Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars

These little trashed up shortbread cookie bars are just…words are escaping me because they’re just flat out AMAZING! Buttery shortbread cookie bars laden with candy bits, and the best part about these trashed up cookie bars? They’re part of a virtual baby shower celebrating the fabulous Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats.


For those of you that don’t know Jessica’s blog…wait a second, I should rephrase that because everyone knows the amazingness of the How Sweet Eats blog. Get ready to hear a lot of the word ‘amazingness’ throughout this post…fair warning? Because I have been such a fan of her blog, it’s a little embarrassing my level of excitement for these shortbread cookie bars; I made them 3 separate times just to be sure they were perfect!


OMG you guys, Jessica loves trashed up recipes, glitter, neon, and lots of exclamation points!!! A girl clearly after my heart and you can better believe her baby is going to be THAT kid … you know, the one with the cutest clothes and always that has most delicious lunches…I foresee a lot of lunch theft… I need to have my sisters-in-law (who are teachers) teach Jessica’s future child in hopes of her baking cookies or something for the class which they will then deliver to me! I mean, just last week she made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Stuffed Caramel Apples! Allow me to pick up my jaw from the keyboard!


Ok, so these shortbread cookie bars…they come from a place of love and admiration. And a place of having about a million and one pieces of left over Halloween candy. Why do I have so much left over Halloween candy? Because my husband is a giant softie when it comes to buying candy for trick-or-treaters. He goes overboard to say the least. Like suuuuuper overboard. I distinctly remember the conversation: Me ‘honey, we don’t need a shopping cart for one bag of Halloween candy’ My Hubby ‘yes we do, we need at least 5 bags so we don’t run out.’ I just rolled my eyes and went with it, hey, I didn’t want to be the Grinch that stole Halloween.


We get home, with our giant bags and he starts separating them by type. BY TYPE OF CANDY!!! Ocd much? But does he hand out candy to the droves trick-or-treaters? Nope, he goes ‘honey, I put out a lawn chair for you, and the bowls of candy are out there so you can let the kids can choose what candy they want’


I went outside and sat myself down in my designated lawn chair and looked down at the three bowls of candy and started just dumping them into one bowl, and wouldn’t you know, he heard me! Lol! He came outside and started separating them again and was doing on Quality Control patrol the rest of the afternoon. I couldn’t stop laughing and was texting my girl Lynn throughout and she joked that I was put on quarantine by him.


And did we have 5000 trick-or-treaters? No, of course not, so I was left with giant bags of candy, more than appropriate to bring to work.

candy trash

So I set out to baking these little beauties, they are perfect for using all that left over Halloween candy, and definitely perfect for a baby shower. I had been staring at the empty candy wrappers and said to my hubby ‘I should call these candy trash shortbread cookie bars’ and it was his turn to laugh.


You’ll want to cut the bars right after they come out of the oven, then you’ll frost them:


Then you’ll let them cool, sprinkle a little sanding sugar on them and bring them to a baby shower. Another cool thing about these trashed up shortbread bars is that they keep very well for a few days, so if you need to make them ahead of time, go for it and just store them in an air tight container.


Want some more deliciously ‘trashed’ up recipes? Check out these amazing virtual baby shower participants, and again, a HUGE CONTRATS to Jessica!

trashed up salads

  1. Gimme Some Oven – Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce
  2. The Lemon Bowl – Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za’atar Crostini
  3. With Style & Grace – Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

trashed up cocktails

  1. Dine & Dish – Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
  2. Food For My Family – Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail
  3. Minimalist Baker – Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes
  4. Stylish, Stealthy & (sometimes) Healthy – Apple Cider Shandy
  5. A Spicy Perspective – Preggy Punch Mocktail
  6. Girl vs. Dough – Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
  7. Honestly Yum – Maple Bacon Pisco Sour
  8. Cookin Canuck – Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
  9. A Thought For Food – Mezcal Citrico Cocktail
  10. A House in the Hills – Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer
  11. The Novice Chef – Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider
  12. Bran Appetit – Citrus Cider Punch Floats

trashed up burgers

  1. Edible Perspective – Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy
  2. The Little Kitchen – Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie
  3. Daisy At Home – Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese
  4. Cookies & Cups – Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger
  5. Climbing Grier Mountain – Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy
  6. Dessert For Two – Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
  7. Country Clever – Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini
  8. Foodie Crush – The Best Cheeseburger Soup
  9. Lady and Pups – Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs
  10. Two Peas & Their Pod – Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese
  11. Bake Your Day – Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

trashed up tacos

  1. Spoon Fork Bacon – Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos
  2. The Fauxmartha – Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos
  3. With Food + Love – Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos
  4. Mountain Mama Cooks – Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon
  5. Heather Christo – Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce
  6. A Couple Cooks – Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
  7. Fitnessista – San Diego Lobster Street Tacos

trashed up desserts

  1. Table for Two – Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles
  2. My Name is Yeh – Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up
  3. Picky Palate – Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes
  4. Sprinkle Bakes – Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes
  5. Averie Cooks – Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
  6. Sweet Phi – Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
  7. Love & Olive Oil – Loaded Junk Food Brownies
  8. Lauren’s Latest – Bakery Sugar Cookies
  9. Cookie + Kate – Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
  10. Flourishing Foodie – Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
  11. The Sugar Hit – Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake
  12. Hummingbird High – Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts
  13. Top With Cinnamon – Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake
  14. Bake at 350 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
  15. Simple Bites – Lemon Layer Cake
  16. Bakerella – Baby Block Cake Pops
  17. She Wears Many Hats –  Chocolate Covered Grapefruit

trashed up pizza

  1. Bev Cooks – Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
  2. Rachel Cooks – Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust
  3. Foodie With Family – Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza
  4. Shutterbean – Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza
  5. i am a food blog – Grilled Cheese Pizza
  6. My Life as a Mrs – Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
  7. Simply Scratch – Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle
  8. The Beeroness – Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza
  9. Yes I Want Cake – Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
  10. Two Red Bowls – Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza
  11. Dula Notes – Pork Bahn Mi Pizza
  12. Weelicious – Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets
  13. Take a Megabite – Roasted Beet Pizza
  14. Hungry Girl Por Vida – Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta
  15. Bakers Royale – Trash’d Street Tacos

Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 50-60 small triangles
  • 3 Sticks Butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ Cup Powdered sugar
  • 2½ Cups Flour
  • ⅓ Cup Cornstarch
  • 1 Cup Candy, crushed (I used 2 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a ½ cup Whoppers, and ⅓ Cup Heath Bars)
  • ⅛-1/4 Cup Water
  • -For the frosting-
  • 3 Tbs Butter, melted
  • ¼ Cup Milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • -optional-
  • 1-2 Tbs Sanding Sugar for Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer beat butter for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides and add the powdered sugar and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and add the flour and the corn starch. Beat slowly until the dough resembles a crumbly mixture.
  3. Next add the cup of candy pieces and beat until incorporated. If it is very dry and crumbly, add ⅛-1/4 Cup water so that the mixture comes together.
  4. Spread into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven, and immediately transfer the parchment paper and shortbread bars to a cutting board or flat surface and cut them into squares, and then each square into a diagonal.
  5. While the shortbread bars are baking make the frosting. To do so mix all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer until they are creamy and well mixed together. Pour frosting over the warm, cut shortbread bars. If using sanding sugar sprinkle it on top of the frosting.
  6. Allow bars to cool completely, then separate them with a butter knife by running the knife along the lines you have already cut. Then enjoy!


Squash Cakes with Coconut Cream {Vegan Thanksgiving Dessert}

These delicious Squash Cakes with Coconut Cream are not only a unique, sweet and tasty way to enjoy squash, but are also vegan making them the perfect vegan dessert for Thanksgiving, and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are, as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias

Every year I look forward to squash season because it signals that Thanksgiving is near. And every time I see squash, I remember my mom pointing out the different types of squash at the grocery store.  So when I was at #MyPicknSave this week and saw the beautiful squash display, I just couldn’t resist buying a few to start making some Thanksgiving themed recipes.

Acorn Squash at Pick n Save

Squash are such a versatile vegetable. They can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, but are notoriously hard to cut and cook.


However, I’m here share to a squash cooking technique that won’t leave you with sore arms (hence letting you enjoy squash even more!). It’s embarrassingly easy, you cut your squash in half, scoop out the innards (seeds and ‘guts’) and the put the halves in a microwave safe container and cook. That’s it! Then you can scoop out the squash and use it for your recipes! This method definitely works best if you want to use squash for puree, like in this recipe.


If you ask me, part of the fun of Thanksgiving is trying all the new dishes that make their way into the lineup. With big families on both my side (I have three sisters, in-laws, and friends) and on my hubby’s side (he has two sisters and then in-laws, more family and friends) it’s always so fun to see what everyone brings.  And now that I think of it, the past three years I have made a dish that incorporates squash…is that weird? I think not, I’m just going to say that that’s my ‘thing’ lol.


And how cute are little desserts in ramekins? So this year my squash dish is going to be a sweet one. Little squash cakes topped with coconut cream! The dense cakes make me almost think of a pudding consistency, and are perfectly complimented by the coconut cream. I like to serve the cakes warm, which makes the coconut cream a little melty and perfect for dipping ones’ spoon into the little ramekins for bite after bite.


What are some of your favorite things about Thanksgiving? I like to find recipe inspiration from Pick ‘n Save’s social media accounts (Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter).

Squash Cakes with Coconut Cream {Vegan Thanksgiving Dessert}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 Acorn squash - cooked, about 1½ cups cooked squash (a little more or less is ok)
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk, unsweetened
  • 2 Tbs Sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Start by cutting the acorn squash in half. Clean out the innards, then put in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 12 min, or until the squash is easily poked by a fork. Remove from microwave and allow to cool for a few minutes before taking a spoon and spooning the squash (you'll scoop it out of the skin) into the bowl with the cake batter you'll have started while the squash was cooking.
  3. While the squash is cooking make the coconut cream. To do so you'll take a can of coconut milk and without having shaken it you'll open it. You'll find that there is solid/yet semi-soft white looking coconut after you open the can. Take a spoon and scoop the solid white coconut contents into a bowl. Stop scooping when you reach the clear coconut liquid (this you can throw out or save for a different recipe. Now add the two tablespoons sugar and with a hand mixer beat until the coconut cream forms peaks when a spoon is run through it (I whipped mine for 5 minutes.) Now take half the coconut cream and transfer it to another bowl.
  4. In the bowl with half the coconut cream now add flour, sugar, vanilla and baking powder. Beat with a hand mixer until incorporated (about 30 seconds, then when the squash is done cooking, scoop the squash into this batter and beat again with a hand mixer (about 1 minutes to incorporate it).
  5. Spoon batter into 4 ramekins and bake on cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes or until you see the cake has puffed up. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes (they'll unpoof and settle down forming a little well). Spoon a dollop of remaining coconut cream on each ramekin and serve!


Rocky Road Brownies In a Mason Jar

Are you ready to #TasteTheSeason ? These delicious Rocky Road Brownies In a Mason Jar are the perfect gift for this upcoming holiday season, and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias

To say the holidays are fast approaching is the understatement of the year! Christmas is less than two months away…and with that realization I’ve been busy making lists of everyone I need presents for: family, friends, coworkers, hosts of holiday parties, etc. And you know what? It adds up pretty quickly! With over 50 people on my list, buying everyone a million dollars’ worth of presents is just not a reality for me (this year lol).

So with the dilemma of gift giving on my mind, I was standing in the baking aisle at Walmart and saw all the amazing ingredients and remembered my mom always telling me that the best gifts are homemade ones that come from the heart.


And since I talk and write about food all the time (food connects us all, and everyone eats, so if we’re having a conversation, chances are the conversation will turn to food) I decided to make rocky road brownies in a jar! I’m such a sucker for anything cute in a jar…my husband even likes to joke that I wanted to start a business with baked goods in jar (so clearly I think of presents and baked goods in jars quite often!)

The amazing thing about this gift (aside from being super delicious) is that it’s not pricey to make, and it transports really well. If you’re traveling for the holidays a tip for traveling would be to wrap up the jars in a towel in your luggage!

To make these you’ll start by laying out all your ingredients and your empty jar. Then, what I like to do is use a piece of paper (just a regular piece of printer paper) for a funnel to help the ingredients get in the jar. I put them in in this order: flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts and then wrap the marshmallows in plastic wrap (this keeps them from drying out). Then you’ll put the cap on the mason jar to seal it and then add a label (click here for printable labels.)


Then when you gift the rocky road brownies, they’re super easy to make, the maker only needs one stick of butter, two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.


If you need more inspiration, check out the Cooking Up Good website. They have recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!


Rocky Road Brownies In a Mason Jar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 jar-9 brownies
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • ½ Tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, or Bakers Chocolate cut up into chunks
  • ½ Cup Walnuts, Planters Brand
  • ½ Cup Marshmallows, cut up, or mini marshmallows, Jet Puff Marshmallows brand
  • 1 Quart Wide Mouth Mason Jar
  • Ribbon for garnish
  • Labels
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. To assemble the jar- using a piece of paper as a funnel, start by pouring ingredients into the mason jar in the following order: flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts. Then wrap the marshmallows in plastic wrap and put it on top of the nuts. Put the lid onto the jar, and add a label and gift to someone special.
  2. If making the rocky road brownies- Preheat oven to 350. Line a square baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a bowl add stick of butter and microwave it for 30 seconds. Then add eggs and vanilla extract and stir.
  3. Next add contents of the jar (minus the marshmallows) and stir. Pour batter into the prepared pan and then top with marshmallow pieces. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove from oven, allow to cool, then lift the parchment paper out and cut brownies (you can cut either 3 or 4s, so you'll get 9 or 12 brownies.)


5 Ingredient Hazelnut Cake {& 3 Year Bloggiversary & Giveaway!!}

Can you believe that you can make a cake (with frosting) using only 5 ingredients? Yup, it’s true!


This delicious 5 Ingredient Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate and Whipped Cream Frosting is not only perfect for this week’s Five Ingredient Friday Series, but is perfect for helping me celebrate my 3 year Bloggiversary (and such a celebration clearly deserves cake!)

3 years ago on this very day I hit publish on my first post, that was 408 posts ago…OH MY GOSH! Seriously, 3 years? over 400 posts? I feel like I need to pinch myself! And as this post goes live, I’m in Kansas City at a blog conference learning all about how to improve and grow my blog (it’s such a fun learning process!)

If you would have told me 3 years ago what this blog would turn into (let alone that I’d have a blog), I probably would have looked at you and laughed (and thought you didn’t take all your meds that morning).

I started this blog as a little space on the web to share recipes because I always loved cooking and baking and loved connecting with family and friends over food, but didn’t really have any rhyme or reason as to what I was doing or posting. I’d post every once in a while with some pretty horrible photos, like horrible, horrible (but you know what? At least the feedback has always been that it tasted amazing).

Then last year after a really fantastic conversation with my hubby (who is so supportive and the best sounding board) about how I was really starting to like blogging and how I wanted to spend more time on it, I decided to really ‘give it a go’ to try and improve my blog. So while yes, today is my 3 year bloggiversary, I still feel like I’m a total newbie and have soooo much to learn!

And while I struggle with ‘putting myself out there’ for all to judge, having self doubt and comparing myself to others (how could one not? there are so many fantastic blogs out there), it is nothing compared to the joy I get when I receive an email or comment for someone telling me how I’ve made life just a tiny bit easier because I’m taking the guess work out of what to make for dinner or just connecting with others (can I just say that I’ve met and actually made ‘friends’ with other bloggers and readers, how cool is that?) through my blog, or learning a new set of it makes me smile and makes me truly happy (we’ll just skip over those times that I’ve crashed my site, multiple times, and thought the world was going to end.)

My mom gave me the sweetest analogy, she said that my blog is like a little seed, that it is better to grow it slowly and organically and nurture it, rather than spraying it with chemicals, and sitting back and watching it explode.

So THANK YOU amazing readers for making this journey something I am truly enjoying!

I wish I could bake each and every one of you a cake and celebrate this little blog birthday, but since I can’t, I thought I’d do a giveaway!

As my way of saying thank you I’m giving three readers a $25 Visa Gift Card  (why three winners? because this blog just turned three!) To enter simply leave a comment with the number of commenter you are (#1, #2, #3 etc…  followed by your comment)  and I’ll use to select three winners Oct. 31st, 2014. What should you comment with? Anything! I’d just love to hear from you…you could tell me something about yourself, what’s your favorite food? Have you ever made a Sweetphi recipe? How long have you been reading my site? Any suggestions for improvement? Anything you like that you wouldn’t change?


Now onto making this fabulous cake! It’s super simple, all you need is 5 ingredients (hazelnuts, eggs, sugar, heavy cream and chocolate chips) and you’ll be set to go. Then you’ll whip up your egg whites until soft peaks form, and then fold in the egg yolks and sugar that have been whisked together, followed by folding in the finely chopped hazelnuts. Then you’ll bake the cake, let it cool and then frost it. You’ll essentially be making a sponge cake, it’s super light and fluffy and not heavy.


Just grab a fork and enjoy !


5 Ingredient Hazelnut Cake {& 3 Year Bloggiversary & Giveaway!!}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  • 2 Cups Hazelnuts (filberts), skins removed
  • 5 Eggs, separated
  • 1 Cup Sugar plus 1 Tbs
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside, and line a springform pan bottom with parchment paper, then assemble the pan and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Pour hazelnuts onto the aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until they are toasted and nice and golden brown (I like to shake the pan about halfway through so that the nuts toast evenly). Remove from oven, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. In a food processor process the toasted hazelnuts until there are no more big chunks of nuts left, about 1 minute - you don't want to over process it because you don't want it to become a paste, it should look mealy.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat egg whites until soft white peaks form (mine take between 5-7 minutes form, you could also do this with a hand mixer.) A tip to remember is that the bowl you put your egg whites in should be completely clean, so I always do this step first.
  5. In a separate bowl using a stand mixer or hand mixer beat the egg yolks and then slowly add 1 cup of sugar in a steady stream while beating the yolks and beat until it is a smooth light creamy color (about 2 minutes).
  6. Now fold alternatively into the egg whites big spoonfuls of the egg yolk mixture and hazelnuts, starting and ending with the hazelnuts. Make sure you always fold under so that your cake is nice and fluffy, not dense.
  7. When batter done, spoon it into the springform pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  8. In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips by microwaving them in 30 second intervals, stirring at each interval, until the chocolate chips are melted (mine take 1 minute 30 seconds usually). Spoon the chocolate over the cake.
  9. In a bowl beat the heavy cream and 1 Tbs sugar until it the beater leaves marks and is whipped cream consistency - mine takes 5 minutes usually. Now you can just spoon it onto the cake and spread it, or you can put it into a frosting/piping bag and frost it (I usually just spoon it into a zip lock bag, cut off a tip and viola, frosting bag). If not serving cake right away, you can put it in the fridge for storage, when the cake cools the chocolate gets hard and forms a cool layer that cracks when cut!

3 winners chosen using and emailed 11/1/2014

Chocolate Fig Tart {Gluten Free & Vegan}

This chocolate fig tart is both gluten free and vegan, and is the perfect delicious and sophisticated dessert that everyone can enjoy!


So, I have a pressing question for you…have you ever been able to purchase fresh figs?

If so….1-I am jealous 2-please share where you got them and 3-I am extremely jealous!

Fresh figs have eluded me for YEARS! Every time I think they’re supposed to be in season (late summer/early fall?) I’ll be on the lookout for them, but have never been able to actually find fresh ones (at one point I think I called 6 different grocery stores when someone mentioned to me in passing they had seen figs!)

The last time I (or I should really say- the one and only time) was able to find fresh figs was when my friend Charlotte (congrats to her-she’s getting married next year and is my awesome photog friend from NC) and I were at a farmers market in Raleigh when it pouring rain, right before I flew home from my bachelorette party (pic from that glorious day here – August 5, 2012).  In the craziness of the rain and excitement, I spotted figs and purchased them to fly home with (I feel like I should get a special pass for security going between Raleigh and Milwaukee, in 2012 in was figs, last Christmas I made my hubby carry a backpack full of cheese for this same friend in NC… I sense a pattern lol).

So, when I actually spotted fresh figs at Fresh Market, I bought the one and only carton they had, did a little happy dance, and definitely was ‘that girl’ calling my husband and loudly proclaiming ‘I FOUND FRESH FIGS!!!! OMG OMG OMG I’M SO EXCITED’


And since I want everyone to enjoy figs and chocolate, I made this recipe both gluten free and vegan!

The crust of this tart is made with delicious walnuts giving it a nice nutty flavor, and then the chocolate is fudgey and gooey and is topped off with the subtle, yet sweet fig fruit. Makes for delicious bite after bite!


Oh elusive figs, how I love thee!

Chocolate Fig Tart {Gluten Free & Vegan}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  • -For the crust-
  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • ¼ Cup Gluten Free Flour (I use King Arthur Flour brand)
  • 2 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • -For the tart filling-
  • 1 Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • ⅓ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tbs Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3 Tbs Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6-8 oz Fresh Figs, quartered
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a tart pan with cooking spray (I have a removable bottom tart pan).
  2. To make the tart crust put all ingredients in a food processor. and process until they come together in a crumbly mixture (it's ok if there are some walnut chucks left). Pour the contents into the tart pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to form the tart crust.
  3. Next make the tart filling. In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips in 30 second intervals stirring in between. When the chocolate has melted (mine usually takes two minutes in the microwave). Next pour the brown sugar into the chocolate and stir to incorporate, then next spray a measuring up with cooking spray and then pour the corn syrup into it (this way it won't stick to the measuring cup). Then pour the corn syrup into the chocolate mixture, then stir, then pour the coconut oil and the gluten free flour and vanilla into the batter and stir so that everything is incorporated. Then pour the batter into crust, then lay pieces of fresh figs around the border of the tart and bake the tart for 30-40 minutes, until it is bubbly. Remove from oven and let it cool completely (it will form a sticky-fudgey consistency when it cools). Slice and enjoy!


Pumpkin Butter Pumpkin Loaf {the BEST EVER Pumpkin loaf}

This is, hands down, the best ever pumpkin loaf I have ever had…the secret being that it is made with pumpkin butter AND pumpkin puree. Twice the pumpkin, twice the flavor!


I feel like I should just come out and tell you guys that this year, I am in full-fall-everything mode (I even think it’s appropriate to use the #sorrynotsorry hashtag lol)! I bought my first mum for our front steps, I am cooking with pumpkin (which I did even before October 1st, a first ever for me) and everything I’ve been making (see my  Mini Pumpkin Muffins, Caramel Apple Bites, Garlic Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken and Carrots) is delicious and comforting fall food. And while I thought I was just going to have a week packed full of fall recipes, that is not the case, I have many more fall recipes coming to you over the next few days and weeks (another appropriate hashtag #cantstopwontstop)

Now that I’ve gotten the hashtags out of the way…no wait, I lied! There’s one more that just seems appropriate for this post… #Pumpkineverything …because this pumpkin loaf (or pumpkin bread as some people refer to it as) is just so good, better than any pumpkin bread I’ve ever had, and I think the reason is because I used TWO kinds of pumpkin in the recipe…pumpkin butter (I had this in my pantry from when one of my lovely sister-in-laws gave me a jar as a present) and pumpkin puree (leftovers from when I made Mini Pumpkin Muffins last week).


Pumpkin butter is essentially pumpkin puree with a little bit of apple cider and a number of spices in it, so if you don’t have any pumpkin butter, you could certainly make your own (on the stovetop cook together 1 can of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cloves).


Another thing I love about this delicious recipe? All you need is one bowl! You mix all the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients, stir, bake, and voila, you’ll have yourself the most moist, pumpkiny pumpkin loaf that ever was!

Pumpkin Butter Pumpkin Loaf {the BEST EVER Pumpkin loaf}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 1½ Cups Flour
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1½ Cups Pumpkin Butter
  • 2 Tbs Butter, melted
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350, line a loaf pan (mine is 9 x 5) with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, sugars, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir a few times so that all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Next add eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin butter, melted butter and vanilla extra to the dry ingredients and stir a few times so that everything is incorporated (about 10-15 stirs). Pour batter into the loaf pan, and bake for 45-55 min, until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Let rest a few minutes, then enjoy!


Chocolate Caramel Apple Bites {made with Pick ‘n Save Ingredients}

Enjoy delicious fall flavors with these chocolate caramel apple bites– all the deliciousness of caramel apples, but so much easier to eat slice by slice, and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are, as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias

Growing up, every year when the leaves would start to change colors and the air would  get crisp and cool and fall was in full swing, my parents took us to this beautiful apple orchard in Wisconsin (we lived in Chicago so it was about an hour plus drive). Now, this wasn’t any apple orchard, it was nestled behind the orchards off a small country road and had goats! That’s right…GOATS! The orchard would always let you try apples and then would tell us kids (I have three sisters) that the goats liked to eat the apple cores…so as kids we’d quickly eat the apples and then run over to feed the goats. They’d come running to the fence and would stomp over each other trying to get the prized apple cores. That experience really stuck with me, and every fall I would think of that apple orchard.

So naturally I told my husband about this amazing orchard (we live in WI now), and he said ‘what’s it called? I’ll look it up and get directions’ I told him I had no idea what it was called, but that I thought I knew how to get there (of course I didn’t know the name of any of the streets or highways, I was just going by sight and memory…memory from childhood, might I add). We got in the car with just my memory as maps, and surprisingly I remembered exactly how to get there! And, it only took us a little over an hour to get there, needless to say I was very proud of myself!

It was exactly as I remembered, goats and all. The whole time we were there my husband had this cute little smile on his face, I just thought he thought it was as fun an experience as I did! He offered to drive on the way home, and upon leaving the orchard took a right instead of left. ‘Honey, you were supposed to take a left’ I said…famous last words, because around the next curve, there was a road that took us a few blocks from home…come to find out, the apple orchard is a whopping 15 minutes away! Lol!

This past week when we were shopping at Pick ‘n Save I saw the most gorgeous selection of apples and of course my hubby said ‘do remember that time you drove us an hour away to that orchard that is only 15 minutes away?’ Thanks babe, yes, I remember! Now in the mood for apples I purchased ingredients from #MyPicknSave to make chocolate caramel apple bites.


These chocolate caramel apple bites are super easy to make, and a whole lot easier to eat than a whole caramel apple (I always feel like I’m about to lose a tooth trying to eat a caramel apple on a stick!). You pick your favorite kind of apple (I like ones with a little bit of a tartness so that they contrast with the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel), slice it, pat it dry with a paper towel, then dip it in caramel, then in chocolate, then sprinkle it with chopped up honey roasted peanuts.

For more recipe ideas, be sure to check out Pick ‘n Save on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Also, for those of you local readers, the Wisconsin Potato board is putting together this year’s PotatoPalooza and here is Pick ‘n Save’s plan for dates & times:

  • 10/11 @ 10A – 2P 8132 Stevens Point (1500 Pinecrest Drive, Stevens Point, WI.  54481)
  • 10/25 @ 10A – 2P 6891 Mt Pleasant South (2820 S Green Bay Road, Mount Pleasant, WI.  53406)

Happy fall…the fall recipes are definitely continuing in the weeks to to come!


Chocolate Caramel Apple Bites {made with Pick 'n Save Ingredients}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24-32 slices
  • 2 Apples, sliced and seeds removed (I used Pink Lady variety)
  • ½ Cup Caramel Sauce
  • ½ Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • ¼ Cup Honey Roasted peanuts, finely chopped
  • Wax paper
  1. Lay out a large slice of wax paper.
  2. Slice apples, remove seeds, then pat them dry with a piece of paper towel (this is so that the caramel sticks to it easier).
  3. In a small bowl add caramel, have melted chocolate (I just microwaved mine for 30 seconds, stir, and another 30 seconds until smooth and melted), and then in a third bowl have honey roasted peanuts (I put them in a food processor and pulse three times).
  4. Take one slice of apple, dip it in the caramel, let any drippings fall off, then dip it in the chocolate (or you could spoon the chocolate over the caramel) then sprinkle a some peanuts over the chocolate, and place on the wax paper to cool. Repeat with all slices. Allow to cool (I put mine in the fridge for 30 min), then enjoy!
If not eating immediately and you don't want your apples to brown, dunk apple slices in orange juice before dunking them in caramel and chocolate


Bat Pudding Cups {easy to make desserts for Halloween}

These spooktacular Bat Pudding Cups are the perfect easy to make dessert for Halloween and will have both children and adults enjoying them, and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias

We’re now in the month of October, can you believe that? The leaves are starting to turn beautiful colors, the air is getting crisper and cooler, and one can just feel all the ghouls, goblins, witches and bats hanging out, waiting for HALLOWEEN!  Ok, maybe one can’t feel all the ghouls, goblins, witches and bats (nor does one want to) but there is a certain excitement that comes with celebrating Halloween!

That’s where Snack Pack Pudding Cups comes in, they’re the perfect little snack that can be dressed up for Halloween and will leave you feeling like a kid again (and the Snack Pack Pudding Cups not only taste great, but contain the same amount of calcium as an 8 oz glass of milk!)

My hubby and I were doing some shopping at Walmart and we came across this display for Snack Packs and he told me he used to dunk Oreo cookies into the pudding cups.
Snack Pack Pudding at Walmart

And since Halloween decorations were on display in full glory, I decided to surprise my hubby by making some fun dessert from the pudding cups. I made the cups into bats by using Oreos and a little frosting and then stored them in the fridge for then I was going to take them out and say ‘surprise.’

But wouldn’t you know? I scared myself! I forgot I had them in the fridge and went to get some water and saw their little eyes looking at me …and I shrieked. Not gonna lie, it was pretty funny.

To make bat pudding cups you only need three ingredients: Snack Pack pudding cups,  Oreo cookies (both big and small ones), and frosting (yay for #SnackPackMixins).

Halloween Snack Pack Pudding Cups

You twist the Oreos to separate the cookies from the frosting, then cut them in half (for the wings – it’s ok if some of them break,  no one will know if you eat the broken pieces lol) and then you pipe a little bit of white frosting onto the little Oreos and then you take a little piece of crumb and put it in the center of the white frosting. Place the wing pieces into the pudding cups, then place the little face in front of the wings and you have yourself Bat Pudding Cups!
How to make Halloween bat pudding cups

These would make the perfect snack for kids and adults alike!


Just look at their little faces!

Bat Pudding Cups {easy to make desserts for Halloween}
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 4 Snack Pack Pudding Cups, chocolate
  • 4 Oreos, cut in half, plus crumbs of 1 oreo for eyes
  • 4 mini Oreos
  • 1 tbs white frosting
  1. Remove lids from Snack Pack Pudding Cups.
  2. Twist Oreo cookie and remove cookie from filling. Cut cookie in half for the wings.
  3. Pipe two little dots on the mini oreos with white frosting, then take two mini pieces or Oreo crumbs and press them into the frosting.
  4. To assemble place two halves of cookies into the pudding cups for the wings, then place the little oreo face in front of the wings and you have yourself bat pudding cups!




Want more fun Snack Pack ideas? Join the Twitter party:
October 8th at 12 PM EST




Mexican Hot Chocolate Caramel Cookies {and a GIVEAWAY!}

These Mexican hot chocolate caramel cookies will have your taste buds singing with joy, and will have you wondering where these delectable sweet and spicy cookies have been all your life.


We already established yesterday when I posted mini pumpkin muffins with sour cream and caramel frosting that this year I was going all-in with the flavors of fall…some might say I’ve fallen in love (get it…falling in love…with fall? haha, ok I’ll dry to put a lid on my dorkyness, at least for a few moments).

Side note- what am I not so excited about? Hurting my back and not being able to walk or cook for a few days…as in…I cannot move. At all! Luckily, I’ve got the rest of this week’s promised fall recipes all set to go (and some for the week after, and the week after, fall themed recipes galore!)

Now on to happy thoughts again…what has got me all jazzed up for fall? The flavors! Hand me anything with hints of cinnamon and my mind immediately goes to a happy place. Now, add some caramel to that, and I’m in an even happier place. You can experience this happy place too by making these cookies!


The cookies are made with Spicy Dark Chocolate Caramel, Mexican Chocolate and a pinch of Cayenne pepper and are rich, complex, and smooth in flavor and then are finished with a little kick from cayenne pepper. They’re not spicy in the ‘omg my mouth is on fire and I need a gallon of water and milk to calm down’ kind of way, it’s more of subtle tingle that is the perfect finish to these cookies.


You know the caramel sauces I’m always raving about…the delicious goat’s milk caramel (the same caramel I used to make the worlds best Bourbon Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies? Well, this Spicy Dark Chocolate Caramel is a new flavor from Fat Toad Farm, and because they’re so awesome and I love you guys, we’re giving away 4 Jars of their caramel sauce. This is one giveaway you definitely don’t want to miss!

Fat Toad Farm-caramel-sauce-giveaway

To enter simply sign up for the Fat Toad Farm newsletter, comment telling me what flavor of caramel would you try first (the 4 in the gift box are: Original, Salted Bourbon, Spicy Dark Chocolate, and Cold Brew Coffee), and then make sure to fill out the widget so I know you entered (and there are additional, optional giveaway entry options)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what adding a little cinnamon and spice can do for your cookies. It’s like biting into a rich and smooth chocolately cake cookie with a little after finish of heat (that you can certainly adjust up or down depending on your taste…mine were barely noticeable subtle spice, but if you like super spicy add more cayenne pepper.)

Mexican Hot Chocolate Caramel Cookies made with Fat Toad Farm Caramel

Mexican Hot Chocolate Caramel Cookies {and a GIVEAWAY!}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24 cookies
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • ⅓ Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tbs Spicy Dark Chocolate Caramel for the batter (plus ¼ cup for topping cookies)
  • 1 Stick of butter, at room temp
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2.7 oz Taza Dark Chocolate (two discs, finely chopped up, or you could use 70% dark chocolate)
  • 1 Tsp Mexican Vanilla Extract (or you could use regular vanilla extract)
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper of silicone baking mats.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter (about 2 minutes). Then add the sugars and cream again (1 minute), Scrape down the sides and add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until all incorporated. Add the 2 Tbs of Spicy Dark Chocolate Caramel and beat until creamy (1 minute).
  3. Next add all remaining ingredients except the chopped up dark chocolate (flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cayenne.) Stir gently with a wooden spoon until all combined, then add the chopped up dark chocolate and stir to combine.
  4. With a cookie scoop or in 1 tablespoon drops, drop balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Have ¼ cup remaining caramel in a small bowl, and then dip a spoon into the caramel and press it on top of each cookie, pressing the caramel in the center. Repeat with all cookies.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then carefully transfer cookies over to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Disclaimer: This is not a compensated post, Fat Toad Farm provided the 4 Caramel Sauces for the  giveaway and I am providing the shipping expenses for the lucky winner.  I  truly love their products, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are mine alone. Thank you for supporting the brands and products that make the Sweetphi blog possible!

Mini Pumpkin Muffins {with sour cream and caramel frosting}

Last year, I made not a single pumpkin dessert recipes (gasp!) nor did I have a single pumpkin spiced beverage (even bigger GASP!) I’m not quite sure what was happening. It was almost as if I was waiting for these amazingly delicious – perfect for fall- mini pumpkin muffins with sour cream and caramel frosting.

Mini-pumpkin-muffins-with-sour cream-and-caramel-frosting

With the cooling of air, change of the leaves, beautiful fall colors, one just craves something that embodies the fall flavors. So it was no surprise to me that a few cans of pumpkin puree made their way into my cart when I was grocery shopping.


And when I set out to make these smooth and silky yet perfectly spiced mini muffins I couldn’t image anything more perfect than to make them with the pumpkin puree! They’re perfect for both breakfast and dessert, served with a glass of milk or cup of coffee…YUM!

How-to-make-mini-pumpkin-muffins-with-sour cream-and-caramel-frosting

The best part? They’re super easy to make! Once you’ve baked the mini muffins (heads up, they’re SUPER GOOD by themselves) then you frost them and drizzle some caramel. The combination of the smooth pumpkin muffin, spices, creamy hint of frosting, finished off the caramel, make one enjoy bite after delicious bite!

Mini-pumpkin-muffins-with-sour cream-and-caramel-frosting

These mini muffins are the perfect way to start the day, and even more perfect as a kickoff to a week full of fall inspired recipes I’ll be sharing (think caramel apples, Mexican hot chocolate caramel cookies, roasted chicken, and a spooktacular cake!)

Also, for the caramel sauce I used Fat Toad Farm caramel (remember the caramel I used to make the best ever Bourbon Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies?) The Fat Toad Farm caramel sauce is just simply the best I’ve ever had (you could certainly make your own caramel sauce)  They have flavors like Cinnamon and Spicy Dark Chocolate that go perfectly with these mini muffins! And…part of this amazing week coming up includes a giveaway of their caramel sauce, so definitely stay tuned!

Mini Pumpkin Muffins {with sour cream and caramel frosting}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24
  • -For the muffins-
  • 1¼ Cups Flour
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup Pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ Cup sour cream
  • 1 tbs butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • -For the frosting-
  • 4 tbs butter, at room temp
  • ¼ cup sour cream, at room temp
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup caramel sauce for drizzle (I used Fat Toad Farm caramel sauce-they have flavors like Cinnamon and Bourbon Salted Caramel, all their flavors go great with these mini muffins!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a mini muffin pan with liners.
  2. For the batter: In a bowl combine butter, egg, sour cream, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Add all remaining dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and salt). Stir a few times so that everything is don't want to over-stir it, otherwise the muffins will be dense.
  3. Using a tablespoon cookie scoop (or with a spoon) fill the mini muffin liners (the batter should go almost to the top, about ¾ full.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes, then allow to completely.
  5. For the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream butter for about a minute, then add the powdered sugar, sour cream and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes.)
  6. Set down a piece of wax paper and transfer the cooled mini muffins on top of the paper. Then take about ½ tablespoon of frosting for each mini cupcake and spread it on the top, then drizzle with caramel sauce and enjoy!