Better Than Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars

Reposting this recipe because they were a huge success last year. Let me know if you make any!

I don’t really need an excuse to go to Starbucks, but I always find myself there more during the holiday season. A small part of me always gets excited when I see they have their cranberry bliss bars out. What I hate more than anything though, is when I take a bite and it’s stale or worse, I go there because I want one of these amazing treats and they are sold out. But now, that’s not a problem anymore because with this simple recipe, you can make your very own cranberry bliss bars anytime you feel like it.

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With all the kits and stores that sell these, you might think why bother making them from scratch. Well, for me there’s something about watching what you mix turn into a replica of what you would buy from the store. I plan on bringing desserts to all our family gatherings after the success of my Milky Way Cupcakes at Thanksgiving. You don’t have to be an expert baker to make these, but the end result definitely will make people think you are. 

A video posted by Nat (@natashaneagle) on

 

The bar itself is soft, yet firm blondie-like sweet base with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries mixed into. Topping the bar is a white-chocolate cream cheese frosting. Dried cranberries are sprinkled across and then melted white chocolate is drizzled all over. In researching how Starbucks makes this, I found out they add orange zest to the icing. I’m fresh out of oranges so I left it out and quite honestly, I like my version better.

A photo posted by Nat (@natashaneagle) on

 Of course, to make them look like the dessert sold at Starbucks, I cut them into triangles. If your icing doesn’t reach the edge of your cake, just use a knife to trim the edges adding to the perfection that is this treat.

Better Than Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars

Yield: 2 dozen triangle bars

A white chocolate cranberry blondies recipe that copycats the delicious Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Bars.

Ingredients

    BAR LAYER:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • FROSTING:
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Prepare the bar: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside. In another large bowl, melt butter for one minute in the microwave then stir in brown sugar. Using mixer beat in the eggs and vanilla. Take the dry ingredients and gradually add them to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (the batter will be thick).
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (be sure NOT to overbake). Allow to cool.
  5. While the bar is cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well mixed. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate and continue to mix.
  6. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into triangles. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
http://natashaneagle.com/better-than-starbucks-cranberry-bliss-bars/

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Easy As Peach Pie

I love peaches. A new organic market opened and I picked up some of the prettiest peaches I’d seen all year. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of them so you’ll just have to take my word on it. I’d been craving pie and instead of making another apple, I decided to try to make a peach pie. It turned out tasting amazing.

Easy As Peach Pie

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large peaches
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 pie crusts (store bought or by recipe)

Instructions

  1. Prepare your crust
  2. Slice your peaches
  3. Mix flour, sugar and, butter until crumbs form.
  4. Layer crust with peaches, crumb, peaches, etc until done. (I had left over crumb, so consider splitting recipe or making 2 pies)
  5. Cover with pie crust.
  6. Bake 350 degrees F (175C) for 40 min or until crust is golden.
  7. Enjoy!
http://natashaneagle.com/easy-as-peach-pie/






Cucumber & Tomato Basil Sandwich

Reposting because I just went to the local Farmer’s Market and made these. SO GOOD!

In 2012, my mother was accepted into the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). Something she’s very proud of because it’s only open to women that are able to prove they are directly related to someone that fought for America’s Independence. They have lots of social gathers and food is always involved. My mom made the most amazing sandwiches to take to her meeting and I’ve modified it a bit to make it even more delicious (I added tomatoes, she just made them as cucumber sandwiches).

I was pleased to discover that it’s not only filling, it’s really easy to make, and not bad nutritionally speaking, for lunch.

Ingredients:

  • two slices of bread
**This tastes amazing using sourdough bread, but I used what I had (Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat SF Bread) – this is where majority of the calories come from, so if you have a lower calorie bread (each slice of mine was 50 cal each), use it. 
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • fresh basil (I picked 4 or 5 leaves from what I bought at the local Farmer’s Market since I didn’t grow a garden this year)
  • 1-2 tbsp of what I’m calling the “DAR Spread”

 

DAR Spread

  • 1 medium container soft cream cheese
  • 1 packet Italian dressing dry mix

Mix the Italian dressing mix into the soft cream cheese (sounds gross, but you’ve gotta trust me on this).  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Directions:

  1. Wash vegetables and slice 1/2 of each. Cut off skin of cucumber, if you prefer it that way. Set aside other half to vegetables. 
  2. Cover bread slices with DAR Spread
  3. Layer tomato slices on one slice of bread and basil on the other
  4. Cover the basil with cucumber slices
  5. Close sandwich, cut up the rest of the tomato and cucumber you didn’t use to eat on the side, and enjoy!

Nutritional Breakdown:

 This will vary based on which bread you use and whether or not you use 1 or 2 tbsp of the spread. The breakdown includes 2 tbsp of spread. While I have never considered using either of those ingredients on a sandwich, I’m not sure why because they taste amazing on bagels.

 

Some alternatives to the spread could be: veggie cream cheese spread, garlic and herb mayo (Kraft makes some, but I’m sure other brands are out there), or Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese wedges. Next time I make this sandwich, I am going to try the latter as each wedge is only 35 calories, lowering the calorie intake for this sandwich to be under 200 calories!

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Forget going to Red Lobster to eat Cheddar Bay Biscuits. This is the easiest recipe EVER. You can use flour and make the biscuits from scratch or you can simply use Bisquick. The flavor is still amazing.

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Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Ingredients

    For the Biscuits
  • **Substitute with Bisquick following box directions & add cheese to make it even easier!
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Brush on Top:
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  3. Use 2 knives to cut in the butter until small pea-sized crumbs form.
  4. Add the cheese and toss until coated with flour.
  5. Add the milk and stir until just combined - DO NOT OVERMIX!
  6. Drop by 1/4 cup fulls onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 14 - 16 minutes until golden around the edges. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine melted butter with parsley and garlic salt.
  8. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush butter generously over the tops while hot.
http://natashaneagle.com/cheddar-bay-biscuits/

My family gobbled them up in no time and begged for more. That’s a sign of good tasting food!

Salted Caramel Brownies

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This week, I have been a mess. Considering, it’s only Tuesday, things aren’t going according to my plan. I know the words. I have my handy-dandy outline waiting for me to move from chapter four and on to chapter five.

And yet I’m like this…tumblr_n0uza38fsW1toqelfo1_500

And if I open twitter…
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 Let’s be honest, twitter is always open.

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But today, I distracted myself with baking.

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You can totally make this recipe with a box of regular brownies and caramel sauce. Or, you can make them from scratch. Below is the recipe I used to make the sweet, gooey goodness.

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Salted Caramel Brownies

Ingredients

    For Brownies:
  • Soft butter and flour for greasing and dusting the pan, unless you use spray
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, sifted
  • 8 ounces melted butter
  • 11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons flaked sea salt (save for the end)
  • For Caramel Sauce
  • 14 ounces caramels
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan or use spray.
  2. With a mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan, set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat the caramels and condensed milk over low heat until caramels are melted. Pour over brownie layer, making a pattern of gooey-yumminess.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool.
http://natashaneagle.com/salted-caramel-brownies/

YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking

YSL-faux-cilisI may not have been born with extra long lashes, but at least with this mascara, I can pretend. For $30 USD, I bought this from Sephora in Deep Black. As you can see from the picture above, while my lashes are not the shortest, they could use some help. YSL Shocking mascara is unique in that it moisturizes your lashes so that when you take your mascara off, your lashes don’t feel stiff and brittle. The mascara is quite wet and can clump if you don’t take your time. With one application, you see an immediate difference in my lashes. The smell isn’t overwhelming or overpowering and my lashes appear longer and thicker, saving me the hassle of having to wear false lashes.

What it is:
A mascara that exaggerates lashes with excess volume from every angle. 

What it does:
Exclusive to YSL, the amplified helix brush provides instant volume to the lashes. The slim brush design allows for perfect control and precision and the off-center twist enhances length and curl. The beautifully creamy formula with pro-vitamin B5 coats each lash evenly, creating a thick and lustrous fringe with a wet look.

Review Recap:

  • Price: $30 USD
  • Availability: Sephora or wherever YSL is sold.
  • Selection: You can find this in 4 different colors – deep black, black bronze, sea black, cherry black. Also available in regular and waterproof.  •
  • Overall: While the price is around the average for other designer brands, it’s a lot to swallow for a mascara. The product is much wetter than I remembered from the last time I purchased it, and if you aren’t careful it will clump, making your eyes look a mess. When applied properly, the mascara does everything it claims it will do, lengthening and volumizing your lashes. The price and the “wetness” of this product definitely take away from a perfect score, but because I’m familiar with the product, it’s still something I would buy again. 
  • Rating: B

Milky Way Candy Shop Cupcakes

cupcake

This Thanksgiving, I decided to bring some cupcakes when we visited family. Not sure what to bring, I decided chocolate and candy were sure to be a crowd pleaser. Luckily, I was right. I’d not only impressed my family with my newfound cupcake making skills, they all thought they tasted really yummy. Some even asked if we bought them. It was nice to say, nope! I made them! Instead of punching through the cupcakes with the piping bag, I tried a different technique and only filled a cupcake approximately a 1/3 of the way full before spooning some stiff hot fudge into the center. Make sure you DO NOT let the hot fudge reach the sides. It must be kept in the center for this cupcake to come out correctly.

Candy Shop Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • hot fudge sauce (don't warm it up, you want it really stiff)
  • 2-3 mini Milky Way candy bars, cut up or crumbled
  • Chocolate Caramel Frosting

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper bake cups.
  2. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full with batter.
  3. Spoon 1 level tablespoon hot fudge sauce into center of each cupcake and cover with remaining batter.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake portion comes out clean. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Top each cupcake with Hershey's Chocolate Caramel Frosting and Milky Way crumbles.
http://natashaneagle.com/milky-way-candy-shop-cupcakes/

 

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

 

Today was the day and IT. WAS. EPIC. 

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“The Day of the Doctor” was broadcast in 94 countries at the same time as it aired on BBC One and was screened in 3D in more than 1,500 cinemas in those 94 countries – from Russia to Ecuador – the episode attracted hundreds of fans in fancy dress, from bow ties to Dalek outfits. Had it played around here, I would have gone and that says a lot considering the only one in my house that’s watched this show is my Evil Genius 12 yr old (I’m still on Season 2 and my hubby is still watching Season 1 — THANK YOU NETFLIX).

 It featured three different Doctors (Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt) and was over 75 minutes long with the villain basically being the Doctor himself. He has to come to terms with his decision to commit mass genocide which would halt the “Great Time War” making him the “last of the Time Lords” as he was introduced in 2005 when the show re-launched. The anniversary story was Matt Smith’s penultimate outing, before he regenerates at Christmas into a new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. We got a very brief glimpse of him in the very end of the episode.  What I loved about this episode was that even though I’m new to the Doctor Who storyline, I was able to enjoy it and follow along with ease. Now back to watching Netflix so I can be ready for the new season!

CIBU Lotus Flower Touch of Tan Moisturizer

Since moving back to the Old Dominion, I get my hair cut at Bubbles. I love my stylist because she truly understands what I want done, even when I described it poorly, and she wasn’t put off by my eccentric pink hair when I first walked in.

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Now that I’m growing out my pixie cut, I went to get it shaped so it would sit better as it grew. Well, I spent 2 hours at the gym before my appointment and I drank probably close to 11 cups of water while I was there (I was half way through bottle number 4 which holds 3 cups of water), so needless to say, I needed to use the bathroom when I arrived.

Yes, you read that correctly, I went to get my hair cut after going to the gym. Yes, I looked like a hot mess. No, I didn’t care and thanks to my wonderful BBW body splash, I didn’t smell like sweaty death, so back to my story.

I used the restroom before she got started and when I washed my hands, they had Cibu Lotus Flower as the available soap. It might have been 40 degrees outside, but wow, this stuff was take-me-to-the-beach heavenly! The light coconut scent smelled so amazing, I couldn’t deal. I seriously thought about this stuff the entire rest of my hair cut. Sadly, at checkout I couldn’t find the product because I was ready to buy it. Luckily, the Touch of Tan Moisturizer is just as great.

With this, you not only smell like you’re at the beach, but it slowly enhances your skin’s natural color, acting as a self tanner. I’m so crazy pale, this is perfect for me. My body and face are soft, hydrated, and glowing thanks to the power of this bottle ($12 USD). This lotion is loaded with Argan oil and acai berry which contain fatty acids, vitamin E, Omega 6 & 9 necessary to restore your skin vibrancy and softness and coconut and olive fruit oils condition your skin.

DIY Butterbeer

I was thinking about the Butterbeer Starbuck’s offers and figured out the EASIEST solution to making your very own at home without worrying about going to Starbucks.

butterbeer

Starbucks recreated this drink by mixing a bunch of syrups together. I enjoyed it, but it was way too sweet to finish. By making it yourself, you can control how sweet it is and make it into hot chocolate, latte’s, frappuccino’s, smoothies, etc.  Butterbeer tastes like butterscotch, right? So…

butterscotch syrup

Problem solved! I found this on amazon and will be buying some shortly. I have a variety of their syrup’s and they are all very good. I did a quick search for some recipes and most use butterscotch ice cream topping. I say, get this, it’s made for drinks. Making this is just as easy as making your own pumpkin spice latte!

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