Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

If you think “Healthy Cookie” is an oxymoron, well…you might be right. But there are definitely cookies you can feel way less guilty about eating, and this is one of them! In fact, I’ve eaten about 20 over the past couple days and haven’t had a single twinge of guilt. Perhaps it’s because my belly is already bursting with what the doctor predicts to be an 8 pound baby (eek!) …but still. :)

The combination of chocolate and cherry is a no brainer. I also firmly believe that any cookie containing oats can be eaten for breakfast without a second thought. Don’t you agree??
When you are mixing the batter up, you may be a bit worried (like I was) that there won’t be enough moisture, but just keep stirring and things will come together.
Usually, I don’t think it is too big of a deal to skip the “refrigerate for one hour” step in cookie baking, especially if you are in dire need. And truthfully, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you did skip it here, BUT I will say it makes a difference. Especially because you are using chopped chocolate, which, if you don’t refrigerate it first can get a little too melty during baking.
These cookies are sweet and hearty. Snag one before your morning workout and you’ll have an extra boost of energy to get you through. Or grab a couple after dinner for a guilt free dessert. Or snack throughout the day and say you are “keeping the baby’s energy up.” It’s a totally legitimate excuse. ;)
Enjoy!

Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat milk
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.
  3. Combine melted butter and brown sugar. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add cherries, vanilla, milk and egg; beat until combined. Fold in chocolate. Refrigerate 1-3 hours. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.
Adapted From Cooking Light

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels

Home Sweet Home!

Hey there! Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Eve, Eve! I am! Last night I got home to my family in Washington, including my cutest-thing-in-the-whole-world niece. Plus, we have snow! It’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas!

If you need a little treat to make for your amazing family. Make these chocolate covered pretzels. Really! Do it! :)

I got the idea for these when I was over at my friend Jenn’s house. She was raving about these pretzels she got at Trader Joe’s. She had me taste them and all of her promises were totally fulfilled. They were amazing!  So, I figured instead of buying out the entire stock Trader Joe’s had to offer, I decided to try and make them myself.

Turns out they were so easy to make and (eek!) even better than the original! All you need is some chocolate - I used dark and white chocolate.

Some pretzels, and of course, some crushed peppermint!

For tips on how crushing candy canse and also be used as therapy, see here. ;)

The dipping part does take a little effort, but the end result is completely worth it. After you dip the pretzels in the chocolate just set them on some wax paper to cool. Make sure to sprinkle the candy cane on top while the chocolate is still wet so it can adhere to the pretzels. You can add as much peppermint or as little as you’d like, depending on your taste. It goes great with the chocolate and salty pretzels though, so I suggest a lot! ;)

Stick em in the fridge to set up, them put them out and watch them disappear!

Ok, now back to holding the baby!

Enjoy!

Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of pretzel thins
  • 12 oz dark chocolate
  • 12 oz white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
  • about 10 mini candy canes, smashed

Instructions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  2. Heat dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon cream over a double boiler until smooth.
  3. Using your fingers or a pair of tongs, dip pretzels into the chocolate so they are completely covered. Set on waxed paper.
  4. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top.
  5. Repeat with white chocolate.
  6. Refrigerate until set and serve.

 

 

 

Peppermint Bark – Williams Sonoma Knock Off!

Hi!

Guys, today is a great day. My Christmas vacation starts in T-4 hours and then I’m flying home to see my family including my brand new, still teeny tiny, niece! I am so excited I can hardly contain myself! But I’ll try… :)
Alright, maybe my jittery-ness is half due to excitement and half due to the giant quantities of peppermint bark I’ve been consuming over that past couple days! We’ve all been there. You walk into Williams Sonoma around the holidays and you are greeted by some of the nicest people in the world (I’m pretty sure they are Santa’s helpers) who offer you a warm cup of cider and a sample of their peppermint bark. So you take one of each and I’ll be darned if it’s possible to leave the store without buying both. It’s that good.
Well, now you can make it at home! Williams Sonoma may not share their recipe, but I think this one is pretty darn close…with a special touch of my own!
The recipe is actually quite simple, and only requires a few ingredients. But since there’s nowhere to hide, I suggest using really good quality chocolate. It’s definitely worth a little splurge!

I love the “peppermint” part of peppermint bark, so in addition to smashing up bunches of candy canes to sprinkle over the top (which coincidentally is a great way to get out a little holiday aggression or stress over not being able to find the perfect gift for your brother-in-law…don’t worry Ryan, I found something good!;)

I threw some candy canes directly into the chocolate! They won’t totally melt in, but it is ok because then you get pieces of candy can in the chocolate too. It is a welcome surprise to anyone sinking their teeth into a piece of this bark.
While this bark is pretty simple to put together, it does require a little bit of patience. After spreading out the dark chocolate layer you’ve got to put it in the fridge and let it set until it is almost hard, but not quite. This will let the white chocolate meld into the dark with the greatest of ease. If you let the dark chocolate harden to much, when you crack the bark you might end up cracking the layers too!

Speaking of cracking the bark…

I swear I don’t have a lot of holiday agression, but who doesn’t love getting to smash something in the kitchen (or otherwise)?!?! I highly suggest smashing and not cutting. Partially because smashing is a great time, but also because half the fun is in the irregular, cracked pieces.

I like to keep the bark in the fridge until I’m ready to serve it, and it will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks (not that there’s any chance it’ll last that long!)
Enjoy!

Recipe: Peppermint Bark

Ingredients

  • 16 oz good quality dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (divided)
  • 16 oz good quality white chocolate
  • 4 large candy canes or 10 mini candy canes + 1 large or 3 small

Instructions

  1. Prepare a jelly roll pan by lining it would aluminum foil.
  2. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler set to medium low heat. Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and 1 large or 3 small candy canes roughly smashed.
  3. Spread melted chocolate onto foil lined pan in a single, uniform layer. Refrigerate until almost set, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a clean bowl, melt white chocolate over a double boiler set to medium low heat. Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract. Pour over almost set dark chocolate and smooth out.
  5. Crush candy canes (a rolling pin works great!) in a plastic bag. Sprinkle pieces over the top of the bark. Refrigerate until fully set.
  6. Keeps well in the fridge for a couple weeks.

;

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Hey guys!

Every once in a while a recipe comes along that you know will be in your back pocket for many, many, years to come. I am pretty positive I’ll be making these homemade peanut butter cups for my grandchildren! Oh, speaking of children…my sister gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl this week! She is perfect and I am so excited to be an aunt! Now, she just needs to hurry up and grow some teeth so I can feed here these peanut butter cups and forever be her favorite relative ;)

I made these peanut butter cups as an extra treat for a dinner party I was going to, and they were a hit!

There are some things I aways make from scratch…some things I sometimes make from scratch…and some things I never even think of making from scratch. I had never thought of making peanut butter cups from scratch, and judging by the reaction at the dinner party, hardly anyone else has either! “You made these?” “How did you do that??”

The truth is, they are really easy…ish.


Ok, so they are kinda labor intensive, but they only require 4 ingredients, and only one really annoying part…after that, it’s a piece of cake (or chocolate!) :)

Let’s get that annoying part outta the way. To get the outer layer of chocolate that surrounds the creamy peanut butter filling, you have to do a little…coaxing. Melting the chocolate is easy, just use a double boiler until it’s smooth, but then, you have to make sure the chocolate gets all around your mini muffin cups. This takes a little time and can get a little (or a lot!) messy. Just use your fingers to make sure the chocolate is totally covering the mini muffin cups. A few things to remember…#1 make sure to spray the muffin cups really well with cooking spray #2 make sure the chocolate isn’t super hot before you touch it!

Once your cups are coated, put them in the fridge to cool. While they are cooling make the peanut butter filling. Just combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter. Stir until very smooth and then give it a taste. You will be blown away. It tastes exactly like what’s inside a Reses Peanut Butter cup!

Once the chocolate is cool, fill the cups with the peanut butter filling. The best way to do this? Put the filling into a big ziplock, cut the corner off, and pipe the filling in. Once you are finished, take a small dish of water, dip your finger in the water and tap the pointy tops down (you want the peanut butter filling to be pretty level).

Next up, the second layer of chocolate. This is much easier (though just as messy!) as the first layer. Dollop some melted chocolate on top of the filling and take your finger and swirl it around until all the peanut butter filling is covered and the chocolate seals all around the cup. It’s pretty easy and you can give the tops of your cups a pretty design :)

Then, just pop ‘em in the fridge and wait till they set. I think they are best served right out of the fridge, or even freezer. Once you taste them you will instantly forget about any hassle in making them because they are SO good. Better yet, let the kids make them! They’ll love playing with their food!

Put these peanut butter cups on your list..I promise you’ll  be a hit at any holiday gathering! This recipe is definitely going in my permanent collection. How old to babies have to get before they can eat chocolate?? ;)

Enjoy!

Recipe: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 16-oz jar creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1 2-lb bag (or 2 1-lb bags) of high quality chocolate chips (you can use milk or dark chocolate, or do like I did-use both!!)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Cooking Spray
  • Mini Cupcake Papers

Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler
  2. Spray about 45-50 mini muffin cups with cooking spray, making sure to coat the entire cup
  3. Spoon chocolate into greased cups. Use your fingers to make sure the cups are totally covered with chocolate
  4. Put the cups in the refrigerator to cool
  5. Meanwhile, mix the peanut butter filling. Combine melted peanut butter, melter butter, and powdered sugar. Mix until very smooth. Spoon into a large ziplock bag and cut off the corner, this will make it very easy to pipe into the cups!
  6. Remove the cups from the fridge when they are completely cool. Pipe peanut butter filling into cups. Tap down the points by dipping your finger in water and smoothing the tops.
  7. Make sure the chocolate is still melted (re-warm if necessary) and spoon over the peanut butter filling. Swirl the chocolate with your finger to cover the filling and seal the edges.
  8. Put cups back into the fridge and let cool. Serve chilled.

Recipe via One Good Thing via Rad Megan

 

Halloween Bark

Hi!

So, I was going to save this post till Wednesday since it is called “Halloween Bark,” but I made it this weekend and it was such a hit I just couldn’t wait any longer!
This past Saturday I went over to some friends’ house for dinner. I was in charge of bringing a veggie side dish so I made these. Delicious, but I wanted to do something else…a little more…fun.
What’s more fun than chocolate topped with tons and tons of Halloween candy?
We brought this out while we were all watching the Giants’ game (World Series CHAMPS!!) and the only word to describe it is irresistable. You would take a small piece, break off a corner, you know, so you don’t feel bad, but then that tiny piece would be gone far far too quickly, and you’d be going back for more. Some of the boys were even accusing me of mixing in one of any number of addictive substances into the candy! :) Nope guys, just full of Halloween goodness!
You know you have some halloween candy lying around the house right now. And, if you’re anything like me, you buy the candy you love to eat. Every year I say I’m not gonna do it. Every year I think, “get the candy you don’t like as much, then you won’t eat it!” But alas, as I stand in the overflowing candy aisle at Target I cannot bring myself to put that bag of Almond Joy in my basket (sorry if you like Almond Joy!), and instead fill it with all the good stuff. I buy twice as much as I need for trick or treaters since it’s not really a big deal if I have leftovers. :)
The great thing about this bark is it’s kind of like a blank canvas. Whatever candy you have around works! I used a pretty good variety of standard halloween candy.
First, start with some good chocolate and just melt it down. Since the chocolate is the base of this bark, make sure to use good quality chips.
Melt the chocolate using a double boiler over medium low heat. You want it to melt slowly so it gets silky and stays shiny.
Then get your paintbrush/spatula ready and spread the chocolate on a piece of foil. This recipe is inspired from one I found on Bon Appetit and they don’t say to grease your foil, but I sprayed mine with a bit of nonstick spray which I think made things much easier in the end.
While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle on the candy. You really have to try and sprinkle it evenly because you want some of each in every piece! It is really funny to watch people sift through the pieces to find one that has all the candy they love on it. It’s like treasure hunting for sugar hyped adults!
Then, just stick it in the fridge and let it cool at least 30 minutes. I left mine in the fridge till we were ready to eat it, I just think it tastes better chilled, but after it hardens you can peel off the foil and break it up into pieces. Unfortunately, you might be left with quite a few chocolate shavings and candy scraps after you are done, and you will just have to snack on them to clean up your cutting board. Bummer. ;)
I’m telling you, this is a halloween treat that will please both kids and adults. Not to mention it will definitely give you the sugar rush you need to stay up for those late night trick or treaters!
Enjoy!

Recipe: Halloween Bark

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Assorted halloween candy!
  • Suggestions:
  • M&M’s
  • Reses pieces
  • peanut butter cups
  • Twix
  • Milky Way
  • Snickers
  • Whoppers
  • Whatever your heart desires!

Instructions

  1. Line baking sheet with foil. Spray with cooking spray.
  2. Stir chocolate chips in a double boiler set over medium low heat until melted and warm (not hot) to touch.
  3. Pour chocolate onto foil; spread to desired thickness – I did mine about 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Sprinkle with candy, making sure all pieces touch melted chocolate to adhere.
  5. Chill bark until firm, 30 minutes.Peel off foil.
  6. Cut bark into irregular pieces.

Baked Chocolate Doughnuts with Fresh Strawberry Glaze

Who doesn’t love a three day weekend???

That one extra day just makes SUCH a difference doesn’t it? So I say why not celebrate?!

I’ve had a constant stash of fresh strawberries in my fridge for the past few weeks and I still can’t get enough. They are so ripe and delicious right now I can’t resist them at the market. So, when I had a few more on my hands than I thought I could eat, I decided to get a little creative. And what goes better with strawberries than chocolate?

A few weeks ago I found a doughnut pan at my favorite kitchen store and I just had to buy it. I didn’t have a recipe in mind that I needed it for, but I figured if I bought it an idea would come. It’s kind of like buying a fantastic pair of shoes that you have absolutely nothing to wear with, and then buying an entire new outfit just to wear with the shoes. My husband says this is crazy. I have no idea what he is talking about.

After mixing up the delicious chocolaty batter, the best way to get it into the doughnut pan is by using a ziplock baggie with about an inch wide hole cut off the end. These doughnuts are surprisingly guilt free. I even used whole wheat flour! They come out cakey and light and super chocolately.

While the doughnuts cool, mix up the fresh strawberry glaze. Mix together cream cheese, fresh strawberry puree, lemon juice, and powdered sugar. Mix on high until smooth and perfectly pink.

Once the doughnuts have cooled, it’s time to get dunkin’.

Let the glaze set for about 4 hours or overnight. Then dive in. The super chocolately doughnuts + the sweet, fresh, strawberry glaze equal perfectly balanced three-day-weekend-goodness.

Or, any day for that matter. ;)

Enjoy!

Baked Chocolate Doughnuts with Fresh Strawberry Glaze
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh Strawberry Glaze
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup strawberry puree
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Coat donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In large bowl, whisk flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  4. In small bowl, whisk milk, sugar, egg, butter, coffee, and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; whisk until blended and smooth.
  6. Fill a ziplock bag with the batter. Cut a hole in the corner about 1″ across. Fill each doughnut cup approximately ¾ full.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for thirteen minutes or until doughnuts spring back when touched.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.
  9. To make the Glaze: Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk cream cheese and strawberry puree until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until glaze reaches desired consistency (you will need at least 2 cups).
  10. Dunk cooled doughnuts in glaze.
  11. Allow glaze to set at least 4 hours.

 

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Who needs a sugar rush???

(I do! I do!)

Chocolate and peanut butter. One of the great duos of all time. And particularly loved by my husband. So, last weekend when he was headed off to attend his cousin’s college graduation (Congrats Brigette!) and I couldn’t attend, I knew these would be the perfect I’msorryIcan’tmakeitbutpleaseacceptthesedelicioustreatsasasignofmyloveandcongratulations gift!

These treats have it all! Chocolate graham cracker crust, super rich yet light and fluffy peanutty goodness, and a decadent chocolate ganache topping. YUM.

Why does my spell check keep telling me peanutty isn’t a word????

Ok, first step is to get your graham cracker crust ready. BONUS: I made these one evening after we had a delicious BBQ’d meal. Once I opened the package of graham crackers, we knew what to do…Michael headed straight for the marshmallows and I grabbed the chocolate. SMORES BREAK!

Alright, back to work. Mash up two packages of graham crackers. The absolute best tools for this task? A big ziplock bag and a rolling pin.  Continue reading →

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