Banana Blueberry Muffins


Hello from sunny South Florida! My journey has brought me back to the sunshine state, working for an incredible organization, JM Family Enterprises (Southeast Toyota Finance) and living close to family and friends again. Life is good!

I stumbled upon this recipe months ago and as I normally do, altered it a bit, and have since, made these muffins four times now. They are delicious! My first time making them, I used Paleo flour and was short a banana, so added applesauce for additional moisture, and you would never know the difference in the flour. I now add applesauce every time I make them, which is included below. The last couple times, I added chocolate chips, simply because I love chocolate and find it’s a nice addition to the fruit, but you can certainly leave them out.

Recipe adapted from Spend With Pennies.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. flour to toss with blueberries
  • 1 ½ cups flour (for non-grain, I recommend Bob Mills Paleo https://amzn.to/3zhssFt)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup bananas, mashed (about 2 or 3, depending on size)
  • 8 tbsp. (4 oz.) applesauce (I prefer Mott’s cinnamon applesauce https://amzn.to/3Orvbkc)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste (my favorite/only kind I use, Nielsen-Massey https://amzn.to/3ocVAr1)
  • Sugar in the raw, sprinkled (optional)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour, set aside.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine bananas, applesauce, sugar, melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. (don’t overmix)
  5. Gently fold in blueberries (and chocolate chips, if using)
  6. Divide batter evenly over muffin wells (I used two muffin tins with 6 muffin wells each).
  7. Sprinkle raw sugar on top of each muffin/batter (optional).
  8. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

The nutritional information below does not include the 1 cup of chocolate chips. If added, the additional calories are 74, totaling 263 per serving.

No-Bake Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars


Reese's Bars

Last night, I had a serious craving for something sweet and decided to “cheat” by making a box mix of a Reese’s dessert. I took a little bite to satisfy my fix, and while it was delicious, I knew I could/should, make a homemade version. Thus, I did just that today. I seriously LOVE the incredible combination of chocolate and peanut butter and knew this was going to be amazing. Well, amazing doesn’t do it justice… it’s OFF THE CHARTS! It tastes just like a Reese’s, and doesn’t require any baking, so super easy to whip together. Oh, and only has five (yes 5) ingredients!!!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham crackers crumbs
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, plus 2 tbsp.
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk chocolate

Directions

  1. Line a 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil or waxed paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt butter and peanut butter in the microwave until butter is melted.
  3. Mix in graham cracker crumbs & powdered sugar, and stir until well combined.
  4.  Spread into dish, and place in fridge for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips and 2 tbsp. peanut butter in 20 second intervals until melted and smooth.
  6. Pour and spread over peanut butter mix, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  7. Lift up out of dish and cut into squares.

Reese's PB Bars

 

Top ↑

Cake Batter Truffles


Cake Batter Truffles

A few months ago, I made some amazing Oreo truffles and wanted to do something similar for the potluck we had at work yesterday to celebrate the 4th. I saw these a while back and saved the recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff, and followed it exactly as written, with the exception of using only red, white & blue sprinkles and adding American flag toothpicks on top to make these patriotic for the occasion. I’m not a huge cake batter fanatic (although I do like it a lot), but apparently, there are tons of people out there who are! I thought they were great, and received rave reviews, so have to say they were a success 🙂 Not to mention, I think they’re really cute!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. milk (I used skim)
  • 2 tbsp. sprinkles

Truffle Coating

  • 16 oz. (8 squares) almond bark (or white candy melts)
  • 4 tbsp. yellow cake mix
  • Sprinkles

Almond Bark

Rolled up & ready to cool in fridge
Rolled up & ready to cool in fridge

Directions

  1. Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined.
  2. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add 4 tbsp. of milk to make a dough consistency.
  4. Mix in sprinkles by hand.
  5. Roll dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet.
  6. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.
  7. While dough balls are chilling, melt almond bark in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir between intervals. (I used my chocolate warmer)
  8. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until incorporated completely.
  9. Using a fork, dip truffles into almond bark and shake of excess bark by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl.
  10. Place truffles back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.
  11. Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 24-30 truffles.

Cake Batter Truffles

Top ↑

Red, White and Blue Layered Flag Cake


My Layered Flag Cake

I made this flag cake last year for a work potluck we had to celebrate the Fourth of July and realized I didn’t post the recipe (which came from Betty Crocker). With Independence Day just around the corner, I thought now would be a perfect time to get it on here. It a bit labor-intensive (think hours), but the end result is a really cool, colorful and tasty dessert.

Ingredients

Red Cake Layers

  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
  • 1 pint (2 cups) strawberries, stems removed, pureed in blender or food processor to about 1 1/4 cups
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. red paste food color

Blue Cake Layer

  • 1/2 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix (about 1 2/3 cups dry mix)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, pureed in blender or food processor
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon blue paste food color
  • 3 tbsp. Betty Crocker® white star-shaped candy sprinkles or nonpareils

White Cake Layer

  • 1/2 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix (about 1 2/3 cups dry mix)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 egg whites

Frosting and Sprinkles

  • 3 containers Betty Crocker® Whipped fluffy white frosting
  • Betty Crocker® red, white and blue sprinkles, if desired

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. To make red cake layers: Grease or spray two 8-inch round pans; place 8-inch round piece cooking parchment paper in bottom of each pan. Grease or spray parchment paper. In large bowl, beat red cake layer ingredients with electric mixer on low-speed 30 seconds, then on high-speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Spread in pans. Bake 29 to 34 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 10 minutes; run knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Gently remove from pans to cooling rack; remove parchment paper. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Flatten cake layers by trimming off rounded tops. Cut layers in half horizontally to make 4 thin red layers. In 1 layer, cut small round out of center, using 4-inch biscuit cutter. Wrap and freeze 1 thin layer and the layer that was cut out of; save for another use.
  3. To make blue cake layer: Grease or spray 8-inch round pan; place 8-inch round piece cooking parchment paper in bottom of pan. Grease or spray parchment paper. In medium bowl, beat all blue cake layer ingredients except sprinkles with electric mixer on low-speed 30 seconds, then on high-speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Fold sprinkles into batter. Spread in pan. Bake 29 to 34 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 10 minutes; run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Gently remove from pan to cooling rack; remove parchment paper. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Flatten cake layer by trimming off rounded top. Do not cut in half horizontally. Cut small round out of center, using 4-inch round biscuit cutter. Wrap and freeze 4-inch round; save for another use.
  4. To make white cake layer: Grease or spray 8-inch round pan; place 8-inch round piece cooking parchment paper in bottom of pan. Grease or spray parchment paper. In medium bowl, beat white cake layer ingredients with electric mixer on high-speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Spread in pan. Bake 29 to 34 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 10 minutes; run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Gently remove from pan to cooling rack; remove parchment paper. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Flatten cake layer by trimming off rounded top. Cut layer in half horizontally to make 2 thin white layers. In 1 layer, cut small round out of center, using 4-inch biscuit cutter. Wrap and freeze the layer that was cut out of; save for another use.
  5. To assemble cake: Place 1 red cake layer on cake stand or serving platter; spread 1/3 cup frosting on top. Top with 1 white cake layer; spread 1/3 cup frosting on top. Top with second red cake layer; spread 1/3 cup frosting on top. Gently top with blue layer. Carefully spread thin layer of frosting on cut edge inside of blue cake layer. Gently insert white 4-inch cake round; top with frosting and then red 4-inch cake round; press slightly. Frost side and top of cake using remaining frosting. Top with sprinkles. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Tips:

  • Don’t have a 4-inch round biscuit cutter? Cut out a 4-inch circle of cooking parchment paper, and use it as a pattern.
  • To easily cut cake layer horizontally to make 2 thin layers, mark side of cake with toothpicks and cut with long, thin serrated knife.
  • The paste food color can be found at cake and candy supply stores or online at countrykitchensa.com. Use paste food color to achieve the bright red and blue colors. If you use liquid or gel food color, your cake color will vary.

Top ↑

Almond Thin Cookies (aka Pain d’amonde)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Around Christmas time, our office was overflowing with succulent treats from our vendors, which is how I discovered (and fell in love) with small crisp almond thin cookies from Jules Destrooper. I think I might have actually eaten half of the box. At that point, I was on a mad hunt to find these, and had planned on ordering some (okay, a dozen) when I found them. Thankfully, I came to my senses and resisted my urge as I knew the majority of them would remain in my house (and then consumed). Just recently, I started thinking (dreaming) of those delicious thins, and decided to see if I could find the recipe online. I came across two, and after reading the ingredients and directions, I chose to go with this one on David Lebovitz‘s site, which came from Flo Braker. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re not familiar with David or Flo!

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp.  butter, salted or unsalted, cubed
  • 1 1/3 cups coarse crystal golden sugar*
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 1/3 cups  flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched

* You should be able to find course crystal golden sugar in your local grocery store. I used Sugar in the Raw Natural Cane Turbinado Sugar.

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat with the sugar, cinnamon, and water. Stir until the butter just melts but don’t allow to boil: most of the sugar should not be dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the flour, baking soda, and almonds until well mixed.
  3. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan so the top is smooth. Chill until firm.
  4. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise, as thin as possible, into rectangles (I cut my rectangles in half). If you can get them as thin as a coin, all the better. The thinner they are, the more delicate and crisp they’ll be.
  6. Space the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the undersides are golden brown. Flip the cookies over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cookies are crisp and deep golden-brown on top. The baking times depend on how thin you cut the cookies.
  7. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

For storage: Once baked, the cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to three days. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, or frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped.

Top ↑

Oreo Truffles


Oreo Truffles

My Mom told me about these little gems recently, and how incredibly scrumptious they were, so it goes without saying… I just had to try them out. I did last night and she was NOT kidding! Today, I brought them into work and they went over like gangbusters! In addition, everyone was shocked that they’re only made up of three ingredients and the inside is totally creamy! They do take a little bit of work to put together, but I promise you, it is well worth the effort!

I decided to divide the recipe in half and make these smaller than one inch instructed on Kraft’s site (although they look larger in the picture), and thought they were the perfect size.

Ingredients

  • 36 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
  • 1 (8 oz.) package of Philly cream cheese, softened
  • 4 packages (4 oz.) Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Peanut butter oreos in food processor
Peanut butter oreos in food processor

Oreo crumbs
Oreo crumbs

Directions

  1. Break Oreos into small pieces, place into food processor (or blender) and grind to fine crumbs.
  2. Reserve 1/4 cup of the crumbs.
  3. Combine cream cheese & remaining crumbs in a bowl until well blended.
  4. Shape into approximately 48 (1 inch) balls.
  5. Put in freezer for 15 minutes to harden.
  6. Melt chocolate in microwave* or in a chocolate warmer (my favorite).
  7. Dip the oreo-cream cheese balls into chocolate, using one or two forks, or a toothpick, until covered, and place on wax or parchment paper-covered rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle immediately with reserved crumbs and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

* To melt chocolate: Place chocolate in microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.

Store in airtight container in fridge.

A Different Batch Using Milk Chocolate & Almond Bark
A different batch made with milk chocolate & almond bark

Top ↑

Chocolate Chip Cookie Reese’s Brownies


CC Cookie PB Brownie

What do you get when you combine chocolate chip cookie dough, Reese’s peanut butter cups and brownie mix??? I call it a little slice of heaven! If you’re a fan of these three things as much as I am, then you will fall in love with this amazing concoction. For real. And when I  tell you they’re super easy to make, I kid you not.

Ingredients
Ingredients

  • 1 package of break-apart cookie dough
  • 24 regular or snack size Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 box of brownie mix

Assembly

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Flatten a square of the chocolate chip cookie dough into the wells of a muffin tin (or in cupcake liners).
  3. Place a Reese’s, upside down, on top of the cookie dough.
  4. Prepare brownie batter as directed on the box, and spoon over Reese’s-cookie dough, 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Let cool on wire rack.
  7. Enjoy the deliciousness!

Fresh out of the oven

Top ↑

Mini Reese’s Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies


I decided to do a little experimenting in the kitchen yesterday with two of my favorite treats…  Reese’s peanut butter cups and chocolate chip cookies. The results were mind-blowing!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth with electric mixer on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips.
  5. Measure out about a tablespoon of cookie dough. Roll into a ball and then flatten in the palm of your hands.
  6. Place a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup in the centers of the flattened dough balls and form dough back into a ball around the Reese’s.
  7. Place Reese’s stuffed dough balls into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
  8. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  9. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft).
  10. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Top ↑

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mini-Cheesecakes


So what can I possibly say about this decadent dessert? I think the name itself speaks volumes. First of all, I love chocolate chips cookies. I mean, really, really love them. And then there’s cookie dough. Well, I know I’m not the only one who’s purchased a package of dough with the intention of making chocolate chips cookie, only to eat spoonful after spoonful… even though it’s considered “risky” because of the raw eggs. The good news about this recipe is that you don’t have to worry about salmonella as the cookie dough doesn’t contain any eggs!! Woo hoo! Okay, next up is cheesecake. Simply put, I can’t get enough of it! And the combination of cookie dough and cheesecake together, is like a little slice of heaven! I highly recommend you try this recipe if you adore all of the above as much as I do!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter

Cheesecake

  • 8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Cookie Dough

  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray mini-cheesecake pan with cooking spray (you can also use a muffin pan with cupcake liners). Set aside.
  2. Mix the melted butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and going up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Leave your oven on while you prepare the dough.
  3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour a little bit at a time, on low-speed, and mix until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and blend in with a spoon. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, using a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low-speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust.
  5. Using your hand, form round teaspoon-sized clumps, and distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top (cookie dough) feels dry. Since cooking times vary with different ovens, I’d recommend checking them at 20 minutes.
  7. Move pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  8. Remove mini-cheesecakes by pushing up on the bottom of pan. *
  9. Chill in refrigerator overnight or for at least a couple of hours.

Note: You may think that baking the cookie dough will produce an actual cookie, but since it doesn’t contain eggs, it won’t truly “mature” into a real cookie, and ends up tasting like cookie dough 🙂

* If you’re not familiar with mini-cheesecake pans, they’re basically like muffin pans except the cups are thinner and taller, and there are holes in the bottom. They come with small, round discs which lay in the bottom, on top of the circular holes, so you can push up the bottom with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon to get a nice looking mini-cheesecake. I recently bought one of these pans from Amazon made my Chicago Metallics that cost about $13.

Top ↑

Oh-So-Yummy Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake


You wouldn’t know it by the weather here in Southern California right now, but it IS officially fall, and Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. And, as much as I adore summer, I have to admit, I’m a big fan of both holidays, especially turkey day because of all of the incredible food! Last year, I was invited to someone’s house for the holiday, and was in charge of bringing a couple of dishes – one being dessert. Since I’m a huge cheesecake lover, I decided to go with a pumpkin cheesecake, and I must tell you, it received rave reviews! That same cheesecake actually won a bake-off contest at work! Need I say more? Rest assured, this recipe will not disappoint, and people will be asking you for it!

Topped with low-fat whipped cream, candied pecan pieces and drizzled caramel.

Ingredients

  • 38 Nabisco Ginger Snaps, finely crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (I like to use candied pecans)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended.
  4. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well.
  5. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low-speed after each just until blended.
  6. Pour into crust.
  7. Bake 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min., or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.
  8. Refrigerate 4 hours.
Recipe adapted from Kraft.

Top ↑