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 |

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 |

Frosted Irish Cream Brownies
Yields: 16 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)
  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 and Eat Better America

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

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
  • 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
  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.
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
  • 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)
  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.
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

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I will be featuring a few chocolate recipes this week.   Of course a little breakfast chocolate is the perfect way to start off any week.  These muffins are more than just a little breakfast chocolate though.  They are chocolate on chocolate.  A chocolate muffin studded with chocolate chips topped with chocolate chips.  What could be better?  Well, they come in under 200 calories and are low fat – a true breakfast treat! 

The original recipe uses red wine vinegar and water, which I thought was intriguing.  Red wine vinegar in baked goods?  I had to try it!  I did, and it was good.  BUT…I have since revised the recipe to replace the vinegar/water with buttermilk.  Nothing compares to the flavor and texture that buttermilk gives to baked goods, and in these muffins that is no exception.  I also replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat in order to bump up the nutrition level a bit.

For a little variety, it is fun to change up the chips with different flavors (peanut butter chips anyone?) but I always find myself coming back to the mini chocolate chips.  Mini chips give the illusion of more chocolate per bite since there are more bits throughout.  A little more for less kind of thing. 

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields 12 muffins


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners (or spray muffin tin with cooking spray).
  2. In a large bowl, mix flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg.  Stir in 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
  4. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, gently folding until just combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups.  Sprinkle tops with remaning 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Cooking Light

no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars with rice krispies

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Bars

In several posts I have talked about my grandma.  I have shared about her love of baking (and her grandchildrens’ love of her baking!)  I have shared one of her recipes.  I have also shared that these Peanut Butter Bars are my favorite of her recipes, which is a bold statement considering all of her ‘Grandma Goodies’ were superb!

Many years before she died, my grandma wrote out several of her recipes and gifted recipe boxes to my brother and to me.  I am so grateful she included the recipe for these bars.  As a child, little did I realize how quick and easy these are to make.   These delicious bars have a simple ingredient list and require no baking.  A reason to love them even more!

If you’re looking for a last minute treat to whip together for the Super Bowl, these couldn’t be any easier.  And your friends will love you!

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Bars
Easy, no-bake peanut butter bars made with Rice Krispies and topped with chocolate. This is one of my favorite recipes that my grandma used to make.
Yields: 16 bars
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter and melted butter until fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, beating until blended.
  3. By hand, stir in cereal.
  4. Put mixture in 8" or 9" square baking pan and use waxed paper to press mixture to fill out pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Melt chocolate chips (in microwave or stovetop) and pour over peanut butter mixture. Spread until evenly covered. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour.

Grandma’s Peanut Blossoms

Peanut Blossoms are a holiday cookie staple around our house, as well as many others.  This popular peanut butter cookie topped with a Hershey’s Kiss is not only delicious, but it is such a cute addition to the cookie plate.  There are countless versions of this type of cookie, but today I have a special treat for you.  Today I am sharing with you this recipe from my grandma!  When she was alive, one of her favorite things to do was to make dozens of types of cookies, bars, candies, cakes, etc. for the holidays.  She put such care in the execution of each recipe she made.  It was impressive, to say the least.  She was always so excited and proud to show us the vast array of goodies she made for us each year.  So as I sit here right now, sharing one of my favorite Grandma recipes,…I know she would be excited and proud to share it with you as well.

Happy Holidays!

Grandma’s Peanut Blossoms
Yields 3 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter (or regular butter, per the original recipe)
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
granulated sugar, for rolling
36 chocolate Hershey’s Kisses candies, unwrapped

  1. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter until blended. 
  3. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar to peanut butter mixture – cream well.  Add unbeaten 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.

Reindeer Snack Mix

What happens when you cross peanuts with pretzels and Reese’s peanut butter puffs cereal? This Reindeer Snack Mix, that’s what! Each ingredient on its own is fabulous, of course. When mixed together with some melted white chocolate, you have a snack mix that is really too good for words. Yes folks, I am speechless. Or maybe I am just too busy stuffing my face with more snack mix. 🙂 Either way, I will simply leave you with this. It’s the holidays. You are bound to have guests or to be a guest. Here is a fun and easy little snack that will leave everybody singing your praises this holiday season!

Reindeer Snack Mix
Yields: about 3 quarts
  • 4½ cups Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs
  • 4 cups miniature pretzels
  • 12 ounces lightly salted peanuts
  • 12 ounces white chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, combine cereal, pretzels and peanuts.
  2. In a microwave, melt the white chocolate chips; stir until smooth.
  3. Pour melted white chocolate over cereal mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Immediately spread onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Let stand until set, about 20 minutes. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

Source: Taste of Home: Cookies and more!

chocolate mint crackle cookies {Alida's Kitchen}

Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies

How fun are crackle cookies ~  they are delicious and so festive!  The powdered sugar looks like a lovely dusting of snow on top of the cookies, putting me in a holiday frame of mind.  Considering we have no snow on the ground, a little winter reminder is very welcome.  (We live in Minnesota, it’s winter, where is our snow???)  So this year, at least for now, we all can enjoy our snow vicariously through these crackle cookies.  I could definitely get used to the powdered sugar variety of snow…especially on top of chocolate cookies.  Even better…on top of mint chocolate cookies.  These Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies are perfectly chewy without being cakey.  They are chocolate with a hint of mint.  They are classic holidays cookies at their finest.  This winter is looking better already!

Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies
Yields: 24 cookies
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) light butter, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon pure mint extract
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (or using a double boiler), stirring frequently.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and cocoa.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and butter. Gradually whisk in melted chocolate and mint extract, until smooth. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll in confectioners' sugar to coat. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until slightly firm in center.
  5. Let cool slightly on cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December, 2011

pretzel hershey's kiss and m&ms

Pretzel Kiss Candies

Pretzel Kiss Candies are the ultimate salty sweet treat made using only three ingredients. Colors can be customized for holidays and events, making these a go-to for any party! Make a lot, because they disappear quickly!!
Pretzel Kiss Candies |

Pretzel Kiss Candies are a fun and easy treat for the holidays. These candies have been circulating around the web for some time now, and with good reason. They are easy and SO good! You have the salty-sweet thing going on, plus they are a cute addition to your holiday treat plate.  Use your favorite M&Ms for the topper, choosing whatever goes with your celebration.  The white chocolate Hershey’s Hugs tend to melt faster and smoother than their milk chocolate counterparts, but they are both equally delicious.

Simple to make, Pretzel Kiss Candies are perfect for a last minute get together, or simply because they mood strikes you. Whatever the reason, Pretzel Kiss Candies are a must-make for the holidays!

More easy pretzel treats:

Pretzel Kiss Candies |

Pretzel Kiss Candies
Yields: varies
  • Square waffle-shaped pretzels
  • Hershey's Hugs or Kisses
  • M&Ms candy, any variety
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Set pretzels on lined cookie sheet. Place an unwrapped Hershey's Hug or Kiss on top of pretzel.
  3. Bake oven for 4-6 minutes until softened (note: Hugs will soften quicker than Kisses). Remove from oven and press an M&M candy into the center of each Hug/Kiss.
  4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then place in refrigerator to harden for 15 minutes to overnight.

Pretzel Kiss Candies |

coconut chocolate bars {Alida's Kitchen}

Coconut Chocolate Bars

These bars are three layers of coconut, chocolate and brown sugar bliss!  While the layering may make them seem involved, these bars could not be any quicker or easier to make.  First you start with a brown sugar crust – bake for 10 minutes.  Then sprinkle the chocolate over the crust, put back in the oven for a minute to soften the chocolate, and spread evenly.  Last you make the coconut topping, spread over the chocolate layer, and bake again (be careful not to over bake).  The result is an elegant and delicious bar cookie that is sure to delight and impress!

Coconut Chocolate Bars
Yields: 36 bars
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) light butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, butter and salt until crumbly. (While messy, I found using fingers works best). Pat into baking pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate pieces over crust and put back in oven for about 1 minute to soften chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and fold into sugar mixture. Fold in coconut. Spread evenly over chocolate layer. Bake 15-20 minutes (be careful not to over bake). Cool in pan and cut into 3x1-inch bars.


Source: back of C & H brown sugar bag

mint cookies 'n cream brownies {Alida's Kitchen}

Mint Cookies ‘n Cream Brownies

Chocolate and mint are a classic combination this time of year, and fortunately these brownies couldn’t be any easier to make.  Besides how could you not love chunks of cookies in a brownie!  The cookies I used for these brownies were Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (which are amazing, by the way).   I assume mint Oreo’s, or whatever your favorite brand, would work just great.   The cookies make these brownies so dangerously delicious, they will be a welcome addition to any holiday treat plate!

Mint Cookies ‘n Cream Brownies
Yields: 36 brownies
  • ½ cup light butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ cups chocolate syrup
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 mint cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, quartered
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup light butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons skim milk
  • ½ teaspoon mint extract
  • 3 mint cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, well-crushed
  • additional chopped cookies for topping, as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in chocolate syrup until well blended.
  3. Fold in flour, mixing just until blended. Fold in chopped cookies.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
  5. Once cooled, frost with Mint Cream (recipe below) and cut into squares.
  6. In a medium bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add mint extract and then gradually add milk, beating until desired consistency is achieved. Mix in crushed cookies.
  7. Spread over cooled brownies and top with additional chopped cookies, as desired.
Adapted from Taste of Home

White Chocolate Coconut Cranberry Cookies

Well hello there. Look up, and please update your bookmarks!  That’s right.  Alida’s Kitchen has a new web address. I dropped the ‘blogspot’ from the URL, so it is now I purchased this domain many months ago and was waiting for the right time to pull the trigger. Since my physical kitchen has a new address (we moved!), it seems like a fitting time to make the switch.   I will do whatever I can to make sure this transition is seamless, and as always I welcome your comments and feedback.    

So enough about that, let’s get on with today’s recipe – White Chocolate Coconut Cranberry Cookies.

Who doesn’t love the classic pairing of white chocolate and cranberry.  The sweetness of the white chocolate against the tartness of the cranberries is just delicious.  The coconut adds a little something extra special, and the oats give the cookies a chewy texture.  All together, we have a tasty combination that is a fun and festive addition to your cookie plates this holiday season!

White Chocolate Coconut Cranberry Cookies
Yields approximately 36 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons skim milk
2 large eggs
1/2 pound (2 sticks) light butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup sweetned flaked coconut
1 cup white chocolate chips

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, milk and eggs.  Set aside.
  3. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, in a separate bowl, on medium speed, beat butter and both sugar until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add in milk mixture – beat well.  Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  4. Stir in the oats, cranberries, coconut and white chocolate chips. 
  5. Place dough in refrigerator until firm (at least 2 hours to overnight).
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  7. Shape 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough, placing 3 inches apart.  Press with the bottom of a glass (covered with parchment or waxed paper) to flatten dough. 
  8. Bake until golden but still soft in the middle, 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and move to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Layered Pumpkin Loaf

Layered Pumpkin Loaf is a delicious and easy recipe for pumpkin bread with a cream cheese swirl in the middle.

For the longest time, Mike and I would get ‘Pumpkin Loaf’ from everybody’s favorite coffee shop (you know, the one with the green logo).  While that bread is good, I dare say that I prefer this Layered Pumpkin Loaf.  Perhaps it’s the moist and flavorful bread, or perhaps it’s the cream cheese layer resting in the middle.  Regardless of the reason, this is just plain good.

I substituted buttermilk for the skim milk in the original recipe, and I added extra cinnamon in addition to the pumpkin pie spice.  I also added the chopped pepitas on top.  Pepitas are tasty, add some crunch, look pretty, and go perfectly with this bread.

If you will be hosting out of town guests over the holidays, or simply hosting a breakfast/brunch, Layered Pumpkin Loaf would make a lovely addition to your table.

Not sure if you noticed, but I like pumpkin just a little bit. 🙂 This bread is certainly no exception.

Layered Pumpkin Loaf
Yields: 9x5 loaf, approximately 16 servings
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 egg whites, divided
  • ½ cup low fat buttermilk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel cream cheese (1/3 reduced fat), softened
  • ¼ cup pepitas, chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir pumpkin, 1 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, 3 egg whites, buttermilk and oil, until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture and fold gently just until moistened.
  4. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, remaining granulated sugar and remaining egg white until well blended.
  5. Spoon half the pumpkin batter into a 9x5-inch loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. Spread the cream cheese mixture in a layer over that batter. Top cream cheese layer with remaining pumpkin batter (You will want to spread the top pumpkin layer a little bit with a silicone spatula, but it is ok if a little cream cheese is still visible).
  6. Sprinkle the top layer with chopped pepitas, if desired. It helps to gently pat the pepitas into the batter
  7. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Loosen bread from sides of pan; cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Adapted from Kraft

healthy skinny pumpkin pie without crust

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Crustless Pumpkin Pie is a delicious, pumpkin pie made a little healthier without the crust. This is always a favorite dessert and is a lighter, healthier alternative to a traditional pie.   A must-make for the holidays!

Usually by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I have made at least 6 pumpkin pies…and enjoyed them immensely, of course. Now, before you think I’m some crust-making machine, I must confess to you that my pumpkin pies are made without crust. This Crustless Pumpkin Pie is a recipe that I found years ago, and frankly it is pure genius. By eliminating the extra step of making crust and the excess fat and calories that come with the crust, you are left with a simple, delicious and “skinny” pumpkin pie!

This pie is so good and very easy to make.  In fact, this is so easy to make, the first time I made it I put everything (minus the topping) in a blender.  It turned out great!  These days, I don’t have a blender, and I’m a little more cautious when baking.

Made with pumpkin and skim milk, you are left with a healthier alternative to your traditional pumpkin pie.  It is no wonder that once pumpkin season hits, I have this pie in the fridge all the time.  I have tweaked the recipe over the years to what it is today, and Mike and I are in pie-heaven all fall/winter long.

healthy skinny pumpkin pie without crust

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Yields: 8 servings
Brown Sugar Topping
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon light butter, softened (I use Smart Balance light, from a tub)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated skim milk
  • 2 eggs (or 3 egg whites)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Prepare Brown Sugar Topping: mix oats, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon until combined. (I have found that, while messy, using my fingers to mix the topping works best). Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs and sugar until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and spices. Add to pumpkin mixture and gently fold until incorporated.
  5. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pie plate. Sprinkle Brown Sugar Topping over the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, and then move to refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I swear sometimes my best recipes are found in the most random of places. I found this recipe at the grocery store attached to a coupon for parchment paper, which I grabbed not knowing there was a recipe attached.  As luck would have it, as I was tearing off the coupon, I saw those 5 magic words…Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  Um…yes please! 

Let me tell you about these cookies.  There is peanut butter.  There are chopped peanuts.  There are chocolate chunks.  There are oats.  Intrigued?  Me too!  To ease the guilt-factor and be a little more figure-friendly, I used light butter and skim milk in lieu of the full-fat counterparts.  The result is a cookie that is soft, almost cakey, filled with chunky goodness and a delicious flavor combination in every bite.    

Also a reminder that if you haven’t entered my giveaway, go here and do so!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Yields 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I used chunky)
1/2 cup butter, softened (I used light butter)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk (I used skim)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 bag (11.5 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

  1. Combined flour and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, on medium speed, beat peanut butter, butter and brown sugar until well blended.  Beat in milk, vanilla and egg just until blended. 
  3. Add flour mixture gradually to creamed mixture, mixing by hand, or on low speed, until blended. 
  4. Stir in chocolate chunks, oats and peanuts.
  5. Chill dough for 30 minutes to overnight. 
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Line 2  cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silpat).
  7. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with back of spoon. 
  8. Bake 9-11 minutes or until cookie edges are set and edges turn brown.  Move cookies to wire rack to cool. 

Adapted from Reynolds