Sunday, February 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Helloooo and welcome back! Hope you are all enjoying the weekend!

Let's get right down to business here today. I want to share with you a delicious cookie recipe that I made last week..."peanut butter cup" cookies. Yes, you heard me right. Peanut butter cup!! These cookies are totally like the classic Reese's treat but in cookie form. How can you go wrong? Bottom can't. ;-)

An interesting characteristic of these cookies is that they're actually vegan! I did not make them because they're vegan (I made them because they looked deeelicious), but it's an added bonus in case anyone is in search of a yummy vegan cookie recipe!

You can read the recipe here and view pictures below... As you can see, the cookies are called peanut butter pillows on the website where I got the recipe. Although I think that's a very clever name for these treats, I decided to change it up since I think they're so much like peanut butter cups!

A few more essential pieces of information to know about these cookies...  They are SUPER easy to make. Don't let the making of the two doughs fool you, nor the whole "hiding the peanut butter dough ball inside the chocolate dough" thing. It's really incredibly easy. I was a little afraid at first that it wouldn't be an easy process, but it definitely was. The chocolate cookie dough is so easy to work with!!! I thought it would be too sticky and difficult to shape around the peanut butter center. Nope. I was wrong. :-D It's also a very quick recipe to make. You can have tasty cookies in no time! Also, the recipe calls for non-dairy milk. I used almond milk because I actually had it on hand (the Almond Breeze brand). I would guess that you could use regular milk though (so long as you're not actually trying to make these vegan!). Lastly, the recipe calls for natural peanut butter. I used "regular" peanut butter (Peter Pan brand to be exact), so it doesn't necessarily have to be all-natural.

And finally, the other bit of information I wanted to share is that you should go make these right now. Go go go!!! Right now! You must! You'll be glad you did. ;-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pumpkin Maple Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Muffins with Maple Pumpkin Glaze

Pumpkin maple oatmeal cinnamon chip muffins with maple pumpkin glaze..... How's that for a mouthful? Sorry for the long title of this recipe, but it's the best I could do. ;-) It's descriptive, at least! After reading that you have a good idea of what to expect, right?!

The following recipe is an original Barbershop creation! I created this muffin recipe to submit to a King Arthur Flour contest, the Sweet Victory Bakeoff. The two main requirements for this contest were that the recipe contained King Arthur Flour and pure maple syrup. Entries could be submitted in the categories of breakfast, dessert, or savory (main dish). As you can guess, I opted for the breakfast category! To create this recipe, I did do some research by studying some other muffin recipes... However, the actual combination of ingredients and measurements was completely my own. :) Would you like to know more about it? Thought so! Here ya go...



-1 cup King Arthur whole wheat flour
-1 cup King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour 
-3/4 cup rolled (regular) oats
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 cup light brown sugar
-2/3 cup pure maple syrup
-3/4 cup canned pumpkin
-3/4 vanilla flavored yogurt
-1 large egg, at room temperature
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-3/4 cup cinnamon baking chips


-1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
-3 teaspoons canned pumpkin


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your standard muffin pan(s) by greasing approximately 20 muffin cups or lining with muffin paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first seven ingredients (wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon); set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, yogurt, egg, and vegetable oil until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until everything is incorporated, but be careful not to over-mix. Stir in the cinnamon chips. Scoop the batter into your prepared muffin pan(s), filling each muffin cup approximately 2/3 full.

Bake for approximately 14 to 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the middle of a muffin springs back when touched (cooking times may vary per oven). Let muffins rest in pan for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to let them cool completely on a cooling rack.

To prepare the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin until the mixture is smooth without any lumps. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze on top of the muffins.

Allow muffins to sit and cool completely (at least 2 to 3 hours) before storing in an airtight container, and use a container that is large enough so that the muffins have room to “breathe.” This will prevent the muffins from becoming soggy.

Yield: Approximately 18 to 20 muffins

Above is exactly what I submitted for the contest. It seems so formal for the blog though. :-P Now I'll share my usual array of pictures....

A few thoughts for you...

Although I've listed the two flours (wheat and all-purpose) as being King Arthur brand, they certainly don't need to be! That was obviously for the purposes of the contest. Also, any brand of vanilla flavored yogurt should be a-okay.

What I love about this recipe is...well, a few things. :)  1) It is very simple!! There's no need for a mixer; everything can be done by hand. I will note that there are several ingredients involved. However, none of them are odd or hard to work with or anything, so don't let that list of ingredients intimidate you.  2) The flavor combination of pumpkin, maple, and cinnamon is just plain delicious! I think maple and cinnamon especially pair well in breakfast items, and that was part of the reason I chose to add both ground cinnamon and cinnamon chips. That being said though, the maple flavor is very subtle in this recipe. It doesn't necessarily stand out. In fact, if you want to feed these to anyone who doesn't care for maple, I am pretty sure they will still really enjoy these muffins!  3) These muffins are moist, fluffy, and hearty all at the same time. I personally like muffins with those qualities and hope you do too.  4) I like these because they were fun to create on my own! Regardless of whether I do well in the contest or not, it was a really unique baking experience for me to not follow a recipe from another source. You should try it sometime yourself!! ;-)

Close-up of the maple pumpkin glaze....yummm. This is good stuff.

A shot of the inside - moist and fluffy!!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't post a picture of the ingredient that inspired this recipe even though it wasn't necessarily prominent in the final flavor of the muffins...pure maple syrup! And of course, I used the BEST stuff from New York. ;-)

Oh, and I did make this recipe a few times to get it just right...  One time I made a few muffin tops instead of muffins! I used the new, fun muffin top pan that my sister gave me. :) Thanks, sista!

Will let you know if I do well in the King Arthur Flour contest! Keep your fingers crossed for me, please. :)

PS - Check out this recipe over at Lisa's Sweets for a Saturday where TONS of other delicious treats can be found too! ;-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Best Brownies!

Happy Valentine's Day to all you blog readers out there!! Hope you're all enjoying the day and able to spend it with family and friends whom you love! :) I promise that I won't chat too long during this post. I'll get right to the point!

And the point is? To share a delicious homemade brownie recipe with you! Over the last few years, the recipe I'm about to share with you has become my go-to "from scratch" brownie recipe...and by from scratch, I simply mean not from a boxed brownie mix! This recipe uses ingredients that I always have on hand, so I can whip up a batch of these brownies on a moment's notice. And that's very important, wouldn't you agree?!

The recipe can be found here, on Nestle Toll House's Very Best Baking site, a wonderful site with many delicious recipes! These "Easy Double Chocolate Chip Brownies," as Nestle calls them, couldn't be simpler. The recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, butter or margarine, eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla extract, and baking soda. That is all!! The recipe gets 5 stars on the Nestle website too. There is a reason, folks! These are some darn good brownies. I love this recipe so much that I've used it for other items I've made like my Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies, Grasshopper Brownies, and Creme de Menthe Bars. This is a basic brownie recipe you'll want to keep, I promise.

Now, onto the steps involved and some pictures too!

First of all, you melt the chocolate chips and butter (or margarine) on the stove...

Once that's fully melted, it comes off the heat and you add the remaining ingredients, beginning with the eggs.

Finally, once that mixture is well-incorporated, you add in some more chocolate chips as well as nuts (if you'd like). I've never actually added nuts to this recipe; although some people might call me a nut ;-), I'm not a huge fan of nuts in brownies. The recipe calls for adding in an additional cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of nuts. What I love about this recipe is that at this stage, you can be creative with your add-ins! If you want to keep the recipe more traditional, you can add regular semi-sweet chocolate chips. Orrrrr, you can add just about anything else you'd like! You can add baking chips of different flavors like peanut butter, butterscotch, white chocolate, milk or dark chocolate, Andes mint chips, etc. You could add toffee bits or chopped candy bars (Snickers or Kit Kats or whatever!). The possibilities are endless...really they are. ;-)

For this particular time I made these brownies, I was actually in the mood to add white chocolate for a change! I added about 3/4 cup of white chocolate chips and 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. 

The mixture is then evenly poured into a greased 13 x 9 pan and popped into the oven.

Voila! You've got yourself a delicious pan of homemade brownies. ;-)

Now, since it's Valentine's Day, I decided not to cut your traditional, square-shaped brownies. So what did I do instead? I made heart-shaped brownies using a cookie cutter! So fun and so easy. It's a great way to make your dessert a tad more festive!

Note: I removed the brownies from the pan (they came out really easily!) before cutting them with the cookie cutter. I lucked out when I flipped the 13 x 9 pan because the whole pan of brownies came out without breaking at all! If I had been thinking better ahead of time though, I think I would have lined the pan with foil before pouring in the batter so that I could have easily just lifted the brownies out. Oh well - next time! By the way, using a non-square cookie cutter like this made for brownie "scraps" since the heart shape obviously wasn't even! The scraps are yummy when you need just a small taste of chocolate...and I'm thinking they'd also be yummy on top of a bowl of ice cream. Definitely not throwing those guys out!

Isn't that a fun heart plate? My mom recently gave me a number of festive plates for various holidays so that I can have fun plates for your viewing pleasure on the blog. :) Thanks, Mom!!

I made one big brownie that Mike and I will share for Valentine's dessert tonight!

After the brownie "photo shoot," I decided to use the plate as a candy dish. :)

Enjoy the rest of the holiday, friends!

 ♥ With love from the Barbershop ♥

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Be Creative with Homemade Pizza!

Happy weekend, blog world friends! I'm enjoying a nice relaxing Saturday morning...just had some tasty homemade oatmeal and a cup of coffee, and after I finish this blog post, I hope to look through some cookbooks for a recipe to make later on today. It's nice to have a weekend here in Boston and not off traveling! I have a lot on my to-do list I'd like to accomplish. :-D

Enough ramblings, I know... Onto more important topics like pizza! I LOVE making homemade pizza. I probably make it about once or twice a month but now that I'm thinking about it, I really should do it even more often than that! It's such a fun and easy meal that's sure to please everyone. I am guessing that many of you have made homemade pizza before, so what I'm about to share isn't necessarily earth-shattering. However, I hope that this post will give you some fun ideas for new toppings or, if you're not someone who makes homemade pizza, maybe you'll start making it after reading this! :)

First of all, I am sad to say that I've never actually made my own pizza dough. It's on my cooking/baking to-do list though! When I finally get around to making my own dough I'll have to have a sequel to this blog post for you. In the meantime though, I'll share that 90% of the time when I make homemade pizza, I use fresh dough from an Italian chain restaurant that's here in the Boston area, Bertucci's. I think they're in a few other states, but they're definitely not a nation-wide chain. Anyway, a few years ago I discovered that you can actually buy THEIR dough, which is seriously one of the best pizza doughs/crusts I know. So for those if you who may live near a Bertucci's and didn't know you can buy their dough, now you know! Exciting, right?! If I don't buy Bertucci's dough, I usually just buy the fresh dough in the grocery store. If whole wheat is an option in the store, I often opt for that (Bertucci's is not whole wheat). A delicious dough is essential to delicious pizza, so be sure you find one that you love!

I have found that it's easiest to work with dough that's cold, so I usually leave mine in the fridge until I'm ready to use it. I also sometimes sprinkle it with flour before I begin to roll it out. Another idea is to sprinkle flour or cornmeal on the surface on which you're rolling out the dough. I most often end up only using my hands though; I don't really "roll it out," per se. I'm usually able to stretch it enough by "playing" :) with it in my hands, and that works just fine for me! I tend to shape it into an oblong shape more often than round, but either works! I don't have a pizza stone (maybe I should look into getting one though!!!), so I just put my pizza on a cookie sheet.

About 99% of the time, I use red sauce on my pizza. Depending on what I have, sometimes I use just plain ol' tomato sauce in a can, and other times I use pasta sauce. Anything goes here, folks! I don't care for too much sauce, so my pizza tends to look like this:

On this particular pizza, I was using Classico pasta sauce, as you can see here!

I would like to try making my own white sauce sometime (I think I have before but I don't know what recipe I used!). This recipe here looks pretty good if you're in the mood for white sauce. A few times now we've actually put barbecue sauce on our pizza in place of red sauce... Such a fun twist on the "norm"!

Next, onto the exciting step of adding your pizza toppings!!!! Although I am not a vegetarian, there are many days when I could go without meat and not miss it one bit. Love my veggies! Typically, I like to load up my pizza with a variety of delish veggies...and then sometimes I add meat too. ;-)

On this pizza below, I put tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and roasted sweet potatoes.

Now, I have to say that there are some veggies that I think are much better on a pizza if you cook them first! Examples include onions, broccoli, peppers (any kind - red, green, etc.), and sweet potatoes. For veggies like peppers, I usually just saute them in a pan on the stove under they're just tender. If you don't cook them ahead of time, I personally think they're a bit too crunchy! Onions I tend to cook more, until they're light to medium golden brown in color. You could also cook them all the way until they're caramelized! That would be very yummy. I just usually don't take the time to do that. But here's a recipe for caramelizing onions if you're interested. ;-) Mushrooms are a veggie that could go either way; I've cooked them prior to going on the pizza before, but I've also put them on raw. Either is fine! And as a side note, if you decide to go non-traditional and try barbecue sauce instead of red sauce as I mentioned earlier, I'd recommend onions, green peppers, and chicken as toppings. Love that combo!

Now, onto a favorite topping of mine...sweet potatoes! Because I am a tad obsessed with sweet potatoes, I almost always have them in the house! I love roasting sweet potatoes with various spices like salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, chili powder, etc...anything goes! So if at all possible, if I can, I add roasted sweet potatoes to my pizza....such a great addition, I tell ya!

This next pizza has a different variety of veggies on it. I believe I see mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, broccolini, and mashed sweet potatoes. MASHED sweet potatoes? Yes! This pizza was fun because I actually used leftovers I had from when I went out to dinner. I had some broccolini and mashed sweet potatoes left over and thought to myself, these would be perfect on pizza! And they were.

Here's a few pics of that same pizza in the prep stages. ;-)


What's that you see? Could it be bacon? It is! I had some bacon in the freezer, so I decided that would be  a fun and different topping to add (we didn't add too much though, so it didn't make the pizza that unhealthy ;-)). We cooked it on the stove before crumbling it and putting it onto the pizza.

On the pizza below, I believe we put mushroom, tomato, sweet potato (roasted of course!), and chicken! Yum yum yum. Seriously, I'm getting hungry as I type this...

And I know you know this, but definitely cook your chicken before putting it on your pizza. It won't cook thoroughly otherwise. :-P

Close-up! Is your mouth watering yet?! Mine is...

Finally now, we can't forget the cheese! I often go the easy route and add simple shredded cheese to my pizzas. I buy it already shredded in the store...mozzarella, italian blend, mexican blend...anything is a-okay with pizza really! So pick whatever you like best. Sometimes I'll add a less typical, yet very delicious cheese, like goat or gorgonzola. Mmmmm. You could also buy a nice, fresh ball of mozzarella and put slices of it on the pizza. Gosh, that sounds good! This is the fun of making homemade pizza - you decide what goes on it! Oh, and you also can't go wrong with sprinkling some parmesan on either. ;-)

To be completely honest, I don't necessarily always bake my pizza at the same temperature for the same amount of time. I just do it - I don't think about it! I believe though that my oven is usually on around 400 or 425 degrees. I'd say check your pizza as soon as 10 or 12 minutes have passed. Sometimes it really doesn't take long! A typical cooking time though is probably 12 to 15 minutes or so. When your cheese is melted (and maybe slightly golden) and your crust is a nice, light golden brown, you're good to go! It's best to let the pizza sit for a few minutes before slicing it too. ENJOY!

Let me know if you have any other fun topping ideas! I'd love to hear them!

Hey, I just realized that this is the third type of pizza I've shared with you here at the Barbershop. I've previously shared two less common pizzas...a candy pizza and a breakfast pizza. You've got all your meals covered now!

Have a great weekend, friends. :)