Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

It is August, for a lot of this it means we are reminiscing over summer vacations or waiting to squeeze a last minute vacation in before September comes. Our family has already been on vacation, so I am left to reminisce. In doing so I thought about all the baking I decided to do before we went on vacation this year, it took some extra prep work but it was well worth it. We had lots of yummy treats for the car ride and when we arrived at our destination. This made for a happy family and a happy Mama, who didn’t have to rush off to the grocery store or a restaurant upon arrival.

nonpariel 4                        

I knew I wanted to make the Chocolate Nonpareil Cookies (you can find that recipe by clicking here), then I was blessed with a new (to me) idea Peanut Butter Cookies with a Cocoa Mill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup in the middle! I also made cinnamon rolls and danish (those recipes to follow!)

peanutbutter-surprise-cookies

Easy Better Peanut Butter Cookies

What you’ll need:

pbcc,  flour eggs butter  peanutbutter

2/3 cup of butter (or shortening)

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup  of brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. of baking soda

1/4 to 1/2 a tsp. of salt (depending on how sweet you like your cookies

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

15 – 20 Cocoa Mill Peanut Butter Cups (milk or dark pb cups will work, I used milk)

2pb dough

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl mix together butter, sugars until well blended, add the egg and vanilla mix again thoroughly. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix again until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the peanut butter last and mix one last time.

At this point you will need a cutting board and very sharp knife. one by one cut the peanut butter cups in half and set aside.

Form your dough in 2 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Take your halved pb cups and pressed down a bit into the middle of the dough of each cookie. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

pb cookies

Take cookies out of the oven, let cool a bit and enjoy!

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Cocoa Mill’s Hot Chocolate

Every time it snows my children have come to expect that they will be served hot chocolate after they return indoors from their winter excursions. Not just any hot chocolate mind you, but homemade concoction using their Father’s chocolate; Cocoa Mill’s milk and dark chocolate.  I can guarantee when I place the warm cups of cocoa in front of them they will ask: “Did you make this with Daddy’s chocolate?” the answer is always “Yes.” and there are smiles all around.

Being that it is 3 degrees outside today (but no snow) I thought it would be fitting to share this homemade hot chocolate recipe.

 

What you will need:

4 cups of whole milk

3 oz Cocoa Mill Dark Chocolate

3 oz Cocoa Mill Milk Chocolate

3 Tbsp granulated sugar*

3 tsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp powdered sugar*

1 pint heavy whipping cream

Chocolate shavings

You will also need a mixer capable of whipping cream.

Process:

1. Warm milk in a sauce pan over low heat, (be careful not to boil the milk). When steam begins rising from the milk add your 2 types of chocolate, 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 3 Tbsp of granulated sugar. Continue cooking over low heat until chocolate is melted and well blended with the milk.

 

2. Place whip cream in a bowl and add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar whip with a beater until the cream forms stiff peaks when the beater is removed. Cover and place in refrigerator.

whipcream

There are so many ways you could adjust this recipe, add Bailey’s Irish Creme for an adult beverage, add 3 Tbsp of coffee (or more) for a mocha-chino, add some caramel syrup on top of the whip cream just for an added yum. Let us know what variations you come up with!

*You can also substitute  truvia for sugars or another sweetener to decrease caloric/carbohydrate in take.

You can save the additional hot chocolate mixture for up to a week in the refrigerator and reheat as needed.

Easy Chocolate Chess Pie

My Family loves homemade desserts and I am up for the task as long as it is not too labor intensive. I had never made a chocolate chess pie before but remembered enjoying it a few years ago. Lucky me I had all the ingredients on hand and the pie making began, (and was all gone within 3 days!)

This pie is quick and easy and if you are chocolate lovers like my family then this is the dessert for you!

Filling Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar

5 oz dark chocolate

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup milk

3 large eggs

1/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 9″ pie crust

 

 Crust Ingredients:

2 cups ground oatmeal

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons of softened butter

 

Instructions:

Place the oatmeal in a blender and chop until finely ground (you can also use nuts or cookies that have been crushed). Pour the oatmeal 1/4 cup of sugar in a 9″ pie pan and mix. Add the 5 tablespoons of butter and mix thoroughly, press mixture until flat and it covers the base and walls of the pie plate.

In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and chocolate stirring constantly. When completely melted remove from heat and add the sugar, salt, and flour stir until well blended. Let this mixture rest about 5 minutes then add the vanilla, milk and heavy cream, stir vigorously for 2 minutes. beat the eggs and slowly add one at a time until completely incorporated into chocolate mixture. 

 

Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes. Let cool before serving. Top with homemade whipped cream and Enjoy!

 

 

Holiday Cranberry Orange Bread

Cranberry-Orange--Bread

This Cranberry Orange Bread has been a gift to loved ones at the Christmas for as long as I can remember. I bake it in small loaf pans and deliver before Christmas to loved ones  along with other delectable treats. This bread gets some of the best reviews so I thought I would share it with you!

Ingredients:

flour eggs butter

2 cups of white sugar

1 3/4 cups of orange juice

2 eggs

1/2 cup of melted butter

5 cups of flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. of baking powder

3-4 cups of cranberries

6 oz chopped white chocolate

1 orange sliced into quarters

Directions:

cran orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place cranberries and orange in a food processor and chop until small chunks are reached.

In a bowl sift the dry ingredients, then add the cranberries and orange mix and blend well. Add the wet ingredients and bend again. Add the white chocolate chunks and mix one last time. Let the batter stand for 20 minutes before pouring into pans.

white chocolate chunks

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans or several small loaf pans and Bake for 35 -40 (larger pans) or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely then drizzle or pour glaze over top of the bread.

cran orange bread

Glaze:

Place 1 cup of confectioners sugar, 2 Tbsp. orange juice and add milk until thin and soft liquid consistency is reached. Leave little white specs of sugar in the glaze to look like snow flakes when poured onto bread.

I hope you will find this is an easy way to show people you care at the Holidays.

This bread can be made ahead of time and frozen. Do not glaze until you are ready to give them away or enjoy yourself 🙂

Homemade Holiday Granola Gifts

pan granola

Homemade Granola

Makes about 2 pounds

Adapted from Feast, by Nigella Lawson

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. dried ground ginger

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. allspice

2 tsp. blackstrap molasses

1 tsp. salt

10 packets truvia

1 cup unsweetened granny smith applesauce (or another unsweetened fruit puree)

1 cup honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 oz. dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 300F

 In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts and seeds, truvia, spices and salt.

 In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the molasses, honey, and oil.

Mix the warm liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until evenly coated.

Place on two baking sheets. (If you have ones with sides them, it makes it easier when stirring.) Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown. Remove from oven, while granola is still warm from the oven add in the dark chocolate tossing until chocolate begins to melt and form clumps in the granola.

choco granola

 Cool completely. At this point you can add dried fruits if you like to add dimension, color and flavor to your granola. (white chocolate chunks and dried cranberries add for a festive holiday look.)

Place the granola into mason jars (the size is your choice), tie with a bow and give out as holiday gifts.

homemade granola jar

The granola will keep for about 4 to 6 weeks in an airtight container.

Thanksgiving Carrot Cake

Thanksgiving Carrot Cake

carrotsraisin

pecans

white choco chunks

In the fall my family longs for the taste of spiced goodies, this cake fits the bill. It is quick, easy and I feel good knowing that all the ingredients were placed in the mixing bowl out of pure love. I hope that you too will find that this recipe brings the taste of Fall to your family’s table and will remain a staple for years to come.

Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of sugar

1 cup olive oil

½ cup butter (room temperature)

4 eggs (well beaten)

3 tsp. blackstrap molasses

2 cups of unbleached flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. ginger (ground)

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup raisins (multi-colored)

4oz white chocolate chopped into chunks

3 cups grated carrots

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven 325 degrees

Mix sugar, eggs and molasses, add the oil and butter blend well. Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl and mix. Once blended add to the wet mixture and blend well. Add the carrots, raisins, pecans and white chocolate blend well until all is mixed thoroughly.

Place into 3 greased 9” cake pans for about 30 minutes.

Once baking is complete let cool and remove from pan.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 sticks of butter soften

2 packages of cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream (can use milk instead)

Blend the butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add the powdered sugar, lemon and heavy cream. Whip until light and fluffy.

Frost the layers of the cake, placing one on top of each other. Frost sides, and top. Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh.

carrot cake

Happy Fall & Enjoy!

Chocolate Salads

The other day I made the comment “The best way to eat a salad is to throw it away and get a chocolate bar out of the cupboard.”

Being that it is January people have made their New Year’s resolutions, a lot of them involved not eating sweets, exercising more and doing away with certain vices. It seems to be increasingly hard to keep these resolutions; temptations seem to be lurking around every corner. This is an attempt at finding a way to help indulge the temptations that are faced without crossing the line of over doing it. Hopefully these next recipes will bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when tried.

Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Dressing:

choc salad

You will need:

1 bag spinach leaves
5 large strawberries cut in half
1/8 cup of feta cheese crumbled
½ of a purple onion
Handful of slivered almonds (sunflower seeds or your nut of choice)
3 oz. of dark chocolate
1 tbsp. of honey
1/8 tsp. of black ground pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of olive oil
4 tbsp. of water

Place the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add the chocolate continue to stir the oil and chocolate until it is melted then add the water, pepper and honey, stir until well blended. Remove from heat and let cool 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes add the balsamic vinegar, stir until well blended.

chocolate dressing

Thinly slice the purple onions and place in a skillet that has been drizzled with olive oil. Cook the onions until they become soft, limp and begin to lose their color. Remove the onions from the skillet and place in an airtight container. Take a portion of the dressing and coat the onions on all sides. Place the onions in the refrigerator to cool. Also place the chocolate dressing in a container to cool in the frig for about 30 minutes.

spinach berries feta

Remove half of the onions from the dressing and place on a salad plate. Add the spinach leaves (make sure they are washed and all water has been spun off) Add the feta cheese, strawberries and almonds. Drizzle the chocolate dressing in a zigzag motion over your salad and enjoy.

This next recipe I ran across on ABC Health and Well Being it looks pretty tasty so I am passing it along…

Orange Mint and Chocolate Salad:

orange salad
• 3 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 sprigs of mint, washed and leaves picked off the stem
• zest and juice of 1 lime
• 2 tsp of honey
• 20g dark chocolate, grated

Place the orange slices onto a large plate and sprinkle the mint and lime zest over them. In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey and lime juice. Pour this over the oranges and then top with the grated chocolate. Sweet, Simple, Enjoy!