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  1. Thursday, January 19

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake)

    Ahhhh, Pinterest. How we love thee!

    This recipe is yet another wonderful thing I discovered on Pinterest. I was able to quickly whip these up today with ingredients that I always have on hand. Gotta love non-complicated, fast and easy recipes!

    Cate took a bite and said, “Wow! These taste even better than they look!” I’ll take that! They basically taste like no-bake cookies, but I like that they are in bar form – it’s much easier to make them look pretty!

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake)
     
    From Love Veggies and Yoga (I rewrote the recipe so it’s shorter and reflects exactly what I did…click through for a more thorough description some options for making the recipe vegan)
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 1 stick butter (4 ounces)
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • ½ cup milk
    • ½ cup peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3½ cups oats (I used Quaker rolled instant oats)
    • chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (butterscotch or peanut butter chips would be good, too)
    Instructions
    1. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and spray with cooking oil.
    2. Combine and melt butter, white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder and milk in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat – bring to boil, let boil for 90 seconds, stirring continuously, then remove from heat.
    3. Add peanut butter and vanilla (vanilla can bubble up on you, so add carefully). Mix until smooth. Stir in the oats.
    4. Pour into pan, spreading evenly. The mixture will be very hot so be careful! Give it a few minutes to cool, then press a handful of chocolate chips into the top.
    5. The original recipe says to put them in the freezer for an hour. I did this and they were very hard to cut. I had also used waxed paper instead of foil with spray. I could not for the life of me get the bars to pop out of the pan – it was crazy town. I think if I had just refrigerated for 20 minutes or so they would have been set and much easier to work with.


  2. Friday, June 17

    Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

    How about a little treat for the weekend? I saw a Food & Wine recipe for Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars on lovely Maria’s food blog and knew I had to give them a try. I’m a sucker for anything with a salty-sweet flavor combination.

    I was a little curious about what the texture of the pretzels would be like in something baked. When they were hot out of the oven, the pretzels were a little soft, but once the bars sat for a bit they got crunchier. My favorite way to eat them: after they’ve cooled, zap your bar in the microwave for 7-10 seconds. The bars are a little warm and the pretzels still crunchy. YUM!

    I had a meeting with some of my Federated Media peeps this week and sent them back to the office with a few cookie bars. Within the hour I had an email from one of the VPs saying “mmmmmm” and a tweet from my DailyBuzz Moms team about how much they loved the bars. I really can’t take any credit. It’s a straight up Food & Wine recipe, which I didn’t even discover myself (thanks Maria!)…but everyone agrees, they are DELISH! Enjoy!

    Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars
     
    From Food & Wine via Two Peas and Their Pod, with my personal notes
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1½ (6 ounces) sticks unsalted butter, softened (Jane note: my butter was salted, everything came out fine)
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • One 12-ounce bag bittersweet chocolate chips
    • 1½ cups mini pretzels, coarsely chopped (Jane note: it’s WAY easier to just break the pretzels into small pieces with your hands rather than chopping with a knife. Also, I probably put in about 1¼ cups instead of 1½ cups.)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
    2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. (Jane note: I skipped this step because I’m lazy. Once the eggs and vanilla were in, I beat in the baking soda and salt, then the flour. And I’m sure I broke some baking rules doing it, but everything came out great and I had one less bowl and whisk to wash!) Using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute (Jane note: actually, let it go a few minutes). Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. On low, beat in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces.
    3. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Press the batter down with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. The middle might be a little gooey but that is ok, the bars will set up. (Jane note: Mine were DEFINITELY done at 30 minutes – in fact, if I had been paying attention, I might have taken them out a few minutes earlier than that.) Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely. (Jane note: Yup, I didn’t listen and ate one hot out of the oven. And, in this case, they are better after they’ve cooled a bit. Although, I can’t say it was exactly torture eating one before they cooled…still delicious!)
    4. Cut and eat!


  3. Tuesday, May 10

    Grammy McCarthy’s Brownies

    Nate’s Grammy lives south of Boston in a perfectly scenic, coastal New England town. Her home is on a lovely little gulf where you can watch the tide and the plethora of birds go about their daily business. I have so many memories there, of time spent with Nate and his family, experiencing all the emotions and rites of passage you experience with family, including our own wedding reception.

    Of course, as is often the case, there are many food associations with Grammy’s home. The two food items that are always in abundance when we visit are blueberry muffins and brownies, both of which we all eat far too quickly!

    Nate loves Grammy’s brownies. There are a few things in Nate’s mind that I think no one will ever live up to in comparison with Grammy. Her brownies are one of those things. I, of course, am always trying oodles of different brownie recipes, so I actually rarely use her recipe. Not because I don’t love them. I’m just into comparing brownie recipes! So, on Mother’s Day evening, after Nate had cooked up a divine filet mignon dinner, he said, “Do we have stuff to make brownies?” To which I replied, “Yes!” And then he said, “Okay, I’ll make them, but I’m making them my way.” Which means Grammy’s way, of course.

    The brownies tasted exactly like Grammy’s. Nate was beyond happy with the result. And it was a great Mother’s Day present for me…delicious brownies and happy memories of days and nights on the gulf. Who could ask for more?

    A note on this recipe. Yes, she uses shortening. And, yes, Nate used it, too. And, to be honest, these brownies come out with a great texture – not gooey at all, but not dried out, either.  They are the texture you expect a brownie to be and have a nice crust on top. Also, they are not uber chocolatey. If you have Julia Child’s brownies on one end of the spectrum (i.e. the super duper gooey moist chocolatey end of the spectrum), then these are on the other end. Chocolatey enough, but not overwhelming. Nikki, my anti-chocolate friend, might even give them a try!

    Oh, one more thing, unlike most brownies in my life, I actually think I like these better the second day.

    Grammy McCarthy's Brownies
     
    From Grammy McCarthy
    Author:
    Cuisine: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate (Grammy uses Fleishmans, we used whatever was on hand)
    • ⅓ cup shortening
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ cup flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    Instructions
    1. Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler over hot water. Take off heat and add sugar. Add eggs when mixture has cooled a bit. Mix dry ingredients together then add to the wet ingredients. Mix in ½ C broken (wal)nuts. (Since it was Mother’s Day, Nate left these out for me. Because we all know how I feel about walnuts.) Spread in well-greased, 8″ X 8″ pan.
    2. Bake at 350 degrees for ~20-25 mins.
    3. There will be a dull crust when almost done – take out. You also want your fork or toothpick to come out clean.
    4. Cut when cool.

     


  4. Wednesday, March 31

    Lemon Bars…or is that Lemon Squares?

    Today I’m sharing my recipe for lemon bars. Or are they lemon squares? Whatever they’re called, they are lemonicious!

    lemon bar squares web

    I have no clue where I found this recipe. It was in my recipe box without any attribution. When that happens, it normally means I merged a few recipes together. If I have, in fact, stolen this recipe from someone, well, my sincerest apologies! Just let me know and I’ll throw your name on there lickity split!

    I made lemon bars for St. Patrick’s Day with lemon juice from the little squeezie lemon juice thingy in my fridge. No fresh lemons that day – so no fresh lemon juice or zest. When I made them again for this post, I used Meyer lemons and zest. I’ve gotta be honest…the St. Patrick’s Day version was better! The lemon taste was stronger and more tart, which added depth of flavor. Meyer lemons are great because they seem to sweeten up nicely, but for lemon bars I think they ended up being a little too sweet and mild/flat tasting. Take your pick…I’m sure it’s a matter of personal preference!

    Why is my recipe so good? I don’t know, it just is.  The shortbread and lemon layers meld together nicely and the texture is just right. This is a non-chocolate dessert I can get behind!

    Lemon Bars
     
    From Jane Maynard at This Week for Dinner…maybe!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Crust:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 cup butter
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • Top:
    • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (if you don’t have fresh lemons, you can leave this out)
    • ¼ cup lemon juice
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 6 tablespoon flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 4 eggs
    Instructions
    1. Preheat to 350 degrees F.
    2. Mix crust together and press into bottom of 9X13 pan. Bake for 10 mins. Mix top ingredients and pour over baked crust. Bake for 25 mins more. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let set and cut into squares. Makes about a million squares.

     


  5. Tuesday, February 2

    Chunky Blonde Blondies

    I love the idea of “blondies,” but whenever I bake them they’re never that great. I just can’t find a decent recipe. When I was a kid, I remember my mom and her sisters finding a recipe for macadamia white chocolate blondies that were buttery, rich and delicious. I suppose the trouble with my quest for a good blondie recipe is that no bar can live up to the memory of that particular blondie from years ago, a memory which may or may not be accurate, I know!

    chunky blonde blondies web

    I found this post on Sweet and Savory Tooth recently and knew I had to try the recipe for Chunky Blonde Brownies that she shares. Nate was skeptical of yet another blondie endeavor, but in the end he gave his seal of approval. Success! They were very good…especially right out of the oven! And I thought the proportion of batter to the size of the pan was perfect, so they cooked nice and evenly.

    The big question: does this recipe live up to the ideal in my head? As Larry David might say, it’s pretty pretty pretty pretty close.

    Chunky Blonde Blondies
     
    From Taste of Home Baking Book, via Heather
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 2 dozen bars
    Ingredients
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup white chips
    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • ¾ cup macadamia nuts, chopped, divided
    Instructions
    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the white chips, chocolate chips and ½ cup nuts. (Jane note: for the ½ cup that I mixed into the batter, I pulsed the nuts in my Cuisinart processor, so they got chopped up pretty good. I liked how the small bits spread throughout the batter. For the ¼ cup of nuts I sprinkled on top, I hand chopped for a little bit bigger pieces.)
    2. Spoon into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan; spread to evenly cover bottom of pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top begins to crack and is golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack, then cut into bars. Makes about 2 dozen bars.