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food, printable

fudgy peppermint brownie cupcakes (and printable tag)

December 17, 2014

When it is Christmastime, I just can’t get enough of the chocolate and peppermint combination.  Let’s face it, I love chocolate and pretty much anything, but peppermint and chocolate may possibly be one of the greatest combos ever, especially for this time of the year!


This recipe came as a result of the need to make a bake sale treat a couple of weeks ago for my kids’ music school.  I love the way it turned out because the recipe couldn’t get any easier, the packaging makes it bake-sale ready, it’s festive for the holidays, and it’s pretty to look at.


For these minty brownies you will need a box of brownie mix, crushed peppermint candies, and peppermint extract.


Make the brownies according to the package.  Stir in 1 tsp of peppermint extract and 1/3 cup crushed candies.  Then divide your batter into sprayed muffin tins.  Your time in the oven will be shorter too.  Start checking the doneness around 15 minutes in.


My husband was actually shocked to hear how basic this recipe was.  When I told him how it was done, his response was, “That’s it?”  Yes.  That’s it people.

Put each brownie cupcake into a clear plastic cup.  Pipe on some store-bought frosting, and top with more crushed candies.


If these are on their way to a bake sale, or even a classroom party, go ahead and wrap each cup in cellophane and tie a fork on.  Lastly, get these cute and simple printable tags to top your treats.  (I entered my own text in, yours come blank for customizing!)


There you have it!  A festive, cute, YUMMY, and transportable Christmas treat!

And if you can’t get enough of chocolate and peppermint, like me, check out these:


15 Awesome Chocolate Peppermint Treats via Circus Berry


Fudgy Peppermint Parfaits via Circus Berry for Somewhat Simple



sour cherry & almond coffee cake muffins

July 15, 2014

So, for the last two weeks we have had a hearty stock of cherries in our fridge.  Sour ones to be exact.  If I was in a different state (i.e. not pregnant) I would be concocting all sorts of delectable drinks with the little tarts, but that is not the case right now.  That being the case, I have replaced the cherry cocktail with a cherry treat.


As I side note, let me just say that I can hardly believe it is cherry season already, but when I showed up to my CSA last week to pick up our fruits and veggies, there they were!  Maybe it is me, but I tend to measure the passage of summer in two ways…the landmark dates that make up summer (Last day of School, Independence Day, Birthdays, and Labor Day) and seasonal produce.  Before we know it I will be swimming in plums…which is a different series of posts entirely.


With our first batch of cherries, I made a Sour Cherry & Almond Coffee Cake, adapted from Martha Stewart.  It was delicious but wasn’t screaming out almond or cherry to me, which was what I really wanted.  With our second batch of cherries, I decided to give it another go, making a few more alterations and serving it up muffin style.  Jackpot.


sour cherry & almond coffee cake muffins

Yield: 12-15 muffins

sour cherry & almond coffee cake muffins


  • Topping:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Muffins:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups fresh sour cherries, pitted


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Make the topping by stirring together the butter, flour, almonds, sugars, salt, and cinnamon with a fork. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl using a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Using a #20 fisher (3 Tablespoons), scoop batter into muffin cups. Top each cup with 4-5 cherries and sprinkle with the topping.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool before enjoying.
  5. adapted from Martha Stewart

The result is exactly what I was going for.  A little more cherry, a little more almond flavor, and you have a most perfect treat to go with your morning coffee.



If you don’t have fresh sour cherries, you could use frozen.  Either way, whip up a batch and invite someone over to indulge in coffee and cake with you on the back porch.  Ahhhh, summer.



toffee pecan banana bars

May 22, 2014

Do you have some bananas on your counter, just waiting to be used?  We almost always have an overstock of bananas…they are my son’s favorite food.  But sometimes there is the occasional one or two that sit for a couple of extra days.  Then what?  Banana treats of course.  Now, usually mine sit and sit and sit until I am forced to just freeze them before they go totally bad.  And there is that rare occasion that I have to toss them (*gasp*) because I can’t get around to any banana-baked goodies.  I feel like I am sinning every time one goes in the trash.

Not this time.  I took those over-ripe bananas and whipped together a quick and yummy treat.  This isn’t your traditional banana bread, but is equally as good.  This recipe actually is an altered version of the Banana Bars recipe in my 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book, under the “Bland Diets” section.  So funny…this bar in anything but bland, especially with some toffee pieces and chopped walnuts tossed in there.


I am sure any type of nut, or even some chocolate chips, would make this bar just as fabulous.  It makes a great treat, a quick filler between meals, or I have even had some for breakfast with my coffee.  Yum.


Toffee Pecan Banana Bars

1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4-1/2 cup toffee bits (depending on how sweet you want it)

Heat oven to 350° F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Beat together shortening, sugars, eggs, bananas, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly. Sift flours, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.  Mix dry ingredients into banana mixture until just combined. Stir in nuts and toffee. Spread into your prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bars are set and light golden brown. Allow to cool before removing from pan and cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container.


I had a hard time only eating one of these bars at a time.  They are the perfect combo of home-y, vintage-y, and sweet.  Enjoy!



chicken & peppers with black beans over rice

April 12, 2014

One skillet meals are the very best kind for a busy night, don’t you think?  They are even better when they are full of veggies, protein, and fiber.   This dish is one of my favorites that my mother has made several times.  It was actually a little tricky to post about it, because usually it is an “a little of this, a little of that” sort of dish.


The main components–peppers, onions, chicken, black beans, and tomatoes.  At the end you top it with some fresh cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese.  It tastes so fresh that it is perfect just as is.  However, if you want to be adventurous, you could probably add some heat in the form of chipotles in Adobo, jalapeños, or even just a sprinkling of chili powder.


Chicken & Peppers with Black Beans over Rice

1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 each red and green pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Brown Rice, cooked according to package directions

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, red and green peppers, and garlic. Sauté about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the pan, stirring to combine.  Continue to cook on medium until the chicken is no longer pink inside, about another 5 minutes.  Continue to stir the mixture frequently.  Stir in the black beans and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer until everything is heated through and the vegetables are soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.  Serve over rice.  Top with chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.  Enjoy!


This dish makes awesome leftovers too, so go ahead and double it up…as long as you have a large pan to accommodate it!  Throw it on top of nachos, in a flour tortilla, or again over rice.    Dinner is served.  And then served again!



mini peanut butter cup & chocolate chip cookies

April 5, 2014

A couple of years ago, I discovered the total joy and deliciousness of The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie.  You know the one that I am talking about.  It can be found all over the web and for me, it was IT.  Ever since then I have been wanting to use it as my cookie dough base for other chocolately goodies.  When I received a bag of Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from Hershey’s recently, I knew just what to do.  The most perfect chocolate chip cookie ever playing host to one of the best chocolate candies ever?  Oh, yes.


Backstory…in Central New York there is a bakery company called Freihofer’s that makes an amazing chocolate chip cookie.  They are small, chewy, chocolatey, and seemingly have a little bit of saltiness to them.  They are heavenly.  And they are the foundation on which I usually compare any other chocolate chip cookie experience.

The NY Times cookie is my new standard.  Sure it takes some planning–you can’t just whip up these cookies in one day since the recipe requires the dough to be refrigerated for at least up to 24 hours.  It takes some ingredients you may not have on hand at times–bread flour and cake flour and fancy, expensive chocolate chips.  That all being said, it is still the one.  You HAVE to try this recipe, even if you don’t use the peanut butter cups.  But why wouldn’t you?

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