Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

Oh dear, I’m starting to feel my stress level begin to rise. You see, silly me, I volunteered to make the cakes for a wedding reception on Thursday – which is only five days away. I’ll be making both a groom’s cake and the bride’s cake. Now I’ve baked plenty of cakes throughout the years, but I’ve never made a wedding cake before. I’m just hoping beyond hope that I haven’t bit off more than I can chew, and the cakes turn out okay. I don’t want to ruin the bride and groom’s big day.

One thing I know for sure I can’t ruin, are these Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars. I’ve been pretty busy lately and I haven’t really had time to bake, but I was watching t.v. one day and a commercial for Papa John’s Pizza came on the screen. Papa John’s was advertising their new mega chocolate chip cookie, and suddenly I had craving for chocolate chip cookies. Instead of dialing my local Papa John’s Pizzeria though, I headed into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of these wonderful cookie bars.

This recipe produces an incredibly moist and chewy bar, and the cinnamon flavor pairs so beautifully with the milk chocolate. Oh, and did I mention they are a cinch to make. You only need a couple of bowls and a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together. No electric mixer required. It’s easy-peasy!

Now, if only wedding cakes could be that simple to make…

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

~Enjoy~
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Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Cookie Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and oil with a wooden spoon until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring until well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the milk chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips over top of batter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool. Cut into bars.

Makes about 12 cookie bars.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks! I had the pleasure of turning 50 years old last month, and although I’m no longer a spring chicken, I discovered that I’m still capable of learning new things from my Mom.

Up until just recently, I didn’t know that you could freeze bananas whole, still in the banana peel, and use them in recipes later. My mother informed me of this nifty trick, and I had to give it a try. I decided to use my previously frozen, and then thawed, bananas in these Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars, and I must say, they turned out great!

Although the bananas didn’t look very pretty after they had been removed from the freezer and thawed…

Bananas - frozen and then thawed

Bananas – frozen and then thawed

…they worked beautifully in this recipe. I’ve had these bananas in the freezer for at least two months, and the banana flavor did not diminish one bit while they were in there.

I was hoping to take these bars with me on a short hiking trip this weekend, but since it’s currently snowing out and only 27 degrees, I guess I’ll just have to feast on them here at home.

~Enjoy~

AK Mom


Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 packets Cinnamon & Spice Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal (can substitute 3/4 cup instant or quick oats – regular flavor, or any flavor you desire)
2 packets Apples & Cinnamon Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal (can substitute 3/4 cup instant or quick oats – regular flavor, or any flavor you desire)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 (10 ounce) package Simple Truth Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (or any semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch square baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the brown sugar and butter together. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Add the oatmeal, flour, and bananas; mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide and spread batter evenly in prepared baking pans.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool. Cut into squares.

Makes 32 bars.

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Caramel Chocolate Chip Blondies

Caramel Chocolate Chip Blondies

Caramel Chocolate Chip Blondies

It’s probably too early to be using the “S” word, but Spring is certainly on my mind today. Late tonight/early tomorrow we “Spring” the clocks forward one hour, it is the beginning of Spring Break week for our local schools and universities, and yesterday the temperature rose to 45 degrees, which caused snow to melt rapidly off rooftops and flow in rivulets to the ground.

Although I know realistically that Spring is still several weeks away, I’m really looking forward to the day when I can put our heavy jackets, gloves, scarfs, and hats away in storage, and not think about snow until next Winter.

Now these Caramel Chocolate Chip Blondies have nothing to do with the “S” word, but biting into one of these sweet and chewy bars makes me as happy as the thought of an early Spring.

~Enjoy~
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Caramel Chocolate Chip Blondies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
15 individually wrapped Kraft caramels, cut into fourths

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

Unwrap Kraft caramels and cut each caramel into fourths; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; mix until combined. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips and caramel pieces. Spread the batter evenly into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares

I found the cutest little bag of Meyer lemons in the produce section of my local grocery store the other day. I have seen several of my fellow bloggers using Meyer lemons in their recipes, but I have never used them before… until now. If you haven’t seen or heard of Meyer lemons, you can find the Wikipedia description of them here. And here’s a photo of the bag I found. Isn’t it cute?

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

I brought the lemons home, and then began the long process of trying to decide what the first thing would be to make with them. I took a peek inside my refrigerator, and found some strawberries that needed to be used before they took a turn for the worse, and a package of cream cheese. These Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares turned out to be the perfect fit for the ingredients I had on hand.

The juice of the Meyer lemons is sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, and when combined with the cream cheese, it makes a wonderfully creamy and slightly tangy cheesecake layer to sit atop the crunchy cookie crust. The strawberries perched daintily on top of the cheesecake layer adds a splash of color, and another touch of sweetness.

I used Nilla wafers for the cookie crust in this recipe, but you could also experiment using a chocolate cookie or graham crackers for the crust. Quick tip: I like to crush cookies for recipes by placing the cookies inside a Ziploc bag, and rolling over the bag with a rolling pin – like so:

P1020577-001

~Enjoy~
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Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Crust
1 cup vanilla cookies, crushed (approx. 26 cookies)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, cold

Cheesecake Layer
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Topping
fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with cooking spray.

For the Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cookie crumbs and flour. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Cookie crust

Cookie crust

Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is set but not brown. Remove from oven.

For the Cheesecake Layer: In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until well-blended. Add in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and baking powder. Pour over the warm crust. Top with sliced strawberries.

Cheesecake layer with sliced strawberries

Cheesecake layer with sliced strawberries

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Move pan to refrigerator and chill. Cut into squares.

Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Strawberry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bars

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bars

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bars

Wow! Has it really been two weeks since I wrote my last blog post? I’ve been so busy lately, that time just flew right by. In fact, I was so busy that I didn’t even have time to bake anything for Valentine’s Day. I was bound and determined to bake something tasty for this weekend though, and I believe I succeeded in the “tasty” department with these Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bars.

My inspiration for these bars came from a limited edition box of Chocolatey Strawberry Special K Cereal that I recently purchased from my local grocery store. Strawberry and chocolate are a match made in heaven, and I fell in love with this cereal from the very first bite.

When I started thinking about what I wanted to bake for dessert this weekend, the first thing that popped into my head was that I had to make something with chocolate and strawberries. These Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bars are exactly what my sweet tooth and taste buds were looking for. The crust is crisp, the strawberry filling is gooey, and the crumb topping with the chocolate chips is rich and sweet.

It’s just a shame that I didn’t get to make these for Valentine’s Day, but you know what they say – better late than never.

~Enjoy~
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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bars

Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter

Filling:
3/4 cup strawberry jam

Topping:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

For the Crust: In a medium bowl, combine the flour and granulated sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until crust is set but not brown. Remove from oven and spread jam evenly over hot crust.

For the Topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over jam layer.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Place back in oven for 30 seconds, or until chocolate chips begin to soften and look glossy.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares.

(To print this recipe, click on the ‘Print & PDF’ button below)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

I had an unexpected day off from work today due to warm weekend temperatures and rain. I know some of you are probably scratching your heads wondering why that is. Well, the temperatures warmed up into the 40′s and we had pouring rain pretty much all weekend. All that water combined with cool evening temperatures turned many of the streets into skating rinks today, which made driving conditions pretty hazardous. For safety’s sake, they decided to close schools and college campuses for the day, which gave me the day off.

I spent most of the day catching up on household chores, but since the last of the Lemon Chocolate Chip Pound Cake that I made right before the weekend had been gobbled up last night, I also took some time to whip up a batch of these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars.

You could say that our current weather conditions inspired me to make these bars. As I look up at the nearby mountain range, I can see that a lot of the snow has melted as a result of our 40+ degree weather. The lack of snow makes the mountains look rather inviting, and I think these bars would be the perfect snack to squirrel away in my backpack to take on a afternoon hike. If it wasn’t so rainy and windy outside, I’d probably be up there right now.

~Enjoy~
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the four, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Add eggs one at a time and blend until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the batter until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bars are slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool. Cut into squares.

Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars

Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars

Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars

If you’re like me when I first stumbled upon this dessert, you’re probably wondering “what the heck is a Nanaimo bar?” Well, according to Wikipedia, “The Nanaimo bar is a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America. It is a bar cookie which requires no baking and is named after the West Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavoured butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares.”

This is the first time I’ve made this dessert, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and how quickly it came together. At first I was a little intimidated by the fact that it had three layers, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. (it was really quite simple to make)

I decided to make my bars a little more “seasonal” by adding a bit of pumpkin pie spice to the bottom layer, and using Pumpkin Spice flavored pudding mix in the second layer.

This dessert turned out to be wonderfully delicious, and I can envision making it again in the very near future. Just don’t ask me to pronounce Nanaimo. :)

~Enjoy~




Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Second Layer:
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons instant pumpkin spice pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons milk

Third Layer:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Bottom Layer:
Melt butter, sugar, cocoa, and pumpkin pie spice in the top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, and walnuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8” X 8” pan.

Second Layer:
In a medium bowl, cream butter and pudding mix. Add powdered sugar and milk; beat until smooth. Spread over first layer and refrigerate until firm.

Third Layer:
Combine chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for approximately 30 seconds, until chips are melted. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly and pour over second layer. Place in refrigerator to chill. Cut into squares.

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