Peppermint Brownies

Peppermint Brownies 3
Mint and chocolate is one of my all time favorite combinations and is a classic for the holiday season. Combine it with fudgy brownies and it’s pure perfection.

Although I do love peppermint, I enjoy it in small doses. Like peppermint patties…one bite is enough to fulfill my sweet tooth. So when I saw this recipe I decided to double the brownie base but keep the peppermint frosting at the original amounts to cut the richness a bit. I also kept the chocolate layer on the lighter side since most of us aren’t huge chocolate lovers but I know that isn’t normal so I would recommend doubling it if you want more chocolate-y goodness.
Peppermint Brownies 2
It’s the perfect ratio of peppermint and chocolate and just a small square will satisfy any sweet tooth. I hope that you all are enjoying the holiday season with all your loved ones!

Peppermint Brownies

1 family size dark chocolate brownie mix (prepared according to box directions)

for the peppermint frosting:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the chocolate layer:
4 oz. chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4-1/2 cup Andes peppermint crunch pieces, or crushed candy canes

1. Prepare brownies according to box directions. Cool completely.

2. Meanwhile, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar together. Add milk and extracts and whip until thick and fluffy. Spread over cooled brownies and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave in 30 second increments. Drizzle over peppermint frosting and spread. Sprinkle with peppermint crunch pieces or candy canes.

*frosting recipe from The Galley Gourmet

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4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies 2
Sometimes during the holiday season, you get busy and stressed with your mile long to-do list. Right? So sometimes you need a really easy cookie recipe to whip up so that you can just get something marked off the dang list. That’s how I felt this weekend as I kept adding more and more things to my to-do rather than getting anything checked. I mean, seriously, getting an entire household ready for Christmas by the 22nd with a husband working late every night is kind of hard. But I was determined to get my Christmas baking done this past weekend so that Joel could take a bunch to work and I could deliver some treats to our wonderful friends.

I kept perusing my ever-growing list of treats then had the stupid idea of going on Pinterest…and found a gazillion more recipes I wanted to try. But it ended well because I found this super simple 4 ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe in the meantime and ultimately decided to pare down my list. I decided on cookie dough bites (pretty much my favorite thing ever), old fashioned iced oatmeal cookies, pretzel m&m rings, peppermint brownies (which I will share later this week) and these giant beauties. I baked them all up yesterday and promptly gained 4 pounds in the name of food blogging. I had to taste them to make sure they were good. Well, I’ve made the majority of the items on my list before so I guess I can’t put all the blame on you. Darn it.
4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies 3
While we’re on the topic of overeating, I’m kind of ready for the new year so I can get back on track. The holidays really throw me off and a new year brings revived discipline.

But let’s not talk about discipline now, let’s talk about thick cookies as big as your head. These cookies call for 4 ingredients which you may already have in your pantry. And you won’t guess the 4th ingredient….Bisquick. I wasn’t sure at first but was willing to try it since they were so easy and quick. And I’m so glad I did.
4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies 1
They are soft, thick and not too sweet or rich like a lot of peanut butter cookie recipes. Although the recipe calls to make them huge, you certainly could scale them down to fit on your holiday cookie trays. Make sure to try these simple recipe to help you get that next thing checked off the list!

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
recipe from Averie Cooks

1 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use natural or homemade for these)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 cup Bisquick

1. In a stand mixer, stir together peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until combined. Add Bisquick and stir to combine.

2. Using 1/4 cup measure, roll balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Smash halfway down with a fork twice, making a crisscross pattern. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until just set. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes so they can firm up. Cookies keep in an airtight container for 1 week.

Coconut and Toasted Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Toasted Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies 6
Are you all getting tired of being bombarded with sweet treats from around the blogosphere yet? I hope not because I have some giant, chewy, decadent cookies to share with you. They are officially my new favorite cookie.
Toasted Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies 4
I took the glorious bakery style cookie recipe I shared last summer and updated them a bit to fancy them up. But don’t worry, they are still just as simple.
Toasted Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies 3
I took some inspiration from one of my favorite candy bars, Almond Joy, to create this tasty cookie with unsweetened coconut, chocolate chunks and toasted pecans. And man was that a good idea! What I love even more about these is that you can freeze the dough and have it ready for whenever the craving strikes. It’s also a nice way to control yourself at the holidays because I know if there is a whole batch of cookies laying around I have a lot less self control. This way, you can just bake one, get your fix and move on. `
Toasted Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies 7
I’ve been thinking about my Christmas baking list for awhile now and these are a definite must!
Toasted Pecan and Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies 2
Coconut and Toasted Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1. Cream together the butter, shortening and sugars until they are light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs, one at a time, to the sugar mixture. Add vanilla.

3. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks, coconut and pecans.

4. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out dough and form into balls then slightly flatten the top. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Place in freezer for 2 hours. At this point, you can either bake the cookies or place them in a freezer bag then throw them in the freezer for future use (up to 3 months).

5. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet for about 15 minutes (mine took about 17).

Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes 2
Need a quick, last minute sweet potato recipe for Thursday? Well, I have the perfect recipe for you. These are so unbelievably good and really easy too. It’s always nice to have something simple to throw together when you have a million other things going on.

Another added bonus, I always have all these ingredients on hand so they would be a great side dish on a busy weeknight too. Make them. Enjoy them.
Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes 1
Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
recipe from Martha Stewart

8 medium sweet potatoes (5 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/3 cup pecan pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel sweet potatoes and slice  into 1/2-inch thick coins then cut each in half. Toss with olive oil and salt and lay in single layer on two baking sheets.

2. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven then sprinkle each pan evenly with the butter, brown sugar and pecans. Return to the oven and bake for 8 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie
Yesterday  we hosted a Fakesgiving (fake Thanksgiving) at my house for my parents and brother to celebrate together since we are traveling to my in-laws for Thanksgiving this year. I originally planned on doing a scaled-down meal but I just can’t leave well enough alone and ended up with a big ‘ole dinner instead. Noah’s been dying for some pumpkin pie so we whipped this up together the night before.

I wanted to fancy up our pie a bit and you all should know by now that I kind of have a thing for streusel (as evidenced here, here and here….) so when I saw this recipe, I just had to give it a try. I tweaked the recipe a bit and used store-bought pie crusts instead of making my own. The original recipe made a homemade crust in a springform pan for an ultra-deep dish pie and well, as good as that sounded I just didn’t want to go there. I also replaced the walnuts with pecans because that’s what I had in my freezer.
Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie
I’ve eaten a many pumpkin pies in my life but this was my first homemade one and I have to say, it was quite delicious. The addition of the pecan streusel gave a nice texture that pumpkin pie usually lacks.

And the added bonus is that this recipe makes 2 pies so you can keep one for yourself and give one away. Noah’s teachers are going to have a pumpkin pie surprise tomorrow!

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie
recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
yields 2 9-inch deep dish pies

2 9-inch deep dish pie crusts
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
29 ounces (one large can) pure pumpkin puree
12 ounces (one can) evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the pecan streusel:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the streusel: combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and pecans. Cut in the butter until it resembles course sand. Refrigerate until ready for use.

2. For the filling: in a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk, heavy cream and vanilla. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. Divide the filling evenly between the two pie crust. Cover crust with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Top with streusel and bake for another 10-20 minutes, or until pie is set but still a bit wobbly in the center. Cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole {Clean Eating}

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole 3
I’ve had a hard time finding big fancy breakfasts worthy of a lazy Saturday morning that are still clean and healthy. These waffles are pretty darn tasty but most of the time I am more of a savory breakfast kind of person. Not only is this recipe clean but it’s also gluten and lactose free along with paleo friendly. Boom, I’m pretty sure that covers it all.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole 1
Plus, this can be whipped up the night before then refrigerated and baked the next morning. Joel’s family makes a yummy egg and sausage casserole but it involves bread so this is a nice alternative to keep it clean and avoid carbs.

The original recipe called for more onion but the first time I made it the onion was a bit overpowering so I reduced the amount. I added cheese to half the casserole to reduce the chance of whining from that husband of mine. He’s not a fan of sweet potatoes and healthy versions of things. He’s getting over it slowly but surely. Or at least learning not to complain so much.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole 2
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole
recipe slightly adapted from Plaid and Paleo

1 1/2 lbs. breakfast sausage
1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
12 eggs 
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/4 large sweet onion, shredded
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other milk)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, optional
1. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook sausage until no longer pink.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, pepper and almond milk. Stir in sausage. Sprinkle with cheese if using.
3.  Pour egg/sausage mixture into a 13×9 pan greased with additional coconut oil. At this point you can bake the casserole at 375 degrees for 45 minutes then cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes. Or you can do what I did and cover and refrigerate overnight. Add an additional 5-10 minutes to baking time if you have made it the night before.

Hot Black Bean Dip {Football Food}

Hot Black Bean Dip
Those that know me well know that chips are my downfall, my nemesis, that one food I just can’t resist. I seriously have a hard time practicing self control when they are around. Which is why they are only in my house on rare occasions. Football games being such times since they are the perfect snack to inhale while watching the game. And although I would be perfectly happy with a bowl of chips (sea salt kettle chips to be precise), it’s nice to whip up a dip so that I can say I had black beans for dinner instead of just chips……
Hot Black Bean Dip
Tortilla chips are the perfect vehicle for this spicy, smoky, cheesy black bean dip. This dip takes a few steps but it’s very simple and can even be prepared ahead of time then put in the oven right before kick off, giving you time to whip up more delicious food to chow down on during the game. Because I guess eating chips and dip for dinner is not the appropriate adult thing to do.

And if for some totally indescribable reason you don’t like chips (I’m not sure we can be friends anymore), this dip is also very tasty atop crispy baked sweet potato fries.
Hot Black Bean Dip
Hot Black Bean Dip
recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 (15½-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed well, divided
2 canned chipotle chiles, minced + 3 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
¾ cup water
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ cups frozen corn, thawed
6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided
6 ounces sharp Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided
¾ cup chopped cilantro, divided
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking pan (I used an 8×8) with non-stick spray.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and salt, cooking until softened and translucent (about 4 minutes).Add the garlic and chili powder and cook another minute. Stir in 1 can of black beans, chipotles and adobo sauce, water and tomatoes. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, 2-3 minutes.

3. Transfer the black bean mixture to a food processor or blender then add the vinegar. Process until smooth then pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the remaining black beans, corn, half of the cheeses, 1/2 cup cilantro and pepper. Dump into prepared pan then top with the remaining cheese. (At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake and serve – if you do this add 5-10 minutes to the baking time). Bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Top with remaining cilantro for garnish.