Pumpkin – Nutella Bars #pumpkinweek2015

Alright y’all. I am going to have a BRAND NEW pumpkin recipe for you later today.

Why not now?

Nutella

Well, I started baking yesterday and realized I was missing a key ingredient… So, I’ll be making a post-SPIN run to Publix this afternoon and will be getting a tasty treat your way shortly after ;)

In the meantime, enjoy this treat that I pulled out of the archives.

Pumpkin – Nutella Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze.

Pumpkin. And Nutella. In a dessert. Together. What’s not to love?!

Enjoy and swing by in a few hours for something pumpkin-y that you don’t want to miss!

#pumpkinweek2015 promo for IG UPDATE 10-12

Make sure to check out the other lovely #pumpkinweek2015 hosts and join us as we share pumpkin recipes on our blogs and social media for one pumpkin-y week ending in a giant pumpkin recipe link-up on Friday!

Lovely co-hosts:

Amanda from Diary of a Semi-Health Nut | Instagram

Suzie from Suzlyfe | Instagram

Erin from Table For Seven | Instagram

Becky from Olives n Wine | Instagram

Katie from Talk Less, Say More | Instagram

Giselle from Diary of an Exsloth | Instagram

Want to join in the fun?

Simply tag your pumpkin recipes on Instagram with #pumpkinweek2015 and/or join in the link-up on Friday! We will each be picking our favorite posts from the hashtag to share on our blogs Friday, so be sure to check each of the co-hosts’ blogs. (Please note that participating means we can share your photos—with credit—on our blogs and social media.)

{Easy} Chocolate – Peanut Butter Cake Balls

On Saturday I planned to photograph my newest recipe.

I opened our fridge to find the following…

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Hmm… Apparently someone thought they were pretty darn good, and I don’t think it was Dean or Mitchell ;)

I’ll admit, I had my fair share. I mean, I had to try them out before posting them… to make sure they were not only edible but delicious as well. But 24 in the matter of a few days? I don’t think so.

Oh well! The lack of photographic evidence of these tasty chocolate-peanut butter bites just shows y’all that they are definitely worthy of making. And that they won’t last long in your kitchen either.

Did I mention they’re easy too? Yeah, so easy I hardly consider this a recipe. If I can throw these baked goodies together with a baby in my kitchen, I am pretty sure anyone can put a batch together in a matter of minutes.

Easy as cake (get it? ha…). So tasty they’ll be gone in a matter of days (or hours). And chocolate with peanut butter. Need I say more?

{Easy} Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake Balls

Makes 24

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural variety)
  • vanilla almond bark
  • topping of choice (chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Bake cake per box instructions and allow to cool.
  2. Break up cake into crumbs/small pieces in a large bowl.
  3. Mix peanut butter into cake crumbs. This will take a few minutes and you may need to add additional peanut butter depending on how dry your cake is when crumbled.
  4. Roll into 24 cake balls – They don’t need to be perfectly round spheres, that takes too much time!
  5. Dip into melted vanilla almond bark and sprinkle with topping of choice.
  6. Cool in fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
  7. Enjoy!

There ya have it – ridiculously easy for your summer dessertin’ pleasure. Of course, you could always up the ante and make your own cake from scratch. Blend your own peanut butter. Make your own white chocolate dipping sauce… But who has time for that nonsense?! ;)

Tell me, what is your favorite “easy” dessert? What dessert disappears from your kitchen faster than you can blink?

Dark Chocolate-Almond Cookies

Dark chocolate. Sea salt. Almonds.

Is there anything else necessary for a rich and fancy dessert? I think not.

Cookies 1

The funny thing is, these cookies were never meant to be fancy cookies. They were driven by a severe cookie craving (okay, cookie dough craving…) last week after work that needed to be satiated ASAP or there was going to be trouble.

And by trouble, I mean Kyle was going to arrive home to a cranky wife… and that is never a good thing ;)

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The only problem with this craving, however, was that I was feeling super lazy…. like didn’t want to walk the one block to the grocery store to get any ingredients kind of lazy. It was one of those days, what can I say?

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So what was a girl to do? I opened my fridge and found a dark chocolate-almond bar, almond flour and honey. It was time get creative.

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Thankfully my laziness creativeness also means these cookies are gluten-free AND egg-free and that means cookie dough you can eat without any worry of illness! cough *Amanda* cough ;)

I am going to claim these to be the healthiest cookies ever created. No eggs. No flour. Dark chocolate. Plus almonds. All you need to do is add in a glass of red vino and you have a heart-healthy snack. And that’s a huge win to me!

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Dark Chocolate-Almond Cookies

Makes 10 cookies (plus a little extra dough to eat!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 oz (or 2/3) dark chocolate bar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 TBSP coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBSP milk (I used almond milk)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small food processor, chop chocolate until in small, fine pieces. Mix together flour and baking soda in medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together coconut oil, honey, vanilla and milk. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and then stir in chocolate pieces. Form dough into small balls (and eat a few while you’re at it!), place onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly browned. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes on cookie sheet then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

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I used a chocolate bar because of said laziness but you could easily use a plain ol’ chocolate chips… although baking with a fancy dark chocolate-almond bar will give you bragging rights for days ;)

Also, Kyle LOVED these cookies. He had them for breakfast multiple times last week and when he ate the last one, he didn’t tell me. If you ask me, that’s the way to come home to a cranky wife ;)

What is your favorite healthy snack? Have you ever gotten creative in the kitchen because you didn’t want to run to the store?

Triple Layer Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies

Last week was long. Really long.

Thursday after work I needed a treat and I needed a treat now. It wasn’t the “oh, chocolate would be nice tonight” kind of week. Oh no no no no no. It was the “I need chocolate and peanut butter and wine right now or the city of Chicago needs to watch out” kind of week.

brownie 1

Thankfully, I walk through the French Market most days after work and I decided to browse the dessert vendors with more detail Thursday evening. Boy, oh boy am I ever glad I did!

As I was perusing the dessert window, something caught my eye… something chocolate-y, something peanut butter-y, something that I knew I needed right then and there.

A triple-layered brownie filled with a peanut butter layer and topped with a chocolate ganache.

Oh yes. The week had been redeemed.

And after one bite, I knew I needed to recreate this recipe for you.

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You’re welcome.

A dense, rich brownie base (that’s gluten-free, I might add!) topped with a gooey peanut butter layer which is then drizzled in a thick chocolate ganache and sprinkled with crushed peanuts.

O to the M to the G.

This dessert will redeem any awful, no good, very bad day and will take you directly to my favorite heaven. The CPB heaven, that is ;)

Triple Layer Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies

Makes 20 brownies

Ingredients:

Brownie Layer

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Peanut Butter Layer

  • 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 TBSP butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Ganache Layer

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9×9 baking pan with non-stick spray and layer with waxed paper. In a medium sauce pan, melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips and 1 cup butter until completely melted. Pour into large mixing bowl and add sugar, eggs (one at a time) and cocoa powder. Once mixed, stir in chopped peanuts by hand. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until there is a thin crust on the top and the middle is just firm to the touch. You do NOT want to over-bake the brownies! Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan.

While brownie layer is cooling, combine all peanut butter layer ingredients and stir until combined. Do not over stir to prevent stiffness. Using a knife, spread peanut butter mixture evenly over brownies. Place pan into refrigerator to cool while making ganache layer.

Melt 6 tbsp butter and 4 ounces of chocolate chips in saucepan. Once melted stir in milk, honey and vanilla and pour over chilled peanut butter layer of the brownie. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped peanuts and place in refrigerator to cool completely, approximately one hour. Store in refrigerator and devour enjoy!

brownie 3

If this recipe seems familiar, it’s because it is ;) I ever so slightly adapted my Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe to recreate these sinful brownies.

They sound fancy and complicated but honestly, they’re the easiest dessert to make. Plus they impress a crowd, are gluten-free and can be adapted for peanut allergies (almond heaven!).

What’s your go to treat during a stressful week? Can you think of a better name for these brownies? (I’m not feeling too creative in the naming department…)

Pumpkin-Nutella Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze

Okay, okay it’s FINALLY fall.

We’ve all been pretending that it has been fall for the past two months but the season is for real now.

NFL games overtake my television Sundays and Monday and Thursday evenings. The leaves are beginning to change. I need a jacket in the morning (cue tears). The days are getting shorter (cue MORE tears). Although the shorter days and cooler nights are not my cup o’ tea, fall is my all-time favorite season. There’s a sort of romance in the air that is impossible to describe.

Bar 3

And do you know what comes with fall?

PUMPKIN.

Pumpkin patches. Pumpkin decor. (PS. Can we tell the retail industry to keep the Christmas decor IN THE BACKROOM until November? #kthanks) Pumpkin scents. And pumpkin desserts. Gimme ALL the pumpkin.

Do you know what else goes with fall?

Nutella

Nutella.

Maybe Nutella doesn’t go with fall per-say… but I say Nutella goes with everything, including fall ;) And, today I’ve mixed Nutella with pumpkin to make it especially fall-ish. I’m a sneaky one…

A rich, fluffy, pumpkin-y bottom layer with a cake-like texture, topped with a layer of Nutella-flavored cake, all drizzled with a cinnamon cream cheese glaze.

Bar 2

Call them bars. Call them cake. Call them coffee cake. Whatever you call them, make them and they’ll be winners at your house this fall!

Pumpkin-Nutella Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze (Slightly adapted from The Gunny Sack)

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

Bars:

  • 1-16 oz jar of pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking soda
  • 1TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 cup Nutella

Glaze:

  • 8 oz plain cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking pan (I think mine was 12×20). Mix pumpkin, eggs and butter together until creamy. Add in flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and spices and mix until just combined. Remove 1.5 cups of the pumpkin batter into a separate bowl and mix with Nutella. Spread plain pumpkin batter into pan and then spoon Nutella batter on top. Create “swirls” in the batter with a knife and then bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. While allowing the bars to cool, mix all glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour over cooled bars and smooth with a spatula. Cut into 16 bars and enjoy!

Bar 1

Try my Pumpkin-Nutella Bars and you’ll agree – Nutella not only goes with fall, it also pairs perfectly with all things pumpkin. And remember that Nutella is a breakfast spread so these treats are not only great for dessert, they make a well-rounded breakfast as well ;)

What is your favorite fall activity? How about your favorite fall treat?

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

I have two little math equations for you all today to help you discover the secret ingredients in my recipe today!

Cookies 2

Let’s all pretend that we’re back in middle school algebra just for a minute, okay? No whining now, this stuff is good for your brain ;) <– yikes, I sound like a mother already!

1. a + b = c

If “a” is a blogger and “b” is the fall season, what is “c”?

2. x + y = z

If “x” is a healthy living blogger and “y” is a recipe, what is “z”?

Cookies 3

Have you solved for “c” and “z” yet or do you just hate me for throwing math at you on a Monday morning?!

Awww shucks – sorry for making your brains work on the first day of the work week… To keep you as my friends, I’ll just give you the answers, how’s that for a compromise?

c = pumpkin EVERYTHING! {obviously…}

z = coconut oil!

Are you surprised? If you are even semi-familiar with Pinterest, you will see recipes involving pumpkin and coconut oil taking over your pin boards.

And today, I have another one for you!

Cookies 4

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

These perfect fall cookies bake up like a cookie but taste just like your favorite, mouth-watering, dense pumpkin bread with a bit o’ chocolate thrown in for fun.

Plus, they’re healthy because there’s pumpkin and coconut oil involved… or at least that’s what I’m sticking with… ;)

cookies 5

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies (Adapted from Inside BruCrew Life)

Makes 36 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed but not 100% melted
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate minis)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar and coconut oil with an electric mixer until blended. Add in pumpkin, egg and vanilla and blend until creamy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly stir dry mixture into pumpkin mixture just until combined. Mix in chocolate chips by hand. Roll cookies into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet (FYI – if you just “plop” the cookie dough on the sheet, it won’t spread nicely like typical cookies which is why my photos aren’t of pretty cookies. If you would like your cookies to have a nice appearance, roll the dough into balls prior to cooking!). Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes and then allow cookies to cool slightly on sheet for 3 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Cookies 1

I shared these with my HLS13 roomies and Jen a few weeks ago. But don’t you worry, I didn’t require any math equations from them ;)

How many pumpkin and/or coconut recipes are on your Pinterest boards? Have you cooked up anything with pumpkin yet this fall?

{Homemade} Peanut Butter Cups

I’ve taken my love for obsession with addiction to peanut butter and chocolate to an all-new level y’all.

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I’m eatin’ it plain.

Yep, you heard me right. Just peanut butter and chocolate in their wholesome, pure and perfect goodness.

And by plain, I don’t mean shoving spoonfuls of peanut butter and melted chocolate into my mouth – although I’m not saying that hasn’t happened before ;)

No, I mean I’ve created something delicious, something heavenly, something so rich and perfect that allows the true flavors of our favorite sandwich spread and our favorite dessert to shine through.

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Oh yes.

Once you make these though, you have to promise me one thing, okay?

Promise me that you won’t hate me for creating such a gem of a recipe because – believe or not – you aren’t going to be able to keep your hands (or your mouths) off of these beauties. #twss

Creamy, salty peanut butter filling encased in a sweet milk chocolate (or dark chocolate or white chocolate – whatever your preference) shell. Absolute perfection.

{Homemade} Peanut Butter Cups.

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Oh yes – These make me as happy as Mitchell chasing a ball. And his happiness during those moments is hard to beat.

{Homemade} Peanut Butter Cups

Makes 12 large cups

Ingredients

  • Chocolate Almond Bark (or any type of melting chocolate you prefer), melted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Place 12 cupcake liners into cupcake pan and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt peanut butter and butter until combined. Do not bring to a simmer or boil. Once melted, remove from heat and slowly stir in powdered sugar. Spoon approximately 1/3 inch of chocolate into each liner and then plop (yes, so dainty) a spoonful of peanut butter mixture into each chocolate-filled liner. Top peanut butter with remaining chocolate and place in refrigerator to harden for about 30 minutes. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before enjoying!

Reese's 2

Seriously now, is there anything better than the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? I think not.

Favorite food and/or flavor combinations. Go!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Cookies

It’s Thursday! That means tomorrow morning (bright and early – my flight leaves at 7am) I leave for the Healthy Living Summit in Minneapolis!

Cookie 1

Wahoo!! I’m so excited to see some of my best blogging friends including Melanie, Katie and Jen and meet so many new blends.

Who am I excited to meet? Well, I’m so glad you asked ;) Here are just a few of the lovely ladies I get to spend time with this weekend!

I’m so pumped that I can’t form a coherent post so I’m going to take the day off. Yep, even bloggers need some time to recharge.

But before I go, I want to share a recipe with you!

Cookie 2

A month ago, I created a batch of mouth-watering cookies for Nicole while she was on vacation in Florida.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Cookies.

They’re full of peanut butter and chocolate. They’re easy. AND – here’s the kicker – they’re good for you! So head on over to get the recipe and then make a batch for yourself!

Are you going to HLS? Introduce yourself! I can’t wait to meet you :)

S’mores Cookie Dough Bars

You guys.

I’m ashamed to admit it but this recipe almost didn’t happen. I know…

Smores Bar 1

You see, I had not one, but two, TWO failed attempts at making those chocolate chip s’mores cookies. Do you know the ones I’m talking about? The ones with marshmallow and graham cracker stuffed nicely inside of a cookie? The ones that have melty marshmallows oozing out of the center of a perfectly cut cookie?

Well, let me tell you something… the recipes don’t flippin’ work. Either the cookie topples over in the oven or it separates from the marshmallow-y goodness while baking.

Or it could be that I am just a bad baker… (<– obviously not true so this isn’t a feasible hypothesis…)

Anyways, after my 2nd failed attempt, I almost threw the remainder of my cookie dough into the garbage. I so quickly realized that would be against my religion (the #treatyoself and don’t waste precious things like chocolate religion) so I brilliantly brainstormed a way to create a new version – an easy and fail proof version – of those trickily impossible s’mores cookies.

Smores Bar 3

It was then that my S’mores Cookie Dough Bars were born!

A simple layer of graham cracker topped with as many sugary marshmallows as you can fit into the pan all topped with your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Not only are these bars ridiculously easy, they are sure to impress your friends, your colleagues, your family and the random guy on the corner that you so kindly share them with in order to not eat the entire pan of s’more and cookie dough goodness yourself.

No toppled over cookies. No cookies melting together in the oven. No my-cookie-recipe-just-failed-so-I’m-going-to-eat-the-rest-of-the-dough-with-a-spoon binge (although I’d be down for this…). Just pure, s’more and cookie dough ecstasy in your kitchen. And in your mouth. #twss

Smores Bar 2

S’mores Cookie Dough Bars

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (I like this one!)
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
  • 1 box graham crackers

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray foil with non-stick baking spray. Place one layer of intact graham crackers onto bottom of pan. They don’t need to be lying perfectly! On top of the graham cracker crust, place as many marshmallows as possible – fill the pan up! Finally, top marshmallow layer with cookie dough. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until cookie dough layer is slightly browned and marshmallow layer is gooey. Allow to cool completely, cut into squares and enjoy!

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P.S. These are even better when heated in the microwave for 20ish seconds prior to enjoying… The oozing marshmallow fluff will make a mess all over your fingers and your face and – let’s be honest here – your entire kitchen, but trust me, it’s worth it ;)

What was your latest failed recipe? And how many times have you had s’mores this summer??!

Triple Chocolate Nutella Bites

Before we get into the meat chocolate-y Nutella-y goodness of this post, let’s talk about baking utensils.

And not just any baking utensils, let’s talk about the spatulas and the scrapers and the mixing bowls all coated in batter-y and dough-y deliciousness after the baking is complete.

Nutella Bites 1

Being the charming and wonderful and beautiful (oh stop it, Becky – you’re too kind!) wife that I am, I always offer Kyle the spatula to lick after I’m done baking. But guess what.

HE ALWAYS REFUSES THE UNBAKED GOODNESS OF MY OFFERING!

The first time he did this, I thought he was just being nice so that I could enjoy the brownie battered spoon (which I did, obviously…) but after the second and third and fourth times, I realized that he just doesn’t like leftover unbaked goodness.

Nutella Bites 3

Umm… what??! I’ve never heard of such a thing!

So, while I was mixing up my TOD (treat of the day, kind like a WOD but – let’s be honest – so much better!), Kyle and I got to talking about licking mixing bowls and spoons and spatulas. Yeah, we’re kinda weird but I like it :)

He claims he doesn’t need to taste the remnants from the baking process because he has this thing he likes to call “self-control.” Pssshhhh… That thing called control is definitely something I do not want if it means no licking of my baking spoons.

Nutella Bites 4

Self-control? I’d rather have chocolate and Nutella and brownie batter all over my face than wait for the oven timer to signal that my treats are ready to be enjoyed.

And now that we’re talking about Nutella and chocolate again, it’s time for today’s TOD – Triple Chocolate Nutella Bites.

Oh yes – three kinds of creamy, rich chocolate (including the Nutella, of course) all rolled up into a bite-sized treat and then sprinkled with sea salt.

Self-control? Where’s the fun in that?

Nutella Bites 5

Triple Chocolate Nutella Bites (Adapted from Butler Life)

Makes 20 “bites”

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 12 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup + 1 TBSP heavy whipping cream
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • Chocolate almond bark
  • 2 TBSP sea salt

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, combine Nutella and chocolate chips. Meanwhile, heat heavy whipping cream and butter on stove until it just reaches a boil. Pour cream and butter over Nutella and chocolate chips. Do not stir but let sit for 5-7 minutes. Once the time has passed, stir mixture until a creamy, delicious (yes, you must taste this!) spread is formed. Cover and place in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Once firm, form into tablespoon-sized balls. If the Nutella mixture becomes warm during this process, place the bites into the freezer while melting the almond bark. Dip Nutella bites into melted chocolate, place onto pan to cool and sprinkle with sea salt. Store in refrigerator and enjoy!

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You have to promise me one thing when you make these, however. Please promise that you’ll forget ALL about self-control and lick the bowl clean ;)

Do you lick baking bowls and spoons clean after (or during) baking? What’s your favorite batter to taste raw?

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