Pepperoni Pizza Bread…*
Dear bakers and bloggers, followers and fans. I have a confession to make. This is the first time in a long time that I am sharing a recipe with you that’s not frosted, chocolatey, or covered in sprinkles. For once, I neglected my KitchenAid, abandoned my sugar canister, and left the peanut butter jar hidden in the lazy susan. For once, I baked something savory that does not need to be paired with a cold glass of milk. You’ll understand why when you taste this bread for yourself.

I was first introduced to this stuffed pizza loaf by Great Harvest and then again by my Aunt over Christmas time. She brought two homemade loaves that were both gone in 8 minutes flat if I recall correctly. By the time I grabbed a plate and made it to the serving platter on which they were sliced, all that was left were the ends. Ugh, who likes those darn butts anyway? Not me said the bee.

I had to find a way to recreate this bread in my own apartment so I could hoard it all to myself. Well…maybe not all of it. I made it for NYE to share with friends and then again this past weekend for my birthday and both times proved a success!
Cheers to my new savory endeavors and to this fabulous Pizza Bread stuffed with blended cheese, Italian herbs and thick sliced pepperoni! :)
The Ingredients…*
Recipe inspired by: Mommy’s Kitchen
1 can refrigerated pizza crust (I used Pillsbury® Classic Pizza Crust)
30 slices pepperoni (I used a 3.5oz package of Hormel)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (to include parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, your preference (I used a pizza blend and mozzarella)
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Pizza sauce for dipping (jarred or homemade)
The Instructions…*
(1) Spray the counter with nonstick spray and lightly dust with flour. Using a rolling pin, flatten thawed pizza dough into a rectangle (about 10 x 16).
(2) Lightly brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
(3) Arrange pepperonis to your liking and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
(4) Starting from one end, roll dough like a jelly roll and pinch seam to seal; place, seam side down, onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray (or covered in foil).
(5) Brush top of roll with the more olive oil and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of seasoning. Lightly dust with parmesan cheese and sprinkle with a small handful of shredded cheese, if desired.  
(6) Let dough rest for about 30-45 minutes in a warm place (I placed mine atop the warm oven).
(7) Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the bread is cooked through.
(8) Allow 10-15 minutes for bread to cool before slicing. Serve with heated pizza sauce on the side and enjoy!
Peppermint Marshmallow Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies...* 
  …you had me at peppermint marshmallows

As I discovered with my Thumbprint Cookies, I am intrigued with the combination of chocolate and peppermint. They are two distinct flavors that pair extremely well together in mochas, candies, and of course, in cookies. Inspired by Miss Picky Palate’s love for stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into cookie dough, I too, had the urge to stuff something sassy in mine.

I found a bag of Peppermint Marshmallows at Target (alongside a zillion other flavors that were calling my name), and I just had to have them! I started adding them to my peppermint hot chocolate for an extra minty taste, and then I started eating them straight from the bag…but eventually, I decided to attempt these cookies because they were all I could think about at the time. And now that I look at the pictures, they’re all I’m thinking about now.  
The Ingredients…*
Recipe adapted from: Nestle 
Yields: 2-3 dozen, depending on size
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 large eggs 
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Milk Chocolate Morsels
1 bag Kraft Jet Puffed Peppermint Marshmallows

The Instructions…* 
(1) Preheat oven to 375° F.
(2) Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. 
(3) Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels.
(4) Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten dough balls and press 3-4 marshmallows in the middle. Top with another rounded tablespoon of dough and pinch sides together to form a seal. Roll ball in hands to ensure rounded, sealed edges.
(5) Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Gooey, pepperminty, marshmallowy middles  J
If there was one thing I learned quickly as a child, it was to always clean my plate.
I also learned to share…whether I liked it or not ;)
Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles...* 
  dare ya to say that 10x  

Normal people with normal jobs work Monday through Friday and have the weekends to enjoy time with friends and family. I, on the other hand, will never live that ‘normal’ life because I signed my life away to the hospitality industry—to restaurants, bakeries, hotels, and retail shops that never close, even on holidays. My days off are usually Tuesday and Wednesday, when no one is home to spend time with. On occasion, I look forward to the lazy mornings where I stay in my Victoria’ s Secret Pink Boyfriend pants all day long and talk to my KitchenAid mixer as if it were my friend. “First I need to cream the butter. Oh shoot darn it, forgot the vanilla. Just a tiny little splash for you. Okay I think that should be good. Now go back to work while I clean these dishes….” What a loser.

I also spend a good portion of these days planning my fairytale wedding via Pinterest and filing up virtual shopping carts on my favorite websites with things I want, but cannot afford. My favorite part, however, is catching up on my favorite blogs and gathering up inspiration for baking, organizing, and crafting. When I saw Jessica’s post for these ‘Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles,’ I stopped breathing. After I reread the title about 4 times, I started to scroll through her pictures and my heart began to race. I needed these little truffle balls in my life immediately. As much as my waistline hates me at the moment, I’m sure glad I gave these little guys a try—they have changed my life for the better! Thanks, Jessica! :)
The Ingredients…* 
Recipe by: How Sweet Eats 
Yields: 50-60 balls, depending on size 
2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup crisped rice cereal
2 1/2 – 3 cups milk chocolate chips

The Instructions…* 
(1) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and butter until creamy and smooth.
(2) Gradually add in vanilla extract and powdered sugar with the mixture on low, speeding up once it becomes more combined. At this point you should have a ‘cookie dough’ texture (depending on your brand of peanut butter you may need a little more sugar – add it 1-2 tablespoons at a time while mixing). 
(3) Using a spatula, gently fold in crisped rice cereal so it gets distributed through the batter, adding more is desired. Be careful not to crush all the cereal so it stays crispy.
(4) Once combined, roll dough into balls and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Some of the balls will have crisped rice edges sticking out and some may be crumbly – that’s okay, just roll as smooth as you can occasionally squeezing the dough together if needed.
(5) Refrigerate for 60-90 minutes. 
(6) Melt chocolate in either the microwave or in a double boiler. 
(7) Remove peanut butter balls from fridge and dip in chocolate, then place back on parchment.
(8) Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
Orrrr you can be like me and eat them all in 3 hours. Just kidding….kinda :)
Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
…coconut flakes = snow flakes

As much as I hate being cold, and the thought of unbearable Michigan winters, I have to admit,
I have been missing the snow a lot lately. It’s Friday, January 13 (whoa, that’s scary), and we FINALLY HAVE SNOW! While I did enjoy the high 50’s and sunshine we’ve had in Chicago the past couple weeks, I secretly wished there would be snow for my birthday. However, now I know why they say ‘be careful what you wish for…’ Instead of a light dusting of sparkly snow, we now have 8 feet of snow and slush, paired with blistering cold winds the day of my birthday party. Yay :/ Just wonderful.  Now how am I supposed to wear my new rock glitter Guess pumps and my ModCloth emerald green party dress?  

To celebrate the first snow storm of this winter, I made Chocolate Cupcakes topped with a Coconut Buttercream and covered in shredded coconut. The intention was to make them resemble cute little snowballs…hit or miss?

Either way, they’re absolutely delicious and the perfect way to celebrate (or curse) the snow fall
The Ingredients…*
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe by: Fergal Connolly, 500 Cupcakes
Yields: 1 dozen
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick sweet butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Coconut Buttercream
Recipe adapted from: Savory Sweet Life
2 sticks butter, room temperature
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon coconut extract
Up to 4 tablespoons milk (you can use Coconut milk for more flavor if you want!)
1-1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
The Instructions…*
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
(1) Preheat the oven to 325° F. Place 12 paper baking cups in a muffin pan.
(2) Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until melted; set aside to cool.
(3) In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until pale and thick. Fold in the chocolate and then the flour, mixing until well combined.
(4) Spoon batter into the cups. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the Coconut Buttercream…
For the Coconut Buttercream
(1) Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed
(2) Add 3 cups of powdered sugar slowly and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter
(3) Increase mixer speed to medium and add coconut extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for 3 minutes
(*) If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time
To Assemble…*
(1) Top cooled cupcakes with coconut buttercream frosting using flat knife or piping bag
(2) Dunk (or sprinkle) freshly frosted cupcakes with coconut shavings
Now does it look like a snowball? Please say yes.
Although these are the kind of snowballs I would love someone to throw at me :)
Now back to the drawing board….what to wear tonight with my new sassy shoes? Emerald dress or skinny jeans and a sparkly top? #birthdaygirlproblems

Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies
…like a muffin top, but better

Sometimes I eat cookies for breakfast. Sometimes they replace my lunch. Most of the time, however, I eat them raw, straight out of the bowl. It’s safe to say that I could eat cookies for all my meals and be perfectly okay with it. Although, I guess I would feel better if I knew they were stuffed with fresh blueberries because at least that way I could justify getting my fruit serving in for the day. 

Plump and soft like muffins, round and crumbly like cookies, these brown sugar blueberry treats are undeniably delicious. It has been recommended by many of you that I start baking with fresh fruits. Well, here you have it—this one’s for you! Enjoy J
The Ingredients…*
Recipe by: How Sweet Eats  
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
The Instructions…*
(1) Preheat oven to 375° F.
(2) Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth.
(3) Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combine, about 2 minutes. 
(4) Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon with the mixer on low speed. Mix until dough comes together. Add in milk. If dough is still crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together.
(5) Fold in blueberries gently with a spatula – it is okay if they break a bit. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
(6) Remove dough from fridge and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls or scoop out with an ice cream scooper. (7) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
Let cool completely and enjoy! 
So scrumptious, you won’t leave any crumbs behind!
Chocolate Banana Oat Bars
…for my rediscovered love of bananas + chocolate  

A few weeks after working at Sprinkles Cupcakes, I discovered that I have fallen in love with bananas all over again. Well, eh-hem, let me correct myself. I have rediscovered my love for chocolate banana flavored everything.There are only three days a week that we bake this wondrous flavor combination in cupcake form—Banana Dark Chocolate. Out of ALL the cupcakes we bake and ALL the cupcakes I love, this one is by far my favorite. But obviously I need to have it more than three days a week because well, I just do.

Inspired simply by these flavors, I created a healthier dessert option for myself to enjoy the other 4 days a week. These lighter dessert bars are loaded with oats, bananas, chocolate chips, and drizzled with a dark chocolate ganache (because I just couldn’t resist).  
The Ingredients…*
Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips, divided
1 cup heavy cream
The Instructions…*
For the Banana Oat Bars
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 15x10x1-inch baking sheet.
(2) Blend flour, cookie oats, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside
(3) Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until well blended.
(4) Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, then vanilla.
(5) Stir in flour mixture, and then fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.  
(6) Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Meanwhile, prepare ganache…
For the Chocolate Ganache
Recipe adapted from: All Recipes
(1) Place the remaining cup of chocolate chips into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
(2) Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over bars. 
(3) Finally, cut into 3x2-inch bars and serve :)
Oh me, oh my! I'm drooling thinking about how good these were.....

little shortcake...*