No-Oven Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

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It’s SUMMER! The season of sandals, cold watermelon, sunscreen and no desire to turn the oven on! We all still need our chocolate fix though. What could be better than a no-oven needed chocolate peanut butter bar? Well, maybe 3-4 more on your plate.

Topping:

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter

Base:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 12-oz box vanilla wafer cookies

1 12-oz bag of mini chocolate chips

½ cups chopped peanuts (low-salt)

For the topping: in a medium size bowl, microwave, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

For the bars: Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray. Using a mixer, mix together the base ingredients, the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar a cup at a time. Mix well.

Add the vanilla wafers to a food processor and process until they are in crumbs. If you don’t have a processes, then pour into a gallon size zip lock bag, seal and smash away with a rolling pin. Add the crumbs and mini chocolate chips to the peanut butter/butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Spread it firmly into the pan and get ready for chocolate happiness!

Pour the topping over the base. Spread it out evenly and sprinkle over the chopped peanuts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then cut into 24 bars. Store in the fridge.

Note: can be made GF, just pick up the vanilla wafers that are Gluten-free.

Rhubarb-Raspberry Crunch

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Maybe it’s the old soul in me, but I happen to love rhubarb desserts, the tang of it along with added sweetness of a berry, and sugar, of course!!

1 cup white sugar
1 TBSP instant tapioca
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
1 cup raspberries
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, chilled

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 7×11 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, tapioca, cornstarch and salt. Place rhubarb and raspberries and vanilla into bowl making sure to completely coat them with dry ingredients. Pour into baking pan.
In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and oats. Cut in butter until mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Spread on top of fruit mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or pour whipping cream over the top. Enjoy!

French Strawberry Cake

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Mother’s Day is right around the corner! This cake is a sure way to surprise and spoil the mothers” in your life. It’s sweet, tart and filled with strawberries, not to mention everything is better with a dollop of whipped cream! There’s no frosting involved or slicing layers evenly, so it’s a fool-proof indulgence that is sure to impress!

French Strawberry Cake

½ cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar, divided

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp strawberry extract

1 1/3 cup flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cup sour cream

16 oz fresh strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven to 350, spray a 8 x3 inch round cake pan, set aside. In a stand mixer, cream 1 ¼ cups of sugar and butter until creamy, add extracts, sour cream and eggs, one at a time until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Slowly add to the butter mixture. Fold in the strawberries, reserving ½ cup for topping the cake. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup of sugar over the top of the cake and reserved berries. Bake until just firm in the center. 35-40 mins. This cake has a dense custard like center, so be careful to not over bake, or it will dry the cake. Let cool completely in pan. Serve right from the pan and add a dollop of whipped cream. Happy Mother’s Day!

Lemon Couscous

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This is a perfect side dish for Spring and Summer!  It’s bright and light and full of flavor.

1 cup chicken broth
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP lemon zest
1 TBSP butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP dried parsley
2/3 cup couscous

Add the 1st 6 ingredients together in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Add the couscous, stir to coat completely. Cover and remove from heat, let couscous sit for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork and enjoy!  Perfect with chicken or fish.

Blackberry Cobbler

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Spring always brings us the best selection of berries! They so versatile to bake with or just pop in our mouths, fresh and sweet and tart ones. Blackberries can be a little on the tart side of the road sometimes, but they make a fabulous cobbler, especially served on the warm side with either heavy cream pour on top, or whipping cream! Most people stick with making apple or peach ones, but it’s fun to branch out with a berry one! Try this beauty out!

Blackberry Cobbler

1 cup flour (you can use Gluten free also)
1 ¼ sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 TBSP cold butter
¼ boiling water
2 TBSP cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 TBSP lemon juice
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups fresh blackberries (rinsed and drained well)

Preheat to 400 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Ina large bowl mix the flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles course crumbs. Stir in the ¼ cup of boiling water until its mixed evenly. In a separate bowl dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, mix in the lemon juice, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the blackberries. Transfer the berry mixture to your baking dish, place in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove and drop your dough by spoonfuls. Place your dish on a baking sheet (to prevent spills) and bake for 22-25 mins, until the dough is golden brown. Enjoy!

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

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I love the whole idea of Spring, the hills are bright green, my tulip bulbs are starting to show, rain is happening which is something we don’t have enough of! I thought a bright dessert would coincide with the season. Citrus is a favorite of mine, it’s so bright and cheerful! This cake has the perfect blend of tang and sweetness. Happy March to you all!

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

1 TBSP orange rind, grated

1 white cake mix

1 ½ cups orange juice

1/3 cup canola oil

3 eggs

1 tsp orange extract

1 TBSP poppy seeds

2 TBSP flour

½ tsp baking powder

In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients on slow for 30 seconds, then 2 minutes on medium speed. Bake at 350, 15-18 mins for cupcakes, 9×13 pan 24-26 mins. Cool and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Frosting:

8 oz softened cream cheese

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

4 TBSP softened butter

2 tsp vanilla ext

¼ tsp salt

Dark Chocolate Mousse

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8-1 oz squares semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
3 TBSP butter (no subs on this one)
1/4 cup water

In a double boiler, melt all 3 ingredients together. Cool for 12 mins.

3 egg yolks
2 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup water

In a small saucepan, whisk these 3 ingredients slowly over low heat, for 1 1/2-2 mins. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture. Set the pan on some ice to slow the cooking. Cool 10 mins, then whisk in 1 1/4 cups of whipping cream that has been whipped to hold a peak. Spoon into serving dishes, I used shot glasses, perfect serving size! Another trick is to spoon the mixture into a gallon size bag and snip off the end and pipe into your dishes, makes for a easy clean up with edges. Place in the fridge for about 4 hours. Now try to only eat one!!

Note: On the plastic utensil isle, most stores sell these little spoons, perfect for tiny dishes!

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Apple Turnovers

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You know when you waltz into a bakery and your eyes go directly to the favorite display case? Well for me it’s Turnovers, I adore the flaky puff pastry dough and warm gooey filling inside! What could be better that a hand-held pie?  Nothing, nothing compares!  Above are pictured all the ingredients to re-create those turnovers.

Filling: In a large mixing bowl, pour apple contents in and stir in 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and mix well. This is about the time I use a sharp knife to slice thru the mixture, making the apples a bit smaller, but you don’t have too:)

Follow the box instruction on defrosting the pastry dough, after defrosted, lay the square out on a flat floured surface. Roll a few times to seal those seams up.  Slice the dough into an equal 4 squares.  Towards the middle of each square, place 2 TBSP of the filling and fold up the edges (gently so you son’t squeeze the yummy out) Using a fork, press down both seam sides.

Transfer to a baking sheet (4 per pan) that’s lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray. Brush top and sides with egg wash.

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water

Sprinkle sparkling sugar on top and bake at 350 for 20 mins or so, until golden brown.

Enjoy and look, you didn’t have to get out of your sweats to head to the bakery, it came right to you!

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Dulce de Leche Bars

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Crust:

2 cups AP flour

1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

½ cup powdered sugar

1 TBSP vanilla

1 tsp kosher salt

Middle Layer:

1 can (13.5oz) Dulce De Leche

1 TBSP flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 egg yolks

Topping:

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350, line a 9-inch square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse the crust ingredients until crumbly. Press firmly into the pan and bake until lightly browned, about 25 mins.

In a bowl, whisk all the middle layer ingredients until smooth, pour over the top of the baked crust, and then sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped pecans over the top. Return to the oven and continue baking for another 22-25 mins. Remove and let cool. Lift out of the pan and cut into small squares. Enjoy the gooey happiness!

Note: This is easily made gluten-free, just switch out the AP flour for GF.

Butter Sugar Cookies

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1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp butter flavored extract (pic below, can be purchased in craft stores on the baking isle)
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar, add the eggs, extracts and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk, flour, powder and salt together. Add to the batter and mix well.
Roll into a ball and double wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 3-4 hours or overnight.
Roll out the dough using dusted powdered sugar instead of the usual flour (the extra sugar makes them especially yummy) Cut into your favorite shapes.
Bake cookies, using parchment paper on your baking sheet, at 350 for 8-10 mins, just until the edges are a touch brown. Let cool and decorate away, with royal icing or just plain store-bought vanilla frosting, throw some sprinkles on and chow-down! However, these are buttery and sweet enough to just eat plain!