Shamrock Bars

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The one quarter of my heritage took over this weekend and decided that we need an Irish treat. I like to credit my pale skin and my maiden name to that quarter. Apparently there used to be an O’ on the front of our family name that was removed at some point, which is a bummer since it really would have elevated my Irish credibility. ūüėČ

There’s nothing exceptionally Irish about these bars other than that the icing is green, but they melt in your mouth and are a crowd favorite, so you can’t go wrong with them. As usual, I made them gluten-free, which I think adds to the “melt-in-your-mouth” quality, but you’ll be fine to use regular flour as well. I used a large 9″ x 13″ rectangular pan for these but you can cut the recipe in 1/2 or by 1/4 (depending on how thick you want them) if you’re going to use a smaller 8″ x 8″ brownie pan.

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The timing on cooking these is variable and my oven is somewhat finicky, so I would say set your timer for about 30 minutes if you’re using the same size pan, and then watch from there. Mine took quite a while and I didn’t time exactly, but once it looks like the middle is set and not a gooey dough consistency anymore, you should be alright to take them out of the oven.

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • .5 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tbp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour (I use Krusteaz gluten-free blend)
  • 1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Icing ingredients:

  • 1.5 sticks Imperial vegetable oil spread (you can use regular butter, but I think the fake spread sticks actually make a lighter/sweeter icing)
  • 3.5 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tbsp milk or milk substitute

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
  2. In your bowl, add softened butter. I like to heat it up in the microwave until the edges start to melt some, but not all the way. Add both sugars and blend together.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and eggs and beat on high.
  4. Add in salt and baking powder and soda and continue to mix.
  5. Measure out your flour and add it a little at a time until fully blended.
  6. Finally, add in your chocolate chips.
  7. Spray a 9″ x 13″ with PAM and scoop the mixture into the pan. Spread it out evenly and put it in the oven.
  8. Bake for at least 30 minutes and then watch from there. As I said, my oven is finicky, so results may vary. When the middle looks like it has set and isn’t gooey in the middle anymore, you can remove it from the oven. The edges will be golden brown early on, but make sure the middle is set or else you won’t be able to cut these into bars.
  9. In separate bowl, add the 1.5 sticks of vegetable spread, vanilla extract and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Use a beater and begin to blend. Add the milk (you can adjust and add more if your butter/sugar isn’t blending).
  10. A little at a time, continue to add more powdered sugar until you’ve added it all. Make sure it is light and fluffy – feel free to add more sugar if you need to.
  11. Let the cookie bar cool COMPLETELY (important unless you want a gooey mess) before adding the icing. Once it’s cool, spread the icing evenly over the bars.
  12. Let them sit for about 30-60 minutes to let the icing set, and then cut them into event bars and serve!

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S’mores Cookie Cups

 

S’mores Cookie Cups…need I say more? Ooey, gooey, chocolately, with that campfire taste baked right in. I threw these together last week for an impromptu get-together and I think they’re one of the my favorite original tasty cookie recipes. I tried these out as both cups (in muffin tins) and cookies.

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The caveat to using the muffin tins is that the cookie cups can be a little hard to get out of the tin afterward. I would probably recommend using cupcake liners if you can, as those would make removal easier. For cookies, make sure you let them cool before removing from the pan because the marshmallows melt and make it hard to get them up immediately. In both cases, the marshmallows melt and make them a little difficult to handle afterwards, so handle with care. These aren’t the most beautiful cookies/cups in the world but I will say that they may be the tastiest.

They can be made either gluten-free or gluten-full, just adjust accordingly with the flour/graham crackers. Sometimes people think that eating gluten-free means that you can’t enjoy any of the good stuff, but there are SO many substitutes these days, you can pretty much find anything you need!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted softened butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ground graham cracker crumbs (I use gluten-free graham crackers, which I think are much more delicious than regular graham crackers)
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1.25 cups flour (I use Krusteaz gluten-free flour blend)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray either a cookie sheet or a muffin pan.
  2. Mix butter and both sugars together in a bowl. Add in vanilla extract and 1 large egg and beat on high. Then, add cream cheese, baking powder and baking soda, along with the cream of tartar and corn starch (ok to omit these if you don’t have them).
  3. Grind about 3 squares of graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine and sand-like. Add 1/2 cup to the mixture and blend.
  4. A little at a time, add the flour. I don’t usually take measurements at this point and I often just keep adding until it seems firm enough to hold in a cookie ball. I’m estimating about 1.25 cups of flour.
  5. Finally, add the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. I like to chill the dough before baking, as it helps the cookies have a little better shape rather than fall flat. If you do this, you can put the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes or refrigerator for about an hour if you have time.
  6. Scoop the cookies on a sheet or add them to the cookie cups and put in the oven for about 9-10 minutes or when the edges start to get brown. I would over-bake these rather than under-bake, as they are pretty gooey.
  7. Let them cool completely before removing from the pan or tin. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Streusel Cookie Bars

I’m still alive!

So…I haven’t posted a recipe since February of this year. That’s not to say that I haven’t been baking because I never really stop. However, I haven’t had much time to post (it’s been a crazy, busy year) and there’s also the fact that my kitchen is just about the smallest kitchen you could imagine. It’s temporary, so some day we will have a nice big kitchen with a lot of counter space. However, in the mean time it means I’m a little limited.

With the holidays coming around, I’m getting the baking itch more and more, and the itch to get creative with it as well. I’m also getting a craving for some delicious comfort food. This weekend I was set on making some type of bar, and wanted something with fruit and a streusel topping. Hence, these Strawberry Streusel Bars were born. They’re¬† not horribly complicated, even though they look decadent.

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Also, I believe that a good chocolate drizzle can improve most anything. For these bars I used premium white chocolate chips and a little oil to melt them with, and decorated them using a plastic bag (a super easy way to pipe icing, or do a drizzle on top of treats if you don’t have any professional instruments).

Ingredients:

Cookie bar base:

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour (I use the Kruteaz GF flour blend)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Strawberry topping

  • 1/2 carton of strawberries
  • 2 tsp sugar

Streusel topping

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick melted butter

Directions:

  1. Turn your oven on 350F.
  2. Mix the softened butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla extract and egg and beat until everything is blended.
  3. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and continue to mix until the dough is formed.
  4. Spray an 8×8 brownie pan with Pam and fill it with the cookie bar dough.
  5. Put the pan into the oven to cook for about 6-7 minutes.
  6. While that is starting to cook, make the strawberry topping. Cut about half a carton of strawberries up, add two tsp of sugar and put them in a food processor and pulse until they have a smooth consistency.
  7. Next, make the streusel topping. Put the flour in a bowl along with the brown sugar and the melted butter and mix it all together.
  8. After the pan has been in the oven for about 6-7 minutes, take it out temporarily. The ends will have started to cook and the middle will still be fairly soft, but it’ll be firm enough to add the strawberry and streusel.
  9. First, add the strawberry topping and spread it out evenly on top of the cookie bar.
  10. Next, add the streusel topping. It’ll still be kind of wet, so just break it apart with your fingers and crumble it around evenly on top of the strawberry. You don’t want to cover the strawberry completely, so make sure you leave some room in between.
  11. Bake the bars for about 15-20 more minutes. This might depend on your oven (mine took much longer than I expected, but I think my oven doesn’t get as hot as others). Watch the crumble on top and when it looks like it’s started to cook and is a little golden, the bars should be done.
  12. Pull them out of the oven and let them cool for about 30 minutes.
  13. Slice the bars evenly and remove them from the pan.
  14. Now for the drizzle: I put half a bag of white chocolate chips into a measuring cup along with a splash of canola oil. Usually they say to use coconut oil, which I didn’t have, so that would work as well. This should help the chocolate stay soft and not harden up too quickly.
  15. Put the measuring cup in the microwave for 30 seconds, take out and stir. Put it in for about another 30 seconds and take out and stir again. This time it should be melted.
  16. Pour the white chocolate into a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag. Clip the very end of the bag on the corner so that you have a “piping” bag and (quickly!) drizzle your bars. The chocolate started flowing out of my piping bag very quickly so make sure you’re ready to go. Otherwise you will have chocolate everywhere (it flows more quickly than icing).
  17. Enjoy!

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Glazed Lemon Zested Cookies

I had a challenge this week to make a dessert that was gluten-free and dairy-free. Now, I’m used to baking gluten-free as I’m able, but dairy-free is slightly more challenging as it requires¬†no chocolate, butter, milk, etc. The important thing to note about baking gluten-free and dairy-free is that you don’t have to exclude these things, but rather replace them with alternatives that really do work just as well (I promise). In this case, I used gluten-free flour and a dairy-free butter spread.

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These cookies are super light and fluffy. That’s due to using two eggs¬†(which I hand-whipped for a few minutes separately)¬†as well as the gluten-free flour. I also chilled the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes as well to¬†ensure that the cookies didn’t flat.

These cookies taste like a dreamsicle in a way and the lemon zest definitely enhances the flavor. I brought these to a ladies’ paint class and got rave reviews on them. In the past, I’ve done orange-zested cookies and those are delicious as well¬†– so it’s up to your preference.

Cookie ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of flour (I used Pillsbury gluten-free)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used Smart Balance dairy-free)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 350 F
  2. Mix together the first three ingredients in a bowl and set them aside.
  3. Put the softened butter and both sugars in the mixer and blend together.
  4. In a separate bowl, use a whisk and beat for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture as well as the vanilla extract and continue to mix.
  5. Take a lemon and using a zester, add lemon zest into the mixture. If you don’t have a zester you can use a grater instead.
  6. Cut the lemon in half when you’re done and squeeze out the juice (you may want to do this over a strainer to catch the seeds). Get about a 1/3 cup of juice and then blend it in.
  7. Add the flour mix into the bowl, a little at a time until it is completed blended.
  8. Put the bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  9. Scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet and put it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies have risen. Try to take them out before or when you see the edges start to golden just a little. You don’t want to over-bake the cookies.

Glaze ingredients:

  • 2 cups powdered¬†sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Splash of milk
  • Lemon Zest

Directions:

  1. Let the cookies cool completely (or else the glaze will not stick).
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.
  3. Add the fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract, splash of milk and lemon zest. Whisk together.
  4. I completely estimated the powdered sugar here, but add more if the gaze
    is too thin. It should be a little thick, because it will run right off of the cookies.
  5. For best results, use a cookie drying rack on top of a cookie sheet so that the gaze can run off of the cookies and collect on the pan below. If you try to gaze them on a flat surface, you will have trouble getting them off once they dry and they will fall apart in the glaze.
  6. Use a spoon and drip the glaze over the cookies several times. Let the cookies dry completely for an hour or two before serving.

 

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Iced Egg Nog Cookies

If there’s one thing that I was truly obsessed with as a child around the holidays, it was egg nog. I would stalk the milk section of the grocery store as early as Thanksgiving until the shelves were fully-stocked with the thick, sugary concoction and beg my mom to buy it. No one else in my family would touch it, so I slowly savored it¬†and drank just a little bit after dinner every night until it was gone and I could restock. Today, my adult self shivers at the thought¬†of drinking a full cup of the stuff, but an iced egg nog cookie just sounded too good to pass up.

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As with any good holiday sweet recipe, a golden¬†addition to the mix is a splash of alcohol. I used bourbon in this case, but many people put rum in their egg nog, so you could add that instead. It’s all about preference.

The icing is very rich, but tastes just like egg nog and it spiced just right with a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to bring out all of the holiday flavors. The recipe uses two egg yolks, which I think gives them a little more of a eggy/cakey texture – they are very light.

I would like to dedicate this post to my Aunt Susan, who I think would have loved this recipe. She passed away in early October and was my number one fan of this blog and sweet treats in general. I know she’s up in heaven licking her lips and telling me how scrumptious these look. ¬†‚̧

Ingredients:

  • 1.75 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of cream of tartar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp softened butter
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup egg nog
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp bourbon

Icing ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp egg nog
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of bourbon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Milk as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together the first seven dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, blend together the sugar and butter. Add in the egg yolks, vanilla, bourbon, and egg nog and continue to mix.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture a little at a time until the dough is a good consistency.
  5. Scoop the dough into balls and put on the cookie sheet. This will work best with a cookie scooper as the dough is a little soft and sticky.
  6. Bake for around 10-12 minutes or until you see the very edges start to turn a little golden. Do not bake for too long, as you want them to be soft and light.
  7. Let the cookies cool a little bit while you make the icing.
  8. Using a hand mixer, blend together the icing ingredients. Add more powdered sugar or more milk as needed depending on the consistency you want your icing to be.
  9. Drip the icing over the cookies while they’re still slightly warm. Let the cookies sit out so that the icing can harden a little bit.
  10. Share and enjoy!

Pumpkin Crumble Coffee Cake

Pumpkin lovers rejoice! It is the season for pumpkin everything and although I try to resist the urge at times, I ultimately end up giving in to the craze each year. This year I discovered Trader Joe’s pumpkin pecan oatmeal (amazing), pumpkin spice cheerios and Private Selection New York Cheesecake Pumpkin ice cream.

I broke my foot a few¬†weeks ago and am still recovering post-surgery so it’s been a little difficult to get around and I’ve had a lot of time at home. Although my mobility is limited, my desire to bake has not diminished and it gives me something to look forward to since I’m trapped at home unable to drive for a while. I have this awesome knee scooter that allows me to get around the kitchen fairly easily and it even has a basket on the front so I can transport my materials. I knew I had to bake something pumpkin-related before the month was over and the cravings diminished. Thus, I decided on a pumpkin crumble coffee cake.

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My husband is currently in grad school and this coffee cake was his on-the-go breakfast for a solid week and a half until it was gone. The treat is¬†highly addictive and a delicious decadent indulgence.¬†It’s¬†perfect for a crisp fall morning alongside a nice cup of coffee.

Coffee Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup¬†milk (I use almond)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

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Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ¬†cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg

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Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Milk (I used almond)

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8×8 pan with non-stick spray. If you have parchment paper, it may be easier to line the pan with it and make it long enough so the edges stick up and you can pull the cake out of the pan.
  2. In a bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix only until it is evenly combined but no more.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and set aside.
  6. For the crumble, toss sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Stir in melted butter until crumbly. It will still be wet but you will be able to break it up into smaller pieces. Make sure the mixture is crumbly and, if it’s not, continue to add flour a little at a time.
  7. Crumble the topping over the batter in the pan into an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. When the cake has cooled and after you can cut it into pieces, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, combine¬†powdered sugar, maple syrup and add a little milk at a time. Add in spices as desired. Keep it on the thicker side so that it’s not too watery and soaks your cake. Drizzle it over the cake.
  9. Enjoy!

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Recipe adjusted from Sprinkle Some Sugar.

Savory Cheddar Mini Muffins

Two big feats today – I’m finally posting a recipe¬†after a lengthy hiatus and it’s not a sweet!¬†I had to make a side dish for a BBQ and a cheesy muffin sounded like an ideal complement.

I like the idea of the mini muffins because they’re easy to pop in your mouth…and you can also eat¬†like five of them. One thing to note is that these are muffins, not biscuits which have a tougher, grittier texture. These are light and fluffy. I used almond milk as I usually do, but I imagine they would be even better with 2%/whole milk or even buttermilk if you have it.

If you make regular-sized muffins they will need to bake for a longer period of time, so adjust accordingly.

The muffins are best served warm with butter. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (I use almond)
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp¬†baking powder
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Dash of onion powder
  • Dash of dill weed
  • Dash chili powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the milk, melted butter and egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  4. Add the cheeses to the dry mixture and blend.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the milk mixture and blend together.
  6. Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.
  7. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, each one about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to brown a little.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool.

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