Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars

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If you’re not tuned in to the sports world, here’s a PSA for you: the Super Bowl is Sunday.

I will fully admit that I’m just not into it this year. I’m not crazy about the teams playing. I’m over the drama of deflategate. And compared to the excitement of last year when it was held in our backyard, I’m just feeling meh about the whole thing.

But, football food. Eating during the Super Bowl is like it’s own special event. An it’s all that awesome snacky stuff that’s hard to justify on a regular night. Like chocolate caramel pretzel bars. They’re exactly as indulgent as they sound and a super perfect grab-and-go snack for during the game.

Or, you know, during the commercials.
ChocolateCaramelPretzelBars

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars
(adapted from this recipe)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup broken pretzel pieces
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup caramel bits

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 9×13″ pan and line with parchment.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until well combined and press into the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle pretzel pieces, chocolate chips and caramel bits over evenly. Press gently into sweetened condensed milk.

Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and starting to pull away from the pan. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing  from the pan and cutting.


Cinnamon Rolls

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I love lists. I make a lot of them. Probably too many. One of my current favorite lists is for the Day Zero Project – a challenge to tackle 101 goals in 1001 days. I’m currently on my second list – and I’ve only got about five months left. Hello, crunch time!

One of the things on my list was to make cinnamon rolls and I finally tried them out for Christmas this year. Since two dozen were a lot for us, we delivered some to our parents and neighbors too. I’m pretty sure making them for everyone is going to be an annual tradition from now on! So, so happy to have these under my belt.

Cinnamon Rolls
(as seen on Sugar & Spice by Celeste)
Makes approximately 2 dozen

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup melted butter, plus more as needed
1/8 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
1 cup sugar, plus more as needed

In a saucepan, combine the milk, vegetable oil and sugar. Scald and then let cool for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle yeast over the warm milk mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 4 cups of the flour and transfer to a large bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour, until doubled in size.

Stir in the additional 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Sprinkle your work area generously with flour and roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spread melted butter over the dough, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll up from the long side and pinch the seams together to seal up the rolls. Cut the log into 1 1/2″ rolls.

Place 1 Tbsp. melted butter in the bottom of each pan you’re using (a little more for larger pans) and arrange the rolls. You’ll get about 4 8″ round pans with 6 rolls each.

To bake now: Let rest for 20-30 minutes and then bake at 375F degrees for 13-17 minutes, until golden.

To freeze for later: Cover pans with foil and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then follow the “bake now” directions.


Marshmallow Fruit Dip

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Is it just me, or does something always fall through the cracks this time of year?

With a full-blown case of new-mom brain, I’ve been trying to be extra diligent this year. I have a ton of lists and have been double-checking them. I’ve got baking plans. I ordered Christmas cards in November. I’ve got all our gifts laid out on the dining room table, sorted by what day we’ll be seeing people. Sounds like I’ve got my stuff together, right? I thought so, too.

I was patting myself on the back Saturday evening for having my food contributions for Sunday’s family party altogether – this dip already made and all the stuff for a salad ready to go in the fridge. I was upstairs rocking the baby when Mark came up with a panicked look on his face – and a reminder I’d left on the end table to order a pretzel tray for the party. My Mom had volunteered to bring it – but it was on us to order it. And my reminder had gotten buried under mail and other papers.

Guess who was scrambling to order a pretzel tray the night before the party? This girl. At least I had my own stuff together. With any luck, that’s the only thing I’ll forget this week.


Marshmallow Fruit Dip

(from Women Living Well)
Makes about 2 cups

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
1 small jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Fruit, for serving (I used strawberries, grapes, bananas and cantaloupe)

Toss the cream cheese, marshmallow creme and vanilla in a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Serve with fruit.


Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I need to start out with this: I love Christmas.

This time of year just makes me happy. I love finding the perfect presents for family members. I love pulling out all the ornaments that we’ve collected on our travels so far. I love excuses to get together with family and friends. And, of course, I love making Christmas goodies.

A lot of my baking list is dictated tradition: I make up batches of my Opa’s cookies every year, because it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them. Cookie recipes I love but haven’t made recently get broken out for exchanges. And I make ranch pretzels in mass to give as gifts.

There’s always room for something new, though, which is where these cookies come in. I made up these delicious treats for a cookie swap with some of my foodie friends. They’ll be reaching their destination today so I hope they’re well-loved!

If you haven’t tried cookie butter, you need to. Really. Just stop reading now and go buy some.

In all seriousness, though, it’s sort of like a cross between peanut butter and a gingerbread cookie – which is totally perfect for a holiday goodie like this. It’s safe to say these will be making the baking list again next year!

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Knead to Cook)
Makes about 3 dozen

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Cookie Butter (I like Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the cookie butter, vanilla and egg until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoon-fulls onto lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting for 2

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You know what next Monday is? National Cupcake Day! Today, I’m linking up with lots of other bloggers to share some awesome cupcake recipes. Consider this your one-week heads up – plenty of time to pick out a recipe and make something special for someone special!

As a general rule, I try not to make things just for the sake of blogging them. I didn’t have any big gatherings coming up to make cupcakes for, and making a whole batch for just the two of us seemed daunting – and then I ran across this recipe in my folder of saved recipes. Just two cupcakes? And chocolate with Nutella frosting? I’m totally on board with that!

These were awesome – dangerously so. I really shouldn’t know how to whip up just two chocolate cupcakes because it totally takes them from a special occasion thing to a, yeah, I can whip these up during naptime for an afternoon snack thing. Dangerous.

But, oh, I love them so!

You can check out all the other awesome cupcakes bloggers made at the links below. Whether you’re looking for something small batch or to feed a crowd, seasonal or birthday-perfect, there’s something for everyone!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting
(from 52 Kitchen Adventures)
Makes 2

Cupcakes:
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon + 1/16 tsp. baking soda
1/16 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2-1 teaspoon milk

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan with two liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry cupcake ingredients. Whisk in the wet ingredients until all moistened. Divide batter between two cupcake liners.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool, beat together the butter and Nutella. Beat in the powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla and milk and beat until thoroughly combined. Add more milk or powered sugar to reach desired consistancy. Frost cupcakes once they’re cooled.


Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins

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The theme for this round of What’s Baking is pumpkin – perfect for the season! Since I knew I’d be posting my pumpkin recipe this month, I wanted to pick one that would fit in with October Unprocessed. I actually made them last month and these aren’t totally unprocessed – I used a chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chips – but subbing an appropriate nut butter and leaving out the chocolate chips would easily bring them into line.

I’m going to be making them again soon. Like, probably today.

You can check out the roundup of other pumpkin goodies later this month on Carrie’s Sweet Life.

Flourless Pumpkin Pie Muffins
(from Running with Spoons)
Makes 9 Muffins

1/4 cup nut butter
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
6 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.

Add all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a blender and blend on high until the oats are gone and batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips then pour the batter into prepared muffin pans.

Bake until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean,about 10-12 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.


M&M Brownie Batter Dip

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I’m pretty sure dips are the perfect party food. They’re easy to prepare, easy to serve and easy to over-indulge in without every noticing.

What more could you want?

I whipped this up when we went over to the neighbors’ to watch football. The game was incredibly disappointing, but the dip was a hit! I served it with pretzels and animal crackers for dipping – graham crackers and apple slices would be great, too!


M&M Brownie Batter Dip
(from Something Swanky)
Makes about 4 cups

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 Tbsp. all purpose flour
5 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
2-3 Tbsp. milk, divided
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup mini M&Ms
Pretzels, animal crackers, apple slices or graham crackers for dipping

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and 1 Tbsp. of milk and beat until well combined and nearly smooth. Add another 1 Tbsp. of milk and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. If you want a thinner dip, beat in an additional 1 Tbsp. of milk. Stir in M&Ms.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip and Flax Cookies from Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour (+ Win a Copy!)

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I always get excited when a food blogger I admire releases a cookbook. I love having that little piece of the internet on my bookshelf. Nicole Morrissey’s (aka, Prevention RD) first cookbook, Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking, is in frequent rotation around here so when her editor asked if I wanted to review her new cookbook, Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, I jumped at the chance.

As the title suggests, this book is full of gluten-free recipes – but the recipes are also marked as sugar-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, high-fiber and dairy-free as appropriate, making it a super friendly resource for anyone trying to stick to a specific diet. Neither Mark or I have food allergies, but we have friends and family that do so we’re always looking for tasty things we can make them. We’re also, naturally, a little skeptical of recipes that stick to special diets – I mean, how do you trust chocolate chip cookies that have no butter or flour?

Luckily, Nicole has this thing nailed – these cookies were amazing. If you didn’t know they were gluten-free (and dairy-free, vegetarian and low-carb), you never would guess. They taste like regular chocolate chip cookies – not always an easy feat when you’re making something allergy-friendly. We passed off most of the batch to a friend of Mark’s who has recently gone gluten-free and they went over wonderfully.

And, there are so many equally delicious looking recipes in this book. I’m especially excited to work through the breakfast section and I’m loving that I’ll have a whole bunch of gluten-free cookie options for Christmas cookies for our Celiac family members this year.

Nicole’s editor was also kind enough to offer up a copy for a Kate’s Recipe Box reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know if you follow a gluten-free or other special diet and your favorite diet-friendly dish to make. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive a copy of Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, compliments of Skyhorse Publishing. You have until midnight eastern time on September 7, 2014. Open to US residents only.

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip and Flax Cookies
(from Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour)
Makes 16 Cookies

1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips (I used dairy-free chips)

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, flaxseed, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg. Slowly whisk in the coconut oil to the egg, whisking constantly.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, then fold in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling, preheat the oven to 375F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Flatten slightly, to about 3/4 inch thickness.

Bake for 7-9 minutes, until dry-looking and slightly browned. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Brownies

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All of the brownie recipes on this blog so far start with a box mix. I like boxed-mix brownies – the soft inside and the shiny crunchy layer on top really do it for me – so I was never in a rush to make them from scratch. When I ran across this recipe, they looked like my beloved box version enough that I decided to give them a shot.

These were really, really good. A bit more work than a box – but totally worth it. If you’re a fan of boxed-mix brownies and looking for a from-scratch substitue, these are a great bet.



Brownies

(from Sweet Anna’s)
Makes one 9×13″ pan

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×13″ pan.

Stir together the cocoa powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of the melted butter. Stir in the water until the mixture is smooth. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter until well combined. Stir in vanilla and salt until smooth.

Add in flour and chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Transfer brownie batter to the greased pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges of the brownies start to pull away from the pan slightly. Cool completely in pan before cutting.


Cherry Sour Cream Pie

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This strawberry sour cream pie is probably my favorite pie – I make it during strawberry season every year. A few weeks ago when we ended up with a ton of cherries, I decided to try the pie in a cherry version and it was just as good.

It’s a tiny tweak to the recipe but definitely worth sharing!

Cherry Sour Cream Pie
(adapted from this recipe)
Makes 1 Pie

1 prepared pie crust
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sugar, reserve 1 tablespoon
Dash salt
1 c. sour cream (not fat-free)

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream, blending until creamy. Gently fold in the berries without over-mixing. Pour mixture into pie shell and spread to edges without packing down — there should be spaces throughout the filling. Sprinkle the top with the last 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F degrees (leave the oven door open a minute to let the temperature drop a little) and bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Broil the pie for 2-3 minutes to brown up the top. Allow to cool completely before cutting.