Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

Soooo … Guys … I have some news.

I am officially in the quarter finals of the Bluecat screenplay contest!!!!!!!!!

I found out last night during the Super Bowl and cried happy tears for the first time in my life, and then Coldplay started singing, so the tears kept coming.  By the way, I love Coldplay and wished there was more of them during the show … but I digress.

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

I might only be 26 but I have worked on my writing and hoped for a moment like this for years.  It was such a relief and shock and all the things.  I am so grateful because it means maybe I am a good writer and I can make it.  I’m still on a high today.

It’s just the first step in a lot of steps … seriously like a million, but a step in the right direction is more than I have taken in a long time.

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

For now, I’m going to keep writing and hope that I make the semi-finals.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me!!!  I declared this my year, and maybe the power of positive thinking and believing in myself (some of the time anyway) really is working.

You know what else is making this a great year, these Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars.  These are almost as good as placing in the quarter finals.

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

I swapped out flour for old fashioned and quick oats, added tons of peanut butter and mini Reese’s Pieces and then some carob chips.  Feel free to use chocolate chips, of course.

I was a little afraid the oats wouldn’t hold together, but they totally did, and I was left with the oatmeal cookie of my dreams.  It is soft and chewy and insanely gooey with an underdone center and tons of Reese’s Pieces and chips.

I highly recommend that you eat these warm or pop them in the microwave before devouring because that intensifies the gooey.  Mom declared these one of the best things I’ve ever made and I have to agree.  As I was cutting them up, I kept taking little samples for myself.  You’ll be doing the same thing.

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 18-24 bars

Ingredients

3 cups old fashioned oats, gluten free if necessary

1 ½ cups quick cooking oats, gluten free if necessary

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup mini Reese’s Pieces

1 cup carob or chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan and line it with parchment. Butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer will work as well.

Add both kinds of oats and baking soda and stir until well incorporated. Fold in the Reese’s Pieces and chips.

Pour into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake 30-40 minutes until puffed, golden brown and mostly set in the center. Do not cook until it is all the way set or the bars will be dry. Cool completely in the pan (or don’t ;) ), cut into bars and serve. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen, individually wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave about 1 minute.

http://piesandplots.net/gluten-free-monster-cookie-bars/

 

Very Vanilla Muffins

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CarnationSweepstakes #BetterBreakfast #CollectiveBias

Very Vanilla Muffins

What are mornings like in your house?  Are you running around frantically trying to get out the door?  Or do you enjoy a leisurely breakfast while reading the newspaper?

I fall somewhere in the middle.  I used to skip breakfast all the time but now it is an important part of my day.  Eating a nutritious breakfast without falling into a rut is tough though.  That’s why I turn to Carnation Breakfast Essentials ® that I pick up on my trips to Kroger.

Shopping at Kroger

Carnation Breakfast Essentials ® gets me going with nutrients and protein that my body craves so I can start my day right and have energy to write, run the blog, exercise, and more.

I have fallen in love with the French Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink Bottles.  They are great for a quick meal on the go with the rich vanilla flavor.  They also work in smoothies and even oatmeal.

Very Vanilla Muffins

When I feel like getting creative, I turn to Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder to make things like these Very Vanilla Muffins.  These muffins are such a classic and feel like an indulgent breakfast without being heavy or too caloric like muffins can be.

The Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder combines with vanilla bean paste to lend tons of flavor to these tender muffins.  And then just to add a little more excitement to breakfast, I topped them with a glaze made from French Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink Bottles.  The glaze really makes them special.

Very Vanilla Muffins

 

Very Vanilla Muffins

These muffins are perfect for a make ahead breakfast that you can enjoy throughout the week.  They can even be frozen for mornings that are super busy.

I hope Carnation Breakfast Essentials® and I have inspired you to get into a better breakfast.  You can join me in taking the Carnation 7-Day Breakfast Challenge to eat a nutritious breakfast every day for one week.  It’s a great way to make sure we all start our days on the right foot.

Very Vanilla Muffins

Throughout February you can complete breakfast missions for the chance to win prizes.  Ready to get started? Follow these easy steps

  1. Sign up at CarnationBreakfastChallenge.com.
  1. Complete a simple yet fun breakfast mission for a chance to win. New prizes revealed every day!
  1. Come back any day in February to complete missions and see new prizes. The prizes range from a Fitbit to a GoPro and other awesome stuff!
  1. Head to your favorite store to purchase a Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Nutritional Product and upload your receipt for five extra entries per day.

And now that we all have these Very Vanilla Muffins and Carnation Breakfast Essentials® in our lives we can get started.  What are you going to make for breakfast?

Very Vanilla Muffins

Very Vanilla Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup granulated sugar

2 packets Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials®

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

¼ cup olive oil

2 large eggs

1 ¼ cup milk

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup French Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink Bottles

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

Make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl stir together sugar, Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials®, vanilla bean paste, olive oil, and eggs until well combined.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternately add the milk and flour mixture, beginning with the milk and ending with the flour. Mix just until the batter comes together, a couple lumps are okay.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling almost to the top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until muffins are risen, golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

While the muffins cool slightly, make the glaze. In a small bowl, wish together sugar, French Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink Bottles, and vanilla bean paste, adding more sugar or Carnation as necessary to achieve a thick, yet spreadable glaze. Spoon over the muffins.

Serve warm or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Muffins may also be frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave for about 1 minute.

http://piesandplots.net/very-vanilla-muffins/

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix #SundaySupper

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix - a gluten free treat the whole family will love!

Another football season is about to end.  It’s amazing how quickly the seasons pass, and how often the Lions don’t make the playoffs.  Oh well, at least there are two great teams competing this year.  Though I like both teams, I have really enjoyed watching the Panthers this season.

Whether you are hosting a party or just hanging out with family or even by yourself, I bet you are going to watch the big game, if only for the commercials and halftime.  And you definitely need some fabulous food to make the festivities … well more festive.

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix - a gluten free treat the whole family will love!

Sure you need a savory entrée and maybe a drink, luckily my Sunday Supper friends have you covered there, but I’ve got dessert locked down.

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix is one of those things that just screams football.  It’s an addictive snack that is easy to crunch on while you watch and cheer.  Plus, it makes a ton.  In fact, I halved the recipe and still have plenty of Chex Mix to share … or not.  Because you might not want to share this.

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix - a gluten free treat the whole family will love!

It’s crispy crunchy with Chex, pretzels, and pecans all coated in an addictive cinnamon sugar mix.  I even used Glutino pretzel twists to keep this mix gluten free and friendly for all special diets.  If you aren’t a fan of pecans, swap in walnuts, peanuts, or almonds.

Whether your team wins or loses, you will be cheering for this Chex Mix to go all the way!

Cinnamon Sugar hex Mix - a gluten free treat the whole family will love!

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Varies

Ingredients

4 ½ cups Rice Chex

2 cups pecans

1 cup pretzel twists (use Glutino to keep gluten free)

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together Chex, pecans, and pretzels.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugars, cinnamon, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy. Whisk in the vanilla.

Add the egg whites to the cereal mixture and stir to coat. Add the cinnamon sugar and stir until all of the cereal mixture is fully coated.

Pour onto the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for about 35 minutes until crispy and golden brown, stirring halfway through baking. Cool completely on tray.

Mix may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

http://piesandplots.net/cinnamon-sugar-chex-mix-sundaysupper/

Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Appetizers and Sides

Main Dishes

Desserts and Drinks

 

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Gluten Free Peanut Protein Blondies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StartWithJifPowder #CollectiveBias

Gluten Free Peanut Protein Blondies

We’re not quite two weeks into the New Year and I’m determined to make this year my best yet.  I’m working on several writing projects, clearing the house of clutter, and focusing on eating clean, nutritious foods like Jif Peanut Powder.

Shopping at Walmart

 

I really enjoy good for me foods, so this isn’t a huge deal, but I’m not great at eating protein, so I’m placing emphasis on that for my 2016 eating habits.

Jif Peanut Powder

 

Jif Peanut Powder

Luckily Jif Peanut Powder is here to help me out.  It is made from only fresh roasted peanuts, no added sugar or salt; plus it has 85% less fat than traditional peanut butter while still keeping all the protein.  This makes Jif Peanut Powder the perfect food for diets, cleanses, and keeping new years’ resolutions.

Even better is that Jif Peanut Powder is just as tasty as the peanut butter we all know and love.  And once you taste my Gluten Free Peanut Blondies, you will love Jif Peanut Powder as much as I do.

Making the blondies

Whether you eat these blondies as a quick breakfast on the go, an energy boosting snack, or a not so guilty pleasure dessert, you will love them.  They are full of peanut flavor.  The blondie itself is soft and a little chewy – the perfect blondie texture – and the peanuts add some crunch while the carob chips add just a bit of decadence.

These blondies are naturally gluten free and made from simple ingredients that you can pick up on your next trip to Walmart (like I did) or you may even have in your house right now.

Gluten Free Peanut Protein Blondies

I also want to say a quick Happy Birthday to Dad!  He’s at work, but rest assured he found one of these blondies in his lunch bag :)

Be sure to check out Jif Peanut Powder and make these blondies.  We’ll conquer our new years’ resolutions together.

Gluten Free Peanut Protein Blondies

Gluten Free Peanut Protein Blondies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 9 blondies

Ingredients

1 cup Jif Peanut Powder

½ cup honey

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ cup carob chips

½ cup peanuts

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together Jif Peanut Powder, honey, eggs, baking soda, vanilla, carob chips, and peanuts until well combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Serve warm or cool completely in the pan.

Blondies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about an hour or in the microwave about 30 seconds.

http://piesandplots.net/gluten-free-peanut-protein-blondies/

 

Cinnamon Roll Cake + Giveaway!

Cinnamon Roll Cake + Giveaway!

January can be a bit of a downer.  I’m here to make it brighter though.  With cake and cookbooks.  Sounds like a win to me.

Let’s start with the cake.  It’s my New Year’s Day tradition to make cinnamon rolls, but this year, I wanted something a little different.  So I made a cake.

Cinnamon Roll Cake + Giveaway!

It starts with an unassuming vanilla cake.  What really makes this shine is the gooey swirl of brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.  It makes the whole cake moist and practically melt in your mouth, whether hot out of the oven or cooled to room temperature.  In fact, this is one of the few things I’ve made that I actually like better cool.

Cinnamon Roll Cake + GIveaway!

Then it gets topped with a simple vanilla glaze, some of which soaks into the cake.  I pretty much wanted to grab a fork and eat this straight from the pan.  It’s perfect for breakfast or dessert … or even a snack.  I may have even eaten it for lunch.  Move over cinnamon rolls – this cake taking over!

Massive Cookbook Giveaway!

Massive Cookbook Giveaway!

Now onto the giveaway.  I’ve teamed up with some of my favorite bloggers – The Cooking Actress, The Spiffy Cookie, and Wishes and Dishes to giveaway some cookbooks.  Eleven cookbooks to be exact.  They cover appetizers to dessert and everything in between.  They are from famous chefs like Tyler Florence and Mary Berry and bloggers like Sally McKinney and Averie Sunshine.

I know they will inspire you to get in the kitchen!  Use the widget below to enter the giveaway.  Good luck!

Cinnamon Roll Cake + Giveaway!

Cinnamon Roll Cake + Giveaway!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 18-24 pieces

Ingredients

Cake

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided

1 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ tablespoons baking powder

1 ½ cups milk (I used almond, use what you love)

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

½ stick unsalted butter, melted

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Icing

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2-3 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Instructions

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together 3 cups flour, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter. Once well combined, pour into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, beat 2 sticks softened butter with brown sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon until light and fluffy. I did this by hand but a hand or stand mixer will work as well.

Dollop the brown sugar mixture onto the cake batter. Use it all. Swirl it in using a knife. Bake cake about 30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out of the center clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Make the icing. In a bowl, stir together sugar, water, and vanilla bean paste, adding more sugar or water as necessary until a pourable icing is formed. Pour over the cake. Serve warm or cool completely in pan. Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen in pieces wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave about 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Shugary Sweets

http://piesandplots.net/cinnamon-roll-cake-giveaway/

Favorite Recipes of 2015!

The New Year is nearly upon us, so it’s time for my annual round up of the best things I’ve made this year.  When I went through my records, I realized I made a lot of amazing things that I had forgotten about.  Get your oven ready, because things are about to get pretty delicious!

The BEST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

The Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

It’s my New Year’s Day tradition to make some kind of super yummy cinnamon roll and these definitely fit the bill.  They are huge, soft and pillowy, and smothered in cream cheese frosting.

Carob Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Carob Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Use carob, use chocolate, whatever.  Just make sure you make this cake.  It’s rich cake with fluffy buttercream, pudding, and cake crumbs.  Is your mouth watering yet???

Lemon Brownies

Lemon Brownies

It’s rare to have a brownie recipe that doesn’t include chocolate that really provides that dense, gooey texture, but these brownies do it with flair and a punch of citrus.

Fluffernutter Cookies

Fluffernutter Cookies

These gems are easy to make and gluten free.  They melt in your mouth and combine two of my favorite ingredients: peanut butter and marshmallow.

Giant Carob Cookies

Giant Carob Cookies

These super fudgy cookies are loaded with chips and practically the size of my head.

Vegan and Gluten Free Triple Cherry Crisp

Triple Cherry Crisp

Full of bing, sour, and rainier cherries and topped with an irresistible oatmeal topping, I may or may not have eaten this for breakfast more than once.  Hey, I said it had oatmeal.  Top it with ice cream … it’s just like milk :)

Peach Oatmeal Skillet Pie

Peach Oatmeal Skillet Pie

Call it a pie or a cookie or a cobbler.  I don’t care.  I just want it again with juicy peaches and a gooey cookie like topping.

Peach Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Peach Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

This may be super healthy and gluten and dairy free, but it’s also amazing.  It’s my favorite breakfast and I’ve made it more times than I can count.

Peach Blueberry Crumb Pie

Peach Blueberry Crumb Pie

I had never made a crumb pie and this recipe made me ask myself one thing: why did I wait this long?  With flaky crust and a buttery crumb, this pie has the best of both worlds.

Lemon Minion Cake

Lemon Minion Cake

Not only do I love this cake and frosting, but it was so creative and so much fun to make.  It pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me excited to draw on another cake.  Any requests?

Now I’m ready to get baking for 2016!

 

 

Lemon Minion Cake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MinionsMovieNight #CollectiveBias

Lemon Minion Cake

I have something in common with minions. I love bananas. I typically eat 2 a day. That’s over 700 bananas a year. Maybe I’m part minion :)

But, one cannot survive on bananas alone, so I think lemons are the next step for the minions. I made this Lemon Minion Cake to celebrate the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack of Minions © 2015 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

Minion Sketch

I have been super excited to see Minions and was thrilled to pick up a copy to inspire my recipe. You can check out where to pick it up on the Minions movie website. There are different fun extras depending on where you shop.

Illumination Entertainment’s Minions is such a cute movie. Those minions are just adorable and seeing their backstory is hilarious and makes me like them even more. Sure, they’re a little mischievous, but aren’t we all???

Filling the Cake

Icing the Cake

Icing the Cake

Like the minions have taken on many challenges, I challenged myself to draw a minion on my bright, citrus flavored cake. I’d never, ever done anything like this before, and I feared it wouldn’t go quite according to plan like a lot of the minions’ adventures.

Luckily, my minion turned out great, and I have some tips so yours will as well. First I drew a minion on paper. This helped me get a feel for their shape since drawing with a pen is a lot easier than drawing with icing!

Lemon Minion Cake

Then I outlined the minion shape on the cake with a toothpick. This way if I made a mistake, I could just smooth the frosting over and start again. Then I took my colored icing and filled in the outline. Some of the icings were easy to spread, so I just squeezed those out of the tube, but the yellow was very stiff, so I used toothpicks to spread it.

It was so cool to watch my minion coming to life. It’s not perfect, but this is a homemade cake and that’s what I love about it. I think the minions would devour it and become obsessed with lemons.

Lemon Minion Cake

Take a day with the ones you love, make this cake, and watch the Minions movie. Plus check out the website for more fun minion recipe ideas!

Minion Movie Night

Lemon Minion Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 cups granulated sugar

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Zest of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup milk, any variety

Frosting

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

2 tablespoons corn syrup

5 egg whites

½ + 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

For Assembly

1 12 ounce jar blueberry preserves

Yellow, black, and blue icing

Toothpicks

Instructions

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 8 or 9 inch round pans. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Set aside

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla bean paste, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Alternately add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir just until the batter comes together. Divide evenly between the two prepared pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pans. Cakes may be made one day in advance.

Make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once this happens, stop stirring, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the thermometer. In the meantime, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high until foamy. Once foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue beating on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over whip the egg whites or they will become dry.

Once the eggs are whipped and the syrup is at 240, turn the eggs to medium-low, immediately remove the syrup from the heat, and begin slowly and steadily drizzling it into the eggs. If the syrup is ready before the eggs, it can be turned down or removed from the heat while the eggs finish, before being replaced on the heat to bring to temperature. If the eggs are ready before the syrup, stop mixing them until the syrup is almost ready. Turn them back to medium-high briefly before turning them back down and adding the syrup.

Once the syrup has all been added, turn the mixer back to medium-high and beat the frosting (what is basically marshmallow crème and is delectable all by itself) for 10-13 minutes until the bottom of the bowl is barely warm or at room temperature. It is important for it to not be too warm or the next step will not work.

Once cooled, add the butter a couple tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding another. Scrape down the bowl occasionally. Once all the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix briefly by hand to make sure there are no clumps of butter. If the frosting is a bit soupy (because it was too warm when the butter was added) stick it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, beat it again with the stand mixer. It should come together.

Assemble the cake. Place one cake on a cake stand. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally. Remove the top half and place it on a plate. Cover the cake on the stand with an even layer of blueberry jam. Place the top half of the cake on top and cover with frosting. Place the second cake on top and slice it in half horizontally. Remove the top half and cover the remaining half with the rest of the jam. Place the final layer of cake on top and cover the entire cake with a generous layer of frosting.

Draw the minion. Using a toothpick outline the minion shape. Fill in with colored frosting. Allow cake to set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Cake may be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap for up to 3 days or frozen, in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Notes

Additional cooling/chilling time is necessary

http://piesandplots.net/lemon-minion-cake/

Apple Crisp Granola Bars

Apple Crisp Granola Bars

I’m behind the times a lot. When I was young I was the last person to learn swear words. Jokes went over my head and the politics of being popular in school just didn’t click with me.

I’d like to think I’ve caught up since then. I try to stay up on fashion and entertainment. I follow news events and consider myself well read. But things always slip past me.

Apple Crisp Granola Bars

Like Harry Potter.

I remember buying the first book at a grade school book fair, but I couldn’t really get into it. I was probably a little too young. I’d like to go back to the books one day, but for now, I’ve started the movies.

Typically I watch a movie every Friday and Saturday night. Most of the time I find something in the new releases OnDemand, but this week, there were few choices. After scrolling through Amazon and trying to think of something, Mom suggested Harry Potter.

Neither of us were sure we’d like it, but it seemed as good an option as any.

Apple Crisp Granola Bars

I’m in love and obsessed and I’ve only seen the first movie. It’s smart and funny and cute. It has the right balance of seriousness without being terribly dark. I like the characters and find it reasonably easy to follow. Where have I been all these years?

At least I found it now, I guess. I’ll be finding more time to watch Harry Potter and you need to find some time to make these Apple Crisp Granola Bars. Luckily in the busy holiday season, you won’t have to find much time since these gluten free go to snack or breakfast treats are no bake.

They have all my favorite flavors from apple crisp – apples, oatmeal, cinnamon, nuts – plus a heaping helping of peanut butter. If there’s anything that could make apple crisp better, it’s peanut butter. You will love these chewy, crunchy, hearty, healthy bars. Don’t be late to this recipe :)

Apple Crisp Granola Bars

Apple Crisp Granola Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12 bars

Ingredients

2 ½ cups quick cooking oats (gluten free, if necessary)

1 ½ cups puffed rice cereal (gluten free, if necessary)

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

½ cup walnuts

½ dried apples, chopped

Instructions

Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.

In a large microwave safe bowl, combine peanut butter and honey. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for an additional minute. The mixture should be bubbling. If it is not, microwave for an additional 30 seconds.

Stir in the vanilla, followed by the oats, cereal, and cinnamon. Once well combined, stir in the walnuts and apples.

Pour into the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Using a sharp, preferably serrated knife, cut into bars. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about an hour.

Notes

Additional chilling time is necessary

http://piesandplots.net/apple-crisp-granola-bars/

Coffee Cake Cookies #Cookielicious

Coffee Cake Cookies

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s time to officially start the holiday baking season. What are you looking forward to baking? Maybe family favorites that you’ve made for years. Or some new and exciting recipes. Better yet, maybe you are planning to whip up some of each.

There is just something about the holidays that makes me want to bake. Somehow amid all the craziness, the parties, the shopping, the traveling, there is nothing more satisfying than whipping up cake batter or cookie dough and turning on the oven.

Coffee Cake Cookies

Coffee Cake Cookies

Maybe it’s the stress relief of beating sugar and butter into fluffy goodness. Or the intoxicating smell that can never really be replicated by a candle even if we wish it could. Then again, maybe it’s just the taste of the treat when it’s all done that instantly makes us smile.

Whatever the reason you bake, whether you do it for a party, gifts, or just a midnight snack while you’re doing a bit of online shopping, be sure to heat up that oven a few times this season.

Coffee Cake Cookies

Especially if you are making these Coffee Cake Cookies. What’s the best part of coffee cake? The crumbs, right? These cookies pretty much taste like a giant coffee cake crumb. It really doesn’t get better than that.

These are easy to make and so fun because they are different. In a season of decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men, these will stand out from the crowd and be the first to disappear. They melt in your mouth and have a light cinnamon flavor. These will be filling my oven again soon!

Coffee Cake Cookies

Coffee Cake Cookies #Cookielicious

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: About 20 cookies

Ingredients

Crumbs

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Cookies

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup shortening, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Make the crumbs. In a medium bowl, stir together butter, sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Put in the refrigerator while you prepare the cookies.

Make the cookies. In a medium bowl, stir together baking powder, salt, flour, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening, and sugars until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer will work as well. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Add the flour and mix until just combined. Scoop or spoon batter into about 3 tablespoon sized balls. Make an indentation in each cookie. Top with as many of the crumbs as you can get on the cookies.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until set. Serve warm or cool completely on the tray. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour or in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups

http://piesandplots.net/coffee-cake-cookies-cookielicious/

Don’t forget to check out all the other cookie offerings!

Plus, 20 Cookie Baking Tips and Holiday Cookie recipes from Sunday Supper

Join us for a #Cookielicious chat at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday, Dec. 1, on Twitter We will be sharing tips for cooking baking along with stories about our favorite family recipes. Follow the #Cookielicious hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great cookies recipes, check out our Cookie Jar Pinterest board.

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

Can you believe I’ve never baked anything with yogurt? Sure, I’ve eaten plenty of yogurt in my life, but I’ve never done anything more than open the container, grab a spoon, and dig in.

Luckily that all changed when I made this Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake. It is all of your holiday baking dreams come true. It’s super easy to make, you don’t even have to cream butter and sugar. The cake is big and beautiful, perfect for serving at a party or sharing with family and friends. Plus, it has that soft warm spice with cinnamon, ginger, and a hint of cloves.

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

I almost went with cranberries as the accent flavor in this cake but gingerbread cranberry cakes are a dime a dozen, yet coconut is an unexpected addition that you will love. The flavors pair well since ginger and coconut are both tropical ingredients. And considering I’m looking out at at least half a foot of snow, I’ll take the tropics in any form.

The cool thing about baking with yogurt is that it adds that incredible moisture without all the calories of sour cream or extra oil. The even better thing about this cake is that I used Almond Dream Coconut and Coconut Dream Vanilla yogurt, so not only did I add more coconut flavor to my cake, I kept it dairy free.

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

I have officially fallen in love with this yogurt. I know it is full of great ingredients since it’s non-GMO. Plus in the vanilla I could see real vanilla beans and in the coconut there were real pieces of toasted coconut. I can’t say that about many, maybe not any, other yogurts.

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

This cake also happens to be gluten free, which is so easy to do by using your favorite gluten free flour. As if this cake didn’t have enough going for it, from the texture of the coconut to the golden brown crust to the fluffy interior, it is both dairy and gluten free, so most of your guests will be able to enjoy it!

Whip up this cake for your holiday celebration and be sure to check out Almond Dream and Coconut Dream yogurts.

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

Gingerbread Coconut Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

3 cups gluten free flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup canola oil

½ cup pure maple syrup (or molasses for a richer cake)

3 large eggs

1 6 ounce container Almond Dream Coconut Yogurt

1 6 ounce container Coconut Dream Vanilla Yogurt

2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour a large Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, oil, syrup, eggs, and yogurt until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the coconut.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake for about 1 hour, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Gently loosen the cake from the pan and invert onto a serving plate. Cake may be served warm or room temperature. Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw in the microwave about 1 minute.

http://piesandplots.net/gingerbread-coconut-bundt-cake/

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Almond Dream and Coconut Dream Yogurts.  All opinions, as always, are mine.

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