my favorite. dessert. ever!

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you have something fun planned for this weekend. 🙂 I am getting ready to head to LA this afternoon for my cousin Amanda’s bachelorette party! I am so excited! It will actually be the first bachelorette party I’ve ever attended. I’m looking forward to seeing my cousins and friends and celebrating Amanda’s final days of singledom!

I have a delicious recipe to share with you today! I made this for my dad’s birthday cake on Monday. He loves peanut butter and chocolate, so I took my peanut butter cup brownies and upgraded them to a “brownie-cake” … and the highlight is definitely the homemade peanut butter frosting! This frosting is SO simple to make, and if you like peanut butter, you are in for a treat! I predict you will be licking the bowl. {Or maybe that’s just me!}

pb brownie cake

I will warn you in advance, I didn’t even try to healthify this dessert … I don’t even want to know how many calories/fat/sugar/etc. is in a slice of this! Sometimes you just have to treat yourself, right? But I did just come across this recipe by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean for healthy sweet potato brownies that I might try using in this recipe in the future! If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

I used my fave boxed brownie mix … Ghiradelli dark chocolate!

brownie mix

I made the batter as directed {if you’re trying to healthify things a little, you could substitute unsweetened applesauce for half of the oil} and poured the batter into a lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Then I stuck in mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups in a tic-tac-toe pattern.

brownies prebake

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

brownie cake

Once the brownies were cool, I frosted them with homemade peanut butter frosting!

homemade peanut butter frosting
– 1/4 cup butter, softened
– 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
– 3/4 cup powdered sugar
– 2 tbsp milk {to taste … depending on your frosting consistency preferences!}

1. Mix together the butter and peanut butter until well blended.

butter pb

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add milk until it gets to desired consistency.

frosting

After frosting the brownies, my final step was sprinkling mini chocolate chips over the frosting layer. Ta da! My favorite dessert ever!

pb dessert

These disappeared from our house in record time!

Thank you also for the sweet birthday wishes! I had a wonderful birthday. My family took me out for dinner and even surprised me with sunflowers! How pretty and happy are these flowers?

bday girl

Thanks also to everyone who took part in my birthday beauty giveaway, and welcome to all our new subscribers! The two randomly selected winners are:
– Big Beauty Basket: Anna Wang
– Travel Beauty Clutch: Jo Tran

I will email you both to get your mailing addresses to send you the prizes!

Happy weekend, everyone! Eat something yummy and spend time with those you love!

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This post is linked up as part of Menu-Plan Monday!

april foodie pen pals reveal

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This was my second month participating in Foodie Pen Pals through The Lean Green Bean, one of my favorite blogs! Here’s how it works: you visit The Lean Green Bean and enter your contact info to sign up for the next month of Foodie Pen Pals. Then the amazing Lindsay matches you up with two other bloggers or food lovers: one person to send a foodie package to, and one person who will send a package to you! Then you spend $15 putting together a box of fun, yummy treats for your pen pal, pop it in the mail, and eagerly await the arrival of your own foodie package!

Natalie from In Natalie’s Shoes sent me a package this month. She sent me a box filled with delectable goodies:

foodie pen pals april

  • homemade brownies with Reese’s peanut butter eggs inside
  • dark-chocolate-covered  pretzel slims from Trader Joes {these are addicting!}
  • a jar of cookie butter, also from TJ’s {amazing spread on apples!}
  • honey glazed almonds
  • Special K chocolatey pretzel cereal bars
  • Nature Valley Almond Crunch granola bars

Thanks, Natalie!! This package really brightened my week! I would encourage all of you to check out Natalie’s food/travel/craftiness blog: http://innataliesshoes.wordpress.com/

If this kind of thing sounds fun to you, go sign up for May Foodie Pen Pals at The Lean Green Bean. It only takes two minutes and it is a blast!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 3-ingredient banana cookies

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Hi everyone! Time for another Kitchen Tip Tuesdays post! {Here are links to my previous posts about making the most of oven time and reusing leftovers in new recipes.}

I have a quick recipe to share with you today — it’s an easy and delicious cookie that is also healthy for you! And it only has three ingredients {one of which is chocolate!} 🙂 That’s my kind of recipe!

This would make the perfect sweet dessert, kid-friendly snack, or grab-and-go breakfast. It’s also a great way to use up spotty bananas before they go bad.

banana cookies

All you need to make these babies are:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips {if desired; I used mini chocolate chips for mine}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mash bananas in a bowl. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

banana dough

3. Plop dough onto a greased cookie sheet {I greased mine with coconut oil} and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Done and YUM! How easy is that?

banana cookies done

This recipe is also easily customizable to suit your tastes! You can add chopped nuts, raisins, peanut butter, coconut … whatever your taste buds desire!

What are some of your favorite grab-and-go recipes?

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if you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
peanut butter breakfast cookies
chocolate strawberry coconut cookies
2-ingredient pumpkin spice cookies

march foodie pen-pals recap

The Lean Green Bean

This was my first month participating in Foodie Pen Pals through The Lean Green Bean, one of my new favorite blogs! I had a ton of fun and am definitely looking forward to participating next month and into the future.

Here’s how it works: you visit The Lean Green Bean and enter your contact info to sign up for the next month of Foodie Pen Pals. Then the amazing Lindsay matches you up with two other bloggers or food lovers: one person to send a foodie package to, and one person who will send a package to you! Then you spend $15 putting together a box of fun, yummy treats for your pen pal, pop it in the mail, and eagerly await the arrival of your own foodie package!

Lisa from Lisa’s Lentils sent me a package this month. {Check out her great guest post recipe for vegan toffee bars!} She sent me a box filled with treats:

march foodie pp

  • 4 flavors of Justin’s almond butter, which I had never tried before but am now addicted to! So great spread on apples or toast or swirled into oatmeal.
  • a package of NanaCakes Oatmeal Baking Mix, which is a great base for pancakes, muffins, and bread.
  • Justin’s organic peanut butter cups — um, devoured these immediately after snapping this picture!
  • a pb&j flavored Lara bar: a great post-workout pick-me-up.
  • Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar … heavenly!
  • Celestial Teas Herbal Tea Sampler — I have loved pairing mugs of these teas with the rich dark chocolate. So satisfying!
I would encourage all of you to check out Lisa’s blog! And, if this kind of thing sounds fun to you, go sign up for April Foodie Pen Pals at The Lean Green Bean. It only takes two minutes and it is a blast to be a part of!
I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s Year of Kindness challenge & recap post!

vegan healthier toffee bars

I’m so excited to share a guest recipe post today! This delicious recipe comes from Lisa of Lisa’s Lentils, who I was matched with for March Foodie Pen Pals. {Tune in Monday for a post about the delicious treats she sent me!} Lisa was kind enough to share this recipe with us today. It was originally published on her blog here.

toffee-bars

{vegan} healthier toffee bars

  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance spread
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 flax egg {1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp warm water}
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsifted oat flour
  • 1 dark chocolate bar, crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts {optional}

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place parchment paper in a 9×12 pan.

2. Cream the Earth Balance spread and coconut sugar.

3. Add the flax egg, vanilla, and oat flour and mix well.

4. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.  Make sure it’s very thin.

5. Bake for 20 minutes.

6. Remove from pan and immediately cover with the chocolate pieces and walnuts.

7. Cut into squares.

8. {Optional} Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Yum, doesn’t that toffee look delicious?? I can’t wait to make this recipe myself this weekend. Thank you Lisa for taking the time to share with us today! And make sure to swing by Lisa’s blog, Lisa’s Lentils, for more healthy and satisfying recipes.

*Are you interested in writing a guest post for Day-by-Day Masterpiece? Feel free to email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com and maybe we can set something up!

peanut butter cup brownies

Thanks to everyone who joined in Monday for this week’s #yearofkindness challenge {delivering valentines to a nursing home} and those who were with us last week for my fave romantic movies and easy, inexpensive homemade Valentines ideas. Today we’re continuing “Valentine’s Week” with a delicious recipe that you can make for your sweetie, friends, coworkers, or even yourself!

valentines week

Peanut butter and chocolate may be my all-time favorite dessert combo, so it’s no surprise I was inspired to combine peanut butter cups and dark chocolate brownie mix! I thought I was soooo clever for using my muffin tin to make these cute little brownie cups, but one of my friends told me she and her mom have been making these babies for years. Maybe I’m a little late to the party, or maybe it’s just true that great minds think alike! 🙂 Either way, these are de-li-cious and so easy to whip up. Enjoy!

peanut butter cup brownies

– 1 package brownie mix {i like the dark chocolate variety}
– 1 package mini peanut butter cups
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup vegetable oil
– 1/3 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper cups or spray with vegetable spray and set aside.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine brownie mix, egg, vegetable oil, and water. Stir until ingredients are well-mixed and there are no lumps in the batter.

3. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way to the top with the batter.

4. In the center of each cup, gently press an unwrapped peanut butter cup.

reeses brownies

5. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

reeses brownies

YUM! These are dangerously good. You’ll want to eat the whole batch yourself!

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day memories? Are you planning to do any Valentine’s baking this year?

More tomorrow!
-Dallas ❤

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Looking for more Valentine’s Day treats to make? You might enjoy these earlier posts:
red velvet cupcakes with coconut cream-cheese frosting
rice krispies treats with m&ms
chocolate strawberry coconut cookies

mom’s classic chocolate-chip cookies

My mom makes AMAZING chocolate-chip cookies! Back in college she’d send me big batches of chocolate-chip cookies and my dorm-mates would actually cheer. {I would share them of course!} Hmmm, thinking about it now, maybe I should thank Mom for helping me make friends! 🙂

This year, Mom gave me her recipe and I tried my hand at making a batch … they didn’t turn out quite as well as hers, but still pretty darn delicious. Crispy, buttery edges; gooey chocolatey middles. It’s hard to go wrong with a chocolate-chip cookie!

chocolate chip cookies

mom’s classic chocolate-chip cookies

– 2 and 1/4 cups flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 cup butter, softened
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 large eggs
– 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cream butter through sugar.

butter & sugar

3. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.

4. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

flour mixture

5. A little at a time, add flour mixture to wet ingredients, stirring well to combine thoroughly.

cookie batter

6. Add chocolate chips and cinnamon, if desired.

chocolate chip batter

7. Scoop by tablespoons onto a baking sheet.

cookies prebake

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are golden-brown and firm to the touch.

cookies baked

9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from baking sheet.

I like these cookies best when they’re still warm — and of course with a big tall glass of milk!

choc chip cookies

Hope you are enjoying these last couple days before Christmas!

-Dallas

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If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

butterscotch pudding cookies
aunt elaine’s peanut butter blossoms
apple, brown sugar & cinnamon cookies
pumpkin oatmeal cookies

This post is linked up to Menu-Plan Monday!

MPM-Winter

my aunt elaine’s peanut butter blossoms

I have a delicious holiday cookie recipe to share with you today! My mom makes these every holiday season and they are always one of my favorite treats. You could make them any time of year, but in my family they are a special sign of Christmas!

I made these as a treat for my students for the last day of class. They are a classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate — what could be better? I like that they look special and pretty yet are very simple to make. I even health-i-fied my aunt’s recipe a little bit by cutting down on the sugar and substituting whole-wheat flour for regular white flour, and they turned out just as delectable as I remembered.

Enjoy! 🙂

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aunt elaine’s peanut butter blossoms

– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1/3 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1/2 cup peanut butter
– 1 egg
– 2 tbsp milk {I used soy milk}
– 2 tsp vanilla
– 1 & 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 25 Hershey’s kisses {I used the dark chocolate variety!}
– extra 1/4 cup or so of sugar for rolling the dough in before baking

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Blend in peanut butter and milk.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir together.

cookie batter

5. Spread a thin layer of sugar in the bottom of a shallow dish {a pie pan is perfect!}

6. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into small balls and roll them around in the sugar until they are evenly coated. Place them onto the cookie sheet, evenly spaced.

cookies prebake

7. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until cookies are golden brown and cracked open and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

cookies postbake

8. While cookies are baking, unwrap the Hershey’s kisses so they are ready to go when cookies come out of the oven!

9. When cookies are still warm, place a Hershey’s kiss in the center of each cookie, gently pressing down to attach the chocolate to the cookie as it cools.

pb blossoms

What are some of your favorite holiday cookie recipes?

Happy Friday!
-Dallas

You might also enjoy these holiday recipes:

white chocolate m&m pretzels
chocolate-covered popcorn
perfect pumpkin pie

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

I read in a magazine recently that popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables! Adding to that, one cup of popcorn {the healthy, air-popped variety, that is} has less than 50 calories! Hello, my new favorite snack. I also love popcorn because it is so versatile – you can add seasonings to make it salty, cheesy, spicy, or sweet.

Or … kick it up a step further and add some chocolate to the mix! {I know, I know, this definitely crashes-and-burns the whole “under 50 calories” thing … but the way I see it, chocolate-covered popcorn is pretty healthy on the dessert scale!} I made mine with dark chocolate to take advantage of even more antioxidant power.

chocolate popcorn

Before making this dish, I had never even attempted to melt chocolate before. I do not have a double-broiler so I just used my microwave. I was worried it would be difficult or time-consuming, but it was incredibly easy. I am already looking forward to livening up my next movie night in with Mike by whipping up another batch of this addicting treat!

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

– 1 package popcorn of choice {I like to use a healthy, whole-grain version with no added butter or salt}
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tsp butter
– salt, cinnamon, or other spices to taste

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Dump into a big bowl and pick out any unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.

2. Melt chocolate and butter over a double-burner or in a microwave-safe bowl. {Melting times vary based on the power of your microwave, but I’d recommend using a series of shorter time increments and stirring more often so as not to burn the chocolate by cooking too long!}

3. Pour melted chocolate onto the popcorn.

popcorn

4. Using a spoon {or your hands!} mix popcorn and chocolate together, breaking apart any large clumps of chocolate, until the popcorn is evenly coated.

chocolate covered popcorn

5. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

I gifted a batch of this popcorn to a coworker using a homemade “upcycled” gift container. I’ll share more about making homemade gift containers in my post tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂

upcycled gift containers

Have a wonderful day!

Till soon,
Dallas

holiday white chocolate pretzels

How is your week going? Mine is flying by. It’s the last week of school before I head home to California for the holidays, and I am a mix of productive “aaack-so-much-to-get-done!” and lazy “it’s-December-and-I-just-want-to-bake-cookies-and-watch-Love-Actually.” Tonight I channeled both of these inclinations and baked festive white chocolate pretzel goodies to give to some of my friends and colleagues as Christmas gifts.

holiday masterpiece

I came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers, and I tweaked it slightly because I couldn’t find the white chocolate wafer candies that Julie’s recipe called for. I just used plain chocolate and they turned out great!

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Here’s all that you need:

  • pretzels
  • green and red M&Ms
  • small chocolate pieces {I broke apart these Andes peppermint white chocolate pieces}

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If desired, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Spread a layer of pretzels over the cookie sheet.

3. Break chocolate apart into small pieces and place one piece in the center of each pretzel.

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4. Bake for 3-4 minutes, until chocolate begins to melt.

5. Gently press a red or green M&M, writing-side down, into the chocolate.

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6. Transfer pretzels to a plate and allow to cool.

7. When chocolate has hardened, store the pretzel treats in a tin or air-tight container.

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I packed mine up in these cute tins I found at Target in the dollar section:

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This is such an easy and inexpensive holiday baking recipe. These white chocolate pretzels are a special, home-made treat that your friends and loved ones will gobble up! {Or make a big batch for yourself — I won’t tell!} 🙂

Have a wonderful day,
-Dallas

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-Time spent: 20 mins
-Cost: $6.00

*This post is linked up at I’m an Organizing Junkie as part of Menu-Plan Monday!

MPM-Winter

Here are the other posts in my “Make Your Holiday Season a Masterpiece” series:
homemade festive decorative chain
little oases of rest in a hectic, busy season