Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}As the summer progresses, I find myself wishing my kids were a bit more self sufficient.

I may be doing too much for them and I have decided to try and incorporate more age appropriate chores into their routine.  As you can probably imagine, they are thrilled.  Is anyone else struggling with responsibility and their kids?  Laundry folding, simple food prep, emptying the dishwasher; that kind of thing.  They are doing great so far, but they really really want to be more help in the kitchen.  My nine year old, Evelyn, has graduated to making pancakes all on her own and is getting more and more comfortable with the gas stove.  Eli, who is 6, is a master at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and making sure everyone has milk poured into their cereal.  Lane, our three year old bundle of spiciness, just wants to be where everyone else is and make a giant mess.  Pretty normal for a toddler.

But these treats, which will grace our Fourth of July BBQ buffet this year, is the perfect task for all three.  Regardless of how neat or how messy they turn out, they will taste amazing.  There is nothing to cook, and the most dangerous utensil is a butter spreader.  What my kids find fascinating about it is that we can change up the sprinkles to suit any occasion.  Birthday themes, Christmas, or even NO sprinkles (God forbid…) on just a Saturday night.

My point is, if you have a ridiculous amount of stuff to do this weekend, why not give this recipe to your kids and say “Go to it!”  It can only end in fun.  And who knows?!  Maybe they will starting bringing you pancakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in bed!
Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Chocolate Fluffernutter Sandwich Treats that are perfect for Independence Day!  Super easy and a great kid activity too! {Brittany's Pantry}Want the full recipe?  Click on this link to head over to the Columbia Moms Blog to see my post there!

Happy Independence Day, friends!!

Sweet Treats & Summer Fun

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareFunshine #CollectiveBias Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}There are few things in this world as satisfying as ice cream on a hot day.

This seems to be a universal joy across all age groups and now that I live in South Carolina, I take my position as hostess on 100 degree days very seriously.  At this point in time in my life, there are always kids at my house and that is often my focus when entertaining.  When kids are happy, the parents are happy, and then everyone can relax.  And isn’t that what we all want out of our get togethers?  To have fun, laugh, chill, and really connect with our family and friends?  That is how memories are made and where relationships flourish.  If I can accomplish all of that and enjoy my time as well, I call that being a successful hostess.

I used to do everything from scratch and while it was exhausting, I really loved it.  The older I get, the more I realize that it isn’t the food that is served, but the time spent with each other that is remembered.  I have found an easy way to serve the ever popular ice cream in a fun and festive way!  Not only is it something I can do ahead (score!) but it is incredibly easy with maximum impact.

That happens with these Snickers® Ice Cream Bars and right now they are starting of the summer with some fun!! Do YOU want to get in on the action?  You can learn all about how to enter the sweepstakes to Share A Little Funshine by clicking here.

Share a Little Funshine Sweepstakes

Snickers® Ice Cream Bars are pretty incredible all on their own.  I am actually pretty choosy with my ice cream and these are one of the lucky few that make their way into my freezer from time to time.  Why?  Because with chocolate, caramel, peanuts, and ice cream all combined in one bite, it is pretty hard to resist.  I have always loved these treats and with kids, I wanted an easier way to serve them.
Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}Enter these frozen pops!  This is so easy, its shameful!  Unwrap a Snickers® Ice Cream Bar and OH so very carefully, insert a wooden popsicle stick into one end, going about halfway up the stick.  Immediately place the ice cream back in the freezer (we want them to stay really frozen) and continue with as many as you would like to make. Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}See the cute little ribbons in the pic above?  So easy.  Just knot on any kind of ribbon you like, although the 1/4 inch wide seems to work the best for this.  Customize your colors to a birthday party, bbq theme, Memorial Day celebration, July 4th, or use whatever you have on hand.  This is a great way to get kids involved with prepping for a get together and you can make as many or as few as you need.  Since they are stored in the freezer, simply set them on a decorative plate and serve.  No messy fingers, and even adults can walk and chat and munch on their ice cream.  Even better if you have a bonfire going and you can simply toss the sticks into the flames.  No clean up!Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}Did you know that these come in a value box too?  So much easier when feeding a crowd!  I picked these up at Walmart and they couldn’t be easier to locate!  Follow the ICE CREAM sign and voila!
IMG_6509There are so many ways to enjoy time with friends and family this summer and it doesn’t stop with ice cream!  Having a few extras on hand can be a great way to celebrate warmer days and enjoy that occasional treat!  In addition you can download the Blippar app from your Apple or Android store to scan your package and receive exclusive content.Snickers Ice Cream Bars and Summertime Fun {Brittany's Pantry}Peanut M&M’s® are my go to treat when I want something chocolatey.

Which are your favorite to share with friends and family?  Are you a Plain M&M® kind of person?  Or a chewy Skittles® fan?

Creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryWhen my kids bust through the door when they get home from school, the inevitable question is, “Can I have a snack?”

My answer is always an predictable, sure! Then I precede to tell them what they are allowed to have.  The list usually encompasses all things they can get themselves that take no prep work. Carrots and hummus, an apple or banana, crackers and pimento cheese, applesauce, a granola bar, etc. Every once in awhile though, I like to  totally surprise them with something special, and since our lives are a bit stressful right now with building and moving, they TOTALLY deserved something out of the ordinary.

Enter, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip.  I have made this before, but it was so long ago, none of my kids remembered it. I figured that was a good excuse to make it again, no?  It is a bit like cookie dough, but I am kind of a purist when it comes to snacking on it and generally like to eat the real thing-eggs and all-right out of the bowl.

I’m a rebel that way.

But this dish is different.  While it has all the flavors or cookie dough, it isn’t trying to imitate it, but rather pay homage to it.  If a dessert dip can really do that…

Make it ahead and add a scoop to your kids lunches, enjoy when the day is done, or take a batch to the office.  Who can resist mini chocolate chips and cream cheese? Who would want to, for that matter.  With the graham crackers, it really does taste like cheesecake! A little bit goes a long way so be sure to share. Oh! What the heck am I saying.  Keep it all to yourself if you like.  I won’t tell.
Creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryCreamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryCreamy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 stick (1/2 c) butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1-8 oz-package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
graham crackers, pretzels, vanilla wafers, etc for serving

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over low heat, stirring frequently.  Once the sugar is dissolved, set it aside to cool.  In the meantime, add the cream cheese and powdered sugar to a medium bowl and combine with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add vanilla, and beat together.  Pour in the cooled brown sugar and butter mixture, and beat until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Dip can be made up to a day ahead, sealed in an airtight container in the fridge.  Serve with whatever dippers sound good to you!  I love graham crackers and pretzels but feel free to experiment!

Sweet Pineapple Casserole

Sweet Pineapple Casserole is a cross between bread pudding and pineapple upside down cake!  And it goes great with HAM! {Brittany's Pantry}Just a quick post to pass along a favorite side dish recipe.  Just in time for Easter!

About a bazillion years ago, a sweet southern woman served me this kind of baked, scalloped, pineapple, bread, thing.  I was hooked.  I have no idea what she called it, but we ate it with breakfast and I have been dreaming about it ever since.  With a holiday coming up that has a meal traditionally centered around ham, I thought this was the perfect time to bring that tasty memory to reality.

To be honest, I don’t really remember if this is anything like the version I ate all those years ago, but I love it so much I don’t really care anymore.  This stuff is addictive.  In the past few weeks, I have eaten it with burgers, breakfast, and yes, some roasted meat.  All good.  All very very good.  It is like the jack-of-all-trades of the side dish world.  I’ve seen this wonderfulness served with Thanksgiving dinner as well as brunch.  It is at home alongside quiche as well as barbecue.  And yes, you can be sure it will be crazy good with that ham you will be making in a few days.

Pineapple and ham?  Perfect.
Sweet Pineapple Casserole is a cross between bread pudding and pineapple upside down cake!  And it goes great with HAM! {Brittany's Pantry}Sweet Pineapple Casserole

1 stick of butter (1/2 c) of softened butter
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-20 oz can of chunked pineapple, drained
1 small loaf of french bread, cut into 1 inch chunks (4-5 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray or butter a small casserole dish or glass 9X9 dish.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until incorporated.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Fold in the pineapple and the bread cubes until well mixed and bread is coated.  Pour into greased dish and spread evenly.  Bake until bubbly in the center and golden brown on top, 35-40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Cornflake Cookies

Cornflake Cookies are a perfectly crunchy treat! {Brittany's Pantry}Cornflake cookies.  Have you heard of these?

My Mom made these cookies all the time when I was growing up and they were always one of my favorites.  The irresistible crunchiness of the cereal in them is incredibly appealing to a kid, but when I recently tested a batch and served them to a crowd of adults, the response was overwhelming.  Apparently, grown-ups like crunchy cereal in their cookies too!  I thought that everyone made them until recently when I took a very un-scientific poll and discovered that no one I knew had ever had one before.  So I decide to SHARE THEM WITH THE WORLD!

If you are wondering what they are like, imagine a chewy sugar cookie with LOTS of texture.  They have just a bit of oatmeal in them to give them a nice heartiness, but the crispy crunch of the cornflakes makes them fun and kind of addictive.  Like most cookies, these freeze particularly great so be sure to mix up a double batch and tuck a few away.  Snuck into a lunch box for school or nibbled on with a late night cup of tea, they are equally scrumptious for the whole family.  Don’t worry.  I won’t make you share yours with the world.
Cornflake Cookies are a perfectly crunchy treat! {Brittany's Pantry}Cornflake Cookies
You can use traditional rolled oats in this recipe, but the finer texture of the quick cooking just seems to work better here.  To crush the cornflakes, place 1 1/2 cups in a zip top plastic bag and crush with your hands.  You don’t want crumbs or powder, so just scrunch them up until there are no big flakes.

3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 c crushed corn flakes (about 1 1/2 c from the box)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla and combine.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Scoop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a sprayed or parchment lined sheet pan.  Flatten slightly with your hands, then bake for 9-10 minutes, or until just golden brown around the edges.  Let cookies cool and set on the pan for a few minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Quick & Easy Lemon Bars

Quick & Easy Lemon Bars via Brittany's PantryI have confessed previously-not sure when, but I know I did at some point in time-that I love all things citrus.  I take after my Mother in that respect.  It is true that I inherited her facial features and love of music, but my Mom also loves all things lemon, and that is what we are focusing on today kids.

When I was a young, we returned home from school to lemon bars, still warm on the counter, more times than I can count.  If Mom was craving something sweet, she made lemon bars.  They were the first treat I saw her make where you had to bake them twice and I thought that was just about the coolest thing ever.  The bars were quick to throw together and it made a 9 inch square pan.  With eight people in the family taking some, there were no leftovers for the next day.  And she wouldn’t just make lemon bars.  She made a killer lemon meringue pie (another scientific phenomenon that I though was so neat), but more often than not, she would pull out the recipe and just make the lemon filling.  We would all spoon hot, freshly made lemon pudding into our bowls and rarely get around to actually rolling out a crust, or whipping up the egg whites she had saved after using the yolks in the custard.  It was the rich, lemony-ness that she wanted and let me tell you.  It is hard to beat a rich homemade lemon custard.

I still think of my Mom any time I see or eat a lemon bar.  Which are generally at the same time because if I see it, you can sure as heck bet on the fact that I am going to eat it too.  The smell of them baking reminds me of our family kitchen, and eating them almost always prompts me to turn to my children and say, “Do you know who else loves lemon bars?  Namma!”  The kids cheer and I laugh, hopefully passing along the same sweet memories I had as a kid.  It is something special for my children to know; that they have things in common with their extended family, despite the dozen or so states that currently separate us.  It makes them feel closer.

Although I can’t help but wonder if my Mom somehow just knows when I pull a fresh pan of lemon bars, hot out of the oven, and set them on the counter as my kids arrive home from school…Quick & Easy Lemon Bars via Brittany's PantryQuick & Easy Lemon Bars via Brittany's Pantry Lemon Bars
I have said it before and I will say it again-I LOVE LEMON BARS.  I have been making different versions of them for as long as I can remember, but only recently settled on this recipe.  Go figure, it was the first one I ever scribbled down for myself to test, hoping that they would turn out since I had completely guessed at all the measurements.  Over the years I started adding a bit of cream to the filling, trying to mellow out the tang a bit.  I know there is no zest in here but trust me when I say that you won’t miss it.  These are not a super crazy, take you an hour to make, kind of bar.  They are as streamlined and simple as I could make them, without sacrificing flavor.  I may post another recipe sometime, making a fancier, more involved bar.  But for now, when I want lemon bars, I make these.  They never disappoint.

Crust:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, barely melted

Filling:
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1/4 c lemon juice (taste testers surprisingly preferred the flavor of the batch made with bottled lemon juice instead of fresh, but its your call)
1 T flour
1 T heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray or grease a 9X9 inch pan, preferably glass.
Combine all the of the crust ingredients and press into the prepared dish, making sure the crust is even.  Bake for 15 minutes.  While the crust bakes, whisk all the filling ingredients together until smooth.  When crust is done, remove the pan, give the filling one last whip, and pour the lemon mixture over the hot crust.  Return the pan (carefully) to the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is JUST SET!  Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.  Cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Store bars in the fridge for 2-3 days, tightly sealed.

Watergate Cake

Watergate Cake is a super easy, retro dessert that is right at home at  a church potluck or family dinner! Taste the nostalgia! {Brittany's Pantry}Once upon a time, there was a wonderfully sweet and precocious, curly haired little girl who had gone to visit her Grandmother’s farm.

This farm was a very special place.  It was often the location of summer family reunions and get togethers; the yard and nearby orchard overflowing with Aunts and Uncles and Cousins.  During one such visit, the little girl’s Aunt Mary handed her a small, white plate with a big square of moist, green cake on it.  It was covered with a fluffy cream that looked so light and airy it seemed to have been pulled right from the clouds above!  The girl slowly picked up a fork and took a bite.  As the rich, sweet confection hit her tongue, the little girl’s eyes grew round with wonder and delight!

“Aunt Mary!  Pray tell, what is this amazing treat you have passed to me that is the color of spring leaves and 70’s avocado kitchen cabinets?!  What angel led you to this enchanted cake made from magical ingredients?”

Aunt Mary smiled angelically and leaned down close to the little girl.  “My sweet, sweet child,” she said.  “This is, Watergate Cake.”

All of a sudden, the clouds parted and sunshine streamed down on us.  The chorus of ‘Hallelujah’ began to play and soon rose to a thundering crescendo of praise!  Watergate Cake!  The little girl’s life was forever changed for the better and from that day on, she would remember that day as ‘The Day of the Watergate Cake.’

True story.
Watergate Cake is a super easy, retro dessert that is right at home at  a church potluck or family dinner! Taste the nostalgia! {Brittany's Pantry}All right.

So maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that.  But its pretty close to my first taste of this fantastic dessert.  It doesn’t get much more retro and nostalgic than green cake made with instant pudding, so if you ever wondered about that dessert you ate years ago at the potluck in the church basement, this is probably it.  It is another one of the ‘cheater’ recipes, as I call them, because it is made with boxed ingredients.  However, in this case, there just is not a substitute.  The very essence of this cake is rooted in childhoods of my generation and one bite will give you flashbacks of denim bell bottoms and polyester collared shirts.  The fact that it tastes incredible is not lost on me and I STILL bring it to potluck dinners and serve it to crowds.

I also can still hear angels singing when I take my first bite.  I can’t be one hundred percent sure, but I bet I am not the only one.  :)
Watergate Cake is a super easy, retro dessert that is right at home at  a church potluck or family dinner! Taste the nostalgia! {Brittany's Pantry} Watergate Cake
I usually cut this cake into 15 pieces.

Cake:
1 box white cake mix
1 (3 oz) box instant pistachio pudding
3 eggs
1 c oil
1 c gingerale, Sprite, or 7-Up

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray a 9X13 inch baking pan.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat all of the above ingredients for a solid minute until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  COOL COMPLETELY.  While the cake cools, make the frosting.

Frosting:
1 (3 oz) box of instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 c of milk
1 (8 oz) container of whipped topping, such as CoolWhip
chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)

Whisk the pudding and milk together until smooth and thick.  Fold in the whipped topping.  Pour it over the cake, spreading it smooth, and chill the whole she-bang until ready to serve.  Top with chopped pistachios if desired.  Enjoy!

Honey Peanut Cereal Bars

Honey Peanut Cereal Bars via Brittany's Pantry-A no-bake snack or treat!I have kids.

Ere go, I have purchased an alarming number of boxes of little ‘0’ cereal made of oats, such as Cheerios or something similar.  Cereal that shows up in my couch cushions, on the bottom of my purse, and in my laundry.  This kind of cereal is always around so anytime I can quickly throw together a fun snack or treat with items already in my kitchen, I consider it a good thing.  If they are so scrumptious even my husband and I can’t stop eating them and we end up trying to hide them from our kids, well then that is a VERY good thing.  I mean, you know.  In a joking, I’m-not-really-hiding-food-from-my-kids-sorry-not-sorry-kind of way.

I have had bars like these before but I haven’t actually made them myself since God was a boy.  I couldn’t remember the exact method or ingredients to make them stick so I turned to that necessary evil (I speak of Pinterest) and searched out some good ones.  I settled on this version here from a blog called Chew Out Loud and they were exactly perfect.  Just as I remember them.  Better actually.

I do believe that it is the combo of the crunchy cereal with the chewy cranberries that really keeps me hooked.  Also, is it weird that I think these bars just look friendly?  I want to make huge batches of them and wrap them up individually and tuck them in everyone’s pockets.  Then when they discover them later they have a snack that makes them smile.  Corny, yes.  But still a good idea.  Such a good idea, I bet it will make you run out and buy cereal to make these, wether you have kids to throw them onto the floor of your car or not.
Honey Peanut Cereal Bars via Brittany's Pantry-A no-bake snack or treat! Honey Peanut Cereal Bars
Recipe from the blog Chew Out Loud

4 c oat ‘o’ cereal
1 c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or a mix of both
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts
1/2 c honey, preferably raw
1/2 c creamy peanut butter

Spray an 8 inch square pan or line it with parchment paper or wax paper.  In a small microwave bowl, heat the honey and peanut butter together until melted together.  Stir until smooth and runny.  Meanwhile, mix the first three ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour the melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture and mix will with a large rubber scraper.  When it is all coated evenly, pour into the prepared pan and press evenly to compact the cereal a bit.  Press firmly so that the gaps are filled.  This ensures the bars will hold together once they are cool.  Let set completely, cooling at room temp or in the fridge.  Cut into bars.  These will keep for up to three days, sealed tightly.  Enjoy!!

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cookies

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cookies are the real deal! {Brittany's Pantry}Lets chat about chocolate, yes?

It needs no introduction.  Chocolate is good and chocolate is great.  Blah blah blah.  Nothing we don’t already know.  So when you find a Ghirardelli recipe in a magazine for a double chocolate cookie, you take note and trust them.  Who better to for me to listen to about chocolate cookies than chocolate experts?  And we all know that Ghirardelli is the real deal.  Also, I got this before Pinterest existed when people still read magazines for the recipes.  Which, amazingly enough, wasn’t all that long ago…

I have been making this recipe for years, exactly as it stands, with no changes.  When you want a fudge-y, brownie-like, chewy cookie, this is the ticket.  I keep looking for other versions, trying out other kinds of cookies.  I have posted a few of them; midnight chocolate, peppermint chocolate, triple chocolate.  But these are the only cookies that are basically solid chocolate barely held together by a few other ingredients.  As in, the high ratio of chocolate in these is pretty much just one step up from gnawing on a block of semisweet.  Ul-ti-mate, baby.  Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cookies are the real deal! {Brittany's Pantry}It is the texture of these that really gets me though.  The crispy edges give way to a chewy center that is all crackly with choclate-y goodness.  Not cakey.  Not too crispy.  Perfect.  Basically the perfect chocolate cookie.

Clearly we need to chat about chocolate more often, yes?  I also may have just set a record for number of times the word ‘chocolate’ appeared in a blog post.

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cookies
The only thing I have changed about this recipe is the method.  Feel free to add a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the batter for, well, obvious reasons.  And it may be hard to believe, but this is not a sponsored post.  Ghirardelli knows nothing about it.  I just love their cookies.

1 (10 oz) bag of good quality, bittersweet chocolate chips
6 T soft butter
3 eggs
1 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts (optional)

In a small microwaveable bowl, heat the bittersweet chocolate and the butter together in 20 second intervals, whisking after each one until the chocolate is smooth.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined.  Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture and whisk together.  Whisk in the flour and baking powder.  Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.  Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 375 for 11-12 minutes, or until cracked and shiny.  The insides should be soft and chewy so DON’T OVER BAKE!  If you use a teaspoon scoop to make smaller cookies, they will only take about 9 minutes.  Let cool on the pan for a full 5 minutes or so before removing to a cooling rack.  Keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.  Enjoy!

Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread

Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread from Brittany's PantryNo doubt, the title of this post has you intrigued.  Or at least has you drooling.

I never get sick of quick bread recipes and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to branch out.  Bloggers go bananas trying new things and showcasing special recipes.  The list of recipes I had to share with you was epic.  I am talking EPIC here people!!  Alas, life gets in the way.  So does bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infections, fevers, and all the other fun stuff that comes with three kids who obviously need to be washing their hands more.  Our whole family has been sick and in the moments of health, concentrating on the continuing construction of our new home.  I have not been in the kitchen nearly as much as I have liked and am sadly, setting aside cookie and holiday treat recipes for another year.

But.  I have rallied for one last hurrah-er, recipe.  We have been quite addicted to this bread, which you may have noticed on Instagram.  It is so darn easy to mix up, my kids have been doing it for me.  Which is why there are twice as many cinnamon chips in this batch than normal… It is definitely a snack bread and lacks the really super sweet taste of a dessert.  But the flavors are so special, you can serve it either way.  It will make anything it touches smell good.  Wrapped tightly, I store it in my fridge for a day or two and the whole thing smells like rum eggnog.  It is heavenly.  And just in time for Christmas.Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread from Brittany's PantrySpiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread
Recipe adapted from UniHomemaker
This bread is even better the next day so make plans to whip it up before you actually need it.  Your house will smell ah-MAY-zing.

1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
1 c eggnog
1/4 c spiced or dark rum (both are good)
1 egg
2/3 c sugar
1 c white flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8 or 9 inch bread pan.  Whisk first five ingredients together until smooth.  Fold dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.  Gently fold in cinnamon chips and pour into greased pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two attached.  Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store, wrapped well, at room temp for a day or two, or in the fridge for up to three days.

Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip

Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip from Brittany's Pantry is a sweet, make-ahead, holiday treat!  Perfect for a girl's birthday party too!My husband just walked by the computer and glanced at this photograph.  He stopped, looked closer, and stated. “Wow, Babe.  That photo is amazing.”  As he strolled away, I growled under my breath, “I want to eat it…”

The truth is, I did eat it.  Last week.  I snacked, dipped, nibbled, and devoured with gusto.  And it was good.  But I look at this and I want more.

Who can resist the classic combination of chocolate and cherries?  I blame my addiction on my Dad.  For as long as I can remember, he has received a box or two of Queen Anne Cherries at Christmas, wrapped and tucked under the tree at the last minute by the enthusiastic hands of his children.  He somehow managed to convince us that he was surprised to open them each year.  Christmas makes us gullible I guess… We aren’t often able to be together for Christmas these days but the tradition lives on.  I have never told him this, but I still buy a box every year and break into it on Christmas Eve, handing one to each of my kids just as he did to my siblings and I all those years ago.  One bite and I could be sitting Indian style on the living room floor of my childhood home, waiting for gifts to be passed out.

I feel as though I should mention that I am listening to Francesca Battistelli’s Christmas Album as I type this.  One of my most favorite holiday albums ever.  Beautiful music, coupled with writing the memory above is making my heart positively ache with missing my family this holiday season.  Who knew chocolate covered cherries could make this momma weep with nostalgia?

Anyway.  Enough with the sappy stuff.  Back to this dip.  It is officially my go-to, bring along treat of the Holiday 2014 season.  Its beautiful, simple, fun, and just kind of screams the word ‘party’, don’t ya think?  It is basically a low effort, less messy way to serve these familiar flavors.  I realize that there are a bazillion versions of this recipe out on Pinterest right now, but I felt the need to make it come together a bit faster and with less fuss.  I have enough things to do these next few weeks without wasting time on unnecessary steps in a recipe.  I would much rather channel that energy into something useful.  Like eating that recipe.
Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip from Brittany's Pantry is a sweet, make-ahead, holiday treat!  Perfect for a girl's birthday party too!Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip from Brittany's Pantry is a sweet, make-ahead, holiday treat!  Perfect for a girl's birthday party too!Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip
Adapted from Shugary Sweets
This can be made a day ahead and wrapped tightly in the fridge.  Keep cold while serving and dip whatever sounds good in it.  I am partial to pretzels.  The sweet and salty combo is stellar.

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, slightly softened
1/4 c (4 T) soft butter
1/2 chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 c maraschino cherry juice, right from the jar
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Combine the cream cheese, butter, and cherry juice until combined and smooth.  Fold in the chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips.  Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or anything else you can think of!

*This post contains affiliate links that may result in compensation for the author.

How To: DIY Sugared Almonds

How To: DIY Sugared Almonds from Brittany's PantryI once asked a foodie friend of mine what her favorite part of a salad was.  Her response?  “The candy.”  I busted out laughing.

Of course, what she really meant was the toasted, sugar coated walnuts, almonds, or pecans that seem to crown so many restaurant salads.  While I am a fan of sugar (and nuts, for that matter) I never really liked them on my salad.  They were a hunk of sweetness when what I wanted to eat was supposed to be light, fresh, and wholesome.  Salad=guilt-free health food.  Yes?  Yes.

Enter the Savannah Chopped Salad at McAlister’s Deli.  I luuuuuuuurve it.  I have yet to tire of eating it and just writing about it now is making my mouth water.  I have been completely converted to a ‘nuts on my salad’ person.  My favorite part?  When I am almost done with it and the last bites are of cranberries, cheese, and the honey roasted almonds.  It is tangy and tart, creamy and sweet, and crunchy and chewy.  The best combo of textures and flavors from three little ingredients.  When I was at a food conference in Virginia a few weeks ago (Read: Mixed Conference. Best time ever!),  I had a salad with those exact same elements to it and thought to myself, “Self?  Why have you not made this before?”  So I did!  I started making it myself.  The salad I will post later, but the sugared almonds above are my nut of choice when it comes to topping my greens.  Sliced, to be exact, as they look pretty and add texture and crunch without sticking a whole nut in your mouth.

So how do you make these delectable slivers of deliciousness?  Ha! Say that three times fast…  It is ridiculously easy.  And fast.  And did I mention easy?  Wait, what?  I meant the recipe was easy, not repeating that three times fast.  Was that clear?  I’m so tired…

Sugared Almonds
The possibilities with these babies are endless.  Top a salad (duh) or ice cream (be still my heart) or a no-bake pie (MOMMY!) for a little crunch.  Or you could just eat them.  Add them to yogurt, pudding parfaits, trail mix, or garnish a smoothie!  Or just eat them.  Sprinkle these beauties over a bowl of fresh fruit to give it a bit of texture or crumble them over a dessert pizza just before serving.  Oh! And you know what?!  You could just eat them…

1 c sliced almonds
1/3 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
How To: DIY Sugared Almonds from Brittany's Pantry Place all ingredients in a small sauté pan and place over medium-medium high heat.
How To: DIY Sugared Almonds from Brittany's Pantry Let warm and melt while stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  The sugar will start to melt and stick to the nuts.  If some of it never melts, that is ok.
How To: DIY Sugared Almonds from Brittany's Pantry Keep going for another 5 minutes or so, or until the nuts are coated and toasted.  Spread out in a single layer on a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet to cool.
How To: DIY Sugared Almonds from Brittany's Pantry Once cool, crumble into smaller pieces of needed.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  Be ready to make more than one batch due to snacking.  :)
How To: DIY Sugared Almonds from Brittany's Pantry

Caramel Apple Ginger Loaf Cake

Caramel Apple Ginger Loaf Cake is the special treat you have been looking for! {Brittany's Pantry}Originally this recipe was classified as a quick bread.  I think that is hysterical and here are the reasons why:

1.) It is covered with a glaze that is thick and sweet and can only be described as pourable caramel frosting.  F-R-O-S-T-I-N-G.  Not a quick bread type of feature.

2.) I don’t call a baked good with a moist crumb as delicate as this a bread.  Definitely a cake.

3.) Its special.  You can tell by looking at it!

And finally…

4.) Because of the gooey caramel frosting type ‘glaze’, it is easiest to eat on a plate with a fork.  Do you eat bread with a fork?  Me neither.

See?  Cake.  LOAF cake, for obvious reasons.
Caramel Apple Ginger Loaf Cake is the special treat you have been looking for! {Brittany's Pantry}Yes this is a good as it looks and yes, you too can make it at home. :)  This is studded with diced apples (yeah baby!) and minced crystalized ginger (say what?) so there is a nice, full flavor with this recipe.  It is definitely the kind of thing you bake as an extra special treat.  Not because it is necessarily so bad for you, but because the extra effort in making it results in a particularly indulgent loaf.  This is the perfect thing to make for a beloved friend or neighbor around the holidays.  Wrapped up in wax paper and topped with a bow, it makes an incredibly appealing picture.  Besides gifting it to friend and family, this would be stellar sliced and put out on a breakfast buffet.  It tastes even better the next day so bake it up and glaze it an hour or so before you serve it so the topping has a chance to set.  Sliced on a plate with a hot cup of tea on the side makes the perfect, small serving, after dinner treat this time of year.  A piece of cake that is just right.

Of course, sneaking a bite or two as a midnight snack is ‘just right’ as well.  I did say this recipe was special, right?
Caramel Apple Ginger Loaf Cake is the special treat you have been looking for! {Brittany's Pantry}Caramel Apple Ginger Loaf Cake is the special treat you have been looking for! {Brittany's Pantry}Caramel Apple Ginger Loaf Cake
Recipe adapted from CCA
I have to say that even thought I really really love the caramel topping on this, it is just as good without it.  If you like, skip the final glazing step and just enjoy the apple-ginger bread as a snack.  Delightful.  Crystalized ginger is fresh ginger root that has been boiled in sugar. It is chewy in texture and covered with the crystalized sugar.  You can usually find it in the baking isle, or anywhere with dried fruit.

1 c brown sugar
1/2 c canola or grape seed oil
1/2 c sour cream
2 eggs
1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 medium/large apples, such as granny smith, macintosh, or other firm, baking apple, peeled, cored, and diced small
1/3 c finely chopped crystalized ginger

Glaze:
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c butter
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 and thoroughly spray a large 8X4 loaf pan.  Whisk together the first four ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly blended.  Add the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Carefully fold in the apples and crystalized ginger.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with only a crumb or two attached.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a rack to cool further.
While cake is cooling, add all the glaze ingredients to a small saucepan and bring them to a bubble over medium hight heat.  Let boil 1 minute, the turn off heat and let set until it cools to a thick, but pourable consistency.  Drizzle generously over loaf cake and let glaze set.  Enjoy within 2 days or freeze, unglazed for several months.  Defrost and glaze as directed when ready to serve.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake | Brittany's Pantry - Poured into a big pan, this cake is a cinch to slice into pieces and devour!Last year, I had the fabulous privilege of sampling this cake at a meeting of our local Mom’s Group.  I am not ashamed to admit that it has filled my dreams ever since.  Apple cake.  Gooooood.

I have always loved apple cake and really really loved this version.  And not all apple cakes are created equal, mind you!  Sometimes apple cake is light and fluffy and then the chunks of apple weigh it down in a weird way.  Other times the apples are in big chunks that never seem to bake well.  Getting the crumb right with pieces of fruit mixed in is a balancing act.  Who knew it was such a delicate process with such a complicated formula?

This recipe gets around that by baking up a lot like bars.  Chewy and more dense that a traditional cake, it supports the chunks of apple perfectly, but it is still light enough to warrant a plate and fork.  Good gracious.  It is just awesome.  When I acquired the recipe from my friend, I learned that it is of course a family recipe.  I am thrilled she shared it with me and while I adjusted it to my taste just a smidge, it stays true to the original.  I dare you to bake this up and bring it to a gathering this holiday season.  Just be prepared to deal with the aftermath of praise, high fives, recipe inquires, and offers of marriage.  It is that good.
Cinnamon Apple Cake | Brittany's Pantry - Poured into a big pan, this cake is a cinch to slice into pieces and devour!I have no doubt that many other versions of apple cake will grace this little corner of the internet.  I am, after all, an equal opportunity eater.  But for now, I am having a hard time making it past this cake.  I have kind of hit the pause button on apple cake experimentation.  Maybe next year.  For now, this is my ultimate.

***This is my final post in the series of comforting and cozy recipes that I am featuring during the GIVEAWAY!  You only have a few more days to take advantage of my offer of free merchandise (yeah free!!) and enter for a chance to win loot from the top rated ETSY shop, Pine Tree Goods.  If you haven’t entered yet-and there ways to put your name in up to 5 times-click here and git er done!  Don’t forget to take advantage of the free shipping code just for BP readers!  Good Luck!***
Cinnamon Apple Cake | Brittany's PantryCinnamon Apple Cake | Brittany's Pantry - Poured into a big pan, this cake is a cinch to slice into pieces and devour!IMG_1260I couldn’t resist tucking in this last picture of Lane, my 2 1/2 year old photo-bomber.

Cinnamon Apple Cake
Adapted from MaryAnn Hillard, friend of Brittany’s Pantry
I am loyal to golden delicious as a baking apple, but a recent visit to an orchard in North Carolina had me taste testing an apple called Gold Rush.  It was awesome.  Great in a pie (or cake) and great to eat out of hand.  I highly recommend them if you can get your hands on them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together in the bowl of a stand mixer:
1 c (2 sticks) of room temperature butter
2 c sugar
When combined and smooth, add:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
When combined and smooth, add:
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Lastly, gently fold in 3 c of diced apple (peeled and cored).

Spread batter (it will be thick) into a sprayed 9X13 pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until evenly golden brown and set.  Cool cake until almost room temp before cutting and serving.  Cake is best the day it is made, but leftovers aren’t too shabby.

Honey Cinnamon Slow-Cooker Peach Crisp

Honey Cinnamon Peach Crisp for the Slow Cooker | Brittany's PantryRecently, my husband and I purchased a large parcel of land in the middle of the South Carolina midlands.  We have been busy getting ready to build, filling out paperwork, marking trees for removal, pouring over the floor plans, and all the other tasks that accompany a project the size of ours.  A few weeks ago, that access road was built to our property.

Chapin, South CarolinaPicturesque, don’t you think?  The clearing for construction has begun and we are starting to actually see a location for the homestead.  Since it is solid forest as far as we can see, any type of clearing goes a long way toward visualizing everything!

So, after playing out on the land all day, this crisp was pretty great to come home to.  It took hardly any time to throw it in the slow cooker and I didn’t have to worry about having the oven on when I was out of the house.  Of course, the smell  when we opened our front door was mouthwatering.  You can smell the cinnamon from down the road!  When I decided to create this recipe I messed around with different spices, but ultimately, returned to just plain cinnamon.  There is just something about peaches and cinnamon that works just as good (or better) than apples and cinnamon.  It all seems warmer somehow.  Err go, it is quite possibly the most comforting thing to make this time of year.  The honey brings out the peachy-y ness of the fruit without making it too sweet.  If you top it with vanilla ice cream, it kinda melts and mixes with the honey-peach juices and creates this sauce that makes you drool and when you scoop it up, its all warm and melty and oat-y and…*sigh*  Truly fantastic.  It smells and tastes just like home.  No matter where that may be or what stage of construction its in.  :)
Honey Cinnamon Peach Crisp for the Slow Cooker | Brittany's PantryHoney Cinnamon Peach Crisp for the Slow Cooker | Brittany's PantryHoney Cinnamon Peach Crisp for the Slow Cooker | Brittany's PantryHoney Cinnamon Peach Crisp for the Slow Cooker
Depending on the flour you use, this recipe can be gluten-free or not.  I created it using an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix that can be exchanged for regular wheat flour cup for cup.  A few of my testers thought that the different flours made the filling too thick, but others didn’t mind.  The flavor is slightly different if you make it GF, but still great.  Either way you make it is scrumptious!

Fruit:
5 or 6 large peaches, pitted and sliced into 12ths
2 level T, gluten-free or all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 T honey, preferably raw

Topping:
3/4 c gluten-free or all-purpose flour
3/4 c rolled oats, gluten-free or regular
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 c (1 stick) room temperature butter, divided

Pinch off 2 T of the butter and evenly smear it on the inside of a regular sized slow cooker crock.  Gently combine all the fruit filling ingredients until evenly coated and pour into slow cooker.  Be sure to use a spatula to scrape out all the cinnamon honey juice in the bowl! Combine all the dry ingredients of the topping and then add the remaining 6 T of soft butter.  Using a fork or your fingers, combine all ingredients until evenly distributed and mixture is wonderfully clumpy!  Evenly spread over the fruit in the crock and cover.  Cook crisp on low for 4 hours or until fruit is bubbly.  Cool slightly and serve with a big ‘ol scoop of vanilla ice cream!