Archives for December 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Cookie Dough Frosting: A Redo, pt 2!

cookiebar2Sometimes I make mistakes.

Mistakes liiiiike dyeing my gorgeous, perfectly golden blonde hair to theeeee most atrocious shade of purple imaginable and thus having to spend MONTHS to get it back to that luxurious shade of blonde.

Mistakes like eating half of a whole pie a couple nights ago because it was the day after Christmas and therefore, calories were nonexistent from the day-after-a-holiday-calorie-rule. #nottrue

Mistakes like accidentally over-drafting my bank account because I was too lazy to check but too eager to buy a new stack of books.

Mistakes like creating a very popular recipe on the interwebs for looking great but coming together.. not so great.

Ever since I posted my Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Cookie Dough Frosting, it’s been one of my top recipes on the blog. However, it’s also been the one most people complain about having problems with — and that ain’t cool, bro.

While I strive to make sure every recipe of mine is perfect before it goes to publish, sometimes I make stupid human mistakes and mess a thing or two up and don’t realize it until later (or at all, like in this case).

DSC_0046As I sat, oblivious to the problems people were having with this recipe, I kept getting comment after comment, email after email about readers having issues. In turn, I kind of felt like a bad friend–giving you a recipe that looks SO promising but is really crappy (like a cute handbag whose straps break in a week–lame and heartbreaking, man).

Soooo I tweaked this recipe so we could be friends again. And so we could all enjoy delicious cookie bars with cookie dough frosting like we are perfect people who never make mistakes and then have to correct them on the internet. Or whatever.

DSC_0042Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Cookie Dough Frosting *cookie bars adapted from THIS recipe; inspired by THESE bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Cookie Dough Frosting: A Redo, pt 2!
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
All your favorite flavors of freshly baked cookies in an easy bar with a scrumptious frosting!
  • For Cookie Bars:
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup mini milk chocolate chips
  • For Cookie Dough Frosting:
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • About 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk (as needed)
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8" pan with foil, extending the sides over the edges of the pan. Mist lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cornstarch and salt, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy, about a minute. Beat in the egg and vanilla to combine.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Once dough has come together, stir the mini chocolate chips in by hand with a wooden spoon.
  4. Press the cookie dough into the prepared dish in an even layer. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until golden brown, center is set, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely.
  5. To prepare the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, vanilla and brown sugar until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until frosting is light and fluffy. You kind of want it on the softer side (think cookie dough!) rather than stiff icing, so if you need to add milk, do so now, about a Tablespoon at a time. Stir in the miniature chocolate chips.
  6. Spread the frosting evenly on top of the cooled cookie bars. Pop the bars in the fridge for about 10 minutes or so to set the frosting.
  7. Cut into squares and serve! This recipe makes about 9 bars if you cut them larger, or about 12 on the smaller side (like what I did here). You can keep them fresh in the fridge for a couple days when covered.


DSC_0041First of all, I love this basic cookie dough recipe. It has yet to fail on me and is SO delicious and completely goofproof. The cornstarch adds height to the bars, making them tall and puffy rather than short and squat like my last batch. According to readers, the last recipe produced a crumbly, dry dough — this dough is very wet and sticky but produces a moist, fluffy bar. I’m sure if you give this another try (or a first try!) you’ll be impressed by the difference.. I am! A second time is definitely a charm 🙂

Have a wonderful New Year’s Day!

xo, Hayley

Twinkie Truffles

twinkietruffleLast time I made Twinkies, we went over the Walking Dead and all that stuff about post-apocalyptic food… like Twinkies themselves.

I mean, they’re pretty much a super food with their long shelf-life powers and magical qualities.

Okay, so technically they *supposedly* don’t live too long. Or so they want you to think. I’m sure Twinkies will outlive us all. Thankfully with the whole world-ending/not-actually–ending mishap, we didn’t need to find out if a snack cake could withstand the pressures of the world collapsing onto itself or whatever those pesky Mayans/Doomsday Preppers believed.

So in celebration of the world not ending but Twinkies’ world ending (RIP Hostess), I decided to revive my fave golden snack cake into an adorable truffle for the new age, er, year.

DSC_0057You may be thinking, “but if Hostess is out of business, how do you suppose I make truffles out of Twinkies?” and you’d be right, my smart-brained friend. However, there are several other brands around that carry identical snack-cakes and they’re pretty easy to find, so just head to your nearest Target or Walmart, find your knock-off snack-cakes, and proceed to spend an outrageous amount of money on other things like cool socks, new books, photo props and that sweater on clearance that you decided is kinda cute after all, in a it’s-only-7-dollars-kinda way.

You ready to rock and roll Twinkie-Truffle style?


Twinkie Truffles
Recipe type: Truffles
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
If you love Twinkies, you'll LOVE these Twinkie Truffles! Tasty morsels of moist snack cakes coated in a creamy white chocolate.
  • 1 box Twinkies (about 10 snack cakes)
  • 1 pkg white Candiquik or almond bark
  • Yellow food coloring
  1. First, line a cookie sheet with foil and set aside. Unwrap all of the Twinkies and place them in a large bowl. Using clean hands, begin crumbling/smashing the Twinkies into a fine crumb--the mixture will be moist and will come together in a ball. Incorporate any loose crumbs if needed.
  2. Using a cookie dough scoop, roll the truffles into Tablespoon-sized balls. Place on the cookie sheet and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, melt ¾ of the package of white chocolate bark until smooth. Stir in a drop of yellow food coloring and stir until the chocolate is pale yellow.
  4. Drop the truffles into the melted chocolate and coat completely; remove gently with a fork and return to the cookie sheet. Repeat until all truffles have been dipped. Once the yellow layer has set, microwave the remaining white chocolate until smooth and drizzle it evenly over the truffles. Let the drizzle set before serving.
  5. These truffles last about a week and can be stored in the fridge, freezer or room temperature when sealed airtight. Makes about 16 truffles.


DSC_0055Normally, I’m not a huge fan of cake pops .. the cake-baking and crumbling, the mushy, frosting-covered hands, and the inevitable misshapen balls of cake dough–no bueno. However, these Twinkie Truffles are such a cinch to make. You’re TWO ingredients and very little prep time (about 30 minutes!) to eating heavenly bites of golden cake covered in smooth white chocolate, reminiscent of America’s favorite snack cake. Since the Twinkies are prefilled with that fluffy, marshmallow filling, it acts as the “frosting” and binding for these truffles, keeping them compact and moist. You can still taste the sweet hint of the filling swirled throughout the golden, vanilla cake truffle. They’re awesome!

Happy New Year’s Eve! Have a fun and safe holiday, and see ya in 2013!

xo, Hayley




Hayley Favorites: 2012

I’m baaaaaaaack.

And um, the new year starts on Tuesday. What. Gives, people? Wasn’t my birthday like, a month ago? And now it’s less than a month away? Duuuuude.

Yesterday I talked about some Domestic Rebel Reader Favorites from this fabulous year of two-thousand-and-twelve, and today, I’m going to reveal some of my personal favorites from this year!

I have to say–this year I definitely upped my game. I was all hell-bent on stuffing treats into other treats and doing the most outrageous desserts my little head could conjure up. But within that caloric, sugar-filled insanity came some AWESOME recipes–ones I’m SO glad I made up, and ones I sincerely hope you guys like just as much as I do. So, here are my Hayley-approved favorites 🙂


Bubblegum Ice Cream: anyone who knows me knows I am OB.SESS.ED. with bubblegum-flavored anything. This ice cream is less than 3 ingredients and tastes AMAZEBALLS.
Pecan Snowballs: one of my favorite holiday cookies for good reason: these tender cookies of sweet, pecan goodness are just perfection any time of year. 
Triple Coconut Cupcakes: some of THE best cupcakes I’ve ever made or had–no joke. Moist, sweet and the frosting itself is to.die.for. Even if you aren’t a huge coconut fan, you won’t be able to pass these rich cupcakes up. 
Donut Hole Blondies: blondies combining one of my favorite foods ever? Sign me up. 


Monster Cookie Cupsnow, confession time: I’m not typically a huge peanut butter fan. But these sweet and salty deep-dish style cookie cups were too irresistible and are only three simple ingredients!
Peppermint Seven-Layer Bars: the ultimate vessel for a peppermint-lover like myself–a chewy bar topped with seven layers of minty goodness.
Churro Bugle Mix: sweet, spicy, and insanely addictive, this mix comes together in minutes but will disappear just as quickly. You’ve been warned.
Deep Dish Biscoff Peanut Butter Chip Cookies: a mouthful, yes, but a tasty one. This combines the sweet, spicy flavor of Biscoff with the salty bite of the peanut butter chips. Perfection. 

It was SO hard to come up with favorites this year! I hate to sound like an arrogant little butthead, but I really outdid myself 🙂 what are some things you’d like me to make in the new year?! Of course, I’m not going to kiss my crazy recipes goodbye, but I’d also like to focus more on some basic, stick-to-your-ribs, classic-style desserts. If there’s anything you’d like me to make, leave me a comment telling me so!

Have a great weekend!

xo, Hayley

Reader Favorites: 2012

Hi everyone!!

I hope you had a fantastical Christmas holiday/vacation! My family continued our long-standing tradition of waking up at the insane hours of the morning, this year being 2:30 am to open presents. We were finished at approximately 3:07am and promptly went back to bed. And I totally made out like a bandit this year in gifts, so I’m pretty stoked. The end.

Since the year is now coming to a close and I’m officially turning 22 in less than one month (OMG) I decided it’d be a good idea to do a Reader’s Favorite Roundup of all your favorite treats from 2012! This year, my blog kinda sorta exploded on the interwebs and I was surprised at some of your favorites–but then again, you guys do have good taste 😉


Caramel Apple Breadthis recipe is SO easy to make and tastes insanely delicious. Perfect for New Year’s Day breakfast!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake: one of the most popular recipes on my blog for a reason–it’s sinfully delicious, ultra decadent, and something you MUST make.
Chocolate Peanut Butter 7-Layer Bars: my first (and definitely not last) attempt at seven-layer [magic] bars. These will satisfy ANY chocolate peanut butter craving!
Twinkie Cupcakes: we may have had to say goodbye to Hostess this year, but you don’t need to part with those beloved Twinkies! These cupcakes are a cinch to make. 


Circus Animal Cookie Trufflesone of my best ideas, if I do say so myself! Take the classically fun cookie and turn them into adorable truffles… brilliant.
Cotton Candy Bars: outrageously sweet and super fun to make & eat, these bars are one of a kind.
Snickers Brownie Bites: love Snickers and brownies and wish they’d have a baby? Wish no more. Instead, get baking–these pups taste identical to the candy bar with a chewy texture.
No-Bake Nutter Butter Butterfinger Bars: 1) no-bake, 2) overly peanut buttery, 3) super delish. And take under 30 minutes to make!

Thank you to EVERYONE who has helped The Domestic Rebel become such an amazing success this year. 2012 was definitely the ultimate year for my blog: I’ve met so many new friends, had opportunities to work with some of my favorite brands and companies, and watched my little cupcakes and brownie bites turn into Pinterest sensations. I’m beyond thrilled and humbled and appreciate all of your love, support and sweet teeth! <3

What were some of YOUR favorite recipes from The Domestic Rebel this year?    You’ll get to see my favorite recipes this year tomorrow! (And yes, it was HELLA hard to narrow it down to 8 thankyouverymuch).

xo, Hayley

Merry Christmas.

hayley and santa


Merry Christmas, friends!

At the present moment, I’m most likely drinking spiked hot cocoa (it’s a holiday, yo), snuggled up in the chunkiest sweater I could find, and spending time with my awesome family. And honestly, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Christmas is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. There’s just some intangible, feel-good spirit that seems to envelope me whenever late November hits and I know the season is upon us. The classic Christmas songs–though somewhat dorky–are some of my favorite music EVER, and I love that I can sing them non-stop throughout December unlike when I’m punished for singing ‘Jingle Bells’ in June. The store windows, evoking beautiful, magical treasures envied by all. The baking–need I say more? The traditions, despite being somewhat insane (waking up at 2am much??) are something I look forward to each year. And yes, I do enjoy Christmas shopping, too. There’s something about seeing the joy on my mom’s face when I splurge and get her something really special, or when I got exactly what Jessie wanted but didn’t expect to receive. It’s a fuzzy feeling I just love!

815This holiday should be no different than holidays in the past, but given recent tragic situations in the world, it will make me appreciate my family a little more.. hug them a little tighter.. and enjoy our time together a little more. I mean, getting that pair of Betseyville boots you’ve been drooling over would be TOTALLYAWESOME, but when it comes down to it, I think the real gift (corny alert) is the precious time spent with the ones you love most.

814So decorate sugar cookies with your kids. Spike your eggnog, cider or cocoa in the early AM. Vow to wake your kids up to open Santa presents instead of the other way around. Buy the mall Santa a Starbucks giftcard. Take the time to really say and mean “thank you” after receiving a gift from a loved one. Eat a second–or third–piece of pie. Blast ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Ella Fitzgerald as loud as you can–and dance like a loon. Frolic in the snow (or if you’re in CA, jump in the rain puddles). Sit by the fire for warmth. Play board games with your family. Go for a long car ride with hot cocoa and blankets and look at lights. Admire your Christmas presents the night before you open them. And most importantly, savor each moment of this magical, wonderful season. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Merry Christmas!!

xo, Hayley

Elvis Cupcakes, Family Traditions & #TopChef!

With Christmas days away, I wanted to write a fun post about two of my favorite things: holiday family traditions, and Top Chef.

bravo, top chef

First: this season of #TopChef is INTENSE! There are so many interesting Quickfires and some nerve-wracking Elimination Challenges–ones that give ME the heeby jeebies and I’m not even competing. There’s still a lot more in store, and I can’t wait to see all the nitty gritty and crazy schemes Padma and the Judges cook up for the Chefs (and to see how far my fave Cheftestant Brooke [hi, Brooke!] goes).

Second: family traditions. Our family doesn’t have many, but the ones we do have, I enjoy because they’re pretty unique to our family. I’ve heard of many families getting takeout Chinese on Christmas Eve, or gifting each other PJs, or even waiting until Christmas dinner (do people really wait ALL day?!) to open gifts. Our family is a little, er, unconventional with our traditions and that’s why I like it.

For starters, our family has this crazy tradition of waking up at the most psychotic hour of the morning to open gifts. If you thought your kid waking at 7am was too early, I would like to ask you to thank your child and count your blessings that you’re not waking up at 2am, 3am, and 230am like we have the past several Christmases. I’m not kidding.

I don’t know what it is, but I’m just obsessed with Christmas. Going to sleep on Christmas Eve is still incredibly hard for me to do–and I’m turning 22 in a month. Suddenly, I’m SOCLOSEICAN’TSTANDIT to ripping open those beautifully wrapped packages that I can’t even sleep and inevitably, I’ll wake up at 2am, send a quick “are you awake?” text to my siblings in the next room, turn on my light, and be obnoxious until my parents are forced to wake up. I never said I was the easy child.

And every Christmas morning, my mom makes my Grandma’s Coffee Cake. We’ve been eating it since I was little, and I’ve had a love affair since my first bite. It’s crumbly, brown-sugary topping–almost like a streusel, and baked until golden and crunchy and perfect. And the spicy, sweet layers of fluffy cake.. it’s no wonder my mom is obligated to make two pans since the first is inhaled within minutes of exiting the oven.

So when Top Chef recently aired an episode about the holidays, family lineage and family traditions, I fell in love with the idea. I was so intrigued to see every Chef’s interpretation of their family’s favorite holiday dish–something they look forward to, crave, and are excited to make and taste this time of year. Of course, I could totally relate to Brooke’s Apple Cheddar Pie because hello, I’m about as American as you can get and apple pie is my die-hard fave. Brooke, can I come over to your house for Christmas? Please?

I decided that in keeping with the fun family traditions theme from #TopChef, I’d post some family favorite treats that remind us all of the holidays, being together, and our personal traditions. I hope you enjoy!!


Grandma’s Coffee Cake –made every Christmas morning, our entire family looks forward to this deliciously spicy cake. We make two pans every year!
Circus Animal Cookie Truffles –these classic cookies remind me of my childhood. And this fun take on them is just too cute not to make for holiday parties!
Donut Hole Blondies –my sister and I adore blondies, and these scrumptious, decadent treats not only smell and look incredible, but taste it, too!
Churro Bugle Mix –no shocker here, but my family and I are die-hard snackers. This mix is impossible to resist! tradition2

Pie Friesevery year, I make an apple pie for Christmas dessert. With the extra scraps of dough, however, I make fries. They’re one of those treats my mom and I can’t stop snacking on!
Homemade Nutty Bars –these snack bars were a staple in my lunch and remind me of spending summers at my grandma’s house, eating them and watching Scooby Doo.
Christmas Swirl Sugar Cookies –my mom loves sugar cookies, so I make a batch every Christmas Eve for our family to enjoy while watching Christmas movies or playing games.
Pecan Snowballs –my all time FAVORITE Christmas cookie, nothing screams the holidays more than this delightful, tender bundle of ground pecans and powdered sugar.

And I thought I’d take this time to introduce you to another Parker tradition: Elvis. Ever since I can remember, my grandma has had an obsession with the King, and Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without his soulful Blue Christmas crooning. So why not make an All-American Elvis cupcake in the Graceland King’s honor? Plus, it’s both sweet and savory, just like in the Quickfire during the home for the holidays Top Chef episode.


Elvis Cupcakes, Family Traditions & #TopChef!
Recipe type: Cakes/Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18
Sweet, salty and totally sinful, these cupcakes will satisfy any King-sized appetite.
  • For Banana Cupcakes:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup (about 2 medium) bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 small box sugar free/fat free instant banana pudding mix
  • For Peanut Butter Frosting:
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • About 5 cups powdered sugar
  • Crispy, crumbled bacon
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with about 20 paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, mashed bananas, water, oil and eggs with a mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in the pudding mix to combine. Portion the batter evenly among the muffin tins, about ⅔ full, and bake for approx. 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
  3. For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the softened butter, peanut butter and vanilla until creamy and smooth, about a minute. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until light and fluffy. If needed, use a teaspoon of milk to thin the frosting out if it becomes too thick.
  4. Pipe the frosting high onto the cooled cupcakes (I did so with an Atecco 807 tip) and garnish with cooled, crispy bacon crumbles. Serve the cupcakes immediately for best taste.


004This all-American cupcake is a winner in my book. If you’re a fan of sweet and savory, you must try this! The banana cake is so fluffy and moist and is topped with that absolutely decadent, salty peanut butter frosting. Together, they’re a heavenly sweet + salty pair. However, adding the crumbled, crispy bacon sprinkles gives this cupcake an entirely new flavor profile, with its smoky, saltiness, yet subtle sweetness, the bacon elevates this cupcake to a whole new level you MUST try. I think Padma would agree 🙂

You can tune into Top Chef Wednesday nights at 10/9c on Bravo or visit for complete episode guides, videos, blogs and more! Or tweet about #TopChef on Twitter!! And don’t forget to vote for your favorite voted-off Chefs in Last Chance Kitchen! #savechefcj!!

Have a great weekend!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I am working with Bravo to provide reviews for Top Chef. All opinions are 100% my own and I was compensated for this post. 

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Dog Biscuits


Okay, so even though I don’t have a real-life human baby, I have a canine baby. One I love super duper much and one that deserves Christmas presents, too.

And so far, Mannie has taken a serious liking to Christmas which is ironic since the dog hates everything and is the most feisty and neurotic little thing ever.

As it is, he is thoroughly enjoying laying on top of wrapped, pointy, cardboard boxes under the tree. He especially enjoys laying on an oddly-shaped box addressed to my Mom, and more often than not you can find his little head perched by the corner. Whyyyyy that dog lays in THE most uncomfortable positions imaginable, I have no clue. It’s not like our house is 2×2″. I mean, there’s plenty of room to stretch out and stuff, but he must find the darkest, crampiest corner ever to sleep.

Anywho, he makes me smile super big and has been doing a pretty decent job of informing me when UPS arrives every three seconds in our neighborhood, so I figured I’d treat him, our family dog Oreo and the neighbor dogs with some homemade treats. After all, when he isn’t informing me of UPS’ arrival or sleeping on my mom’s present, he is in the kitchen while I bake and is hoping one of those treats is for him. This time, he lucked out!

DSC_0004I actually found this recipe at Target in their dollar bin attached with a miniature dog cookie cutter. When I saw it, I wanted the cutter and totally lucked out with the attached recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand, and it was a cinch to make. Plus, it yielded quite a few bones–about 30–which was plenty to spread around to the neighbor dogs 🙂

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, they’re Mannie approved.


Peanut Butter Cornmeal Dog Biscuits
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
Fido will FLIP for these puppy-friendly cookies!
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup oats
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with foil and mist lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mix until it forms a ball of dough.
  3. On a clean, flat surface, lightly dust a bit of cornmeal. Roll out and shape the dough evenly into shapes. Place on the cookie sheets about 1" apart and bake for approx. 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the treats to cool and harden in the still-warm oven, about 30 minutes, or until crisp and hard. Store airtight, up to a week or so.


DSC_0007These treats were super simple to make and they actually smelled pretty good! I like making dog treats that aren’t just healthy, but easy too. Sometimes, you’ll find crazy, organic or strange ingredients on dog treats that I just never have on hand, but I was pleased with the ease and quickness it took to whip these bones up for Mannie! In fact, I’m making another batch this weekend for him and Oreo yet again 🙂

Happy Friday!

xo, Hayley + Mannie

Lemon White Chocolate Cranberry Bars, Food & Wine Giveaway, and a #TopChef Review!


Let’s talk TV, shall we?

Do you guys love #TopChef as much as I do? Because forreals, I am kinda sorta obsessed.

I’ve always thought about signing up for Top Chef, but it’s like, the ultimate cooking show. Those chefs are the real deal, and frankly, if there’s no cake mix around, I kind of get itchy. And fresh fish. Don’t make me tell you that story about how I fainted at the fish hatchery.

Anyway, in the most recent episode, the Chefs opened up with a really fun Quickfire featuring Reynolds wrap where their entire kitchen was wrapped in foil–including the ingredients. Immediately seeing this, I went into panic mode. Knowing me, I’d choose the STUPIDEST ingredients EVER, like fish sauce and cinnamon and green onions or something.

Kristen, who’s one of my favorite Cheftestants, made an awesome sponge cake using a makeshift pan out of foil. I was so impressed with some of the creativity in which the Chefs used the foil! It makes me feel like only foil-lining my pans is super lame when Bart straight-up made a colander. I meaaaan, Calphalon-who?

For the Elimination Challenge, the Chefs were asked to go head-to-head in a berry challenge, each team getting a different berry to feature in a dish. Gooseberries, tayberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries were the berries of choice–and they all made me drool over my lap. Seriously, berries are my, er, jam. I love them. And I instantly starting brainstorming all the berry recipes I’ve had on this here blog…(#TopChef here I come??)


Berries are kind of those perfect fruits that can go with almost anything. Whether it’s savory, sweet, rich, or light, they kind of transcend into every dish and every occasion. I mean, hello, popcorn, donuts, cupcakes, pie? They are a do-everything kinda super food, and the Chefs definitely proved it with their assortment of creative dishes (Lizzie’s cabbage roll with bacon–OH MY WORD). And Kristen’s fabulous dessert berry dish with the olive oil-soaked berries? Um, was she checking out my blog post about Blackberry Wine Olive Oil Cupcakes beforehand or what??

With the holidays practically here, Bravo and Food & Wine Magazine also want to spread some last-minute holiday cheer by giving away one lucky reader a one year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine! All you have to do is answer me this: What is your favorite holiday recipe(s?) Links welcome! A winner will be selected at random on Christmas Eve, 12/24. All entrants must provide a valid email 🙂

And since Christmas is approaching and cranberry is quite popular during this time of year, I decided to make a super easy, festive Christmas bar you can literally whip up in minutes. With less than five minutes prep, 20 minutes of bake time and a simple dusting of powdered sugar, you’ll be out of the kitchen and sticking your face into this pan of heavenly goodliness–or in the glossy pages of Food & Wine–in no time 🙂


Lemon White Chocolate Cranberry Bars, Food & Wine Giveaway, and a #TopChef Review!
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
I am in LOVE with using Craisins in desserts. The slightly sweet, slightly tart cranberries add a burst of color and texture to these sweet lemon bars!
  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" pan with foil, extending the sides over the edges of the pan. Mist very lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs and oil until blended. Stir in the white chocolate chips and Craisins to combine. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake for approx. 15-18 minutes or until the middle is set and the edges are lightly golden. Cool completely.
  3. Dust the tops of the cooled bars with powdered sugar, if desired. Cut into bars and serve!


DSC_0032These bars are moist, refreshing, and SO simple to whip up. I love the combination of the sweet lemon cake base with the creamy pockets of white chocolate and the pop of the tangy, tart cranberries studded throughout these chewy, delicious bars. Now if only cranberry had been a choice for the Top Chef berry challenge, I think I would have won, but then again, I am pretty biased 🙂

If you have yet to see this episode of #TopChef, be sure to check out this teaser clip from the episode. Remember, Top Chef airs on Wednesday nights at 10/9c on Bravo. You can also visit for interviews, pictures, cast blogs, episode guides, and more!! Or live Tweet during the show at @BravoTopChef using the hashtag #TopChef. And if you’re super sad about the eliminated chefs, fear not! Top Chef is offering them another chance during their Last Chance Kitchen. You can tweet your favorite chef back into the competition–it’s easy!! (Psst, I’m voting for #savechefcj!!)

Preview Clip: Episode 7

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Bravo.

Happy Thursday!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I am part of Bravo and Top Chef’s A-Listers program in which I provide reviews of Top Chef. All opinions are 100% my own.

Salted Peanut Butter Toffee

pbtoffeeSo, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a really bad real-life friend.

I want to take this opportunity to apologize to all my real-life friends because it’s pretty likely I haven’t spoken to you in months, much less seen you or experienced human contact. However, I invite you to join Instagram where I know more about what my internet friends had for dinner than what’s been going on in your real-life for the past seven months.

I’m sorry I suck.

It’s just that, with the holidays here in less than one week, work, home life, and everything else in between, the idea of spending one of my days off regurgitating old gossip or news for you just sounds so… unappealing. And yes, I do realize that if we hung out on a more consistent basis, there’d be absolutely zero need to discuss a year’s worth of information while sipping on a single mocha in the span of three hours, but I digress. Remember that part where I said I suck? Yeah.

Anywhoooo, one of these days, I’m positive I’ll go absolutely batty and break down and actually call you and ask for your forgiveness and maybe even offer to buy you a coffee in exchange for some much-needed human contact. But that will probably have to happen after the holidays because are you kidding me? I can’t even think about talking to anyone about drama unless I don’t get the boots I asked for for Christmas. Oh honey, then there will be drama #firstworldproblems.

So until then, please accept this ridiculously amazeballs toffee as a token of my acknowledgement that YES, you do, in fact, still exist and I have been an awful friend in putting off or rescheduling coffee dates because I’m a lousy, lazy loser. I’m sure one bite of toffee will solve all your qualms with me, but just in case it doesn’t, I made sure this toffee was like, OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD so you’d be forced to forgive me.

DSC_0017And FYI, “out of this world” stands for Salted Peanut Butter Toffee. Because hellloooooo that is like the bestest combination EVER. Like Rachel and Ryan, if Rach and Ry were a delicious candy that I ate almost an entire pan of.

Don’t worry. I’ll make you a pan to nosh on while we catch up.


Salted Peanut Butter Toffee
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Creamy peanut butter, buttery toffee, rich chocolate and sea salt merry beautifully together in this SUPER SIMPLE candy. Perfect for Christmas gift-giving!
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup chopped peanuts
  • ¾ cup toffee bits About
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • About 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt
  1. Line an 8x8" pan with foil, allowing the sides of the foil to extend over the edges of the pan. Lightly mist the foil with cooking spray. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan evenly with the chopped peanuts and the toffee bits. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and stir the mixture constantly until it turns a caramel-y, light brown color (about 7-10 minutes).
  3. Spread the toffee mixture evenly on top of the toffee/peanut mixture. Allow the toffee to set--at room temperature--about an hour or two.
  4. Melt the peanut butter chips in the microwave until smooth and melted (about 60-90 seconds, stirring every so often). Pour the pb chips over the toffee layer and smooth evenly. Pop the toffee in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
  5. Now, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter layer evenly and immediately sprinkle with sea salt (I went heavier on the salt, but adjust according to your preferences). Pop the toffee back into the fridge to set for about a half hour or so, or just until the chocolate has hardened.
  6. Break the toffee into pieces and serve. This can be stored for up to a week, airtight at room temperature.


DSC_0021I LOVE the nutty, salty variation on this classic, simple toffee. First of all, toffee is amazing on its own (see my Simple Salted Toffee!!) but adding the peanut butter gives this candy a whole new dimension of flavor. The buttery, caramelized toffee pairs so beautifully with the smooth, nutty flavors of the creamy peanut butter chips and the salty crunch of the peanuts. And that’s another thing–I LOVE the crunchy texture of the peanuts and toffee bits on the bottom. It’s so unexpected in traditional toffee, yet it tastes SO amazing. You’ll love this last-minute, super-easy gift idea!!

Happy Wednesday!

xo, Hayley


Pecan Snowballs


Usually, I don’t mind being the passenger in another person’s car.

Most people I know have a complex where they have to drive wherever we go, but I’m assuming it’s probably because they think I’m a crap-ass driver and want to be in control of their own demise. Just a theory.

Anywhoooo, the thing I really LOATHE about being the passenger in someone else’s car? THE MUSIC.

Because inevitably, they’ll pull the “I’m driving and therefore am incapacitated to listening to any good music” shtick and I’m left playing DJ. You DO NOT want me playing DJ unless you want the broken record special because I’m really good at that.

Case in point: I still listen to the same junk I loved in high school (and junk it most certainly is). I literally hate looking for new music and hate listening to new music, which makes me very ignorant to anything outside of my normal, junk-listening bubble.

Also, a couple days ago, I was listening to my “Christmas Playlist” on my iPod while baking. There are 7 songs on this playlist, FYI, and I played that playlist a good 25+ times throughout a four-hour or so period. There were times where I felt like changing the music, like perhaps I’d listened to “Blue Christmas” more than most listen to it in their lifetime, but I got too lazy and decided I’d listen to it another eighteen times before I’d stop for an hour break, then take the playlist to my car and listen to it during my commute to the store.

So yeah. Unless you want to listen to literally THE. SAME. songs over and over and over until your ears bleed and you can recite the entire N*Sync Christmas album against your will and better judgment, then please, don’t make me the DJ and prepare a proper playlist ahead of time. You don’t want to know what my poor musical tastes can lead us to.

However, please make the good decision to make these Pecan Snowballs. They’re fantastical and will rock your world.

DSC_0026Snowball cookies are my favorite Christmas cookies. I just cannot get enough of their sweet, nutty pecan flavor in every tender bite. And I’m a powdered sugar fiend, so pretty much this is my ideal cookie. Make them now!!

DSC_0023Pecan Snowballs *from this recipe at High Heels and Grills

4.0 from 1 reviews
Pecan Snowballs
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
Pecan snowballs are my FAVORITE holiday cookie and a top contender for my favorite cookie of all time. These snowballs are such a cinch to make so you can spend more time eating and less time snowballin'.
  • 2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ground pecans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets or line with silicone liners. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Add the vanilla and mix well. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, gently whisk together the ground pecans and flour.
  3. Gradually incorporate the pecan/flour mixture into the butter mixture. The dough will be crumbly; that's okay. Scrape along the sides of the bowl as needed until everything comes together.
  4. Roll Tablespoon-sized balls and place about 1" apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for approx 10-13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through bake-time to ensure even baking, or until the cookies are lightly golden.
  5. Allow the snowballs to cool almost completely (only slightly warm to the touch) before rolling in powdered sugar. Allow the cookies to finish cooling completely before rolling a second time in powdered sugar. Store the cookies airtight, at room temperature, for several days. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.


DSC_0029Every bite of these cookies is purely heavenly. The salty, ground pecans add such a nice, buttery texture to these tender, rotund cookies. These cookies have no eggs or leavening in them, so they stay nice and puffy and round while they bake, perfectly reminiscent of actual snowballs. Biting into them makes me so happy!! 🙂

Happy Baking!

xo, Hayley

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