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Kyle’s Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies

Kyle’s Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies

028Good morning friends,

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy yesterday. I am very relieved that everyone I knew there is safe. My deepest sympathies to everyone involved; victims, participants, first responders and family members. May God grant us all peace.

I thought it a good time to think about the positive and count my many blessings. Once of them is my son, Kyle. He is thirteen and loves to cook and bake, which of course warms my heart and I am so thankful that we share this love of baking. I think he will make some woman very happy someday with his skills in the kitchen :)

On Sunday, Kyle came to me and said he wanted to take on a baking project… he wanted to make something that neither one of has made before. I said, “great, go for it!” He decided to look through Pinterest and the boards I have created because often times I sit with him and point out things that I’d like to try some day.  Being the chocolate lover he is I had an idea the direction he was going :) I reminded him to check his ingredients to make sure we had everything on hand, nothing more frustrating than beginning a recipe only to find out that you’re missing an ingredient or two.  I stood by for consultation, but he didn’t really need that much :)

He chose a chocolate caramel brownie recipe, and yes, he made the brownies from scratch which is something that I rarely do!

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Kyle’s Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies:

2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 12 ounce package of dark chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups of white sugar

4 eggs

1 TBL vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dark chocolate chips

For the caramel filling

1 package of Kraft caramel bits (tiny little balls found in baking aisle which I love for convenience!)

1/4 cup of vanilla-flavored coffee creamer (because who really has heavy cream on hand all the time?!)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. Spray pan and on top of parchment with cooking spray.

3. Slowly melt 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a glass bowl at 50% power in 1 minute intervals until chocolate is smooth and melted.  Stir between each interval so as to not overcook.

4. Wisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt until combined.

5. Spread half of brownie batter in pan and bake for 15-18 minutes.

6. Cool brownies

7. Combine caramels and creamer in another glass bowl and microwave at a reduced power level, until melted, do in 30-45 second intervals, stirring in between.

8. Spread the caramel mixture over the cooled brownies

9. Using 2 spoons, place remaining brownie dough in piles over caramel mixture.

10. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.

11. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until set and slightly pulling away from the sides of pan.

12. Cool on a rack and then, cool in refrigerate for a couple hours until fully set and firm.

13. Lift the entire slab from the pan with the parchment paper (this step is when the parchment paper comes in very handy!)

14. Peel back parchment and slice into squares

15. Enjoy your magical creation :)

Recipe adapted from http://www.sixsistersstuff.com

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly?! We LOVE the combination at our house.  A peanut butter jar does not last long here. We like to smear it on everything :) As you all know, I love to bake after school snacks for my kiddos on a pretty regular basis…this muffin recipe is what I came up with earlier in the week. It’s a recipe that I added to my collection from Cooking Light Magazine long ago, 2007 to be exact.  www.cookinglight.com You can use regular or crunchy peanut butter and any flavor of jam that you wish. They are  fairly low-cal, coming in at 185 calories per muffin and over 5 grams of protein each. I hope you enjoy as much as we did. When I asked Kyle, my oldest son, his opinion, he told me “Mom, I ate 4 at one sitting.”  I guess I’ll take that as a compliment!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 TBL baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1  1/4 cup skim milk

1/3 cup peanut butter- creamy, crunchy, natural or regular

1/4 cup egg whites

2 TBL butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup  jam- strawberry, wild berry, your choice

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Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, combine milk, peanut butter, egg whites, butter and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture. Stir only to combine.

3. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups. Fill each cup halfway with batter. Top each cup with 1 teaspoon of jam. Spoon remaining batter on top.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes or so until set.

Makes 12 muffins

 

Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Happy Monday Morning friends,

As promised, here is the recipe for these super yummy and very filling Morning Glory Muffins!  I love this kind of muffin and I’ve revamped this one to make it a healthy, low-fat 4 PointsPlus per muffin option! You could easily add nuts to this recipe, but it will raise your PointsPlus numbers, and since my daughter has a serious tree nut allergy, you’ll notice I do not bake with any nuts in my recipes. My next endeavor is re-working a nut-free granola recipe…stay tuned for that!

If you need a hearty, wholesome treat, I would recommend this choice:)

Dry Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 whole wheat flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2  tsp salt

1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats

Wet Ingedients

2 TBL applesauce

1/2 cup skim milk

1-2 mashed bananas

1 egg

1 TBL canola oil

Add-in Ingredients

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 dried cranberries

Directions

Mix the wet ingredients together and add the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Stir in the add-in ingredients. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. Divide batter among the cups. Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 23-25 minutes or until set. Makes 12 muffins.010

Recipe adapted from www.marthastewart.com

***Disclaimer- PointsPlus numbers are simply my own calculations, not officially from Weight Watchers.

 

 

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Happy Friday everyone!

Yes, it’s past Mardi Gras I know….but tonight is the Daddy Daughter Dance at my daughters school and the theme is a Masquerade Ball! My daughter is all set with her hair, nails and mask…so I decided to bake a cupcake that carried the theme. They were really quite simple, no real “recipe” here. I simply made a vanilla boxed cake mix and divided it into 3 bowls.

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I colored the cake mix gold, purple and green with food coloring gel, found in craft and decorating stores, to make the color more vibrant. I spooned the batter into some gold foil cupcake wrappers. The method is tried to use was to put the 3 colors side by side in the cupcake wrapper.

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I baked the cupcakes according to the package directions. I left them “naked” with only a dab or frosting on the top. Allison actually prefers them without frosting, I know…how can this be?! But, it’s true, that’s what she likes :) The frosting-free cupcake also allowed the multi-colored tie-dye look to be more showcased. I surfed the web for some cute printables that were already created, I downloaded them to my computer, punched them out and added the sticks. Ta da!

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I purchased some edible glitter and stars and arranged on trays, scattered with Mardi Gras beads. I hope they all have fun dancing the night away and munching on some yummy cupcakes :)

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Jumpin’ Jambalaya!

Hello foodie friends and Happy Fat Tuesday!

We’ve had our fill of Paczki‘s (pronounced poonchkis)! What is a Paczki’s you ask?!?!  A delicious Polish inspired donut-type treat that is either jelly or cream filled, they are extremely popular tradition in the Chicagoland area.   My kids have really come to look forward to this tradition and came home from school searching for the Paczki’s!

For the past few years I’ve been making Jambalaya for dinner on Fat Tuesday in honor of  the Mardi Gras festivities. Tonight I hit the jackpot with a recipe we all really enjoyed! Even Allison, who eats little meat, was able to pick around the sausage and enjoyed the dinner. I was able to make the recipe a little healthier with a few modifications. I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Jumpin’ Jambalaya (low fat)

Ingredients

24 shrimp (i bought already cooked from the seafood counter, took off the tails and cut in half)

1 rotisserie chicken ( I saved time here too and bought one at the deli-simply cut the breast meat only into bite-size pieces)

2 cups of turkey sausage or kielbasa (like an Eckerich brand), sliced

3/4-1 TBL Creole seasoning ( I used Cajun’s Choice)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1/3 cup chopped celery

1 cup okra, chopped (I used frozen)

2 TBL chopped garlic

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

3 bay leaves

1 cup brown rice (raw)

3 cups of chicken broth

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp hot sauce (I used Franks Hot Sauce)

Directions

In a bowl, toss the shrimp and chicken with the creole seasoning. In a large saute pan, sprayed with olive oil spray, saute the peppers, celery,and onions. Saute about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, drained tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Stir in raw rice and slowly add the chicken broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook with a lid until the rice absorbs the liquid, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Add the meat (chicken, shrimp, and sausage) and stir. Cook until the meat is cooked through (if you have used meats that are already cooked as I did, this wont take long) If desired, season with addition creole seasoning depending on your “heat” tolerance.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from www.foodnetwork.com

Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

Samoa Brownie Bars

Samoa Brownie Bars

Happy snowy Saturday my friends!

We finally have snow in Chicago, and it’s gorgeous! So while the flakes are falling, I’ve been super busy inside baking for some fabulous CCHS performers :) Last night I tried a recipe that Ellen and I found on Pinterest. Ellen really likes the Girl Scout Samoa cookies, well these are 100X better if I do say so myself. They do take a little time to make, not difficult, just a few steps. Most of the ingredients you probably have on hand except for maybe the caramel sauce and coconut. The result of your labor, is a rich, chewy chocolatey coconut bar with a shortbread base. Simply delectable. Please don’t omit the toasting of the coconut, this step is really worth it as it adds a really nice crunch and brings out the coconut flavor.

I can’t say I made any changes to this great recipe…but it is yummy, a nice alternative to the regular cookie and perhaps a nice sweet treat for your Valentine :)

Samoa Brownie Bars and Give me S'more Bars

The recipe can be found here : http://www.jaseyscrazydaisy.com/2011/11/samoa-brownie-cookie-bars.html

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal

Good morning friends,

I love a warm breakfast on a cool morning and this one will make you feel like your indulging, but without any guilt.  The recipe is a slight variation of the Blueberry Baked Oatmeal I made on Saturday, this one is equally as good, especially if you like pumpkin! I really enjoyed it as did my kiddos and I think you will too :)

Dry Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries (could use regular or golden raisins if preferred)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 generous tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups skim milk

1/3 cup of applesauce

1/3 cup canned pumpkin

2 egg whites

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine dry ingredients.

3.  Add wet ingredients to dry, mix until combined.

4.  Pour into baking dish and baked for about 25-30 minutes or until set.

5. Serve warm with steamed milk and if desired a drizzle of maple syrup.  My kids also sprinkled with “Maple Sugar” from the Savory Spice Shop.

This recipe serves a 9 and is 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus if you’re counting :)

(The calculations are my personal calculations, not endorsed by Weight Watchers)

Bon Appetit!

Recipe adapted from  http://www.mintdesignblog.com

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Baked Blueberry OatmealI love oatmeal, baked, boiled, overnight…you name it, I like it! I found a recipe that I adapted to make even healthier and it was so yummy, we polished off the pan very quickly. It almost tasted like a blueberry coffee cake, but for only 3 measly Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving you can easily indulge without guilt!

Ingredients

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 cups skim milk

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg white

3 TBL Truvia (or 1/3 cup sugar)

2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Zest lemon and set aside.  Add lemon juice to the milk to form a “buttermilk”.

3. Wisk together oats, baking powder, salt, spices and lemon zest.

4. In another bowl, blend milk, egg and sugar.

5. Spread half the oat mixture into the baking dish, top with half of the blueberries. add remaining oat mixture and scatter remainder of blueberries on top. Pour the milk mixture on top.

6. Bake about 40 minutes and until top is slightly brown and mixture is “set”.

I served with a little steamed milk and topped with a  drizzle of maple syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I cut the 8×8 pan into 9 servings to yield 3 WW PointsPlus. Next time I make it I will try to make ahead the night before and bake in the morning.

 Hope you enjoy another delicious way to eat your oatmeal :)

Recipe adapted from http://www.preventionrd.com/

“Carmel Crunch” ~ Caramely, chocolatey yumminess!

Carmel CrunchGood evening fellow foodies!
Tonight I made a sweet and crunchy party mix for my daughters performance group. I’m so excited for them to try it tomorrow :) You can throw in whatever cereals and snacks that you have on hand and that sounds good to you. It tastes like a caramel corn glaze with some of the pieces coated in white chocolate, such a good salty-sweet combination. This recipe can also be easily adapted for various holidays by adding in colored M&M’s, just add those before serving.

Ingredients
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
4 cups of assorted Cheerios (I used fruity, plain, multi-grain and chocolate)
2-3 cups of pretzel twists
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 cup of mini-graham pieces
1 cup of mini caramel-corn flavored rice makes
2 cups of white chocolate chips
1 cup of butter
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
large container to bake in-I used a disposable aluminum tin (the kind they sell to roast turkeys in, it made it very easy to stir when baking)

1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.
2. In small saucepan, melt, butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir until hot and bubbly.
3. Put all snack ingredients in the container you will be baking it in, pour hot caramel mixture of the cereal mix.
4. Toss gently and bake for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes.
5. Spread on wax paper to cool.
6. In a large pot, melt white chocolate chips on low and until melted and smooth. Take approximately 8 cups of the snack mix and pour into the melted chocolate, toss gently and replace onto wax paper to cool.
7. Store in am air-tight container if it lasts that long ;)

Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from http://www.chex.com/Recipes/RecipeView.aspx?RecipeId=37640

Oatmeal Pancakes with Warm Blueberries

Oatmeal Pancakes with Warm Blueberries

 Good morning and Happy New Year friends! On New Years Day I made some yummy healthy oatmeal pancakes that were low in fat, high in protein and actually contained no flour. I was a bit skeptical, I wasn’t trying to make a flour-free pancake, but the ground oats worked very nicely. The pancakes were thick and moist and had the flavor of an oatmeal cookie. You could add blueberries to the batter or I added some mini chocolate chips for some of the kiddos. Instead of syrup, I took some blueberries straight from the freezer, put into a Pyrex measuring cup and microwaved until hot and bubbly. They make their own “syrup” simply by heating and require no sugar. The kids enjoyed the pancakes and Allison said to me “mom, these were SO good, I didn’t even know they were healthy!” Here’s the recipe!

Oatmeal Pancakes

English: Blueberries.

English: Blueberries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 cups of uncooked old-fashioned oats
1/3 tsp cinnamon
2 TBL brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Greek yogurt (could use a flavor if desired, I used Fage 0% fat, plain)
2/3 cup of juice or skim milk (I used apple in my first run of this recipe)
1/3 cup egg whites (I’ve been keeping a carton in the fridge for easy use in cooking)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Frozen blueberries-simply warm in the microwave until hot and bubbly, pour over finishes pancakes

In a food processor or blender, whirl all the dry ingred

ients together until a “flour” like consistency is reached. Fold wet ingredients into the dry and let batter sit for about 5 minutes. While batter rests, warm up griddle. Using a non-stick spray, grease the griddle. Ladle batter onto griddle and cook until pancake sets up and is browned on the bottom. Flip and repeat. Can also dust with powdered sugar.
Serve with the warmed blueberry “syrup” or your favorite topping.

This recipe made about 12 pancakes using a 1/4 measuring cup. Per my calculations, each pancake at that size would be 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.

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