Desserts

Squirrel Bars

Squirrel Bars

Squirrel Bars are chewy peanut butter cookie bars with swirled chocolate chips.  When I needed to whip up something sweet for a potluck, I found this recipe in my “Just A Matter of Thyme” cookbook (Every recipe I have ever tried in this cookbook is fantastic!  It is a staple in my potluck recipe collection.)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix together the butters and sugars.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the flour and baking powder.

Spread the dough in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350 degrees (325 if you’re using a dark nonstick pan) for 3 minutes.  Take the pan out of the oven.  Use a knife to swirl the chocolate throughout the bars.

Return to the oven and bake another 18 – 20 minutes.

Let cool completely.  Cut into bars and store in an airtight container until potluck time!

 

Brownie Rubble

It’s National “Have a Brownie” Day!

Already had all of the ingredients for this Brownie Rubble recipe in the cupboard.  I made two exceptions to the original recipe.  First, I used boxed brownie mix, instead of making them from scratch.  I used to be an adamant “from-scratch” brownie maker, but the box versions are so good and they are just too inexpensive and convenient to not use.  I always buy them on sale and keep a stash on hand for last minute potluck needs.  Second exception is that I used salted, instead of unsalted, roasted peanuts.

Found this recipe on Food Network’s “The Kitchen” (I seriously LOVE that show!).

Ingredients:

1 box brownie mix (make sure you have the oil, eggs, and any other added ingredients as stated on the box)

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts

Make the brownie mix according to the package directions.  Bake until almost done.  When you insert a toothpick, there should be a few crumbs.  Top the brownies with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and peanuts.  Bake for another 5 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden and toasty.

Let cool completely and cut into squares.  Store in an airtight container until potluck time!

German Chocolate Cupcakes

I always prefer cupcakes to cakes and these German Chocolate Cupcakes are no exception.  There’s a much better ratio of coconut pecan topping to cake.   And you get bonus chocolate frosting on the top!  This recipe is for one batch of 24 cupcakes, but there was enough topping leftover for at least another 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

1 batch of chocolate cake mix (I used a box mix!)

1 jar of chocolate frosting

4 egg yolks

12 ozs. evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans.

Bake the cupcakes in liners, according to the instructions.  Let cool completely.

To make the filling, whisk the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a medium sauce pan.  Add the sugar and butter.  Continue whisking over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick.  Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and pecans.  Let cool.

Pipe frosting around the outer edge of each cupcake.  Add the coconut filling to the center.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until potluck time!

Hawaiian Pineapple Bars

 

I’m loving these Hawaiian Pineapple Bars!  They are really easy to make and a fun change from the usual bar recipes.  The pineapple gives them a perfectly chewy edge with a soft center.

Tenaiya found this recipe on the Lost American Recipes website and sent it to me.  It originated in a compilation cookbook by the “Maui Extension Homemakers Council.”

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

4 eggs

20 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix well.   Add the pineapple and optional walnuts and stir until well-combined.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x 11 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let bars cool completely.  Cut into squares and store in an airtight container until potluck time!

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

I was feeling like a non-chocolate potluck dessert (a very rare occasion!) and Pineapple Upside Down Cake sounded really good.  I’ve never made it before and I thought cupcakes would be even better.  (I tend to prefer cupcakes over cakes because the ratio of toppings to cake is much more evenly distributed.)  Found this recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes on the Betty Crocker website.  The brown sugar butter glaze caramelizes the tops and the pineapple perfectly to make these cupcakes sweet and luscious!

Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker’s Extra Moist Yellow Cake and highly recommend it!)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

20 oz. can of sliced pineapple, drained and reserve the juice

1/3 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

12 maraschino cherries, cut in half

24 baking cups

Spray the baking cups really well with non-stick cooking spray.

Drain the pineapple slices and set the juice aside.  Cut the pineapple rings into four pieces each.  Cut the maraschino cherries in half.

On low speed for 30 seconds, mix the cake mix, oil, eggs, and pineapple juice.  Continue mixing on medium speed for two minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Put 1 1/2 tsp. of butter mixture into each baking cup.  Add a maraschino cherry in the center (round side down) and then add two pineapple slices on top of the cherry.  Lastly, add 1/4 cup of batter on top of everything.

Bake the cupcakes in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Flip the cupcakes upside down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Carefully remove the baking cup liners

Serve warm or at room temperature.  You’re ready for potluck time!

Easter Egg Nest Brownies

Easter Egg Nest Brownies are fun and really easy to make!  You can also make the brownies ahead of time and then let everyone decorate them at the potluck.

The inspiration for these treats came from different Easter cupcake pics that I found online.  I used brownie mix, but chocolate or vanilla cake mix will work great, too.

Ingredients:

1 batch of brownie mix (I used a box to keep things simple.  1 box will yield 12 brownies.)

1 container of pre-made vanilla frosting

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

Green food coloring

Assorted Easter candy

Bake the brownie mix according to directions in a greased, regular-sized muffin pan.  Start checking them for doneness about 10 minutes earlier than the instructed time.  Let them cool completely (If you don’t, they fall apart).  Then, carefully remove them from the pan.

Mix the coconut and food coloring (start with 2 or 3 drops and add more, as needed) in a bowl until combined.

Frost the brownies.  Then dip them, face down, in the coconut.  Top with your favorite Easter candy and gently press it into the coconut and frosting.  For extra fun, you can add a Peep to the center.  Apply some frosting to the bottom of the peep and press it down on the cupcake.  It bonds perfectly!

Now, you’re ready for potluck time!

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

guinness-chocolate-cupcakes3

Since I’ve seen so many recipes for Chocolate Stout cupcakes lately, I decided that I must make them for St. Patrick’s Day!  The stout makes them extra soft and fluffy.  I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker website and loved it because they only need a few ingredients and are so simple to make.  I chose to do a vanilla icing, but you can also do an Irish Cream frosting, which is perfect for an all adults potluck.

Ingredients:

1 box deviled foods cake mix

1 1/4 cups Guinness stout beer

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 stick butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

4 T. milk

Using a mixer, combine together the cake mix, Guinness, oil, and eggs in a large bowl on low speed for 30 seconds.  Then, mix on medium high speed for another two minutes.

Line a regular-sized muffin tin with baking cups.  Scoop 1/4 cup batter into each tin.  If using a dark or nonstick pan, bake at 325 degrees (or 350 degrees if using a regular pan) for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.

In a separate bowl, mix the butter and powdered sugar until combined.  Add the vanilla, salt, and milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost them, and store them in an airtight container until potluck time!  (I made them the day before and they were still wonderful, but I wouldn’t make them any earlier than that.)

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

sour-cream-coffee-cake

Make Sour Cream Coffee Cake for your next breakfast or brunch potluck!  This version has a pecan-streusel layer on the inside (you can use walnuts, too!).  It’s crunchy on the outside, but is perfectly moist and buttery on the inside.

The recipe comes from the Just A Matter of Thyme cookbook.  I have made many recipes from this cookbook and every one has been fantastic.  I highly recommend getting a copy of this cookbook!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

2 cups cake flour (or take 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour; add 2 T. cornstarch and sift)

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar.

Mix together the butter, white sugar, and eggs.  Fold in the sour cream and vanilla.  Fold in the dry ingredients until combined.  Pour half of the batter into a greased bundt pan.

Mix together the nuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar to make the streusel filling.  Sprinkle it on top of the batter.  Spoon the rest of the batter over the filling.

Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.  Let cake cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

You’re ready for potluck time!

Lime Pecan Bars

lime-pecan-bars

Neighbors gave us some key limes from their tree, so I made these Lime Pecan Bars for the Super Bowl party yesterday!  I love the pecan shortbread crust and the filling is a sort of lime curd that is especially good with the key limes, but will work great with regular limes, too (either way, just make sure that you use fresh lime juice).

The party was hosted by a gluten-free household this year, so I made them with Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour  and they were a big hit.  Accidentally doubled the recipe below (that means I quadrupled the original – long story!), so I also took a batch into work today.  There were zero leftovers, so I think that means everyone liked them as much as I did.

This recipe is from my Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.  The ingredients are doubled from the original, and use a larger pan, because when you’re making it for a potluck,  the regular version just isn’t enough!

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 cup pecans

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cup flour

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

Filling:

6 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup fresh lime or key lime juice

2/3 cup flour

Grated lime peel, optional

To make the crust, chop the pecans in a food processor until fine.  Add in the butter, flour, and brown sugar and pulse until it forms a crumbly mixture.  Press the mixture into a buttered 9 x 13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown along the edges.

Meanwhile, make the filling by whisking together the eggs and sugar.   Using a hand mixer, add in the lime juice and flour and mix until combined.

When the crust comes out of the oven, immediately pour the filling over the crust.  Cook the bars for another 20 minutes until the top is firm to the touch.

Let cool for one hour and cut into bars.  You can also top them with the optional grated lime peel (makes them look prettier).

If you’re going to the potluck that same day, you can leave them out at room temperature.  Otherwise, store in the fridge in an airtight container.  Then, take them out of the fridge an hour or two before potluck time!

Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin-bread2

When I think of Fall potlucks, I think of anything with pumpkin and spices.  This Pumpkin Bread recipe has been in my family for years and it’s a great choice for your fall potlucks. Pumpkin and applesauce make it extra moist on the inside with a crunchy crust on the outside!

I prefer it with the raisins and walnuts, but it’s equally as good without.   It is a vegan recipe and can also easily be converted to gluten-free using a gluten-free flour (I highly recommend Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour).

Ingredients:

3 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup applesauce

4 cups white sugar

1 cup oil

5 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups raisins, optional

2 cups nuts, optional

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, applesauce, white sugar, and oil.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add in the optional raisins and nuts.

Pour into greased loaf pans.  This recipe makes 3 to 4 regular-sized loaves.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Start checking them at one hour.  If you’re using mini loaf pans, start checking them at 30 minutes.

Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  It will get extra brown and crunchy around the edges, which is what you want!  Let cool completely and wrap in foil until potluck time.  Serve with a side of butter or other spread (like pumpkin spice cream cheese!).