better America

Peanut Butter M&M Blondies

Many months ago, I made peanut butter cup blondies.  They were incredible, but also left me wondering about other candy possibilities.  The options seem limitless.  Since Peanut Butter M&Ms rank in my top 5 favorite candies, if not top 3 (after Nutrageous and Peanut Butter Cups, of course), Peanut Butter M&M Blondies were a logical progression.

Let’s just say the experiment was a success.  I used a generous helping of M&Ms instead of peanut butter cups.  I also used peanut butter chips to boost the peanut buttery goodness.  The result was dangerous.  Lots of tasty M&Ms in every bite, lots of good peanut butter flavor…yet they still come in around 210 calories.  Gotta love it!

Peanut Butter M&M Blondies
 
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ brown sugar, packed
  • ½ granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ⅓ cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peanut butter M&M candies, divided
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir to combine butter, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring until combined (do not over mix).
  5. Fold in ½ cup peanut butter M&Ms and peanut butter chips.
  6. Pour mixture into baking pan and spread to fill pan. Top with remaining ½ cup peanut butter M&Ms, pressing them into the batter.
  7. Bake for 19 minutes, or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

 

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Oreo cookie has been celebrating a big birthday.  As a result, our local grocery store was giving away a free package of Oreos.  That’s my kind of celebration!  I never buy Oreos, so wanted to make something special.  In the keeping with the festive spirit, I decided Oreo Cupcakes were definitely in order.

These Oreo Cupcakes were an indulgence, and an absolute treat.  The vanilla cake and the cream cheese frosting complement each other perfectly, while letting the Oreo cookies shine through in all their glory.  It doesn’t hurt there is half a cookie (the cream-filled half at that!) resting at the bottom of the cupcake, there are big cookie chunks studded throughout the cakes, and there is a dusting of chocolate cookie crumbs on the top.  These are the ultimate cupcakes for cookies and cream lovers!

So, back to birthdays…it just so happens today is my brother’s birthday. It’s a big birthday too ~ the kind with a 0 at the end. We can’t let a day like that go under-celebrated. He lives on the West coast, which makes an in-person cake celebration a bit tricky. So instead, we can celebrate with a virtual birthday cake, and these Oreo Cupcakes are posted in his honor!  Happy Birthday!

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
 
Yields: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • Cupcake:
  • 24 Oreo cookies, separated (carefully twist for 1 side with filling intact, 1 side just cookie)
  • 24 Oreo cookies, quartered
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for quartered Oreos
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1⅔ cups sugar
  • Frosting:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I used the ⅓ less fat variety), at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. With the Oreos that have been separated: 1) Place each cream-filled half of the separated Oreos at the bottom of each paper liner. 2) With the chocolate cookie halves, cut 12 in half and crush the remaining 12, and set aside for garnish.
  3. Toss the quartered Oreos in flour and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, cream butter until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add milk, sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing until well-blended. Add the egg whites, and beat for 2 minutes. Fold in quartered Oreos.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
  8. To make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Add butter, and cream until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency.
  9. Frost cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with crushed Oreos and top with a half of the chocolate cookie halves.
Notes
There were a few comments on the original recipe that reported occasional cake sticking to the cupcake liners. While I did not experience this issue, I wanted to bring this to your attention so you carefully peel your liners. Also, I stored my cupcakes in the refrigerator, but do not know if that helped the paper liners release. They're good...enjoy!

Source:  Beantown Baker

easy peanut butter butterfinger cheesecake pie

Butterfinger Cheesecake Pie

Today is March 14th, which means it’s National Pi(e) Day!  So in honor of this day, I am sharing with you Butterfinger Cheesecake Pie.  I am not lying when I tell you this is one of the best desserts I have ever had.  Plus, it is super easy to make, making it an ideal make-ahead dessert for a party, potluck, or simply to celebrate Pi!

The hands-on time takes less than 15 minutes, and the bulk of that time is in chopping the candy.  The pie is baked to set the cheesecake filling and then chilled for several hours (overnight works great).  I used a premade graham cracker pie crust.  A from-scratch crust is pretty easy to make though.  It all works.

The result is a delicious slice of cheesecake filled with chunks of Butterfinger – so good.  I love this recipe because you can easily swap out the Butterfinger for the same amounts of whatever candy or cookie mix-ins strikes you.  You can also mix up the crust, using a chocolate cookie crust, graham cracker, or whatever you like.  The possibilities are endless, though I am quite happy to celebrate this day with a piece of Butterfinger Cheesecake Pie.  Happy Pi Day!

Butterfinger Cheesecake Pie
 
Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 9-inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 2 8-ounce packages Neufchâtel cream cheese (the ⅓ less fat variety), room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2¾ cups Butterfinger candy, chopped - separated (I used an entire 12.5 ounce bag of 'fun size')
  • chocolate syrup (optional)
  • whipped cream (not pictured, optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer (or hand mixer) set to medium-high, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well-blended.
  3. Fold in 2 cups candy, mixing until combined.
  4. Pour cream cheese mixture into pie crust (it will be very full!). Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until filling has set. Remove from oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining candy over the top (or save some to use as garnish) and chill in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours (or overnight).
  5. Garnish with crushed candy, chocolate syrup and/or whipped cream, as desired, before serving.
Notes
Adapted from Real Simple

 

st. patrick's day brownies made with irish cream and irish cream frosting

Frosted Irish Cream Brownies

 Frosted Irish Cream Brownies get a double dose of Irish cream in both the brownie recipe and frosting, making this dessert festive for St. Patrick’s Day yet fun for any time!  Frosted Irish Cream Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

With Saint Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to make you something a little festive. While brownies may not be considered traditional, I figure you can never go wrong with chocolate. Add a little Bailey’s Irish Cream, and these brownies become the perfect little treat to celebrate the holiday!

st. patrick's day brownies made with irish cream and irish cream frosting

This recipe combines elements from a couple “lighter” recipes. The result is a delicious, from-scratch brownie, made with Irish Cream, topped with an Irish Cream frosting. The amount of frosting yields just enough to cover the brownies, or to pipe a cute little swirl of frosting as I have pictured here.  A little bit goes a long way taste-wise, but if you’re a frosting fiend, you may want to double the recipe.
Frosted Irish Cream Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

Frosted Irish Cream Brownies
 
Author:
Yields: 16 brownies
Ingredients
Brownies:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup butter (I used light butter)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ egg substitute (or 4 large eggs)
  • ¼ cup Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
Irish Cream Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¾ to 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Bailey's Irish Cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • skim milk, as needed
  • green and white sprinkles (for decorating, optional)
Instructions
  1. BROWNIES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large microwavable bowl, add chocolate chips and butter. Microwave on high in 30-second increments until chocolate and butter melt. Let cool slightly and then add sugar, egg substitute, Irish Cream and vanilla extract, stirring well with a whisk. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
  4. Add flour mixture into butter mixture, folding gently until combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. (Note: The key to a fudgy brownie is to not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.
  5. FROSTING: In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, Irish Cream and vanilla extract and beat until blended. Add milk by the teaspoonful, as needed, to achieve desired consistency. Spread, or pipe over, cooled brownies. Decorate with sprinkles, as desired.

Adapted from myrecipes.com and Eat Better America

st. patrick's day brownies made with irish cream and irish cream frosting

healthy whole wheat buttermilk chocolate pancakes

Whole Wheat Chocolate Pancakes

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I could not think of a better way to honor this day with you than dishing up a plate of these Whole Wheat Chocolate Pancakes.  Along with a cup of joe and a dish of fresh berries, these pancakes make a wonderful breakfast treat and are not as bad for you as you might think.  A healthy stack comes in around 200 calories, is low in fat, made with 100% whole wheat flour and high in fiber.  I’d say that’s not bad!

These pancakes are nice and light, making them perfect for breakfast, though they can certainly be dressed up for dessert as well. They are not overly sweet, which I like because you can easily adjust the sweetness to your preference with your choice of toppings. We actually enjoyed them plain, but a sprinkle of powdered sugar and some fresh berries is also delicious. Chocolate sauce, whipped cream and chocolate chips would definitely takes these over the top (making them more dessert-like and less healthy, of course).  The options are endless, which is always part of the fun.  Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Pancakes
 
Yields: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (I used some from my morning decaf)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I used light butter)
  • Cooking spray
  • Strawberries (optional, for topping)
  • Powdered sugar (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, coffee, vanilla and butter.
  3. Add buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and fold until blended (there may be some lumps). Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Preheat non-stick skillet over medium and then spray with cooking spray. Pour batter in skillet by the ¼ cupful and cook until bubbles appear (about 3 minutes). Flip and cook on the other side until done (about 2-3 minutes). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with fresh berries and powdered sugar, as desired.

Adapted from Kiwi, Jan/Feb 2011

easy warm chocolate pudding cakes with a toasted marshmallow

Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes

Now I always strive to share healthier recipes with you, but when I saw Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes in the latest issue of All You, I could not resist. Chocolate pudding cake is enough to make me swoon, but add a melty toasted marshmallow on top…are you kidding me?  Must make pronto!

Fortunately I had everything on hand, and it all seemed easy enough.  I have 7-ounce ramekins instead of 6-ounce per the original recipe, but figured that wouldn’t be a big deal.   Then I decided it was necessary to test the make-ahead capability of this recipe.  Let’s just say when I told Mike that we would be having pudding cakes with a marshmallow on top two days in a row, there was very little arm-twisting involved.

To be honest, I cannot remember what we had for dinner that night, what I did the next day or anything in between, but I do remember every single little bite of these pudding cakes.  The chocolate is perfectly dark and decadant.  The marshmallow oozes and provides a nice sweetness to complement the chocolate. Plus, they’re cute.  For a special occasion, such as Valentine’s Day, or any celebratory occasion, Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes will rock your world.  Perfect to make-ahead for guests, for yourselves, for whatever reason suits you.

Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet choocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 4 6-ounce (or 7-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and chocolate in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until almost melted (about 1 to 2 minutes). Stir until smooth. Mix in flour and set aside to cool.
  3. With an electric mixer (hand or stand) on medium-high, beat sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt for about 5 minutes, until smooth and frothy. Fold in chocolate mixture. Divide batter among ramekins.
  4. Bake until cakes have risen and cracked on top but wet in center (12 to 15 minutes). Do not overbake.
  5. Press a marshmallow in the top of the cake. Set your oven to broil and broil cakes until marshmallow is puffy and starts to brown (keep an eye on it, but about 2 minutes). Put on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
Cakes can be made ahead through step 3 and stored (covered) in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Baking time does not need to be adjusted, just keep an eye on the cakes.

Adapted from All You, Feb 2012

 

healthy easy chocolate peanut butter pretzel truffles with flax gluten free

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

I have never been one to do much for Valentine’s Day, but I am happy to have any reason to cook or bake something special.  Or in the case of these truffles, to mix, roll, and chill something special.  These tasty truffles are not only easy and a healthier option, but are made using a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

We all know that chocolate and peanut butter are wonderful together.  Add pretzels, and you have the ultimate salty-sweet combination.  Toss in a little flaxseed for good measure, and voila!   Delicious little Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles.  These are the perfect little treat for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, or for yourself any day simply because you are worth it!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles
 
Yields: 16 truffles
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup pretzels, crushed (this yields approx. ¼ cup once crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, melted
  • sprinkles (optional, for topping)
  • chopped peanuts (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, crushed pretzels and flaxseed until combined. Put in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until mixture is solid).
  2. Roll a small rounded teaspoonful of peanut butter mixture in your hands to form a ball. Place ball on small tray (or plate) lined with parchment or waxed paper. Repeat until all mixture is used. Put tray in freezer until firm, at least 1 hour (I often do this overnight).
  3. Working quickly, dip the frozen balls in melted chocolate and place back on parchment-lined tray. (Note: using 2 forks to dip and pass the balls in the chocolate works well). Top with sprinkles or chopped peanuts, if desired. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Notes
1) When working with natural peanut butter, I recommend microwaving it in the jar (as long as the jar is glass) for about 30 seconds. All natural, easily stirred peanut butter.
2) When melting chocolate chips in the microwave, always remember less is more. Cook it on low power in 30-second intervals until chips just start to melt. Then stir to finish melting. Work quickly to dip the truffles.

Adapted from Eating Well