Baking

Gooey, Delicious, Incredible S’mores Bars

Whenever I look at other people’s food blogs, esophagitis I wonder how they stay healthy. It seems like most food bloggers that I follow are pretty much all pretty thin and healthy looking, which makes me wonder if they work out and how many of their desserts they eat. I’ve always struggled with my weight and self-esteem, and I love baking and creating food because it makes me see food as something fun and a form of art and self expression, instead of something that will make me fat. I think that one of the things young girls (and really women of all ages) struggle with most is their weight and feeling beautiful, and that’s why I decided to start workshops, called Beautiful, for middle school girls.

Beautiful strives to instill in girls that they are gorgeous and special because they are God’s creation. We had a workshop this past Saturday and it was so fun. We talked about the messages the media sends girls and how we as women get our ideas of what beauty is from the media, our friends, family, etc, but how we don’t get our idea of beauty from God. I think that when we are able to be confident that we are cared for and special in God’s eyes, other things start to become less important. After we talked about this, I gave each of the girls a deck of cards and we spent the rest of the time writing positive things about each other and about ourselves on the cards. It was fun for everyone (including me) and I’m excited to start putting my cards in places that I’ll see them daily :)

Those are some of the cards I made :)

I made this dessert for the girls and they all loved them and each ate several pieces. While I think it is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it made me happy to see them eat them without worrying about weight-gain. We talked about a quote I read on Pinterest that said “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” and how that’s just a terrible statement. I understand that it’s trying to say that eating a dessert or whatever isn’t worth the calories and isn’t as satisfying as being skinny, but I think it communicates that food and eating isn’t as important as being thin. As someone who has struggled with anorexia, I know that being skinny is not as important as food and that depriving yourself of food is not healthy. Why spend your life counting every calorie and agonizing about food? Food is fuel. It is not the enemy. And you know what? The girls and I decided that these bars taste a whole lot better than skinny :)

I honestly think these S’mores Bars are one of the tastiest things I have ever made (and that’s saying something!) The bottom layer is a fudgy brownie layer then there’s a layer of graham cracker, chocolate chips, marshmallows, buttery cookie layer, and sweetened condensed milk. Mmm!!! <– You know it’s good when I use three exclamation points. It’s sweet, gooey, and all-around delicious.

This is a really simple recipe to make, too. First you mix your brownie mix (or make from scratch brownies if that’s how you roll) and pour it in a 9 by 13in pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil (aluminum foil is probably easier). Cover it with a layer of graham crackers. Dump a ton of chocolate chips and lots of mini marshmallows on the graham crackers. Next, mix up your yellow cake dough and gently press it on top. Drizzle on about a cup of sweetened condensed milk and bake! It’s really easy and sooo tasty. Really, make these soon. They’d be a great Valentine’s Day dessert or every day dessert- because really, who needs and excuse to tell someone you love them?

S’mores Bars

Ingredients:

1 family size box mix of brownies and the ingredients to make the brownies (probably canola oil, water, and 2 eggs)
9-ish honey graham crackers
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more!)
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 13in pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil that has been generously coated with cooking spray. Make sure your lining goes all the way around the pan.
  2. Mix up your brownie mix according to the box directions and pour it into the pan.
  3. Cover the brownies with the graham crackers. You want to fit as many of the graham crackers on there as you can.
  4. Pour the chocolate chips onto the graham crackers and then add the mini marshmallows.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the box of yellow cake mix, egg, and stick of softened butter. Use your hand to mix the dough all together.
  6. Top the marshmallows with the dough. I found the best way to do this is to take some in your hand, press it so it’s flat, and place it on top of the marshmallows. Repeat this until all the marshmallows are covered (it does not have to be perfect) and then drizzle on the cup of sweetened condensed milk.
  7. Bake it in the oven for 18-22 minutes. It’s hard to know when it’s done, but the top layer should be a nice golden brown. I took mine out after 18 minutes and it turned out wonderful- the brownie layer was really fudgy.
  8. It takes a long time for this to cool enough to cut. I was really impatient and tried to lift this out of the pan too early…it was a bit of a messy disaster. But if you wait for it to cool completely, you can cut nice, even squares (you can see the difference in the ones I cut right away and the ones I cut the next day).

This recipe was inspired by this and this recipe from Picky Palate <–she’s awesome!

Ok…I know I said in this post that I wouldn’t keep posting pictures of my puppy…but I can’t help myself! I think he’s just too cute :) And in desperate need of a haircut…I promise he does have eyes under there.

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Valentine’s Day Recipes

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! How do you celebrate?

I kinda miss the days of elementary school Valentine’s Day, cardiology when you got a little paper card from all the kids in your class, sometimes with a piece of candy taped onto it. My littlest sister, Ella, is in Kindergarten and she’s been working on writing all her classmates’ names on the cards she and my mom bought. I think it’s cute and nobody has to be sad that they didn’t get any Valentines.

Most of my high school classmates, on the other hand, hate Valentine’s Day. I just don’t get that! It make me think of the scene in Freaky Friday when Jamie Lee Curtis is talking to one of her patients on the phone while she’s grocery shopping. She says “Remember, you are a smart, strong, beautiful, independent woman and you don’t need a man to complete you” and the woman at the butcher counter thinks she’s talking to her and says “Thank you” all teary-eyed. Hehehe. I just want to go up to all those Valentines-day-hating-girls and tell them that they don’t need a man to complete them!

That being said, I’ve never really been big into Valentine’s Day, but I definitely love using it as an excuse to bake. Instead of giving people chocolates, why don’t you bake them something with chocolate? It’s tastier and more personal :) Here are some delicious ideas.

This Brownie Nutella Mousse Pie was incredible. There’s a fudgy brownie layer topped with a creamy Nutella mouse layer. Make this for anyone who loves Nutella :)

Here’s another Nutella recipe…Nutella Swirl Brownies. Bite-size, cute, and tasty!

Chocolate Cake+Buttercream Frosting+Ganache+Heath Bar= delicious!

If you’re making anyone breakfast in bed, definitely check out these Cinnamon Rolls! You could also make them for dessert…they’re really that good. I think I would fall in love with anyone who make these ;)

These Mini Peanut Butter and Nutella Cheesecakes have been super popular on this blog…and for good reason! They’re tasty and look really adorable!

Cookies with raw dough in the middle. Need I say more?

Oreo Truffles are one of my all-time favorite treats. You could put these in a cute little heart box :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether you go out to a romantic dinner or bake up some treats and watch the movie Valentine’s Day :)

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Heath Bar Cupcakes

Remember how I was telling you that the Brownie Nutella Mousse Pie I made was not an award winning dessert (but should have been)?

Well these Heath Bar Cupacakes are award-winning!

These are the cupcakes my middle sister made for our church’s dessert competition. I was so proud of her because they looked awesome and tasted great. I was so impressed because this is my sister who can’t make boxed brownies (teehee). She did a great job and won first place!

I take most of my food pictures on the kitchen floor because we have a big sliding glass door that lets in a lot of light. Whenever I take photos, adiposity my puppy dog, unhealthy Fenway, always comes over and checks out the food.

Don’t let that cute innocent face fool you! Fenway has a history of getting into all sorts of desserts. He is a rather strange dog in that he is allergic to beef but can eat chocolate all day long. He has eaten candy, chocolate bars, cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, and the list goes on and on (he is such a trouble maker!) We got Fenway six years ago…so I suppose he’s not a puppy anymore :) He’s a cocker-spaniel poodle mix and is really the sweetest dog.

So anyway, just thought I’d share those adorable pictures :) Back to these cupcakes. The chocolate cake has pieces of heath bar mixed into it, and the frosting is a creamy buttercream. There is chocolate ganache poured over the frosting and pieces of heath bar on top. Every part of this cupcake was delicious! My family agreed that the frosting was a little on the overly-sweet side, but other than that they were really good.


Heath Bar Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:
1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
1 cup Heath English Toffee Bits

For the Buttercream:
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

For the Ganache:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla

5 1.4-ounce Heath Bars, chopped into large pieces

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and espresso water mixture. Beat for about two minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Fold in Heath English Toffee Bits.
  3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells (about 3 tablespoons per cupcake).
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.
For the Buttercream:
     Note: We had so much buttercream left over…I think my sister used about half of what the recipe made because she put less frosting on each cupcake because we thought it was too sweet. You could either make a smaller amount or maybe use less sugar.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.
  2.  Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until everything is incorporated. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

For the Ganache:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream until very hot, but not boiling.
  2. Place chocolate pieces in a heat safe bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in the honey, corn syrup, and vanilla. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Do not let the glaze sit for too long or it will harden up before you spoon it over the frosting.
  3. Spoon the glaze on the tops of the frosted cupcakes, allowing it to drip down the sides a little bit. Don’t add too much glaze or it will drip all over your liners.
-Top each cupcake with a piece of Heath Bar.
-Store cupcakes in the refrigerator. Remove them to room temperature one hour before serving.
.

Recipe from My Baking Addiction :)

Makes 24 cupcakes.

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Brownie Nutella Mousse Pie


This is not an award-winning dessert <– Imagine if I started all my posts like that….I don’t think it’d be a very good way to convince you to make the recipes I post!

Unfortunately, infertility this pie is not an award-winning dessert, approved but it totally should be.

My church always has a big chili cook-off on Superbowl Sunday and it is awesome. Tons of people bring chili and there are tasty sides and desserts. I like trying all the different types of chili, dysentery but my mom’s is always my favorite (she won several years ago and I think that she should win every year!)

A couple of years ago, our youth group started doing a dessert competition at the cook-off. My sister and I both entered this year and we were doing all sorts of smack-talking. I made this Brownie Nutella Mousse Pie and, I have to say, it was really incredible. It should have won, but it didn’t- clearly the judges were crazy ;) My sister made Heath Bar Cupcakes and she won first place! Even though I wanted to win, I was really proud of her because her cupcakes tasted and looked really good. Stay tuned for that recipe coming soon :)

But back to this should-have-won-first-place-pie. It is incredible. It has a chocolate graham cracker crust, a layer of fudgy, gooey, chocolaty brownie, and is topped with a layer of creamy, heavenly nutella mousse. Honestly the nutella mousse could stand on its own. I really enjoyed this and everyone who tried it did, too. I made two pies and they were both gone really fast. I will absolutely make this again and totally think you should, too!

Alright so…I have to ask. Were you happy with the Superbowl outcome? What did you think of the half-time show?

I used to live in Massachusetts so I was rooting for the Patriots. But I thought the game was really good and intense! I don’t ever watch football but I enjoy the Superbowl. As for the half-time show, I thought it was really good. I don’t know why so many people didn’t like it!

Brownie Nutella Mousse Pie

Ingredients:

9 chocolate graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 box brownie mix and whatever oil, water, and eggs the package calls for
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Nutella, plus more for drizzling
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare chocolate crust: Crush the graham crackers (either in a food processor or in a ziplock bag with a mallet). Put the graham crackers in a 9-in pie pan and pour the melted butter over it. Use your hands to mix the butter and crumbs together. Press the mixture on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
  3. While the crust is baking, prepare the brownie mix. Pour it into the now-baked crust and bake for 35-45 minutes. The brownie will be set (not giggly) but it will still be a little gooey. Set the brownie aside (or in the fridge) until it cools completely.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
  5. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, mix Nutella and cream cheese until well combined.
  6. Spoon in 1/3 of the whipped cream and gently fold it into the Nutella. Slowly fold in all the whipped cream (it takes a little while but it is important that you don’t just stir the mixture).
  7. Chill the mousse until the brownie layer is completely cooled.
  8. When the pie is cooled, spread the mousse evenly over the pie.
  9. To make your pie taste extra yummy and look extra fancy drizzle some Nutella over the pie. To do that, microwave a few spoonfuls of Nutella for 10-20 seconds, put it in a ziplock back, cut a small opening in the tip of the bag, and go to town!

Makes one 9-in pie, 8ish pieces (depending on how big you cut them).

Recipe adapted from Sing For Your Supper :)

Enjoy!

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Most Popular Recipes of 2011 and Some of My Favorites

I started this blog in July of 2010, rx but I didn’t post regularly and certainly not about food. My first food-related post was in May of 2011…only 7 short months ago! I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about cooking, baking, food photography, and blogging in such a short time. I’m so thankful for all of you guys, my readers, who have commented and visited and made this a really fun experience. I’ve so enjoyed interacting with you and with all the other food bloggers out there. I participated in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookie Exchange and the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, both of which were great experiences! I am looking forward to this new year where I can try out new recipes and learn even more! (And yes, some healthy recipes are coming your way ;).

Here are my 10 most popular posts of this year and some of my extra favorites that didn’t make the list :)

10. Delicious Marshmallow Pie

I cannot tell you how much I love this pie. I have made it four years in a row for Thanksgiving. It’s really easy to make and super delicious with its chocolatey-coconut crust and sweet marshmallow filling.

Honorable Mention: The Incredibly Long Never Ending Mural that Took Over My Room

This post was in the top ten, but since it’s not food related I suppose it’s not “official.” I was so happy to finally be able to share this mural with others because it took me so long (almost 2 years) to complete. I’m really glad it’s done and am happy with how it turned out. If any of you have questions about anything mural-related, feel free to ask me!

9. Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake

Oooohhh goodness. This cake was gooooood. It’s quick and easy to make and ridiculously scrumptious (I like that word….scrumptious :) I loved eating it with some whipped cream….it was pure goodness! Stock up on pumpkin and make this soon!

8. Giant Peanut Butter Candy Cookie…for One.

This giant cookie was fun to make and very customizable (add whatever mix-ins you want!). I made it one night when I needed something sweet and this was the perfect thing. It makes one (giant) cookie that I ended up splitting into 4 pieces and sharing with my family.

7. Pumpkin Pie Dip

I cannot talk about this dip enough! I made it for Christmas and we had a lot leftover. Yesterday I just ate it spoonful after spoonful. It’s quick to make and you can easily use low-fat ingredients. If you’re having a New Year’s Eve Party and are making appetizers, I would definitely recommend this pumpkin pie dip!

6. Minty Kiss Brownie Bites

These brownie bites could not be simpler to make. I brought them to a party at school and they were very popular! You can use any type of kiss you want which is a good way to take advantage of any seasonal kisses!

5. Oreo Truffles

Ever since I tried these 4 years ago, my family has been making them every Christmas. They are fun and easy to make and are honestly one of the tastiest treats I have ever had. I don’t know why we only make them in December…I’ll have to change that! If you’ve never had these, you have to make them! Your life will never be the same <—possibly a slight exaggeration.

4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are very different from other cookies as they have a more cakey texture. But they have a really delicious flavor and have tons of chocolate chips. I think they get better as they age and enjoyed eating them with ice cream :)

3. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies

These cookies are incredible! I love eating cookie dough (raw eggs blah blah blah) and these cookies let me do that in cookie form! The outside of the cookie is soft and melts in your mouth while the inside is underbaked and tastes like raw cookie dough! They’re so easy to make, too, that you really have no excuse to not make these soon :)

2. Nutella Swirl Brownie Bites

I had nutella for the first time in 3rd grade at my church and I fell in love. My grandparents now keep us stocked with nutella (we get so much for Christmas every year that it’s impossible to get through it all! We now have one giant jar and 3 full normal-sized jars…not that I’m complaining ;). These brownie bites were very popular! The combination of chocolate and nutella is just too much to resist.

And drumroll please…the number one recipe of 2011 was….

1. Mini Peanut Butter and Nutella Cheesecakes

Woah! I am shocked! I posted this recipe two days ago and it’s already number one on my blog! And for good reason, too. These little cheesecakes look so cute. I made half of them nutella and half peanut butter and they were both amazing! This is the perfect treat to bring to a party or just make for yourself :)

Thank you all for making those recipes so popular! Now here are my top 5 recipes that didn’t make the list :)

5. Dreamy Apple Pie

My mom makes this for Thanksgiving and I love it- it’s the best apple pie I have ever had. The crust is perfect and there is a crumbly tasty topping…oh and the apples are good, too ;)

4. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am such a chocolate lover that I never expected to love these oatmeal raisin cookies as much as I did! The texture was soft and fluffy with the perfect flavors. I want to make these again…maybe with chocolate chips instead of raisins ;)

3. Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I am slightly obsessed with combination of chocolate and pretzels and these cookies were one of my favorite things I have ever made. The cookies were soft and delicious and the chocolate and pretzel add-ins were incredible. Oh yeah! I also loved these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars with a Pretzel Crust…so many recipes to share!

2. Pumpkin Donut Holes

Ok the picture for these aren’t anything impressive, but these tasted incredible. Now I really want to make them again! They’re perfect warm and rolled in lots of cinnamon and sugar.

1. Heavenly Cinnamon Rolls

These are, I think, the best thing I have ever made. I would eat these cinnamon rolls every day for every meal if I could ;) They are so buttery, fluffy, and sweet. I am positive that these are a new family favorite for birthdays and other special occasions :)

Oh goodness! I totally forgot about my real-food recipes! Ok this post is getting really long so I’ll just link to them. These dinner recipes are all really tasty. Promise.

  • Cajun Chicken Pasta– This has now become a staple in my family. It tastes better than a lot of pasta you would get in a restaurant!
  • Italian Chicken Soup– I want this soup..like now. It’s super hearty and delicious…perfect for these winter months!
  • Creamy Chicken Enchiladas– These are also a family favorite. They are really tasty and easy to make!
  • Potato Wedges and Veggies– These is a really healthy recipe! I ate it when I was on the Daniel Fast and it is really delicious.
  • Taco Pasta– Hamburger Helper on steroids…it’s so good. Trust me.

Thank you for sticking with me through this long post! Again, thank you for reading! Email me or leave me a comments with anything you’d like to see in this coming year!

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