Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Candy Corn Cookie Bark

It is not even Halloween yet but let me tell you: I am already done with sweets! I feel like there is candy and treats everywhere you go this time of year! I mean don't get me wrong, I LOVE candy, cookies all everything else that has sugar in it (major sweet tooth here) but there occasionally comes a time when I realize that my consumption has probably, definitely exceeded what I should've consumed! I still don't regret making this Halloween-ish, candy bark.  It is so festive and cute and yummy! It is extremely rich and a little piece is pretty much all you need! The good thing is that this is super easy and quick so you can whip it up in 10 minutes tomorrow on Halloween and be good to go! So... make this first and THEN retire from sweets for a while! ;)

Halloween Candy Corn Cookie Bark
adapted from: YourHomeBasedMom

14 whole Oreos, broken up (use Halloween Oreos if you can find them)
1 1/2 cups pretzels - any shape, broken into pieces
16 ounces almond bark or white chocolate melts (I actually used around 24 oz. because I didn't think 16 was enough)
3/4 cup dry-roasted, salted peanuts
1 cup candy corn
black and orange colored sprinkles

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Spread broken cookies, pretzels, peanuts and about 3/4 cup of the candy corn onto the prepared cookie sheet in a 9x13 shape. Place almond bark in a container and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir and then microwave for another 30 seconds until melted and smooth.

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie mixture, spreading with spatula if needed to coat evenly. It may seem like it's not enough but just try to evenly spread it. The ratio of chocolate to toppings will be off if you add more almond bark/white chocolate. Sprinkle remaining candy corn and colored sprinkles over the almond bark/white chocolate while it is still wet. Do not let it harden. Place cookie tray into refrigerator until set and firm. Remove and gently break bark into small pieces - it's really rich. Makes around 20-24 pieces. Store in air tight container.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Low-fat Candy Corn Cupcakes

I LOVE Halloween and whenever it comes around I am always wanting to make fun, festive or spooky treats and food! This time of year can be so hard to eat healthy though. It seems like everywhere you go, you are tempted with candy, cookies, pie and treats galore! It's definitely not IMPOSSIBLE to eat healthy, though.

These cupcakes are actually Hungry Girl's recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes.  All I did to make them Halloween appropriate was divide the batter into two, dye one-half orange and other half yellow.  I layered each cupcake liner with half yellow batter, then orange.  You can't see it by this picture but it is really fun to bite into the cupcake and find a bright two-toned cupcake! And these may be guilt-free (164 calories and 3g fat per cupcake), but they are delicious!

HG's "Candy Corn" Cupcakes
recipe adapted from Hungry Girl


For Frosting
1 1/4 cups Cool Whip Free, thawed
1 1/2 tbsp. Jell-O Sugar Free Fat Free Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

For Cupcakes
Half of an 18.25-oz. box (about 1 1/2 cups) moist-style yellow cake mix
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup Sprite Zero (or another diet lemon-lime soda), room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup liquid egg whites or (about 4) raw egg whites
yellow food color
red food color

For Topping
candy corn
Halloween/fall colored sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the frosting, combine Cool Whip with pudding mix in a bowl, and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until cupcakes are ready to be frosted.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix with baking powder and stir until free of lumps. Add soda and vanilla extract, and stir or whisk until batter is smooth. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites with a handheld electric mixer set to medium speed until fluffy, about 1 - 2 minutes. Gently mix egg whites into the cake batter until thoroughly combined.

Divide batter into two equal parts.  In one half, add 3-4 drops of yellow food color (or more if it needs it) and mix well.  In the other half, add a 1:3 ratio of red to yellow food color until you get the orange color that you like. (I think I did 2 drops red, 6 drops yellow- yikes!)

Line 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute the yellow batter into the cups, then evenly distribute the orange batter on top of that.

Bake for 15 - 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out fairly clean. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Once cupcakes have cooled, top each evenly with the frosting and decorate with candy corn and/or sprinkles.

Nutriton: 164 calories per serving, 3g fat

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Smoked Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

 I don't know who first decided that mac 'n cheese was a "kids" food.  Of course almost all kids love it, but is there some rule that says that people must unlike the cheesy goodness of noodles drenched in a butter/cheese/milk sauce once they become adults?

Well I think that's crazy.  Pretty much, macaroni and cheese is one of my top 10 foods.  Ever. This recipe is not your traditional mac 'n cheese, but it is rich and extremely flavorful and definitely gives good ole' cheddar mac a run for its money.  I could not find 100% smoked cheddar, but found a blend of smoked shredded cheeses at Trader Joe's.  I think that was my favorite part about this recipe- the smoked cheese brings so much flavor and... smokiness!  This is a hot, hot recipe, my friends! (Hot as in amazing/hip/cool, not spicy. It's not spicy.) Definitely designed for a much older, maturer palate! ;)

Smoked Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese
from Betty Crocker

 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (12 oz)
1 1/2
cups whipping cream*
teaspoon Dijon mustard
teaspoon coarse (kosher or sea) salt
  teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  oz smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
  cup sliced green onions (4 medium)
cup grated Parmesan cheese
cup Progresso® plain bread crumbs
teaspoons olive oil

  1. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on box. Return to saucepan; cover to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 2-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream, mustard, salt and red pepper to boiling. Reduce heat; stir in Cheddar cheese with wire whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour sauce over macaroni. Stir in tomatoes and onions. Pour into baking dish. In small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in oil. Sprinkle over top of macaroni mixture.
  4. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown.
Makes 8 servings (1 1/4 cups each)
*Make sure to use whipping cream in this recipe.  Even though it is higher fat, if you use milk or half and half, they are more likely to curdle when added to the acidic ingredients- the tomatoes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Breakfast Burritos

Here's my picture:

Here's her picture:

Umm. Let's just pretend I took both, okay? But for real, this is PIONEER WOMAN we are talking about here.  The first here recipe of hers that I've tried and LOVED!

If you are unfamiliar with Pioneer Woman, just google her.  Or turn on the Food Network because she and her ranch family have made their debut on the small screen now, too.  She is known for her love affair with butter and more butter and/or cheese but her recipes just all seem like true comfort food at its finest.  And these were the very best breakfast burritos I have ever had.  My husband, who adores anything with eggs and/or burritos also agreed.

This recipe is in Pioneer Woman's, otherwise known as Ree Drummond's, cookbook that I got at my wedding.  When I am bored I will pull out that cookbook and just drool over the pictures and recipes.  If only food that food had zero calories, right?  Sigh...

Her recipe calls for her breakfast potatoes, which recipe I included.  However, I didn't have time to cook potatoes so I just used about 1 1/2 cups or so of frozen hash browns.  They were even shredded.  But it still turned out fabulous!

 Breakfast Burritos  

(can easily half this recipe- calls for making 12 servings but I halved and it made about 5 burritos,) from The Pioneer Woman


  • 1 whole Recipe Of Ree's Basic Breakfast Potatoes* or 1 1/2 cups frozen hashbrowns
  • 1 pound Breakfast Sausage
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 10 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half (I used 2% milk)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Flour Tortillas
  • picante sauce

Preparation Instructions

1. Begin by browning the breakfast sausage over medium heat. Drain off grease and reduce the heat to low.  Next, add the Basic Breakfast Potatoes and red bell peppers and stir to combine.  Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Crack the eggs into a bowl.  Add the seasoned salt, pepper, half-and-half and whisk to beat the eggs lightly.  
3. Add the chives and Monterey Jack and stir to combine.
4. With the heat still on low, pour the egg mixture over the sausage/potato mixture.
5. Now, with a spoon or spatula, very gently stir the mixture.  The potatoes will break apart if you stir too much, so go easy.
6. Continue lightly cooking over low heat until eggs are set.
7. Now taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more seasoned salt, pepper or cheese if desired.
8. To assemble, warm the stack of tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Place a heaping spoonful of egg mixture into the middle of a warm tortilla.  Add more cheese if desired.
9. Tuck in the sides, then roll the tortilla until closed.  
10.  Wrap in foil sheets and keep warm until ready to serve.  Serve with picante sauce.

Basic Breakfast Potatoes


  • 4 whole (to 5) Large Red Potatoes
  • 1 whole Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Or Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Bacon Fat (optional)
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Red And Green Bell Peppers, Diced (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover entirely with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender. (Or place potatoes on a baking sheet in a 375 degree F oven for 34 minutes or until fork tender.) When they are ready, place the potatoes on a cutting board and dice them into 1-inch pieces.
Next cut up an onion into a large, rough dice.
In a large skillet heat oil and bacon fat over medium-low heat. Put the onions in the skillet and sauté until they start to turn brown. (You can also use red and green bell peppers diced up. If you do, throw them in at this point).
Next, throw in the diced potatoes. Stir well and then slightly press/pack then. Now you will cook them without stirring for several minutes. You want the pan to be hot enough to crisp the potatoes but not hot enough to char them. (Optional step: sprinkle a bit of flour over potatoes as they cook). Cook for several minutes and then flip them with a spatula. Salt and Pepper them as they cook. Cook until desired brownness.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Streusel Pie Bars

Apple Streusel Pie Bars. What could be a better fall dessert? Probably nothing, because these are amazing! I like apple pie, I would never turn it down, but this apple dessert had me swooning! I'm not sure how many pieces I ate... definitely more than I should've... :/ haha but you too will see how good these are if you make them! Definite keeper recipe! And so easy!

Apple Streusel Bars

2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. real butter, softened (no substitutions!)
1 egg, beaten

1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 c. (about 3 medium) sliced, peeled baking apples (I've used Granny Smith in the past, although this time around I used Gala and they were fabulous)
2 c. powdered sugar
About 3 Tbsp. milk (whole milk is best)
1 tsp. almond extract
To prepare crust, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles. Gently mix in beaten egg.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish. Preheat oven to 350 and set aside.
To prepare apple filling, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Toss with apples and spread apples out on prepared crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over apples evenly and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. When finished, allow to cool completely.

To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Place glaze in a Ziploc bag and cut off a very small portion of one of the corners. Drizzle glaze over cooled pastry and allow to harden (you can place it in the freezer to hurry things along). Cut into bars and serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Yup it's THAAAT time again, finally! I'm so excited fall is here! (I know, this is about the 3rd or 4th post that I've said that.. but really, I'm so happy!) These babies (actually they were pretty ginormous) are fabulously fall-ish and so, so yummy! They definitely got me in the Autumn/Halloween mood.  I love baking with pumpkin, probably because you only can one time a year ;)

This recipe came from Brown-Eyed Bakers' blog and it is a keeper! I'd suggest making them smaller than you think is normal, as they will turn out perfect.  I made them a little too big. Definitely didn't hurt on the taste factor but they would've been cuter and a little less guilty if they were smaller!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Brown-Eyed Baker

Yield: About 4 dozen assembled whoopie pies (will vary depending on how large you make them)
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 10 to 12 minutes

For the Whoopie Pies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
5. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving. (They are also good room-temperature, though, too.)

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