Candy Bar Blondies


Did you know that in St. Louis when kids go trick-or-treating, they have to tell a joke? Yep, we work for our candy around here. Even the toddlers have some sort of trick they practice (with prompting from their parents, of course) for weeks leading up to the big day. Growing up, I remember my mother literally holding the bowl of treats back from the neighborhood kids until they each told a joke. Now that Neil and I own our own house, I take pride in holding the bowl back until I hear all the jokes just like my mother. The goofy jokes are similar to ones you’d normally find on Laffy Taffy wrappers. Examples: “Why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball? Because he had no BODY to go with.” or “What kind of pants do ghosts wear? BOO-Jeans.” Har har har.

I thought I’d share a recipe to help use up some of the sweet treasures your little comedians may bring home this Halloween. Blondies are essentially a cross between two of my favorite desserts: brownies and chocolate chip cookies. You can add just about any Halloween candy to the mix of sweets and I’m pretty sure this recipe will still work. We used Reese’s peanut butter cups and Oreos, but if you try other variations please comment and let us know how they turned out. Serve these blondies warm and à la mode. They’re delicious. No joke!

Candy Bar Blondies
Prep Time: 15 min. Cook Time: 40 min.


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups chopped Halloween candy (we used peanut butter cups and Oreos)

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and lightly flour an 8 x 10″ glass baking dish. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until creamy. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Scrape down sides of the bowl as needed. Using a spatula or spoon, fold in chopped candy pieces. Evenly press dough into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes until blondies reach level of doneness you prefer (we like ours slightly under- just like our cookies).
12 servings

Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaves


A storm rolled in two days ago. Not just any storm. It was one of those storms that when you look to the east, it’s sunny, and when you look to the west, a wall of clouds is eerily creeping in. It was almost as if someone pulled a giant string to lower a curtain of clouds on our town. On this particular day, the curtain was lowering on a hot, muggy, never ending season and with the next sunrise, it was suddenly fall.

I love that first cool fall morning when I step out on my porch to head to work and quickly rush back inside to grab a jacket (or, not grab one just so I can FEEL FALL!). There is simply nothing better than fall baking with the kitchen window open, the cool air drifting through the house, and the Cardinals on TV just an earshot away. I love this season.

The last thing that I wanted to do today was heat up the whole house again while I was baking. It’s cool, and I like it that way. Enter: The Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven. I know it’s going to sound like I’m exaggerating, but this appliance has drastically changed the way we cook. We’ve been using our oven about half as much now that we have this multipurpose appliance. We make pizza, roast veggies, bake cookies, and more without heating up the entire house. It preheats SO quickly, and has an automatic shut off feature that kicks in as soon as your dish is finished cooking. The convection toaster oven fits perfectly on our counter and is easy to move if needed.

This sounds silly, but it makes THE BEST toast we’ve ever had. Toast? I know. Doesn’t seem exciting (trust me, Neil wanted to post a recipe for TOAST for this product), but it truly is toast unlike any other. Crispy on the outside, evenly toasted, with light pillowy bread on the inside.


To welcome fall, I just HAD to post a pumpkin recipe (sorry, Neil, not a recipe for toast). There is a local bakery nearby that makes excellent pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and this is inspired by those flavors. I like using chocolate chunks because…. well… you get more chocolate that way! This recipe makes two mini loaves, so you can devour one and share one with a friend. This is also a good recipe to bookmark for upcoming holiday gift giving. Happy fall, and head over to Cuisinart to check out this toaster oven!

Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaves
Prep Time: 15 min. Cook Time: 45 min.


2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 15-oz can pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks


Butter and flour two mini loaf pans (5″ x 3″) and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the first five ingredients (eggs, oil, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla) until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the next five ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon).

Add 1/2 of the dry mixture to the wet mixture and turn electric mixer on low to combine. Then, add the remaining 1/2 of the dry mixture and mix again, scraping the bowl of the mixer with a spatula if needed.

Fold in chocolate chunks with a spatula.

Position one single rack in the convection oven on the lowest level (one up from the heating element). Preheat convection oven to 350° and set the timer for 40 minutes. Divide batter evenly between two mini loaves and bake for 40-45 minutes. Tops should be golden brown and bread cooked through.

Makes two mini loaves.

Cuisinart sponsored this post, however, as always, all opinions are 100% our own. 

Jalapeño Cheddar Skillet Cornbread


One of my very best friends is getting married in October, and she has been asking a lot of good questions regarding their wedding registry. She came over a few weeks ago and we spent a good amount of time going through our kitchen cabinets and drawers, chatting about essential items for the registry and discussing things like the many functions of a food processor and why you can never have too many wooden spoons. As we chatted our way through every nook and cranny of our kitchen, we reached the corner cabinet where our pots and pans are located. As I pulled out one of our cast iron pans to show her, I’m sure look on my face was one of pure joy and pride. Hers, on the other hand was more confused. I get it- cast iron pans aren’t flashy. They aren’t expensive. They aren’t really that cute. However, we use cast iron (and I’m not joking) at least 4 times a week if not more. People have been cooking with these durable pans for generations, and if you take good care of them, they’ll last for generations to come.

Using a cast iron skillet, I can achieve perfectly crispy chicken skin, serve a killer grilled cheese sandwich, whip up a beautiful brunch frittata, and more.  One of my new favorite things to make with a cast iron skillet is this jalapeño cheddar skillet cornbread. Jiffy cornbread mix makes this dish super easy. Simply mix all the ingredients together, pour into a preheated cast iron skillet, and bake. The bread will stay warm in the cast iron as you bring it out to the table. Enjoy!

Jalapeño Cheddar Skillet Cornbread
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 20 min.


2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
2 jalapeños, seeds removed and diced
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


Place 10″ round or square cast iron skillet in the oven as you preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until just combined. It’s okay if your mixture is a little lumpy.

Once the oven is preheated, take the pan out of the oven, and pour in the cornbread batter. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through and top is a light golden brown color. Serve warm.