Apple Pie Bars

This past weekend was full of fun Memorial Day celebrations. Yesterday there was a picnic that I volunteered to bake something yummy. I wanted to go with a “patriotic” theme and what is more American than apple pie for dessert? Well I didn’t want to bring a whole pie because I thought it was too cliche and would be too time-consuming as well as messy to have hungry people cut up their own slices. So I did the dirty work for them.

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I decided to make apple pie in a bar format. That way there would be no mess but plenty of yummy goodness to go around. 008.JPG

These bars turned out quite yummy! I would make a few changes the next time around though, like not letting them sit so long in the fridge (I had it sit over night) or allow them to melt in the sun–which wasn’t entirely my fault, it was really hot out this weekend.

But anyways, these apple pie bars are delicious. They are full of cinnamon and apples and butter. You can’t go wrong right? I suggest you try them out and if you love them, make them for an upcoming July 4th party!

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Apple Pie Bars                                                                                                                   Makes 16 Bars

Ingredients:

For Shortbread:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

For Apple Pie Filling:

  • 3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used red apples, but use any apple you prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the Topping

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter –room temperature

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. For an easy lift out of the pan later on, make sure your parchment paper goes over the edges.
  2. For the Shortbread: First you have to cream your butter. Place butter into your mixer and turn on high for 5 minutes or until the butter turns white, which means it’s done creaming.  Next mix in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Once combined, add in the flour and stir well. The mixture will look like lumpy playdoh. Press the mixture into the parchment lined pan and bake in the  oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Apply Pie filling: In a bowl, combine by hand the apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until the apples are well coated.
  4. Topping: Mix flour, 3/4 up brown sugar. Cut in the butter with a fork and knead together.Set aside.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven and turn the heat up to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle one half of the Topping over the short bread, then layer the apples on top. Layer the apples until all used up–keep the apple slices level so that the bars come out evenly. Drizzle lemon juice evenly over the top layer of apples. Once this is finished, sprinkle the remainder of the Topping evenly on top and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before placing in the fridge to set for 1 to 2 hours. Once it’s set, remove from the baking dish by lifting out the parchment paper and cut into 16 squares.
  7. Drizzle white icing or powdered sugar on top before diving in!

 

Copy Cat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

Ahhh Little Debbie. She takes me back to the days of peanut butter jelly sandwiches, Lunchables, and chicken nuggets. I remember gleefully smiling when my mom came back from the grocery store with Ding Dongs, Ho-Hos, and of course Cosmic Brownies!! I’m a girl who loves frosting and chocolate, so this treat was definitely on of my favorites as a little girl.

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I knew I had to try to make these. I wanted something that would bring me back to those nostalgic times of my youth. I found a great recipe that totally delivered! I did tweak it a bit to fit my palate and also to what I had available in my cupboard (hint I only had sprinkles, not mini M&Ms), but sprinkles did not disappoint in the slightest. My  photos do not do this recipe justice. They look a lot yummier in person, trust me.

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These brownies are chewy, chocolatey, and scrumptious. One bite will take you back to those simple days when people didn’t care about Non-GMOs or gluten-free products. Also, these are healthier, I’ll be it slightly, than the ones found in the grocery store. Plus you get to lick the batter!

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Copy-Cate Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies                                                          Makes 32 Bars

Recipe adapted from Handle The Heat

Ingredients:

For the brownies:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • Mini M&M’s, sprinkles, or other candy

Directions:

  1. For brownies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan  with cooking spray.
  2. In a large glass bowl, melt the butter for about 45 seconds on high power. Stir in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder.
  3. If still very hot, let cool slightly before adding in the vanilla, eggs and egg yolk, and corn syrup. Stir until very well combined.
  4. Add in the flour, cornstarch, and salt and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.
  5. For the Frosting: place the half and half or cream in a small glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Add in the chocolate chips. Let stand for 3 minutes before stirring until smooth. Pour over the cooled brownies and smooth evenly. Sprinkle with the your choice of topping (i.e sprinkles!). Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until the frosting is set, before cutting.
  6. For storage: these brownies can last for 4 days on the counter or up to a week in the fridge.

 

Easy Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is a type of food that I cannot pass up. Whenever I’m at an Italian restaurant or pizza joint with garlic bread on the menu, it’s  usually one of the things I order. Something about having crunchy bread topped with a garlic-y butter spread and fresh chopped herbs makes my mouth water on site.

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The other night I was craving pasta. I knew I was going to make a simple red sauce with mushrooms and roasted tomatoes, but I wanted something on the side. Not a salad, but something with more substance. That’ when it struck me. Make garlic bread to go with it! I felt like I was living the  “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and instead of a glass of milk to go with a cookie, I was having garlic bread to go with my pasta. The combination always seems to go hand in hand.

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So I went out and bought some Italian bread from a local grocery store, (I didn’t hand make it, that is definitely something worth trying in the future though), and came home to create an easy, yet yummy, garlic bread to go with me dinner. And it was just what the doctor ordered! I advise you to not go easy with the butter or the garlic, it’s worth the splurge 😉

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Easy Garlic Bread                                                                                               Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 large loaf of Italian bread, around a 1lb
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 5 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Take the loaf of Italian bread and slice it in half in the middle of the loaf. Then take each separate half of the bread and slice bread diagonally  (as if you’re cutting bread to make a sandwich). You should have made 16 slices (maybe less, depends on the size of your bread).
  3. Then place the bread on the foil. Brush the bread with the butter until evenly coated.
  4. With a spoon evenly disperse minced garlic on top of the butter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Drizzle olive oil on last.
  5. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  6. Serve with salad, pasta, pizza, or just eat as is!

 

 

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Cookie Monster’s famous mantra in life was “cookie, cookie, cookie” and to be honest, as far as desserts go he definitely was on to something.  I’m all about the cookies! Which is why when I discovered that a person could bake a HUGE deep dish cookie in the comfort of their own home, I was so enthusiastic that I purchased an 8″ cast iron skillet immediately. As soon as it arrived I couldn’t wait to try it out. The first chance I got I made a deep dish chocolate chip skillet cookie and it was amazing.

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Baking a cookie in a cast iron skillet was a beautiful experience. The batter was super easy to create and it baked up quite uniformly. My favorite part of this dessert was how melted and gooey the chocolate chips turned out to be. Every bite was a mouthful of warm and delicious chocolate.

I highly recommend using a good quality chocolate for this recipe. I used Callebaut dark chocolate callets, which are similar to chocolate chips but are closer to chocolate chunks and are oh so good.

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Put some whipped cream or ice cream on top and you’ve got yourself a decadent treat!

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

*This recipe is adapted from a blog called Lemon Sugar

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon  salt
  • 1 cup chocolate dark chocolate chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat.
  3. When butter is melted, add the granulated sugar and brown sugar, and stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  4. Beat the egg with a fork in a medium sized bowl, and add a small amount (about ¼ cup or so) of the melted sugar and butter to the egg mixture (to temper it) and whisk to combine.
  5. Pour egg mixture back into the skillet, and stir until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Using a wooden spoon, carefully stir to completely incorporate the dry ingredients.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  8. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or powdered sugar!

Oven Baked Salmon with Roasted Red Potatoes

I’m all for easy and quick dinner meals. I work during the day and by the time I get home to make dinner, I’m so wiped out! But it’s meals like these that I can whip up in no time and still have a delicious meal to look forward to.

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Like I said, it’s a real simple meal composed of fish and potatoes. If you prefer to roast some greens like broccoli or green beans with the fish instead, by all means go ahead! I’ve made this dish quite a few times and I like to alternate between potatoes and asparagus to mix things up 🙂

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Look at those potatoes though! You gotta try this!

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Oven Baked Salmon and Roasted Red Potatoes                                                     Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets, bones removed
  • 4-6 red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp creole seasoning, divided
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized glass bowl  add 1/2 tbsp olive oil, red potatoes, and 1 tsp of creole seasoning. Using a spatula or a spoon, stir in the seasonings with the red potatoes until evenly covered.
  3. Spread the potatoes in one layer over a foil covered baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Place potatoes in oven for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  4. As the potatoes roast, prepare the salmon. In the same glass bowl add the fillets, cayenne pepper, and remaining olive oil and creole seasoning. Coat evenly, add more seasoning if you prefer.
  5. Once the potatoes are done roasting for 20 minutes, remove from the oven. Make room on the foil for the salmon. Nestle the salmon between potatoes. Add sliced lemon on top of the salmon for a lovely fresh finish.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon is flaky. Once the fish is cooked then plate up and dig in!

Homemade Peanut Butter

Right now I feel very domesticated because today I made homemade peanut butter! Let me just say, this stuff is out of this world. It’s creamy, peanut-buttery, and oh so good. You don’t even miss the processed name brands! Trust me, once you make this you won’t go back!

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As a reminder, homemade peanut butter is healthier and cheaper than store bought-so definitely try it at least once! Oh and one more thing, it only takes 5 minutes to make! Peanut butter has never had it so good 🙂

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Homemade Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (16 oz) of unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 1-2 tsp of sugar or honey

Directions:

  1. Place peanuts in a food processor. Turn on the food processor-don’t be startled, the peanuts will be really loud at this stage
  2. Watch the peanut butter as it churns. The peanuts will soon start to form a ball of hardened peanut paste.
  3. Turn the food processor off. Using a spoon, stir the paste around.
  4. Turn the food processor back on, the peanut butter will start to form. This should take about 2 minutes.
  5. Peanut butter is finished once the food processor is able to easily churn the mixture and the consistency is creamy and smooth. Turn off food processor. Sprinkle in honey or sugar. Stir to combine. Add more sugar or honey if you prefer a sweeter peanut butter.
  6. Place peanut butter in a glass jar(s) and put directly in fridge. This will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge (if it lasts that long)!

Easy Flatbread Pizza

So this weekend I attempted to make a recipe I have never made before. It turned out to be a disaster! Probably because I didn’t have all the necessary equipment and also because I rushed myself a bit. But we learn from mistakes right? Next week I promise to post something extra yummy!

For now, I thought I’d share this lovely and easy dinner meal for you all. All it takes is a few of your favorite pizza ingredients and in less than 10 minutes, you’ll have a tasty dinner prepared!

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Easy Flatbread Pizza                                                          Yields Six Flatbread Pizzas

*Ingredients:

1 package of Flat Out Bread, flatbreads (or any other flatbread brand)

4 tomatoes, sliced

8oz Mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2-4oz of cooked chicken, chopped

1/4 cup of basil, shredded

1 tbsp of olive oil, divided

A splash of balsamic vinegar

*These ingredients are a personal preference, feel free to add whatever you’d like to your flatbread!

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small skillet, heat up olive oil 1/2 tbsp of olive oil on the stovetop. Once olive oil is hot, then add sliced mushrooms. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have shrunk and browned.
  3. As the mushrooms are browning, prepare the flatbreads. Place two flatbreads on a greased baking sheet (that’s all I could fit on mine at a time). With the remaining olive oil, brush the oil on the flatbreads.
  4. Once mushrooms are done, turn off the stovetop. Layer your chosen ingredients on your oiled flatbreads. Start with sliced tomatoes, followed by a handful of mushrooms over each flatbread. Then add chicken, minced garlic and shredded basil.
  5. Place flatbreads in the oven for 6-7 minutes, depending on desired crispiness of the flatbread. 6 minutes is recommended.
  6. Take out of oven and immediately on a plate. Splash some balsamic vinegar on top if desired. Feel free to add crushed red peppers, oregano, or any other seasoning you’d like!