Healthy and Sane

Entries Tagged as 'dessert'

Homemade gifts: peanut butter oatmeal jar cookies

January 30th, 2012 · 19 Comments · dessert, favorite recipes

Hola! How’s life, blog friends? I know I’ve been blogging less frequently lately but life has been too hectic (yes, even without a full time job). So I come today with amazing cookies to make your life a little sweeter. Can you taste them through the screen?

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No? Ok, then you should definitely make them. These babies were incredible!!

What, you’re still trying to keep cookies out of your house as part of your New Years resolution to lose a few pounds? I have 2 things to say about that.

1. Are there really people out there that still remember their New Year’s resolutions on January 30? I’m serious. Are there? I can’t seem to remember mine. Sad truth.

2. If you make these cookies, you can taste 1 or 2… and then gift them. Trust me – the recipient will very happy. Very very happy. And making your friends even better friends this year is a really good thing to add to your resolutions.

See? Win-win Open-mouthed smile

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A few weeks ago it was my friend Katy’s birthday and I was trying to figure out the perfect gift for her. She’s a doctor so the girl is pretty much living in the hospital. I wanted to give her something that would relax her on some especially exhausting day. Since my mind always goes to food, I thought that maybe baking cookies would be a nice activity for such a day (truth be told, on days like that I prefer to mindlessly shove cookies into my mouth until I pass out. Slowing down and actually baking some is a way better approach. I think Katy agreed!). Katy rarely has time to go grocery shopping so I thought a cookie mix would be a good compromise – homemade cookies, homemade taste – a lot less measuring and planning necessary. Again, win-win.

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So I researched and researched. And I found this guide to oatmeal peanut butter jar cookies. They looked perfect!

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Of course I wanted to bake a test batch and also to give some to Katy together with the mix so she wouldn’t need to work for her cookies right away. Smile

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[Side note: I tried baking them on an ungreased cookie sheet and on a silpat. The results were identical!]

They came out even better than expected!! They were soft and a little gooey on the inside, yet hearty with the addition of oat). And of course the mini peanut butter cups (from Trade Joe’s) made these guys extra special. Everything is better with chocolate! Red heart

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I made another batch of the mix for Katy…

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… and completed the gift with a peanut butter jar (since you have to add pb to the mix), a cookie scoop, and some pretty tags. Honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. The gift turned out SO CUTE!!

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Don’t wait for the holidays to shower your friends with homemade gifts. Or to eat cookies.

Are you into DIY gifts? I’d love to hear some new ideas… I’m really digging them these days Smile

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Making toffee (and chocolate-almond toffee saltines)

December 19th, 2011 · 20 Comments · baking, dessert, Food & Wine magazine

Have you been baking your little heart out this holiday season? I love seeing cookie and baked good recipes all over (what can I say, sweets make me happy!) and I’ve bookmarked dozens of them over the past month or so. This past Sunday was the first time this month that I’ve actually baked. A tragedy really but hey, better late than never. I learned how to make toffee too and dare I say… it was life changing!

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Now that I know how easy it is, there will be lots and lots of toffee in my future. And the future of my family and friends. Prepare yourself peeps. If you know me, there will be toffee coming your way at some point in your life. Winking smile Nothing to complain about, that’s for sure.

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So the toffee making process was born from the desire to make the chocolate almond saltine toffee recipe from Food & Wine. I’ve had saltine bark before (a.k.a crack) but this was my first time making my own. Toffee is basically butter (lots of it), sugar (yup, lots of it too), and corn syrup boiled together until it reaches 300* (a candy thermometer is very key here!!). Once these 3 simple ingredients turn into a golden brown syrupy goodness, you poor it into a container (in this case, over saltine crackers actually) and then cool it. After 15 minutes in the freezer, you have a sweet crunchy candy. Man, it’s good!

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Fun fact: Our wedding favors were sweet sloops which are little sailboat shaped toffee candies dipped in i2 kinds of chocolate and pecan crumbs. Awesomeness in a pretty package. So are these:

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Salty saltines + sweet crunchy toffee + creamy dreamy chocolate + nuts = happiness all around. Life changing.

The back side Embarrassed smile

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Dig in!!

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This little tin has someone’s name on it… Open-mouthed smile

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Have you ever made toffee? Other things that got me as giddy (“life changing” was also possibly mentioned in relevant posts): making marshmallows, making challah bread, making pretzel sandwich buns, Italian bread, and making ricotta. I think it’s something about demystifying some of my favorite foods, as well as the pride that comes from turning a handful of ingredients into a completely different form of deliciousness. Yup, that’s it.

PS – Other baked goods created during this baking extravaganza (thanks, Tiffany, for hosting!)…

Chocolate peppermint roll

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… and peanut butter blossoms

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What have you been baking lately?

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Oh hi, pumpkin!

November 2nd, 2011 · 22 Comments · dessert, favorite recipes, muffins, pumpkin

Hi blog friends. How’s it going? I have three, THREE days left at my full-time job and my mind is in full force about all the things I will now have time to do. I actually have to slow myself down because it’s important for me that the next few months are a time of reflection. I need to make sure there is enough space for me to explore all sorts of things. One thing I know there will be plenty of – that’s cooking (and dish washing, lol). I can’t wait!!

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So let’s talk pumpkin for a minute, shall we? I hope you don’t roll your eyes because well, there certainly have been plenty of pumpkin recipes here on the blogosphere (and magazines and cooking channels). It seems like most of you have been quite obsessed. I’m banking on it because I have a sweet few recipes to share with you too. They are my first of the season (yup, just as the season is ending).

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We’ll start with something a little more indulgent and quite special (scroll down for something healthier if you’ve had a little too much candy for Halloween) – chewy chocolate chip pumpkin cookies [made with pumpkin butter]. Just like Jessica, I’m not really into muffin top-like pumpkin cookies. I want softness in that chewy sort of way… the slightly underbaked and gooey, plump-cookie sort of way. Does that even make sense?

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See how plump these are? Don’t mistake this for having a muffin-like texture. These are melt-in-your mouth, buttery pillows of heaven. Bonus: Scoop the dough into little balls, then freeze. That’s how you get to enjoy freshly baked cookies any day in just 13 minutes of waiting time (and no dirty bowls).

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Make them now. You’ll thank me (and Jessica!). I promise.

PS – I’m loving the blue afternoon light in these pics. So perfect for fall! :)

Now onto something a little healthier – chocolate and peanut butter chip pumpkin pie muffins. These were actually requested by Adam – the only time he’ll ever ask for anything-pumpkin (I may now have to add those cookies to the list. What do you think, Adam?).

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He was asking for me to make these muffins (which apparently I made back in November 2008!!! and he’s still asking for them) but Tina’s recipe no longer exists. The key ingredient is definitely the peanut butter chips. Have you ever had them? The Sunspire peanut butter baking chips have no junk ingredients and taste like mellow butterscotch kissed by peanut butter little candies. They are soft and melt beautifully. I’ve been scouting every Whole Foods for over a year to find them (I don’t know why they’ve become such a commodity!). Thanks, Shannon, for buying me 3 bags. Our future will now be much sweeter with my pantry full of pb chips :)

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Anyways, back to the muffins… Tina’s “original” muffins were super moist and full of chips. I went with my go-to pumpkin muffin recipe (by Ellie Krieger) which is very light and almost cupcake-like, reducing the brown sugar down to 1/2 cup and adding 1 cup of chocolate and peanut butter chips (combined). The result were these beautiful babies, which I dressed up for Halloween :)

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Hi pretty!

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I’ve been having one of these for breakfast for the past week and let me tell you – it’s definitely one sweet way to start the day! :)

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Are you into pumpkin? Any favorite moist muffin recipes or special treats?

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