bars

A&W Root Beer Float Cookie Bars

I was walking through Walmart not too long ago and saw a product that made me stop dead in my tracks. As a member of a Root Beer loving family, I knew I had to make something awesome with the mix I saw on the shelf. Betty Crocker actually released a Walmart-Exclusive Root Beer Float cookie mix. The first thing I thought? “This is either going to be absolutely amazing, or really off the mark…” I mean, you can’t make a root beer cookie… can you? Well, Betty Crocker succeeded, and I decided to tweak their cookie to make the perfect party treat. The best part? It’s really simple.

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Perfectly Pumpkin Vanilla Bars

Some people mark Halloween as the end to all things pumpkin. Of course, Hobby Lobby starts discounting Christmas in, like, July, so really, our holiday schedule is thrown way out of whack.

I think that post-Halloween pumpkin is the best kind of pumpkin. There’s no reason to pass on all things pumpkin until after at least Thanksgiving! You might remember that I’m a huge fan of pumpkin. As evidenced by my Better Than Pumpkin Pie dessert that was a huge hit last Thanksgiving. Or my Pumpkin Butter recipe that has been a huge reader favorite this season. Or maybe even my Pumpkin Spice Krispie treats from last year.

No doubt about it, I love Pumpkin. So, even though we’re well into November, I still have just a few more pumpkin recipes left in me. My hope is that you’ll find something yummy to take to an upcoming Thanksgiving feast, or at the very least, enjoy while you cry over the Christmas music that started just after Halloween on some stations.

These Perfectly Pumpkin Vanilla Bars are so easy and tasty that you might want to consider making a double batch. Yum.

You’ll want to start with the Pumpkin Creme cake mix from Pillsbury. It comes with the vanilla mix that they use as a filling in the cake. I’m going to use it in a slightly different way in these bars, however.

In addition to the mix, you’ll need some milk, oil, eggs, and sprinkles, though the sprinkles are optional.

Set the vanilla filling packet aside and just pour the pumpkin cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add in your egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and 1/4 cup of oil.

It will be an incredibly thick batter, and it will smell really, really awesome. So… try not to eat too much of it before pressing it into a greased 9×9 pan.

Just like that.

For the vanilla topping, you’ll want to mix together the filling packet, plus 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of water.

Spread this as evenly as you can on top of the pumpkin batter.

You’re going to bake these for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

It’ll have a fun layered effect when it’s finished.

While the bars are still slightly warm, gently press your fall sprinkles into the top. Then, the hard part… waiting! You have to wait a full hour for these to cool. Don’t try cutting them sooner– they’ll fall apart!

Voila! Worth the hour wait… and so delicious. They’re a bit ooey-gooey and packed with fall flavor. The vanilla offsets the pumpkin perfectly for a delicious finish.

I got ten thin bars out of my 9×9 pan. You can also cut them into squares, triangles, or any other delicious desired shape you’d like.

Maybe eating something pumpkin will help counteract the Christmas special you’re watching on TV before Thanksgiving has even come and gone.

Are you a die-hard holiday separationist, waiting for one to end before the next begins, or do you blend your holidays in the last half of the year? When do you feel pumpkin is “out”? Sound off in the comments section below!

A little jump into spring with… Key Lime Pie Treats!

Okay, have you SEEN our snow totals lately? 13 inches last week. It hasn’t even melted, hardly, and we’re already expecting another foot tomorrow.

I have never been more ready for spring to arrive in my life. One of my friends recently joked (and I assure you, it was a joke), “Someone REALLY needs to shoot that stupid groundhog.”  Plus, I mean, Easter is actually in March this year, and the last thing I want is to wear snow boots during an egg hunt…

I’m sure all of you up north are laughing at me right now, whining over 2 feet. But then again, I laugh at the south shutting down an airport after an inch, so really, it’s all relative, right?

Anyway, because Easter is actually coming up pretty quickly, and because I am SO ready for spring to arrive officially, you’ll start seeing pops of spring around my blog. Like in the banner above.

And, anytime you see a tag like on the photo below, you’ll know that I’m featuring a recipe that is going to get you amped up for springtime!

Key Lime is a pretty essential flavor, in my mind, when I’m thinking springtime.

It embraces everything springtime is about… pretty colors, light, airy flavors, and a fresh, sunny vibe. I’m just a huge fan, all around.

One of my favorite treats to have during springtime is Key Lime Pie. Ohmygosh… that stuff is awesome. But it can be kind of a pain to make, at times. Plus, it has gobs of ingredients (okay, not gobs, but still… I’m a lazy cook sometimes).

Well, I’ve found a way to easily create that Key Lime Pie taste, but with almost no effort. You don’t even have to turn on your oven, which is nice when it’s sunny and 70. Heck, you could even make it in the microwave! (I’m talking to you especially, dorm dwellers or people who don’t boil water without blowing up the kitchen).

First, we have to start with the base ingredients. There’s only three, by the way.

Every key lime pie I’ve ever tasted has had a graham cracker crust, so to recreate that flavor, you’re going to need a box of Golden Grahams.

Start by hand crushing them until you have about 6 cups. These don’t have to be perfectly crunched, or beaten with a rolling pin, or anything like that… just generally crush them into smaller pieces in your hand.

This is where your key lime flavor joins the party… in the form of….

marshmallows?

Yup, Campfire Marshmallows have KEY LIME marshmallows this spring!

While I can’t help but think that would be one of the best springtime s’mores ever (replacing chocolate with white chocolate, adding two of these puppies, roasted, and some honey grahams, oh yes… yum), when I saw them, my first thought was these treats.

To have enough with your 6 cups of cereal, you’ll want 10 ounces of marshmallows. This equates to about one full bag, plus 20 marshmallows from a second bag.

You’ll put the mallows and 3 Tablespoons of margarine or butter in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl.

(If you don’t want to use a partial bag, just use an entire bag of the marshmallows, 2 tablespoons of butter, and about 4 1/2 cups of crunched cereal for a thinner treat).

Melt the marshmallows and butter over low heat, stirring near constantly, until the marshmallows melt. If you’re microwaving them, stir every 30 seconds.

As the marshmallows melt, they will become greener and greener.

Once they’re melted, like this,

stir in your Golden Grahams, and press them into a 9×9 pan that has been thoroughly greased.

Let them sit until they’ve cooled and hardened slightly, then slice and serve.

I cut mine into circles with a cookie cutter, then topped them with a dollop of Cool Whip that I mixed with green food coloring.

No joke, this tastes so much like a key lime pie that I may never make the real pie again… this was just awesome.

Vanishing Pecan Toffee Bars

When I first stumbled upon this recipe in the recipe box, I wasn’t sure what it was. The recipe was nameless, scrawled on a faded and folded yellow piece of paper in a handwriting no one in the family could recognize. I don’t know who the original creator is, or even where my grandparents encountered the recipe. All I know is that it is delicious, and I’ve decided to call them Vanishing Pecan Toffee Bars. Why “vanishing?” Because within an hour of making these, every single one was gone.

Start by lining a 9×13 pan with Honey Maid graham crackers (Honey variety). Set that aside.

In a saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and pecans over low heat, stirring it constantly. When it starts to boil, cook 5 minutes longer, continuing to stir.

Pour that over the graham crackers evenly, and stick it in the fridge to chill until it’s cooled, about 20 minutes.

Melt some chocolate. The original recipe called for a six-pack of Hershey’s bars melted, but I could only scrounge up one, so instead, I decided instead to melt a bag of chocolate chips (also from Hershey’s).

Chill that until the chocolate is solid, and then cut it into bars. Serve (and hope there’s at least one left for you!)

These really didn’t take very long to make… I started the recipe before dinner, and while it was chilling the first time, I was making dinner. Right before dinner, I spread on the chocolate, and chilled it again. When the dinner dishes were cleaned up, the bars were ready to slice and serve during a post-dinner game of cards.

What is your post dinner routine like? Do you ever serve dessert? Play games as a family? Watch TV? I’d love to hear about your after-dinner routine in the comments!

 

Vanishing Pecan Toffee Bars

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 bag chocolate chips or 6 Hershey bars
Line 9×13 pan with graham crackers.
Melt butter, brown sugar, and pecan pieces in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
When it begins to boil, cook 5 more minutes while stirring.
Pour the mixture over the graham crackers. Chill for 20 minutes.
Melt chocolate and spread over toffee mixture. Chill again until the chocolate is set, then cut into bars and serve.

Double Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Rice Krispie Treats

Don’t let the mouthful of a name scare you… these Rice Krispie Treats are so easy to make, and delicious, too!

Start by melting 1/4 Cup butter and 1 bag (10 oz) of Jet-Puffed Mini Marshmallows in a saucepan over low heat on the stove, making sure you stir frequently. When those are totally melted, remove your pan from the heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt. Take 5 cups of Rice Krispies and 1/2 cup pretzel sticks (each broken in 2-3 pieces) and fold those into the marshmallow mixture.

Pat that into a foil-lined 9×13 pan, being sure not to press too hard or the treats will get too hard.

Take 1/4 cup of caramel chews, chopped into pieces, and drizzle that over the treats. Then, melt 1/4 cup of white chocolate and drizzle that on top of the treats. Finally, melt 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips and drizzle that on top of them! Finish with a generous sprinkle of sea salt, and these salty-sweet treats are ready to be eaten!

I decided to use a cookie cutter to cut my treats into hearts, but you can use your imagination on what style to slice these bars into!

Need more Rice Krispie fun? Head over to my Rice Krispie pinterest board for more inspiration from around the web, then be sure to stop by my giveaway where you could enter to win a Rice Krispies Prize Pack!

Death By Chocolate Black Forest Bars

I feel the need to give you a little disclaimer right now. If you make these, good luck not eating the entire pan. These were a hit with every chocolate cherry lover I shared them with. They’re rich, they’re delicious, and they’re really very easy to make.

In fact, maybe a little too easy to make… you’ll want to make these for every potluck and bake sale you can, not to mention that it’s perfect for a Death By Chocolate Halloween party…

You will want to start out with a Duncan Hines Decadent Triple Chocolate Cake Mix, found at many grocery stores nationwide. This mix comes with two pouches inside, the first being a cake mix and the second being a fudge mixture.

Go ahead and prepare the fudge mixture packet according to the box directions, by adding 1/3 cup of water to the fudge mix packet in a small bowl. Stir that until it thickens, and set it aside until later.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 pan with foil. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix pouch with a stick of melted butter, 1 egg, and half a teaspoon of almond extract. Stir in 1/4 cup sliced almonds. This will be a very thick mixture!

Divide that mixture in half. Press one half into the bottom of the pan, covering it completely, as a thin crust. Then, spread the fudge mixture you previously set aside over the crust layer.

Now, start taking portions of the second half of the cake mix mixture and press it into thin layers and lay them on top of the fudge mixture. I flattened them in my hand and then gently laid them on top rather than trying to press them onto the fudge layer directly.

Drain a 10-16 oz jar of cherries completely, then pour the drained cherries on top of the mixture, trying to make sure that each finished piece will have at least one cherry. Then, toss that into the oven and bake it for 20-25 minutes.

Let this cool completely. 100%, totally, absolutely cool to the touch. If you do it any earlier than that, you risk mucking up the drizzle, and you’d hate to do that, wouldn’t you? (I’m the least patient person ever, but I AM a perfectionist, so the threat of messing up drizzle is enough to keep me from digging into the next step too soon).

Once it’s totally cool, sprinkle on your other half cup of sliced almonds.

Now, the fun part. Take half a cup of semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, or dark chocolate, whatever you prefer, but I chose semisweet) and melt it in a double boiler or in the microwave. If microwaving, stir it every 30 seconds. If you find it’s too thick and not drizzle-able, you can add in a little bit of shortening or coconut oil to help smooth it out a little bit.

Now, drizzle the living tar out of your black forest bars. Get them good and drizzly.

Let that dry completely. I know, exercising patience again. Ugh.

Once it’s dry, cut those into bars, or better yet, triangles. When I was at the Duncan Hines Test Kitchen, I noticed that the chefs cut a lot of decadent treats like fudge into triangles instead of squares, and they looked so elegant that way! I’ve gotten used to cutting a lot of things into triangles now, too.

Death By Chocolate Black Forest Bars

1 Duncan Hines Decadent Triple Chocolate Cake Mix
1 stick melted butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ Cup sliced almonds
1 jar (16 oz) Maraschino Cherries, well drained
½ cup Semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line 13×9 pan with foil and set aside. Mix Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate small pouch in small bowl with ⅓ cup water, stirring until the mix thickens. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine cake mix (large Duncan Hines pouch), butter, egg, and extract in a large bowl. Stir in ¼ cup sliced almonds. This will be a very thick batter. Divide batter in half, and press one half into the foil-lined pan. Spread entire fudge mixture onto bottom crust. Flatten large portions of second half of thick batter mixture and lay gently on top of the fudge mixture. Top evenly with jar of drained cherries. Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven, and let cool completely. Once completely cool, sprinkle with remaining sliced almonds. Microwave chocolate chips until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. If the chocolate is too thick, consider adding a small spoonful of coconut oil or shortening to help it smooth out. Drizzle chocolate over finished bars. Once chocolate drizzle has hardened, cut into triangles or bars.

Recipe adapted from Duncan Hines Decadent Triple Chocolate Mix and 3 Books In 1: Church Potlucks, Sunday Supper, and Bake Sale.

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