Brittany wrote this on 29 November 2015
This stuff is awesome. End of story.
Lots of you probably grew up with these treats during the holidays, and too, probably have your own recipe to make it. However, for those of you who, like me, missed out on a childhood with cracker toffee, I will save your holiday season by giving you this. It has the unfortunate nickname of being called ‘Christmas Crack’ but I have to say, its rather fitting.
There are less than 5 ingredients, if you skip the sprinkles. Cheap to make and easy to do, it makes a huge pan so you can serve it at a party AND give some away to your piano teacher or favorite neighbor. It is so darn festive it is re-DONK-ulous. My kids help make them too, although I keep them away from the hot toffee portion of the recipe. They help lay out crackers, sprinkle chocolate chips, and sprinkle…well…sprinkles.
These are forever a part of my holiday traditions now and if you spend ANY amount of time with me this Christmas season, there is a 100% chance that I will serve these to you at some point. If I spend time with you and YOU serve me some? Even better. Merry Christmas everyone!
Christmas Cracker Toffee Treats
1 1/2 sleeves of soda crackers, such as Saltines
1 c (2 sticks) butter
1 c packed brown sugar
1 (10 oz) bag of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
holiday sprinkles, optional
Preheat the oven to 350.
Line a half sheet pan (jelly roll pan, cookie sheet) with parchment paper, letting it extend over all the edges. In a pinch, you can use foil too, but be sure to spray the foil very well with cooking spray. Line the pan with crackers, taking care to set them edge to edge and cover the pan well with no gaps. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and sugar over medium heat. Melt the butter, then bring to a slow boil. Let bubble for 2 minutes, then immediately pour over the crackers. Carefully spread the toffee evenly over the crackers, working quickly so the toffee doesn’t harden. Pop the pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The toffee will spread, bubble a LOT, and get slightly darker. Watch it so it doesn’t start to burn! Remove from the oven, let the crazy bubbling stop and then sprinkle the entire bag of chocolate chips evenly over the toffee. Let the chocolate sit for a few minutes and melt, then carefully just spread the melted chocolate over the pan. Let sit at room temperature for several minutes to cool, then set the whole pan in your fridge (if you live where its cold, set it on your porch, in your garage, etc) to cool completely. When it is good and cold, simply lift the parchment paper off the pan and set the whole thing in a cutting board. With a large knife, cut the treats into desired shapes-I like them irregular like broken shards-and serve! Store in the fridge so they stay firm. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 11 November 2015
Some recipes taste just like they sound and this is one of those recipes. You expect them to be soft, pillowy cookies that are moist and rich, but chocolatey too. And they are. All of that. Exactly that. *sigh* So cozy. I tend to prefer my cookies chewy and crispy, but there is always room to branch out. I have been wanting to add a soft batch chocolate chip cookie to my recipe library, and these have been perfect every time. Plus, THERE IS CREAM CHEESE IN THEM! A detail that speaks for itself, obviously, but I thought I would write it in all caps anyway.
Speaking of cozy, we are in the middle of a giveaway right now! Enter to win snuggly, handmade items by Pine Tree Goods, and if you are one of the two winners, these cookies will just complete the whole scene. Cozy cowl or mittens + warm cookies = a good good day. Heck! If you don’t win, these cookies will make you feel better! So its all good. They have to be chilled before they bake so you can mix them up now, and then bake them when you get home from work/school/errands tomorrow!
A few things to remember about these: Don’t skip the ‘chill in the fridge’ step, and don’t add more cream cheese than it calls for. I may or may not have done both of these things at various times, and both ended in an unfixable disaster. More cream cheese creates soup, not cookies. And not chilling the dough makes soup, not cookies. Follow the recipe and all will be well. Go figure! Soft Batch, Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from here.
1 stick (1/2 c) softened butter
1/4 c cream cheese, not fat free or spreadable
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 c dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until creamy and mixed VERY well. Add the sugars, vanilla, and egg, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl between. When thoroughly combined, add the dry ingredients and mix well. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerated dough until very cold or scoop dough into a sprayed or lined cookie sheet and THEN chill. The key here is to bake the dough COLD. Bake at 350 for 9 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the centers are still soft. Let cool on the pan until just warm, then remove to a cooling rack. Cookies keep sealed at room temp for 3 days or frozen for several months. The dough can also be portioned into cookies and then frozen to be baked later. Just let the frozen dough balls defrost in the fridge for a bit before baking. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 23 October 2015
When it comes to holidays, Halloween and all things spooky and ghoulish are my least favorite to celebrate. I have never really been into the decorations and the costumes and mannequins with fake blood. Its entertaining, but you won’t find me hosting a costume party or visiting a haunted house anytime soon. Go ahead and call me a party pooper, but you know those people you see that are really into Halloween? Well I am just…not. Please tell me I am not alone in this…
That said, if it involves food, you can count me in as an avid supporter! My kids are obvious fans of any event that gets them closer to candy and like most households at this time of year, we have a huge glass pumpkin filled with festive colored, individually wrapped sweet treats on our entry table. We live in the middle of nowhere and thus, will receive no trick or treaters, but the bowl of candy sits like a sugared little sentry, hospitable and ready for visitors.
This year, as part of a never-ending effort to be just a smidgen healthier than we were the day before, I decided to make family treats that were a bit less junkfood laden, yet festive enough to satisfy the most ardent of Halloween enthusiasts. I was going for a green and orange theme, so pistachios would be an awesome substitute for the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in this recipe. The dried fruit and nuts can be found at Nuts.com and the site even has a special page for healthy snacks! You can find that by clicking here, and while you are browsing, jot down ideas for your own family!
As for my own kids, they were thrilled to see the candied eyeballs staring up at them from their chocolate. One piece is a nice little treat and SO much better for them than, say, a fun-sized candy bar. This plate is also fun to set out for guests this time of year. It screams Halloween! No fake blood required.
Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark
This keeps for a week, in the fridge, in an airtight container. That is, if you can keep your hands off! I even tucked one piece each in my kids lunches as a special treat!
1 bag, good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or chopped pistachios
whole almonds, roughly chopped
dried apricots, chopped
dried mango, chopped
In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until JUST MELTED! Don’t overheat! Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When chocolate is melted, pour in the middle of the sheet pan and spread gently and slowly to a rectangle about the size of an 8X11 sheet of paper. This makes the chocolate thin enough that it won’t be too sweet, but thick enough not to fall apart! Sprinkle with however much of the dried fruit and nuts you prefer. Its totally a matter of taste. Place a few candied eyes around the chocolate! Chill, uncovered in the fridge until firm. Because the chocolate is good, and without the stabilizers that cheaper chocolate can have in them, it will melt if handled too much! Cut with a sharp knife into irregular shapes and keep it stored in the fridge to prevent meltdown disasters! Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 31 August 2015
I could tell you that these brownies are the chewiest, gooiest brownies you will ever eat, but that wouldn’t do them justice. I could tell you that people gasp when they see them (they are that decadent) and that they will be devoured faster than any other treat, but you need to see that for yourself. I could tell you that while they look a bit complicated, they really are fairly easy with only an extra step or two, but you should just make them.
Well, hey! Look at that! I guess I did have adequate words to tell you all of that!
But gosh darn it, its true. I have been making these brownies for over a decade and they have come along with me to many a pot luck and game day party. I have tucked them in lunches and sent whole batches with my husband to share at work. I have served them at Christmas parties and barbecues. Always the same. Always good. Always scrumptious. I don’t cook with mixes all that often (Actually, I just realized I have another recipe coming up that uses a mix… ), but sometimes I need the time saver and convenience the most at that moment. Ere go, one of the reasons I have been making these for so long.
3/4 c sweetened condensed milk, divided
1/4 c canola or grape seed oil
1/4 c milk
1 box devils food cake mix
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff
3/4 c peanut butter chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9X13 inch baking pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine 1/4 c of the sweetened condensed milk and the next 4 ingredients. The batter will be VERY sticky! Spread 2/3 of the batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. The layer will be thin, but keep at it! Bake for 10 minutes, until just set. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 c of condensed milk and the marshmallow fluff until smooth. Fold in the peanut butter chips. When the crust comes out of the oven, pour on the marshmallow mixture and carefully smooth and spread to the edges. Drop the remaining chocolate batter evenly over the marshmallow stuff. Gently swirl with a toothpick, if desired. Its all pretty thick, so you just want to make sure everything is even. It will all bake together anyway. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until dry and set in the middle. Let brownies cool almost completely and cut into SMALL squares. These are UBER rich so resist the urge to make them giant and ere on the smaller side. Besides….you know you are going to eat two anyway….
Brittany wrote this on 3 August 2015
I am having a major case of writers block right now.
I keep staring at this picture of sweet, warm, peach cobbler and all witty and inspiring thoughts are replaced with the desire to lick the screen. So far, I have resisted.Generally, cobblers have a biscuit or scone like topping on them, but many versions, including those seen here in the South, are topped with more of a batter. My recipe is kind of a cross between the two. I don’t like my topping to be hard like a biscuit, but I don’t want it cake-like either. This is a good balance that ends up wonderfully thick and crisp, but not heavy. It is also fantastically easy to make and doesn’t require anything more complicated than just mixing. SCORE!
But greatness (or great recipes) are not without their complications! My biggest issue with this treat was getting the underside of the topping completely cooked. It kept turning out gooey and doughy and the edges would be too dark. NOT good eats. But after dozens and dozens of cobblers over years and years of baking, I fixed it. Now, easily one of my favorite desserts to make, this cobbler is perfectly delightful. The fact that peaches are in season right now just happens to make this even better. Take advantage of it, people!
Yes, you can make this with pears or plums, but anything firmer-say, apples- wouldn’t quite work. The fruit wouldn’t be cooked in the time the topping was baked. Stick to juicy stone fruits, but feel free to stir in a bit of berries to give it some variation. As for me, I like it classic. Classic and peachy. Peachy and juicy. Juicy and sweet.The BEST Peach Cobbler
I have no idea if cinnamon is a classic cobbler ingredient, but my Mom taught me to ALWAYS put a bit of cinnamon with peaches. And so I do! Because she was right. The warm spice isn’t overpowering or even really noticeable. It just pairs so well here you won’t want to leave it out!
8 large ripe peaches, cored and cut into 8ths
1/4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c flour
2 T cornmeal
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
large pinch of salt
4 T (1/2 of a stick or 1/4 c) of room temp butter
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray or butter a large, 9X13 glass baking dish. In a large bowl, gently mix the filling ingredients, tossing until mixed and evenly coated. The juices of the fruit will help it all coat. Dump into prepared baking dish and snuggle all the fruit down until its even. In the same bowl, mix the dry ingredients of the topping together. Add the butter and eggs and mix with a spoon until smooth and it forms a stiff batter. Drop by large dollops all over the top of the fruit, spreading a bit to cover as much area as you can. The batter will spread and cover wonderfully as it bakes! If desired, sprinkle a tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top, just to give it a bit of sparkle!
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until evenly golden brown and bubbly in the center. Remove and let cook for at least a half an hour so that the filling sets a bit. Too hot makes for a messy cobbler on your plate (not a bad thing, just not as easy to serve). Serve warm, room temp, or even cold. Vanilla ice cream on the side is always a good thing.
Brittany wrote this on 20 July 2015
Yes, I am choosing to open this post with that statement because that is what immediately comes to mind as I write this. It practically wraps your house in a hug. As cheesy as that sounds, its absolutely true. Make no mistake that it will totally lift your mood to have this baking in your oven.
Due to the fact that our household goes through a LOT of bananas, it stands to reason that we will occasionally have overripe fruit on our hands. I never count this as a burden… All you have to do is type ‘banana’ in the ingredient search option on the right side of this screen to find out how much I like to bake with them. Like, really enjoy baking with bananas. A few months ago, when trying to decide what to throw together with my extras, I decided to just start paging through my cookbooks to find something new. My kids got into the hunt and they unanimously agreed that these chocolate chip banana bars were the obvious choice.
The flavor of these bars, though similar to a banana bread, have the added bonus of butter (mmmmm…..buttaaaaaaah…) They are moist and rich and deserve a plate and fork. I’ve made them several times in the last few months and they are reliable and delightful and wonderful. A fantastic treat to bring to a game night, pot luck, or to just bake on a rainy weekend! Enjoy friends!
What is YOUR favorite banana baked good??
Chocolate Chip Banana Bars
Recipe adapted from BHG
These bars are so moist, they only last a day or two at room temperature. Store them in the fridge to get an extra day out of them, or better yet, wrap each bar individually in plastic and freeze for later. Usually, I make them for a crowd and make them the day of the event for best results. Or I bake them for no reason and just eat them all….
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature butter
1/2 c brown sugar
3 small bananas
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 11X14 glass pyrex dish.
Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add the bananas, egg, and vanilla, and beat until fruit is mashed and mixture is combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Fold in chocolate chips by hand. Spread the thick batter evenly into the prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. These are great when they are just slightly warm, but room temp is good too!
Brittany wrote this on 2 July 2015
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!
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!!
Brittany wrote this on 15 May 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareFunshine #CollectiveBias 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.
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.
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. 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!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!
There 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.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?
Brittany wrote this on 23 April 2015
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 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!
Brittany wrote this on 24 March 2015
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.
1 stick of butter (1/2 c) of softened butter
1 c sugar
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!
Brittany wrote this on 12 March 2015
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.
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 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!
Brittany wrote this on 3 March 2015
I 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… 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.
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, barely melted
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.
Brittany wrote this on 23 February 2015
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.’
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.
1 box white cake mix
1 (3 oz) box instant pistachio pudding
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.
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!
Brittany wrote this on 9 February 2015
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
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!!
Brittany wrote this on 29 January 2015
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. 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
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!