Crispy Peanut Butter Cup Bars

You know those little peanut butter balls that often pop up on a Holiday pot-luck table around Christmas time?

The ones with peanut butter & confectioner's sugar, rolled into little balls and dipped in chocolate? You know the ones... sooo good. Sooo bad for you.

Yeah... I'm a big fan of those.

I found this recipe for something very similar-- but in my opinion, far superior because they are WAY faster. Basically you mix all the ingredients (except the chocolate) in a big bowl, press it into a 13 x 9 dish, melt the chocolate (I use about 1/2 as much chocolate as called for--- and it was plenty rich enough!) in the microwave, spread it on top and refrigerate the entire dish until the chocolate hardens. Then you cut them into small squares--they are rich-- and serve.

I only ever make them when we have to take something somewhere... basically because eating the entire pan of them would be my weekly calorie allotment... and that's just not a very good idea in the middle of summer.... not to mention bathing suit season.

Photo courtesy of www.Tastykitchen.com

While on this topic, you should definitely hop on over to the Tasty Kitchen Website. You will find a treasure trove of recipes, many by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, herself. This particular recipe has been listed by someone else, but I love trying Ree's recipes! Her Cinnamon Rolls are some of the BEST I have ever made or had! This site is one of my all-time favorites for culinary inspiration. Try it out!


The Lucy Stands Alone...

Just for the record, she stood up on her own... I just couldn't get the camera fast enough! Such a little cutie. I cannot get over her "wide stance" though... perhaps she wishes to follow in mommy's footsteps and be a cheerleader...uh-oh.. let's hope not.


Finer Things Friday

Taking part in Amy's Finer Things Friday today!!!!

My finer thing is pretty simple...

What's better than greeting summertime by swinging at Grammy's ???
This little happy smile is truly a Finer Thing!


Hazelnut Iced Coffee

     ** Note, after making this iced coffee again, I realized I gave the wrong amount of sugar--- reduce the starting amount to 1/4 of a cup and taste it before you add more!! I hope no one ruined their iced coffee!!

There are few things better on a hot summer day than something cold and refreshing--- what better way to celebrate summer than with a tall (and by tall, I do not mean the smallest size at the local coffee chain) glass of Iced Coffee?

Iced Coffee jogs several good memories for me:

1. My first interaction with the wonderful stuff was at age 12. Wanting desperately to be older than I was, I begged my mom to let me drink coffee. She, knowing me better than myself, made me a small glass of sweet, creamy, vanilla-colored iced coffee. We sat with our glasses at our sunny kitchen table and talked about something very grown-up... I was very sophisticated. I think I probably took three small sips and decided I like pink lemonade better-- but it still made for a great memory!

2. Fast forward about 10 years to college in North Carolina... I lived with two amazing roommates who also happened to be friends. One of them (you know who you are, C.L.!!!) began making this a-MAZ-ing iced coffee for us all throughout the warmer months and E and I were officially hooked. There weren't many days that these girls couldn't be found sitting in their 8 o'clock class trying to stave off lethargy with iced coffee and brown sugar pop tarts!

To this day, a good iced coffee brings back very fond memories of friendship and laughter...

Though I've never really had a good recipe for it, the amazing Courtney recently helped me get re-acquainted with the yummy beverage and I would like to pass on the recipe to you!

Good Iced Coffee should be sweet, creamy and very cold! I cannot stand to go somewhere that claims to have "Iced Coffee" and they pour hot or lukewarm java over ice and then expect me to add my own sugar to the tepid mixture and make it the right consistency. (Note: I'm not really that High Maintenance... it's just sounds that way.) Haha!

Iced Hazelnut Coffee

  • One large 8-cup pot of strong brewed Hazelnut coffee (or any flavor you like-- check out the Fresh Market for some excellent flavors!-- My current favorite is Decaf Hazelnut-- )
  • Sugar (to taste... start with about a quarter of a cup for 8-cup pot)
  • Milk (I like to use a bit of half and half to make it slightly rich and then the rest 2% Milk)
Pour the coffee in a large pitcher, add sugar and stir. Add Milk until it's the desired color you like. Taste for sweetness, add more sugar if needed. Stir again until sugar is disolved and then place in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Serve over lots of ice in a pretty glass! 

Keep in mind, whenever you have a partial pot of coffee left over in the morning, don't throw it out!!! You can do this and have a delicious treat the next morning instead of having to talk yourself out of swinging by Starbucks!!! This is WAY more cost effective and you can drink it in your P.J.'s!!!


Choc-Oat-Chip Cookies

This recipe (from the back of the Tollhouse bag) is excellent!

I think the key with them is to make them kind of small and then they are a little bit thicker and the texture is perfect.

Also, I learned a little trick from Joy the Baker, that if you make a large batch of cookie dough--- you can freeze the individual balls of dough to bake later. Take a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, measure out as many "dough balls" as you can fit without them touching, pop the cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour or two. Then, once the dough balls have frozen- drop them into a gallon size freezer bag. When you have visitors and have the need for freshly baked cookies or you just get a craving yourself, simply remove however many you want and bake at the required time-- no thawing required. 

This little tip has been great for our household... basically because I can rarely rationalize baking an ENTIRE batch of choc. chip cookies--- but a few at a time, definitely! A bag of frozen cookie dough balls or a plate of fresh baked cookies also makes a nice little gift for someone who is under the weather or could just use a little pick me up! We even took some to a friend who had recently had a baby so that when the meal rotation ran out, they would still have a nice little treat in the freezer. (And need I even point out, how much cheaper it is than buying ready-made cookie dough?? Not to mention lacking in shelf-stable preservatives.)

Okay, on to the recipe:

Choc-Oat-Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 sticks of softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I cut this back a bit.. they were still plenty sweet.)
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick or old fashioned oats
2 cups (12 oz.) Nestle Tollhouse Morsels Semi-sweet (If you use milk chocolate, cut back the sugar a little bit more.)
1 cup chopped walnuts (pecans would also be good...)

Preheat the oven to 375' degrees

Combine the flour, soda and salt in a small bowl. 
Beat butter and both sugars in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute and then move to wire racks to cool completely... But not too completely.... because you cannot beat a warm chocolate chip cookie!!!

Lucy's 1st Birthday: Part One!

Lucy Turns One!

The day began with a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and a gift--(Lucy's first cell phone)

We had a great party that evening-- 
Lucy had a wonderful time playing with her little friends!

This is about the extent of how messy she got... Lu was NOT thrilled with getting messy with the cake-- I was completely fine with that-- after all, she is her mother's daughter!

The next morning we headed to Florida to party with our family---
stay tuned for more photos of the weekend!