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

homemade christmas gifts

When I think back on my favorite gifts I’ve ever received, they are not the most expensive or glamorous, but the most thoughtful. Many of them are homemade: the blue-jean quilt sewn by my grandmother and passed down to me; the handwritten letters my dad writes for me on each birthday; the paintings made for me by my brother. My other most treasured gifts are not “things” at all but experiences: the “girls trips” I’ve taken with my mom; the Taylor Swift concerts I’ve been to with my friend Holly; the time my Gramps took me on a tour of the small Ohio town of his boyhood; the trip to Ireland I took with my brother to explore our family’s Irish roots.

holiday masterpiece

This holiday season, I am approaching gift-giving not as a money-draining, stressful obligation, but instead as a fun challenge. How can I show all of the people I care about how much I care about them? How can I be thoughtful and proactive in gift-giving without breaking the bank?

My answer: homemade, personal gifts.

I mentioned in a post last week about my quest to upcycle gift containers rather than waste money on brand-new bags and boxes. Not only is this good for my wallet, it’s also good for the environment — AND it seems more thoughtful and personal, to boot!

One of my favorite homemade gifts to make for loved ones is hand-knitted scarves. My junior year of college, I studied abroad in England and my friends Janet & Lauren taught me how to knit. Ever since then, I constantly have some sort of knitting project going. {It’s a great project to do while watching TV or on long car rides!} My favorite thing to make is scarves because they are straightforward, versatile, and get a lot of use. With each stitch, I love thinking of the recipient wearing the scarf and staying warm during a cold winter day.

scarf

One Christmas, I made a “scarlet and gray” spirited scarf for my Gramps to wear to cheer on his beloved Ohio State football team. It was one of the first scarves I ever made and I worked on it painstakingly for months, trying to make my rows even and neat. I was so proud of myself when the scarf was completed. And my Gramps’s surprised smile upon opening the gift is one of my favorite Christmas memories!

me and gramps

Here are some good online tutorials for how to knit a scarf:

– http://www.wikihow.com/Knit-a-Scarf
– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqeG05HFP1E
– http://www.ehow.com/video_12221356_knit-scarf-beginner.html

I also love to give homemade baked goods as gifts. I mean, think about it: even “the person who has everything” could appreciate a nice big batch of still-warm-from-the-oven brownies, right? 😉 To me, homemade food gifts carry the message of comfort, delight, and indulgence. One year, Holly mailed me a batch of cookies all the way across the country and they made me feel SO special and loved — I swear those were the most delicious cookies I’ve ever eaten!

holiday treats

Here’s a wrap-up of some of my favorite recipes for delicious holiday treats that would also make great gifts:

holiday white chocolate pretzels
butterscotch pudding cookies
chocolate-covered popcorn
pumpkin-oatmeal cookies
red velvet cupcakes with coconut cream-cheese frosting
rice krispies treats with m&ms

Making someone a homemade gift is almost like prayer: as you work on the gift, you spend time thinking good thoughts about the person and how much you care about them and how lucky you are to have them in your life. I love homemade gifts because, to me, they are the ultimate testament to the warmth, joy, gratitude and selflessness of the holiday season.

Are you making any homemade gifts this year? What are some of your favorite gifts you’ve ever received?