Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip HEALTHIFIED Muffins

Tonight Zack went with some of his guy friends to a concert in Richmond.  He had to pick up his cousin to go, so after the concert they are driving back here and his cousin is just going to spend the night.

We had zero breakfast food in the house except for sparse bits of cereal.  I didn’t want them to starve in the morning, so I decided to make some muffins.

I wanted to attempt to make some that were still delicious, but had a hint of healthiness to them.  I definitely succeeded.

I get so excited when I make my own recipe and this is no exception.  I sent pictures of them to both my parents and to Zack and ate a whole muffin myself.  I usually just sample whatever baked goods that I make, but I was so proud of what I had concocted that I ate it all!

This was my first time baking with Splenda and I have to say, I am very pleased with the result.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about baking with Splenda, but my muffins turned out perfectly and were just as sweet as if I had used regular sugar.  Heck yeah!  It was also the first time I’ve tried substituting almond milk for regular milk and I couldn’t taste a difference with that either.  I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, just in case you were curious.  Less than half the calories of skim milk! I do believe we should all start educating ourselves when it comes to health. You can start by checking out Guide to Healthcare Schools or by using almond milk!

The only thing that went wrong was I should have baked them for a minute or two less time, but they didn’t taste over-baked, they just had browned tops.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip HEALTHIFIED Muffins

– 1 c AP flour

– 1 c whole wheat flour

– 3 t baking powder

– 1/2 c chocolate chips

– 1/2 c peanut butter chips

– 3/4 c almond milk

– 1/2 c splenda

– 1/2 t salt

– 1 egg, beaten

– 1/3 c oil

Topping:

– 1/2 c splenda

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line or grease 6 jumbo muffin cups.  In medium bowl, combine flours, 1/2 c splenda, baking powder, salt, and chips.  Stir in egg, milk and oil just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.).  Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.  Sprinkle the remaining splenda evenly over muffins.  Bake 20-23 minutes.  Loosen and remove immediately from pan.  Let cool on a wire rack.

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Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

I LOVE Hot Fudge Cakes!  It’s basically like a brownie with warm, gooey hot fudge oozing out of it.  It’s a delicious mess.

Zack shares my love for them, so I decided to give making one a try.  When it is still in the pan, it looks like regular brownies.  Then you cut into it and realize the whole underneath part is hot fudge.

I put a scoop of ice cream on top of Zack’s as you can see above, but I just ate mine place (thanks, lactose intolerance!).  Seriously, though, it was AMAZING plain.

It says nine servings, but good luck getting 9 servings out of it!  I think Zack and I ate the whole thing in about 2 days.  Oink.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Prep: 20 minutes.  Bake 40 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes.  9 servings.

– 1 c AP flour

– 3/4  granulated sugar

– 2 T baking cocoa

– 2 t baking powder

– 1/4 t salt

– 1/2 c milk

– 2 T vegetable oil

– 1 t vanilla

– 1 c chopped nuts, if desired

– 1 c packed brown sugar

– 1/4 c baking cocoa

– 1 3/4 c very hot water

– ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, granulated sugar, 2 T cocoa, the baking powder, and salt in ungreased square pan 8x8x2 inches.  Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla with fork until smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Spread in pan.

Sprinkle brown sugar and 1/4 c cocoa over batter.  Pour water evenly over batter.  Bake at 40 minutes or until top is dry.  Cool 10 minutes.

Spoon warm cake into dessert dishes.  Top with ice cream.  Spoon sauce from pan onto each serving.

3 Ingredient Lemon Squares

Poor Zack.  He loves lemon-flavored desserts.  I mean LOVES them.  I loathe them.  I can’t even stand the way they smell.

For this reason, I have never even made a lemon dessert.  Every time I decide to make something sweet, he suggests something lemon with a hopeful expression.  Finally, I relented and agreed to make him some lemon bars.

I figured with only 3 ingredients they couldn’t be that bad and would be super easy.

I was right and he absolutely loved them.  I enjoy making him happy (even if it involves baking gross lemon-flavored things).

In his stocking at Christmas, I made him some coupons.  One is redeemable to me for “one lemon-flavored dessert of his choice.”  Aren’t I just the sweetest? 😉

Lemon Squares

– 1 lemon cake mix

– 2 eggs

– 1/3 c oil

– powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, and oil.  Mixture will be stiff.  Spread mixture, using a spatula sprayed with cooking spray, into a greased 9×13 inch pan.  Bake 13-15 minutes or until slightly golden on top.  Cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and cut into squares.

Pizza Bites

Growing up, I loved those frozen pizza bites.  You probably know the ones I’m talking about.  They’re rectangular and frozen and you just pop them in the microwave.  They are probably full of preservatives and horrible for you, but oh so good.

This recipe reminded me a lot of them when I saw it, so I decided to make some for Zack.

He said they were really good.  They were a great bite-size treat!

You could really put any toppings in there.  I just used pepperoni, because it’s Zack’s favorite.

Pizza Bites

– 1 pizza dough (homemade, canned, refrigerated… up to you)

– ~ 3/4 c mozzarella cheese

– 2-3 oz thin sliced pepperoni

– 1 tsp Italian seasoning

– 1/4 c olive oil

– 1 1/2 T grated Parmesan cheese

– pizza or marinara sauce

Prepare pizza dough and roughly chop pepperoni.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a pie pan.

If using refrigerated pizza dough, roll dough out into a large rectangle and cut into 24 pieces.  If using homemade dough, just pinch off walnut sized pieces as you go.

In each dough piece, place a couple of pieces of chopped pepperoni and some cheese.  Seal dough around meat and cheese and place seam side down in pie pan.

Repeat for each bite.

Once assembled, combine oil and spices and brush over the dough.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Now you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze or bake right away.

When ready to bake: bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes.  Serve with warm pizza or marinara sauce.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread (Breadmaker)

Zack’s parents got me a breadmaker for Christmas!  It’s the really nice kind that makes square loaves of bread.

I “loave” it!  Har har.

I have had a couple of recipes for bread in a bread machine laying around and I was pretty excited to actually be able to try one out now.

I chose this one because it’s healthy and gets its sweetness from a natural source, honey, instead of sugar.

I really can’t believe how easy it was to make bread with a breadmaker.  Just throw all the ingredients in there and three hours later you have a beautiful, delicious little loaf of bread!  I think my days of buying bread at the grocery store are over.

The texture of the bread and of the crust were perfect.  I absolutely love my bread machine!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread for Breadmaker

– 1 1/8 c warm water (110 degrees)

– 3 T honey

– 1/3 t salt

– 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

– 1 1/2 c bread flour

– 2 T vegetable oil

– 1 1/2 t active dry yeast

Add ingredients according to the manufacturer’s directions to your bread machine.  Use the wheat bread cycle and light color setting.

Hershey’s Kisses Birthday Cake

Once upon a time there were two high school girls.  They had known each other for years, but had never been very close.  Both worked at a local nonprofit organization and got stuck organizing a social gathering for the organization.

The social gathering was a lot of work to plan and it was a blast to attend.  The two girls bonded throughout the process and they became completely inseparable.  They found out that they had very complementary personalities and almost identical senses of humor.  For the remainder of high school, they spent as much time as possible together.  They were the definition of best friends.

However, high school ended and they had decided on schools that were on opposite sides of the state.  It was really hard on both of them.  Although they no longer got to spent a lot of time together, they still maintained a relationship and hung out over breaks.

Three years into college, they still consider each other a best friend.

I thought that little story was important background info before I discuss this cake.  I made this cake for that girl’s birthday.  Her birthday was actually at the end of November, but we didn’t have a chance to get together until this week.  Hey, who would complain, she got multiple birthday celebrations! 😉

Mackenzie, the girl from the story, is a wonderful friend and I really enjoyed making this cake for her.  She seemed to like it and it was really great to spend some time with her.

Hershey’s Kisses Birthday Cake

– 2 c sugar

– 1 3/4 c AP flour

– 3/4 c cocoa

– 1 1/2 t baking powder

– 1 1/2 t baking soda

– 1 t salt

– 2 eggs

– 1 c milk

– 1/2 c vegetable oil

– 2 t vanilla extract

– 1 c boiling water

– vanilla buttercream frosting

– hershey’s kisses

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9″ round baking pans or one 13x9x2″ pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat w/ electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes for round pans, 35-40 minutes for rectangular pans or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes, turn onto wire racks.  Cool completely.  Prepare vanilla buttercream frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

– 1/3 c butter or margarine, softened

– 4 c powdered sugar, divided

– 3-4 T milk

– 1 1/2 t vanilla extract

Beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed in large bowl with creamy.  With mixer running, gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until well blended.  Slowly beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually add remaining powdered sugar, beating until smooth.  Add additional milk, if necessary, until frosting is desired consistency.

Frost cake.  Remove wrappers from chocolates, garnish top and sides of cake with chocolates.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

For some reason, I really like making breakfast foods.  I just don’t like eating them.  I am a cereal gal all the way.  I’ve had this recipe for a while, but for some reason I had not been able to find cinnamon chips at the grocery store anymore.  Luckily, my mom had an extra bag in her pantry that she gave to me.

This was my second time making scones (see Blueberry Scones).  These were so much easier to make, and turned out so much cuter, thanks to this awesome cast-iron scone pan that I bought.  I really liked the uniformity of them and how nice and nice and thick they were.

Zack took them to work and they were all eaten.  I hope they enjoyed them, because I don’t know when I will be able to find cinnamon chips again!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

– 2 c flour

– 2 T sugar

– 2 t baking powder powder

– 1/2 t salt

– 1/4 t soda

– 1/3 c cold butter

– 1 c cinnamon chips

– 1/2 c milk

– 1 egg

– 1 T milk

Glaze: optional

– 1/2 c powdered sugar

– 1 T milk

Combine dry ingredients, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combine milk and egg and add along with chips to flour mixture.  Stir until soft dough forms.  On floured surface, knead 6-8 times. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle.  Cut into 10 wedges.  Separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Brush with milk; sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Christmas Cookies :)

I feel like I have really let my blog go lately and I feel pretty guilty.  I do have a couple of excuses, though.  First of all, Christmas was nothing short of a madhouse.  Zack and I had to do 5 Christmases.  We had my step-grandma’s Christmas dinner at a ritzy hotel in Roanoke, Christmas with my mom and stepdad, Zack and my Christmas, Christmas with my dad, and Christmas with Zack’s parents and brothers.  It was crazy and although I love spending time with our families, I am really glad it is over.

Plus, I have been really sick all week.  I used to get sick all of the time, but for the past couple of years I haven’t been really sick at all (except for the occasional cold).  I think those years of not being sick caught up to me, though, because I haven’t left the couch in 3 days.  I went to the doctor and he said it seems to be the flu.  Thanks flu shot for failing me!  I’m finally starting to feel better and might actually leave my house tomorrow!  You realize what a big deal that is once you are home bound for a couple of days.

I should have posted these about a week ago, but hey, better late than never!

PS – these preacher cookies were so good that one of Zack’s coworkers actually paid me to make her another batch.  Yeah!

Preacher Cookies

– 2 c white sugar

– 1/2 c butter

– 1/2 c milk

– 4 T cocoa

– 1/2 c peanut butter

– 2 c quick oatmeal

– 1 t vanilla

– 1/4 t salt

Combine sugar, butter, milk, salt, and cocoa in saucepan.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter, and oatmeal.  Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or buttered cookie sheet.

M&M Cookies

– 1/2 c shortening

– 1/2 c brown sugar

– 1/4 c granulated sugar

– 1/4 t vanilla

– 1/4 t water

– 1 egg

– 1 c + 2 T flour

– 1/2 t soda

– 1/2 t salt

– 3/4 c M&Ms

Cream together shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Add vanilla, water, and egg.  Mix flour, soda and salt then add to creamed mixture.  Stir in M&Ms.  Drop onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Hearty Sweet Potato Braids

I love sweet potatoes and I love bread, so I knew this recipe was going to be a big hit.

I was right 🙂

This bread was sweet, but not overly so and had such a flaky, wonderful texture.  I usually try to limit my bread consumption for nutritional reasons, but I ate a huge hunk of this one.  It was so yummy and moist, too!

I gave my dad this loaf, because he really likes sweet potatoes, too.  Zack does not like them!  Isn’t that crazy?  They are so, so good.

Hearty Sweet Potato Braids

Yield: 2 loaves

– 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast

– 1/4 c warm water (110-115 degrees)

– 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, room temperature

– 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)

-1/4 cup canola oil

– 3 tablespoons honey

– 1 cup all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

– 2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp dried thyme

– 2 3/4 – 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

– 1 tsp cold milk

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add the sweet potatoes, milk, oil, honey, AP flour, cornmeal, salt, thyme, and 2 cups whole wheat flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turn once to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide into 6 equal portions.  Shape each into a 20-inch rope.  Place 3 ropes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and braid.  Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.  Repeat with remaining ropes.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 35 minutes.

Brush loaves with cold milk.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks.

Bacon, Egg, Cheese, and Toast Cups

I’ve had this recipe laying out for weeks, just waiting to get time so that I could make it for Zack.

We finally got to be home together for breakfast last weekend and I seized the opportunity to make him some of these cups!

I have such a thing for cute little packaged foods like this.  My muffin pan rarely gets used for actual muffins or cupcakes – it’s always food that you wouldn’t normally make in muffin form.

FYI – the yellow on top of the cups is cheese, not the yolk.  I didn’t look at the pictures and notice that it looked like a disgusting busted egg yolk until after Zack had eaten them.  Oh well, you get the point.

I really enjoyed making these, because I rarely get to make breakfast.  As I said before, Zack and I are barely ever home for breakfast together.  He works Tuesday-Saturday mornings from like 4 am until 10 am and I work/go to school Monday-Thursday all day.  Sunday is our one breakfast together morning and I savor it.

Enjoy this recipe, it’s fun and your family will thank you.

Bacon, Egg, Cheese, and Toast Cups

Makes 6 cups.

– 3 T butter, melted

– 8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread

– 6 slices bacon

– 6 large eggs

– coarse salt and ground pepper

– cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups.  With a rolling pin, flatten bread slices slightly and with a 4 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 rounds.  Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to the edge of the cup.  Use extra bread to patch any gaps.  Brush bread with remaining butter.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, until almost crisp, 4 minutes, flipping once.  It will continue to cook in the oven.  Lay one bacon slice in each bread cup and crack an egg over each.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese and put back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes or until egg whites are just set.  Run a small knife around cups to loosen toasts.  Serve immediately.