Candy, Desserts, Recipes

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Peppermint bark pretzels… a delightful salty-sweet treat! Great for gift-giving, Christmas cookie platters, or a fun cooking activity with your kiddos. 

Peppermint bark pretzels... a delightful salty-sweet treat! Great for gift-giving, Christmas cookie platters, or a fun cooking activity with your kiddos. 

In the continuing chronicles of “Sarah makes easy Christmas recipes” we have this winner of a recipe… Peppermint Bark Pretzels. Just like the Sweet and Spicy Pretzel Snack Mix from the other day, this easy recipe comes together in just a few minutes and tastes freakin’ AMAZINGGG. Yup, amazing! It was serious self-control that allowed these little bites to go from baking sheet to gift bag (aren’t they the cutest?! ALDI!) with only sneaking one or two. #scoutshonor

Peppermint bark pretzels... a delightful salty-sweet treat! Great for gift-giving, Christmas cookie platters, or a fun cooking activity with your kiddos. 

If you love the salty-sweet combo, you’ll love these pretzels! They’re probably a little more on the sweet side since I made them with white chocolate AND peppermint candy cane pieces, but the salty pretzel totally came through too.

Peppermint bark pretzels... a delightful salty-sweet treat! Great for gift-giving, Christmas cookie platters, or a fun cooking activity with your kiddos. 

I think chocolate dipped pretzels would be a great easy recipe to make with kids because they’re pretty foolproof and don’t require tons of precision to still taste good. Sometimes melting chocolate can be a little hairy BUT if you use either high quality chocolate OR those handy-dandy trays of almond bark, your results will be much improved. My little kitchen helper didn’t really help with these (he was more interested in running around the house with the spray bottle aimed at our naughty cat who cannot. leave. the. Christmas. tree. alone. to. save. her. life.) but he sure was enthralled with mama taking photos on the porch!

Peppermint bark pretzels... a delightful salty-sweet treat! Great for gift-giving, Christmas cookie platters, or a fun cooking activity with your kiddos. 

If you need a last minute food gift for the teacher/babysitter/coach/neighbor in your life, definitely consider these! We made them for our son’s daycare teachers and paired them with a small gift card and a note. So easy and cute! Hope you enjoy… and MERRY CHRISTMAS, friends!

Peppermint bark pretzels... a delightful salty-sweet treat! Great for gift-giving, Christmas cookie platters, or a fun cooking activity with your kiddos. 

one year ago: Cranberry Dessert Pizza
two years ago: No-Bake Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bars
three years ago: Orange Spritz
four years ago: Baked Fish Tacos with Cranberry Salsa
five years ago: Cranberry Orange Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup
six years ago: Classic Sugar Cookies
seven years ago: Cranberry Scones

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Print

inspired by Yay for Food

ingredients:

  • 11 ounces good quality white chocolate – I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
  • 3 cups mini pretzels
  • 3-4 candy canes, crushed – I used a food processor

Directions:

Line a couple baking sheets with wax paper.

Melt white chocolate chips according to package directions (typically, I use the microwave and heat for 30 seconds on 50% power, stir, then heat for 15 second bursts until melted). When chocolate is melted, dip the pretzels in to coat. Allow excess chocolate to fall off, then place on wax paper. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, and repeat.

I didn’t worry about fully coating the pretzels, and once I got a good rhythm going I was able to dip a handful of pretzels, lay them out, sprinkle with candy cane pieces, and repeat. I had to reheat the chocolate once for a few seconds towards the end.

Since I used a higher quality chocolate and it’s chilly out, I didn’t have to place these in the refrigerator to set but if it’s warmer, that may be necessary. I forsee trying these in the future with other types of chocolate or even drizzling with a different type of chocolate or nuts. Yum! So many possibilities.

 

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Appetizers, Recipes

Sweet and Spicy Pretzel Snack Mix

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

Sweet and spicy snack mix–a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

As much as I would have liked to, this is just not the year to make alllll the Christmas treats. Traveling, sickness, having a toddler, working… spending hours and hours making a bunch of Christmas recipes just wasn’t going to happen this year. And while that IS a bummer, I’m trying to make the best of it and maybe even make some of my faves after Christmas or at other times of the year. One of the ways I decided to “make the best of it” was to use a couple gift-giving occasions to try new recipes! I chose super easy recipes to make this as low-stress as possible.

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

As some of you may know, I’m an academic librarian. We have great student workers in our library, and we like to celebrate them when we can. For their Christmas gift this year, I was tempted to buy some candy and call it a day, but instead I bought a few easy ingredients at Aldi (my new grocery love! Look for more about Aldi in a new meal planning series I’m starting on my blog in 2018!!) to whip up this easy snack mix. It’s similar to Chex Mix, but with a great sweet and spicy kick.

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

My son and I made this together on a rainy Sunday afternoon and it took maybe 10 minutes to mix and measure everything (and that’s with a toddler helping!!). The vast majority of the hour-long prep time is for baking. If you’re packaging this up in cute little treat bags like I did, you’ll need to allow extra time for cooling. But if not, this is a super quick snack that is fun to make and even better to eat. It’s a little weird but I love eating hot snack mix, fresh out of the oven. No idea why, because who eats hot cereal, pretzels, or crackers? Ha. Ben and I were so sad to give almost all of this away but at least it’s easy enough to make another batch. I might have to do that again soon! Enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Hassleback Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Cranberries, Pears, and Goat Cheese
two years ago: Cranberry Crumb Bars
three years ago: Art Smith’s Macaroni and Cheese
four years ago: Cranberry-Pistachio Citrus Butter Cookies
five years ago: Streuseled Cran-Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
six years ago: Cranberry-Pineapple Sauce
seven years ago: Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Sweet and Spicy Pretzel Snack Mix

  • Servings: 24 (1-1.5 cup) servings
  • Print

adapted from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounce bag mini pretzels
  • 16 ounces honey roasted peanuts
  • 1 box cheese crackers (like Cheez-Its, approximately 13.7 ounces)
  • 6 cups rice or corn Chex cereal (about half of a 12-13 ounce box)
  • 2 cups Cheerios cereal
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or an extra 4 tablespoons butter)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large roasting pan, combine pretzels, peanuts, cheese crackers, Chex, and Cheerios.

In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, canola oil, and honey. Stir in brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder.

Pour over pretzel mixture, and stir until evenly coated.

Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before stirring in dried cranberries.

Reviews

Book Review: Refresh

Today I am reviewing Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by Shona & David Murray.

Today I am reviewing Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by Shona & David Murray.

description of the book from the publisher:

Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes it feels as if everything and everyone demands all of our time, our resources, our energy, and our very lives. Writing to women in the midst of this busy, do-it-all culture, husband-and-wife team Shona and David Murray offer practical tips for living at a more sustainable pace and avoiding exhaustion, depression, and anxiety. Sharing personal stories of their own struggles with overwhelming demands, they give counsel on everything from sleep to social media, relationships to recreation, and exercise to eating. This book encourages women to cultivate a healthy approach to life motivated and moderated by Christ’s transforming grace.

As usual, my five point review:

The premise of Refresh focuses on evaluating our lives through various lenses such as rest, relaxation, reduction, etc. Each of the ten chapters begins with the letter R and is called a “station” at the Refresh Gym. If you read the introduction, you’ll note that Refresh is a feminized adaption (by Shona, presumably) of of a book that David Murray wrote for men, Reset. I found the gym analogy a bit cheesy and did wonder how many women that imagery would appeal to. That aside, I would recommend the book. It began with Shona’s story, detailing her journey towards burn out. The trajectory introduced by the book argues that most (Christian) women are somewhere on this spectrum: stressed –> anxious –> overwhelmed –> burned out –> sad –> depressed –> suicidal (p. 24). I would agree with that notion; I think in our culture it is tough to not fit into one of those categories. I wasn’t clear if that trajectory was research based or not, because I would perhaps organize the spectrum differently, but for the sake of this review: I don’t think it matters.

Though I did not find the majority of this book to be “new” information, what I did wholeheartedly appreciate was the balance between psychological/medical research, self-help tips and tricks, and Gospel truth throughout this book. This was particularly poignant in discussions of physical and mental health, areas that the church doesn’t often address.

The Bible … guides us to care for both the body and the soul. The apostle Paul presents his theology of the body in 1 Corinthians 6:9–20. He starts by admitting that the human body has been damaged by sin (vv. 9–10). However, that doesn’t mean we just forget the body. No, Paul says Christ’s redemption is not just for the soul but also for the body. It’s a full-body and a full-soul salvation. “The body is . . . for the Lord,” insists Paul, “and the Lord for the body” (v. 13). He made it, saved it, and maintains an eternal interest in it. (p. 68)

One of the aspects of the book that I did not like was the approach to relaxation. There was great conversation about the Sabbath, but otherwise the application of annual vacations and daily personal times was a bit too privileged, specific, and (in my opinion) did not give room for factors such as family preferences, finances, and circumstances that do not allow for this. For instance, staycations were not encouraged because “being home” and “not doing anything” was not restful enough. I love vacations and I love personal time, but I know many people who logistically and financially cannot make things like that work, so the chapter seemed a bit exclusionary.

The number one thing I appreciated about this book was the recurring theme about vocation and work. This is so rare in Christian books written for women! Again, there was some privileged discussion here–a “choice” to work (not reality for all women, I know). Priorities in the workplace, balancing family and ministry and personal faith and work, and also accepting imperfection are all addressed at length. Other chapters addressed friendship, family matters, raising children in the faith, and our own personal relationships with God.

In general, I found Refresh to be thought provoking and helpful, a good analysis of how we can deal with life in our busy culture in a healthy, Christ-centered manner. The book closed with some thoughts for living the grace-paced life. So encouraging!

But God has taught me that, no, the grace-paced life is not only his will but more honoring to him. For me, to pace myself means less of my efforts and more of God’s grace. I have had to learn to fight hard against unbiblical, false guilt and personal expectations. I have learned to look up to God before looking across to people and ask: “What does God want me to do right now?” The key is to grasp that pacing ourselves is biblical, whereas living the fast, frantic life is not. It takes faith to believe that and to follow through with it. To live it is in fact a dying to self—a dying to our self-will, our self-sufficiency, and our self image. Have you understood frantic living versus grace-paced living in that way before? (p. 173-174)

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Crossway Blog Review Program for the chance to read this great book!

Bars, Desserts, Recipes

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

Chewy peanut butter bars with lots of milk chocolate chips. These seriously taste like a peanut butter brownie, and they are so easy! Add them to your holiday baking list, stat.

Chewy peanut butter bars with lots of milk chocolate chips. These seriously taste like a peanut butter brownie, and they are so easy! Add them to your holiday baking list, stat.

So, it is December 12. And I haven’t made a single Christmas recipe yet. Eeeek. I had hoped to do that over the weekend, but we all came down with colds (boo) so baking was a no-go. Maybe next weekend. But I still have a sweet treat to share with you guys!! These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies may not be the most Christmas-y recipe you’ll ever make, but they’re pretty darn delicious. If you’re making a big platter of Christmas cookies for a party or making treat bags for friends and neighbors, be sure to include a batch of these. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already. I know I do!

Chewy peanut butter bars with lots of milk chocolate chips. These seriously taste like a peanut butter brownie, and they are so easy! Add them to your holiday baking list, stat.

My favorite thing about these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies (besides how yummy they taste!) is that they have the texture of a gooey, fudgy brownie–including that crinkly top!!–but the taste of a Reese’s cup. It’s crazy!! Crazy good, that is. I can’t wait to make them again soon! If you wanted to make them extra-special for the Christmas season, adding some red and green sprinkles on top would be a fun addition. Or add some chocolate icing and sprinkles… yum! Enjoy, friends!

Chewy peanut butter bars with lots of milk chocolate chips. These seriously taste like a peanut butter brownie, and they are so easy! Add them to your holiday baking list, stat.

one year ago: Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread
two years ago: Pumpkin Cornbread
three years ago: Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream
four years ago: Dark Chocolate Ginger Squares
five years ago: Caramel Apple Dip
six years ago: Honey Yeast Dinner Rolls
seven years ago: Pumpkin Pancakes

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

  • Servings: 24
  • Print

from Bunny’s Warm Oven

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips (reserve 1/3 cup to sprinkle on top if desired)

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. When melted, remove from heat. Whisk in peanut butter until melted. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Fold in flour and baking powder, then stir in chocolate chips (reserve 1/3 cup to sprinkle on top of bars if desired).

Immediately transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved chocolate chips on top, then bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. My brownies took a few minutes longer. Don’t overbake them though!

Cool and then cut into squares to enjoy!

 

Oooey gooey chocolate cups stuffed with edible cookie dough! These little candies are dangerously addictive, friends!
Candy, Desserts, Recipes

Cookie Dough Cups

Oooey gooey chocolate cups stuffed with edible cookie dough! These little candies are dangerously addictive, friends!

Oooey gooey chocolate cups stuffed with edible cookie dough! These little candies are dangerously addictive, friends!

Happy Monday! Happy Monday after Thanksgiving. Back to routine… sigh. But today is a special Monday because we are celebrating! The lovely Kayle of The Cooking Actress is expecting a little boy soon… so some of her blogging friends decided throw her a COOKIE themed virtual baby shower. 🙂 Kayle always bakes the best cookies (and has a slight cookie dough obsession — her words, not mine…) so this theme is PERFECT!

Virtual Baby Shower

I decided to join the fun by making a no-bake cookie dough treat. Cookie Dough Cups are where it’s at, guys! Think peanut butter cups… but instead of peanut butter, you get cookie dough! These little bites are so easy to whip up and are SO delicious. Plus (and I did this just for Kayle and all my pregnant friends out there)… this cookie dough is absolutely 100% safe to eat by the spoonful. We all know that eating raw eggs, especially during pregnancy, is ill-advised but did you know that eating raw flour is also a hazard? Le sigh. So instead of making cookie dough with regular flour, I decided to make cookie dough with OAT flour. Just pulse some oats in a food processor… and presto! Oat flour. This makes the cookie dough a little less traditional, but the nutty flavor it adds is totally worth it.

Oooey gooey chocolate cups stuffed with edible cookie dough! These little candies are dangerously addictive, friends!

These little cookie dough cups would be great to have on hand throughout the holiday season when you need a sweet treat for guests, a unique addition to your cookie plates, or just for a portion-controlled pick-me-up. They are really easy to put together and store well in the fridge or freezer for a few weeks… if they last that long! You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right now… so please make a batch soon. 🙂

Oooey gooey chocolate cups stuffed with edible cookie dough! These little candies are dangerously addictive, friends!

Congrats, Kayle! So excited for you. I know everyone says that girls are “sugar and spice and everything nice” but can I just say that little BOYS are also full of sweetness?? Not just snips and snails and puppy dog tails (whatever that even means)! My little boy is a boy through and through (hello trucks and dirt and messes galore) but he loves hugs, snuggles, and cuddles. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I don’t know if anyone has, but now that I’m a boy mom I feel the need to share my pro-boy agenda with anyone who will listen. 🙂 So glad we could celebrate you today!!

Oooey gooey chocolate cups stuffed with edible cookie dough! These little candies are dangerously addictive, friends!

Be sure to scroll down to see what else was cooked up (ha ha ha) for this cookie themed virtual baby shower! 🙂

one year ago: Loaded Cornbread Waffles
two years ago: Mashed Potato Casserole
three years ago: Gingerbread Muffins
four years ago: Harvest Pear Crisp with Crystalized Ginger
five years ago: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls 
six years ago: Thai Peanut Ginger Chicken Wings
seven years ago: Blackberry Mustard Marinade 

Cookie Dough Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

cookie dough recipe from Show Me The Yummy; method from my Pumpkin Pie Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces chocolate almond bark (or chocolate chips)

Directions:

Set out 12 silicone muffin liners on a baking sheet, or line 12 muffin wells with paper liners.

With a mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in salt, vanilla, and milk.

With a food processor, pulse oats until they turn into flour, then fold into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Melt chocolate almond bark – I usually do this in the microwave, heating on 50% power in 20 second bursts. Stir well each time and be careful not to overheat. Spoon about 1 tablespoon into the bottom of each muffin liner. Then scoop a heaping 1 tablespoon of cookie dough on top. Press down to flatten, then top with a generous 1 tablespoon of chocolate almond bark.

Allow to fully set before removing from muffin liners, then store in the refrigerator or freezer. If you use chocolate chips instead of almond bark, you may need to allow them to harden in the refrigerator or freezer. You may have a little extra cookie dough or almond bark–enjoy eating it or scrape it together to make an extra cookie dough cup! Enjoy!

 

Also, check out the rest of the baby shower recipes made by my fellow hosts!

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies – by Confessions of a Confectionista

Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars – by That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Derby Pie – by The Spiffy Cookie

Chocolate Chip Rice Krispies Treat Cookies – by Pies and Plots

Eggnog Crinkle Cookies – by The Domestic Rebel

Cookie Dough Cups – by The Pajama Chef

Homemade Salted Caramel Oreos – by Eats with With Others

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – by Blahnik Baker