Cannoli-Filled French Toast Nuggets

cannolinuggets

Remember last week when I mentioned I kind of went cannoli-crazy in New York??

Well, it’s official: I went cannoli crazy.

Turns out, the stupid things have been on my mind a little much lately, along with trying to scrape up nickels to save for an apartment (or at this point, just a nice cardboard box) in NYC.

In reality though, New York would make me hideously overweight and horribly broke. I could not be in such close proximity to excellent food and amazing shopping without throwing my life savings out the window of a speeding taxi in a crazy, frivolous attempt to be a true New Yorker.

I just wanna be like you guyyyyysss.

I’ll give up my perpetual California-girl tan (hahahahhaa juuuust kidding, I am never tan). I’ll give up all the bikini tops and Daisy Dukes in the world. I’ll sell my car in favor of taking public transportation. I’ll trade fish tacos for NY hot dogs and pizza any day of the week. I’ll give up surfing the waves to surfing the subway. I’ll give up living next door to a movie star for living in an apartment the size of a closet. I’ll give up saying “dude” and “hella” and all the other stereotypical California slang that makes everyone else look at us weird. I’ll even start watching YOUR version of the Real Housewives even though I have previously always had a slant for my California wives. I’ll give it all up for youuuuu, New York! Just accept meeeeeee.

In addition to my groveling, I made some New Yorker-approved nuggets of the French toast variety, stuffed with the cannoli-innards variety. I call them Cannoli-Filled French Toast Nuggets or “YUMMY” for short.

DSC_0413Consider this my final act of love for New York. I made you French toast filled with cannoli goodness. Love me.

DSC_0425Cannoli-Filled French Toast Nuggets *adapted from Hungry Girl’s recipe, p286 in her Hungry Girl 1-2-3 cookbook

Cannoli-Filled French Toast Nuggets
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
Who says cannolis are strictly dessert? These Cannoli-Stuffed French Toast Nuggets prove that breakfast can be sweet, too!
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 & ½ tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 4 Tbsp fat-free or low-fat ricotta
  • ½-3/4 tsp sugar, to taste
  • 2 hot dog buns
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp miniature chocolate chips (depending on your taste)
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. First, mix the egg, cinnamon and half teaspoon of the vanilla together in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the ricotta, remaining teaspoon of vanilla, sugar and chocolate chips with a spoon until mixed well.
  3. Open the buns lengthwise, careful not to fully separate the halves of each bun. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the bottom of the bun. Gently press the bun back together over the filling. Very carefully, slice the buns into four nuggets. You should now have 8 nuggets.
  4. Heat a medium skillet to medium-high heat. Add the butter to coat the pan. While butter melts, dip each nugget into the egg mixture, coating completely and allowing excess egg mixture to drip off. Place the nuggets into the sizzling pan and cook about 5-6 minutes, rotating the nuggets to brown on each side, until toasted and golden on all sides.
  5. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with powdered sugar. If desired, top with maple syrup or chocolate sauce and whipped cream! To lower calories, you may also use light or whole wheat hot dog buns, or replace the egg with an egg substitute.

 

DSC_0426I actually made these nuggets before I had made the cones, and my family flipped for them! They loved the unexpected gooey cannoli filling inside of each perfectly browned, perfectly spiced nugget. If the cannoli filling leaks into the pan, that’s okay! It only caramelizes a little and it’s nothing to worry about. The nuggets are SO good.. consider adding more cinnamon to suit your tastes, or even add a pinch to the ricotta mixture for a spicier filling.

Now if only I could pay my future landlord in cannoli nuggets…

Have a great Friday!!

xo, Hayley

 

Cake Batter Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs

funfettibrowniebomb

 

A couple days ago I went to the dentist.

I don’t want to brag or anything, but my dentist is kinda sorta high-tech. They’ll let you listen to customized Pandora stations while they drill at your mouth, or you can watch movies on their flat screen TV that lowers above your head. The only thing missing is a cleaning robot named Rosie, but I’m convinced she is busy tidying elsewhere every time I come in.

Anywho, so while I was there, this awful music was playing the entire time. Like one of those generic “easy listening” stations, except worse. The station had nary a “poppy” or upbeat song and instead, infiltrated the room with sad abused-animal-commercial/funeral music.

Ahem SarahMcLachlan, I’mlookingatyou.

At first I thought that maybe “In the Arms of An Angel” had mistakenly made its way into the easy listening rotation and soon, images of homeless kittens would exit my mind. But no. The office continued to blast really sappy, really miserable songs over the radio like the 90s were going out of style, oh wait…

Suddenly, I felt like I was in the middle of a funeral. Sarah’s melodic, tortured croon wafted throughout the room and I envisioned my dentist standing in the corner, eyes solemn, head down, as he gently whispered, “I’m sorry. He didn’t make it.”

The RDA would wheel out a little cart where a lone, cold, dead tooth would sit on a tray, a napkin haphazardly covering it so I could still steal one last glimpse of his lifelessness. That poor tooth — it had so much potential — but you ate so much damn sugar that you killed it. You senselessly killed your own tooth, you vile murderer.

In your head, a tortured montage will play as you remember all the times you were too lazy to brush, too cool to floss, and just let that poor little tooth rot to death in a lonely hole in your jaw. What did he ever do to you? He only CHEWED THE FOOD YOU ATE, you heartless monster. And now.. now he’s dead. In the arms of an angel. Presumably the tooth fairy, or the trashcan, as I don’t think I could milk my parents with the tooth fairy storyline again and the dentist would probably be weirded out if a grown woman asked for her tooth back.

Then again, it’s just as weird that I have all my baby teeth still, in an old VHS box under my bed, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, while I don’t need heavy metal blasting at my dental appointment, can they lighten up on the lugubrious tunes? Or at least tell me to wear all black and bring one of those veils people wear at funerals? I mean, I was seriously under-dressed for this dismal appointment.

DSC_0470aAnywho, after my sad appointment, I wanted something peppy. Something to celebrate the fact that I had teeth and dammit, I’m going to use them. So I stuffed cake-batter flavored cookie dough inside of brownies, then coated them in chocolate. It was the sugariest thing I could think to do, and my teeth thanked me for it.

I love you, teeth.

DSC_0457aCake Batter Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs *adapted from my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs recipe & cake batter cookie dough recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction 

Cake Batter Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs
Author: 
Recipe type: Bombs, Treats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15-18
 
A Funfetti-twist to my signature recipe!
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1 & ¼ cups flour
  • 1 & ¼ cups yellow or Funfetti cake mix
  • Rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 pan (13x9") fudge brownies, baked and cooled according to package directions
  • 1 pkg chocolate bark
  • ¼ pkg white chocolate bark
Instructions
  1. First, make your cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter & sugars until creamy. Add the milk & extracts and beat to combine. Add in the flour and cake mix and beat until a soft dough forms. Stir in about 1 cup of sprinkles.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, roll the cookie dough into approx. 1"-sized balls and place along the sheet. Freeze the cookie dough balls for about 1-2 hours or until firm.
  3. Cut the pan of brownies into small 1" sized squares. Take a square and gently flatten it with your palm. Place a frozen cookie dough ball in the center of the flattened brownie, then wrap the brownie around the cookie dough ball, sealing any gaps gently with your fingers. You can also roll the brownie bomb in your hand to smooth out any lumps, if needed. Place the brownie-covered cookie dough bombs back on the sheet.
  4. Prepare your chocolate bark according to instructions. Dip each brownie bomb into the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Return to the sheet to harden. Once all the bombs have been dipped in chocolate, melt the white chocolate and drizzle it on top of the bombs. Top immediately with remaining rainbow sprinkles, if desired.
  5. **Note: You could also use white chocolate to coat the bombs and use milk chocolate to drizzle, if desired. For a more authentic cake batter flavored shell, try adding a tiny splash of almond or vanilla extract to your chocolate, or stir in a small teaspoon of cake mix until blended.**

 

DSC_0458a

Boooooooooombsss awaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!

xo, Hayley

 

 

Surprisingly Sweet Meatball Subs

meatball

I’ve never been a “prankster.”

I’ve been a jokester my whole life, always making wisecracks and telling inappropriate jokes. (Sidebar: do young people say ‘wisecracks’? Or use the terms ‘jokester’ and ‘prankster’? I’m guessing probably not and that I just lost eleven cool points).

Anyway, I tried to be a prankster and come up with funny, embarrassing things to do to my friends and family, but I was never that creative and honestly, back in the day it was like INCREDIBLY hard to find whoopie cushions or fake vomit at the store, so I couldn’t have easily accessible Prankster 101 accessories in my arsenal. I just had to rely on telling funny or embarrassing things about my friends and family. I obviously never grew out of that habit. (Sorry I’m an embarrassment and laugh at fart jokes still, Mom).

One time, I was spending the night at my friend Katrina’s house. It was summer and it was super nice during the evening, so we were going to sleep outside on their outdoor couch. While we were supposed to be dozing off, our teenage brains got into a mischievous place and we decided that since we’d never T.P’d anyone’s house before, tonight would be the night. So we ran into her bathroom, snatched a couple of toilet paper rolls, and snuck out front.

The world was our soon-to-be-draped-in-toilet-paper-oyster. Except, instead of choosing any ol’ dark, random house on the street, we chose to T.P. Katrina’s own house. Because we are obviously not genetically predisposed to being pranksters and clearly don’t know how it’s done.

So Katrina and I laughed as we flung toilet paper up into her tree and wove it through the bushes until… until a car drove by and abruptly stopped in front of Katrina’s house. We both dove behind a chair on her porch, praying this person wouldn’t confront us about being pesky teenage vandals at 2am while we were holding half-used toilet paper rolls and wearing boxer shorts.

The car lingered for awhile and I could almost picture myself in a jail cell, wearing an atrocious jumpsuit and cursing myself for trying so hard to fit in and be a prankster when I so clearly was not. But eventually, the car sped off and we raced into her backyard in a nervous cacophony of giggles and squeals. Oh, and we totally took down every square of that T.P. before the sun rose because we are the worst pranksters IN the world. The end.

Anyway, when April Fool’s comes around, I am stumped for ideas. But after perusing through Google for a bit, I found those cutie cupcakes that only look like savory food. You know, the ones that look like spaghetti and meatballs? Or Chinese takeout? Too. Cute. But also, too predictable. I wanted something a tad more believable, and I think I hit the nail on the head with these sammies. They look JUST like a meatball sub, but with a surprisingly sweet flavor.

Take a bite and see for yourself!

DSC_0477Surprisingly Sweet Meatball Subs *adapted from THIS idea

Surprisingly Sweet Meatball Subs
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Fool your family and friends with these surprisingly sweet "Meatball Subs." They'll never guess from first-glance that these subs are actually dessert.
Ingredients
  • 2 hot dog buns (or you could use maple bar donuts)
  • 1 pkg Lindt Chocolate Hazelnut truffles (or Ferrero Rocher brand)
  • ½ cup low-sugar strawberry preserves
  • ½ brick white chocolate bar
Instructions
  1. Gently open the hot dog buns, careful not to completely split them. If you're using the maple bar, cut ¾ in half lengthwise like a bun, careful not to completely split the donut.
  2. Spoon the strawberry preserves into a small bowl and microwave for about 15-20 seconds, stirring until slightly softened and melted; set aside.
  3. Place five-six truffles evenly along the inside of the bun. Spoon the sauce evenly over the truffles to coat them.
  4. Using a microplane zester, gently grate the white chocolate bar over the meatball subs to create the look of the "parmesan." Serve immediately. Makes 2.

 

DSC_0481If only all meatball subs were this sweet to eat… :) Happy April Fool’s Day!!

xo, Hayley

Key Lime Cheesecake Brownies & PHILADELPHIA 6 Days to Delicious Campaign!

keylime

So, um, I love cream cheese. Whether smeared on bagels, swirled in brownies or stuffed in cheesecake, cream cheese kinda sorta rules my world.

I love that it has JUST enough tang to counterbalance the sweetness in desserts, and I love that it gives that creamy, luscious texture to anything it touches. I mean, I’d probably eat a boot if it were covered in cream cheese.

So when PHILADELPHIA asked me to partner with them for their new 6 Days to Delicious video campaign, I jumped on board. When it comes to cream cheese, PHILADELPHIA kinda sorta knows what they’re doing.. and any excuse I could get to work with cream cheese was an A+ in my book.

The 6 Days to Delicious campaign was designed to help educate consumers about the intense, thoughtful process that goes into making PHILADELPHIA cream cheese, and what sets that iconic silver packaging apart from other brands. The campaign walks you through the four standards PHILADELPHIA adheres to when creating their luscious, rich cream cheese.. which is why PHILADELPHIA is America’s favorite cream cheese! (And why my pants are always tight–go figure).

02_barnSo what are those four magic standards that makes PHILADELPHIA cream cheese SO delectable?

They use fresh, local milk and real wholesome cream. By using locally sourced dairy products, PHILADELPHIA can ensure a fresh-tasting product.

Farm to Fridge in 6 days. The fresh milk + cream combine to make the iconic cream cheese which is then refrigerated at the PHILADELPHIA creameries in Wisconsin and New York in six days!

Limited use of preservatives. You’ll find no preservatives in the brick varieties of PHILADELPHIA cream cheese.

REAL ingredients. PHILADELPHIA doesn’t do fake. That’s why they use real ingredients in their cream cheese, from crunchy pecans in their delectable Honey Nut spread, or fresh jalapenos in their newest variety, Spicy Jalapeno.

Plus, PHILADELPHIA is one of those brands that connects close to home in communities all over America. That’s why they’re a huge sponsor in the Share Our Strength charity and the No Kid Hungry Campaign. With every share of the “6 Days” video, PHILADELPHIA will donate $1 (up to $50,000) to help connect a child with up to 10 meals. Plus, PHILADELPHIA cream cheese is an excellent ingredient in baked goods (like this recipe!) and those baked goods make for awesome bake sales, like the Great American Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry.

Philly_SoS_Banner300x250_Final

So really, you can’t go wrong with their cream cheese. From their wide variety of flavors (savory to sweet and everything in between — I seriously ADORE the white chocolate indulgence!), to their commitment to provide a quality product, it’s no wonder PHILADELPHIA is at the top of their game!

I wanted a recipe to showcase the slightly sweet, slightly tart flavor of cream cheese but in a unique way. So I took the classic cheesecake-swirled brownie recipe and flavored my cheesecake to key lime which punched up that tart flavor, turned it a nice green shade, and complemented the fudgy brownie really well. I think you’ll enjoy!

DSC_0396Key Lime Cheesecake Brownies *adapted from THIS recipe 

Key Lime Cheesecake Brownies & PHILADELPHIA 6 Days to Delicious Campaign!
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
 
Don't turn your nose up to lime + chocolate. The pairing is surprisingly delicious, thanks to these fudgy yet tart cheesecake brownies.
Ingredients
  • 1 box chocolate fudge brownie mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 6 ounces PHILADELPHIA cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp key lime juice
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • Wilton Key Lime Candy Melts, optional (for drizzling)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 9x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, prepare the brownie batter according to package instructions; pour ¾ of the batter into the prepared pan, leaving about ¼ cup of batter aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, lime juice + zest with an electric mixer until blended + creamy. If you'd like, tint the cheesecake mixture with a couple of drops of green food coloring to brighten it up. Spoon the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Top the cheesecake layer with the remaining couple spoonfuls of the brownie batter. Using a sharp knife, gently swirl the cheesecake + brownie batter together to form a marbled pattern.
  3. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely. If you'd like, melt the candy melts according to package instructions and drizzle over the tops of the cooled cheesecake brownies. Store brownies airtight, in the fridge, for a couple days. Makes 9 fat brownie hunks.

 

DSC_0397The key lime flavor isn’t super overwhelming in these brownies, so if you’re unsure about the pairing of chocolate + lime, don’t be! It’s just a subtle hint of tartness that brings out the creamy, rich cheesecake in these dense, super fudgy brownies. Plus, key lime is totally perfect for spring, so the flavor is a refreshing change on ordinary cheesecake brownies.

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

I have been selected by Kraft Foods to be an ambassador for PHILADELPHIA. While I have been compensated for my time, my opinions are my own, and I have not been paid to post positive comments. 

Jelly Bean Bark

eggbark2

Happy Sunday!!

I’m sharing a super easy non-recipe-ish recipe with you today. I call it “non-recipe-ish” because technically, I guess it’s a recipe since it has a list of ingredients, but all you do is melt chocolate and stick candy on top of the chocolate so that’s not really a “recipe”.

Instead of diving into the semantics of it, let’s just get the recipe, mmkay??

This Jelly Bean Bark is a total no-brainer to make, yet it’s super adorable and would make a great gift for Easter baskets! I originally saw the idea a looooong time ago in one of my mom’s Quick Cooking magazines (remember those? I saved like, every single one) and mentally stored it for this exact moment. Or, okay, I forgot about it completely but remembered it when I unearthed the magazines a couple weeks ago from the attic. 

You really oughta make it!!DSC_0404

Jelly Bean Bark
Author: 
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
This bark is festive for Easter and is made in minutes. It's also a great way to cook with your kids -- they can customize the bark to their liking!
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg white chocolate bark (I use and love Candiquik)
  • 1 pkg (about 2 cups) jelly beans*
  • Easter sprinkles
  • Optional: Candy melts, for decoration (see Note)**
Instructions
  1. Line a clean, flat work-space with wax paper. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, melt the chocolate until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the wax paper and spread into your desired thickness.
  2. Immediately top the chocolate with the candy melts, if desired (see note), as well as the jelly beans and sprinkles. Allow the chocolate to set, then break into pieces to serve.
  3. *Note: I used speckled fruity beans so the flavors would be more cohesive. Feel free to use any type of jelly bean (fruity, mixed, spiced) you'd like.*
  4. **In these pictures, I used leftover colorful Candy Melts (by Wilton) to jazz up the white background and make things more colorful. I had pink, lime green and yellow on hand, so after immediately pouring the white chocolate out, I randomly placed the colored melts in a polka-dotted pattern on the chocolate, then immediately pressed in the jelly beans and sprinkles. Feel free to omit the melts completely, or use additional sprinkles to make it brighter.**

 

DSC_0405Hope you enjoy!!

xo, Hayley

Carrot Cake Magic Bars

carrotcakebar

Ugh, I’m sorry I’m a one-track kinda pony and apparently can’t think of anything creative to make unless it starts and/or ends with “magic bar.”  I’mjustobsessedokaaaayyy?

Magic bars are just so easy, yet they look and taste so elaborate and multidimensional… which is essentially how I wish I could be. AKA, “effortless.”

You know those people. Like Lauren Conrad. You love her and admire her but you also kind of hate her in the deep, gross parts of your soul because she’s so PERFECT and life is so UNFAIR and WHY can’t you look so CHIC every day of your freakin’ LIFE?!

I mean, I would hardly use the term “effortless” to describe me OR my style. Hello, I apply TWO different kinds of deodorant each morning because I’m convinced one brand alone won’t work. And I was under the impression getting a cute, messy pixie would be adorable with lazy bedhead, but alas, it is not the case since I was mistakenly called a “sir” while out in public.

Also, I’m pretty convinced my hair has a mind of its own and it hates me because it NEVER wants to cooperate with hairstyles. EVER. I’m pretty sure this is payback from the years I spent bleaching the living hell out of it, coloring it abnormal colors, not washing it for weeks on end, and the like. Now somehow I’m on my hair’s personal sh*t list which I didn’t even think could be a thing, but it is since my hair hates me and won’t hold a curl, a tease, a blowout, or anything to save my life. My hair is basically useless and thus, the antithesis of “effortless.”

Because to be effortless, you have to have a DIY/lifestyle blog and have pictures of you all over Pinterest, doing cute, innovative things with your hair, like making it into a bow or embellishing your shorts ever-so-sweetly with lace. And you MUST roll out of bed with theeee most impeccable head of slightly tousled beach waves, a “I only look like I’m wearing makeup but this is just my natural, outrageously gorgeous face” face, and a closet that would make any mere mortal like myself choke on her own drool.

You need this certain air about you, a je ne sais quoi, that makes people gravitate toward you and think you’re the coolest cat around. Also, it’s probably better if you never used the phrase “coolest cat around.”

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, magic bars are that effortlessly chic dessert. Like if Lauren Conrad was a dessert, she wouldn’t be a frou-frou cupcake or a boring ol’ cookie. She’d be a magic bar: simple, yet completely amazing. Sorry I’m comparing you to food Lauren, I love you.

For Easter, I made super chic Carrot Cake Magic Bars which will wow the tousled curls on every one of your fashionable guests’ heads. It’s no wonder this is my FAVORITE thing to make on the blog: it’s SO easy and tastes incredible, and it’s completely versatile from season to season, flavor to flavor. Plus, it’s an excuse to buy the new Carrot Cake M&M’s, which are so chic, I DIE.

DSC_0470

Carrot Cake Magic Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
If you love carrot cake, you'll FLIP over these insanely delicious Carrot Cake Magic Bars. A name like that doesn't lie--they really are magical.
Ingredients
  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 can [about ¾ cup-1 cup] cinnamon pecans (any candied pecan will work)
  • 1 cup Kraft caramel bits
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Carrot Cake flavored M&M's candies (available at Walmart)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edge of the pan. Mist foil lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg + butter with a rubber spatula until blended. Press the mixture evenly in the grease pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately top with the coconut, cinnamon pecans, caramel bits, white chips & M&M's candies evenly. Drizzle with the scmilk. Return to the oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes or until top is bubbly and lightly golden.
  4. Cool the bars completely, then cut and serve! Store leftovers airtight, at room temperature, for several days.

 

DSC_0474I’ve said it before, but I’m not a carrot cake girl by tradition. There’s something about it I just don’t care for. However, I LOVE when carrot cake is combined with caramel. The caramel adds that layer of buttery richness that’s SO irresistible and typically unique to carrot cake flavored things. I also love the mixture of the cinnamon pecans, adding that extra boost of spice. These were a huge hit!!

Have a great Saturday!

xo, Hayley

 

Skinny Cannoli Cones

cannolicones

A couple of days ago, I received some terrible news: my doctor had informed me that I had gained four pounds.

Okay, so gaining four pounds is hardly life-changing, terrible, or considered a tragedy by most people’s definitions, and I mean, I did just get back from NYC where I did eat my weight in food, so I guess it’s somewhat justified? Anyways, he didn’t make me feel any better when he informed me I had gained ten pounds over the last year. I mean, I kinda wanted to go choke and die on a maple bar when I heard the news. Awful, right?

So when my mom told me she had joined this local high-tech gym and she could bring a buddy along, I jumped at the chance to sweat out the sugar. But there were two problems with this gym excursion. One, I was terribly out of shape and three minutes running at a moderate pace on the treadmill nearly did me in (but my dignity died first), and Two, I am new to this whole gym thingie.

This particular gym is HUGE and has sanitizing stations with towels and Purell dispensers at like, every other machine. And as I huffed and puffed my way on the treadmill, I’d notice most of the people would wipe off their machines when they finished so their sweat wasn’t all over another person’s ish. However, some people didn’t wipe off the machines and I didn’t think much of it because they weren’t disgustingly sweaty or they weren’t on the machines very long to warrant a huge deep-cleaning.

But when I machine-hopped, I instantly felt people judging me. I’d do MAYBE fifteen leg lifts and then get off the machine. I’d examine the equipment: my short stint doing half-assed leg lifts left nary a mark, stain, or appearance that anyone had even thought about working out, much less actually used the machine. But when I’d look up at people ellipticalling the night away, I’d see them boring their judge-y gym-people eyes into me with a look of disgust. Is she really not going to sanitize that machine? Helloooo, she sat on it for like, six seconds. That’s so gross!!

So ultimately I got really self-conscious of these gym people and began sanitizing the living heck out of everything in my path. I’d stand on a machine for one second, realize I didn’t want to use it, and race over to the sanitize station to thoroughly saturate a paper towel with solution and douse the machine in antibacterial-ness so people wouldn’t think I was gross. I repeated this over and over and over because I’m fickle and hate working out, thus this combination results in me working at an average machine for aboooout 1 minute.

But then, I started noticing that people were looking at me weird for sanitizing ev.er.y.thing. OMG, she is TOTALLY wasting paper towels and sanitizer! She wasn’t even on the machine that long; does she really think she’s even sweating enough to warrant a run to the sanitizing station every 32 seconds? This girl is obviously an OCD freak.

So I stood there, uncertainty flooding me as I toed the border of sanitation guidelines in modern-day gyms. And then I went home and ate frozen yogurt with sprinkles on it for a reward. Those legs weren’t going to kick themselves without incentive, psh.

Baaack to NYC for a sec: while I was there, I had to promise my dad I’d eat an authentic cannoli. I mean, I was basically told I’d be homeless if I didn’t try one. I really enjoyed the cannolis from Martha’s Bakery in Astoria. The ricotta filling was sweet but not cloyingly so, and the pastry was crispy, flaky and absolutely perfect. Plus, I loved that it wasn’t TOO overwhelming with the chocolate chips since I am weird and don’t like too many chocolate chips in my desserts.

DSC_0441And since I couldn’t very well transport a suitcase full of cannolis home for my family, I decided to make them at home. But the easy way. And skinnified, because my doctor intimidates me. The result was every bit as authentically delicious as a traditional cannoli, just with lower fat and less calories, and done WAY simpler.

If only the gym could be simplified.

DSC_0450Skinny Cannoli Cones *adapted slightly from Hungry Girl’s recipe 

Skinny Cannoli Cones
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Enjoy the taste of cannolis guilt-free with these skinny cones!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp fat-free ricotta cheese
  • ⅔ cup Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free/fat free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbsp miniature chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 sugar cones (like by Keebler or Joy brand)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the ricotta cheese, Cool Whip, pudding mix, sugar and vanilla extract with a handheld electric mixer until combined and fluffy. Stir in THREE (3) Tablespoons of the miniature chips by hand to incorporate.
  2. Using a quart-sized Ziploc baggy or a pastry bag, gently spoon the filling into the bag, sealing out the air. Snip off a corner tip of the bag and gently pipe the filling evenly among the cones. To make this easier, I used small cups to hold two cones each while I work, keeping the cones upright.
  3. Sprinkle the tops of the cones with the remaining miniature chips, and serve! Store leftovers in the fridge for a day or so. If you'd like, you could even dust the tops with powdered sugar, or drizzle the cones with sugar free chocolate syrup!

 

DSC_0445Um, holy cannoli! I really hope you enjoy these as much as my family did because they’re SO good. Usually, the idea of making the cannoli pastry seems daunting. The fact that you use a sugar cone as the cannoli “cone” makes things so much easier, yet tastes similar enough to the pastry that you won’t miss it. And the filling is sweet and slightly tangy, whipped to a light and dreamy perfection and mixed with the right amount of chocolate chips to keep things interesting without neither the ricotta or the chocolate from being too overpowering. I also LOVE that this recipe is so versatile: you could totally make different flavored cannoli creams by switching out the pudding mix and extracts. Imagine using banana cream, butterscotch, pistachio.. the list goes on!

And be sure to stay tuned for another yummy & skinny cannoli recipe coming soon!!

Have a wonderful day!

xo, Hayley

Peeps Candy Bars: Spring Hop Along PEEPS Party!

peeps

I have a bone to pick with Easter.

Not the actual meaning of Easter itself, but the whole “Easter = chocolate rabbits, plastic eggs, etc” part.

I think food manufacturers are onto something when it comes to Easter candy. They KNOW that most people like myself are woefully incapable of resisting candy when it is dipped in pastel colors. Suddenly, the most nose-wrinkle-worthy candy becomes OHMYGOSHSOTEMPTING because it’s dyed robin’s egg blue.

I heard once that people respond to the color red when eating in restaurants, but red is a rude color, in my opinion. I’d much prefer to be enveloped in bubblegum pinks, minty greens, buttery yellows and lavender purples while I’m stuffing my face with chocolate eggs and marshmallow chicks.

Anyway, maybe that’s why the pastel colors make me crave anything and everything adorably colored and sugary. And extend that craving to everything else, like wanting to dye my hair turquoise, or feeling the intense need to buy a pair of cantaloupe-colored jeans if only for the reason that I can describe them as “cantaloupe-colored” and not “orange.” (BTW, ‘orange’ sounds kind of rude, too. Maybe I have problems with color names from a deep-seeded childhood trauma).

When I think of Easter, admittedly, I think of the candy. And PEEPS. PEEPS are kind of the ambassador of this springy holiday, with their adorably simple faces, their squishy, bright sugar coats and their gooey, chewy bodies. Normally, I’m not a big PEEPS lovah, simply because I don’t like marshmallows on their own (I know, there HAS to be some kind of childhood trauma, right??) but I do LOVE pairing marshmallows with basically everything edible in life. I love the chewy, pillowy texture marshmallows give desserts. It just makes it extra special.

DSC_0578So when Christi from Love From The Oven invited me to this super sweet PEEPS Party, I knew I wanted to participate by jazzing up a basic brownie bar with the fluffy stuff. And thus, these Peeps Candy Bars were born! Not only do the PEEPS provide a beautiful pink color (or whatever color you choose to use!), but they offer that delightfully plush texture on top of these fudgy chocolate bars. Your kids will love them!

DSC_0572Peeps Candy Bars *adapted from my Neapolitan Gooey Bars recipe  

Peeps Candy Bars: Spring Hop Along PEEPS Party!
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Use up leftover PEEPS to make these delightfully plush and super gooey PEEPS Candy Bars.
Ingredients
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • 20-24 PEEPS candy (you could use bunnies or chicks; I used pink chicks)
  • 1 cup speckled Easter M&M's candies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Mist the foil lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs + oil until well blended. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. While the bars bake, roughly chop the PEEPS into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
  3. Quickly spread the chopped PEEPS evenly over the bars. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 5-6 minutes or until the PEEPS are puffy and are juuuust beginning to brown a bit on the tops (you don’t want them to start toasting). Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle both chips and the M&M's evenly on top of the PEEPS.
  4. Allow the bars to cool in the pan completely before cutting into bars. I used a dampened knife to help me cut through the ultra-gooey marshmallow. These bars keep when covered at room temperature, for a couple of days.

 

DSC_0576Even if PEEPS aren’t your favorite, you’ll love these bars. The chocolate, brownie-like base is irresistibly paired with the puffy, slightly toasted PEEPS.. and one of the best parts about these bars is when the sugar on the PEEPS slowly caramelizes and melts, turning into this delicious, crunchy topping between the crevices of the marshmallows.

Be sure to check out my favorite PEEPS also participating in this fun Hop Along Party!!

PEEPS Easter IdeasKaryn from Pint Sized Baker
Katrina from In Katrina’s Kitchen
Christi from Love From The Oven
Jocelyn from BruCrew Life
Sarah from Miss Candiquik
Aimee from Shugary Sweets
Jennifer from Not Your Momma’s Cookie
Dorothy from Crazy For Crust
Sue from Munchkin Munchies
Hani from Haniela’s
Robin from Bird On A Cake
Michelle from Creative Food
Beth from Hungry Happenings
Jill from Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons
Liz from Hoosier Homemade
Michelle from Sugar Swings
Lindsay from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe
Melissa from The Baked Equation
Kathia from Pink Little Cake
Betsy from Java Cupcake
Meaghan from The Decorated Cookie
Southern Institute

Thanks for stopping by!! Have a happy Tuesday!!

xo, Hayley

 

Samoa Magic Bars

samoamagic

So, as you may know, I recently returned to California from my long-weekend trip to NYC.

Needless to say, I’m glad I’m back but I super miss New York. It’s AMAZING there. Truly incredible!

But as I was there (and spending 6 hours of my life staring outside of an airplane window headed home while a large-headed man snored next to me), I got to thinking that New York and California are a looooot different. And in my head, I was hypothesizes all of the complications New York would have for me if I were to move there from spending 22 years in the Golden State.

First of all, I’d have to sell my car which gives me a bittersweet mixture of giddiness (no more car payments!) and fright, because I’d have to rely on public transportation for.. everywhere. In my current town, we don’t even really HAVE a bus-line. And anytime I go into the downtown Sacramento area, the buses freak.me.out. What if I take the wrong line and end up somewhere super sketchy? Or what if I have to pee and the bus doesn’t come in time? Or what if I sit in someone else’s pee on the bus? IT COULD HAPPEN.

Also, I’d have to get an apartment which is pretty impossible since I’d also have to get money in my bank account consistently (and uh, keep it there). This is pretty impossible because A) New York is jam-packed with stores I love, stores I covet, and stores I have no emotional connection to but because they’re in New York I feel obligated to shop there to achieve the “true New Yorker” persona; and B) because I recently discovered Wafels & Dinges on my trip and have not been able to shake the taste of those sweet, crispy, caramelized liege waffles out of my head for a week. It should also be noted I ate four on my trip to NYC. In three days.

And while it isn’t like, a huuuuge deal or anything, I’m pretty sure New York City doesn’t have raccoons. I know what you’re thinking: “who cares if New York has raccoons or not? Who needs raccoons? They’re evil little scavenging devils and they’re so mean and awful!” because you’re an animal racist. But on the off-chance you’re not an animal racist, I’m kind of bummed NYC doesn’t house raccoons because next to dogs, they’re my favorite animal. And if I moved there, it’d defeat my life-long goal of having a pet raccoon named Raphael. And I can’t give up on Raffie that easily, you guys.

So basically I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or between endless waffles or the prospect of one day having my own raccoon as a pet. Life can be so cruel sometimes, don’t you think? UGH.

But I guess no matter where I move to, there will always be access to Samoas, aka one of my fave cookies of all time. Who doesn’t enjoy that crispy, nutty toasted coconut, the smooth, chewy caramel, the soft, milky chocolate and that crunch from the cookie embedded underneath? I know I can’t (and am now wearing the fat pants to prove it).

And I also super love blondies, which I’m convinced are the tastiest dessert in all the land. Don’t believe me? Then slap on the flavors of a Samoa onto a blondie base and challenge me to a dual. Winner gets a swanky NYC pad complete with Raphael (hint: I will win).

DSC_0208

Samoa Magic Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Mortals and immortals alike will not be able to resist the incredible gravitational pull toward these unrelentingly gooey bars.
Ingredients
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 & ½ cups Kraft caramel bits
  • 1 & ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Samoas cookies, roughly chopped (I used Keebler brand)
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, divided
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup caramel sundae sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil and mist the foil lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg + butter until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan. Bake for approx. 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle evenly with ONE (1) cup of the shredded coconut, the caramel bits, semi-sweet chips, and Samoas cookies. Drizzle the top of the bars with the sweetened condensed milk.
  4. Return to the oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes or until center appears set and top is golden. Reduce your oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  5. On a large baking sheet lined with foil, spread the remaining ONE (1) cup of coconut in an even layer. Place in the oven and toast 5 minutes. Stir gently, then bake for another 5 minutes. Stir, then bake for another 5 minutes or until coconut is lightly golden and toasted. Allow both coconut and bars to cool completely.
  6. Drizzle the tops of the bars with the caramel sundae sauce and immediately sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Allow the bars to set at room temperature, about 10-15 mins, before cutting into bars. Store leftovers room temperature in an airtight container, for several days.

 

DSC_0213LOOK AT HOW GOOEY IT IS. I can barely contain myself from licking the freakin’ screen. These are SO unrelentingly chewy, crunchy, gooey and sweet, and you’ll go bananas over the different textures and flavors of this classic cookie-turned-into-a-magic blondie-bar. My favorite is the toasted coconut topping–you MUST toast the coconut for that authentic, nutty flavor. It really elevates these bars from a regular ol’ magic bar into a Samoa magic bar. In short, toasted coconut is pure magic in itself! You’ll super heart these, I promise!!

Have a great weekend!!

xo, Hayley

Eat Me, I’m Irish: A St. Patrick’s Day Roundup!

Can you believe Saint Patrick’s Day is on SUNDAY?!

WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!?!

I haven’t even removed my Christmas playlist off of my iPod yet and now stores are busting out shorts and swimwear and tiki torches and everything I LOATHE about summertime. *waaaaah*

It’s now that I wish leprechauns existed so I could give one some gold and make a wish that summertime would go far, far away and I could live happily in my fuzzy sweaters and chunky boots without a mention of a tankini.

But until my leprechaun shows up, I made up a quick little roundup of all yumminess reminiscent of St. Patty’s Day. Lots of green, rainbows and mint. Hopefully the leprechaun approves!

pattys2

 

Irresistibly minty? Check. I heart these Triple-Threat Grasshopper Thin Mint Brownies!

Lure your little leprechauns with these adorable Leprechaun Hat Cupcakes! They’re simple to make and look super adorbs.

And if you want something refreshingly minty (and sinfully sweet), look no further than my Grasshopper Thin Mint Pie. It’s no-bake!!

pattys1

Fact: Leprechauns love candy. So do humans. So make these easy Pots of Gold.

Bite into the rainbow with these adorable, poppable Rainbow Truffles! They only look hard to make and taste SOOO good.

These Rainbow Mini Cheesecakes know how to please a crowd! Bright, creamy and oh so delicious, kids and adults alike will love them. Plus, they have cookie bottoms. Is it just me, or do you also wish you had a cookie bottom??

Other Fact: Leprechauns like their lucky charms. And so do I! Top some chewy Green Velvet Cookies with the charms and call it a delicious day.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to party my face off with a fat slab of Grasshopper Thin Mint Pie and a huge, frosty glass of beer. Cheers, my little leprechauns!

xo, Hayley

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