Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Storytime!

I sometimes shout that when I or Mom or Dad have something to share.  It’s a fun exclamation to express my interest in sharing or hearing, which is almost always high.

I love talking and listening, connecting with people I love by sharing about our days and ourselves.  Plus, life is sometimes isolating and boring sitting at a computer and typing away all day, so storytime is something special.  Something to be savored.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

But I can’t take credit for the exclamation.

In my freshman year of high school, we were all required to take health.  The teacher was a down to earth woman who tried to relate to us as equals more than treat us as inferiors.  She was a pretty decent teacher, but the school didn’t appreciate her and let her go after that year, as opposed to some of the other teachers, like the old lady who never moved from her desk and formed coherent sentences only some of the time.  But I digress.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Health wasn’t a super difficult, heavy class like many of the others.  It was a fun, interactive way for us to learn about ourselves and how to make life the best it could be.  So she wanted to make it fun as much of the time as possible.

She would tell the class stories, to which the girls, most of whom were very popular and didn’t much care for me, would exclaim “storytime!”

In the moment, I probably found it annoying and rolled my eyes, just waiting for the day to be over.  But all these years later, more than I care to think about, I like it.  It brings me joy, as it did them then.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Storytime is always a good thing.  So are any desserts with melty marshmallows.  Like these Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars.  These take smores to a whole new level with an oatmeal cookie base that is soft and chewy.  In the middle are tons of peppermint marshmallows that add a fun, subtle flavor, though vanilla will work just fine, and carob in my case, or dark chocolate, in your case, chips.

Serve these warm out of the oven or heat them in the microwave for a few seconds to enhance the smores experience.  Gather the family, have smores bars, and storytime.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 9 large bars

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 heaping cups mini peppermint marshmallows
1 ½ cups carob or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter 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 one at a time followed by the vanilla.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir until a soft dough is formed. Press about half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with the marshmallows and chips. Spread clumps of the remaining dough on top, covering as much of the filling as possible.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Cool in pan at least 30 minutes before serving. Bars 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. Reheat or thaw in the microwave 30 – 60 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

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http://piesandplots.net/oatmeal-peppermint-smores-bars/

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

You can tell what day of the week it is by looking in our refrigerator.

We stock up on food one day of the week, typically Saturday or Sunday, unless we’re feeling wild and crazy and head to the grocery store on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I know, we’re major risk takers.

After that grocery store trip, okay, sometimes multiple grocery stores, the refrigerator is basically overflowing.  I try to organize it, but that’s hard when there is so much stuff.

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

There are the basics: water, milk, almond milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sliced cheese, eggs, egg beaters, butter, coffee drinks.  From there we move to coconut, chia seeds, and almond meal and onto washed fruit and vegetables.

Then there is the mess of produce bags with too much air because my dad and I haven’t learned the skills of tying the bags without adding enough air to fill five balloons.  The bags are stuffed into the crispers, the shelves, and even the doors when necessary.  Add to this maze of puffy bags the meat and fish and giant containers of lettuce and spinach, and immediately following the grocery store trips, the refrigerator is a take your life in your own hands adventure of finding that one thing you are looking for that inevitably is lurking in the very back, buried under and behind bag after bag after bag.

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

As the week wears on, the contents dwindle.  Since we eat the vast majority of our meals at home, food goes rather quickly.  By the end of the week, a slam of the refrigerator door reverberates a hollow noise as I know it is time to stock up once again.

Though I try to run a tight ship in the refrigerator, sometimes things get away from me.  I realized my bag of coconut was about to expire and I couldn’t live with that, so I made cookies.  Obviously.

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

These Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies are sooooo easy to make and have such a great texture.  All the oatmeal and big coconut flakes make these cookies super interesting.  But then there are the melty chips and gooey undercooked center that add that decadence we all love about cookies.

The coconut oil may be my favorite thing about these cookies.  It’s not something I bake with a lot, but I should totally start.  The cookies aren’t super coconutty but have a rich flavor and texture that I don’t think butter brings to cookies.

My freezer is stocked up with of goodies like these cookies, and yours should be too!

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup quick oats
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup melted coconut oil (be sure to measure it once it is melted – it’s about 1 cup solid)
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup carob or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add oats, flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing until just combined.
  3. Mix in the coconut and chips until well distributed. You may need to us your hands as the dough is very thick.
  4. Divide the dough into golf ball sized portions. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and beginning to set. Serve warm or cool completely on the tray. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour or in the microwave about 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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http://piesandplots.net/coconut-oatmeal-chip-cookies/

Homemade Twix Bars #SundaySupper

Homemade Twix Bars

Lots of people have Thanksgiving traditions and many of them are the same.  Travel.  Family.  Cooking.  Baking.  Turkey.  Pie.  Football.  Leftovers.  Shopping.  More leftovers.  More shopping.  More travel.  Lots of crowds.

And I think all those traditions and whatever others you may have are great.

Homemade Twix Bars

But I bet you aren’t surprised to know those aren’t my traditions for the most part.  My Thanksgivings are quiet days, just Mom and Dad and me.  We actually have started this new tradition where we go shopping the day before Thanksgiving.  It’s my favorite!

There aren’t any crowds and a lot of the sales have already begun.  This year I picked up an awesome dress at Saks I can’t wait to show all of you!!  It’s fun, low key, and this year was a great way to get out on a rainy, yucky day.

Homemade Twix Bars

On Thanksgiving, the only traditional food we have is cranberry sauce (not out of the can).  Otherwise we have steaks or tacos and it’s just the three of us.  No pressure.  Not too much work.  No drama.  There aren’t many leftovers and save for a little shopping by Dad on Black Friday, we leave the crowds to everyone else.

That’s my Thanksgiving and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  For me it is perfect.  For you something else may be and I hope that is exactly what you had over the holidays 🙂

Homemade Twix Bars

For dessert, we skipped pies and pumpkin and all that and had homemade Twix Bars.  These are everything I remember a Twix to before my allergy and oh so much more.

The shortbread base is the star here.  It is thick and crumbly and practically melts in your mouth.  Then there is the gooey caramel that stretches when you bite into the bar.  It all finishes with the slightly bitter carob (in my case) or chocolate coating, snapping as you take a bite.  Make sure these are a part of your holiday season!

Homemade Twix Bars

Homemade Twix Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: About 24 bars

Ingredients

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 batch homemade caramel or store bought
18 ounces carob or dark or milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Instructions

  1. Make the shortbread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, cornmeal, and salt and mix until a stiff dough is formed. Spread into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.
  3. Bake shortbread 20-25 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and mostly set.
  4. While the shortbread bakes, make the caramel or warm the store-bought caramel. Pour the hot caramel over the slightly cooled shortbread. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight until completely chilled.
  5. Once the caramel and shortbread are chilled, cut into long, thin bars. Melt the carob or chocolate with the shortening in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. I recommend doing this in two batches.
  6. Carefully dip each of the bars in the chocolate and use a spoon or your fingers to coat completely. Set on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Once all bars are set, serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

Shortbread base adapted from Ashley Rodriguez via Craftsy

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http://piesandplots.net/homemade-twix-bars-sundaysupper/

Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!  Thanks to Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting!

Baked Goods

Candy

Chocolate

Jams, Syrups, Drinks

Mixes and Spices

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 7:00 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.

Black Forest Sheet Cake

Black Forest Sheet Cake

Do you have a hidden talent?  Mom and I have debated this quite a bit lately having watched America’s Got Talent and the hidden talent competition on the Today show.  And it was decided that we do not have hidden talents.

But as suggested to me by Kim The Ninja Baker I do have a hidden talent.  And my friends that talent is pitting cherries.

Black Forest Sheet Cake

I pit cherries.  Lots of them.  Cherries for smoothies, cherries for pies and cakes and sauces on top of ice cream.  Cherries in kale salads and paired with cottage cheese.  Probably over a hundred, maybe two hundred, cups every summer.

I did have a stainless steel cherry pitter that I was using, but I used it so much that I broke it.  That’s right, I snapped the metal cherry pitter right in half.  So now I just do it by hand.  Split open the cherry and pull the pit out.

This is easy to do with sour cherries in particular because they are soft, but once you get in the groove with any kind of cherry, it’s not so bad.  I told you how I pitted nine cups of cherries for the popsicles last Sunday in twenty minutes.  This is my summer routine.

Black Forest Sheet Cake

And I never mind doing it.  Not only because cherries are so delicious in so many different things, but because it is a relaxing, mindless activity that washes stress away and makes me feel better as I get in the rhythm.  Just make sure you double check cherries if they are going into the blender.  Better safe than sorry when it comes to wayward pits being blended into oblivion.

I pitted more cherries for this Black Forest Sheet Cake.  After seeing all the black forest masterpieces on the Great British Baking Show, I was inspired.  I took a classic chocolate cake and made it with carob of course, but cocoa powder will work just fine.

Black Forest Sheet Cake

Then I topped it with a thick and jammy cherry compote and a rich chocolate/carob glaze.  The end result is a rich, messy cake that is totally irresistible.  The cake is deep and dark and packed with that classic chocolate flavor, intensified with coffee.  The cherries are sweet, the perfect foil, and the drippy glaze rounds the whole thing out.

Do yourself a favor and pit some cherries and make this sheet cake.  Your next summer get together will be even better with it for dessert.

Black Forest Sheet Cake

Black Forest Sheet Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 18 servings

Ingredients

Cake

2 cups granulated sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup carob or cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

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

1 cup brewed coffee, cooled

½ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cherry Compote

4 cups Bing cherries, pitted

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Glaze

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond, use what you love)

1/3 cup carob or cocoa powder

1 stick unsalted butter

1 box confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and lightly flour it.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, carob or cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, coffee, oil, and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until a thin batter is formed. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 30 -35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

While the cake bakes, make the compote. In a small saucepan combine the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil. Continue to boil, still stirring frequently, for 3 or 4 minutes, until the mixture has thickened significantly. Set aside.

Make the glaze. In a medium bowl, stir together the milk and carob or cocoa powder. Add the butter and microwave for 1 minute. If the butter is not melted, microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. Add the vanilla and slowly stir in the sugar until a thick yet spreadable glaze is formed.

Spoon the cherry compote over the baked, but still hot cake. Spread it into an even layer. Spread the glaze evenly over the cake. Serve warm or cool completely in pan. Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in pieces in parchment and foil and placed in zipper bags for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave for 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

http://piesandplots.net/black-forest-sheet-cake/

Mexican Chocolate Pudding #SundaySupper

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

A few weeks ago we had a Sunday Supper celebrating Greek cuisine.  I already ate all the leftovers of the walnut cake in the freezer.  So good!

We were talking about the new movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and I mentioned that I saw the first movie in the theater years ago and wasn’t the biggest fan.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

However, all the talk about the movie made me want to revisit it.  I wanted to see what made it the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time.  So I recorded it on my TiVo (yes I still have a TiVo and love it) and Mom and I watched it over a couple evenings.

I have to say I really enjoyed it.  I’m so glad I gave it another try and with fifteen or so years of perspective, I really got and appreciated it.  I may also have related just a little too much to Toula.

The story was funny, touching, and for the most part not too over the top like I thought it would be and remembered.  It is really a simple love story that lacks a lot of the glitz, glamour, and cheesiness of a lot of the rom coms out there.  Not that I don’t like a great rom com sometimes.

It just goes to show that sometimes things are worth revisiting with an open mind.  Like the combination of sweet and spicy.  I’ve tried it before and it’s not really my thing, but with this Sunday Supper’s theme of Spice is Nice and Some Like it Hot, I knew I had to give that whole sweet and spicy thing another go.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

So I made Mexican Chocolate Pudding.  Pudding is such a great thing to make – it’s easy, gluten free, and relatively healthy.  And I loved this.

Well … I loved it cold when the chili powder mellowed.  Warm the chili powder was the predominant flavor and overpowered everything else.  But after being chilled, I kind of wanted to eat the entire batch of pudding.  Seriously … all of it.

The chocolate (or in my case carob) shines through in the silky smooth pudding with a hint of cinnamon and chili powder.  I loved the cinnamon on top too.  Today we should all revisit something maybe we didn’t give enough of a chance in the past.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

Mexican Chocolate Pudding #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cocoa or carob powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ - ½ teaspoon chili powder

1 large egg

¼ cup carob or dark chocolate chips

2 cups milk (I used skim – use what you love)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon, for garnish

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa or carob powder, cornstarch, cinnamon, chili powder, egg, and carob or chocolate chips.

Place the pan over medium heat and whisk in the milk. Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens significantly.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Continue whisking until the butter is completely melted.

Pour into serving vessels and place into the refrigerator until chilled, at least 4 hours. You may cover it with plastic wrap if you wish to prevent a skin from forming. Garnish with additional cinnamon or chili powder if you’re adventurous and serve. Pudding may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

Additional chilling time is necessary Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Paper

http://piesandplots.net/mexican-chocolate-pudding-sundaysupper/

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

Aromatic Appetizers

Distinctive Drinks

Daring Desserts

Masterful Mains

Seasoned Sides

Plus Homemade Ginger Ale and Spice is Nice Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

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 7:00 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.

Carob Cherry Crumb Bars #SundaySupper

Carob Cherry Crumb Bars

Many of you probably know that I live in Michigan … and also that I wish I lived in California.

It’s not necessarily that Michigan is a bad place to live.  Okay, in the winter it’s just not my thing.  Living somewhere that makes me want to stay inside for roughly six months of the year seems like a bad way to live if you ask me.

But this time of year and into summer and then fall, assuming we don’t go directly from snow to 80s back to snow again, there is something quite nice about it.  The bright blue sky, the flowers, hummingbirds, trees, it’s all very nice.

There are many lakes in the area that are beautiful.  Ornamental flowering trees are very popular and stunning as they bust out overnight and then slowly transition into leafy behemoths.  It’s so nice to head out to some of the hottest new restaurants, in what has become a foodie town.

Carob Cherry Crumb Bars

But at the end of the day, I don’t really think Michigan is where I belong.  I feel like my ambition, red lipstick, and Louboutins would fit in much better in California than here where I get odd looks as though I am from outer space … or maybe just California.

Still, I am here in Michigan … for now.  In addition to all those other nice things I mentioned, the coming of warm weather brings with it many wonderful foods: ramps, asparagus, blueberries, and of course cherries.

Michigan is the cherry capital.  While many varieties of cherries are grown here, it is perhaps best known for tart cherries.  I love finding fresh ones, but those aren’t quite out yet, so I picked up some dried tart cherries.  They make a great snack, but they are even better in these Carob Cherry Crumb Bars.

Carob Cherry Crumb Bars

I must admit, I didn’t really feel like making these bars the other day and Mom didn’t think they sounded that good.  But I had signed up for this hometown celebration Sunday Supper and so I forged ahead.

I am glad I did.  These bars … they are incredible.  I think they may have been intended to be drier and more shortbread or cake like, but mine are ooey gooey and fudgy.  The bottom is a little shortbread-y, while the filling is practically molten with plump dried cherries in nearly every bite.  The top is a bit crumbly and sandy with the snap of carob chips.

Chocolate can absolutely be substituted for the carob.  Whichever you use, make sure you try these bars, because I promise you will love them wherever you live.

Carob Cherry Crumb Bars

Carob Cherry Crumb Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: 9 large bars

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries

2 ½ sticks unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup water

½ cup carob or cocoa powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut, toasted

2 cups plus 7 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large egg

2 tablespoons pineapple vodka

½ cup carob or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch square pan. Line it with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang and butter the parchment.

Bring cherries, 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in an additional ¼ cup of granulated sugar. Set aside.

Whisk together carob or cocoa powder, salt, brown sugar, coconut, and 2 cups flour. Blend in remaining 2 ¼ sticks butter, cut into small cubes, using a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press 3 cups of this mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together egg, remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, and pineapple vodka until well combined. Stir in the dried cherry mixture as well as the remaining 7 ½ tablespoons of flour. Spread mixture over baked crust.

Stir the carob or chocolate chips into the remaining crumb mixture and spread over the filling.

Bake about 50 additional minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bars comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan. Once cool, lift out of pan using parchment and cut into bars. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 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.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

http://piesandplots.net/carob-cherry-crumb-bars-sundaysupper/

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

Appetizers:

Beverages:

Breakfast:

Salads:

Sauces:

Side Dishes:

Soups:

Main Dish:

Desserts:

Plus Rhubarb Steamed Pudding and Favorite Regional Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

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 7:00 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

Microwave Peep S’mores

Microwave Peeps S'mores

I always overdo it on buying candy.  Easter candy.  Christmas candy.  Halloween candy.  Candy.

Sure, somehow it all gets eaten eventually, but my pantry is pretty much literally overflowing with bag after bag after bag of the sweet stuff.  And behind all those bags is a stack of boxes of Peeps.

I am one of those people that loves Peeps.  Especially the Gingerbread ones.  If you haven’t tried those yet DO IT!  Sometimes I melt them onto a Gingerbread Pop Tart, but that’s another story.

Microwave Peeps S'mores

I have a plethora of Peeps in the pantry.  Bunnies.  Chicks.  Pink.  Blue.  Yellow.  Minions.  Gingerbread.  Hearts.  Peeps.  Lots and lots of Peeps.

And right about now I bet you have more than you know what to do with as well.  Luckily I’m here to help with a super simple recipe that’s ready in about 2 minutes and will have the whole family asking for seconds.  Before long, you’ll be going to the store to buy more Peeps.

What is this amazing recipe?  Microwave Peep S’mores.  It only takes three ingredients – chocolate or carob, graham crackers, and of course Peeps – and it is so easy to prepare because it’s made in the microwave.

Microwave Peeps S'mores

While this doesn’t exactly recreate that classic campfire s’mores flavor, it’s a trick Mom has used for years and years to make s’mores year round without fuss.  In fact, I think I’ve only had s’mores made this way.

You end up with a crispy graham cracker topped with melty chocolate and an ooey gooey marshmallow with crunchy sugar on the outside.  It’s the perfect combination of textures and flavors.  Your leftover Easter candy dilemma has officially been solved.

Microwave Peeps S'mores

Microwave Peep S’mores

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 4 minutes

Yield: 2 s'mores

Ingredients

2 graham cracker sheets, broken in half

2 tablespoons carob or chocolate chips

4 Peep bunnies

Instructions

Place 2 pieces of graham cracker on a microwave safe plate. Top each with 1 tablespoon of carob or chocolate chips. Microwave in 30 second increments until the chips are mostly melted. Mine took 1 minute.

Place 2 bunnies on each of the graham crackers and microwave about an additional 30 seconds. Keep your eye on it and stop when the bunnies are super puffy.

Top with the remaining graham crackers and serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe is easily multiplied - and trust me, you'll want to multiply it!

http://piesandplots.net/microwave-peep-smores/

 

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

People are often surprised at how much I eat, particularly when it comes to dessert.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the time it’s oatmeal, wild fish, and kale.  All foods I love just as much as treats.

I can eat the crispy skin from two pounds of king salmon no problem.  I devour blueberries like they are going extinct.  And on those days when I eat dessert, I sometimes can’t stop.

This is okay with me; we all have and need cheat days.  They keep me sane and satisfied.  They keep life fun, and since I exercise and eat right most of the time, they are a healthy and natural part of my life.

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

These Fudgy Frosted Brownies are one of those desserts I couldn’t stop eating.  Hot out of the oven with the frosting melting all over the place, they are just ridiculously good.  And then even when cooled they have a fudge like texture that is truly unbeatable.

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

My parents couldn’t stop talking about how rich they thought they were, though delicious, and I just wanted MORE!  If you don’t have a giant sweet tooth like me, you may only want a small piece, otherwise, be prepared to give these away to friends and neighbors and coworkers and basically everyone because you will need to get them out of the house before you eat the whole pan.

These decadent brownies are easy to make.  I made them with carob (which you should really try because it’s fab!) but cocoa will work too.  And I have a super fun recipe using them coming up on Sunday, so don’t miss it!

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: About 24 brownies

Ingredients

Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

½ cup carob or cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Frosting

½ stick unsalted butter, very soft

¼ cup milk (I used almond, use what you love)

¼ cup carob or cocoa powder

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, stir together butter, carob or cocoa, and sugar until well combined. Add the flour. Then stir in the eggs and vanilla until the batter comes together.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

While the brownies bake, make the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together butter, milk, and carob. I did this by hand but a hand or stand mixer will work. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until a spreadable frosting is formed. If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more milk. If it is too thin, add some more sugar.

Spread the frosting over the hot brownies. Serve warm or cool completely in pan before storing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Brownies may also be frozen, individually, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw in the microwave about 30 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

http://piesandplots.net/fudgy-frosted-brownies/

Graham Cracker Toffee

Graham Cracker Toffee

I don’t know why I even check the weather.  I think I would be better at predicting it than the meteorologists.

Right now I’m supposed to be looking out the window at chilly rain, which is better than what I am looking at: snow.  At least two inches of it.  It’s supposed to turn to rain, but I’m not holding my breath.

Someone with an arthritic knee would be better at telling me what to expect with the weather.  Over the weekend, they were upwards of ten degrees off on the temperatures.  Predicted rain and clouds were replaced by sun.

Graham Cracker Toffee

Playing the lottery seems to be more of a sure thing than watching a weather forecast.  And I don’t understand that.

In the world of radar and satellite and all that technology that I certainly don’t understand, how is weather prediction so inaccurate?

Once upon a time, I took a meteorology class.  Let me tell you, it is difficult and confusing.  People who actually go to school to learn this craft and retain all that information are impressive.  But how all that training and learning and terminology can turn into forecasts that are consistently so wrong is beyond me.

Graham Cracker Toffee

At least if they are going to be wrong, it would be preferable if the weather turned out better than anticipated, instead of worse.  But such is winter in Michigan.  #californiadreaming

So instead of going shopping today like I had planned, I think I’ll make another batch of this Graham Cracker Toffee.

Um … it’s pretty much graham cracker crack.  It’s super addictive and I couldn’t stop taking little bites here and there and basically stuffing my face with it.  It’s very easy to make, though is definitely on the sweet side.  A nice sprinkle of sea salt really balances it out.  This would make an awesome gift as well.

Whatever the weather, make this toffee, it’s sure to be more predictable than Mother Nature.

Graham Cracker Toffee

Graham Cracker Toffee

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Varies

Ingredients

10-12 graham cracker sheets

1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter

1 ½ cups dark chocolate or carob chips

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

1 cup toasted pecans

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Fill the tray with an even layer of graham crackers, breaking them up to fit as necessary.

In a small saucepan melt the sugar and butter. Bring it to a boil and boil for three minutes. Immediately pour over the graham crackers. Be careful – the mixture is very hot. Spread to cover the graham crackers evenly.

Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the toffee is super bubbly. Allow to sit while you melt the chocolate.

In a microwave safe bowl, place the chocolate or carob chips and the shortening. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. Pour over the graham crackers and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with pecans and salt, pressing them in slightly so they stick.

Cool toffee in the pan completely, about 4 hours. Break into pieces and serve. Toffee may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

Additional cooling time is necessary

http://piesandplots.net/graham-cracker-toffee/

 

S’mores Strawberries

S'mores Strawberries

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us.  Whether you think of it as nothing more than a Hallmark holiday for people who are actually in love or you think it’s the sweetest holiday since it celebrates something as amazing and illusive as love, it’s a good excuse to eat an amazing treat or two.

All of us single gals need to drown our sorrows in dessert and cheesy movies that represent love as it probably never will be in the real world.

S'mores Strawberries

And all of you love birds need to celebrate your significant other and the fact that Cupid brought you together.  Or something like that.

While you could definitely spend all day in the kitchen making something like my Brooklyn Blackout Cake, these S’mores Strawberries will totally do the trick without all the work.

S'mores Strawberries

They are fun and easy to make and full of textures and flavors.  I distinctly remember the first time I had a chocolate covered strawberry.  It was from Godiva and probably five dollar, which 15 or so years ago was a lot of money for one giant strawberry.  I think I shared it with my baby sitter after lunch at Olive Garden.

I really liked the strawberry … and Olive Garden, so maybe my tween judgment can’t be trusted.  Since I developed my chocolate allergy, those strawberries have vanished from my life.  So I made my own with carob, but feel free to use your favorite dark chocolate.

S'mores Strawberries

After washing and drying the strawberries, I hulled them and filled the center with gooey marshmallow fluff.  Then I dipped them in chocolate and crushed graham crackers.  It’s a messy process, but lots of fun and well worth it when you pop the juicy strawberry with the gooey marshmallow the snappy carob/chocolate and crunchy graham crackers in your mouth.

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, be sure to do it with these S’mores Strawberries.

S'mores Strawberries

S’mores Strawberries

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 minute

Total Time: 16 minutes

Yield: 20 Strawberries

Ingredients

20 strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup carob or dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

2 graham cracker sheets, finely crushed

Instructions

Place the strawberries on a parchment lined baking sheet. Fill each one with marshmallow fluff. It’s okay if they are overfull.

Melt the chocolate or carob with the shortening in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted.

Spoon chocolate or carob over the cut and marshmallow filled end of the berry. Cover that end completely and dip immediately in graham cracker crumbs.

Place strawberries back on parchment. Repeat with remaining berries. Allow to set for about 1 hour. Best served immediately. Berries may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days.

http://piesandplots.net/smores-strawberries/

 

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