Chocolatey Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

The weather has been heating up and Summer is about to smack us all in the face. I’ve been living in the Bay Area now for about 6 months and we were so excited to find our house, that we forgot to ask if there was air conditioning. As you can probably guess… I don’t have air conditioning. We didn’t think it would be a big deal, as Northern California is usually cooler than Southern California, right? Wrong. It’s been in the 80’s the past few days and we’re pretty much melting in our own house. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think Summer is the time for heavy cakes and warm pies anyway… it’s the time for quick snacks! Anything that keeps my oven turned off is definitely a treat I enjoy in the Summer.

I decided to make a good ol’ peanut butter bar, but toss in some salty pretzels and semi-sweet chocolate to make it more awesome. It’s super easy to make, you don’t have to turn on the oven and it requires very few ingredients.
Chocolate, peanut butter and pretzel time

Ingredients:
• 16 oz. jar of creamy peanut butter
• 1 1/4 stick of butter (softened)
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• Pretzels
• 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Ingredients

Start by beating the butter and peanut butter until smooth n’ creamy.
Peanut butter and butter mixture
Slowly add in the powdered sugar, I beat everything on high for about a minute, just to make sure it was well combined.
Powdered sugar mixed in
I didn’t measure the amount of pretzels, but it looked to be about a cup. I placed the pretzels in a ziplock and punched them until they were all in small pieces.
I poured the beat up pretzels and half the bag of chocolate chips into the mixture.
Toss in the goodies
Stir it all up!
Line a 9X9 inch pan with foil and then lightly grease the foil.
Foil and grease
Pour the peanut butter mixture into the pan and then press it evenly.
Pressed
Melt the remaining chocolate chips and smooth over the top of the peanut butter mixture.
Smash up some more pretzels and sprinkle them on top.
Heading to the fridge
Place the completed creation in the fridge.
Allow the ingredients to harden for about 2-3 hours. Pull up the foil from the pan and then cut them into as big or small of pieces as you like. I had my batch in the fridge for 2 hours and my poor bars were already softening as I cut them up… but I guess that’s what happens when it’s 88F in your house with no AC. haha.
No bake goodness
Luckily, they held up long enough for me to cut them and to get some photos! They’re really tasty and store very nicely back in the fridge.
Enjoy! Get ready for Summer!

Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

The Girl Scout Cookies are long gone, but that doesn’t mean my cravings for Thin Mints will stop! Luckily, they’re super easy to make and you don’t even have to be guilted into spending $5 a box from little girls flashing their big smiles at you. I will warn you, once these are made, they will be gone immediately. I only got to enjoy about 4 cookies before my visiting family members ate them all.
I guess I’ll have to bake another batch… oh no…

Ingredients for 30-40 cookies:
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup flour
• 1/2 cup cocoa
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 bag of mint & chocolate chips
The fixin's

Preheat your oven to 350F.
Cream the sugar and butter together.
Creamed butter and sugar
Add the egg and vanilla to the sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.
Sift!
Slowly add the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture, until all is combined.
Slowly add dry ingredients
The dough will be quite dry.
Dry cookie dough
Halve the dough and roll two cylinders onto a lightly floured surface.
Roll 'em
Now that they’re looking quite unappealing, wrap the cylinders with wax paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap.
Rolled Cylinders
Place the cylinders in the freezer for about an hour to harden.
Take one cylinder out of the freezer at a time and use a sharp knife to slice your cookies.
I wasn’t too careful about how thin/thick my cookies were, but if you would like your cookies to be more true to Thin Mint form, definitely cut very thin slices. The thinner you slice, the crunchier they will be.
Sliced
Since the dough won’t spread much, you can place quite a few cookies on one sheet.
Ready to bake
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Right before you take the cookies out of the oven, melt the mint chocolate chips.
Take the cookies out and drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the warm cookies.
Drizzle some chocolate
Place the cookie sheet in the fridge and allow the chocolate covered cookies to firm up, I only had mine in for about 20 minutes before I placed them in my cookie jar. 🙂
Thin mints
Enjoy!

Recipe Find! Chocolate Chip Cookies from Kelseys Apple A Day

As someone that loves to bake and think up new and interesting recipes… there are times where I don’t want to make my same ol’ recipe and am far too lazy to think of a new one. These are the moments I check out my Pinterest boards and bake someone else’s great recipe! I’ve come across some amazing and creative ideas on Pinterest, anyone that doesn’t have an account, I highly recommend it.

On this particular afternoon, I just wanted some chocolate chip cookies. I looked through the rows and rows of what looked like good cookie recipes, but one definitely caught my eye. With a caption like “The fluffiest, chewiest, most amazing chocolate chip cookies–all thanks to a very surprising ingredient!” I knew it had to be good. I was directed to the great blog of Kelseys Apple A Day on Blogspot.

Definitely check out Kelseys Best-Ever Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies! I gave the cookies a shot and they were a hit! I’m pretty sure this is one of my new favorite go-to recipes for chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were chewy and perfect, they were gone within 2 days. I mean, c’mon… look at these beauties…
ThanksToAppleADay

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
barely adapted from Anna Olson, Food Network Canada

Ingredients:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

3. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.

4. Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5. Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely. Makes approximately 3 dozen. Try not to eat them all.

Strawberry “Carrots” for Easter

I was visiting my family in Southern California and was thinking of ideas for Easter on the Oven Mitt. You wouldn’t believe who had the best idea, my 13 year old nephew. He said I should dip strawberries into orange chocolate, so they look like carrots… Brilliant!! So, I take no credit in this adorable, yet super easy idea for Easter!
I was in luck, as my local grocery store had just restocked their organic strawberries. They all looked and smelled perfect! It’s definitely that time of year again for some beautiful, red ripe strawberries. For the sake of them looking like carrots, I would recommend grabbing some larger strawberries. 🙂
A package deal

Ingredients:
• Fresh Strawberries
• Orange Candy Melts(I got mine from Michael’s)

Strawberries and chocolate melts
Make sure your strawberries are clean and dry. I just rinsed mine off with cool water and patted dry with a paper towel.

Pour the candy melts into a microwave safe container. Set your heat to low, while doing 30 second intervals with the candy melts. Every time you go to reheat, stir the candy melts.

Once the chocolate is melted completely, gather the strawberry stems and gently dip into the chocolate.
Place the dipped strawberries onto a cookie sheet or plate that is lined with parchment paper.

As soon as you’re finished dipping all of the strawberries you want, place them in the fridge to harden.
Dip 'em
I left my strawberries in for about an hour and they were perfect, but I continued to store the remaining strawberries in the fridge.
Enjoy!
Ready for Easter!

Quickie: Green Smoothie

Now that the weather has been warming up and Spring is just around the corner, the smoothie cravings are definitely kicking in. I have no problem indulging all year round, but something about a warm day with a smoothie in my hand… can’t beat it. I’ve discovered the “green smoothie” craze and was intrigued. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at eating my vegetables, unless they’re dipped in ranch or part of a salad. Eek!

I’m up for anything that will help me in that department, so I’ve been doing some experimenting with these green smoothies. I usually switch off between baby kale and spinach as my green, then toss in whatever fruit sounds good! I’ve read that a lot of people add juice, yogurt and/or nuts, but I felt that keeping it basic with just the green, fruit, water and ice would be the best way to go. Anywho, I wanted to share one of my favorite green smoothie concoctions with you!
Mmmm healthy...

Ingredients:
• 1 banana
• 1 green apple (cored and peeled)
• 1 cup spinach (I usually freeze the spinach before using, it seems to give the smoothie a better texture)
• 2 cups of ice (about 10 ice cubes)
• 1/2 cup water
Green smoothie ingredients

Just toss everything into your blender and let it go until it’s smooth! I have my blender on the highest speed setting and let it blend for a good 2-3 minutes.
Ready to blend!

Do you have any favorite smoothie recipes? Green or not, I’d love to hear about them! Have a great day!
Ready to drink!

Red Velvet Brownies

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching!… So quick, in fact, that I almost forgot about it. Oops. Thankfully, my good friend Mandey from MamaMandolen.com reminded me and even suggested we do some collaboration. Well, collaborating is what we did! I’d say we’re a great team, as we created an awesome Valentine’s spread with my baking and her craftiness. I decided to make some red velvet brownies, nothing says love like red and chocolate. 🙂
Red velvet brownies

Ingredients for 9″x13″ baking pan:
• 2/3 cup vegetable oil
• 2 cups white sugar
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup flour
• 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 tsp. white vinegar
• 1 tbs. red food coloring (if desired)
• 1 bag of dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Beat the vegetable oil and sugar on medium speed for about a minute.
Mixing vegetable oil and sugar
Add the vanilla extract and eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time until smooth.
Veg. oil, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs.
In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powered, salt, coca powder).
Dry ingredients.
Slowly beat the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture until all is well blended.
Mix the vinegar and red food coloring in a small dish and pour into the brownie mixture and blend well.
Ready for the Red!
Add some chocolate chips and/or nuts and stir until well combined.
Pour the brownie mixture into a greased 9″x13″ baking pan and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan.
All set to bake.
Out will come a moist brownie with a crumbly top crust.
All done!
Mandey was sweet enough to let me use her beautiful home for a backdrop and she decorated the table and brownies with tons of adorable handmade Valentine goodies. She even included some pink milk! If you’d like to learn more about Mandey’s crafts, home, beautiful twin boys and more, you won’t be disappointed in checking out her blog, MamaMandolin.com!
Nice Valentine's Day setup.
Serve with pink milk!

Mom’s Fudge

This is a special post, where my mom is doing the bakin’. It’s the holidays, which means mom is whipping up her famous fudge! She’s always baking other goodies as well, baklava, pistachio bark and cookies. It changes every year, but the fudge is definitely the staple! I took down her recipe and got some action shots of her creating the chocolatey epicness that the family devours every year.
Oh goodness

The Ingredients for 2 lbs of fudge:
3/4 cup butter
1 (5oz.) can of evaporated milk
3 cups sugar
1 (7oz.) jar of marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla (she prefers to eyeball the amount, but guesses it’s about a tsp.) 🙂
1 (12oz.) bag of milk chocolate chips
2 cups of walnuts
Helping Mom prep

Mom recommends getting every ingredient and tool that you’ll need before getting started, as time is important with making fudge.

In a 4 quart pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.
Once melted, add the evaporated milk and sugar, stirring constantly.
Here comes the sugar
Use a candy thermometer and continue stirring until it reaches 234F, then remove from heat. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
Scoop in the marshmallow creme.
Jet Puffed
Stir until smooth.
Working quickly, add the vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
Nutty
Once all ingredients are combined and smooth, pour the fudge into a greased 9″x13″ dish.
Inviting
Spread evenly and stick the dish in the fridge for at least one hour.
Smoooooooth
Once it’s nice and firm, you can cut the fudge out and eat it up!
Omp!