Blackberry Pie Bars

Ah blackberries…..   I have a love hate relationship with the fruit.  Sounds weird, right?  I love, love, love eating blackberries and blackberry desserts.  However, I absolutely HATE picking them.  My childhood was spent visiting grandparents who lived on the Oregon coast.  My family eventually relocated from rural Idaho to the Oregon coast and I went to junior high and high school there.  When we moved to Oregon my parents bought my grandparents house which is in the country with about 10 acres of land.  Blackberries grow like weeds in this area.  They just take over other plants and grasses.  It is a never ending job keeping them back from the road, orchard, horse pasture, etc.  My mom would try and get my sister and I to pick blackberries down along our fields, however, we were terrible at it.  She would get quite frustrated with us, rightly so.  There were usually spiders and bees and the bushes are very pokey.  We had no trouble eating the delicious pies that she would make around the holidays though.

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Last week, our local grocery store had blackberries on sale.  I jumped at the chance to buy these and quickly scourged Pinterest for ideas.  While I love baking, I did not get my mother’s pie making ability.  I found the perfect recipe, Blackberry Pie Bars from The Novice Chef.  Oh my, these were delicious and super easy to make.  Sorry for the not so great pictures.  I just got a new lens that I was playing with and my food photography skills are lacking.  Check out the link for great pictures.  Also, really load the bar up with fruit.  I didn’t have quite enough to evenly spread out the blackberries.  This also would be good with all kinds of fruit.  The original recipe called for it to be mixed in a food processor but I found the volume was too much for mine so I mixed by hand with a pastry mixer.  This was a big, big hit in our house.

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Seriously, load up with berries.  I didn’t actually measure mine out but I used all that I bought.

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Reese’s Cupcakes

My little baby boy turns 3 tomorrow!  I guess he is no longer my little baby as he tells me everyday that he is a “Big boy.”  This morning he informed me that his oatmeal breakfast was going to make him big and strong.  Next week he transitions from his Two’s Classroom at daycare up to Pre-School.  I am excited for him to meet new kids and for the new curriculum but another part of me is definitely a little sad that he seems to be growing up so fast.

Eilam’s favorite sweet is chocolate and peanut butter.  So for his birthday celebration tomorrow we will be enjoying peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting (I guess my family like chocolate and peanut butter).  To really take these cupcakes to the next level, I put a Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle of the batter.  These rose wonderfully and the apartment smells like warm peanut butter.  I found the recipe on Allrecipes and adapted it based on other reviews.  Having the peanut butter cup in the middle gives it this extra taste and crunch of chocolate and peanut butter that is just out of this world yummy.

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I did cheat though and used a store bought can of chocolate frosting.  I beat the frosting with a hand mixer and added some powdered sugar.  This lightens the frosting and makes it easier to spread on the cupcakes.

PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

Prep Time:  15 minutes               Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes             Makes:  24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 & 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1  1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, oil, apple sauce and peanut butter until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time then stir in vanilla
  5. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Stir in dry ingredients into batter alternating with milk.
  6. Spoon batter to fill liners about 1/2 full.
  7. Place an unwrapped Reese’s Miniature into each cupcake.
  8. Add more batter so the cupcake tin/liner is almost completely full.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the top of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Frost with your choice of frosting.  I used one can of chocolate buttercream frosting blended with approximately 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.

 

Peanut Butter Kisses

Christmas is such a special time of year and my parents provided my sister and I with such wonderful memories growing up.  One of my favorite memories was baking Christmas cookies with my mom and then delivering those cookies to friends and family members.  I loved helping her in the kitchen make the numerous batches of cookies.  We would make sugar cookies, gingerbread men, peppermint melt-away candies, spritz, snowballs, vanilla covered pretzels, and peanut butter kiss cookies.  I have tried to follow my mom’s example and have made cookies for friends and coworkers.  This year, due to small kitchen and time, I am making just two recipes, peanut butter kisses and vanilla covered pretzels.  I do love snowballs though, so I might try to get those done as well.

My husbands favorite are the kisses and since the recipe is pretty easy, I thought Eilam would like to help.  We had entered a contest for Country Pasta on Facebook and had received a bunch of baking utensils aimed for kids.  He was very excited to use these to help make cookies.  My secret to making these really great is don’t overcook them and to place the kiss while just a few minutes after they come out of the oven.  The kiss melts but maintains it shape and after the cookie cools still has a softer consistency.

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PEANUT BUTTER KISSES

Prep Time:  10 minutes         Cook Time:  10 minutes          Makes: about 30 cookies

 INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1/2 C sugar (plus  some to roll the balls in)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Hershey kisses

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat over to 350 degrees
  2. Mix the dry ingredients
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.  I use a KitchenAid mixer.
  4. Roll the dough into approximately 1 inch balls.
  5. Place the extra sugar onto a plate and roll the balls in the sugar.
  6. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes
  8. Remove and let cool for a couple minutes then place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie.
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack and enjoy!