Sweet Potato Brownies #RecipeMakeover

Jake gets such a kick out of being my sous chef that I let him pick my last project for #RecipeMakeover week.  He picked brownies. Challenge accepted.

These, admittedly, still aren’t the healthiest brownies ever – but they’re a solid step in the right direction. This recipe uses less sweeteners than most and sneaks in some sweet potato to boot. And while I didn’t plan it this way, they’re vegan, too.

I mashed my sweet potatoes with a fork so they were still a little lumpy going into the batter. Jake isn’t picky (and is thrilled with anything chocolate), so he didn’t mind at all, but if you’re catering to a finicky crowd, pureeing the sweet potatoes would be a better way to hide them!

SweetPotatoBrownies

Sweet Potato Brownies
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
Makes 1 9×9 ban

1/2 cup unrefined organic cane sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup almond butter
3/4 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the almond butter, sweet potato, syrup and vanilla until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is moistened. Fold in chocolate.

Transfer to the prepared baking pan and smooth out evenly in the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top looks dry and puffed. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

Dust with additional cocoa powder, if desired.

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Chocolate Bunny Brownies #ChocolateBunnyPledge

Are you working on filling Easter baskets this week? We are. I’m so looking forward to stocking up on jellybeans, marshmallow chicks, and chocolate bunnies for my crew. You know what won’t be in our Easter baskets? Any live animals.

Each year after Easter, animal shelters and rescue groups get countless requests to take in baby chicks, ducks, and bunnies that were gifted in Easter baskets. It might seem like an adorable idea, but those animals aren’t toys – they’re a lot of work.

The Bunny Hutch is one of these groups and this year they’re asking people to take the #ChocolateBunnyPledge. Will you commit to making your Easter basket fillers candy instead of live animals? Sign the pledge here.

ChocolateBunnyBrownies

And if you’re looking for the easiest Easter dessert ever – featuring a chocolate bunny! – look no further. This is a standard brownie mix (or your favorite brownie recipe – I love this one.) Take it out of the oven during the last two minutes of baking and press a chocolate bunny and some Cadbury mini eggs into the brownies. Return to the oven for 2 more minutes to let everything meld together. Voila! Easy Chocolate Bunny Brownies.

Opa’s Gingerbread #FBLCookieExchange

My most vivid memories of my grandfather revolve around what he was baking for us. He was German and worked in a bakery and made the most beautiful, delicious treats. After he retired to Florida, he’d send up big boxes of Christmas cookies every year. BIG boxes. Like, 20 lbs. of Christmas cookies. These gingerbread cookies were always my favorite.

I shared these with a few of my fellow food bloggers during an early cookie swap last month, I figured that if they routinely survived the trip from Florida to New Jersey, they’d be the perfect cookie to mail.

OpaGingerbread

Opa’s Gingerbread
(a family recipe)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

16 oz. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
6 1/4 oz. light brown sugar
6 oz. butter
5 1/2 oz. unsweetened molasses
1 egg

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the molasses and egg until well combined. Mix in the spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out and cutting into shapes.

Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes.

Coconut Oil Brownies #Choctoberfest

For Choctoberfest, I also received some products to try from Barlean’s. These were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

CoconutOilBrownies

One of the products they sent was Butter Flavored Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter in baking, and butter flavored coconut oil is especially fantastic. Using it is a fantastic way to whip up dairy-free baked goods, like these brownies.

They’re chewy and fudgy and exactly what you want out of a brownie.

CoconutOilBrownies2

Coconut Oil Brownies
(from Pinch of Yum)
Makes 1 9×9″ pan

3/4 cup butter flavored coconut oil
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a double boiler, melt the coconut oil and chocolate together. Once totally melted and combined, remove from heat and whisk in the brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs, until the batter thickens. Stir in the salt and flour until just combined.

Pour into a 9×9″ baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. There may be some oil remaining on the top or sides – it will be absorbed as the brownies cool. Let cool overnight before slicing.

Nutella Topped Rice Krispie Treats

I haven’t had many have-to-have it pregnancy cravings, so when I get one I’ve been indulging. A few weeks ago, it was rice krispie treats. The day after we’d finished off the pan, I was chatting with a friend and mentioned them. She was like, oh yes! I smothered mine in Nutella while pregnant. Which, of course, sounded fantastic so then I needed some like that.

These were, of course, fantastic. Just the right amount of chocolate. I found a fun box of red, white and blue Rice Krispies, too, so they’re extra festive for today! If you need a last minute dessert, I highly recommend these.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

NutellaToppedKrispieTreats

Nutella Topped Rice Krispie Treats
(adapted from Liv Life)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan

1/4 cup butter
1 bag mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening

Grease a 9×13″ pan. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir often, until melted. Stir in the Rice Krispies. Transfer to the prepared pan and press down evenly.

In a smaller saucepan, combine the Nutella, chocolate chips and shortening. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour over the top of the Rice Krispie treats and spread out evenly. Let sit until the chocolate sets then cut into bars.

What’s Baking: Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars

whatsbaking

I’m officially less than 2 months from my due and I’m starting to feel the crunch. I’m pretty sure by this point with Jake everything was mostly set up, the freezer was filling up with meals and I was (not so) patiently waiting for his arrival. This go, all the baby stuff is still in the basement, there’s list of stuff we still need to buy and any meals that make it to the freezer are retrieved within the week for nights I can’t keep up. I’m pretty much just praying I make it to my due date again because those last two weeks I may finally have some time to get things done.

ChocolateChipPecanCookieBars

One of the things that has been hitting me hard is that my days of me-and-Jake time are coming to an end. He’s at such a fun age right now and I really love spending the day with my little buddy. He’s been super into helping me in the kitchen lately so I’ve been trying to pick recipes that he can be really hands-on with.

The latest theme for What’s Baking was “bars” – and these are perfect for a toddler assistant because there’s no risk of over-mixing and if the quantities aren’t measured out perfectly, that’s just fine. And they only take about five minutes to throw together, which is pretty much how long his attention lasts these days.

TasteTesterJake

Besides being easy, they’re delicious. My little taste tester couldn’t wait to get his hands on one and then all I heard was, “Yum! YUM!” as I packaged them up. I’m sure they’ll be making repeat appearances at our summer barbecues.

TasteTestJake

Want more bar ideas for your summer baking? Check out our host for the month, Cookaholic Wife, for a roundup of all of the goodies the other bloggers made!

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars
(adapted from South Your Mouth)
Makes 1 8×8″ pan

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick spray and line with baking parchment. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until set. Let cool completely, then cut into squares. Roll each square in powdered sugar.

Whole Wheat Biscotti

This month’s What’s Baking challenge was to make biscotti. I wasn’t sure how this would go because I’ve never made it before – and the only biscotti I’ve ever eaten were really dry and unappealing so I didn’t think I liked it.

This changed my mind.

This biscotti is super simple, with just enough sweetness to make them the perfect holiday accompaniment to coffee or tea. Now that I have these under my belt, I’m sure I’ll be trying different varieties next year!

To see the biscotti other bloggers made for the challenge, check out Coleen’s roundup at The Redhead Baker tomorrow!

Biscotti

Whole Wheat Biscotti
(from Food.com)
Makes about 2 dozen

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add in the eggs, vanilla and almond extract and stir until well-combined and dough-like. Divide dough in half anf form into 2 logs about 2″x13″.

Bake for 25 minutes, then cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Using a bread knife, cut into 1/2″ slices and bake for 10 more minutes, turning halfway through.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Firecracker Cookies

I’ve been on a cookie kick for the last week or so. I mixed up batches of my favorites for a few parties last weekend so I wanted to try something new for this weekend’s festivities. These were super fun and super easy. You can make these with your favorite sugar cookie and buttercream recipes, or just use packages – whichever your schedule allows.

Adding pop rocks on top makes these firecrackers for your tongue but you want to add them right before serving or the moisture of the icing will activate all of the “popping” early.

FirecrackerCookies

Firecracker Cookies
(from momdot)

Your favorite sugar cookies
White icing
Strawberry or Watermelon PopRocks
Red, White and Blue Sprinkles

Prepare your favorite sugar cookies. Once cook, frost and decorate with sanding sugar and sprinkles. Add Pop Rocks right before serving.

Mint Chocolate Chip Krispie Treats

So, I’ve gotten pretty good at time managing holiday prep with Jake around. I didn’t offer to make anything overly ambitious – a fruit tray, a veggie tray and some cupcakes. I planned out things a few days in advance and figured out how to get everything made with plenty of time to spare. What I didn’t account for? How much two days of Easter parties would mess up the poor kid’s schedule. He’s currently taking his first decent nap all week, which is why I’m finally getting around to a blog post.

I debating not even posting these because I feel like they’re too simple – I just added some mint extract and chocolate chips to the classic recipe. But, I’m appreciating simple things more and more – and for not a lot of time or effort, these make a mighty addicting dessert.

MintChocoleChipKrispieTreats

Mint Chocolate Chip Krispie Treats
(adapted from Kellogg’s)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan

3 Tbsp. butter
1 10 oz. package marshmallows
1/2 tsp. mint extract
Green food coloring
6 cup Rice Krispies
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease a 9×13″ pan and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add marshmallow and stir until melted. Stir in mint extract and enough food coloring to reach desired color until well combined. Stir in Rice Krispies until well coated. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Press the mixture into the pan evenly and let sit for several hours before slicing and serving.

Sprinkle Cookies

I, along with most of my friends from school, are turning 30 this year. It’s weird to think we’re exiting our 20s – mostly because that makes it painfully obvious we’re no longer “just out of college” or “just starting adulthood”. Hello, we’re here.

Adult doesn’t necessarily mean mature, though. We’ve had two 30th birthday parties so far this year: one involved playing dodgeball at a trampoline park and the other was a pizza party. Because, you know, my friends are awesome.

I made up these cookies as a 30th birthday gift for our friend, Douglas. I’d actually made them back in November when Jacob was baptized with blue and white sprinkles and Douglas was crazy for them. His wife held a Christmas cookie exchange in December and he was sorely disappointed I didn’t bring these so I knew they’d be a hit his birthday.

They remind me of the soft vanilla cookies my Mom used to get from the bakery. Just the right amount of chewy center with a slightly crisp edge. And switching up the sprinkle colors makes them perfect for just about any occasion. Or, any 30th birthday party you may be attending!

SprinkleCookies

Sprinkle Cookies
(from Grace and Good Eats)
Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sprinkles

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and pudding mix. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well combined. Beat in vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined. Mold dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Roll the dough into 1″ balls, roll the balls in sprinkles and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges and just set in the center. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.