Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Kiss Cookies

photo 3Despite this lovely warm weather we’ve been having, I have been deep in fall baking mode. While visiting Chicago last weekend I simply had to do some apple picking; one of the few shortcomings of beautiful Colorado is its lack of apple orchards.  I came home with several humongous honeycrisp apples to make good use of, so of course I had to make one of my Famous Apple Pies.

I also found these delicious Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses while at the grocery store a few days ago. I was momentarily distracted by the shock that Hershey’s actually made a flavor of chocolate treat that I had yet to try… but within moments I had a great idea for a new autumn recipe.

photo 4These adorable Kiss Cookies are tasty and festive – call them “Wicked Witches Hats” and they are perfect themed treats for a Halloween party. The deep chocolate flavor of the cookies pairs perfectly with the rich and sinful sweetness of the spicey Kisses. They are delicious straight from the oven when the Kiss is slightly melty, but can be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container. This recipe makes about three dozen cookies and can easily be doubled – or even tripled – for a big event!

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Kiss Cookies

  • ⅓ cup butter, softened (5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅔ cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 36 Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses

photo 1Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the Greek yogurt and egg and beat until smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture until just incorporated.

Using tablespoonfuls of dough, gently roll cookies into balls. Place 2 inches apart onto a non-stick (dark) baking sheet. If your baking sheet is not non-stick, line to sheet with parchment paper.

photo 2Bake cookies for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. During this time, unwrap the Hershey’s Kisses. Place one Hershey’s Kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down gently. Do not move the cookies until they are completely cool and the kiss has a chance to set.

Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Namas-tasty!

Densely Delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

photo 4Yesterday was a dreary, drizzly, chilly day in Denver — aka the PERFECT opportunity for some more fall baking! I decided to make some chocolately pumpkin bars to curl up by the fire with. These dense treats are rich, moist, and full of pumpkin spice flavor and chocolate in every bite, almost like nibbling on a hunk of fudge! They are easy to make in mere minutes and can be enjoyed solo or with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Densely Delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

adapted from Avery Cooks

  • photo 1-11/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus more for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter. Let cool for one minute. Add the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and whisk until smooth.

photo 2Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix! Stir in chocolate chips.

Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle with chocolate chips, as few or as many as you would like 🙂

photo 3-1Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. I found that the flavor was intensified after sitting in the pan overnight, and I did not cut them into bars right away. Bars continue to get softer and moister for about 3 days after baking. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Namas-tasty!

Dazzling Blueberry Pie

2014-07-11 22.20.35In my last post I discussed my love for farmers markets and baking with fresh summer produce. I believe I also I mentioned my bargain-bought blueberries.  I should further admit here that when I find a good deal I typically take full advantage, and this time was no exception. I bought a lot, I mean TONS, of blueberries.

After whipping up a batch of my Scrumptious (and Easy) Blueberry Muffins, I still had several pints of fruit left. Sure, I could have done the “sensible” thing and made a simple fruit salad or included them in a nice parfait. But then I thought… PIE! One of my very favorite desserts to bake (and consume).

This all-American pie made an awesome centerpiece for my end-of-summer celebration last weekend. Simple yet flashy, serve it warm with some vanilla ice cream and you’ll have a real crowd pleaser on your hands!

Famous Blueberry Pie

adapted from Taste of Home

  • 2014-07-11 21.12.03Pastry for 9-in double pie crust (store-bought or homemade, if you need directions click here)
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

2014-07-11 21.15.10In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and salt; toss gently. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with bottom pastry; flute edges. Add the filling.

Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until set. Cool on a wire rack

2014-07-11 22.14.28From remaining pastry, cut out approximately 10 stars of different sizes (or use a 1/2 inch cookie cutter, if desired).  Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Randomly place stars over cooled pie.

Namas-tasty!

 

 

(Bikini-Ready) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2014-05-26 21.03.32Howdy readers! I have to tell y’all, I am so so sOoOoO excited to share this recipe with you. Now that summer weather is FINALLY here, I’ve really been trying to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits and cutting out fatty foods. Key word here: trying. But let’s face it, the better we eat, the better we feel when it’s time to shed those clothes and bear our bikini bods… and that’s worth giving up the potato chips for, am I right?!

So, this is why I am unbelievably happy to have found this recipe for some seriously delicious cookies that are 100% guilt-free! Believe it or not, this recipe calls for no flour, sugar, oil, or flour. Zero, zilch, NADA. How is this even possible?!

These cookies use ripe bananas, peanut butter, unsweetened applesauce, and oats to create an awesomely moist and soft texture with a flavor that is to die for. Just add some spices to jazz them up and extra goodies like dried coconut and chocolate chips — as few or as many as suites your fancy!

Feel free to hit the beach or the pool and bring a couple of these waist-conscious snacks along with you. Just be prepared for the jealous stares 🙂

(Bikini-Ready) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 C. reduced-fat peanut butter
  • 2/3 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (sometimes if I’m feeling a little crazy I substitute dark rum… sounds weird but adds a whole other layer of flavor!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 C. quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • If desired, you can also add 1/4 C. of nuts, dried fruit or unsweetened shredded coconut!

2014-05-26 20.25.43Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, and spices into the bananas.  Add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut; stir until well combined. Batter will seem a little wet, but this is OK!Spoon a rounded 2 tbsp. of the cookie mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each and flatten slightly. Place a few more chocolate chips on top of each cookie, if desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes and allow to cool slightly.

Namas-tasty!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2014-02-01 09.17.49WOW, I don’t know about you but I’ve had about as much as snow as I need for a lifetime this winter! If I have to dig out my car from a mountain of snow one more time…. I don’t even want to see the movie Frozen, which everybody (well, mostly those of the age 3-11 demographic, as that’s pretty much the majority of the folks that I hang out with these days) claims is the movie of the decade!

Pretty much the ONLY advantage of cold, snowy, drizzly, wet, slushy weather is that I get to bake to my hearts content. Not only does it warm my kitchen (AKA my entire apartment, since it’s basically just one big room), but, as I like to think, it gives me a little extra insulation 🙂

I decided during the last storm to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to make them a little more hearty (and healthy) by adding some oats and, again, substituting the vegetable oil for applesauce (yes, I know, there is still butter in the recipe. Sometimes you just have to indulge!). These turned out super yummy and were a major mood boost/substitute for sunshine; I hope you try them out at home as well!

2014-01-27 17.24.43Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats (I typically use quick cook oats but only had old fashioned on hand this time; you can use either. With old fashioned the cookies still turned out fine, they just have a slightly crunchier consistency)
  • 6 ounces (half a bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease cookie sheets.

2014-01-27 17.18.33Melt butter in the microwave and cool slightly to avoid cooking the eggs. Add the applesauce, sugar, brown sugar and eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

Drop onto cookie sheets in heaping teaspoon size dollops, about 1 1/2 inches apart.

2014-01-27 17.54.25Bake on the top oven rack until the edges just start to turn brown and the center is barely set–about 12 minutes or so. Time will vary slightly by oven.

Keep an eye on them, and rotate the pan halfway through if they look like they are browning unevenly.

Namas-tasty!

Mini Baked Brie, Pear and Pecan Tarts

2013-12-26 12.32.53In my old age (HAH, good one right?!), I have really come to appreciate a good glass of wine. We all know that a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away, and I recently found an article from Health magazine that boasts even more health benefits of delicious vino. According to the article, regular consumption might help keep the pounds off, reduce forgetfulness, boost immunity, and prevent bone loss.

This being said, I fully support and regularly partake in wine & cheese nights (no surprise, I’m sure, since I have also previously mentioned my affinity for cheese). I wanted to add a little extra flavor to the most recent event I hosted (and, I’ll admit, I wanted to impress my guests by putting in a little more effort than simply setting out some cheese and crackers), so I whipped up some of these delicious savory/sweet mini tarts. The melted Brie and pear blend together inside of the puff pastry, and the nutty pecan and slightly sour balsamic drizzle on the outside make for a deliciously complex combination of flavors in every bite.

2013-12-26 12.30.31Mini Baked Brie, Pear and Pecan Tarts

adapted from Unsophisticook.com

  • 1 pkg. (9.5-oz.) Puff Pastry Cups (the only ones I was able to find at my grocery store were Pepperidge Farm® brand)
  • 8 oz. Brie cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lg. pear, diced
  • whole pecans, toasted
  • balsamic vinegar

Prepare the puff pastry cups according to the package directions.

Turn the oven to down 350 degrees. Remove the “tops” from the pastry puffs and fill the inside with a piece of Brie cheese and some diced pears. Return the tops to each of the pastries and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

2013-12-26 12.33.52Let the pastry cups cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Top with a whole toasted pecan and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top.

Namas-tasty!

White Chocolate Cranberry Holiday Blondies

2013-11-26 23.12.59I mentioned in my last post that I really get a kick out of making treats for friends and family around the holiday season. These little gift-wrapped packages were part of my contribution to the three (I repeat, THREE) Thanksgiving meals I enjoyed with loved ones this year. I included some yummy gingerdoodle cookies, stacked alongside these white chocolate cranberry blondies. I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, and got some great feedback on the goodies!

The blondies have just enough spice and color to make them the perfect addition to any holiday meal or get-together. The texture of the bars is fantastic, with plenty of dried cranberries and white chocolate mixed in, and I personally love the thick cream cheese frosting slathered on top. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Cranberry Holiday Blondies

Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 3/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips

Frosting:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

2013-11-26 23.13.42Preheat oven to 350°. In a microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar. Transfer to a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).

Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and orange peel if desired until blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator to preserve moisture.

Namas-tasty!