Tobins' Tastes: September 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

25 Candy Corn Desserts

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Halloween is quickly approaching and that means it's candy corn season! Here are 25 of my favorite candy corn flavored and themed desserts to help you celebrate the Halloween season!

Many of these recipes and photos are not my own. If you would like to see, pin or share a specific recipe please click the image to go to the original site. If you want to pin the whole collection then please pin the collage image above!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Brownie Cookies

It's no secret that I get slightly annoyed by America's obsession with pumpkin spice. Walking through Publix or Target can make me blind with rage when I the newest pumpkin spice items on shelves. Tortilla chips, waffles, hand sanitizer, Pringles, bagels, butter, Poptarts, marshmallows, gum, vodka?!? It's only mid September, Mass Retailers, tone it down already.

But the Pumpkin Spice Tollhouse Morsels in these cookies have made me reconsider my position entirely. I gave in to the pumpkin spice epidemic when I saw Nestle's new Pumpkin Spice Baking Morsels. I couldn't not buy them so into my cart they went and when I opened them up at home I was beyond shocked to find that I actually enjoyed them. It seems that Nestle actually found the right balance of pumpkin spice flavor and the normal chocolate creaminess of their baking chips. No one was home so at least I didn't have to publicly admit defeat to corporate America.

These Pumpkin Spice Brownie cookies might be my new favorite dessert. It just enough fall flavor to get you in the mood without smacking you in the face with it. They are so easy, but so good. I just took my regular brownie mix cookie recipe and added some pumpkin pie spice and switched out the flavor of the chocolate chips for a seasonal twist on one of my year round standby cookie recipes.

I love that they are made with a brownie mix as the base so I can limit my need for too much measuring or getting out supplies and with all the craziness in my life this time of year I can always use a few easy to make but taste like they took hours in the kitchen recipes. We devoured these as it but you could always make little cookie sandwiches out of them with ice cream, Cool Whip, or frosting in between. Just writing that makes me want to get some salted caramel gelato and make one immediately. Thank God Justin ate the last of these yesterday.

Pumpkin Spice Brownie Cookies
  • 1 box of chocolate chip brownie mix (I used the Immaculate Baking Company)
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup of Pumpkin Spice baking morsels

1.) Mix together brownie mix, oil, eggs and flour. Consistency of batter will be in between that of regular brownie batter and cookie dough. Stir in pumpkin spice morsels.

2.) On a lined or greased baking sheet, place rounded, tablespoon sized balls of dough. I used a oxo cookie scoop. 

3.) Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Make sure to let cool before removing from the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

White Chocolate Candy Corn S'mores Cookies

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Living in South Florida has a lot of perks. The beach is minutes away; flip flops are appropriate year round; I get to indulge my love of neon without being judged (you should see the looks you get when you wear Lilly Pulitzer in Colorado); we never have to shovel snow; life is generally sunny. And while all these things sound and are amazing, this can become a bit of an issue when the holiday season rolls around.

It's very difficult to get in the mood for fall when it's 100 degrees out. You want to feel festive, wear your flannel shirt, bust out some boots maybe. But no. It's so hot your steering wheel is burning your hands as you're driving to Target to buy candy corn and Pumpkin Spice Oreos. How am I suppose to want to drink apple cider and hot chocolate when I am getting dehydrated just walking to the mail box? Let's carve a pumpkin in our bathing suits? It doesn't seem right does it?

As a food blogger, we are suppose to be a season ahead. I know that I am way behind the rest of the online world when it comes to my fall recipes but I just couldn't do it. I feel like I should be making popsicles not pumpkin bars. The other day while looking over my Pinterest stats, I realized that an alarming number of people are already repinning my Christmas recipes. As in planning their holiday baking. Dear Lord, save us. It took me 20 minutes to find my favorite pair of jeans the other day because it had been so long since I last wore them (which by the way was in July on vacation in North Carolina, see what I mean?) .

So I have learned to compromise when it comes to weather and the holidays. I wear a short sleeved dark colored dress on Thanksgiving; I buy Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream at Publix; I lay out while listening to Christmas carols. And I made these cookies. These White Chocolate Candy Corn S'mores Cookies are my way of compromising fall flavors with the eternal sunshine of my not so spotless kitchen. And while the weather here is always warm enough for s'mores, you cold weather dwellers can use these as a last ditch effort to hold onto summer.

They were born from my need to buy every single season flavor of candy ever made. No really. I can't not buy them. Even if I know I will never make anything with them ever. I must get at least one bag just in case. And as I walked by the Hershey's Candy Corn Bars in Target I instinctively reached out and grabbed a bag without thinking and dropped it in my cart. Then as I imagined what they might look like I had a recipe flashback right there in the Halloween aisle and I realized that they would be the perfect thing to recreate my favorite Chocolate Chip S'more Cookies.

It was like divine recipe inspiration. I literally stood in the middle of Target and planned out the recipe and then went straight home and made it. And it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. Well actually it was better because, honestly, I can't say that my expectations for a candy corn/s'more combo were that high. But I was wrong. So wrong. This is one of those desserts that is so wrong it's actually right. Sort of like swimming on Christmas Eve.

White Chocolate Candy Corn S'mores Cookies
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup) softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 10 snack sized Hershey's Candy Corn Bars broken into squares (about a cup total)
  •  1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 12 full Graham crackers broken in half
 1.) Cream together butter and brown sugar.

2.) Beat in eggs and vanilla.

3.) Stir (do not beat!) in the rest of the ingredients.

4.) On a lined baking sheet, place halves of graham crackers about an inch apart.

5.) Place a ball/scoop of dough in the center of each graham cracker. I used my OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop.

6.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Don't do more than that even if they don't look done. The crackers will burn and break. The dough might still look "wet" but it look perfect once they cool.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Curry Chicken Salad {#TEArifficPairs}

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With the weather in South Florida always being warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a glass of iced tea, we often try to take advantage of it and enjoy our weekend lunches on the back porch. There is something so refreshing about eating a light meal outside on a Saturday while sipping a glass of cold iced tea. With the oppressively hot summer evenings coming to an end (here's hoping!), I know we will be eating many of our meals outdoors and so I have been trying out new recipes for use to pair with our iced tea.

This recipe was born out of my mom's famous chicken salad recipe. Whenever she hosts luncheons or showers she is always asked to make this. Everyone loves it and I have even seen a few "ladies who lunch" scraping the bottom of the bowl to make sure they get every last bite. While I enjoy my mom's original recipe, you should all know by now that I am a very weird eater so I made a few changes. But don't worry, I will include my mom's original ingredients in the recipe below in case you are a normal person who isn't freaked out by golden raisins.

This Curry Chicken Salad goes perfectly on croissants paired with a side salad for a light afternoon lunch with friends or it can be served with crackers for a heavy appetizer to enjoy on the back porch while sharing a glass of iced tea with a few other couples. The apples and chutney give it a slight sweetness and Hellmann's Mayonnaise makes it so creamy and smooth.

When the weather is nice I always try to keep a pitcher of Lipton Iced Tea in the fridge for Justin and I to enjoy with our lunch or dinner and these Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches are the perfect little treat to pair with it. I make sure that when I am at Walmart I grab a box of the Lipton family sized tea bags as well as a big jar of Hellmann's so I am never out of them when I want to whip up an easy weekend lunch. While shopping last week, I saw Hellmann's Balsamic Mayonnaise and now I am dying to try and create a new chicken salad recipe using it. Stay tuned!

Curry Chicken Salad  serves 4+
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 cup mango chutney
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced granny smith apple (about half the apple cut up)
  • 1/4 cup diced green onions
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • a few springs of fresh parsley or 3/4 tablespoon dried parsley 
  • optional: 1/2 cup golden raisins and/or 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1.) Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken together in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until well combined.

2.) Add in shredded chicken and toss in the mixture until all of the chicken is completely coated in the sauce.

3.) Refrigerate for an hour before serving on croissants, sandwich bread, with crackers or on top of a salad.

Get nutritional info by clicking on the Magic button below:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Candy Apple M&M Dessert Cheeseball {Captain America 2: The Winter Soilder DVD Release}

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When I think of Marvel superheroes, I immediately think of my dad. I know exactly what you are thinking. "Awww, how sweet her dad is her superhero." And while yes, my dad is a superhero in his own right I am actually referring to his love of Marvel comic books not his super human strength or his unworldly trivia knowledge. (Don't worry Dad, this in no way means I don't think you are freakishly strong and smart.)

When he was growing up, my dad loved comic books with Marvel superheroes being one of his favorite types. So much so that he still has a huge box of his childhood favorites stored in protective wrappers that he keeps up on a shelf in his closet. Every now and then when we were little he would pull them out and show them to us and explain what they were about. To this day, my dad is always trying to get us to go and see the new Marvel movies as they come out in theaters. 

Along with his love a comic book characters, my dad is also a very difficult man to shop for. Two things that always make for good gifts for him? DVD's and chocolate. I don't think he has ever met a combination of the two that he didn't love. And right now at Walmart there is a great deal going on where I can get him the newly released Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVD and two big bags of M&M's® for less than $20 total.

Current Captain America DVD and M&M deal at Walmart:
  • DVD: rollback price of $14.96
  • 2 big bags of M&Ms at $4.74 each
  • Minus a $5 off WYB all three coupon from 
  • Makes all three of them $19.44 plus tax
Talk about a great deal for the Captain America loving chocolate eater in your family!

Just looking at Captain America makes me feel patriotic and I am not sure what flavor of dessert could be more American than apple. Apple pies, fall apples, candy apples at the fair all make me think of traditional Americana. Not to mention the fact that my dad loves apple desserts. So to celebrate the release of Captain America 2, I created this Candy Apple Dessert Cheeseball using M&M's new Candy Apple fall flavor. 

This dessert cheeseball is perfect for a family movie night with your resident superhero  Because everyone knows that #HeroesEatMMs . And while my dad might not wear a mask and tights, or jump off buildings, or defend the free world with a star studded shield he does know how to detail his daughters' car with lightening speed, grill burgers with out of this world good taste, and can help file taxes with the greatest of ease. So for those things and so much, he's our family superhero and that definitely deserves an extra special dessert.

Candy Apple M&M Dessert Cheeseball
  • 8oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of butter (one stick), softened
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • Candy Apple M&M's
1.) Beat together all ingredients except for the M&M's.

2.) Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for an hour.

3.) Remove from the fridge and use clean hands to shape the mixture into a ball. Roll the ball as best you can in the Candy Apple M&M's. I had to use my hands after I plated it to fill in some of the holes with more M&M's.

4.) Refrigerate for at least another hour before serving with graham crackers.

Want more Captain America fun? Make sure to check out! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Candy Apple Cupcakes & A Flavor of Fall Apple Dessert Party

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias , Inc. and its advertiser #FlavorofFall . All opinions are mine alone.

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I have a confession to make. I do not love everything pumpkin. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a slice of pumpkin bread or a Thanksgiving pumpkin bar occasionally between the months of September and November but I guess I just can't get on the pumpkin obsession band wagon. I do not count down the seconds until the return of the pumpkin spice latte; I don't eat pumpkin with every meal; I refuse to "pumpkin all the things." When it comes to fall recipes, apple is way more my style.

I love how versatile apples can be in recipes. You go sweet, savory or even spicy. My personal favorite has to be the combo of apples and chocolate. I also love that back to school and fall coincide which the teacher in me secretly loves and even though the temperatures in Florida haven't gotten the message yet I decided to throw a little Flavors of Fall/Back to School dessert party for my family and friends.

I come from a long line of teachers. My grandmother taught high school Spanish, my mom and aunt are both elementary/middle school teachers, and my sister and I both teach at the same high school. And while fall may mean college football, crunchy leaves, knit sweaters and boots for most people, to me it means back to school and all that comes with it. So to celebrate that we had all made it through the first few weeks of teaching, I had everyone over for a Sunday afternoon dessert party.

While shopping at Walmart for the party, I noticed that they already had out all of their fall candy and I am nothing if not sucker for seasonal and limited edition flavors. I grabbed a bag of the White Chocolate Candy Corn M&M's because we loved them last year and I way too excited to see that M&M now has a new Candy Apple flavor out for fall. I swear I think I planned out 5 new recipes using that Candy Apple flavor before I even left the store. I also grabbed some Mott's apple juice and applesauce to make one of said planned out recipes.

Since I've never met a theme I didn't like, every one of the desserts I decided to serve were either made with apples, apple juice, or applesauce or a combination of the three. I went for a mix of simple recipes, tried and true favorites and a few new ones to mix things up a bit.

I made and served:

I used a red and green color scheme for my dessert table and added some fresh apples for color and a healthier snack option. All in all, it didn't take me too long to set up and it was easy to use things I had around the house. I loved using the apples for decor because now we have apples to snack on all week especially since my family and friends aren't the type to leave any left over desserts.

What are your favorite fall flavors? Are you team apple or have you boarded the pumpkin bandwagon? Are you in full fall mode or still hanging on to summer? Let me know in the comments!

Candy Apple Cupcakes
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix (just the mix)
  • 3/4 cup of Mott's Apple Juice
  • 1/3 cup of Mott's Applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 3 eggs
  • cream cheese icing (I use this recipe but you can use store bought too)
  • red food coloring
  • Candy Apple M&M's
1.) In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the cake mix, apple juice, apple sauce, apple pie spice and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes.

2.) Using an ice cream scoop, fill lined cupcake pan with batter and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Should make 24 regular sized cupcakes.

3.) While cupcakes are baking, use the red food coloring to make your cream cheese icing your desired shade of red. 

4.) Once cupcakes have completely cooled, ice and decorate with Candy Apple M&M's. 

5.) If not eaten the same day, these are best stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. 

Want to save money while stocking up for fall? Save $1 off any two (2) Mott's sauce or Mott's juice drinks and $1.50 off any two (2) M&M's brand chocolate candies so be sure and print them out for your next shopping trip to Walmart!

Want more apple recipes? Check out my Apple A Day Pinterest board!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Zaycon Chicken Event: $1.89 a pound!

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If you follow my weekly shopping trip posts, you may often wonder why you don't see meat purchased. For the most part we do not eat red meat at home so the only meat I purchase for us is chicken. Justin gets his fill of other meat choices at the fire station and I personally only eat poultry.

One of the big ways Justin and I save money on groceries is by purchasing our chicken in bulk from Zaycon foods. We order 40 pounds of chicken at a time and then freeze it in FoodSaver bags portioned out for future meals.

It does take a bit of time to prep, portion and FoodSaver the fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts the day they arrive but it is time well spent. Zaycon chicken is hands down the best fresh chicken we have ever bought and the price at $1.89 a pound is so much cheaper than Publix's regular price. I know that many warehouse stores may have fresh chicken around this price or a little cheaper but you cannot beat the quality.

This chicken comes fresh straight from the farm and has never been frozen. Zaycon is having chicken sale events across the country in October so make sure to visit their website and see if there is sale near you.

For a complete review of our past experiences with Zaycon including photos check out this past post. Check out Zaycon's website for more info on other products like their bacon, sausage, ground beef and more!

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