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Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

18 Jul

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Are you a TV or a movie person? And what does that say about who you really are? (I’m getting deep today, folks.)

I, myself, am a TV person. Ask any of my friends or family, and they’ll tell you this immediately. It’s not that I don’t like movies, but they just end so fast. Yeah, yeah, there’s the whole story arc and it all ties up neatly, but I want MORE, and that’s where TV really pulls through. Episode after episode keeps me quite content.

I have a wide range of TV tastes, too. I don’t limit myself to one genre. I like award-winning, thought-provoking series as much as the next critic, but I also love me some trashy reality TV (not too terribly trashy, mind you).

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

When someone asks me what TV shows I watch, I clam up. This seemingly harmless question actually feels quite revealing. What will they think of me now that they know? Will they like me more or dismiss me altogether? Hence, the clamming.

Anyone else find themselves in this predicament?

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Now, what does this Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars recipe say about me? It says, I like peanut butter. I like cheesecake. I like cookies. I like over-the-top combinations. I’m OK with this recipe saying all that. More than OK, actually. They’re legit, over-the-top cookie bars. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Stir together cookie dough.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Press half of the cookie dough into the pan, and cover with cheesecake layer.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Press small pieces of remaining cookie dough lightly onto cheesecake layer.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Keep pressing cookie dough on until cheesecake layer is completely covered.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

The final product!

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One-Year Blogiversary and Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

3 Apr

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

Today is the one-year anniversary of my blog (a.k.a. my blogiversary)! Truthfully, I never really anticipated this day because it was hard to picture myself keeping up with it for a whole year, but I have, and I feel pretty good about it. And then in another way, it feels easier than I thought it would be. I saw this inspirational quote the other day, and I couldn’t agree more as it relates to me.

One-Year Blog Anniversary

I can be pretty hard on myself. Sometimes I’m afraid to even start something because I don’t know how it will turn out. Will I fail? Will I waste my time? Will I embarrass myself?

Truth is, time will pass anyway, so just get over your fears and go for it! No matter what it is.

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

Speaking of time passing, this recipe was passed to me from my grandma and originated from my great grandma. This cake, along with Sam’s Chocolate Cake, always accompanied birthday dinners and family parties. This recipe is a comfort food, no doubt, and I wanted to share something extra special  on my first blogiversary.

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

The cake has an extremely moist crumb without being dense (thank you, molasses and applesauce). The spice combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg will make your house smell mouth-wateringly fragrant while the cupcakes are baking. In my opinion, no one spice overshadows any of the others; combined, they create a spice party in your mouth that will almost remind you of my your very favorite Pumpkin Muffins.

I use my ultra-light whipped frosting to top these cupcakes. The frosting is light, airy, and buttery, and I prefer less to more.

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

Hope you enjoy this recipe. Thank you for your support during my first year of blogging. I love reading your comments and getting your feedback! Keep ’em coming! (more…)

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

20 Mar

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

As I may have mentioned before, we have two long-haired cats. They’re adorable, cuddly, and (mostly) sweet putter tats. But they’re long-haired. Which is basically a nightmare to vacuum/clean/keep from looking mangy. Their long hair also makes them look about 10 pounds heavier than they really are, which in cat-weight is pretty darn hefty looking.

Over the past few months, we’ve toyed with the idea of getting them shaved. I know, I know. It will make them look like weird, little rats, but the benefit of no hair is enticing. But before we could make a final decision on this, the hubs thought he could double as a barber and decided to start chopping their hair off with some scissors. Needless to say, they now have wildly uneven coats of hair. Can’t decide which is preferable: shaved rat cats or Homemade Hairstyles by Hubs.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

Here’s a recipe that doesn’t involve scissors or cats. In fact, it’s so easy that it doesn’t even involve your stove. That’s right, a no-bake beauty with only three ingredients.

I am forever indebted to Tess for introducing me to these devilishly easy “cookies.” They’re the perfect combination of salty and sweet, and who can resist the peanut butter/chocolate combo? (No one in their right mind, that’s who.)

I list measurements in the recipe, but feel free to adapt to however many you want or need at the moment. These are simple, and I’d venture to say a definite staple for your recipe box.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker CookiesThe cast of characters.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker CookiesStep 1 = a no-brainer.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

Make cute cracker sandwiches.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker CookiesDip cracker sandwiches in melted chocolate and top with chopped peanuts for fanciness or leave them plain and smooth.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

Let the chocolate harden up for at least 20 minutes or else you may notice an embarrassing chocolate stain on your face a few hours later when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

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NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

27 Feb

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

So this one night, when my brother and I were teenagers, we were driving home from a dance. (Well, my brother was driving.) It was raining and stormy and hard to see and my brother was jamming out to the radio, singing dramatically, basically every parent’s worst nightmare. We went around a sharp turn way too fast and lost control. I was certain we were going to die. My brother almost killed me. Miraculously, we didn’t die. Instead, we were heading straight for a field with a long row of trees and slid right in between two of them until we came to a stop. He looked at me. I was OK. He was OK. The car was OK. No need to tell the parents, right? Of course right. Until now. Mother and father, my bro crashed your car once.

My brother got married last weekend. It was a spectacular affair. The night before their wedding, my brother orchestrated a concert/storytelling night. There were beautiful songs, and a few stories. He directed me to tell some funny stories about him. I used this moment to tell this car-crashing story that we had sworn each other to secrecy about many years ago. Seemed like an apropos time, right?

You know what it’s also an appropriate time for? COOKIES. More cookies.

I’ve been making this recipe for years, so I thought it’s about time I shared it with you. If you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the famous NY Times Chocolate Chip cookies, now is your chance. The recipe originally comes from Jacques Torres and was published in the NY Times a whopping 5 years ago. It stands the test of time.

I strongly recommend the use of a kitchen scale for these cookies. I’m guessing great pains were taken to determine the amount of flour needed for this ULTIMATE recipe, so I always use my kitchen scale when measuring my ingredients for this recipe.

This recipe is a bit more involved than your regular, off-the-back-of-the-chocolate-chips-bag recipe. But. It makes them that much better. These cookies don’t get flat. It’s amazing! And the combination of the saltier dough with the dark chocolate is something to be savored. Beware: the dough must be refrigerated for at least 4 hours before baking (the original recipe says 24 hours, but I’ve found an impatient 4 hours works just fine).

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Stir together your dry ingredients.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesCombine your butter and sugars.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesAnd eggs and vanilla.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesCombine dry ingredients with butter/sugar combo, and mix for a few seconds with the mixer until partially combined.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesFinish mixing by hand.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesGet your chocolate ready.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesAdd the chocolate to the dough. Yummm!

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesNow comes the hard part. Wait it out while the dough refrigerates for at least 4 hours.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesThen—glorious day—make your large doughballs. About two tablespoons’ worth of dough per cookie!

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesBake to puffed perfection.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesReady to eat!
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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

20 Feb

Coffee Cake

Did you ever have adventures at grandma’s house? When I was a kid, my grandma’s house seemed like a magical place full of mystery and adventure. Going down to the basement was like visiting a 1920s’ speakeasy. Going up to the attic, trying on all those old dresses felt like fashion shopping in France. Piggyback rides on her massive German Shepherd were like riding a grand horse. Playing with the cousins upstairs was top-secret spy business. We usually stayed out of trouble.

But.

There was this one time at my grandma’s house that we tried to stuff me down the laundry chute. All in all, it was a terrible idea. At the time, we thought it was a great idea. And it had to be me to go down the chute because I was the smallest cousin. “Like riding a really exciting slide,” they convinced me. Luckily for me, we got caught in the act of stuffing me in. I probably wouldn’t have survived three flights of a dead drop. But it was exciting. Another adventure at grandma’s house.

Coffee cake screams grandma’s house to me. Fragrant cinnamon and moist crumb cake. Definitely grandma’s house.

This recipe comes from the Joy the Baker Cookbook. A welcome addition to anyone’s recipe library has got to be coffee cake. Any excuse to eat cake for breakfast, right?

Coffee Cake

Stir together your crumb topping. Set aside for now.

Coffee Cake

Stir together your yummy cinnamon filling layer. Set aside.

Coffee Cake

Mix together your butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs.

Coffee Cake

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Coffee Cake

Prepare your sour cream and milk combo. Whisk ’em real good.

Coffee Cake

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in 2 additions.

Coffee Cake

Spread half of the cake batter on the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon filling layer.

Coffee Cake

Spread the rest of the cake batter evenly on top of the cinnamon filling layer.

Coffee Cake

Make a few swirls with a knife.

Coffee Cake

Top with the crumb topping and bake for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown and crackly.

Coffee CakeLet rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving. (more…)

Pumpkin Maple Doughnuts

23 Jan

pumpkin, maple, doughnuts

Last week was our big first snow of winter. We got a good 6″ worth. I even got to work from home. It was awesome.

Naturally after a few hours’ worth of accumulation, my husband and I went out to build a massive snowman. We started at one end of the field (yes, we happen to live by a field) and rolled a perfectly round ball of snow the whole way down to the other end, until it was a huge, lopsided, dirt-covered snow boulder. It was a true team effort to make this beast of a snowman. He ended up being over 6′ 2″ (using my husband as a measuring stick). We were pretty darn proud of ourselves.

Not to mention we had jolly good fun. Our walk back to our house resulted in a smash-your-face-in-the-snow all-out fight. It’s amazing how fast the childlike competitiveness rushed back to me after lobbing a few innocent snowballs at each other.

Being a kid was pretty great, wasn’t it? One of my all-time favorite treats used to be doughnuts (“used to be” a.k.a. “still are”). Every time we’d buy doughnuts, I beg my mom to let me buy three. I remember thinking that was a good amount to fill my belly. Nowadays, that makes me feel a little sick to think about, but, alas, those were the days.

This Christmas I got a doughnut pan. I was more than excited to play with my new toy. I found a delicious-looking recipe and went to town. These doughnuts are extraordinarily moist and disarmingly simple. But they’re doughnuts! So impressive! I love that they’re not fried. See? I can be healthy sometimes.

Wet ingredients; step 1.

Stir together your first 3 ingredients.

step 2; dry ingredients

Add the dry ingredients all at once, and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.

fill doughnut pan

Evenly fill the doughnut pan, smoothing the top of the batter.

out of the oven, cooling, wire tester

Bake for 15 minutes, or until a wire tester comes out clean. Let the doughnuts cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

glaze, cinnamon

Stir up the glaze.

glaze, doughnuts, setting

Dip just the tops of the doughnuts in. Return to the wire rack until the glaze is set. (more…)

Peanut Butter Cup S’mores Blondies

16 Jan

Well, I’m not much for resolutions. In fact, the only resolution I’ve decided on thus far is to eat McDonald’s once a week. You might be surprised and disgusted to hear this, but I’ll explain my reasoning. First of all, I love McDonald’s. I’m unabashed about that. One time I went on a first date to McDonald’s and I was pumped. Secondly, I used to go to McDonald’s a TON a few years ago. I’d go a few times a week, usually to consume a hot fudge sundae with peanuts (only ONE DOLLAR, PEOPLE) or a cheeseburger and french fries (their french fries really are a league of their own) or a delicious breakfast sandy (“sandy” = cute word for sandwich). Looking back, I realized those were the good ol’ days.

I sincerely hope to get some impassioned responses to my one and only resolution. (Adrianne, you are disgusting or You are going to die a young death feeding your body that crap or Me tooooo, McDonald’s is AMAZE!!)

I realize many of you may feel McDonald’s is extremely unhealthy. So here’s a really healthy dessert option to balance out life. (Not! I FREAKING LOVE DELICIOUS FOOD.)

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

I first had a variation of these PB cup s’mores bars over Thanksgiving, thanks to a sweet coworker. They are seriously addictive and the most pleasant combination of flavors in your mouth. When I started searching for a recipe to base these off of, though, the only recipes I found called for 16 PB cups. 16!! I only had 3 in my cupboard, so I made do with my own little recipe.

The result? Better than OK. Much better. Probably what makes these so great is the browned butter and brown sugar combo. The blondie base is truly delicious, and it makes the bars have a buttery, almost-caramel flavor. To recap: butter caramel flavor + peanut butter cups + marshmallow + milk chocolate + graham cracker = heaven.  Enjoy these addictive little treats.

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Stir up your blondie dough.

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Press 2/3 of the dough into pan and cover with peanut butter cups and milk chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Add your marshmallow layer, then top with remaining 1/3 blondie dough. (This will not be an exact science.)

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Bake for 15 minutes, then top with graham cracker crumbles and continue baking another 5-7 minutes. Cool until set, then dig in!

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Cookie Dough Fudge

19 Dec

Cookie Dough Fudge

I am getting awfully excited for Christmas. It’s less than a week away—pretty hard to believe it snuck up on me this fast! I love to give treats away for Christmas. They’re obviously the perfect gift because they’re from the heart, homemade, rather inexpensive, and for the stomach. What more could you want?

This fudge is ridiculously easy. You don’t need to use a candy thermometer or worry about exact times to get the right consistency here. It’s all in the sugar! (No, really, it really does depend on how much powdered sugar you use.)

I whipped up a batch of this for a holiday potluck and have leftovers in my fridge to give away to any holiday visitors. I always feel the need to have a homemade treat on hand–you never know who you might need to give it to!

Cookie Dough Fudge

Start by making your cookie dough.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Now start the fudge base by combining butter, brown sugar, and half-and-half in a pan.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Heat on medium-low until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Stir until smooth after each addition.

Cookie Dough Fudge

 

Keep stirring until smooth and very thick.

Cookie Dough Fudge

After the last cup of powdered sugar is added, stir well until very, very smooth.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Toss in the cookie dough and stir to incorporate evenly.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Sprinkle in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Spread in a parchment-lined pan, and refrigerate until set.

Cookie Dough Fudge

Cut into bite-sized, 1-inch pieces. (more…)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookies

7 Nov

I swear one of my husband’s pet peeves is how technologically unsavvy I am…and purely when it comes to tech lingo. For the life of me, I cannot stop calling my laptop charger a battery, no matter how many times he corrects me. I do realize this can be confusing when I say, “Crap! I forgot to bring my battery with me!” when I’m sitting there typing away on my laptop with no apparent difficulty or loss of function. But come on, details, details.

Also, who the heck thought it was a good idea to call PCs “PCs” and not call other laptops (like Macs) PCs?? Here’s my thinking: PC means personal computer, so if I have any sort of computer, it’s my PC, right?! Who’s with me? No one. Well that’s OK. I’ll fight these battles alone.

Maybe your current pet peeve is how many cookie dough recipes I’ve been posting ever since buying The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook. Well tough (cookies)! I cannot get enough cookie dough. Doesn’t matter how many times per week day I eat it.

This recipe is the best of both worlds because you get chocolate chip cookie dough (yum) sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies (double yum). Enjoy!

Start by stirring up your cookie dough. No funny business.

Place cookies on a lined baking sheet and slightly flatten with your fingers or the bottom of glass.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

Meanwhile, stir up eggless cookie dough for the filling.

Throw a dollop of cookie dough filling between two cooled cookies.

Now it’s time to smoosh those cookies together until the filling reaches the edges. (Apparently “smoosh” is not a real word, but that’s exactly what you need to do in this step.)

Keep filling, smooshing, and eating. (more…)

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Dough Thumbprint Cookies

24 Oct

I am hopeless when it comes to directions. Forget about offering me tips like, “Go north on Main Street.” I’ll counter back with, “How am I supposed to know which way is north?” Come on, people! It’s hard for some of us.

It’s not hard for all of you, though, is it? Some people just have an aura of good-directionness around them.

Take my husband, for example.

The first time we went to NYC on our own, we were just two college kids taking an adventurous trip for the weekend. Naturally, I was terrified. And just as naturally, my pre-husband (pre-marriage, FYI) was in complete control.

We left Grand Central Station, my pre-husband assertively navigating up the right streets and down others and me lugging my roller-bag suitcase behind me, half-walking, half-running, and panting all the while. I was sure we were lost. I wanted a taxi with my whole heart, but for some reason, a taxi was not an option. We walked 10 or 50 blocks, depending on who you ask.

And then, out of nowhere, we were at our destination. This was a small miracle to me, the hopeless direction girl. But pre-husband never batted an eye. (Aura of good-directionness, I tell you.)

Today’s destination is not nearly as navigationally challenging as that trip to NYC; it’s just to some cookies. So come on, no reason not to make these.

I first made these cookies approximately one month ago. Then I made them again two weeks later. And then I made them two days ago (and put the last batch in 30 minutes ago). Yes, folks, they are that good.

These cookies are special because they’re not your run-of-the-mill thumbprint peanut butter cookies with a unwrapped, waxy chocolate kiss lazily thrown on top. (But don’t get me wrong, those lazy kiss ones are great, too!) The chocolate cookie dough topping is what takes these over the edge. They are rich and chocolatey and peanut-buttery. The ultimate trifecta in my book.

Cream your butters and sugars together. You know the drill.

Add the rest of your ingredients to complete the dough.

Shape the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, roll into sugar, and make a thumbprint impression with your thumb.

Bake at for 10-12 minutes until golden on the edges.

Before the cookies cool (and before you take them off the sheet), deepen the thumbprint with the back of a spoon.

While the cookies are cooling, start on your chocolate cookie dough topping. (Eggless, of course!)

It should look like this at the end. Smooth, chocolatey, and oh-so-perfect as a topping for the peanut butter cookies!

You know what comes next: you put it all together and admire your handiwork. Then you eat your handiwork. (more…)