Granola & Granola Bites

There’s two recipes in one blog post today. But since you can’t make one without the other – you get a two-fer day!

Watching my teenagers down an entire box of cold cereal in 2 days, caused me to re-evaluate breakfast.

We needed something that would be more filling – and more cost effective. It was time to dig out the granola recipes.

This one has become our new favorite. It’s perfect with some yogurt and sliced fruit.  It does makes a bunch, but around here it goes fast!

GranolaGranola

10 cups oatmeal (I like to use the old-fashioned)
2 cups barley flakes (can just use more oatmeal)
2 cups coconut
2 cups peanuts
2 cups slivered almonds
2 cups sunflower seeds
3/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter
1-1/2 cup brown sugar or honey

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a saucepan and cook until dissolved.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix until everything is moistened.

Pour out on 2 large baking pans. Bake at 275 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring twice.

Now that you have your granola made – it’s time to take some of it and make our new favorite snack – granola bites.

I got the original recipe from my friend Jami at An Oregon Cottage.  These little gems are not only packed with protein and whole grains – they taste great! They make the perfect snack for a teenager who can’t make it to the next meal!

Granola BitesGranola Bites

1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cup granola
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in a bowl. Add the granola and chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for 3o minutes before shaping into balls with a cookie scoop and rolling in more granola, chopped peanuts or coconut. (This helps take away some of the stickiness)

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

You can experiment with different nut butters and add dried fruit or different chips.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Bars

BarsI couldn’t believe how quickly Dagmar pulled this recipe out when I asked her to make something for a recent potluck!

I guess she’d been drooling over it for sometime – and trust me – it was worth it!

An Oreo cookie crust with a creamy coconut and nut filling covered with a layer of chocolate ganache – oh my!

We didn’t even wait for it to cool down in the fridge before we cut into it and sampled!

Absolutely no calories in these bars – they all fall out when you cut them! 😉

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Bars

2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3-3/4 cups coconut
1 cup almond slivers (best if toasted)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream (we used evaporated milk)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Combine Oreo crumbs, melted butter and sugar in large bowl. Firmly press crumb mixture on bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Stir together the sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and almonds. Carefully drop the mixture by the spoonful over the crust and spread evenly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until coconut edges begin to brown. Cool.

Melt chocolate chips and whipping cream in double broiler on the stove. Cool until slightly thickened, spread over cooled bars. Sprinkle with the white chocolate chips.

Cover and refrigerate several hours or until set.

Cut into bars and keep hidden in the back of the refrigerator!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Pie

Option 2Somebody had a birthday last week!

Yep. I’m a whole year older – and I’m sure much wiser. Ha!

For years we’ve celebrated my birthday with a decadent chocolate cheese cake pie that I painstakingly copied from a Debbie Fields cooking show on PBS.

But this year it was time for a change. After all – at my age – it could be dangerous to get in a rut! 😉

So Dagmar and I started brainstorming. We started with an Oreo cookie crust and topped it with a super rich chocolate filling. Then in  a burst of genius, she covered the entire thing with a delicious peanut butter whipped cream. (And I do mean delicious! Trust me – that stuff is crazy good!)

<happy sigh>

It was delectable! Perfection on a plate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

1-1/2 cups finely crushed Oreo cookies
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tub whipped topping
1/2 cup peanut butter

In a mixing bowl, combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and the butter. Press into a 9 inch pie pan and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Place dark chocolate chips and half & half in a double broiler and melt. When melted and smooth, stir in the vanilla.

Carefully pour over the Oreo cookie crust and refrigerate until set.

Before serving, combine the peanut butter and softened whipped topping. Spread it over the cooled filling and top with shaved chocolate.

Hide any left-overs in the back of the refrigerator and just hope that you can get to them before your children!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday on Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps

Matt's homecoming balloonsWhile Jan and I were adventuring in Colorado to see Matt, the other four kids held down the fort at home.

Although they can all cook and had a stocked pantry, they lived on frozen pizza, canned soup, and ham sandwiches. 🙂

But then again – they probably didn’t have time to cook. They were much too busy cleaning the entire house, filling Matt’s room with balloons – each with a handwritten message or silly family memory –  and baking him these welcome home cookies.

While Matt was in Pagosa Springs he discovered a small coffee house that made the most wonderful chocolate chip gingersnaps.cookies

He raved about these cookies so much – that Dagmar went to work to replicate them for him.

And you know what? They are really good!

So good – they have earned a place on our Christmas cookie plates this year!

Soft inside with a touch of chocolate – they are everything I’m looking for in a cookie!

Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps
(adapted from Two Peas in a Pod)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 – 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 – 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
3 – 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 – 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar-for coating cookie dough balls

Cream together butter and sugar. Add the molasses, canola oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until well combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Slowly add in the flour.

Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, the cookies will still be soft.

Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at At the Well.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Salted Carmel Hot chocolateI love Starbuck’s   Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate – but the nearest Starbuck’s is almost 2 hours away!

We desperately needed to find a recipe we could make at home, because – let’s face it – you never know when a craving will hit!

So Dagmar and I hit the kitchen with lots of enthusiasm and a recipe to try.

An hour later we had four dirty saucepans, major sugar buzzes – and some amazing salted caramel hot chocolate.

***At this point – those of you who need a quick fix – simply make an envelope of hot chocolate mix, squirt  some caramel ice cream topping in it and sprinkle it with salt and enjoy.

If – however – you want the real deal – so rich and creamy and wonderful that the Hallelujah chorus plays when you drink it – keep reading.***

Let’s start with the caramel sauce. The original recipe was a disaster. (That’s why we had so many dirty saucepans – what a mess!)

So I dug out a recipe for caramel sauce that I pinned on Pinterest. Hot diggety! That was some seriously good caramel! It was so good that you could eat it by the spoonful! (not that I would know from personal experience or anything ! 🙂 But seriously – you should try it with a whole almond!)

Caramel Sauce

1/4 c. butter
1 c. corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat stirring constantly. Keep cooking and stirring until the temperature reaches 235 -240 degrees (soft ball stage).

Remove from heat and add vanilla.

At this point – you could make a delectable caramel candy by pouring the caramel mixture into a foil-lined baking dish and refrigerating. Then cut into squares and enjoy. Or – you could add nuts or coat with chocolate…but I’m getting carried away.

We’re making caramel sauce here – so you need to add half – half to prevent the caramel from turning hard. (We didn’t add enough and ours turned into a semi-solid that makes it very difficult to sneak out of the fridge when the kids aren’t looking!)

Now for the hot chocolate part. You could use a packet if you wish, or my hot chocolate recipe, or even hot milk with chocolate syrup stirred in. But if you want to go over the top – try this one.

Uber Rich Hot Chocolate

12 oz. chocolate
1 c. heavy cream
milk

Melt together the chocolate and heavy cream in a double broiler.

When melted and mixed, add milk until you reach the desired consistency and chocolately goodness.

Now let’s assemble –

Coat the inside of a mug with the caramel sauce and fill with hot chocolate. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the very top and behold your masterpiece.

Now slowly inhale the chocolate aroma before taking your first sip.

Did you hear the music?

Yep – I thought so.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.

Chocolate Peppermint Poke Cake

Poke 2I must confess that we didn’t even wait until after Thanksgiving was over before we opened the first box of candy canes.

It is a little embarrassing.

But at least it went into something really yummy – a chocolate peppermint poke cake.

You remember the original poke cakes made with colorful jello poked into a white cake? This holiday version features a chocolate cake poked with a yummy peppermint simple syrup.

It’s rich and minty and most of all – super easy!

Chocolate Peppermint Poke Cake

1 – 9 x 13 chocolate cake (you can use a mix – or make your own from scratch)
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tub of Cool Whip
1 or 2 crushed candy canes

Bake cake as directed.

While the cake is baking, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture boils. Add the peppermint extract.

Reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, use a fork to poke the entire top and slowly pour the peppermint syrup over it all.

Let it cool completely.

Frost with the Cool Whip and garnish with the crushed peppermints.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

The cake just gets more minty as it sits!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Mocha Brownie Nut Torte

Coffee CakeHaving my parents visit over the weekend was the perfect excuse to try a new recipe.

And – of course – that recipe needed to be a rich, decadent, and chocolate dessert worthy of a Papa Jim and Nana Shirley visit!

Dagmar took this challenge on willingly. She pulled out all of her favorite cookbooks and spent an hour looking for the perfect recipe.

(I know it was an hour – because she confessed to doing this while listening to a business DVD for school. I’m thinking she probably didn’t get much out of that lesson!)

From all of those cookbooks, she narrowed it down to 3 different chocolate desserts, and then asked her siblings to help her choose. All three of them voted for number 3,  so of course, she made number 2! 🙂

Nobody complained when it was served though! It was just as rich and decadent as the picture promised – and the mocha cream on top was – as Dagmar put it, “One of the best spoonfuls I have ever put in my mouth, just saying…”

Yep. It was that good.

Mocha Brownie Nut Torte
(original recipe from The Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans (we were out, so we substituted almonds)
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons powdered instant coffee

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan with foil, extending the foil beyond the sides. Grease the foil.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double broiler. Stirring till combined. Let cool 5 minutes.

Beat eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until foamy. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Blend in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and pecans.

Spread the mixture in the prepared cake pan and bake 40 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

Remove the brownie from the pan using the aluminum foil. Discard the foil and place the brownie on a serving plate.

Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl until well-blended.

Beat whipping cream and instant coffee until stiff. Gradually fold in the cream cheese mixture, blending well.

At this point you can spread the luscious coffee cream over the brownie and refrigerate it until serving time.

Or you can do what we did – serve the brownie naked and let each guest put either the coffee cream on top, or just plain whipped cream, or both!

Delicious!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday on Blessed With Grace.

 

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake

Peanut Butter CakeEvery year before Dagmar’s birthday – she pours over cookbooks and websites to find the perfect ice cream cake.

Her only requirements are chocolate and of course – peanut butter.

This year’s concoction was no exception.

It was a veritable feast of peanut butter – chocolate goodness with creamy peanut butter ice cream and crushed up peanut butter cups.

Warning – this is NOT low calorie. Sure is good though!

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake

Original recipe from Kittencal

1 quart chocolate ice cream
16 ounces peanut butter
6 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped and frozen
2/3 cup chopped salted peanuts

Crust

1-1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Combine all the crust ingredients in a a bowl and then press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool. Put in the freezer until ready to fill.

in a large bowl combine the softened ice cream with peanut butter until well combined. Then mix in 4 of the chopped peanut butter cups and 1/3 cup of chopped peanuts. Spread in the frozen crust.

Sprinkle with the remaining peanut butter cups and chopped peanuts.

Freeze until firm.

Enjoy!

This post linked up with Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Dessert

DessertIt’s summertime!

The days are longer.

The temperatures are higher and my days are busier!

It sounds like the perfect time to make a yummy ice cream dessert!

This recipe was the inspiration for two of our family favorites, Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Dessert and Chocolate Ice Cream Dessert.  Both of which we’ve enjoyed often.

But would you believe that we have never made the original?!

It was past time to try it.

And it was delicious!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Dessert

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
6 cups chocolate ice cream, softened, divided.

Filling:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter, either crunchy or smooth
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped (I cheated and used about 4 ounces of Cool Whip)

Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (9 inch x 3 inch x 5 inch) with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped peanuts, melted butter and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Press half into the bottom of the foil lined pan. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Spread half of the ice cream over the crust and freeze for 1 hour.

(Here’s a hint for the ice cream: a half-gallon carton is the perfect size! Open it up lengthwise and cut the rectangle of ice cream in half. Then cut one of the halves into thirds and squish them into the loaf pan. Put the rest of the ice cream in the freezer till later.)

Meanwhile, for the filling, beat cream cheese and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and milk. Mix well. Fold in whipped cream.

Spread over the ice cream and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Spread with remaining ice cream – the pan will be very full. (Just cut the remaining half of the carton of ice cream into thirds and start squishing it in!) Press the remaining crumb mixture on top. Cover and freeze for several hours of overnight.

Remove from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving. using the foil, remove the loaf from the pan and discard the foil.

Cut into pieces with a serrated knife.  It should yield 10-12 large slices, or 15 smaller ones.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Chocolate Nutty Shortbread

bars There’s a graduation gown hanging in my dining room, a pile of to-do lists on my counter, and a ka-jillion cookies in my freezer.

I can’t believe that we’re less than a week away from graduating our oldest son!

My dad and sister came down over the weekend to help out with the long list of projects.

What a blessing they were!

Dad worked on hanging doors and trimming out another room.

Teresa baked, sewed, ironed, cleaned, organized, and helped me make more lists. She even did windows. 🙂

All that good help needed some good food – like this shortbread cookie with a yummy mixed nut center topped with a layer of chocolate. Don’t even ask how many calories – trust me we worked them all off! 🙂

Chocolate Nutty Shortbread

Shortbread:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)

Nutty Filling:

14 tablespoons butter
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
9 ounces mixed nuts

Chocolate topping:

12 ounces chocolate – I used a mix of semi-sweet and dark

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 9 x 9 x 2 inch-square baking pan with regular or nonstick foil.

Shortbread: In food processor, process flour, sugar and butter until mixture looks sandy and begins to clump. Turn into pan; press over bottom. Prick all over with fork. Bake in 325 degree oven 5 minutes. Lower heat to 300 degrees; bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is pale gold. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Peanut-Caramel Filling: In large bowl, melt butter. Whisk in condensed milk and corn syrup. Cook on medium heat until boiling, stirring all the time. Mixture should be thickened and lightly golden brown. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk. Stir in mixed nuts. Spread over cooled shortbread mixture.

Chocolate Topping: In double boiler, combine chocolates. Heat until melted, stirring to combine. Spread chocolate over nutty filling. Let cool. Once chocolate is set, with sharp knife, cut into 24 bars.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday At the Well and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.