Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Tag Archives: Easy Desserts

Peanut Butter & Nutella Bites

Sorry for the lull in Quinoa bite postage gang! But as with most things, I prefer saving the best for last – the DESSERT!

When I said that Quinoa is a power food, you probably assumed that all these bite recipes would be healthy and good for you. Well – all good things can go bad sometimes.  And when I say bad, I mean the good kind of bad – the AMAZING kind of bad.

Peanut Butter & Nutella Bites

I needed a ‘dessert’ quinoa bite.  So I thought of 2 of my favorite things on the planet – peanut butter and nutella – and then I went crazy – and crazy won – love when that happens!

Peanut Butter & Nutella Quinoa Bites

INGREDIENTS
*yields about 2 dozen bites

1 cup cooked quinoa, warm

1 cup quick oats

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup your favorite brand of creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup Nutella

2 cups corn flakes, crushed into crumbs
(preferably in a food processor)

6 oz. Dark chocolate for drizzle

1) While your Quinoa is still warm, place it in a large mixing bowl.  Add the quick oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter, nutella and corn flakes to the warm Quinoa (the heat from the Quinoa will help all the ingredients to combine together).

2) With a small spatula (or your hands!) mix all of the ingredients together until fully combined.  I started doing this with a spatula but then just went right in for the kill with my hands, and it made it much easier to combine the ingredients (and I got to lick them after!)

3) Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and chill it for about 1/2 hour in the refrigerator.  After the mixture has chilled, take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture, roll it between the palms of your hands to form a ball and place each ball on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.

4) Once all your balls have been formed, melt your chocolate in a double boiler and drizzle over the quinoa balls.  Can be served immediately or stored in the fridge for up to a week! (but trust me, they won’t last that long)

O.M.G.  When I tell you that these are amazing, I’m not lying.  The Corn Flake component may seem a little strange, but I felt the mixture needed a sort of ‘glue’ to hold it together, being that there were no eggs for this recipe.  The Corn Flake crumbs acted almost as bread crumbs do with meatballs, giving them some holding power and a little somethin’ more to sink your teeth into.

Peanut Butter & Nutella Bites

So there you have it folks – what’d we learn from this series?

Quinoa is DA’ BOMB!

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Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

Happy Friday everyone!  Here’s a Friday present for you:

4 ingredients.

4 steps.

1 of the most delicious tasting and easy desserts ever.  EVER.

Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

INGREDIENTS
*yields about 20 truffles

 6oz of cream cheese (3/4 of an 8oz block)

1 regular sized package of Oreo cookies

1/2 cup of your favorite creamy peanut butter

12 oz. Milk Chocolate
(You could use a bag of Milk Chocolate chips, or, as I do most times when I use melted chocolate, about 3/4 of a  Trader Joe’s 1lb Belgian Chocolate Bars)

*Peanut Butter Drizzle
(an optional step that can be achieved with either Wilton’s Peanut Butter Flavored Candy Melts or by melting about 1/2 cup of peanut butter over low heat in a saucepan)

1) In a food processor, pulse your Oreo cookies until they become a fine crumb texture.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and peanut butter on low speed until fully combined and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Slowly add in the Oreo crumbs until a dough like mixture forms.

3) Line a baking sheet with wax paper.  Take about 2-3 tablespoons of the dough and roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball and place on the waxed paper.  Once all the dough has been shaped into balls, chill them in the freezer for 1/2 hr – 1 hr.  Cream cheese based dough can soften very quickly so this step is important!

4) While the dough is chilling, melt your chocolate in a double boiler.  After the balls have chilled, dip each one in the melted chocolate and place on the waxed paper to allow the chocolate to dry.

5)*Optional Step: If you’re feeling adventurous and want to add some peanut butter drizzle, you can either melt about 1/2 of a 12oz bag of Peanut Butter flavored candy melts or you can simply melt 1/2 cup of Peanut Butter over low heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly.  Then just dip the fork in the melted peanut butter and drizzle it over the truffles (these chocolate squeeze bottles also create a really nice drizzle effect – you can find them at any Michaels or A.C. Moore in the Cake decorating/candy making section).

Happy 1st Friday of 2013 everyone!


y Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I’ve mentioned before that my family is pretty serious about desserts – well, they’re even more serious about cookie swaps, or so I learned this weekend.

My Grammy Murphy is quite the grandmother – she was the first of anyone to get AOL, email and a ‘screen name’, her recipes for things like whoopie pies and pecan rolls are legendary (even though they never taste quite as good as when she makes them), and at 84, she still manages to have more style than I will ever have in my entire lifetime.  AND, her new digs at the Assisted Living facility she just recently moved into are straight up 5-star, making Dave and I’s ‘love nest’ look like just that – a nest – made of sticks – where birds live.  But if anyone deserves a sweet pad to hang their hat, it’s grammy Murphy – so that makes me just a little less bitter about it 🙂

My mom organized a cookie swap with all my Aunt’s this weekend to put some trays together for all those fab people who are there to help my grandparents on a day -to-day basis and everyone dawned their best baked goods and prettiest bows and ribbons to make some seriously good looking goody trays.  cookie swapComing from a family that loves to bake, I think that the best part of the holiday season is that a huge tray of freshly baked treats wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a bow can be just as great a gift as a cashmere scarf or that blender you’ve been eyeing all year – and appreciated just as much, if not more, because there’s the added ingredient of TLC in them!

One of my favorites are these amazingly easy to make Chocolate Dipped Pretzels.  I can’t remember when my cousin Jen started making these, but like many other things in the Murphy Family, they must be present on the dessert table for at least one Holiday to avoid stomping, shouting and crying fits – and that’s just my reaction!  Pretty basic I know – pretzel – chocolate – dip – let dry – repeat.  But, she took them to a new level by adding fun toppings and even hidden surprises like a slab of peanut butter hidden under the chocolate.  So while being visually appealing, they’re equally as tummy appealing, especially when you bite into one and say “Wait, is that….is THAT what I think it is?”.

Holiday Chocolate Pretzels
* Adapted from my cousin Jen (if you think these are good, you should see her Trifle!) and Twist, A Unique Approach to Pretzels

INGREDIENTS

mini salted pretzels

milk/dark/white chocolate (one or all three!)
*again, I use the Trader Joe’s 1lb chocolate bars and Ghiradellis’ White Chocolate Chips

Toppings galore!
*For today, I chose Holiday Sprinkles, Heath Bits, Chopped Almonds, Coconut, Peanut Butter, Fluff and Nutella, but seriously, sky is the limitChocolate Covered Pretzels

1) Lay out your pretzels on wax paper-lined cookie sheets or wire racks.

2) In a double boiler (or in the microwave), temper your chocolate.  To temper, take about 2/3 of the chocolate and place it in the double boiler (or microwave-safe dish). When the chocolate starts to really melt, remove it from the heat and add the remaining unmelted chocolate to the pan, stirring constantly until it melts into the melted stuff.  The tempering will provide a nice shiny looking chocolate and avoid those unsightly little white spots that can sometimes pop up on chocolate.  If you’re doing 2 or 3 different kinds of chocolate, be sure to repeat this process with each kind.

3) Assemble your pretzels:

For the Peanut Butter/Fluff pretzel – on one half of your pretzel, take about 1/2 tsp. of peanut butter and 1/2 tsp. of fluff, and stick them on the 1/2 of the pretzel that will go in the chocolate.  Then dip that side in the chocolate and place on wax paper to dry.  Top with sprinkles (or if you’re feeling really fiesty, mini peanut butter chocolate chips or rescees pieces!)

For the Nutella Pretzel – repeat the same process as above, only with Nutella.  Top with sprinkles like I did, or for the fiesty (and not cheap like I am) dipper, sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts on the top.

For the Heath Bar Pretzel – dip pretzel in chocolate (with no filling) and sprinkle with Heath Bits (you can find those in the baking section a the grocery store)

For the Almond Joy Pretzel – same as above, and sprinkle with chopped almonds (I used the sliced almonds) and coconut

y Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Honestly people, I think the thing I love so much about these is that your options are essentially endless – I had soooo many other ideas but 1) it’s a week night and 2) I still have a sugar hangover from the swap yesterday, so I kept my pretzels to a minimum.  But really, you could do a spin on the last post, and do Dark Mint Chocolate with either Oreo crumbles or Peppermint bits.  These are fun, so easy, and a serious crowd pleaser.  Who doesn’t love Chocolate Covered Pretzels? I mean, really?  They also wrap/travel really well, so load them into a holiday tin with some wax paper, or a fun jar with a snap top!

ay Chocolate Covered Pretzels

So shake up your Cookie Swap this year – be the mysterious swapper that brings Chocolate Pretzels instead of Chocolate Chip Cookies or Peanut Butter Kisses – make them wonder – and drool at the same time 🙂


pumpkin cheesecake dip

I’m not afraid to admit when perfectly laid out recipes go astray.

Last Thanksgiving, we had some friends over for a makeshift ‘Thanksgiving Dinner” and our friend Alissa brought this pumpkin dip with various treats to dip in it, and OMG – it was beyond good.  And the best part was that it was served in a hollowed out pumpkin! Major points for presentation!

So this past Sunday, Dave, Hairy and I had plans to meet up with my cousin Catherine and Buddy and my Aunt Jane at Buddy’s fab apt. in the north end (recess lighting and all).  Pizza from the ORIGINAL Pizzeria Regina, which is right around the corner from his apartment  (I swear I’d be well over 300 lbs if I lived there) was on the menu, so I decided I was going to make this pumpkin dip as a nice ‘lighter’ option for dessert.

Ooof.

I literally stood over the bowl with the electric mixer for a good 10 minutes, just waiting for all these little lumps of cream cheese to disintegrate.  But it didn’t happen.  And while it tasted pretty good, I am a firm believer that you taste with your eyes just as much as your mouth, and the sight of this mess of a dip even made me, someone who never passes on dessert, want to say “Ahhh ya know what? I am just SO full I think I’ll pass on dessert!”  I was so ashamed of it, I frustratedly tossed it in the dumpster outside of Buddy’s apartment as we were walking to our car – $1 leaf bowl from Target and all.

But I was determined to make this better somehow.  So I tried it again last night, using essentially the same recipe, but using a different process to combine them together, and BINGO!!!! We have a winner!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
*Adapted from Allrecipes & Very Best Baking

INGREDIENTS
*makes about 1.5 cups – perfect amount for a small pumpkin!

1 – 8oz block of cream cheese, softened (room temp is ideal)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and pumpkin puree with an electric mixer on low until both are fully combined and smooth.

2) Gradually add the powdered sugar to the pumpkin/cream cheese mixture (I did about 1/3 at a time) mixing well in between.

3) Add the pumpkin pie spice and mix well until all ingredients are combined and smooth.

4) Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (up to overnight).  Serve with whatever you see fit to dip! Personally I think that chocolate goes really nice with this, so  I used chocolate animal crackers, graham crackers and bite sized oreos, but the options are endless!

So what was the difference between the two?

In version 1, the directions said to mix the softened cream cheese and the powdered sugar together until smooth – without sifting the sugar first, causing big sugary lumps of cream cheese to form before the pumpkin even went into the mixture.  After that, there was no going back, no matter how much you mixed.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

The second version though, I mixed the pumpkin and cream cheese together first, until smooth, and then gradually add the sifted confectioners sugar, which honestly makes perfect sense now that I look back, but at the time I just followed the instructions without giving it any thought.

Finally, after 2 tries, it was what I had always envisioned it being – a deliciously smooth combination of pumpkin and cream cheese that’s fun to eat and ridiculously easy to make. Feel free to tweak the measurements of pumpkin too, adding more or less depending on your pumpkin tastes.  And, putting it in a cute hollowed out little pumpkin = genius.  Perfect for a pre-dinner dessert for people to graze on, or a nice, lighter alternative for people after the big meal is over, as you can dip as much or as little as you like – it’s commitment free!

So go now and dip it.  Dip it good 🙂


Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

It’s Friday! Woo Wooo Yeahh Yeahhh Woo Wooo Woooooo!

Pumpkin Cheesecake BrowniesI’m extra excited for this coming weekend because:

1) Tomorrow a WEDDING is happening!

2) I get to spend time with these clowns – a.k.a my family – a.k.a the farkles.  Don’t ask.

My cousin Allison is getting married to Neil.  They’re story is one of my faves.  Al moved to Dublin to channel her inner Irish self a couple years after college – she met Neil, a legit Irishman who might be one the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life – they fell in love – last year they got engaged in Budapest (NBD) and tomorrow they’re getting married! I’m picturing a lot of jigging on the dance floor and a lot of guinness consumption, but mostly, lots of laughs and fist pumps with family and friends!Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

I’ll be honest – there’s no correlation between Al and Neil nuptials and these Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, but nevertheless, they were amazingly easy to make (primarily cuz’ I cheated – cheaters DID prosper in this case!) and amazingly delicious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
*Cheescake portion adapted from A Taste of Home

INGREDIENTS

Your favorite boxed brownie mix, prepared according to instructions

1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 egg

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees (or whatever temperature the box says)

2) Prepare your brownie batter and set aside.

3) For cheesecake batter, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined.

4) Line a 12-muffin tin with paper baking cups.  Fill the bottom about 1/3 of the way with brownie batter.  Then place another 1/3 of pumpkin cheesecake batter on the top, and then top the last 1/3 with the brownie batter.  Take a knife and swirl the pumpkin cheesecake and brownie batter together so they look ‘swirly’.

5) Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

*You could also make these as just a standard pan of brownies by again, following the instructions on the box for the different pan sizes and following the same method of brownie batter/pumpkin cheesecake layering and swirling.

My only change would be maybe alternating the pattern and doing cheesecake/brownie/cheesecake next time, as to make them a little more pumpkin flavored.  But it’s totally up to you, depending on what flavor you prefer.

Next week is Halloween – BOOOOO!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies


Patti's Pink Lemonade Ice Cream Pies

October is just about over – and it’s been full of apples and pumpkins and and football – oh my!

But besides the peak month of fall, October is very important for another reason – it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Sadly, I bet a good number of us out there know someone somewhere who is living with, has conquered, or worse yet has lost their battle with this devastating disease that affects not only the person experiencing it, but their family and friends as well.

And unfortunately enough, it’s hit very close to home to us recently.  Back in 2003, my Aunt Patti was diagnosed with breast cancer – and man did she kick it’s ass! By 2008, she was five-years cancer free and it was a thing of the past, never to show it’s ugly face again.  Until this August, when some strange symptoms lead to the discovery that not only was it back, but it had metastasized to her liver.  WTF cancer – I thought we made it clear you’re not welcome here b’otch! And while I wish that Breast Cancer was the ugly, long nailed wench with stiletto heels that I envision it being, and I could just put it on a one-way flight to Antartica, unfortunately it’s not the case.

Patty's Pink Lemonade Ice Cream Pies

The Murphy’s, sans pooches

Patti is wife to my amazing Uncle Kevin, and mother to my 3 beautiful cousins, Beth, Catilyn and Krissy, 2 sweet pooches, Maggie & Beau.  Our families have always been close – growing up as an only child, Beth, Caitlyn & Krissy were the sisters I never had and still to this day, we have this amazing capability to pick right up where we left off, no matter how much time has passed, and act as silly and stupid as we did when we were 8.  Patty & Kevin and the girls moved down South when we were still pretty young, so during the summer months, we would reunite on Cape Cod, making up for lost time by riding bikes, going to the beach, and spending as much time together as possible.  In college, I spent one of the funnest summer’s of my life living with them at their Cape House, and this coming June, it will be the backdrop for my cousin Beth’s wedding, which cannot come soon enough!  In the mean time, they’re taking things one day at a time, thinking happy thoughts, and even blogging about Patti’s daily progress which is a great idea to keep everyone informed. They even came out with a special Pink Patti Murphy Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet which are already flying off the shelves!

The Murphy’s are amazing cooks (Beth even went to cooking school – now that’s legit) and one dessert that reminds me of them and the Cape, is their lemonade ice cream pie – the simplest of concoctions that on a hot summer day is better than any ice cream cone you could buy.  So while it’s fall, and the bathing suits have officially been swapped out for sweaters, today’s recipe is a summer throwback – that’s pink for Patti 🙂

Mini Pink Lemonade Ice-Cream Pies
*Adapted from Betty Crocker

INGREDIENTS
*yields about 12 mini-pies, with ice cream left over

10 graham cracker sheets, crushed into crumbs
(I used the food processor to get a fine crumb)

2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 tbsp. sugar

4 cups vanilla ice cream or yogurt

1 – 8oz tub of whipped topping
(I used fat-free)

4-6 individual Crystal Light Pink Lemonade packets
(depending on how ‘lemonade’ey’ you want it to be)

*red food coloring
(this is optional, in case the crystal light doesn’t give you the desired level of ‘pink’ coloring that you desire)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a large mixing bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar together until well combined.

3) Using a 12-muffin tin, take about 1/4 cup of the graham cracker mixture and press in bottom and up the sides of each muffin slot.

4)  Bake for 8-10 minutes until the crusts are golden brown.  You’ll notice that the crust may rise a bit while baking.  You can actually push it back down with your fingers so that it doesn’t take away space for the ice-cream mixture.

5) Once the crusts have cooled, fill each one with the pink lemonade ice cream mixture (you’ll definitely have some left over).  If you’d like, you can sprinkle the tops with graham cracker crumbs or sprinkles, depending on if you like a little texture or not.

6) Let sit in the freezer for 3-4 hours until the ice cream has completely set.

7) Remove muffin tin from the freezer and let the pies sit for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, you can stick a knife in to pop them out.

These are amazingly cute, pink and delicious! Something about the taste of lemonade always brings me right back to summer.

So to everyone out there who is battling the Breast Cancer, you’re in the thoughts and prayers of people all over the world, not only this month, but always.

And to Patti, Kevin, Beth, Caitlyn, Krissy, Beau and Maggie, I’m thinking of you guys everyday and very much looking forward to June, when that ugly wench is far, far away, and we’re all together at the Cape, celebrating nothing but happy times with Lemonade Ice Cream Pie 🙂

Patti's Pink Lemonade Ice Cream Pies



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