A Book, Photo’s, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

I’m dreaming of spring.  I want sunshine, warm temperatures, budding flowers, and green grass.  I want campfires, picnics, and days on the water just rowing our canoe to nowhere in particular.  I want to be able to open the windows and let loads of fresh air in, without letting all of the heat out.  I want to work on the Pink Paradise, and once she’s road ready I want to camp, or should I say glamp.

I’m not asking for much considering I live in upstate New York and we’re not even through the month of February yet. 

To help the cold winter months pass more quickly I’ve been reading and walking more.

I just started to read a book that I won during a giveaway hosted by the blog Pixi Wishes & Forehead Kisses.  It’s too early to give a  review, but I have to say that I was so glad to have found out that the author, Sandy Ward Bell, grew up a little less than an hour away from where I did.  

And as for the walking, it’s being done in an effort to help burn off some of the calorie laden treats that I can’t seem to stop making.  To make my walks more interesting I’ve been taking photo’s.  I thought I’d share a few.  If you’re looking for anything that resembles spring you won’t find it in these pictures.

And as long as I’m sharing – here is one of those calorie laden treats I was talking about.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Pretzel Bars

1 c. chopped pretzel pieces

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

2 tbsp. sugar

1 c. mini- marshmallows

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into two

1 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Lightly coat an 8”x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large a saucepan on low heat, melt peanut butter, margarine, and brown sugar.  Add marshmallows, half of the chocolate chips,  powdered sugar,  and stir until completely melted and mixed. Remove from heat and press mixture flat into prepared pan.

In a double boiler, melt other half of chocolate chips and shortening.  Spread melted chocolate over top of peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?

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Easy as Pie

The phrase “easy as pie” doesn’t normally refer to the act of making a pie, because we all know that it is not always an easy task.  What it refers to is the act of eating pie – which is normally considered quite simple.  At least it is for me anyway.

I’ve found a recipe for a pie that gives the phrase “easy as pie” a whole new meaning.

This recipe is from Kraft Foods, and I promise you it will be the easiest,  and probably the healthiest pie you’ve ever made.   The reviews that this recipe got are so good that I couldn’t wait to make it myself.  In all honesty, I’m not sure why I haven’t made this pie before now since it’s a fairly common recipe. I’m almost thinking it might even fit into the retro recipe category.

Aside from the pie crust, this recipe only requires three common ingredients.  Yes, you read that correctly – just three!  And as long as we are talking pie crust,  I made my own graham cracker crust instead of buying a packaged one because I wanted to serve my dessert in an 8”x8” pan which then turns this recipe into a square pie.  Is that a new word – square pie?

Cool & Easy Pie  (slightly adapted from Kraft Foods)

1 package of  sugar-free raspberry gelatin

2/3 c. boiling water

1 c. of cold water (I put mine in the freezer 15 minutes before I made the pie)

1 (8 oz.) tub of lite whipped topping

1 (9”) graham cracker pie crust

1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries

In a large bowl, add gelatin.  Pour in boiling water and stir for about 2 minutes until all of the gelatin is dissolved.  Stir in cold water.  Add whipped topping; mix with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add berries and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator and pour into pie crust.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  Serves 8

I love the lightness and fruity flavor of this dessert.  If you’re not a raspberry fan then be creative and try a different flavor.  I’m already thinking ahead to Easter!

For the original  Kraft recipe, to read reviews, or see the nutritional information, follow the Kraft Foods link above.   And remember, the nutritional value of the pie I made is going to have less sugar and calories because it’s made with sugar-free gelatin. 

Now, let’s talk about the phrase “easy come, easy go”.

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Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles

Who say’s a girl can’t have her cake and eat it too?   That’s exactly what you’re going to get in these scrumptious truffles – cake!

These little babies have already worked their way to the top of my favorites list.   

If you have someone special on your Valentine’s Day list that loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate  like I do, these would make the perfect (homemade) gift.

Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles

1/2 c. peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

1 c. mini-marshmallows

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 unfrosted chocolate cupcake, crumbled fine

3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 tbsp. vegetable shortening

In a small saucepan, melt margarine, peanut butter, and marshmallows on low heat.   Stir in cake crumbs.  Add powdered sugar and remove from heat; stirring until mixture forms a ball.

Remove from saucepan and place into small bowl.  Cover and chill in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Once dough has chilled, roll dough into 1” balls. 

Melt chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in a double boiler.  Dip balls into chocolate and place onto prepared cookie sheet.  Return to refrigerator to harden.

Makes about 1 dozen.

Strawberry Kiss Cheesecakes, The Chocoholic Cupcake, and now, Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles for Valentine’s Day.  Could it get any better than this? Nah….

weekend-potluck-buttong

JELL-O

Who couldn’t resist the headline (no bake) on this box of Jell-O brand cheesecake?   On a hot, extremely busy Memorial Day weekend with lots of other fun things to be doing, I for one couldn’t.

I do however, have a couple confessions to make.  I always try to make my baked goods from scratch.  Sometimes on a rare occasion I cheat a wee bit and buy a box mix, or a store-bought item.  Sure I know, and can tell the difference, but there are times it’s warranted (in my mind). 

The second part of my confession is that I have never made a homemade cheesecake.  It’s not that I don’t want to.  For one,  I don’t own a springform pan, and secondly, I know homemade cheesecake recipes make enough to feed an army, and I don’t have an army to feed. 

As it stands now, I give at least half of the baked goods I make away to friends and neighbors.   In many cases the extra goodies end up in our freezer for a day that I don’t feel like baking.  Right now there’s only a loaf of lemon-blueberry bread in our spare freezer.  Probably due to the fact that our Frigidaire side by side that I used for freezing my goods has broken down for the 2nd time this year. (Did I mention it’s only four years old? And of course there is no warranty left on it.) My last call to the company ended in frustration when I was transferred to a young woman who I could tell was very proficient in Spanish, and not so much in English.  She also had me on hold more time than she spent conversing with me, and could offer very little to remedy the problem.    Okay, enough about Frigidare…

Any who… I’ve made cute little mini cheesecakes before with Nilla Wafers and a real cream cheese mixture.  They are yummy little devils.   I’ve made this cheesecake from the box before too.  The one thing that stood out when I made this today was how little time, effort, and ingredients it took to throw this together.  Even the most apprehensive person in the kitchen could handle this recipe.   A little melted margarine, some sugar, and milk, and a topping of your choice (I’m opting for fresh strawberries from our garden)  – it’s just that simple.    

Now, I’m not advocating boxed foods – but sometimes a girl just has to do, what a girl has to do….  And, one of these days when I’m expecting an army of people  I’ll buy that springform pan and make a real homemade cheesecake.