Lucky Rainbow Bark

Lucky Rainbow BarkYeah, I am totally guilty of trashing the living daylights outta that white chocolate. Sue me.

As a kid, I had this neighbor – we’ll call her Meow, since I remember her meowing on occasion, and I slept over at her house pretty frequently. She had anything a girl could ask for – her own pony, a really fluffy dog, a HUGE Barbie mansion, and the works. I remember being infinitely jealous of her Barbie collection since I was super obsessed with all things Barbie.

ANYWHO. On one particular evening sleepover, Meow and I were tucked in our sleeping bags and watching cartoons. The show ended and Leprechaun came on. Meow was kinda scared, but I begged her to keep it on since I was a morbid child who was admittedly frightened of this scary movie concept but also could not look away. This is similar to when I was freaking terrified of Forensic Files and would involuntarily shudder every time I heard Peter Thomas begin a sordid tale of murder, yet I would hide in the hallway and watch it without my parents knowing.

So we began watching Leprechaun and it proceeded to give me terrors over miniature mythical men wearing green suits and hiding in a box of Lucky Charms. Thankfully we didn’t regularly buy Lucky Charms and I never had to encounter any frightening creatures.

Fast forward a good fifteen or so years, and I’m now an adult and working a terrible job. I spotted a coworker snacking on Lucky Charms and it instantly made me crave fistfuls of that magical cereal. The next day, I went out and bought a box of it – and it soon became my go-to snack on the job. I never did find any leprechauns, FYI.

DSC_0407AWith St. Patrick’s Day coming up (it’s still awhile away, I know, but I’m a dork and get overly excited about holidays) I was brainstorming fun ideas with Lucky Charms and this bark came to mind. It’s not even a recipe – it’s just kind of a conglomerate of random, rainbow, sprinkly things held together by a huge plane of white chocolate. Yet all of those components create a totally delicious, outrageously SWEET bark that everyone is sure to love.

DSC_0419ANo meowing friends, terrified children, or Forensic Files-watching required.

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Lucky Rainbow Bark
Author: 
Recipe type: Bark, Candy
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Filled with a ton of rainbow, sprinkly goodies, this fun bark is perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any other time you're craving something super sweet and festive.
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg. vanilla CandiQuik, or another white chocolate almond bark
  • 1 pkg Circus Animal Cookies (my favorite!)
  • About 2-3 cups Lucky Charms Cereal (depending on as much as you'd like)
  • About 1 cup M&M's candies
  • Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  2. Melt the vanilla CandiQuik according to package directions or until smooth and melted. Spread the vanilla CandiQuik in an even layer onto the foil. You don't want it to be super thick, but don't make it super thin, either.
  3. Immediately top evenly with broken up Circus cookies, Lucky Charms, M&M's and sprinkles. Likewise, you could add dried fruits, nuts, or other candies if you'd like.
  4. Allow the bark to set up before breaking into pieces.

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DSC_0430AThis bark is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth since it’s packed with the delightful crunch of Circus Animal Cookies, a bite from the chocolate M&M’s, and the melt-in-your-mouth sweetness from the Lucky Charms! Don’t like an ingredient? Feel free to swap out the Circus Animal Cookies for another favorite, or try using Chocolate CandiQuik for a different flavor.

Lucky Rainbow BarkHope you have a sweet weekend!

xo, Hayley

 

Lightened-Up Carrot Cake

24caratI’m an animal-lover.

But after owning rabbits, I can happily say I do not love owning rabbits.

It was a day like any other day.  I was probably being an emotional teenager in my bedroom when my younger brother and sister decided to go to the park with our grandma.  After being gone awhile they came home — but they weren’t alone.

In each of their hands was a black male bunny.  Some freaky old woman at the park was selling these random rabbits for $10 apiece and my grandma had the fantastic idea that they belonged with two immature children in a family that was ill-equipped to be rabbit-owners.  So she bought my brother and sister each a rabbit and literally sent them to our front door with a rabbit in their arms — no cage, no shot records, no hay — just my siblings cradling strange park-pilfered rodents.

So we went out and bought a cage and put our new male rabbits together in the cage.  Time passed and one day we woke up to discover something confusing and horrifying: there was a third rabbit in our cage.

This impostor bunny was much smaller, brown, and looked like it had just been born — which was kinda sorta IMFREAKINGPOSSIBLE since we had TWO MALE RABBITS… right, crazy park-lady?!  So we cradled this newborn rabbit baby that clearly materialized out of thin air and started calling all the news-stations insisting that males can get pregnant.  STOP THE PRESSES, Y’ALL.

[Side note: have you ever had to search a smaller animal for its, er, down-there area?  It’s AWFUL.  Can you imagine something 2876374 times your size rummaging around in your nether-fluff figuring out what gender you are?  TERRIBLE.]

Anywhooooo, since we didn’t really understand what in the fluff was going on, we went about our day.  Hours later upon our return from work and school, we went to check on our new rabbit only to find it… gone.  Like it had never existed.  There has been several times in my life where I’ve stopped what I’m doing and thought, I need to go to the mental hospital and this was one of those times.  How can a mysterious, magical baby rabbit just appear and disappear?  Everyone in my family saw the baby, so we either all drank the punch OR there was something seriously wrong here.

DSC_0038AIt wasn’t long after some research that we found out that male rabbits are basically the spawns of Satan himself and like to engage in cannibalism of their young to establish dominance or something.  AKA, they are frightening beasts and it was theworstthingever to explain where the baby bunny went to younger siblings without mentioning that “the dad rabbit ate the flesh, bones, and guts of the baby bunny while the mother watched.”

So not long after that — minus the fact that (SHOCKER!) my siblings weren’t responsible enough to care for random park-pawned rabbits — we found the rabbits new loving homes with some friends of ours who loved and had PLENTY of experience with cannibalistic rodents.  There’s something for everyone.

Anyway, so while I find bunnies to be adorable, irresistibly fluffy and sweet, I will never, ever own one again.  I love them, but only from afar and when they aren’t sold to us from strange rando grandmas in the park.

Speaking of bunnies, Easter is around the corner!  And you know what bunnies like?  Carrots.  And you know what people like for Easter?  Carrot cake.  But carrot cake is usually loaded with tons of fat and calories and butter (and deliciousness) which makes it a serious indulgence… something not a lot of people want to partake in since they’re trying to get their bikini bodies in check *coughMEcough*

So I made this carrot cake lighter with some simple swaps.  You won’t BELIEVE how moist, fluffy and SCRUMPTIOUS this spicy, sweet cake tastes!  It hardly tastes low-calorie and will definitely impress your guests with its bright, springy flavor.

Make it now or the bunnies will eat you.

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4.8 from 4 reviews
Lightened-Up Carrot Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This scrumptious cake has all the classic flavors of carrot cake without all the guilt! You won't even realize this decadent dessert has been lightened-up!
Ingredients
  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • ½ cup raisins (if you'd like -- I did not use them)
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg fat free or reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup Truvia/Stevia (you can also use regular white sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (8 oz) tubs Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • ¼ cup sugar-free/fat-free caramel sauce
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease two 9" cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce, water, pineapple juice, crushed pineapple and spices together with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and incorporated. Evenly distribute the batter among the two pans and bake for approx. 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, Stevia and vanilla until blended. Gently fold in both tubs of the Cool Whip to incorporate.
  4. Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand and frost with HALF of the Cool Whip mixture, spreading it around evenly to the edges of the cake. Drizzle with about HALF of the caramel sauce.
  5. Top with the remaining cake layer. Top with the remaining Cool Whip mixture. Lastly, drizzle on the remaining caramel and sprinkle on the pecans. Allow the cake to set for about 10 minutes before cutting. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered in an airtight container.

DSC_0046AFor not being much a fan of carrot cake, I really enjoyed this cake!  It was SO light and refreshing — it doesn’t feel heavy like normal layer cakes do.  The actual cake itself has a light & tender crumb, thanks in part to the use of egg whites and unsweetened applesauce.  If you’ve never baked cakes with applesauce, you MUST!  While it does not give your cakes an apple-y flavor, it does give your cakes added moisture as well as slashes the fat and calorie content by  a lot.  You’re easily saving hundreds of calories by using egg whites and unsweetened applesauce rather than regular eggs and oil or butter… but you aren’t sacrificing any of that flavor — this is because of the punch of cinnamon & nutmeg and the sweetness & great texture from the pineapple.  It’s basically one of the dreamiest cakes you’ll eat!

Have a fantastical day, my little bunnies!

xo, Hayley

Copycat Double Chocolate Cadbury Eggs {Bonus: They’re Gluten-Free!}

cadburyeggssCadbury eggs are a love-it-or-hate-it kinda food.  I get it.

Kinda in the same camp as kale, quinoa, soy milk and the McRib.

(Naturally, all of the above go in my ‘no thank you’ category).

However, I am the weirdo proving that Cadbury eggs can be a gray-area food.  While I like them enough, I am not a milk chocolate fan (I’m defective, I know) so they aren’t a candy I’d regularly stuff my face with or bake with.

But I decided enough is enough and know I hafta please the masses here.  So I decided to make y’all your regular Cadbury eggs but instead of leaving them as is and continuing on with my life, I figured it wouldn’t hurt anyone to dip them in another coating of chocolate — this time being white chocolate.  And of course, sprinkles are a mandatory addition.  Obviously.

DSC_1071aThe result is a double-dipped, double chocolate Cadbury egg that is kinda sorta PHENFREAKINGNOMINAL.  But don’t take my word for it — try it yourself and see what heaven tastes like [hint: it doesn’t taste like kale].

DSC_1066A*Cadbury egg recipe from Instructables — site has photo tutorials if you’re interested

5.0 from 1 reviews
Copycat Double Chocolate Cadbury Eggs
Author: 
Recipe type: Candy
 
Love the taste of seasonal Cadbury eggs but wish they were more chocolate-y? You're not alone. These Double Chocolate Cadbury Eggs will solve that problem!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Yellow liquid food coloring
  • 1 pkg chocolate Candiquik
  • 1 pkg vanilla Candiquik
  • Assorted sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Cream together the corn syrup, butter and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, and the pinch of salt. until incorporated. The mixture will be REALLY sticky!
  2. Remove about ⅓ of the filling into a separate bowl and stir in the yellow food coloring to make your "yolks." I accidentally added a little more so my yolks are darker, almost orange, but that's okay.
  3. Prepare the chocolate Candiquik according to package directions. Spoon a Tablespoonful or so of the chocolate into an egg-mold, and roll the chocolate around so it coats within the egg cavity. Allow the chocolate egg shells to harden completely.
  4. Take a large disposable pastry piping bag and fill it mostly full with the white filling mixture. You could also use a zip-top bag, seal out the air, and snip off a corner. You do NOT need a tip for this. Repeat with the yolks in another piping or zip-top bag and snip off the end.
  5. Pipe the whites evenly into the open chocolate egg, about ½ way full. Pipe a yolk into the middle. Repeat with remaining chocolate egg shells, but make sure to leave HALF of the egg shells empty as these will come together with the filled ones to create the egg.
  6. Pop the unfilled chocolate egg shells out of the mold very gently. Dip the edges in remaining melted chocolate, then press the egg shell to the filled one to seal them together. Pop them in the freezer to speed up the process.
  7. Once frozen as eggs, gently remove them from the mold. Melt the vanilla Candiquik according to package directions; dip each egg into the vanilla Candiquik, allowing excess to drip off. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and immediately sprinkle with assorted springtime/Easter sprinkles or miniature candies. Allow the white chocolate to set before serving.
  8. **ALTERNATIVE METHODS**
  9. Don't have egg molds? No sweat. Instead of using piping bags, briefly refrigerate the yolks and whites to help firm up. Then, with wet fingers (use water), take a pinch of whites and roll them into a flattened ball in your hand. Take a pinch of yolks, roll into a small ball, and place it inside of the flattened white ball. Roll to enclose the yolks and try to form an egg shape and freeze. Once frozen, dip in chocolate and continue.
  10. Or, use store-bought Cadbury eggs and dip in white chocolate!

DSC_0006AI used THIS egg mold to make mine, but if you notice within the recipe I have also included two ALTERNATE methods in case you don’t have or can’t find an egg mold.  Either way you choose to make them, they’re going to be outstanding and SO delicious — they taste almost identical to the real thing!  Intoxicatingly sweet, sticky, gooey and oh-so delicious.  Plus, the second coat of smooth, sweet white chocolate tastes SO awesome against the rich milk chocolate.  And the sprinkles make them adorable and fun!

*Also, to ensure they’re gluten-free, always check your ingredients!  The products I used were all checked to ensure they were gluten-free but some products you use may not be.

Hope you enjoyed!  Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

Donut Bird Nests

donutbirdsI have been SO ANXIOUS to share this adorable idea with you guys and today is the day!

If you’re a blogger (or an avid reader of blogs) you know that bloggers usually bake holiday treats a good month to a month in a half prior to the holiday actually happening.  That means Christmas cookies are baked on Halloween, Easter is basically done before St. Patrick’s Day (which is usually done the second Valentine’s Day candy actually comes out) and so on.  We’re like a magazine — we gotta be ahead of the times, people.  No one actually bakes Christmas cookies on Christmas anymore, do they?  {Or am I just depriving my family of their holidays?  Don’t answer that}.

Thankfully, my family is used to eating Halloween candy before October 31st even appears in the same calender month and thankfully they have no objections (and if they did, I would probably question my actual genetic relation to them because who complains about candy?)

HOOOOWEVER, whenever a new holiday rears its ugly head I get really super duper anxious.  So anxious that my mind completely blanks on things to bake.  I feel like everyone and their crafty mother has some genius way of using the newest flavor of what-have-you candy or has crafted the most gorgeous something for whatever-holiday before I can even COMPREHEND which holiday I should be baking for.

This usually means I stand in the candy/seasonal aisle of Target for a good HOUR just STARING at the candy like some lunatic, waiting for the sugar gods to send me some philosophical message of truth so I can get my life back on track and start baking Easter eggs or whatever.  Plus, I feel like I’ve baked enough crazy junk on this blog to know that I can’t skirt by with some chocolate chip cookie with springtime chocolate chips in it and have it pass as genius.  I set the bar high and I know you guys expect more from me which motivates me to be a better blogger and baker, but also motivates me to drink excessive amounts of alcohol and take Xanax (I still love you).

So on one of my lunatic shopping sprees and after having spent a good hour staring at pastel bags of egg-shaped candy, I was about ready to open up a bottle of vodka in the middle of the store when I happened to pass the donuts in the bakery.  You know the prepackaged coconut crunch donuts they have in those tubular packages?  Yep, those donuts.  And as I slowed my cart to a stop, a lightbulb sparked a little.  Coconut crunch donuts kinda look a lot like nests, don’t they?  Disheveled random smatterings of toasty coconut attached to an adorably petite, round cake.  Not that actual nests look like cake or I would probably be arrested for mass bird-nest defacing BUT you understand what I mean.  So I tossed them in my cart along with some Cadbury Mini Eggs, Reese’s Mini Eggs and Mini Whopper Eggs and with a little white chocolate glue, crafted me some edible Donut Bird Nests.

DSC_1054AAND OH MY GOD AREN’T THEY CUTE?!  I promise making and eating copious amounts of these will not result in your bird-nest defacement arrest.  Pinky swear.

SO GET TO BAKING.  Er, making (since this really only requires having a pulse to make).

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Donut Bird Nests
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats, Donuts
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20-24
 
These adorable donuts look exactly like birds nests and are fun, EASY Easter treats to make with kids! Use your favorite candy to jazz things up.
Ingredients
  • Coconut crunch mini donuts (or any crumb coated donut hole/miniature donut)
  • 1-2 squares White Chocolate Candiquik
  • Cadbury Mini Eggs, Reese's Mini Eggs, Mini Whopper Eggs, or any other egg-shaped candy of your choosing
Instructions
  1. Melt the Candiquik according to package directions. If you're making around 24 miniature donut nests, I would only melt about 1-2 squares of the Candiquik -- just break it off and save the rest later. You can also melt the entire package, allow it to harden and reuse it later -- whichever is easiest for you.
  2. Using your thumb, make a small well/indentation in the center of the miniature donut, like where the hole is. This just helps the egg candies stick better.
  3. Dip the bottom of an egg candy into the white chocolate and gently press it into the indentation in the donut. Repeat with remaining candies and donuts. I used three eggs per donut, but do what you like best. Allow the donuts to sit for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the chocolate to harden, before consuming.

DSC_1061AThese are SOMUCHEASIER than making those traditional chow mein noodle cookies which I find to be way too sticky and hard to shape (while some argue they technically have no shape, they DO have a shape and that non-shape shape is VERY hard to form!!  Or maybe I’m incompetent).  Feel free to use your imagination and let the candy in the seasonal aisle guide you as to how you want your nests to look.  There’s really no ‘wrong’ way — any way will lead you to deliciousness and ADORABLE and EASY Easter treats!

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

 

Vanilla Bean Cadbury Creme Cupcakes

cadburycupcakesGrowing up, my diet consisted of Happy Meals, Nutty Bars and Circus Animal Cookies.  Throw in the occasional slice (yes, slice) of orange & vanilla checkered ice cream (courtesy of my grandpa and grandma who loved buying the ice cream in a box) aaaand the nutrition of fruit cocktail and you have yourself my childhood food pyramid.

So with that in mind, it was no surprise that we ate a ton of candy growing up, especially during the holidays.

My grandma (not the boxed ice cream one) was notorious for supplying us with said candy.  And while we would occasionally get name-brand stuff (like the Mother’s Animal Cookies), most of the time we were subjected to the off-brand stuff no one knew about. Kinda like the off-brand scary German version of Frosty the Snowman that she made us watch.  I’m not quite sure where or when she purchased the candy from, but as a kid you certainly don’t question the expiration date or the scary black market from which they originated.

DSC_1044ASo usually during Easter and our annual Easter Egg Hunt, we would find typical grandma-y candy like really sticky butterscotch discs and Starlight Mints that had seen better, brighter days than from the bottom of a purse, along with typical trinkets like quarters or jelly beans that all had the same flavor: no flavor.  We certainly didn’t have Cadbury Creme Eggs, so I didn’t actually try them until I was an adult because I didn’t know such a confection existed.

DSC_1042AUpon trying that sweet, gooey soft fondant filling I knew I wanted to make something with it.  It has the perfect sticky base to be whipped mercilessly into a frosting so the idea of a Vanilla Bean Cadbury Creme Frosting came about.  I generously piped it onto cooled chocolate cupcakes and garnished them with a hollowed-out Cadbury egg half.

The result?  The cutest Easter cupcakes EVER — and a dream come true for your Cadbury Creme lovers!!  This ain’t yo grandma’s butterscotch disc.  Come and get ‘em!!

DSC_1039A*inspired by Erica’s recipe

4.8 from 4 reviews
Vanilla Bean Cadbury Creme Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18
 
Savor that amazingly sticky & sweet fondant inside of Cadbury Creme Eggs by whipping it into this soft and fluffy vanilla bean buttercream. The perfect topping for a cupcake!
Ingredients
  • 18 chocolate cupcakes, baked and cooled (use a box mix or your favorite homemade recipe)
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract if you'd like)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 9 Cadbury Creme Eggs, unwrapped
  • Pastel nonpareils, if desired
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and vanilla bean paste until creamy and combined. (You can find vanilla bean paste at many grocery stores or local markets, but I like finding it at places like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods for significantly cheaper. If you cannot find vanilla bean paste, you may substitute vanilla extract -- just increase the amount by a teaspoon or so, imparting a stronger vanilla flavor).
  2. Beat in the heavy cream or milk until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until frosting is light and fluffy.
  3. Meanwhile, gently cut each Cadbury in half lengthwise. Scoop the fondant out from each egg half and spoon the fondant into the stand mixer bowl. Repeat with remaining 8 eggs. Do not discard emptied egg shells.
  4. Beat the fondant mixture into the frosting until fully incorporated. Once combined, spoon the frosting into a piping bag attached with a large open tip (I like Atecco 801, but any large tip will do) and pipe generously onto each cupcake. Sprinkle the cupcakes with the nonpareils if you'd like, and garnish the top with a Cadbury Creme Egg half.
  5. Store frosted cupcakes airtight in the fridge up to 5 days.

DSC_1047AThis sweet, smooth frosting is one of my favorite frosting recipes to date!  I love the combination of that rich, warm vanilla flavor and the specks of the fresh vanilla beans that imparts such a wonderful flavor to this frosting — it totally takes that flavor profile up a couple notches.  And the fondant whipped inside is a nice touch of sweetness, bringing this ordinary frosting to life with some added stickiness and softness.  If you’re a Cadbury Creme Egg fan, you’ll love these irresistible cupcakes!  Bonus: consider using the Cadbury Creme Caramel Eggs or Chocolate Eggs for a fun spin on this frosting!

Have a fantastical weekend!

xo, Hayley

 

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Brownie Bombs

carrotcakebombSome of you may know, but I recently got a new “grown-up” job.  It’s the most adult-y job I’ve had in ever.  I’m getting my own cubicle.  And phone line (!!!) and business email.  And OMG, it’s the kinda job that asks you to wear “business casual.”  In other words, I have made it to the adult world, people.*
*not really

And while I really enjoy the job so far, I feel like a complete fish who’s out of water, on Mars and wearing a Richard Simmons face mask, like WHUTTTT THE HELLLL IS GOING ONNNN.  Tooooootally out of my element, y’all.

First of all, it’s set in an office building where there is no music playing, no sounds being made except for the low hum of a printer in the distance which basically goes against my religion.  No music?  No sounds?  I mean, people literally type so softly that the sound is undetectable by the human ear.  And seriously, you can’t even hear anyone breathe.

So you can imagine my general embarrassment when I walk down the hallways wearing clinking jewelry, combat boots thumping, swishy skirt swishing, and my typical-human breathing patterns clambering along like a bull in a china shop.  Or in the Matrix.  Whatever’s quieter.

And I get all these stares from the workers like WHY IS SHE BREATHING IN MY SPACE? and I look at them all self-conscious like, I’m sorry I’m breathing, y’all!  I’ll try to keep my lungs silent as to not disrupt your delicate workflow! 

So basically I’ve become REALLY good at holding my breath.

And second of all, I have been taking the business casual thing as “wear what I usually do except with slightly less sparkle.”  That still hasn’t stopped me from wearing a tutu and combat boots, or from dressing up as a cowgirl one day.  Oh yes I did.  And I’m kinda getting the impression they’re not taking the girl wearing costumes seriously.  But honestly, just because I’m working in an office doesn’t mean I need to dress so drab.  Plus, slacks and loafers are against my moral codes.  Do I look like I own a pair of khakis?  No.  So let me wear my damn peplums and sky-high booties in peace!!

It’s taking me quite some time to adjust to holding my breath and reign in my craziness.  I just can’t wait until cubicle day so I can string up some Christmas lights, hang a beaded curtain as my door, and maybe install a stationary bike in the corner by my bonzai garden.

Until then, I’m trying to win over these folks with my craziness, and a good way to do that is with food.  Crazy good food that will make you scream and dance and dress up like a cowgirl to work on Thursdays.  Just do it, people.

DSC_2142A

Awhile ago, a sweetie pie friend of The Domestic Rebel suggested through Facebook that I make a brownie bomb featuring carrot cake.  I experimented a little with my Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie Bombs, and finally found a recipe for the carrot cake version that’s sweet, spicy, tangy, and totally explosively awesome.

But mainly I just want you to make it so you’ll dress up like a cowgirl, too.  Yeehaw!!

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5.0 from 4 reviews
Carrot Cake Cheesecake Brownie Bombs
Author: 
Recipe type: Brownie Bombs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15-18
 
If you love moist, spicy carrot cake with tangy cream cheese frosting, then you'll LOVE these Carrot Cake Cheesecake Brownie Bombs! All your favorite flavors of carrot cake in a bite-sized signature bomb.
Ingredients
  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup oil
  • 1 small cheesecake, baked and cooled (about 6" in size)*
  • 1 pkg vanilla Candiquik
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Carrot Cake M&M's** (or any other flavor M&M's)
  • *For this recipe, I used cheesecake bites I picked up from my local yogurt shop. Most yogurt shops have them in the cold part of their toppings, so pick some up to use if you can't find a prebaked cheesecake in the store!
  • **The carrot cake M&M's were a seasonal item this past spring, so if you have some on hand still, use them! If not, these would taste awesome with almond M&M's, pretzel M&M's, white chocolate, or even regular!
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 13x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs and oil with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for approx. 12-14 minutes or until it just barely looks set and is barely golden. Cool completely.
  3. IF USING ROUND CHEESECAKE, scoop rounded Tablespoons of the cheesecake out with a cookie dough scoop and place them on a foil-rimmed baking sheet. IF USING CHEESECAKE BITES, scoop the bites out of the container and gently compress in the cookie dough scoop; drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto the foil-rimmed baking sheet. Freeze the cheesecake balls for about 2 hours or until firm.
  4. Once the bars have cooled, cut them into about 1" sized squares. Take a square in your hand and gently press it with the heel of your hand to flatten it slightly. Wrap the carrot cake brownie around the cheesecake ball, enclosing the cheesecake ball inside. If it doesn't completely cover the cheesecake, that's okay; just cover as much as you can. Return the coated cheesecake bombs to the sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes to set.
  5. Prepare the Candiquik according to package directions. Stir in the cinnamon. Dip each bomb into the chocolate, coating completely and allowing excess to drip off. Top with a carrot cake M&M, or regular-flavored M&M. Serve immediately, or store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
  6. **I noticed that the carrot cake brownie was not as fudgy as an actual brownie (naturally). If your carrot cake brownies are not as moist as they should be, consider crumbling them slightly into a large bowl and adding a Tablespoon or two of canned frosting or softened cream cheese, then combine the two like you would a cake pop. The frosting will add some added moisture and tackiness to the brownie so it will better adhere.**

DSC_2146AMy coworkers FLIPPED for these fantastic carrot cake bombs!  The creamy cheesecake filling, the spicy carrot cake blanket around it, and the smooth and warm cinnamon white chocolate all made for a delectable little bite of delicious carrot cake.  As I mentioned in the recipe notes, I used the cheesecake bites most commonly found at frozen yogurt shops and they worked out great (and were a little cheaper than buying a whole premade cheesecake!)  Either way you bite it, anything stuffed with cheesecake, smothered in brownie and coated in chocolate is going to be awesome!!

Have a delicious day!!

xo, Hayley

 

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

 

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

 

Lemon-Strawberry Petit Fours

I live in the “new” part of my town.

I doubt any building in this area is over fifteen years old, homes included, and that’s fine by me. I like newer communities, personally.

When we lived in our old house, it was just that–an old house, dating the early 50’s. When new homes popped up nearby, I was SOOO jealous of the obviously rich people living in the big, new looking homes.

Of course, I also assumed everyone who lived in one was rich but now know that’s not the case, but whatev. If you could afford a home with two bathrooms, you were rich in my book!

Now, to get to the “older” area of town (where my college is and nearby where Jessie lives) I have to go through residential neighborhoods on particularly long stretch of roads Jessie and I call “Death Valley” because it’s annoying and 25mph the whole way and feels like it takes FOREVER to get to the main road.

But one day, I found a shortcut street that no one drives down which means it doesn’t exist on the space/time continuum, obviously, and which means yours truly usually bends the speed limits a little and goes a couple notches above 25 (and by a couple, I mean in the 15-25 above that range).

I know it’s bad and against the law but I’m always looking out for kids and pedestrians and cops, of course. But it SO beats driving behind gramps or some goody two shoes who can’t bear to push the pedal beyond 23.

But lately, someone must have mentioned something to their fellow neighbors, friends, family, baristas, hairstylists, and everyone else in their address book, because now this street is ridiculously populated with cars ALL THE TIME. It’s like Death Valley, but worse, because this was like, my personal Nascar track and now it’s a slow-moving parade of cars.

So lame!!

So lately, I’ve been actually driving the speed limit (sorry, Mom!) and it’s kind of funny. In fact, yesterday, I turned down the street behind someone adamant about going below 25 and I nearly lost it until I realized, this is the actual speed limit. People are actually supposed to drive this fast.

It makes me wonder how they determine the speed limits, because in some regions of our town on residential streets, the speed limit is 35, or 40-45, even. How come some streets are 25 while others are 40? Are the people living on a 40 speed limit street like, more badass and mentally equipped to deal with people speeding down their street day and night? Are the 25’s only old people, kids and weirdos who do things by the book only??

Why can’t we just have hovercrafts already so I can just speed in the streets while everyone else flies in sky traffic?! It’s 2012. We are supposed to have Rosie-like maid robots like in The Jetsons and as far as I’m concerned, my brother is not named Rosie, nor a robot, nor vacuums so I’m kind of upset about this.

Anyway, my normal 15-minute commute was extended by a good 10 minutes because I drove the speed limit and the moral of the story is,  my annoyance and dislike for the speed limit is no excuse for speeding, BUT it does get me home quicker so I can make yummy treats like these super easy Lemon-Strawberry Petit Fours.

Do you know what petit fours are? Me either, except that they’re little stacked cakes, usually with a fruit jam or curd filling, and coated in candy coating or chocolate. They’re adorable, two-bite treats that remind me of miniature tea parties or something and only look super fancy. Sheesh, I used a prepackaged pound cake for crying out loud–this ain’t no black-tie affair, but it is a black-tie dessert made simple.

Plus, the cake-jam-coating mixture is totally versatile, so mix things up based on your taste preferences or what you have on hand.

Lemon-Strawberry Petit Fours

1 store-bought pound cake (can substitute your own recipe, if desired), cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick and crusts cut off
About 1/4 cup lemon curd
1/2 pkg white candy coating or almond bark
1 pkt Strawberry Shortcake Duncan Hines Flavor Creations Frosting Mix
Assorted sprinkles

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
2. Cut each crustless pound cake slice in half, then in half again (making four square slices). Repeat process with remaining pound cake slices–just don’t use the end pieces. How many slices/pieces depends on the size of your pound cake, how thick your slices and how many you’ll get. Just know that three slices goes into one petit four.
3. Spread a small smidgen of lemon curd onto two squares and stack them. Stack an unfrosted square on top. You should have three stacked squares, two of which have curd. The top square should be dry. Repeat until all cakes are frosted and stacked. You may have squares leftover; eat those or save for another use.
4. Freeze the petit fours for approx. 1 hour until chilled and solid. In a large bowl, prepare the candy melts according to package directions until smooth and melted. Stir in the strawberry shortcake mix until combined.
5. Dip the frozen petit fours into the chocolate mix, coating thoroughly. Remove with a fork and allow excess to drip off before placing onto the foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with assorted sprinkles, pearls or jimmies. Repeat until all have been dipped and sprinkled. Allow the candy coating to harden before eating. Store leftovers airtight for about 2 days.

These make excellent little treats for coworkers, teachers, neighbors or friends–and like I said, the flavors are totally versatile. I love lemon & strawberry together since they’re so reminiscent of spring and are so fresh, but feel free to try chocolate and almond, key lime and lemon, raspberry and lemon, raspberry and white chocolate, strawberry and chocolate–whatever you like!

Have a wonderful day, my petite pals!

xo, Hayley

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