Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peanut Butter Apple Bars

Happy Halloween!!!!

Yes, all four exclamations were necessary because I am SUPER excited.

In fact, I probably better keep this short and sweet because trick-or-treaters keep ringing the bell.

A few side notes to all the uncostumed tweens out there...

a) I don't care how old you are, if you're in costume I will gladly give you candy.

b) You have to actually say the words "trick or treat"...standing sullenly just makes me want to slam the door.

c) If you're not wearing a costume, I'll still give you candy (you scare me a little if we're being totally honest), but it's DEFINITELY going to be banana laffy taffy.  And you know nobody likes that.  Yeah.  The Snickers are for people who dress up.

Anyway, have you ever eaten peanut butter with apple slices?  It's delicious!  Here's that idea in bar form.

Peanut Butter Apple Bars
(adapted from two peas and their pod)


1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups diced apple chunks)


1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the bars: preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 pan.

Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in peanut butter.  Set aside to cool.

In a separate, large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add the eggs to the peanut butter mixture, one at a time, mixing well after each additions.  Stir in the vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until smooth.  Fold in the apple chunks.  

Pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges.  Using a sheet of waxed paper, press down until bars are even.  Discard paper.  Bake in the center rack of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown.  Remove pan from oven and allow to cool on wire rack.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for glaze and whisk until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled bars.  Cut into squares and serve.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

So with all my pumpkin related fall baking lately I've been cracking into a healthy number of cans of pumpkin puree.  And sometimes I have a bunch leftover.

So... if you have leftover pumpkin and a hungry little pooch running around your house, here's some tasty little dog treats you can whip up for your furry friend.

Clearly, this recipe is Cricket-approved.

There aren't any ingredients in these that you wouldn't eat so...confession time...I took a bite of one.  They smelled so good coming out of the oven....

Let's just say...your dog will like them.  You?  Maybe not so much.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
(adapted from allrecipes)

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon.  If dough is too thick to stir at the end, knead together with hands until combined.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into about a 1/2 inch thick layer.  Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter.  Use a fork to poke holes in each cookie.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake about 20-25 minutes or until firm.  Allow to cool before serving.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate Butter Brownies

I've been doing a pretty good job of working out a lot more lately.  I've been running, which I hate more than almost anything else in the world...with the passion of a thousand firey suns.  But still.

I've figured out a few things that work for me when I want to run more.  First, running with music (duh).  Secondly, now that it's cooler out it makes it MUCH easier.  Three, Cricket.  When you wake up in the morning to a ridiculously hyper fuzz rocket whom you've trained to know that waking up = taking her for a run and you see that goofball face and tail wagging so hard her entire rear end is sweeping back and forth...let's just say it's  hard to say no.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tay Tu's with Pumpkin Glaze

I have discussed these cookies before at length.  I haven't actually made this specific variation before, but I've mimicked it to the best of my ability here.  

But this is the real deal, straight from the recipe used by real live Italian aunts and grandmothers, specifically around Christmas time, but hey.  Fall is close enough right?

Like I said I made a copycat recipe before and called them "Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies" but their real name is "Tay Tu's" or something like that...possibly pronounced "thay too".  

Now I know I go on and on about these things on the blog...but were you aware that I ramble about them at equal length to friends, coworkers, and anyone else who will even pretend to listen?  It's true.

Anyway a friend suggested a pumpkin glaze as opposed to the traditional chocolate frosting.  I had to do it. 

It was so.  Good.  

Of course I had to make some normal ones as well.  I spent a lot of time trying to decide which I prefer...but I can't.  The best solution is to make them both...hold one in each hand, and alternate bites.   

Tay Tu's with Pumpkin Glaze
(adapted from the American Daughters of Columbus Cookbook, glaze from i am baker)

5 cups flour
pinch salt
1 tsp (rounded) baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups Crisco
4 eggs
1 15oz bottle Hershey's syrup (I used double fudge)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk (I used skim)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the cookies, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together shortening and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Add eggs and chocolate syrup, mix well.  Stir in vanilla.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until the dough is mixed thoroughly.  Stir in pecans.

Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a cookie sheet (I sprayed mine with baking spray).  Roll dough into about 1.5 to 2 inch balls.  Slightly flatten with palm and place on cookie sheet.  These don't spread too terribly much, but allow 1 to 1.5 inches between cookies.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.  Allow cookies to cool completely before icing.

For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar into the milk until smooth and lump-free.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.  If a thicker consistency is desired, add more powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking to break up lumps.

If you prefer the chocolate glaze, here is that recipe:

4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk 
2-3 drops red food coloring

To Make Glaze: Combine 4 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, add about 1/2 cup milk and about 2-3 drops of red food coloring. If a thinner consistency is desired, add milk 1 Tbsp at a time, if thicker is desired, add powdered sugar. Pour small amount of glaze over each cookie.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

So I'm super excited today, I'm going to be an aunt, and I just found out that I'm going to have a niece in March!  Congratulations to my little brother, I am so so happy for him.

Have I discussed how awesome my family is?  I'm seriously so lucky.  

Speaking of family, it wouldn't be fall without my Grandma Ginger's pumpkin bars.

As you can see, they are Cricket approved!

I've been trying to gather family recipes for about a year now, attempting to put together a family cookbook. I originally thought I could do this really quickly, but I quickly found out that this was a massive undertaking.

As a wonderful contribution to this endeavor, my grandma sent me her own family cookbook, circa 1985.  It's yellowed and stained and bound with yarn and priceless.  

Anyway, these bars, infamous in my family, were in that book.  Of course I HAD to make them, obviously!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
(from my grandma)

2 eggs
1/2 (14.5oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 oz cream cheese
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Butter and flour an 8x8 pan.  Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together eggs, pumpkin, and oil until combined.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Slowly add the flour to the pumpkin mixture, a little at a time until thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into the prepared dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, mix together cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth.  Spread over cooled bars.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if desired.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peanut Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats

When I found this recipe, these tasty little bars were called "scotcheroos".  Which is a super cute name...but when I brought them in to work and wanted to tell my coworkers to come try some...  Let's just say a grown woman saying the word "scotcheroo" over and over wasn't working out too well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almond Slices

There are biscotti people and then there are the rest of us.  I never thought I was a biscotti person.  I like my cookies soft and tender and I seem to have bad luck with dunking cookies in drinks.  My oreos always fall apart, my biscotti are always a man-overboard situation.  

However.  My wonderful, gorgeous, amazing mom has always had impeccable pretty much every way.  Of all the insanely delicious Italian cookies that we had every year at Christmas, these were always her favorite.  I never understood why until after I made these.

Which brings me to the real reason for this mom's birthday was yesterday, happy birthday Mom!  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Apples get kind of a bad reputation.  All that talk about doctors, apples, days...that's not appealing.  Heck no.  

Tell you what, you want me to eat that apple?  How about slather it in butter and sugar and we'll talk.  

I'm kidding of course.  Truthfully this fall I've really rediscovered my true love of good tart but not too tart delicious delicious apples.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Nutella Puppy Chow

Cricket is a funny creature.  In case you don't know, Cricket is our Sheltie, aka strange hairy little pooch that lives with us.  I didn't grow up having dogs, so raising her from a tiny little fuzzball has been quite the experience.

But let me tell you.  I'm a total believer.  Having a dog is almost indescribable.  Nothing else in this world will ever love you the way a dog does.  No matter what you do, you always get to come home to that wagging tail, and let me tell you.  There is nothing better.

Now Cricket, like anyone, has her quirks and eccentricities.  If we're eating rotisserie chicken for dinner and she's lucky enough to get a morsel, she gulps it down like a seagull, and I refuse to believe that she could possibly be tasting anything.  Another of her favorites is cookie dough.  She knows what it means when the apron goes on and I bust out the stand mixer.  She stands at my feet, looking alternately up at me and then down at the ground just in case something dropped that she might have missed.

But veggies?  No way.  She'll take them like she's going to at least try them and then I find them an hour later, slightly chewed and discarded on the floor somewhere.

If Cricket got ahold of this puppy chow, though...oh buddy.  I don't think she'd ever eat her kibble again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Soft Pretzels

So, I've talked about it before I know, but clearly we all agree that jeans shopping is the worst part about the going to the mall.  And if jeans shopping is the worst...soft pretzels are hands down the best.

Seriously, I know some people may disagree with this (I'm looking at you Cinnabon people), but there is nothing more enticing than walking through the mall or airport are smelling that sweet sweet aroma of freshly baked pretzel dough...buttered and salty just calling out to you.

If I'm alone at the mall or the airport...all bets are off.  I don't know if it's being engulfed by a sea of strangers, the fluorescent lighting, or the inconvenience of leaving the building, but something about the mall and airport are very enabling for me when it comes to bad eating.  

Not that these are the worst thing you can eat (that would be you again, Cinnabon...) but don't even worry about that, because you no longer even need to GO to the mall when all you really want is a delicious soft pretzel.  Here, friends.  Here is the answer.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banana Walnut Bread

Happy October!  It is officially my favorite month.  Are you excited?  I am, oh buddy.

As Jim is woefully aware, among my collection of extensive and ridiculous October rituals, I feel the need to watch at least one scary movie a day all month.  Crazy...totally crazy I know.

I realize that in the food-bloggy world there may not be an abundance of people that care as much as I do about cooking and zombies...but hey.  I'm so into it.  So just in case you are too...or if you're interested...or whatever, here is my October must-watch scary movie list.

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