S’More Cookie Bars

S’More Cookie Bars.

What S’more fun than S’mores?!

And what s’more perfect with hot cocoa or coffee than s’mores.

And what s’more delicious than campfire s’mores?

S’more cookie bars any time of year!

I love these adorable little cookie treats I learned from my daughter-in-law, Colleen, who first served them at a holiday cookie exchange she hosted a couple years ago.

They are simple.   They are fun. They are beautiful.  And best of all, they are SCRUMPTIOUS!

The teeny tiny miniature dehydrated marshmallows totally make them!  I purchased them locally at Make a Cake, a local, charming little cake and candy decorating shop, but they are also available online if you can’t find them near you.

Here is how to make them.

S'more Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

Directions:

After breaking all graham crackers and chocolate bars into rectangles, place one chocolate rectangle between two graham cracker rectangles forming a sandwich.

Melt Merckens milk chocolate one pound at a time in microwave.  Heat for 1 minute on high.  Stir well.  Heat 20-30 more seconds.  Stir well until smooth.

Dip each graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich into chocolate – coating 1/2 – 2/3 of cookie.   Let excess drip, and place on sheet of wax paper to cool and harden.  Dip 4-6, place on wax paper, and sprinkle with marshmallows.  Working in groups allows the marshmallows to stick to the melted chocolate before it cools to harden.  Continue until all are coated and sprinkled with marshmallows.  Allow to cool and harden.

They are ready within 20-30 minutes to enjoy or store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

P.S.  If you are local, I made these to share at the Berry Vine Gifts Christmas in the Woods Open House, which starts today, Friday, November 17th (10-6).  It also runs through the weekend, Saturday, November 18th (10-6) and Sunday, November 19th (12-4).  Come munch on one with a cup of cocoa while you browse the beautiful holiday handmade crafts, antique furniture, and gifts in this one-of-a-kind shoppe (including my art and Colleen’s rustic pallet signs!) 

Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies.

When it comes to Butter Pecan….. I am an absolute FANATIC!

The way some people feel about chocolate………..
That’s my butter pecan.

Can anyone relate?

As early back as I can remember – even as a child going to Kerber’s Dairy with my grandpap for ice cream, I chose Butter Pecan.

Not chocolate, not strawberry, not chocolate chip, not vanilla……

But creamy, buttery, salty, crunchy, nutty Butter Pecan.

So when I came across this recipe at BakerbyNature for Butter Pecan cookies, I had try it, and O M G!

BROWNED Butter is the secret to these little delights.

And I will not be baking these often, because these – I cannot resist!

Make them if you dare!

Butter Pecan Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter (salted), melted and browned
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  •  2 tsp baking soda

Buttered Pecans

  • 3 cups pecan halves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter (salted)

Additions for Decorating:

  • 50-60 pecan halves
  • Coarse raw sugar

Directions:

Prepare Buttered Pecans by melting butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped pecans and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 mins, until lightly toasted.  Remove from skillet to a bowl to cool.

In same skillet, melt 4 sticks of butter for cookie batter.  Bring to a boil until butter just begins to brown, and then remove from heat.  (Watch carefully, as butter can turn from browned to burned quickly.  It takes about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, but it is so key to get it to the “browned” stage.)

Using electric mixer, combine sugars with browned butter on slow speed until fully combined.  Add vanilla and then eggs, one at time, beating until fully combined.

Add flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda – folding in with rubber spatula until fully incorporated, and then fold in the buttered pecans.

Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

If you have refrigerated overnight – let dough sit to room temperature to become scoopable.

Place golf-ball sized scoops of dough 1-2 inches apart on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly and press a pecan half in center.

Bake 8-9 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse raw sugar.  Let sit on baking stone/cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

ENJOY!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe slightly adapted from BakerbyNature

Butterscotch Haystacks

Butterscotch Haystacks

Butterscotch Haystacks.

It’s a cookie?
It’s a candy?
Not quite sure what you call it….
but it is a scrumptious little treat!

Does anyone remember these little gems from their childhood?

A simple mixture of crunchy chow mein noodles, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, and dry roasted peanuts make a treat that looks like a tiny little haystack and is just the right mixture of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy.

I made these for a “Wizard of Oz” party, thinking they were just the thing to do with the leftover “straw” that fell out of Scarecrow.

There are a variety of ways people have made them through the generations…

With our without the peanuts… with or without the peanut butter.
Some add a bit of vegetable oil.
Some add a a mixture of chocolate and butterscotch chips.

How about you?

Here is how I made them.

And if you haven’t tried them, they are definitely worth a try!  Super easy and super yummy!

Butterscotch Haystacks

  • Servings: approx. 3 dozen
  • Print

Ingredients:

Directions:

Melt butterscotch chips in a large microwavable bowl in microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave an additional 30 seconds.  Stir again.  Add peanut butter.  Microwave 30 more seconds, and stir well.  At this point, mine is completely melted.  Add 30 second increments if necessary according to your microwave’s power until all is melted and smooth.  (If necessary, you can add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to create a smoother texture, but do not overcook or it will create a thick, gunky texture that will not work.)

Add bag of chow mein noodles and peanuts and stir gently until all noodles and peanuts are coated and ingredients are well combined.

Working relatively quickly before mixture cools, drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper or parchment paper.  Allow to set for several hours.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature or serve.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Double Crumble Apple Crisp

Double Crumble Apple Crisp.

Nothing says Autumn like the taste of sweet, tender baked apples layered with cinnamony, nutty, crunchy oat crumble in a divine Apple Crisp.

Right?!

So of course I had to bake one with a bunch of apples I was gifted with from a local farm market.

Hubby likes his warm with creamy vanilla bean ice cream melting on it for dessert.

I like mine refrigerator cold for breakfast with steaming coffee flavored with Italian Sweet Cream.

However you like it, this is a classic worth making at least once each Autumn – just because!

Here is the recipe I like best, which is slightly tweaked from a recipe found at Creations by Kara.

Double Crumble Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 7 large apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

Combine oats, brown sugar, flour 1 Tbsp cinnamon, salt, and butter to crumble consistently.  Add chopped nuts and combine.

Press 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a round or square baking dish (9-11″).  Spread peeled, sliced apples on top.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Top with remaining crumble mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes until apples are tender and crumble is browned.

Serve warm with ice cream or cool whip or cold for breakfast (wink!) – however you prefer!

Enjoy

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Nice” Cream

Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Nice” Cream.

Can you even stand how decadent and amazing this ice cream looks??!!

Well – it is actually “nice” cream!  A dairy-free, healthy version of ice cream made from fresh, natural ingredients.

When my daughter-in-law, Liz, who is a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) as well as a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN), recently posted this recipe on the blog of  her website about functional nutrition, Nourish & Flourish, I knew I had to try this!

Liz’s knowledge about holistic nutritional health is extraordinary, and she “preaches” and practices maintaining a “normal” lifestyle with most everything in moderation.  I really am very proud of her, and this recipe is nothing short of AMAZING!  You will not miss the dairy, added sugar, or all the preservatives you are used to consuming in your usual ice cream.

Please click on THIS LINK for the recipe for this delicious “Nice” Cream on Liz’s website and blog.  I hope you will subscribe to her blog post as there is always something interesting to learn or to try making for a healthy alternative.  Liz also has a Facebook page and Instagram page, which I encourage you to follow as well.  And if you live nearby Pittsburgh, PA, Liz is available for individualized nutrition consulting.  You can get a free 15-minute consult by signing up here.

But first – make this Nice Cream and let me know what you think!!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Turkey Kielbasa, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Skillet

Turkey Kielbasa, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Skillet.

We all find ourselves on those days when we just need to throw something together quick for dinner – right?

We want it to be easy, but healthy and delicious if possible.

The other day I threw this together and really enjoyed it.  We had it with a cucumber salad on the side for a healthy delicious meal in 30 minutes.

I’m sure there are many options for different proteins and veggies and spices, but here is how I made this one.  Do you ever throw together quick “skillet” meals like this?  What do you like to use?

Turkey Kielbasa, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Turkey Kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
  • 1 lb petite yellow fingerling potatoes, cut in half (or your favorite)
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced rosemary

Directions:

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts, potatoes, red bell pepper,  onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or so beginning with high heat to brown and then reducing to medium and covering with a lid until Brussels are becoming tender and potatoes are almost cooked through (you can test with a fork).  Stir occasionally.

Add additional Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, turkey kielbasa and fresh rosemary.  Cook approximately 10  more minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally until all is cooked and flavors are blended well.

Serve immediately.

Stores well to reheat for leftovers.  

Enjoy!

(I ate leftovers for breakfast the next day and LOVED!)

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake.

Our family is pretty much huge fans of Reese’s peanut butter cups and all things peanut butter and chocolate.

So when it came time to celebrate one of my son’s birthdays recently, I was excited to try this Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake recipe I found at Life, Love, and Sugar.

Disappoint it did not!!! Oh the chocolately peanut buttery amazingness!

Want to see it a little closer?!

This cake is not for the faint of heart….  yes -it is only for the most serious of chocolate and peanut butter addicts!

Want to see what a slice of it looks like?

Yep – that is three heavenly layers of moist chocolate cake separated only by a fluffy peanut butter frosting and chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups!

Can you even stand it??!!

As much as we all love our peanut butter cups, we decided this cake would be just as delicious or possibly even better with half the frosting, so that is how I will likely make it next.

You decide – half the frosting or all…. but I’m betting you are going to be somebody’s super hero if you make and serve this cake!

Here is how I made it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Triple Layer Cake

  • Servings: 1 large cake
  • Print

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup hot water

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 9 cups powdered sugar
  • 6-8 Tbsp half and half

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Garnish:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare three 9″ cake pans by spraying them with Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray then placing a parchment circle on the bottom.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt in a bowl.

Combine milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs in an electric mixing bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixing bowl, and mix until well combined.

Slowly add the hot water to the batter, and mix on low speed until well incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly between the three prepared pans, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove pans from oven, and allow cake to cool in pans for 3-4 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.   When completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, overnight or for several days or weeks.

When ready to assemble cake, prepare frosting by combining the butter and peanut butter with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add half the powdered sugar until incorporated.  Add half of the half and half and combine.  Add remaining powdered sugar, then remaining half and half, and combine until smooth and fluffy frosting is formed.

Place first layer of cake on a serving plate.  Top with frosting and 3 chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Add the next cake layer and repeat frosting and peanut butter cups.

Add the final cake layer and frost top and sides of cake, reserving 1 cup of frosting for piping decorations if desired.

Make chocolate ganache by heating 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream in microwave for 1 minute.  Add one cup of chocolate chips.  Let set for a couple minutes, then stir until smooth ganache is created.  Pour on top of cake allowing some to drip down sides.

Decorate top of cake with chopped and halved Reese’s peanut butter cups and piped florets of frosting.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.

It’s the most pumpkiny time of the year…….. (are you singing with me to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?”)

Seems we just can’t get enough of it.

I know I’m having fun trying new things with pumpkin…. Like my recent Pumpkin Chili recipe!  YUM!

How about a new twist on old-fashioned snickerdoodles by pumpkin’in them up?

Oooo Laaa Laaaa!

They just taste like Autumn!

Hope you’ll give them a try.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 3 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • For rolling:  1/4 cup sugar + 2 tsp ground cinnamon, combined

Directions:

Cream together butter and sugars with electric mixer.  Add egg yolk, vanilla and pumpkin, and combine.

Add next 8 ingredients, followed by the flour, and mix until combined.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll and shape dough into golf ball sized balls.  Roll balls in sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Place on baking stone or sheet and bake approximately 12 minutes until tops begin to crack.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking stone/sheet for an additional 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe tweaked very slightly from Cooking Classy

 

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry.

Do you love going to those fun hibachi restaurants where they cook delicious stir fry meals right before your eyes?

This honey garlic chicken stir fry recipe reminds me of the fresh deliciousness of those experiences.

This might very likely be my all-time favorite chicken recipe!

It is simple and easy, made from ingredients typically kept on hand, and so adaptable to your tastes.

Make it with mushrooms and snow peas and onions if they are your favorite vegetables or what you have on hand.

Make it with beef or pork or shrimp – whatever you like best.

Whatever you like, please do try this awesome recipe.

I wonder if it will become one of your favorites like it is for me?

Here is how I made it this past week.

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch

Directions:

Heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  While oil is heating up, steam carrots in microwave for 3-4 minutes.

Season chicken cubes with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to rest.

Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, and zucchini to skillet.  Stir fry until vegetables are tender (approx. 3-4 mins.).

Remove veggies from skillet, and allow to rest.

Add remaining oil to skillet and stir fry seasoned chicken.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

Add the chopped garlic, and cook for approx. 30 seconds.

Add the veggies back to the pan, and cook for a couple more minutes until the veggies are warmed through.

In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, honey, and soy sauce.  Pour over chicken and veggies.  Cook for one minute.

Whisk cornstarch with equal amount of cold water.  Add to skillet.  Bring to a boil, and cook for another minutes or so until sauce begins to thicken.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe slightly adapted from DinnerAtTheZoo.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Stuffed Butternut Squash.

I wanted to do something new and creative with butternut squash for dinner one day this past week.  I absolutely love butternut squash and have shared several recipes through the years here at The Creative Life In Between on how I enjoy preparing it.

The most simple is yummy, but easy Roasted Butternut Squash.

Another fabulous way to serve it is Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna – OOOO LA LA!!

Or how about Penne with Goat Cheese and Butternut Squash?  Such a delight with crunchy toasted walnuts!

But how about a meaty version?

I had a fresh package of grass-fed ground beef in the fridge, so after googling beef and butternut squash, I found some ideas and tweaked up a favorite found at Civilized Caveman Cooking.

This full-flavored, meaty, and paleo version was DELISH!

Another winner of a way to serve Butternut Squash!

Here is how I made it.  Hope you’ll give it a try.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 lb. ground beef (grass-fed organic if possible) or ground turkey
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced and coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.  Place flesh down in glass 9×13 baking dish.  Pour 1/2 inch of water into baking dish.  Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted through skin into soft flesh.

While squash is roasting in the oven, saute sliced strips of bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy.  Set aside and pour off all but about a tablespoon of bacon drippings.  Saute onions (reserving 1/4 for topping) and celery in same skillet for 2-3 minutes.  Add beef, rosemary, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir and saute until beef is cooked through.

When squash is done, remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Scoop out all but about 1/4 inch of flesh from squash halves.  Add mashed squash and crispy bacon (reserving 1 Tbsp. for topping) to meat mixture .  Stir to completely combine.  Fill both butternut squash shells with meat and squash filling.  Return to oven in same baking dish for 10-15 minutes.

Saute remaining 1/4 chopped onion with balsamic vinegar until caramelized.

Remove stuffed squash from oven.  Top with balsamic caramelized onions and reserved bacon.  Cut each squash half in half to create 4 servings.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi