Macadamia Lemon Bars

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The latest recipe swap covered my favorite topic: dessert. I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like.

I was really pleased about my assigned recipe from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles. I’ve had lemon bars on my to-make list for quite some time, but they always get bumped in favor of something chocolately. This was the perfect opportunity to finally try them out!

These were just as good as I was imagining and I really loved the addition of the macadamia nuts. Another check on my cooking bucket list thanks to the recipe swaps!


Macadamia Lemon Bars
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes an 8×8 pan of bars

For the crust
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. macadamia nuts, finely chopped

For the filling
1 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. lemon zest
2 t. macadamia nuts, chopped
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir togetherthe flour, powdered sugar and melted butter until well combined .  Stir in the nuts.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom and 1/2″ up the sides of prepared baking dish.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Pour the filling over hot crust and sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and the center is set.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and cut into bars.  Chill until ready to serve.

You can see the rest of the yummy desserts made as part of the swap below. Thanks to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!


Buckeye Brownies

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My favorite part of award season is trying to guess the winners. Each year, I set up pick ‘ems for my friends and offer up baked goodies to the winners. These delicious little things are going in the mail today for Laura, our Grammy winner.

I just had to sample these before mailing them off and, my goodness, they’re delectable – a really dense, fudge-y brownie with a creamy, peanut butter element. I must find a reason to make these again soon!

 Buckeye Brownies
(from Cookies & Cups)
Makes 1 9″x13″ pan

1 box (18-19 oz) Brownie Mix
2 eggs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. coarsely chopped peanuts
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lightly grease a 9″x13″ pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the brownie mix, eggs and oil until smooth. Stir in the chopped peanuts. Press half of the brownie mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan – set the remainder aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter. Spread over the brownie mixture in the pan. Drop remaining brownie batter over the peanut butter mixture by spoonful and press down into the peanut butter mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes until the peanut butter mixture is just set. Let cool completely before cutting.

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies – Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook

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While I’m sharing another cookie recipe today, I’m not thinking of Christmas as I write this post. I’m thinking of all of the people who lost their lives in the horrific shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday. Today, bloggers are coming together to honor the victims.

We’re also spreading the word about Newton Youth & Family Services, a non-profit mental health clinic that is providing emergency counciling to anyone in the Newton community that wants it. You can donate to them here.

These cookies are comfort food – soft and very peanut-buttery. The Nutella swirl gives them an extra nutty kick. They’re a perfect feel-good treat.

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies
(from The Sisters Cafe)
Makes about 3 dozen

1 c. butter (2 sticks) room temperature
2/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
Heaping 1/3 c. Nutella
In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Add Nutella in dollops over the top of the dough and swirl through the dough using a butter knife.  Chill the dough in fridge for 15 minutes to firm the Nutella.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until slightly brown at edges.  Let cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Nutella-Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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To celebrate the holidays, I participated in a cookie swap with some of my food blogger friends. I recieved an awesome batch of monster cookie bars from Heather and I sent this batch of cookies off to Christine.

Oh, how I wanted to keep these, though.

These are truely amazing cookies. With browned butter and three different kinds of chocolate chips, they’re like chocolate chip cookies taken to the next level. And then, you bite in and find the gooey, Nutella center. So, so awesome.


Nutella-Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Ambitious Kitchen)
Makes about 2 dozen

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. of salt
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 T. plain greek yogurt
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed until just combined. Fold in all of the chocolate chips.

Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled Nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand gently to flatten out the top slightly.

Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cowboy Cookies

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This week, I’ll be sharing a few cookie recipes. If you haven’t already finished up your holiday baking, these are all great candidates for your list!

I’m starting off with a cookie I didn’t make for the holidays, though. A week after Sandy and still without power, I put up a frustrated note on Facebook: “Taking bets: When will we get power back? Closest guess wins a batch of homemade cookies.”

My friends all responded with guesses along the lines of what the power companies were telling us – it’d be a few more days. My husband admonished them all: “Come on, I want optimism!!” To which one of our friends, Edgar, offered up a guess that the power would come on in the next 45 minutes.

Wouldn’t you know, exactly 45 minutes after Edgar’s comment, our lights popped back on. Color me impressed! These cookies were his delicious prize for guessing right.

Cowboy Cookies
(Laura Bush via Family Circle Magazine, as seen on Lemons and Lima Beans)
Makes about 2 dozen

1 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 c. sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 c. chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
Stir in the flour mixture, blending until just combined. Add the chips, oats, coconut and pecans and stir until fully incorporated.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet, making sure to allow plenty of room between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are set and golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes before placing on a cooling rack.

Fruit Cookie Pie

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I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love fall. I can’t wait to dive into apple season. I can’t wait to start planning my Halloween costume. I can’t wait to change all my decorations into pumpkins and leaves.

But, the weather would have you believe it’s still mid-summer. So all of those perfectly fall desserts that I’ve been drooling over don’t seem appropriate yet.

This pie is ridiculously easy. It’s your standard fruit pizza, made into a pie (because, really, who eats it like pizza anyway? I always end up busting out a fork). You can use any in-season fruit for this. I chose the very last of the summer berries.

1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. strawberries, sliced
1/4 c. blueberries
1/2 c. apple jelly

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Grease a pie pan very well and then press sugar cookie dough in as evenly as possible to create a crust. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool completely.

Beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Spread over cookie crust. Top with fruit. Stir jelly until smooth. Brush over fruit.

Refrigerate until chilled.

Granola Cookie Bites

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Happy Recipe Swap Day! The theme of this swap was Blogger’s Choice and I was introduced to Delicious Meliscious. Delicious is right! I was drooling looking through her pictures and couldn’t narrow down my choices at all so I bookmarked her blog for when I had more time to dive in.

And then the next day, we had a cookie emergency. I went to pull out a cookie to have with my lunch and realized we were all out. Oh no! (Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to!) I immediately thought of the granola bites Melissa made and called just as good as an oatmeal cookie. Since they’re no-bake, they would rectify the cookie emergency quickly.

I was really happy with how these came out. They’re the perfect little grab-and-go sweet and require minimal effort.

Granola Cookie Bites
(from Sally’s Baking Addiction, as seen on Delicious Melisicious)
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

2 1/4 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. yellow cake mix
1/2 c. light corn syrup (or honey)
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together oats, cake mix, corn syrup and vanilla until all of the oats are well coated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for two hours or until mixture is stiff and sticks together easily. Roll into balls.

Return to fridge until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Kisses

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Every year during awards season, I set up pick ‘em games for my girlfriends and offer up baked goods as prizes. And then, every year after the winners are picked, I end up taking months to get them their prizes.

These cookies were for Sarah, and the last of this year’s promised prizes. They also happen to my a favorite of my husband’s and he was bummed when I wouldn’t let him have more than one. I guess I’ll be making another batch soon!

Peanut Butter Kisses
(from Bakerella)

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, slightly softened
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
Hershey’s Kisses

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Combine flour, soda and salt with a wire whisk and set aside.

Beat butter and peanut butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and combine.

Roll dough into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls and then roll the balls in sugar to coat. Place rolled balls on parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and press an unwrapped Hershey’s Kisses candy into the center of each cookie.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Cake Batter Blondies

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Yesterday was my Grandma’s 85th birthday. She’s a total rock star.

We had a party for her a few weekends ago at a park in the area. She has six kids, and they all have kids, and there’s even one great-grandkid so even “immediate family” get togethers turn into pretty big ordeals. We do our parties potluck style so that no one gets stuck trying to feed the whole crowd.

I was asked to bring a dessert. I decided on these because my coworker, Dawn, had brought them to the office for my birthday and they were a big hit. Dawn used a neat brownie pan that made all blondies have nice edges. I didn’t have such a cool pan so I used a cupcake tin. It worked well, but if you’re going to do it this way, make sure to grease it well!

Cake Batter Blondies
(from Girl Meets Life)
Makes 12

1 box funfetti cake mix
1/4 c. rainbow sprinkles
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan or cupcake tin.

Mix together cake mix and rainbow sprinkles in a large bowl. Stir in oil and egg. Stir in milk slowly, until the batter is thick like cookie dough. It’s okay if you don’t use all 1/2 cup of the milk. Fold in white chocolate chips.

If you’re using an 8×8 pan, bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown.  If using a cupcake tin, your baking time will be closer to 10 minutes.

Let cool for at least 20 minutes after removing from the oven before slicing.

Toffee Almond Magic Cookie Bars

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I made another batch of Monster Magic Cookie Bars for my latest Operation Baking GALS package. I had enough graham crackers and sweetened condensed milk for a second batch – but not the M&Ms, so I raided my baking stash to see what over combos I could come up with.

The result was these toffee almond bars. They were fantastic. I think I like these better than the monster ones!

Toffee Almond Magic Cookie Bars
(adapted from Something Swanky)

9 full graham crackers
4 T. butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
3/4 c. toffee bits
1/2 c. sliced almonds

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

Crush graham crackers into crumbs using a food processor or rolling pin. Mix in melted butter until well-combined. Press crumbs into lined baking dish.

Evenly pour the sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, toffee bits and almonds evenly over the sweetened condensed milk. Gently press in a little.

Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and pulling away from the edges of the pan. Let cool completely before cutting.