Recipe // No Bake Sweet & Salty Bars

NoBakeBars-2This recipe had me at “no bake”, but officially won my heart over with the combination of sweet (chocolate and peanut butter) and salty (pretzels). It really just doesn’t get any better.

NoBakeBarsNo Bake Sweet & Salty Bars:

nonstick cooking spray
aluminum foil
2 cups creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
4-6 cups pretzel twists
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a 13×9 pan with foil making sure to leave overhang at the ends. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray. In a large mixer bowl, beat together 1 1/4 cups peanut butter and butter until creamy. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Stir in the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 cups pretzel pieces, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Press evenly into the prepared pan with a spatula.

Microwave remaining 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 3/4 cup peanut butter in a medium, microwave-safe bowl on MED-HIGH for 45 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave in additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until chocolate chips are melted. Spread this chocolate layer evenly over the powdered sugar mixture in the pan.

Sprinkle with the remaining pretzel pieces, pressing down lightly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until firm. Lift foil from the pan and peel off. Cut into 60 pieces and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. (Note: this get melty quickly, so I froze mine for an hour before placing out at party).

Nutella Puppy Chow

NutellaPuppyChow-2Nutella never touched my very picky palette until we traveled overseas. I was a devoted peanut butter fanatic with zero desire to change. Then I tried it and my world changed. I know I don’t have to tell you because I’m sure you already know, but Nutella is basically the perfect combination between chocolate and peanut butter. Now, let’s get something straight. Peanut Butter is still my homeboy, my #1 spread of choice, my I-need-a-quick-snack-with-a-spoon go to, but Nutella is no longer the enemy. Plus, it added just the perfect amount of flavor and spin to the ever classic puppy chow. Oh, dessert deliciousness.

NutellaPuppyChowNutella Puppy Chow:

2/3 cup Nutella
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
9 cups Rice Chex cereal
2-3 cups powdered sugar (depending on how much you like)

Melt Nutella, butter, and chocolate chips at 30 second increments (about 90-120 sec) in a microwave safe bowl until all ingredients can be mixed smooth. In a large bowl, add Rice Chex cereal and top with Nutella mixture until cereal is evenly coated. Place 1 cup of powdered sugar into a large Ziploc bag or Tupperware container, pour in coated cereal, and top with an additional cup of powdered sugar. Shake till you can’t shake no more. Add in any additional powdered sugar to your liking. Store in an airtight Tupperware container.

Skinny Vanilla Mocha Frappe

I received a Magic Bullet this past Christmas. My original intention with it was breakfast smoothies, very simple. I never realized the wonders that the Magic Bullet would bring into my life! It comes with a little book of recipes – salsa, hummus, baby food, scrambled eggs, soups galore, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese … this list could go on and on. This past Sunday I wasn’t ready to move into the food category, but I thought it was the perfect day to test the waters with a recipe I found (where else?) on Pinterest. It’s basically a homemade version of my beloved Starbucks® Mocha Frappuccino® Light. Brilliant! It was a great afternoon treat: delicious, refreshing and relatively easy to make. I think it will be my go to treat this summer, making the coffee pre-beach and enjoying the frappe post-beach. Enjoy!!

Skinny Vanilla Mocha Frappe

Frappe

Original recipe: Peanut Butter & Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee – I used regular coffee, see Notes below
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 packet stevia or 1 tbsp. sugar (to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a cup mix coffee and water and stir until combined. Place in a shallow container, cover and freeze for approximately 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Once coffee is frozen, place in a blender with the milk, vanilla, stevia and cocoa powder. Blend until combined.

Notes:

  • You do not need to use instant coffee, you can brew a strong cup of your favorite coffee and freeze it, just make sure it’s 1 1/2 cups.
  • If coffee is to frozen for your blender to handle let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to thaw out.

Calories: 43.3, Fat: 0, Sodium: 65, Carbs: 7, Sugar: 6, Protein: 4.2

What’s your favorite afternoon snack? 
XO
Kate

Monster Cookies

I try to eat healthy and always explore new quick and easy AND healthy recipes. BUT…

Confession: I have a sweet tooth.

At times, I also have willpower, but recently the sweet tooth has been winning. My sweet tooth is a major fan of cookies. And in the cookies category, you truly cannot go wrong with Monster Cookies. Unless you’re dealing with a peanut allergy (peanut butter is an ingredient!) these cookies are a MAJOR hit at any event, across the board: work potluck, girls night, post-dinner party treat, baby shower, family dinner, a random Tuesday night… seriously. TRY THEM!

Monster Cookies

MC1

Original recipe: The Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins, optional
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking mats.
  3. In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well.
  4. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well.
  5. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal.
  6. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake.
  8. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

MC2

MMMMM! What’s your go-to cookie recipe?
XO,
Kate

Healthy Snacking

Congratulations! You officially made it through the 2012 festive feasting season. Studies show that the average American gains 1-2 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage. Yikes! Whether or not healthy eating, working out or weight loss was in your 2013 resolution, it’s time to get back on the horse.

Personally, one of the hardest parts of this time of year is going from constantly stuffing my face back to normal eating habits. I’m always hungry. My recommendation? Healthy snacks to help you through the day. Here’s one easy recipe idea, as well as 10 other snack ideas:

No Bake Energy Bites

No Bake Energy Bites

Original recipe: thetwentysixthyear // Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions: 

  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  3. Once chilled, roll into balls. Mine were about 1″ in diameter.
  4. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes 18 bites. Serving size is 1 bite, approximately 148 calories.

Substitution Options:

  • Replace peanut butter with any nut butter (almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.)
  • Replace chocolate chips with chopped dried fruit, dried berries, chopped almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds or any other chips (butterscotch, dark chocolate, etc)
  • Do not replace the honey – it holds everything together!

No Bake 2

Other healthy snacking ideas, listed as per serving:

  1. Cherry tomatoes (9)
  2. Cucumber slices (1/4 whole cucumber) + hummus (1/4 cup)
  3. Tiny twist pretzels (18)
  4. Baby carrots (3/4 to 1 cup)
  5. Banana (1) .. alone or add peanut butter (2 Tbsp)
  6. Quaker white cheddar rice cakes (2)
  7. Apple (1) .. alone or add peanut butter (2 Tbsp)
  8. Chobani greek yogurt (1 cup)
  9. Edamame (1/2 cup)
  10. Sugar free hot chocolate (1 packet) — perfect this time of year!!

Happy 2013!!
XO,
Kate

National Peanut Butter Month

November officially became my favorite month for food! I mean seriously…this month celebrates both Thanksgiving and National Peanut Butter Month. Does it get much better than that? If you have been reading my blog for a while, you undoubtedly know my obsession with peanut butter infused desserts that are generally combined with chocolate and my favorite store-bought candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Pieces. Since our apartment in Australia doesn’t have an oven (yes, I’m struggling to survive), we celebrated this month by eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a daily basis, purchasing the most amazing peanut butter chocolate fudge in New Zealand, and drooling over the memories of our favorite peanut butter recipes (links below). How are you going to celebrate National Peanut Butter Month? Have a favorite peanut butter recipe or try one of mine below and love it? Leave a comment below, share it on my Facebook wall (here), or tweet it at me @MegEvent with the hashtag #peanutbutter!

Five of my favorite peanut butter recipes…

Cutest peanut butter inspired recipe goes to these holiday perfect Rudolph Cookies!

Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Balls – Perfect combination of salty sweet!

Reese’s Pieces Drop Cookies – A favorite candy mixed with peanut butter and Special K cereal (makes it healthy, right?)

Chocolate Heaven Cuffins – a muffin/cookie with a hidden Oreo or Reese’s surprise inside!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (image via the idea room) – perfection.

Chocolate Heaven Cuffins

Chocolate chip cookies?  Check!  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?  Check!  Oreo cookies?  Check!  Brownies?  Check!  These “cuffins” (cookie/muffins) seriously have it ALL.  I’m in absolute chocolate heaven.  No surprise that I prefer the Reese’s filling over the Oreo layer due to the addition of the perfect touch of peanut butter but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t secretly eat every single one of the Oreo cuffins either!

Check out the queen of cuffins, Zayna, here!

Ingredients:

prepackaged chocolate chip cookie dough
Oreos or Reese’s (or both!)
boxed brownie mix
vegetable oil
eggs
water

Directions:

Into the bottom of each individual section of a muffin pan, flatten 1.5 squares chocolate chip cookie dough.  Place either an upside down Reese’s or an Oreo on top of the cookie dough followed by the prepared brownie mix.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let cool completely before devouring removing.

Death by Oreo Cupcakes

Ingredients:

for cupcakes:
1 package regular Oreo cookies
1 package chocolate cake mix
cupcake liners

for frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package Mini Oreo cookies, for decoration (optional)

Cupcake Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the chocolate cake mix according to the directions on the box.  Place cupcake liners in the baking tin followed by a regular sized Oreo cookie in the bottom of each.  Take 1/2 of the remaining regular-sized Oreo cookies and crumble; add to cake mix.  Fill the cupcake tins with cake mix.  Bake for 15 minutes (or according to box directions.

Frosting Directions:

Cream together butter and cream cheese; add vanilla.  Slowly add powdered sugar until well blended.  Finely chop the remaining regular-sized Oreos and add to the frosting.  After cupcakes have completely cooled, frost and decorate with Mini Oreos.

**Recipe Source:  Instructables**

S’mores Bars

Roasting marshmallows using nature’s perfect stick over a warm blazing fire chatting with friends is THE way to eat s’mores.  Considering we are confined to our apartments for the next two to three months due to the freezing temperatures of Chicago, I’ve successfully found a gooey, chocolatey, marshmallow-y substitute that tastes as fabulous as the real thing.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (approximately 7 full graham crackers)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 or 3 super-sized (5 oz.) chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 baking dish.

2.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in egg and vanilla.

3.  In a small bowl, mix together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  Add to butter mixture; mix on low speed.

4.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Press one section into the bottom of the 8×8 baking dish.

5.  Place Hershey’s chocolate bars in a single layer directly on top of dough.

6.  Spread marshmallow fluff over the chocolate layer.

7.  Place the remaining dough in a final layer on top of the marshmallow fluff.

How?  Place the remaining dough inside a gallon sized Ziploc baggie; roll flat.  Using scissors cut open the baggie along the long edges; open slowly and place atop the marshmallow layer; peel back and carefully spread the dough at any uneven spots.  The Apron Gal has extremely detailed pictures here.

8.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned; allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

**Recipe Source:  The Apron Gal**

Peanut Butter Blossoms

If you haven’t realized my slight obsession with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate (here, here, here, here), let me present you with yet another example.  These peanut butter blossoms are one of Justin’s favorites and make an appearance at least once every winter/Christmastime.  Whether for our own enjoyment, hostess gifts, or for entertaining purposes, they are a sure hit every time.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Chocolate kisses or stars

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  With an electric mixer, beat shortening and peanut butter on medium speed for 30 seconds in a large mixing bowl.

3.  Add the 1/2 cup of sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda; beat until combined.

4.  Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined.

5.  Mix in as much of the flour as possible with the mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour.

6.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the 1/4 cup of sugar.

7.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are firm and lightly browned.

8.  Immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie center.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.


***Recipe Source:  Better Homes and Garden