At some point over the past year, I developed a new found love of pretzels. It's not that I didn't like them before. I just wasn't giving them the credit they deserved. Now I'm making up for lost time by finding ways to use pretzels for as many snacks and desserts as possible. It's a wonderful thing. 
 
I'll keep this post short and sweet because the recipe in itself is short and sweet.
If you love churros (who doesn't?) and pretzels (""), this combines the two in salty, cinnamon-sugary bliss. This is a great snack to pack in a bag to get you through the workday, to set out at a party, to simultaneously satisfy your salty and sweet late night cravings (assuming I'm not the only one who gets those), to package up as a hostess gift, etc. It's just a great recipe overall, and it's easy enough for anyone to tackle successfully. The only change I made was to use 8 cups instead of 9 because I tend to like things like this with a heavier coating. Enjoy!

Recipe from Oh Sweet Basil
Ingredients
  • 9 cups pretzels (about 1 bag of the minis)
  • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips (found by the chocolate chips)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Parchment or wax paper
Instructions
  1. Place the pretzels in a very large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, sugar and cinnamon and stir until even. Set aside.
  3. Over medium low heat, add the cinnamon chips and butter to a sauce pan and stir continually. Remove from heat and quickly dump over the pretzels. Using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold the cinnamon mixture over the pretzels until evenly coated.
  4. Quickly add the powdered sugar mixture and fold again. Spread out on parchment or wax paper to cool.


I've never had a fluffernutter sandwich. It sounds like something that would be right up my alley, but I think I may have missed the window of time where making a sandwich out of marshmallow fluff and peanut butter was acceptable. It's possible I missed out on some essential part of youth. On the other hand, I've had enough peanut butter sandwiches and recipes with marshmallow fluff to have a pretty good idea of what it would taste like. 

So, when I saw these Chocolate Chip Fluffernutter Bars on Back for Seconds I was all for it. As I've said before, I prefer cookies to bars because a lot of bar recipes are dry and crumbly. Not this one. I obviously couldn't wait long enough for them to completely cool before digging in (you can tell by looking at her photos versus mine), but they were still the perfect consistency even the next day. I couldn't tell you how they fared on day three due to the fact that only an empty pan remained. Whoops.

I added semi-sweet chunks instead of the chips which took the chocolate factor up a notch. I used to use the Nestle Chunks all the time until for some reason they disappeared from the shelves of my local grocery stores (just like Rainbow Chip Icing - RIP). Thankfully there is a small corner store by my house that still has them, so I grabbed a bag for these bars. One of my roommates usually hates peanut butter desserts--strange, I know--but even she liked these. I think I managed to have 10 different taste-testers in the 36 hours after I made them, and everyone gave them a thumbs up.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Fluffernutter Bars
Slightly adapted from Back for Seconds
Serves 32

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter (softened) 
3/4 cups creamy peanut butter 
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks

1 3/4 cup mini marshmallows

Directions
Preheat oven to 350

In a mixing bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing briefly after each. Add in vanilla. Slowly mix in salt, baking soda, and flour until just incorporated.
With the mixer on low or with a spatula, gently mix in marshmallows and chocolate chips for just a few seconds until they are distributed throughout the batter.
Spread into a greased 9x13" pan and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. You will think it needs more time because the center will slightly jiggle, but rest assured, it's done! It will set after cooling completely. Do not overbake.

Cool completely and cut into squares. Store in a tightly sealed container. 


Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
Directions

Step 1


Preheat oven to 350
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Add the eggs and mix again. Gradually mix in salt, baking soda, and flour just until incorporated.
Gently mix in marshmallows and chocolate chips.
Spread into a greased 9x13" pan and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. The center will jiggle slightly from the marshmallows but it will set after it cools - do not over bake.
cool completely and cut into squares. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Read more at http://backforsecondsblog.com/2014/03/fluffernutter-chocolate-chip-bars/#Dxj3G4h0kvAITkKt.99


I've never understood coffee cakes that skimp on the crumb topping. That seems to me one of the most essential parts of a coffee cake. Then again, when I come across a recipe that doesn't seem to have enough topping I just double it, so it's not like I let those crumbless cakes interfere with my high crumb standards anyways.

This recipe takes the topping to a whole new level. It is piled on there to the extent that it ends up being about 2/3 cake and 1/3 crumb. I guess that's what makes it New York-style? I'm from the south, so that's just my best guess based on the title. Per usual, I tried pieces at all temperatures over the course of the time it was on my counter (just so I could report back, obviously), and my favorite was heated up for about 15 seconds. The cake itself is relatively dense when it's just room temperature, though not in a bad way. Heating it makes it seem much lighter and the cake flavor came through stronger as well.  That's just my personal preference for this recipe. That's not to say I didn't like it room temperature. I ate it that way day one and two, and heated it after that to combat the inevitable drying out that usually occurs as coffee cakes sit out. All-in-all, this is a delicious coffee cake, and I highly recommend everyone trying it out!

As a side note - sorry for the delay in posts. I was out of town for a few weekends, moved to a new house which meant everything was a bit chaotic in the kitchen realm for awhile, and then my computer decided to start moving at a snail's pace, which in turn meant I couldn't go through my pictures without wanting to smash it into a million pieces. The computer issue hasn't been resolved, but I'll work on my patience or stop being lazy and take it by the Apple Store. The good news is my new house has plenty of light so hopefully you'll start getting pictures that look much better than these (...which were taken in a basement apartment that was pretty much void of sunlight).

New York Style Crumb Cake
Recipe from Kitchen Meets Girl
Ingredients
    For the crumb topping:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cup cake flour

  • For the cake:
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • For the glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons Green Mountain Vanilla Iced Latte (I just used
Instructions
  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with baking spray and then line with parchment paper, allowing a few inches of excess to hang over the edges of the dish.
  2. For the topping:
  3. Whisk both sugars, cinnamon, salt and butter in a medium bowl. Add flour and stir until the mixture resembles a thick dough. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  4. For the cake:
  5. Meanwhile, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed. With the mixer running, add in butter pieces one at a time. Beat until mixture resembles moist crumbs and no butter pieces remain. Add the egg and egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until light and fluffy.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Break apart crumb mixture and spread it evenly over the batter, starting at the edges and working in towards the center. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove cake from pan.
  7. For the glaze:
  8. While the cake is cooling, whisk together powdered sugar and the Green Mountain Vanilla Iced Latte. If the glaze is too thick, add in more liquid until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cooled cake.



I think it's apparent I'm not the healthiest of eaters. I mean... I have a blog full of chocolate recipes, and I'm fairly certain a scan of my brain would show there is an entire section devoted to thinking about carbs. That said, if I can make a healthier version of something I often will.

Recently the craze seems to be using cauliflower in recipes. Who knew cauliflower was such a versatile vegetable? I've seen cauliflower mac and cheese, cauliflower alfredo sauce, cauliflower buffalo chicken bites...you name it. Cauliflower pizza crust also seems to have been big over the past year. Being the pizza fanatic that I am, I decided I should give it a try.

Here's the thing about cauliflower pizza crust compared with regular pizza crust: it cannot possibly compare if your favorite thing about pizza is doughy, delicious crust, and you're hoping to discover the way to get that taste with only a fraction of the calories. You will be disappointed. It's a vegetable. There is nothing that is going to make it rise and magically become a delicious, carby crust. If only. But, unless I'm at a place with delicious pizza crust (i.e. Mellow Mushroom), really crust is just a vehicle for toppings. It's kind of like people who eat foods on rice cakes. Does anyone actually like plain rice cakes? I doubt it. But when you spread peanut butter on a rice cake does it become infinitely better? Absolutely.

If you like thin crust pizza anyways you'll think this crust is a great substitution. It slices just like a regular crust, and even browns and gets a slight crunch around the edges. You can also add all sorts of Italian herbs and spices. I used turkey pepperoni (which I actually really don't like), so that made it even healthier. I also added a ton of cheese because apparently I'm incapable of going too far into the healthy zone.

I would definitely recommend giving this recipe a try. I took these pictures the day I had to stay home from work because of the polar vortex (which apparently wasn't actually a polar vortex), so it doesn't look as cheesy and hot as regular pizza, but that's because it literally froze the second I walked outside to photograph it....as did my fingers while taking these pictures. Sacrifices.

I will definitely be trying some other cauliflower recipes in the future. Do any of you have any good ones? I'd love to hear some other ideas!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Recipe from The Lucky Penny

Ingredients
  • 1 head (Small Head) Cauliflower
  • ¼ cups Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Dried Basil
  • ½ teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Meal (optional)
  • 1 whole Egg

Directions
Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450ºF. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Wash and thoroughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets—you don’t need much stem, just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Cook for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.

Dump squeezed cauliflower into a bowl. Now add Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. Add the egg and mix. Hands tend to work best.
Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.

Using a cutting board, slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.

Add however much sauce, cheese, and toppings you want. I’m not gonna give you measurements for this. You know how you like your pizza—so go for it! Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.
Test your patience and allow it to cool for a minute or two. Probably closer to two. Then using a pizza cutter and a spatula, serve up your delicious grain-free cauliflower crust pizza!



Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I don't know whether it's because I like breakfast foods, or I'm just hungriest in the morning, but I think about breakfast from the moment I wake up. Shoot, sometimes I even think about it before I go to sleep. I'm pretty much always pressed for time in the mornings, so during the week I keep my breakfast foods in the office fridge because the last thing I want is to skip breakfast. On the weekends when I have a bit more time, I like to up my game a bit.

The recipe my mom uses for pancakes and waffles has always been my absolute favorite. When I think of what the perfect pancake or waffle is supposed to taste like, I immediately jump to Sunday mornings growing up when the smell of fresh breakfast would fill the house. She's used this recipe for as long as I can remember, and I believe it came from the Hints from Heloise column that used to run in the paper. The secret ingredient is club soda. Club soda makes for light, fluffy, almost airy pancakes and waffles. I'll post about club soda pancakes sometime in the future, but for now I'll stick to the waffles.

I rarely order waffles because they end up being too hard on the outside or too dry in the middle. That said, with this recipe I'd eat waffles for breakfast every morning (I'm sure my waistline would love that). I just got a Belgian waffle maker, so I used this recipe with that with great results, but I honestly prefer it with a regular waffle maker because they are even lighter. It's hard to get a super light waffle in a Belgian waffle iron regardless of the recipe since they are thicker. I also only was able to get about four waffles out of the batter, whereas with a regular iron I'm sure that number jumps to eight or so. Either way, this recipe is very little effort with fantastic results. It also saves you a few calories since you're subbing out milk...which I think is really all the justification you need to dress the waffles up with whipped cream and fruit, bacon and syrup, butter, etc. Enjoy!

Club Soda Waffles
Recipe from Hints from Heloise

Ingredients
2 cups Bisquick or good quality baking mix
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups club soda

Heat waffle iron. Combine all ingredients together with a spoon, being careful not to overmix. Pour over hot waffle iron immediately, and cook per your individual irons instructions. You need to use the batter right away, as it will go flat if you let it sit too long. You can freeze the waffles if you have more than you need.




Like many people, I spent a few years of my childhood as a Girl Scout. My grandmother had been a troop leader for what seemed like my mom and aunt's entire childhood, so I felt like I was raised with a myriad of arts and crafts ideas and stories of great Girl Scout memories. (For example: with a can of Sterno and an old coffee tin you can make hamburgers on a tin can...this may be the most time consuming way you could possibly make a hamburger, but it can be done.)

Despite all of that, when it came down to it, I hated being a Girl Scout. The only thing I didn't hate was selling Girl Scout cookies. I looked forward to Girl Scout Cookie season every year. It seemed like the easiest thing ever -- you got prizes and badges for selling cookies that everyone already loved. These days all of the cookies have different names, and I have to hunt down the cookie stands. Things get a little desperate. That brings me to these homemade Thin Mints.

Everyone knows the Thin Mint is the queen of all Girl Scout Cookies. I've seen multiple variations of homemade Thin Mints floating around, but for some reason or another I've never gotten around to making them. When I saw that this version only used three ingredients I immediately went to the store to grab the Oreos. This recipe really could not be more simple. The Oreo half is exactly like the cookie part of Thin Mints. I don't know why I had never realized that before. Using Oreos cuts back on the work and takes out the usual issue of having all different sizes and shapes of cookie. The Oreo halves dip perfectly in the chocolate without falling apart, so you're left with a smooth, pretty Thin Mint replica. I always store mine in the freezer, but you can store them however you'd like. Now I just need to find copycat recipes for all of the other Girl Scout cookie recipes and I'll be good to go year-round. Enjoy!

Three Ingredient Thin Mints
Recipe from Deliciously Yum
  • 20 Oreos
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or white chocolate)
Instructions
1. Separate oreos and scrape off the white cream. Line a baking sheet with wax or other nonstick paper.
2. Combine chocolate and peppermint extract in a microwave safe bowl. Heat chocolate until completely melted in 30 second intervals or heat with the help of a double boiler.
3. Place one oreo half at a time into the chocolate and flip over with the help of a fork. Once completely coated, remove cookie half from chocolate with the fork and tap it on the edge of the bowl a couple of times (to get rid of the excess chocolate). Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat. Place in the fridge and let set for 15 minutes before enjoying.
Notes
  • *Sprinkle thin mints with crushed oreos or chocolate pieces after dipping.
  • Cookies will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge or up to 8 weeks in an airtight container in the freezer.





I wasn't remotely looking for a new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have a few favorites that I stick to every time. But the other night when a dessert craving hit I decided that I should look for a new recipe to make. After all, making repeat recipes makes it impossible to use my usual justification for baking: "I need to make and eat this because I have to post on the blog."  So, I stumbled on this cookie recipe and since I had everything on hand I made it.

...And then I made it again not even a full day later because they were just that good.

I had a good feeling about the pudding mix in the recipe because I've tried cookie recipes with cornstarch and liked the results. Averie points out that you can use cornstarch instead of the instant pudding mix for similar, though not identical/as good results. I would stick with the pudding mix. I know this isn't quite a typical thing to have in the pantry, but I always stock up on a few boxes when it's on sale for $1 a box at the grocery store. It's in more recipes than you'd think.

I like a soft, chewy cookie that almost seems like it's underbaked. It needs to have a slight crunch on the outside, but the inside should be gooey when it comes out of the oven. I realize there are a lot of people out there who like overdone cookies. My stepdad is one of those people and that's perfectly fine. If I had the choice of overdone cookie or no cookie at all I'd enjoy the overdone cookie in a heartbeat. But for people who would choose overdone over underdone, this is not the cookie recipe for you.

These cookies are perfect--big, buttery, soft, moist, slightly crisp on the outsides... I've eaten way too many in the past 24 hours so I'm going to stop with the adjectives before I have to get up to get another. I added M&Ms and chocolate chips like Averie, but you could use this base and throw in any number of add-ins. They also come together SO easily. You may have already sworn yourself to another cookie recipe, but cookie commitment is meant to be broken. These are fantastic.

Soft M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Averie Cooks
Yield: 15 large cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: about 3+ hours, for dough chilling

Ingredients 
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free and not 'cook & serve'), OR use 2 teaspoons cornstarch in place of pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate M&M's mixed into the dough + about 1/2 cup for placing on top of dough mounds

Directions:

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, pudding mix (or cornstarch), baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the chocolate chips, 3/4 cup M&Ms, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  4. Using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or your hands, form 15 equal-sized mounds of dough, roll into balls, and flatten slightly.
  5. Add about 1 tablespoon M&Ms to the top of each dough mound.
  6. Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days. Do not bake with unchilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for 11 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet and don't use a rack.
  8. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.



Obviously I have no issues with excessive chocolate on this blog. Rich chocolate cake with rich, whipped chocolate icing -- bring it on. I'm one of those odd people who doesn't even need milk or ice cream to balance it out. I just go for it. And though I didn't keep this word in the title, this cake is incredibly moist, and that's one of the main reasons I decided to make it after seeing it on other blogs. Funny how everyone (myself included) hates that word, yet it's just about the top adjective I want to describe any baked good.

I first made this for round one of my family's Christmas dinner. We had this before Christmas itself this year, and all of my step-siblings and brother/sister-in-laws were there. As I've mentioned before, I have a large family (this dinner was for 16), so whatever I choose has to feed a crowd. That's where cakes are great. The only risk in trying out a new cake recipe for an occasion is that you will spend hours baking and perfectly decorating it only to discover after slicing into it that you don't like it..at all. It's happened to the best of us.

Thankfully this cake spared me that experience. Everyone loved it. In fact, everyone loved it so much that when I was debating what to make for my family's Christmas dinner on Christmas day (a different large group), I decided I'd make it again. Points detracted for lack of originality, but no one complained.

I like my cake cold, so that's how I served it. Because it's such a moist cake, the longer you allow it to set in the fridge the better your slices will look. I had it in the fridge for 4-5 hours before serving, but it was even easier to cut the next day. With all of the cakes I've made I probably start to sound like a broken record on here with things I like in a cake, but I'll say it again, every bite should be a good bite. This cake falls in that category. It's my new favorite chocolate cake, and on a blog titled Chocolate Therapy I think that's saying something!

Enjoy!

Rich Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Foodess
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans (or line with parchment paper circles) and set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.
  3. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  4. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or frosting.
Whipped Chocolate Frosting
Recipe from To Food With Love
  • 1½ cups butter (375g), softened
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk (approx)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
For the Chocolate Frosting:
  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar has been added. You may not use up all the milk if the consistency is right i.e. not too runny.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.



There are few things more comforting in the winter than a warm bowl of chili. I mean, really, very few. A warm fire, hot chocolate, chili… that's my winter comfort list. I must confess I've never made chili myself. I decided around the age of 10 that my favorite chili ever was from a place my family stayed in the Grand Tetons, and despite the fact that there's no way I still remember what that chili tasted like, I deemed it unbeatable. The close second contender was the chili made in church chili nights growing up. Some of the best food seems to be made at church events, but I couldn't begin to tell you what the ladies who made it used in the recipe.

My boyfriend happens to be a great cook, so it's easy to swap some homemade desserts for a few of his homemade meals from time to time. A few weeks ago he made this chili, and I couldn't get enough of it. I was scraping my bowl and legitimately upset when I finished off the container he gave me to take to work. It's much different than a lot of chili I'm used to because it's sweeter. He says it's the tomato puree that does this--I don't know if that's it, but I'm a fan. 

The sweetness somehow makes it even better with a bit of sour cream stirred in. I know it's January and we all try to avoid the extras like sour cream as a topping, but you shouldn't skip it with this chili. This chili + cheddar cheese + sour cream = Grand Teton good chili. I didn't have sour cream at my office so I put a spoon of Greek yogurt in it and that was delicious too. Sidenote: after this success I tried adding Greek yogurt to my Chipotle bowl when I decided to skip on the sour cream to be "healthy" and that was not a good swap. Just a word to the wise if you're like me and have backwards ways of convincing yourself things are not that bad for you.

Long story short, I got him to make it again this weekend because tomorrow the high in DC is 18 degrees, and I think I'll need this chili. For all of you in the mid-west and up north who would gladly take 18 degree weather over the negative temperatures you are experiencing right now, I think you need this chili even more than I do. If you don't have a crockpot you can also make this in a large stockpot. Because everything is already cooked it's just a matter of heating it long enough for the flavors to really blend together. The more time you give it the better it will get. Enjoy!

Sweet Crockpot Chili
Makes 8+ hearty servings

4 15 oz cans tomato puree 
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes 
2 15 oz cans of sweet corn 
1 15oz can of black beans 
1 15oz can of red kidney beans 
1 yellow onion diced 
1 6oz can of green chiles 
2 packets of McCormicks Original Chili powder 
1 lb ground beef (90% lean) 
1 package of chicken Andouille sausage 

Put tomato puree and diced tomatoes in the crockpot. Add corn, black beans, kidney beans, diced the yellow onion and green chilis. Stir to combine.

Brown the ground beef until no pink remains. Drain pan almost entirely and add beef to crockpot. Next, cook the chicken sausage in a little of the beef drippings reserved in the pan. When sausage is cooked through, pull off pan, slice into 1/4-inch slices and quarter the pieces. Add sausage to chili. Alternately, you can slice the chicken sausage before cooking and cook this way instead. 

Stir in both packets of McCormicks Chili powder with 1/4 cup of water. Cook in the crockpot on low for 5 hours. 







Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a nice holiday season. I'm starting the year off with a bang by introducing you to these amazing Caramel Nougat Chocolate Bars. The name on its own sounds like any other standard dessert, but the amazing part is these taste exactly like Snickers. 
Actually, these taste better than Snickers. You can also cut them into any size you'd like.

Sorry, New Year's Resolutions.

I don't think I could have told you what actually makes the nougat layer of candy bars, so I never would have thought I'd be able to recreate it exactly. Something tells me I'm not alone. I have multiple memories of getting the nougat piece in a box of chocolates and wishing I had gotten caramel or milk chocolate instead of the one with the mystery filling. Now I know. I'm not saying I would pick the nougat piece, but when you combine chocolate, nougat, caramel and peanuts it's amazing. Obviously Mars already knows this since they have been making money on the combination for decades. 

I'm sure you've all seen the other copycat candy bar recipes. You take a bite and think, "Hmm, I guess it does somewhat taste like the real thing." Not this one. This is spot on. It also makes a giant serving. My main suggestion is to make sure you keep it cold. I also found that setting it out for 15 minutes or so and then cutting it with a warm knife helped. Enjoy!

Caramel Nougat Chocolate Bars (aka Snickers!)
Recipe from Deliciously Yum
First Chocolate Layer
  1. 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  2. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Nougat Layer
  1. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  4. 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
  5. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
Caramel Layer
  1. 1 12-ounce bag of caramels
  2. 1/4 cup heavy cream
Final Chocolate Layer
  1. 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  2. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  3. 1 9x13-inch aluminum baking pan, optional
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly grease your aluminum baking pan.
  2. For the first layer, melt 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour into the bottom of the aluminum pan and spread in an even layer. Let cool completely in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. For the nougat layer, melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter and add 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup evaporated milk. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook (over medium-high heat) while stirring until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Next, add 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir until creamy and thoroughly combined. Mix in 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts and spread evenly over chocolate layer. Let cool completely on the counter or in the fridge until firm.
  4. For the caramel layer, combine caramels and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a pot. Melt caramel mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly! Spread over nougat layer and let cool once again.
  5. For the fourth and final chocolate layer, melt the remaining 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined and creamy. Spread evenly over the caramel layer and let cool completely. Refrigerate for two hours or until ready to serve. Bars will keep in refrigerator for one week.