Happiness Project #84: Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake!



It’s been 3 months since starting chemotherapy, and it’s been, without a doubt, the most difficult experience I’ve ever faced. I’m rarely feeling well enough to make it outside more or less whip up new blog posts. And I miss my life before cancer, in every way imaginable.

However, despite now normal neuropathy of my legs yesterday (where it’s painful to walk or stand), I was determined to share my newest, highly decadent milkshake, made with two of my favorite flavor combinations (a favorite combination to most everyone else, too): peanut butter and chocolate! Because you can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate, right? Especially with a recipe THIS easy!

Here’s all you’ll need:

3 scoops natural chocolate ice cream (whatever your favorite brand)

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1-1/2 cups whole milk

*cut up pieces of recesses peanut butter cups for garnish, optional

In a blender, combine all three ingredients and pulse a few minutes until fully combined and smooth. Depending on the size of your serving glasses, you’ll be able to serve 2 to 4 cupfuls.

This is a very thick milkshake so you’ll easily be able to use a spoon while indulging in it.

And can add or stir in cut up pieces of recesses peanut butter cups or mini milk chocolate chocolate chips as an additional garnish, too. Though not necessary. Trust me.


Happiness Project #66: Chocolate Peanut Butter Waffles!


6 weeks. 6 weeks later and this recovery is no fun. This past week has been rough. Emotionally, physically & psychologically. It’s been nearly 3 months since I’ve been able to pick up, run around with or be with my Daughter during the day. And missing my Baby Girl is slowly killing me inside. Which results in anger, frustration and a lakes worth of tears. Tears which could quite possibly reverse the current drought that California is in. Wishful thinking, at least.

So naturally, since chocolate is a girl’s best friend (when the going gets tough), I was determined to create something yummy AND cheer-worthy. All for me today. Forget this menopause weight and always drowning myself in fruits and vegetables. This Mama wanted chocolate and peanut butter. Substitutions not welcome.

Hence this super easy, to DIE for waffle combination. And a little bit of edible happiness on this Tuesday afternoon.

1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Ghiradeli, if you want the best)

Pinch of kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups fresh buttermilk

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Break out that favorite waffle maker! Preheat accordingly.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on a stand mixer (or by hand held), combine the eggs, butter, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Stir, on a low setting, until just combined. Slowly add in the peanut butter.

Add in the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, mixing well. Sprinkle or stir in the mini chocolate chips.

And onwards to those waffles! Using either a large spoon or a 1/2 measuring cup, scoop in the waffle batter. Bake each batch of waffles until the edges are crispy and the center of each waffle is slightly firm to the touch.

Or just smell your way to the perfect texture! I do.

Once all of those lovely waffles are ready for consumption, pour, sprinkle or frost away! I’m a huge frosting snob & will add frosting to just about everything and anything so these waffles were no exception. And since there’s no such thing as too much peanut butter, well, you get the idea.

If you’d like to add a nice dollop of peanut butter frosting to your mound of waffles, here’s my favorite recipe…

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

In a large bowl on a stand mixer (or by hand held), beat in the softened butter and peanut butter, on medium speed, until fluffy and smooth.

Drop the mixer speed to it’s slowest speed and add in the two cups of powdered sugar. Once well mixed, add in the vanilla extract, followed by up to 4 tablespoons of whole milk. Mix on a high for 3 to 4 minutes.

And FROST! With MORE mini chocolate chips! Because chocolate chips, people.

So now, whenever you too, are having an off kind of day, here’s a little something to perk you up.

Happy Waffling, my friends!

Happiness Project#46: Classic Peanut Butter Cookies!


Alright! Alright! After 3 of my friends contacted me within this past month, asking for my well-loved Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, I’ve finally decided to blog it out for them, and well, everyone else, too. Just so I can make finding it (& keeping it) much easier for everyone interested, myself included. Since we all know how crazy a Mother’s life can be during the holiday season, after all. Without the extra madness of hunting down one’s favorite recipe.

The story on this forever favorite home cookie of mine? Years and years ago, before I had gone to Pastry School, I wasn’t able to bake ANYTHING without burning it. Especially cookies. Just between you and me, I couldn’t bake a decent enough cookie to save my life. I didn’t have the patience required, at that point, to truly LEARN and FEEL the craft of baking. Because once you’ve discovered the passion for kitchen wizardry, all you really need to be truly good at it, is the patience to learn the basic baking techniques needed within any staple recipe and the importance of practice. Practice truly does make perfect. Trust me. You have no idea how many hours of the night that I’ve spent in my tiny, little kitchen, re-doing a recipe over and over and over again, until I got it just right. That’s just how it’s done, my friends.

Anyhow, after tweaking this cookie recipe 3 or 4 times, I finally got it just right. Being the super pastry snob that I am, after all. *wink* So from my kitchen to yours, (& all of those 3am baking sprees), here it is!

1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling and sprinkling

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 370F. Dust two baking sheets with granulated sugar or fit with a Silpat baking mat. Seriously, people, go out and buy a Silpat baking mat! It will make all of your baking experiences so much easier (& cleaner). Just do it!

In a large mixing bowl, by handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until fully incorporated. Add in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder and mix well. After scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add in the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly, beat in the flour until just incorporated. Chill your dough for 10 to 20 minutes (especially, if it’s too soft to handle), until it’s firm enough to shape. If you’re planning on using fun cookie cutters, let the dough cool in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes so that’s it’s stiff enough to roll out evenly.

*Tip: most cookie doughs will gradually warm up when being handled for extended periods of time, so don’t hesitate to pop the dough back into the fridge to cool again between filling up each cookie sheet.

Now comes the fun part. Let’s get rolling! By hand (or small cookie scoop), roll the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. Roll each ball gently into reserved granulated sugar until fully coated. Place up to 12 cookie balls onto each cookie sheet. Using a fork, gently flatten by making crisscross markings. Pop the cookie sheet into the oven, one sheet at a time, and bake for 8-9 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

Sprinkle or dust lightly with more (yes, more!) granulated sugar. Though you don’t really NEED to add more sugar. They’re quite yummy as is. I personally just really like that extra pop of sugar on top! Never said I was sensible now, did I? Ha!

There you have it, all of you cookie monsters! The best of all things classic! Happy Baking!

P.S. DO NOT consume these cookies if you’re trying to avoid yummy, sugary temptations. This cookie is NOT at all a good addition to my own Menopause diet. Trust me.

Happiness Project #38: The PERFECT Peanut Butter Brownies!



Brownies. Let’s talk about Brownies. Brownies…perplex me. Because they’re very much like a cake yet flat, with a decisively fudgey texture. And by the way, how wonderful of a word is fudgey? It just screams summer days, languishing on the front lawn, with a scoop of half melted vanilla ice cream dripping joyfully down your fingers. Well, it does to me, anyway. Anyhow, back to the ever so elusive Brownie. I’ve been trying to create the PERFECT Brownie for well over a year now. No matter how many recipes I’ve tinkered with, nothing has just WORKED. Really? But for heavens sakes, why not, you’re wondering. The honest truth? I’m a brownie snob. In the worst way. They’re either too cake-like or too fudgey. Yet never both. And BOTH is what I want. So you can probably imagine how frustrating this year long quest of mine has been. Or ridiculous. Depending on how you see it. To make a long story short, about a month ago, I finally (FINALLY) figured it out. The PERFECT Brownie. With peanut butter, just because. And yes, I am still dancing my silly Happy-Happy-Mama Dance. Because this Brownie is THAT good. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll see. Ready?

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for coating pan

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray or butter a 9×11 inch baking pan. Or use a 12 cup muffin pan, like I did in the above photo. Sur La Table has a lovely 12 cup square muffin pan by Fat Daddio which you can find on their website. Evenly coat the buttered pan with 1/3 cup flour and tap out any excess (flour). Set aside.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chopped chocolate and butter until fully combined. Once melted, transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl and let cool slightly.

Stir the sugar and peanut butter into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon until just combined. Stir in the vanilla extract.

In another small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixer, until just combined. Pour the brownie batter into your buttered/floured pan, spreading evenly, making sure to reach into each corner.

Bake for 19-20 minutes, until a toothpick, inserted in the center of the pan, comes out clean.

Cool throughly, on a wire rack, before cutting up into 12 bars. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Or your favorite peanut butter frosting, like I did. We all know that there’s no such thing as too much chocolate with peanut butter.

And there you have it, my friends. A little bit fudgey on the inside and a little bit cakey on the outside. Perfection? I think so.

Happiness Project #29: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Surprise Cookies!


Wow! What a crazy, beautiful, wondrous whirlwind these past 7 months have been. After two major surgeries, countless hospital stays and unexpected visits to the ER, there’s one thing I’ve found most prevalent: my baby girl makes it all worth it. With every little smile, every big giggle, every tiny reaching hand, this little girl is my everything. She is the meaning of everything good and heroic in this world. She is the meaning of love. My love. And even though being a new Mom means temporarily sacrificing some of my own favorite things, like baking and blogging, I wouldn’t have it any other way. She makes it all so very, very worth it.

So to celebrate returning to the midnight land of baking and blogging, I’m thrilled to be posting this newish cookie recipe. Chocked full of all the yummy things a heart could most desire. You want Peanut Butter? Check! And Oatmeal? You got it! What about some Chocolate? Yes. Please. Then this, my friends, is the cookie for you! A cookie, that in all likelihood, may be the mother of all party cookies. Especially for all of the kids in your life (or those who are big kids at heart). Now some might say that having a cookie studded so liberally with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips AND chocolate M&M’s might be just a tad overkill. I, however, think not. This is one of THOSE cookies that will have everyone around you begging for more. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 granulated sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/4 cup all purpose flour *substitute with gluten free flour if preferred*

3/4 cup quick (cooking) oats *substitute with gluten free quick oats if preferred*

1/2 cup M&M’s

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Firstly & most importantly, preheat your oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats. If you haven’t yet experienced the wonder of a Silpat baking mat, then get yourself over to your neighborhood baking supply store (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table etc..) and get one! They are a bakers godsend! Trust me!

In a large bowl, by hand or stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and both sugars until light & fluffy. Mix in the peanut butter, egg and vanilla extract until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary (to prevent lumps from forming in the batter). Slowly add in the baking soda and flour, for a minute or two at your mixers lowest setting, until just incorporated. Using a wooden or plastic spatula, fold in the quick oats, M&M’s, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

Roll the dough, either by hand or cookie scoop, into 2 to 3  inch balls and line them up on each cookie sheet. Pop them into the oven and bake for 9-10 minutes: around 9 minutes for a softer cookie or 10 minutes for a slightly firmer cookie. I like a little bit of both so I tend to bake mine for 9-1/2 minutes.

After retrieving them from the oven, let them set up a bit more on the cookie sheet for another 5 minutes before gently transferring them to a cooling rack. Store in a airtight container for up to 5 days for maximum freshness. Or you can do what I always do, and eat them all, then and there. That’s the whole fun of baking after all, right? *wink*

Happy Baking, my friends! Hopefully, I’ll be back very soon with another stealthy recipe to share!

*Recipe adapted from sally’s baking addiction

Happiness Project Recipe #25: “Thank You” Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cookies!


As a THANK YOU to my husband, twin sister and closest girlfriend for painting Arianna’s nursery room yesterday, I found myself in the kitchen at 2am whipping up a new chocolate cookie recipe (oh the joys of pregnancy insomnia). With Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. And so you ask, “ANOTHER recipe involving chocolate and peanut butter??” But of course! Who would I be without some chocolate involved? *wink* And no, I’m not hesitant at all about expressing my adamant LOVE for this plump, decadent morsel! This is by far one of the best chocolate cookies I’ve ever tasted! Now I’m sitting here staring at a tupperware container half filled with these peanut buttery swirled beauties while unsuccessfully attempting to restrain my hungry, pregnant self from consuming them all in one mere sitting. This is not an easy thing to do, my friends. Not at all. So in an attempt to feel less guilty about my obsessive tendencies towards gleeful, unbridled consumption, now it’s your turn…

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk

1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped frozen peanut butter cups

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper. Freeze your 1-1/2 cups peanut butter cups for 30 minutes before chopping them up with a serrated knife into small pieces. They will be much easier to handle when frozen.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. In another large bowl on a stand mixture, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg, vanilla extract and milk until smooth. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Gently fold in 3/4 cups of the chopped peanut butter pieces.

Using either a cookie scoop or rolling by hand (I always roll my cookies by hand), drop 1 to 1-1/2 inch dough balls onto your lined cookie sheets. Gently press in the remaining 3/4 cups of chopped peanut butter pieces into the top of each dough ball (FUN!!). Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before serving or store them in an airtight container (for up to 3 days).

Drooling yet? *wink*

Happiness Project Recipe #18: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars!


In all of my 34 years, one of the things I’ve learned most about myself is that once I set my mind (or heart) to doing something, I do it. With 110% of my entire being. And I tend to like to do things on my own, without needing to rely on the help of anyone else (yes, I can most definitely be quite the stubborn perfectionist at times). But since becoming pregnant, I’ve had to re-learn the importance of asking for a little bit of assistance every now and then, particularly in regards to certain physical activities, like carrying full bags of groceries or moving my trusty (& quite heavy) Kitchen Aid stand mixer from one counter to the other (thanks be for a wonderfully helpful husband!). There are, after all, certain things that a pregnant woman should not be doing on her own, as I’ve been repeatably (& lovingly) reminded. So after gathering up all of the paint supplies I needed for re-painting our master bedroom this weekend, my sister threw another pregnancy “No, No” my way. When pregnant, there will be absolutely NO painting! Of any kind! Which pretty much threw my whole “I will paint the entire master bedroom on my own (by choice) this weekend,” plan askew. Therefore meaning that my Imzadi would have to do the entire bedroom on his own, without me. The catch, you ask? I happen to really LIKE painting whereas my Imzadi most decidedly does not. Hence the dilemma. So what did I do as soon as I got home & was able to freely & legally text again? I issued a “need help” plea to some of our closest friends. And true to form, these friends rallied selflessly to the cause. So as a THANK YOU to our wonderful friends for volunteering to help my Imzadi paint our bedroom tomorrow morning, I did what I do best whenever my cup runneth over. I baked up a little something special, just for them. My THANK YOU recipe? Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars! Because who doesn’t like some peanut butter with their chocolate?? I do! Yes, yes, I do!

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar (either light or dark)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease or spray a 9X9 inch baking pan with butter. Dust lightly with flour, gently tapping out the excess (preferably over a sink to alleviate a potentially messy cleanup). Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a stand mixer (or by hand, if you’re prepared to use some elbow grease), beat the eggs and both sugars until smooth. Add the peanut butter and continue mixing until well combined. Beat in the vanilla and butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Once you’ve measured out the flour, baking powder and salt, sift all three directly into the batter. Mix gently on a low speed until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Now, using a rubber spatula, pour the dough into the prepared pan and spread out the entire batter by gently pressing and finessing. The batter will be quite sticky so keep pressing until you reach a desired evenness. Bake for 23-25 minutes until the edges start to brown slightly and the center is springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour before cutting up into bars. Quick tip: using a serrated or small pairing knife is ideal when cutting up even shaped bars.

This will make you approximately 12-16 bars.

If not consuming immediately, you can store them in your fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Aren’t thank you’s delicious? *wink, wink*

*Recipe adapted from “Fat Witch Brownies.”

Happiness Project Recipe #12: Chocolate PB Pretzel Niblets!


Oh Chocolate! Glorious, glorious chocolate! In addition to random, early morning cravings for oyster crackers & sour patch kids, the thought of chocolate alone sometimes gets me through the worst of pain. Unless, of course that thought becomes a horrible, uncontrollable longing at 1am that MUST be fed (imagine dragging yourself out of bed in the middle of the night to spend some quality time with your kitchen)! So in the interest of self preservation, I made that terrible longing for chocolaty, crunchy sweetness a long awaited reality! Hence the birth of my FAVORITE Happiness Project recipe thus far: the Chocolate PB Pretzel Niblet! Yes, this unassuming bite-size morsel has now become one of my all time FAVORITE dessert recipes (and that’s saying something considering the uncountable number of recipes I’ve been tinkering with these past few months)! I quite literally inhaled THREE of them, back to back yesterday, without batting an eye! That’s madness, my friends! Madness! So with no further adieu, here’s the recipe…

1 1/8 cups creamy peanut butter

10 tablespoons confections sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups finely crushed Pretzels

10 ounces milk or dark chocolate candy melts

Break out that apron again! You’re going to need it for this one!

In a medium sized mixing bowl (with a paddle attachment if on a stand mixer), stir together the peanut butter, confections sugar, butter & crushed pretzels until well combined. You can easily do this by hand with a wooden spoon if you don’t have a stand mixer.

Quick tip: Place your pretzels in a closed ziplock bag while crushing them up. Clean up is easier this way. Plus, your kitchen will thank you.

Roll or firmly pinch your mixture into 1 inch balls & arrange them on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. This should make you about 24 pretzel balls. Freeze them for 30-40 minutes until firm.

Before you take your semi-frozen pretzel balls out of the freezer, melt your chocolate candy in a microwave safe bowl on high for about 1 minute, stirring at each 30 second interval. Using a large fork or spoon, dip each ball into your bowl of melted chocolate, gently tapping the fork or spoon on the bowls rim to remove excess chocolate. Deposit your covered balls onto your lined baking sheet & chill in the fridge until the candy coating is set before serving. If not serving immediately, keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Easy, right? Right!

Happy 4th of July, my friends! And happy nibbling!

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