Pumpkin Bars

With Thanksgiving coming fast and furious, it’s time to prep your pies and other goodies for the big feast. I’m not a pumpkin pie person myself, which leaves me in a bit of a conundrum for the holiday. I thought by finding a spin on the typical pumpkin pie ingredients, that I could redeem myself.

These Pumpkin Bars were very easy to create and make enough for the whole family. The fluffy cream cheese frosting is just sweet enough to compliment the light, pumpkin layer. Give them a shot for a pumpkin pie alternative this Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields: 20 bars

Ingredients for Bars:wpid-20151101_161822.jpg

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for Frosting:wpid-20151101_180437.jpg

  • 6 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions for Bars:wpid-20151101_162421.jpg

1.) Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream sugar and eggs together until well mixed. Next add oil and pumpkin until well incorporated.

2.) Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and mix until smooth.wpid-20151101_163627.jpg

3.) Pour into 10 1/2 X 15 1/2 inch baking pan. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Directions for Frosting:

1.) Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth and wpid-20151101_181724.jpgcreamy.

2.) Next alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk until well incorporated and frosting has a light and fluffy consistency.

3.) Once bars are cool, spread frosting over the top.

Notes and Tips:

  • It’s best to have the butter and cream cheese at room temperature for the frosting.
  • Bars can be stored covered in the refrigerator for a few days or you can freeze the pan and cut off pieces as needed. The bars have a richer flavor when served cold.

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S’mores Fudge Bars

One of my all-time favorite summer desserts are s’mores. They are classic, fun, messy and bring you back to a simpler time. Now traditionally you need a camp fire, roaster sticks, and perfectly roasted marshmallows to construct a campfire s’more. If you are looking for a less messy alternative, these S’more Fudge Bars are a fantastic spin on the traditional summer treat.

These bars have an amazing texture and they start with a chewy, and slightly salty, graham cracker base. Next is a thick layer of rich fudge, all topped off with fluffy, homemade marshmallow. Absolutely. Amazing. The trickiest part of the recipe is making the marshmallow and that’s easy peasy as long as you have a candy thermometer. Give them a shot- you won’t be disappointed. If you are still stuck on the traditional campfire s’mores and want to take them to the WOW level, check out directions for homemade marshmallows here. Enjoy!

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Oatmeal Carmelitas

Oatmeal Carmelitas- I cannot say enough about these bars because they will knock your socks off! With Valentine’s Day coming up later this week, I’d like to recommend a different kind of treat for your loved one. I mean, aren’t chocolates and flowers overrated? These Oatmeal Carmelitas will gain you major brownie points because they contain chocolate AND are homemade with love. These rich, cookie-like bars have a buttery, oatmeal crust and are topped with a layer of chocolate and lots of gooey caramel. They are very simple to make and are a fun change to the standard cookie.

carm stackI’ve seen variations of this recipe all over the internet lately, but I was able to trace it back to, what I believe is, the original recipe from Pillsbury from 1967. I am saddened that I have yet to come across this recipe until recently, because they are that good! I’ve made them three times since my cousin first introduced them to me a few months ago. They, without a doubt, will be a staple in my recipe book going forward. Enjoy!

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Lemon Bars

IMG_3121The winter is FINALLY slipping away in Wisconsin so I’m doing my best to welcome Spring along. Something about Spring just screamed “citrus” to me, and when I thought of citrus, my mind wandered to lemon bars. I love lemon bars for the contrasting textures of the shortbread crust and the creamy, lemony filling. Also, it never hurts if there is a nice layer of powered sugar to top things off.

I really enjoyed this recipe because the bars are not too sweet, and they have a healthy amount of lemon filling on top. This was the first time I made lemon bars from scratch, and it was surprisingly easy! Lemon bars are another dessert that I used to prefer making from a box, but now that I’ve made them with fresh ingredients, I’ll never go back! Enjoy!

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Classic Brownies

Now brownies are one dessert that I, admittedly, used to prefer to make from a box. The homemade brownies I’ve made in the past were either too cakey or too dry. I am all about fudgy, chewy brownies, so I was ecstatic when I came across this recipe. One of my co-workers brought these bad boys into work, and with one bite, I was hooked. They are very moist, chocolatey, and have a great texture. This great texture comes from a perfect ratio of chocolate and baking powder, so they aren’t too cakey nor fudgy. But, the thing I love the most is that they have a real, true chocolate flavor (sometimes box mix brownies can taste a little artificial). I should also mention that I don’t typically like nuts in my desserts, but for some reason, the walnuts just worked. So all-in-all, this recipe busted both of my preconceived notions about homemade brownies. This recipe may look intimating at first, but I promise, you won’t be disappointed! In the “Notes & Tips” section at the end of the post, there substitutions you can make if you don’t have all of the specific ingredients on hand. Enjoy!

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Banana Bread Brownies

“The older you get, the better you get, unless you are a banana.”

It’s true that once bananas grow old, they may no longer be good for eating, BUT they can be wonderful for baking. One recipe I love to make with ripened bananas is banana bread. It’s one of my favorite things I remember my Mom making as a child because the whole house always smelled like banana bread goodness. Recently I had some over-ripened bananas lying around and I thought about making some bread. However, when I came across this recipe, I was intrigued by the idea of creating something new with bananas. This recipe was a great find because these banana bread brownies with browned butter frosting are absolutely delicious! They are very moist and yield about 2 dozen brownies, so they are good to bring to a party or potluck. Also, the browned butter in the frosting adds another dimension that takes them to the next level! If you are interested making these tasty brownies, I encourage you to read through the recipe first since there are two sets of ingredients and directions (one for the banana bread base and one for the browned butter frosting). Enjoy!

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M&M Cookie Bars

For the first post, I went with one of my favorite, go-to cookie recipes. Recently I made these wonderfully, chewy M&M Cookie Bars for a potluck at work. These bars have a great combo of a light crust with a chewy middle. They are a great spin on a traditional cookie, and the best part is you do not have to bake multiple pans of cookies! See the end of the post for tips on creating successful cookie bars.

M&M Cookie Bars

M&M Cookie Bars

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