Healthy Pumpkin Bars

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I can still remember my first drive up to East Lansing, Michigan. My parents were taking me to Michigan State University for a college tour, and I was a bit apprehensive. All I knew about MSU was that they had a great hospitality business school, and everyone who went there seemed to be a football or basketball fanatic. And since I’ve never been a real sports enthusiast, I wasn’t quite sure if Michigan State could ever feel like home to me. But sure enough, I started my freshman year at Michigan State, and quickly fell in love with the beautiful campus and the camaraderie of the student body and alumni. And a few years later, I fell in love with a boy who loved Michigan State Football. Fast forward 8 years, and believe it or not, one of my favorite weekends of the year is our annual MSU Football tailgate. All of our college friends get together for at least one home game a year, to celebrate our alma mater. And although I still wouldn’t consider myself a football fanatic, I do love putting together a stellar tailgate. Thanks to our “head ring leader,” Arielle, we typically have a pretty impressive set up. Everyone brings a different dish to share, and we end up with everything from bagels, to sliders, to assorted cookies and salty snacks. This year I tried to provide a healthier breakfast option that was still delicious and seasonal. And I knew I could find a delicious and healthy recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Ambitious Kitchen. This recipe results in decadant tasting pumpkin bars, that are healthy enough for a nutritious breakfast. Plus they feature pumpkin, making it the perfect fall treat.

Ingredients: Makes 16 bars. Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8×11 or 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender or food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour.
  3. Measure out just 2 1/2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla extract, oil, and applesauce for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in oat flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Once finished baking, cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Cut into 16 slices.
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Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

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It always seems like summer is completely filled to the brim with fun events and outings. Whether it’s a quick vacation or local festival, I have something planned nearly every weekend through the end of August. But as much fun as beer festivals, vacations Up North and constant dinners with friends are, the summer habit of eating out more often has left me feeling a little less than healthy. So to make up for our weekend fun, I’ve been trying to eat as healthfully as possible during the week days. I find it gives me a lot more energy, and stops the awful stomach-aches I often get from too many meals away from home. But even in a healthy diet, I think it’s important to leave room for dessert. And it just so happens that I found a recipe that is both nutritious and decadent at the same time. These chocolate banana muffins taste more like fudge brownies than your run of the mill banana bread, yet they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast. They contain no butter, oil, eggs or added sugar, and with the use of gluten free oats, can be made completely gluten free. But again…they taste like fudge brownies. In my book, you can’t get much better than that.

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium to large ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Place oats in a food processor and pulse until oats are ground up and resemble flour, set aside
  2. Place oat “flour”, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl
  3. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, vanilla extract and honey. Use an electric mixer to blend wet ingredients until just combined
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. Place paper muffin liners in a muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into 12 prepared muffin cups and bake at 350 for 10 minutes

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Fluffy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you are spending the day with someone you love, whether that is a significant other, family member, or close friend. I will be spending it passing out candy grams at work (yes, Valentine’s Day does occur in some especially festive offices, including mine) and later Eric and I will be celebrating our 5th Valentine’s Day together with a dinner out. I remember the very first Valentine’s Day we spent together. We had only been dating a month but he managed to make it pretty special.The kid even made me cupcakes, so I knew he was a winner.

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Back in 2010

So this year I thought I would make a little Valentine’s Day treat for him. We happen to share a lot of interests, but one very important interest that we share is our devotion to Reese’s peanut butter cups. I don’t know what it is about that magical combination of chocolate and peanut butter, but anytime you combine the two, you are sure to have a pretty dynamite dessert. So I stuck with these two classic ingredients when whipping up a batch of cookies that we have been enjoying all week. The base is a classic peanut butter cookie, made extra light and fluffy with the addition of cornstarch into the mix. And with a sprinkle of chocolate and peanut butter chips, you have yourself one delicious cookie

Ingredients: Makes 24 cookies

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • Preparation:
    1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy
    2. Beat in egg until just combined
    3. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla
    4. Add baking soda, cornstarch & flour and mix until just combined
    5. Place dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill
    6. Remove dough from fridge and stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter chips
    7. Place tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes

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Cherry Chocolate Crumble Bars

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Merry Christmas Eve! For me, this will mark the 3rd day of Christmas celebrations. On Saturday night, my parents, brother, Eric and I celebrated together by exchanging gifts and watching White Christmas and last night we celebrated with my Grandma, aunt, uncle and cousins. And because for us, Christmas is a week long celebration rather than just 1 day, we will be getting together again tonight with some more of the Berendt side of the family. And finally, on Christmas Day we will be celebrating with Eric’s side of the family. Whew! Even typing that makes me tired! But a marathon of Christmas celebrations is just how I like it. But today I have some downtime and am happily spending it in the kitchen. I was asked to bring some cookies to Eric’s family Christmas, so I have spent the day dusting my tiny kitchen in sugar and flour. I decided to bring a batch of my favorite Sugar Cake Cookies and a batch of this new creation. A few years back I worked at the cutest little bakery named Just Delicious. One of my favorite treats from Just Delicious was their White Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars. But as per usual, I thought I would switch this classic recipe up a bit. Rather than raspberry preserves I used some Michigan Cherry Jam. I also substitute the white chocolate for semi sweet chocolate as I am a huge fan of the dark chocolate and cherry combination. However, if you prefer the white chocolate raspberry combo, feel free to make your own substitutions. Well, it is almost time for me to get ready for phase three of Christmas 2013, so I will leave you with my Christmas wish for you. May your year be filled with sugar, butter, and all things sweet. Merry Merry Christmas!

Ingredients: Makes 12 bars

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Cherry Jam
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (flour through salt)
  2. Add softened butter and egg into flour mixture and beat with an electric mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Take 2 cups of the crumb mixture and place in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Press remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9×9 pan
  5. Place cherry jam (or your favorite flavor of jam) in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave until jam becomes slightly runny (about 30 seconds)
  6. Pour jam over the crumb mixture in the 9×9 pan and sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips over the jam layer
  7. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the jam layer
  8. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until crumb mixture has slightly browned
  9. Place remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until completely melted.
  10. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

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Well friends, Christmas is officially 1 week away! Since Thanksgiving was a week later this year, I have been trying my best to fit in every Christmas related activity I could in the  3 1/2 short weeks we have this season. I’ve been listening to Christmas music nonstop and watching every holiday movie I can. I even got a chance to attend quite a few holiday shows through my job. We got tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s Christmas show and Elf the Musical. Both were fantastic but Elf was definitely my favorite. I was surprised how reminiscent it is to the movie! But as much fun as these Christmas activities have been, the one thing I have been slacking on is my holiday baking. My mom and I didn’t have our traditional marathon day of baking this year because we didn’t have as many holiday parties to bring them to. However, I couldn’t let Christmas pass by without baking at least a batch or two of Christmas cookies. I always try to bake a new recipe each Christmas and this year was no different. I have seen tons of recipes for the classic Chocolate Crinkle Cookies but hadn’t yet tried them myself. But boy am I glad I finally did. The cookies have a short ingredient list and do not take too long to whip up. The result is a rich chocolate cookie that is reminiscent of a brownie, which just so happens to be my favorite dessert. So here is my new favorite cookie recipe just in time for my favorite holiday!

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Ingredients: Makes 24 cookies

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside
  2. In a large bowl, combine cocoa powder, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract
  3. Slowly add flour mixture to cocoa mixture until just combined
  4. Lightly spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray and place dough in foil. Wrap and chill for 4 hours
  5. Once dough has chilled, use a teaspoon to divide dough into 24 portions, roll into rough balls
  6. Roll dough balls in powdered and place on greased cookie sheet
  7. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

Banana Split Cupcakes


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A few weeks ago, my best friend LT asked me to make her a few dozen cupcakes to bring to work. And rather than whip up a batch of standard chocolate or vanilla, I wracked my brain for a new flavor combination to try out. I skimmed through a few of my favorite cookbooks and stumbled upon this recipe for Banana Split Cupcakes. And just like that, I was hit with a flash of childhood memories spent at my Grandparents house. Because anytime I think about banana splits, I am instantly transported back to one of our many sleepovers at their little house on Littlestone. My brother, cousins and I looked forward to sleepovers on Littlestone more than anything else. Sleepovers meant later bedtimes, an endless array of board games and, because it was Grandma’s house, a night full of sweets.  And no sleepover was complete without homemade banana splits. I can still remember the pretty pink glass dishes that were perfectly shaped for those special ice cream sundaes. Grandpa would slice a banana right down the middle and place it in the dish. He would then plop three whole scoops of Neopolitan Ice Cream over the banana and cover it with chocolate syrup and sprinkles. How we ever fell asleep after all that sugar, I will never know. My cousins and I bragged about the banana splits to our friends so much that LT asked if she could come for a sleepover too. We were actually in high school by that time, but my grandparents didn’t mind. And Grandpa happily made LT the famous banana split she had always heard about. So it seemed fitting that I made LT a batch of cupcakes inspired by the dessert she so wanted to enjoy all those years. These cupcakes have a light banana flavor that pair wonderfully with the rich chocolate of Sander’s hot fudge. The perfect “throwback” dessert.

Ingredients: From the Cupcake Diaries, Makes 48 mini cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 mashed bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup water

Frosting:

  • 4 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sander’s Chocolate Fudge Topping

Preparation:

  1. For the cupcakes: Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour through nutmeg)
  2. In a separate bowl, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time
  4. Add the bananas and honey to the butter mixture and mix until just combined
  5. Alternate adding flour mixture and water to the butter mixture, beating after each addition
  6. Scoop batter into cupcake pans lined with cupcake liners
  7. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes
  8. For the frosting: Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy
  9. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition
  10. Beat in vanilla extract
  11. To assemble the cupcakes: Use a piping bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with Sanders Hot Fudge, or chocolate syrup of your choice. Finish with sprinkles

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the chance to post a recipe here on Miss Petite Sweets. In my job as a hotel sales manager, I work with all the entertainment groups, bands and Broadway shows that travel into Detroit, so early June is usually the time we have a ton groups staying with us from the summer music festivals and we are in the midst of booking the fall season of Broadway shows. Needless to say, my busy time at work has kept me out of the kitchen. But a few days ago I had a rare quiet night at home and decided to spend it baking. I had a few super ripe bananas on hand and decided to throw together a new variation on whole wheat banana bread. And as I have stated many, many times before nothing makes a recipe better than the addition of chocolate. I chopped up a few Dark Chocolate Dove candies and absolutely loved the result. This bread is probably one of my favorite quick bread recipes to date. It is soft and moist and full of flavor. I ate mine warm with a touch of peanut butter. The melty peanut butter chocolate mixture made for a fantastic (and healthy) dessert. And it was incredibly easy to make. Ya gotta love that. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 1 loaf

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 6 oz plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped Dove Dark Chocolate (about 6-7 individually wrapped chocolates)

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flours through cinnamon)
  2. In a separate bowl, mash bananas and mix in remaining wet ingredients ( yogurt through canola oil) and stir until well combined
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined
  4. Stir in chocolate
  5. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes

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“Fully Loaded” Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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Around here, I tend to consider peanut butter a food group of its own. Whether its smothered on a piece of toast in the morning or its just a spoonful straight from the jar, I definitely manage to fit peanut butter into my diet every day. I love the creamy (or crunchy!) texture and the smooth peanut taste. So I kind of surprised myself when I realized I only have one peanut butter cookie recipe here on this blog. And although my Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie recipe is one of my favorites, I felt I needed to share another cookie recipe that features this delicious nutty spread. And what goes better with peanut butter than chocolate? I threw an assortment of chocolate chips and chocolate covered raisins into this classic, fluffy peanut butter cookie recipe and was delighted with the results.  I added cornstarch into the batter, a tip I learned from Pinterest, and the result was incredibly soft & fluffy cookies. I brought these cookies into work with me because I knew it would probably be wiser to share 2 dozen cookies with my coworkers than to leave them in my own kitchen. Well, I think these cookies were a hit, because they disappeared within hours. Although I added chocolate chips and chocolate covered raisins, you could definitely vary the mix-ins for a number of different peanut butter cookie varieties. (I think crushed pretzels or m&m’s would be delicious!) So have some fun and incorporate some peanut butter into you daily diet. It’s a health food, I promise.

Ingredients: Makes 24 cookies

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate covered raisins

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in egg until just combined
  3. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla
  4. Add baking soda, cornstarch & flour and mix until just combined
  5. Place dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill
  6. Remove dough from fridge and stir in chocolate chips and chocolate covered raisins
  7. Place tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes

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Easy No Bake Granola Bars

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Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on Chewy Granola Bars. I remember having those delicious granola bars for after school snacks and post soccer game treats. My favorite by far was always the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Variety. But although the Chewy bars masquerade as a “healthy snack” the lengthy list of ingredients says otherwise. These classic school time snacks are definitely a healthier alternative than most snack items these days, but they still have quite a bit more sugar and unpronounceable ingredients than I would like to consume regularly. So I was happy to find a healthier alternative that rivals the taste of the childhood favorite. These easy No Bake Granola Bars consist of rolled oats, mashed banana and peanut flour. Peanut flour, often called PB2 , is powdered peanut butter that has far less fat than typical peanut butter. It is available in most grocery stores in the health food aisle, and adds a nice flavor to these bars. The original recipe didn’t contain chocolate chips, but I added a few in because, well… chocolate makes everything better. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 9 bars, Adapted from UndressedSkeleton.Tumblr.com

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons powdered peanut butter or PB2
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated and mixture resembles oatmeal cookie dough. This will take a few minutes, and the mixture starts out very dry, but don’t add any additional liquid
  2. Once mixture resembles dough, add in chocolate chips
  3. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into 2 inch bars
  4. Place bars on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator overnight

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Chocolate Chip Macaroons

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There are billions of food blogs on the internet and hundreds of cookbooks on the shelves of the bookstore, but sometimes I’ll find a favorite recipe in the simplest of places. Like the newspaper. And I don’t mean the online version of the local paper. I mean the good old fashion black and white paper that is delivered to your doorstep a few times a week. When I was little I went straight for the comics. (Did you really expect a 10 year old to go for the finance section?) Later on I starting skimming through the Life & Home section to read the restaurant reviews and recipes. I still love relaxing on Sunday mornings and leisurely going through all the different sections of the paper. There is something wholesome and comforting about reading the actual newspaper rather than scanning the headlines online. It makes me sad to think the newspaper may soon disappear completely. But while the paper is still being delivered to my doorstep, I plan on taking advantage of the delicious recipes you can often find in it. Like these Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroon Cookies. My mom saw these in the paper and we immediately decided to whip them up. And with only 6 ingredients and 15 minutes of baking time, they came together in a flash. The cookies are very sweet and chewy with a delicate crunch. And if you are a fan of the chocolate + coconut combination you will love these cookies. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 2 dozen, from Detroit Free Press

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut, egg whites,chocolate chips, vanill and salt
  2. Dampen hands with cold water
  3. Roll the batter into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown

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