Lazy Day Pie Bites

After spinning myself into an Easter goodie-making frenzy last week, I've been feeling a bit lazy.  This rain doesn't help.  If I didn't have the boys, I'm pretty sure I would've wrapped myself in a blanket up to my eyeballs and stayed there until the sun started shining.

In my semi-alert state, I managed to make these for work-Gooey Cookie Pie Bites adapted from Our Best Bites.  Their blog is one of the first that I started following; I love them.  Anyway, these are super simple and fast.  I didn't even have to dirty my beloved stand mixer.  And I got to use that Pillsbury Pie Crust that has been staring at me every time I open the fridge.  This is the same boxed pie crust my husband insisted he would use to make a quiche, but who are we kidding?  We rarely take the time to make a home-cooked meal anymore.  If it isn't a Dream Dinners, it's nuggets or pizza.  I bake, people, bake-not cook.

So if you are looking for a bite-sized treat to share at a get-together, and you're short on time, these are a life saver.  And not that I don't want you to make my version, but if you are truly short on time, make Our Best Bites version.  I brown the butter (of course).

Cookie Pie Bites ( I call them this because they aren't so gooey once cooled)
adapted from Our Best Bites

-1/2 c. unsalted butter, browned and cooled
-1/2 c. granulated sugar
-1/2 c. brown sugar
-1/2 c. flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. vanilla
-2 eggs
-1/2 c. mini chocolate chips- these are bite-sized treats so stick with mini chips or chop regular size
-1/4- 1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted and salted ( I used a 1/4 c. because only used them in half the batter)

Start by browning your butter.  I use a skillet with a light colored bottom so I can easily see the browning.  Over medium heat, place butter in skillet and melt.  Once melted, start stirring occasionally, it will foam.  While stirring you'll see the bits at the bottom start to color, the butter will become fragrant.  Continue stirring until the bits are dark brown.  Remove from heat and place in a heat resistant container.  Let cool, but not to solid.

In the same pan, add your pecans.  Over medium heat, gently toss the nuts.  Toast until they become fragrant and hot.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, toss and cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

On a floured surface, remove your pie crust from the package and let it get as close to room temperature so it's easier to work with.  Start unrolling dough when you notice it is more pliable.  Flour the top of the pie crust lightly, flour your rolling pin and start rolling out the pie crust.  You want to get it as thin as you can without tearing.  

With a 2 inch-2 3/4 inch round cookie cutter or shot glass-whatever you have handy (I used a scalloped edge biscuit cutter) start cutting out your rounds.  I got exactly 24, just enough to fill my mini muffin pan.  Using your fingers, the rounded end of a butter knife, or the small end of a tart tamper, work the rounds down into the mini muffin pan.

In a medium size mixing bowl, using a spatula, stir together cooled brown butter, sugars, flour, salt, and vanilla.  Add eggs.  Combine mixture well, until all ingredients are incorporated together.

Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  This is where I poured half the batter in another bowl and added the toasted nuts.  My son has nut allergies and this is why I made only half with nuts, and also, not everyone enjoys nuts!

Using a teaspoon, spoon the batter into the mini pie rounds.  Fill till it is just below the pie crust top.  You use more filling if you make larger rounds.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until you notice the pie crust edges are golden and the top of the filling forms a crust.

This home-cooked meal is complete with karate-chop action!

Chocolate Cookies to the Rescue!

Dessert guilt.  I have it.  You see, unlike some of those skinny bloggers, I don't follow up my taste-testing with mile long runs.  It isn't pretty--my running.  I'm pretty sure I flail my arms about like one of those girls being chased in a horror movie.  Oh well.

What to do with this guilt?  I could stop eating sweets, but now that's just silly.  Maybe take a tiny bite?  I'm pretty sure that takes monk-like discipline.  I'm no monk.  Clearly.

OR.  I could just make something with less butter.  OR.  No butter?  Because my logic is that if it doesn't have butter it must be dubbed HEALTHY!

I found inspiration from Joy at Joy the Baker.  And even though I don't know her, I love her.  Her blog always makes me smile.  Not too long ago she made some Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They looked yummy and thick and chocolatey.  And of course, healthier sounding then some of the last few things I've made.

So as dessert guilt was setting in, these cookies came to the rescue.  Bite-size Vegan Double-Chocolate Chip Cookies?  You're my hero!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan)
adapted from Joy the Baker

- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder (or regular)
- 1 Tbsp. espresso powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup organic sugar (vegan certified)
- 2 Tbsp. flax seed meal
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Over the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the first six ingredients (flour-salt).  Whisk together.  In a separate bowl whisk together sugar, flax seed meal, applesauce, oil, and vanilla extract.

Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low and slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Add the 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips.  Continue to stir on low until the batter forms a dough ball.

Press ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or so.  Or the amount of time it takes me to clean-up all the dishes and get my son ready for the day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Remove dough from fridge and pinch off amount to make Tablespoon size balls.  Roll into balls and then press down slightly to make small disks.  If chocolate chips fall out of dough, press them gently on to the top of tiny dough disk.

Bake 9 minutes and remove from oven.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then cool completely on cooling rack.  They are scrumptious still warm, when the chips are all melty.  Yummy Yum.

You could put a few of them in small cello bags and give as cute little bite-size gifts.  People will love you-if that's what you're going for!

Seven Layers of Sinful

Seven Layer Bars.  Magic Bars.  Hello Dolly's.  Whatever you call them in your neck of the woods, if you've made them before, you know these things are RICH.  Well, how about trying a Samoa version of them?  Yeah, I think I hear my jeans crying.

Unlike a similar post of mine, Samoa Bars, where I very sweetly tell those Girl Scouts to pawn their expensive cookies on someone else's doorstep, you in fact need to support them to make this recipe!  So dig deep in that wallet and then be prepared to use an entire box on these bars.  And if you think a Samoa cookie alone is enough to do your diet in, then turn away now, because I'm about to cover them in more chocolate, coconut, and oh, coat it all with some thick and creamy dulce de leche.

Seven-Layer Samoa Bars
- 1 1/2 c. Chocolate Graham Cracker crumbs
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 box Samoa cookies
- 1 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided*
- 1 1/3 c. sweetened, fine-shredded coconut, divided*
- 1 can or 13.4 oz of Dulce de Leche, make your own here
- 1 Tbsp. milk

Cover a 9x13 pan with foil, leaving edges hanging over sides.  Coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine crumbs (make sure the consistency is fine, like sand), melted butter and salt.  Toss until crumbs are moist and then spread over the bottom of prepared pan.  Press crumbs down firmly.

Cut each Samoa cookie into eighths.  Do two or three at a time to speed up the process.  Spread cookie pieces evenly over crumb crust.  Top with 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup of coconut.

Using a spatula, empty the can of dulce de leche into a microwaveable container and add 1 Tbsp milk.  Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each 30 seconds until the dulce de leche is smooth and thinner, about 1 minute.  Spread over top of cookie pieces, chocolate chips and coconut.  Using a spatula, work the dulce de leche down evenly over the toppings.

Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and top with remaining 1/3 cup of coconut, gently press into dulce de leche and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and place pan on a cooling rack.

In microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips, using the 30 second cook/stir method.  Place melted chocolate in a small squeeze bottle, pastry bag, or plastic ziploc bag (with corner snipped) and drizzle melted chocolate over bars*.

Cool bars completely.  Cut and enjoy!

* If you have Chocolate Candy Coating, melt 4 oz. of that in place of the 3/4 c. chocolate chips to drizzle over the top.  I find that candy coating adhered to the coconut better when I made the batch the first time.  The melted chocolate chips still work, it may try to "peel" off the coconut though.  You could also cut the coconut on top back or if you want to omit the top coconut layer all together that would work well too!

*And for more "attractive" squares, wait until after bars are completely cooled and then cut before drizzling melted chocolate on each individual square.

Oreo Revenge

People love Oreos.  And I guess I'll eat them, in a pinch.  "Pinch" being there are no sweets in the house to eat but Oreos.  Not eating something sweet is never an option.  Of course.

An Oreo is "Milk's Favorite Cookie"?  Yeah, because I'm pretty sure it isn't possible to swallow an Oreo without a glass of milk.  But you see, Oreos and I have a long history.  One of those, not-so-repressed, childhood stories.  But, I'll spare you my sad and dramatic tale of a little girl with the most boring, dry sack lunch known to man.  Let me just say a couple Oreos sans milk, while keeping with the theme of said dry lunch, don't have the same appeal when your mouth already feels like a desert.

I need Oreo therapy.  And I say, what better way to get that then by smashing a package of them into smithereens, and making something more delicious than the cookie alone can get you...okay, me?  Besides, I can wield my rolling pin like a maniac and I don't seem as crazy when it's for the sake of dessert.  Get out those frustrations, baby, you have an excuse!

Whipped Oreo Bars (No-Bake)
- 1 Package of regular Oreos, divided
- 3/4 stick or 6 T. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 8 oz. package Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 2 c. Cool Whip, thawed
- 6 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 tsp. corn syrup
- 1 stick or 8 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Completely line a 9x13 pan with foil.  Leave foil edges hanging over to easily lift bars from pan later.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Open a package of Oreos and set 12 aside.  Put the remaining cookies in a resealable gallon bag.  Squeeze the air out and close tightly.  Start crushing the Oreos into crumbs with a rolling pin or other solid, sturdy object.  You can also do this in a food processor.  You want the Oreos to resemble a fine crumb; no large chunks of cookie.

In a large bowl, combine your Oreo crumbs, 6 Tbsp. melted butter, and 1/4 tsp. salt with a fork.  Toss crumbs until evenly coated and moist.  Spread crumbs in your prepared 9x13 pan and pack tightly into the bottom using the back of a spoon, your hand, or a tart tamper.  You want a nice firm crust.  Refrigerate crust while you work on your next step.

Using the same resealable gallon bag, crush the remaining 12 Oreos.  This time you want to crush them to a larger crumb, with chunks of cookie.  Empty into the same large bowl you used in the previous step (this saves you extra clean-up).  Add 2 cups of thawed Cool Whip.

In another bowl, whip softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.  Add to the Cool Whip and crumbs, fold until combined/no cream cheese mixture is visible.  Remove crust from fridge and evenly spread the whipped cookie mixture on the top, making sure to get as flat and level as possible; an offset spatula works perfectly.  Return to fridge.

In a microwave safe bowl or glass bowl over simmering water; melt chocolate, butter, and corn syrup together.  Stir until smooth and glossy.  If using microwave, stop and stir in 30 second intervals.  Remove pan from fridge and evenly spread melted chocolate over whipped cookie filling.  Return to fridge, cool for an hour and then cover pan.  Let bars cool completely to harden, about 3 hours to overnight.

Once bars are set, lift foil and place on a cutting board.  Be careful while cutting, going down on the bars with the point of the blade so as not to squish the filling out.  Keep cool until serving, and then prepare to enjoy Oreos the only way I know how!

Serious Nom