Yes, January is almost over. And yes, I’m just now sorting through my Christmas pictures. Apparently this is life with two kids.
To be fair, all of the good family pictures and such were on my phone. I really need to get better at my camera!
I did find this, though. A quick shot of a delicious dessert – so I just had to share. If you’re someone who doesn’t like overly sweet desserts, this is for you. The tart cranberries and apples offset the sugar in this nicely.
I recommend serving it warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heavenly!
Cranberry Apple Crisp
(from The Blonde Cook)
For the filling:
3 cups cored, chopped and peeled granny smith apples
2 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
For the crisp:
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 11×7 baking dish with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour for the filling. Stir in the cranberries and apples and mix, gently, until evenly combined. Pour into prepared baking dish.
In another bowl, stir together all topping ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.
Bake for 50 minutes, until edges are bubbly and fruit is tender.
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.
(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
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.
The latest round of the Improv Cooking Challenge was Nuts and Caramel – so perfect as we’re going into the holiday season! I decided on a fun dish that could be either an appetizer or dessert – perfect for a holiday potluck or to make and give to friends and family.
This snack mix is a super easy thing to make, even when you’re pressed for time. I added red and green M&Ms to make it festive for a holiday, but you could switch up the colors for any special occasion!
You can see the other Nuts and Caramel dishes bloggers cooked up here:
Caramel Nut Chex Mix
(from Butter With a Side of Bread)
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 box corn Chex
2 cups salted mixed nuts
2 cups M&Ms
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Combine the corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until the butter is melted. Whisk to combine.
In a roasting pan, combine the Chex and mixed nuts. Pour the sugar mixture over and stir to coat.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and stir as it cools – don’t let it just sit, it’ll become one big block! When cool, stir in M&Ms.
Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
For Choctoberfest, I also received some products to try from Barlean’s. These were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.
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.
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
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.
One of the things I love about these blogging events is that they tend to push me out of my comfort zone. When I signed up for a Choctoberfest, I was imaging lots of chocolate goodies. Making my own chocolate, though? It never crossed my mind. But when Caveman Coffee Co sent a package of Cacao Butter that was exactly what I found myself doing. I did receive the product free to try, but all opinions are my own.
The process of making chocolate was actually surprisingly easy. I opted for a dark chocolate version – my favorite! – and dressed it up a bit for Halloween. ‘Tis the season and all.
I loved everything about this – especially that I could control the sweetness. I see a lot of DIY chocolate bark in my future!
Dark Chocolate Halloween Bark
(adapted from Minimalist Baker)
Makes 1 pan
1 cup cacao butter, divided
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
Candy corn, optional
Line a baking pan with parchment an set aside.
In a double boiler over medium heat, melt 1 cup cacao butter. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup until thoroughly combined. Once completely combined, whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla. Taste and add more syrup if needed. Pour onto prepared baking pan.
Add candy corn and sprinkles between ghosts. Refrigerate until set – at least an hour and a half. Once completely cooled and set, break into pieces.
Here we go – it’s #Choctoberfest 2016!
#Choctoberfest is a virtual event put together by The PinterTest Kitchen. Bloggers from around the world will be posting their favorite chocolate recipes, and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. What’s not to love? I’m so excited to be jumping in on the fun this year!
Thank you to the sponsors who make #Choctoberfest possible! This year, Imperial Sugar is back as our Gold Sponsor. They have been a trusted name in kitchens since 1843, and their website is home to thousands of sweet recipes tested in the Imperial Sugar Kitchen. You can find Imperial Sugar on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, or join their Sweet Community so you can share your own recipes, save recipes to a virtual inbox, print Imperial Sugar coupons, and connect with other sugar lovers.
Imperial Sugar and our silver sponsors have banded together to offer a huge #Choctoberfest prize pack, which you can enter to win below! One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive the following:
- From our Gold Sponsor Imperial Sugar: 1 case of granulated sugar (40 pounds), 1 case of brown sugar (24 pounds), 1 case of dark brown sugar (24 pounds), 1 case of powdered sugar (24 pounds bags), and an Imperial Sugar red ruffle apron
- From our Silver Sponsor Nature Nate’s: 32 oz. Raw & Unfiltered Honey bottle, Honey Syrup, Honey Packets, a Nature Nate’s T-shirt, various kitchen supplies, and $50 Amazon gift card
- From our Silver Sponsor Barlean’s: 16 oz Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil, 9.52 oz canister of Chocolate Silk Greens, and 8oz bottle of Essential Women Omega-Swirl Chocolate Mint
- From our Silver Sponsor Caveman Coffee: 1 Bag of Coffee (you choice of blacklisted or sabertooth), 1 coconut MCT oil, and 1 Cacao Butter
- From #Choctoberfest blog hosts The PinterTest Kitchen: 1 specialty chocolate gift pack (your choice of dark or milk chocolate), 1 tin (14 ounces) drinking chocolate, and Divine’s Fair Trade Gift Set
Enter now to win our #Choctoberfest 2016 prize pack! We’ll be picking a winner at random winner on Saturday, Oct. 22, so enter by next Friday to make sure your name is in the drawing:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here’s a list of all of the bloggers participating in #Choctoberfest 2016. Visit any of their blogs to get delicious chocolate recipes throughout the week:
The PinterTest Kitchen • 2 Cookin’ Mamas • A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures • addicted 2 recipes • Amy’s Cooking Adventures • An Affair From The Heart • Balancing Motherhood • Body Rebooted • Bottom Left of the Mitten • By the Pounds • Canning and Cooking at Home • Coconut & Lime • Cook with 5 Kids • Cook’s Hideout • Cookaholic Wife • Cooking with Carlee • CopyKat Recipes • Cricket’s Confections • Crumbs in my Mustachio • Elisabeth Jean • Fairyburger • Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice • Family Around the Table • Fantastical Sharing of Recipes • Feed Your Soul Too • Feeding Big • Frankly Entertaining • Full Belly Sisters • Get the Good Stuff • Grumpy’s Honeybunch • Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks • Hostess At Heart • Ink and Sugar • Jane’s Adventures in Dinner • Join Us, Pull Up a Chair • Karen’s Kitchen Adventures • Kate’s Recipe Box • Kudos Kitchen by Renee • Kylee Cooks • Letz Eat • Life Currents • Life on Food • Making Miracles • Monica’s Table • Moore or Less Cooking Food Blog • My Catholic Kitchen • My Gluten Free Miami • Our Good Life • Palatable Pastime • Restless Chipotle • Seduction in The Kitchen • Sew You Think You Can Cook • Simple Food 365 • Southern With A Twist • Sumptuous Spoonfuls • Take Two Tapas • Tampa Cake Girl • Teaspoon of Goodness • That Recipe • The Crumby Cupcake • The Flavourista • The Food Hunter’s Guide To Cuisine • The Freshman Cook • The Pajama Chef • The Redhead Baker • The Spiffy Cookie • Tramplingrose • Wildflour’s Cottage Kitchen • Zesty South Indian Kitchen
I hope you’ll check back here for some great chocolate goodies this week – and don’t forget to follow our sponsors and bloggers using the Rafflecopter giveaway widget above for your chance to win our sweet prize pack!
Are you a fellow food blogger who wants to get involved with events like #Choctoberfest? Sign up here to get notifications when they happen from The PinterTest Kitchen.
Today, I’m jumping in with a fun, new-to-me group – Improv Cooking Challenge. Each month, there are two ingredients to use – and you can make any kind of dish you want. I’m really excited to jump in and create some fun things in the coming months!
This month’s ingredients were peaches and cream. My first thought was a pie or cake (and I’m kind of hoping some of the other bloggers did this so I can drool over their treats!) but it’s been so ridiculously hot here that popsicles sounded like the best bet. These were delicious – and a relatively healthy treat to boot. Jake and I both loved them!
You can check out all the other peaches and cream dishes bloggers made here:
Peaches and Cream Popsicles
(from Pint Sized Treasures)
2 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. honey
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solid.
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!
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.
Every good cookout needs a fun dessert – and this is my new favorite.
Cherry Vanilla Coke just reminds me of summer so I was smitten when I saw this cake. It really does capture the flavors nicely. It was my first time making a poke cake, but I have to say I’m hooked. It was so moist! I made this a day ahead and it was perfect on the day of our cookout.
I also loved how easy this was to put together. I always plan ambitious menus for our cookouts so having something this easy was a definite bonus!
Cherry Vanilla Coke Poke Cake
(from The Recipe Critic)
Makes 1 9×13″ cake
1 French vanilla cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare
1 large box cherry flavored Jello
12 oz. Coca Cola
1/2 cup cold water
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate sprinkles and maraschino cherries, for topping
Prepare the cake according to package directions. Once baked, let cool for 15 minutes and then use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart all over the cake.
In a bowl, combine the Jello mix, coke and water. Whisk until dissolved and then pour slowly over the cake, filling up the holes as much as possible. Refrigerate for at least half hour.
After the cake is chilled, combine the pudding mix and milk. Whisk until thoroughly combined then stir in vanilla. Fold in the whipped topping and then ice the cake. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
When ready to serve, top with sprinkles and cherries.
This pie, you guys, this pie.
I whipped this up for my husband’s birthday and I’m pretty sure it was more well-received than any cake I’ve made him. It’s hard to argue with creamy peanut butter, chocolate and an Oreo crust. If you’re a chocolate-peanut butter lover like me, you need to make this ASAP. It’s really just that good.
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
(from Kevin & Amanda)
Makes 1 pie
1 package Oreos
1 cup butter, divided
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Crush the Oreos in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Stir together with 1/2 cup melted butter. Press into a pie pan or spring form pan. Freeze for 10 minutes or until set.
While the crust is in the freezer, beat together the remaining butter, 1 1/2 cups peanut butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar, until smooth and creamy. Spoon into the crust and gently smooth. Place back in the freezer.
In a heat-proof bowl, add the chocolate chips and remaining peanut butter.
In a saucepan, bring the whipping cream to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Let stand for 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth. Pour over the peanut butter layer and smooth out. Refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour before serving.