Friday, January 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Over the holidays, I found and re-created this amazing little treat. It' a wonderful no-bake dessert for when you either don't want to bake something or are just too lazy and feel like mixing, rolling, and eating. :)

These little treats reminded me a lot of the Buckeyes that I made last year. The filling is really reminiscent of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and that's ok in my book. One difference I noted was that on it's own, the filling is a little grittier than I'd thought it'd be. This is from the brown sugar that you mix in. However, DO NOT worry about that. Once the crunchy pretzel and chocolate meet that peanut butter filling, it's amazing and you don't even notice.

Also, because it was Christmas and I was feeling festive, I dressed these up with white chocolate. Obviously, it was completely unnecessary, but if you have it around and want it - have fun! :)

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Yield 60 – 80 pretzel bites

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar (maybe more)
3/4 cup brown sugar (maybe more)

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
white chocolate for unnecessary drizzling, optional

Combine peanut butter and softened butter in a large bowl with a fork or whisk, or in a stand mixer. Add the sugars and mix to combine. At this point if the filling will roll easily into balls without sticking to your hands you’re ready to go. If not, add a little more of each sugar until you reach a consistency that is easy to roll (I used about 3/4 cup of each sugar).

Use a teaspoon measure to scoop the filling. Roll each portion into a small ball, then sandwich them between two whole pretzels. When all the balls are rolled and successfully sandwiched, stick the whole tray in the freezer for about half an hour.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat at 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove the pretzel sandwiches from the freezer and quickly dip each half-way into the melted chocolate. Return to the tray and repeat with remaining sandwiches. When all are dipped, return the tray to the freezer to set up completely. Drizzle with melted white chocolate. Store the sandwiches in the refrigerator until serving time.

Source: Two Tiny Kitchens

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These cookies should really be called "The Easiest Cookies You'll Ever Make." Yes, they are that easy.

Rich and chocolatey with a slight crispy edge - mmmmMMM! Doesn't get much better than that!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1 Box Devil's Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 C. vegetable oil
granulated sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, egg, and oil until well blended. Batter/dough will be thick. Using a scoop, form 1 inch balls. Roll cookie balls into sugar to coat.

Place on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly puffed and tops are crinkled.

Source: Betty Crocker's Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook

Monday, January 16, 2012


I first tried this amazing treat when a friend of mine was visiting his mother in Ionia, Iowa. He said that they were his favorite treat of his mother's and that I just had to try them. Of course, I tried them and was immediately hooked. They are sweet, chewy, and really decadent.

I begged and pleaded for the recipe. It took a little convincing, but I was able to get a lovely, handwritten recipe for my collection. This one is near and dear to my heart because I love recipes are aren't just found on the internet or a shiny new cookbook, but ones that are passed on and have real stories behind them.

I know this recipe has been used for years at bake sales, birthdays, and church picnics. The history behind this recipe is so rich that, although the ingredients are simple, the love shines through. Give these Scotheroos a try, you just might want to pack up and move to Iowa.

(AKA - Special K Bars)

1 C. White Karo syrup
1 C. white sugar
1 1/3 C. peanut butter
6 C. Special K cereal (some say you can substitute rice krispies, but I was told this was strictly forbidden)
1 C. chocolate chips, melted
1 C. butterscotch chips, melted

Pour the Special K cereal into a large bowl and set aside.

Bring the syrup and sugar to a low bubble/boil and remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir. Pour over the cereal and quickly mix together until well blended.

Spread in a 13X9 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Melt together the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Pour over the cereal bars and spread evenly. Allow to cool.

Once cooled completely, you can flip the bars out onto the counter to cut evently or just cut right out of the pan - your choice!! Enjoy!

Source: a lovely kitchen in Ionia, IA

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Apple Pie Munchkins

Do you love pie? Do you wish you could have pie travel with you wherever you are - just in case you need an immediate pie intervention??

Really?! ME TOO!!

Here's the perfect solution....itty bitty apple pie munchkins. They're cute and easy to make and definitely help with cravings for some good ol' apple pie. I love that you can have a quick snack of 1 or 2 (or 12) pies whenever the mood strikes you. Plus, they're so cute that anyone you serve them to is bound to fall head over heels in love.

Apple Pie Munchkins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup very cold water
2-3 medium apples (tart ones - like a Granny Smith

Squeeze of lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of grated nutmeg
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
Sugar, for sprinkling

To make the pie dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Using a pastry cutter (or a food processor), cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is coarse and the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than small peas. Stir in the water and mix gently just until the dough has come together in a a cohesive ball and all of the dry ingredients have been moistened. Form the dough into a disc and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour. (Or go ahead and buy the refrigerated stuff....hey, it works too!)

When you are ready to make your cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Peel the apples and cut off the sides in four large chunks, removing and discarding the cores. With each large piece of apple, dice the apple into a very find dice...a mince, if you will. Place the apples in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In another small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and whisk to blend.

To assemble the cookies, transfer half of the chilled pie dough to a lightly floured work surface (keep the remaining half chilled). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out very thin, about 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Use a larger round biscuit or cookie cutter (about 2½ to 2¾ inches in diameter) to cut out rounds of the pie dough. Transfer half of the rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the rounds lightly with water (this will help the pies seal). Take a few apple pieces at a time and coat them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Pile on top of a round of pie dough. Layer a second round of dough on top of each apple slice and gently press the edges to help seal. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and apples. Crimp and seal the edges of the mini pies with a fork, dipping in flour if needed to prevent sticking. Lightly brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. Use a small paring knife to cut tiny slits in the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until light golden brown. Eat by the handful :)Source: Smitten Kitchen

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pimento Grilled Cheese

Hello, meet my friend, Pimento Grilled Cheese. He's the amazing, gooey, tangy, Southern gentleman cousin of your boring old grilled cheese. He's the grilled cheese you've been looking for your whole life.

Seriously, this sandwhich is amazing. Pimento cheese was first introduced to me as a dip...and even then it was good. Once I learned that in the south, it's used in all kinds of recipes, especially grilled cheese, I was really excited. It's fast, easy to keep in the fridge, and pretty versitile. give it a try and you just might think twice before making your next grilled cheese with your old boring cheese slices....

Keep in mind, the recipe below is for Pimento Cheese - you can use it as a dip, spread, etc. This version of the recipe makes about 8 (6 ounce) servings.

Pimento Grilled Cheese

1 pound grated Cheddar
1/2 pound grated Pepper Jack
1 (4-ounce) can diced pimentos, with their juice
1/3 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/3 teaspoons granulated onion
About 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
About 1/2 tablespoon green chili sauce (optional)
2/3 cup mayonnaise

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients well and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make a grilled cheese:
Preheat a skillet to medium heat. Take 2 slices of bread and butter one side. On the non-buttered side, spread some pimento cheese. Slap them together and grill on the skillet until the bread is golden and the pimento cheese is melted.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Gruyere Popovers

While watching Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Appetizers" I saw this gem. Tyler Florence said that these popovers from BLT Steak in NY where his personal favorite - and what a coincidence! I got a popover pan for Christmas!!

Ok, so it wasn't exactly a coincidence...I saw the episode, bought a popover pan, gave it to my husband and told him I'd act surprised on Christmas when I unwrapped it...yes, I made him wrap it. :) Truly though, you don't really need a popover pan. You could use a muffin tin, but you'd have more (and smaller) popovers - which might be nice for a party!

This recipe is so simple and very scrumptious. They are light and fluffy with a crispy, cheese top and a slight layer of gooey cheese in the middle. YUM!

Gruyere Popovers

4 C. milk, warmed
8 eggs
4 C. flour
1/2 heaping Tbs. salt
2 1/4 C. grated Gruyere

Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350 degrees.

Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside. Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk. Set the mixture aside.

Sift the flour and the salt together. Slowly add this dry mixture to the egg mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.

Remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick spray.

While the batter is still slightly warm, fill each popover cup 3/4 full. Top with approximately 2 1/2 Tbs. of the grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until the popovers are high and golden brown on the sides.

Take out of the oven, remove from pan and serve warm.

*Recipe from BLT Steak House via Food Network

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sweet Cinnamon Scones

A while ago, I found a really yummy sounding recipe for Sweet Cinnamon Scones. I was so eager to try it, but had a really hard time finding cinnamon baking chips in my grocery store. Thankfully, just before Christmas, they were in stock!

So thrilled and excited to make these, I got up on Christmas morning and made them for my family. Unfortunately, they were a total dud. :( All that waiting for nothing!! But, the idea still sounded really tastey to me and I decided not to give up. I went back to an old standby that's never let me down...America's Test Kitchen.

The recipe below is an adaptation of ATK's glazed, slightly-sweet cake scones with the cinnamon chips, some vanilla, and a touch of ground cinnamon mixed in. Keep in mind, these are cakey scones and less like traditional scones that have a similar texture to biscuits...but that's what I prefer. Plus, the addition of an egg makes them cakey but also allows them to stay fresher longer. :)

The results of adapting the recipe were exactly what I'd be hoping for! These scones are light, cakey, slightly sweet and have just the right amount of cinnamon. Do yourself a favor and give these a try. They freeze really well (pre-baked) and can be stored in the freezer until you are ready to pop them into the oven for a quick breakfast (or even a lighter dessert!!)

Sweet Cinnamon Scones

2 C. all purpose flour
1 T. baking poweder
3 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 T. very cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 C. cinnamon baking chips
3/4 C. heavy cream, plus more for brushing – about 1 Tb.
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

For the cinnamon-sugar topping:
1 Tb. cream
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Process with six 1-second pulses, until combined.

Pour the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the cinnamon chips to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in the egg, vanilla, and heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Transfer the dough and any remaining dry flour bits to a countertop that has been lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough by hand just until it comes together – do not over knead!

Lightly dust an 8-inch cake pan. Press the dough evenly into the cake pan. Turn the dough out on to the countertop. (You should have a nice, flat, and even disk to work with!) Cut into 8 equal wedges. (At this point you can flash freeze the wedges in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then put them in a ziplock bag and freeze until needed).

Place wedges on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the 1 T. of heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until the tops are light brown. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes (ATK recommends truly letting the scones sit for the 10 minutes. It firms them up and improves their overall texture).

Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy with coffee or tea!