Pumpkin Pie Magic Bars

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DessertMashUpsHave you ever heard of a “Dessert Mash-Up”? If you haven’t, it’s simply a yummy creation of two different desserts combined into one! It’s also the name of a new cookbook that has recipes like Blueberry Muffin Waffles, Pumpkin Cheesecake French Toast, Chocolate Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies, Snickers Cake Roll, Almond Joy Dip, and lots more. There’s also great color photos of the recipes that will make you want to start baking right away! Written by Dorothy Kern, author of the blog Crazy for Crust, the book has recipe sections for…

  • Breakfast
  • Candy
  • Cookies, Brownies, and Bars
  • Pie;
  • Cake and Cheesecake
  • Sweet Dips
  • Holiday Recipes.

There are so many yummy recipes I found in my review copy of Dessert Mash-Ups, it was hard to decide what to make! Since it’s autumn, I thought the Pumpkin Pie Magic Bars would be the perfect thing to try. I am a big fan of Magic Bars but never would have thought of adding a pumpkin pie flavor to them–what a great idea! The recipe in the book makes a 9 x 9″ pan of bars–I decided to double the recipe and make a 9 x 13″ pan instead. I had a feeling I would like these so much, I’d want a bigger batch! :) The pumpkin flavor in these bars is pretty subtle–they have more of a gingery, caramel flavor combined with the creamy sweetness of the white chocolate chips in the middle. All-in-all, these are very rich and super yummy–just the thing for satisfying your autumn sweet tooth! :)

PUMPKIN PIE MAGIC BARS from Dessert Mash-Ups

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan (I doubled the original recipe; halve these amounts for a 9 x 9″ pan)

  • 48 to 50 gingersnap cookies
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons (or 1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups (one 12-ounce package) white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk (or you can use a 14-ounce can, which is a little more than 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray or line with foil and spray with cooking spray for easy cleanup.

Grind the gingersnaps to a fine crumb in a food processor; you should have about 3 cups of crumbs. Place cookie crumbs in a medium bowl and mix with the sugar and melted butter. Press into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the white chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, and toffee bits over the top of the crust.

Whisk together the pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour over the top of the bars. The mixture will just barely cover; use a spatula to carefully spread it to the edges.

Bake for 29 to 35 minutes, until the edges have started to brown. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Tip: Different brands of sweetened condensed milk come in different thicknesses. If it’s too thick to be pourable, you can transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl and heat it on high for 10 to 20 seconds until it becomes a little thinner.

These bars are definitely a treat–the sweetened condensed milk and the toffee bits combine to make a yummy caramel-like topping that really tastes great with the gingery crust! I think I’m going to have to try more of these dessert mash-up ideas–have you made any yourself?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

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Zucchini-Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Yay for Friday! It has been such a busy week, I am ready for a slower-paced weekend! And speaking of weekends, I wanted to share a recipe I made last weekend–Zucchini-Banana Bars. These bars are so moist and yummy, just as you would expect, with shredded zucchini and mashed bananas in them! And they’re flavored with some of my favorite fall spices, cinnamon and nutmeg (I added a little more spice than the original recipe called for). Not only that, they’re also topped with a thick and creamy Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s a great dessert for this time of year, or perfect with a cup of coffee or tea when you’re taking a little break. So go ahead and indulge yourself with these Zucchini-Banana Bars! :)

ZUCCHINI-BANANA BARS with CREAM CHEESE FROSTING by NancyC, adapted from Shugary Sweets

Makes a 9 x 13 pan, about 12-16 servings

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla, then stir in mashed bananas and blend everything well.

In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

Add flour mixture to butter-sugar-banana mixture in large bowl. Blend well, then fold in zucchini and mix everything well.

Pour batter into prepared 9 x 13″ pan and bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until edges brown and pull from sides.

Let bars cool completely, then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • optional: Half & Half (light cream) if you want a thinner consistency

In medium size bowl, blend softened cream cheese and softened butter. Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well after each addition (this makes a nice thick frosting–if you prefer a thinner consistency, add some Half & Half, or light cream, starting with 1 Tablespoon; then add a little more if needed). Spread evenly over completely cooled bars, then cut and serve. If serving later, keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. Also refrigerate any bars that are leftover, because of the cream cheese frosting.

These are so good, you just may want to try making them this weekend! :) Will you be having a busy weekend or a relaxing one?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Giant Dark Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

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This cookie is quite different from your average chocolate chip cookie! For one thing, it’s giant-size because it’s made in a 10″ cast iron skillet. I got the idea from The Nourished Life and thought it was great! There’s nothing like having a … Continue reading

Raspberry Jam Oat Crumble Bars

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“Crumble” is an understatement when describing these bars, because they are super–crumbly! These Raspberry Jam Oat Crumble Bars have LOTS of crumbly oat topping and, of course, a raspberry jam filling–if you look hard, you can see the filling! :). I was inspired by this recipe at Kraft and made a few simple changes. If you don’t have raspberry jam, use strawberry jam. Or whatever flavor jam you like best. You could even use spreadable fruit if you want to cut down on the sugar.

These are easy to make and really yummy! You can make them in an 8 x 8″ or 9 x 9″ square baking pan. If you use a 9 x 9″ pan, the crumble topping won’t be quite as thick, since the pan is a little bigger–so your bars will be slightly thinner, too. But they’ll still be plenty crumbly. And since these bars are so very crumbly, make sure you have a plate to catch those crumbs when you’re eating these!

RASPBERRY JAM OAT CRUMBLE BARS by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Recipes

Makes an 8 x 8″  or 9 x 9″ pan (I used an 8 x 8″ pan for this batch)

  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup well-packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup  (1 1/2 sticks) butter, chilled
  • 1 cup (or one 12-ounce jar) Red Raspberry Jam (I used seedless jam)
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 8 x 8″ or 9 x 9″ pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Press 3 1/2 cups of the oat mixture firmly onto the bottom of your square baking pan. Spread jam over crust. Mix pecans with remaining crumb mixture, then sprinkle over jam (it may look like you have too much crumb mixture for the top, but put it all on!)

Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes or until topping is lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack.

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These bars would taste great warm with a scoop of ice cream, too. I love easy recipes like this! And I usually have all these ingredients on hand anyway, so that makes it even more convenient. Do you like jam bars, or do you have another favorite recipe using jam?

10 Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Here’s a roundup of 10 recipes that your Valentine–or Valentines–will love…some are healthy and some are not-so-healthy (but very yummy)!

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If you’re wanting something sweet for your Valentine breakfast, try these Strawberry Yogurt Muffins–the strawberries on top look like hearts, so they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Or if you’re wanting something healthy, try this Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal, made with dried cranberries and chopped pecans. You can substitute dried cherries for the cranberries if you want.

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Or make this Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Bake if you’re feeding a larger group.

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You can also use your dried cranberries (or cherries) in these Cranberry Almond Breakfast Scones for a mid-morning or afternoon Valentine snack!

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Since you may be eating lots of sweets on Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to include a healthy salad in your lunch or dinner menu–this Apple Pear Pecan Salad has dried cranberries in it too, but dried cherries would be yummy as well!

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Savory Strawberry Salsa makes a great appetizer with tortilla chips, and it’s also really good served over grilled chicken!

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Now you need some dessert ideas…Strawberry Cupcakes are just the thing!

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But lots of people prefer something chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting!

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If you want a healthier dessert, you could always make this Healthy Chocolate Shake

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But, hey, it’s Valentine’s Day–if you want to splurge, make these Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry Swirl Brownies!

Hope you get a chance to try out some of these treats! Do you have a favorite Valentine recipe?

Frosted Yogurt Sugar Cookie Squares

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I wasn’t quite sure what to call these when I got done making them. My goal was to make sugar cookies, but to make it easier and quicker, I decided to spread the batter in a 10 x 15″ pan and make sugar cookie bars. But after I cut some of them into squares and took a bite, it kind of tasted like a sugar cookie sheet cake. I put the rest in the refrigerator, and the next day I finished cutting them into squares. Guess what? After these were refrigerated, they tasted more like sugar cookies–very thick sugar cookies! They’re actually good both ways. I thought it would be safe to call these “sugar cookie squares” because that name fits either way–whether you think it’s a cake or a cookie!

YOG6ozPLAIN_RHF_JUL2013-300x280And you probably noticed that “yogurt” is also part of the name of these squares. I used Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt in this recipe–in both the dough and the frosting. This yogurt is smooth, thick, and so creamy–if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it! I thought it gave these sugar cookie squares a great chewy texture and made the frosting extra creamy. Just add some sprinkles on top and you have a yummy treat to enjoy for the holidays!

FROSTED YOGURT SUGAR COOKIE SQUARES by NancyCreative

Makes a 10 x 15″ pan

  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups unbleached flour

Yogurt Frosting:

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons plain or vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line a 10 x 15″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

In small bowl, mix plain yogurt and baking soda; set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Blend in cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and yogurt mixture from small bowl. Gradually add in flour, a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Spread cookie dough evenly into lined 10 x 15″ pan. Bake at 350˚F  for 25 to 28 minutes, until just very lightly golden at edges and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cookies cool completely in pan.

Remove from pan by carefully lifting up with edges of parchment paper. Set on kitchen counter or table and spread frosting over uncut cookies, then add colorful sprinkles. Let frosting set, then cut into squares.

To make frosting: Put yogurt into a medium size bowl, then add powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well. The mixture will be thick! If you want it thinner, just use less powdered sugar.

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Do you use Goat Milk Yogurt or any other kind of yogurt in your baking or cooking?

I received some complimentary Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk products to use in my holiday baking, but the opinions expressed about the product are entirely my own. 

 

Chocolate Candy Cane Kiss Sugar Cookies

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Here’s a cute yummy little Christmas cookie–little rounds of chocolate sugar cookies with a Hershey’s Candy Cane Kiss tucked in the middle! As you can see above, you can also decorate these other ways, but I really love that peppermint-and-chocolate flavor combination for Christmas! These are easy to make, but you need to use these tips to get the best results:

  1. Unwrap the Candy Cane Kisses and keep them refrigerated until ready to use (these kisses get more melty faster than the regular chocolate kisses when you’re placing them on hot cookies (as you can see from the top photo–refrigerating them helps!)

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    Beware of Cookie Fail!

  2.  You need to work fast–after the cookies come out of the oven, press the Candy Cane Kisses into all of them quickly, then remove them from the pan onto a wire rack to cool. If the cookies stay on the hot pan over a minute, the kisses start to get too melty and you will have Cookie Fail! (see small photo)

Those are really the most important things you need to know–and even if you work fast, these Candy Cane Kisses will still get a little melty on you. But they taste so good on top of the little chocolate cookies, I’m okay with that! If these Candy Cane Kisses turn out to be a problem for you, you can use milk or dark chocolate kisses, or butterscotch, peanut butter, vanilla, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate chips (it’s a great way to use up those extra small amounts of baking chips you have left over from other recipes!).

CHOCOLATE CANDY CANE KISS SUGAR COOKIES by NancyCreative

Makes 36 to 38 cookies

  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 36 to 38 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (refrigerate them until ready to use) Or, use milk or dark chocolate kisses; or butterscotch, peanut butter, vanilla, milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, cream softened butter and sugar until well-blended. Beat in egg, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour and cocoa powder, and mix until a dough forms (this will be a thick, stiff dough).

Chill dough for 10 to 15 minutes to make it easier to form into balls. Then scoop out slightly rounded teaspoons of dough and roll into balls. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350˚F for 10 to 11 minutes, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch.

Remove from oven; working quickly (because the candy cane kisses get soft and melty quickly), gently press a candy cane kiss into the center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). As soon as you’re done, remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Do you like making chocolate and peppermint-flavored treats for the holidays?

Triple Chocolate Biscotti from Crazy About Chocolate and a Giveaway!

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9781402798849_p0_v2_s260x420I’m sure a lot of you are just as crazy about chocolate as I am! I especially like dark chocolate. And I love all kinds of chocolate treats. So when I heard about the new book Crazy About Chocolate by Krystina Castella, I was definitely interested in reviewing it! Not only did I get a review copy, Sterling Publishing is also providing a giveaway copy for one of you! See details on how to win at the end of this post.

This softcover book has more than 200 sweet and savory chocolate recipes, with lots of full-color photos. You’ll find recipes for cupcakes and many other desserts, candies, and holiday sweets, along with some unique savory items (like Hamburger Sliders with Chocolate Rolls!). It’s a great cookbook for any chocolate-lover, and would make a great holiday gift!

The first chapter of the book, Chocolate in the Know, has some helpful tips and information on cookware, measuring tools, important accessories, and other things that are essential for a well-equipped chocolate-lovers’ kitchen! This chapter also gives good how-to’s on techniques for melting, tempering, sweetening, storing, and decorating with chocolate. Other chapters include Everyday Chocolate, Chocolate for Special Occasions, Party Chocolate, Holiday Chocolate, and Crusts, Sauces, and Toppings.

Here’s a sampling of the variety of recipes you’ll find throughout these chapters…

  • Chocolate Blueberry Toffee Muffins
  • Chocolate Pound Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Topping
  • Chocolate Rice Cereal Pops
  • Chocolate Croissants
  • Chocolate Raspberry Turnovers
  • Brownie Waffle Sundae
  • Chocolate Pear Raisin Bread Pudding
  • Mocha Cappuccino Mousse
  • Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels
  • Dark Chocolate Soft Pretzels
  • Raised Chocolate Donuts
  • Almond Chocolate Chip Scones
  • Chocolate Chip Corn Muffins
  • Special occasion cakes

I decided to try the recipe for Triple Chocolate Biscotti, because I love dunking biscotti in coffee and hot cocoa in the chilly weather months. And biscotti makes a great homemade food gift. Besides that, I hadn’t ever made my own biscotti, and I decided it was definitely time!

This biscotti is very yummy and chocolatey–it has a chocolate dough with chocolate chips and, after baking, is topped with a drizzle of even more chocolate. I knew I would love it! It has a rich chocolate taste and is the perfect treat when you’re taking a little coffee break.

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TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI from Crazy About Chocolate

Makes about 24 cookies

These low-fat chocolate biscotti contain no butter and are drizzled with chocolate.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (I used a little more–about 9 ounces)

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Butter two cookie sheets.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips. Add the flour mixture and mix until blended (the dough is very thick; I finished working in all the ingredients with my hands).

Divide the dough in half and shape into two logs that are 3/4 inch thick, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 6 inches long (mine were more like 3″ wide–but I recommend making your logs longer instead of wider if you have extra dough, because they’ll be easier to slice and you’ll get more cookies!). Place on the cookie sheets at least 2 inches apart.

Bake for 50 minutes, remove from oven, and let cool for 5 minutes (this biscotti gets pretty crispy, and was a little hard to slice because of that, so you may want to try just baking for 40 to 45 minutes). Using a serrated knife, slice into 1/2-inch-thick cookies. Lay the cookies flat on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Flip cookies over and then bake for 10 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cook completely.

Melt the milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate. Set on a rack with the chocolate side facing up to dry. Once all the cookies are dry, place them with their tops facing up and drizzle melted chocolate on top.

Let the chocolate set before serving, then grab a cup of coffee and enjoy your biscotti!

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GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!

Now for the Giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of Crazy About Chocolate, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Monday, December 2, at 10 p.m. (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Tuesday, December 3. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing). Giveaway is limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post–it would be great to hear what your favorite chocolate treat is!

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry–I have to approve all comments because of spam, so it may take a little while to show up!

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

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I tried making pumpkin swirl brownies last fall, and just wasn’t happy with the results, even after tweaking a recipe several times. Now that it’s fall again, I thought I’d give them another try with my own version.

These brownies have a thick chocolate batter and a light creamy pumpkin swirl filling. I also added some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the chocolate batter for good measure. Yum! The brownies have a rich chocolate taste with a touch of pumpkin-spice flavor from the swirl filling. If you love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, you’ll need to try these!

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SWIRL BROWNIES by NancyCreative

Makes an 8 x 8″ or 9 x 9″ pan

Chocolate Batter:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pumpkin Swirl Filling:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or substitute 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. ginger, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray an 8 x 8″ or 9 x 9″ baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

For the Chocolate Batter: In medium bowl, beat eggs with vanilla; then add the melted butter, blending well. To this mixture, stir in the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt, blending everything well. Stir in the flour, half the amount at a time, and blend well (your batter may be a little lumpy–that’s okay!). Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chips, stirring until they are incorporated evenly into the batter. Spoon and spread 2/3 of the batter into your prepared baking pan.

For the Pumpkin Swirl Filling: In medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese, pumpkin puree,  pumpkin pie spice, sugar, and egg, mixing until smooth. Pour this pumpkin mixture evenly over the chocolate brownie batter in the pan. Then spoon remaining chocolate brownie batter in tablespoon-size dollops evenly over the pumpkin filling. Using a knife, cut through the batter slowly and swirl with the pumpkin filling for a marbled effect.

Bake at 350˚F for 33 to 43 minutes (my baking time was 42 minutes in an 8 x 8″ pan; if you make these in a 9 x 9″ pan, your time should be a little less, about 33 to 37 minutes, and your bars will be a little thinner than my bars pictured here). Cool completely, then cut into squares. Serve, or store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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These brownies are great for fall! Do you have a favorite fall brownie recipe?

Dark Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie Bars

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Wow! Talk about rich and chocolatey…these bars have double the chocolate with dark chocolate chips and crumbled Oreo cookies mixed in. And the creamy Oreo filling gives a great taste to these bars since some of it bakes into to batter. I like using the Double Stuff Oreos because I love all that filling! :)

I was inspired by a yummy-looking recipe from Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen–I decided to make bars instead of cookies to save time. I also used dark chocolate chips and added even more chips to the batter, so these are super-chocolatey!

DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP OREO COOKIE BARS adapted from Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag dark chocolate chips
  • 20 Oreo Double Stuff Cookies (from a 15.35 ounce package), broken or crushed into medium to small pieces (I put the cookies in a large zip loc freezer bag and crush the cookies–you can use a rolling pin to do this, or even a hammer, used very gently)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until well blended. Add in eggs and vanilla, blending well.

In a small bowl, blend flour, salt, and baking soda; add these dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix everything well.

Fold in the dark chocolate chips and crushed Oreo cookies; mix until these are evenly distributed in the batter (the batter will be thick!).

Spoon batter into prepared 9 x 13″ pan and spread batter evenly in pan with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake at 350˚F for 25 to 27 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan, then cut into bars or squares. These are very rich, so you can cut them small if you want!

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Oreo cookies have been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. They’re certainly not healthy, but every once in awhile I crave some. Are you an Oreo-lover too?

Chewy Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars

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I made these bars for a bake sale the other week. When I was looking for recipes, I found this one at Allrecipes.com and thought these would be just the thing to make! I made some changes, though, mainly substituting butter for the shortening and using more semi-sweet chocolate chips and coconut. These are soooo rich and chewy and chocolatey! The coconut is not overpowering, so even people who aren’t crazy about coconut would probably still like these. I cut my bars into big squares for the bake sale, but these are so rich, you’ll probably want to cut them into smaller bars!

CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT BARS by NancyCreative, adapted from Allrecipes

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan of bars

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (also called coconut flakes)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan; set aside.

In large bowl, cream the softened butter and brown sugar; then blend in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well.

In small bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; slowly blend in flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture, mixing everything until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips, chopped pecans or walnuts, and shredded coconut. Spread the mixture evenly in pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 23 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into bars.

For a fancier dessert, cut them into bigger bars like I did and top them with a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and a sprinkle of coconut flakes!

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What’s your favorite treat to make for a bake sale?

Lemon Brownies with Lemon Glaze

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This recipe is for all of you lemon-lovers out there…these Lemon “Brownies” may not have any chocolate in them, but they have a dense, brownie-like texture with plenty of lemony yumminess in every bite! I was a little skeptical about lemon brownies, but after making these, I love them every bit as much as the chocolate kind! I adapted this from a recipe I found at Rita’s Recipes. I used more lemon juice and zest for my version.

You actually need quite a few lemons for these brownies…about 6 to 7, depending on the size of the lemons. You’ll need to juice them and zest some of them, so there is a little work in making these, but it’s definitely worth it! I’m not that crazy about zesting lemons myself. If you’re not either, you could still try it without the zest…it may be less lemony, but I’m sure they’d still be great!

LEMON BROWNIES WITH LEMON GLAZE by NancyCreative, adapted from Rita’s Recipes

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice (you need about 3 to 4 lemons for the juice and the zest)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside (for easy clean-up, you can also line your pan with parchment paper; leave paper edges sticking up out of the pan so you can just lift the brownies right out of the pan when they’re finished baking).

Juice and zest your lemons; set aside in a small container.

In large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the flour and salt, mixing until well blended.

In small to medium bowl, whisk eggs and add lemon juice and lemon zest, blending well. Pour this mixture into the flour/butter mixture and mix ingredients until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (the edges will be browned). Let brownies cool for a few minutes in pan. While cooling, you can mix the Lemon Glaze

Lemon Glaze:

  • 2  to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thin or thick you want the glaze)
  • 5 Tablespoons lemon juice (you need another 3 lemons for the juice and the zest)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest

Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice together, blending well, then add in the lemon zest and stir until zest is mixed in evenly. While brownies are still warm, spoon and spread about half the glaze over the top of the brownies (some of the glaze will soak into the brownies); wait 10 to 15 minutes (the glaze will just be partially set) and then spoon the rest of the glaze over the first layer of glaze. Let glaze set completely (this might take an hour or so, especially in humid weather) and then cut into squares or bars and serve. If you want the glaze to set more quickly, you can put the brownies in the fridge for about 20 to 25 minutes, then cut and serve. Actually, you may just want to pop them in the fridge anyway, because these taste great cold, too!

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I like making lemon-flavored things in the warm weather months–they’re so refreshing! Do  you have a favorite lemon recipe you like making in spring or summer?

Linked to Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday.

Chocolate Chip Confetti Brownies

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I love these fun, colorful brownies–they’re kind of like a celebration in a pan! This easy and yummy recipe is from an M&M’s promotional recipe card that I’ve had for quite a while. There are two layers to these brownies– a bottom chocolate layer and a top yellow batter layer, with mini M&M’s mixed in and sprinkled on top. They’re rich and chewy…perfect when you’re craving something chocolate! I changed the recipe a little by adding some semi-sweet chocolate chips in the bottom chocolate brownie layer. It never hurts to add more chocolate, right? :)

CHOCOLATE CHIP CONFETTI BROWNIES by NancyCreative, adapted from M&M’s

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&M’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Bits, divided

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan; set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and vanilla.

In medium bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups of the flour (save 1/4 cup for later), baking powder, and salt; blend into creamed mixture. Divide batter in half, putting half into another bowl.

Stir cocoa powder and melted butter into one half of the dough; then stir in the mini chocolate chips. Spread cocoa dough evenly into prepared baking pan.

Stir remaining 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup of the M&M’s mini baking bits into remaining dough; spread evenly over cocoa dough in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of M&M’s mini baking bits. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edges start to pull away from sides of pan.

Cool completely and cut into bars. Store in a tightly covered container. Makes about 20 brownies, depending on how large you cut them. (NOTE: I’ve seen a version of this recipe using regular-size M&M’s, so you could try substituting those for the mini baking bits).

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I actually cut into these while they were still warm, after about 10 minutes of cooling, and they are really good warm! If I had some ice cream in my fridge, I think I would have been tempted to add a scoop on top!

Here’s a helpful tip if you want neat, less crumbly brownie slices:  Line your baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on the ends so you can lift your brownies right out of the pan after they are done baking and have cooled. After removing brownies from the pan, turn them upside down onto a cutting board or other cutting surface and slice them from the bottom–this way, the tops of your brownies will have nice clean edges…just like a bakery shop brownie!

Do you like making brownies too? Do you have a favorite brownie recipe?

Linked to Create With Joy, Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays.

Peanut Caramel Crispy Treats

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I recently made some Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Crispy Treats and still had quite a bit of rice cereal left over, so I decided to try another kind of crispy treat. I love peanuts and caramel, especially together…so I tried a version using these ingredients. What can I say but “Yum”? If you like peanuts and caramel too, you’ll have to try these out!

PEANUT CARAMEL CRISPY TREATS by NancyCreative

Makes a 9×13″ pan

  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) package marshmallows
  • 5 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
  • 1 (11-ounce bag) Kraft® Caramel Bits

Grease a 13 x 9″ pan; set aside.

Melt butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 45 seconds or until melted. Add marshmallows, tossing to coat. Microwave marshmallows 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 45 seconds.

Add crispy cereal to melted marshmallow mixture, then stir in nuts and caramel bits. The mixture will get sticky quickly, so you have to work fast!

Press mixture onto bottom of greased 13 x 9″ pan. (Because the mixture is so sticky, you may want to use some waxed paper to help press the mixture in the pan. I used the waxed paper wrapper from a stick of butter that still had a smidgen of butter on it, and that worked great!) Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Stovetop Directions: Melt butter in a 3-qt. saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until they are completely melted and mixture is well blended. Then follow the rest of the directions above, adding in the rice cereal, peanuts, and caramel bits.

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Have you tried any unique add-ins for crispy treats?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.