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Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chocolate Chip Cookie Snack Mix

CakeSpy Note: The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Chex mix was a big deal during my childhood, and my memories have remained fond through the years. While I don't regularly snack on it anymore, I think it's about time for it to make a comeback in my life, thanks to this chocolate chip cookie-enriched version by Sonya Goergen of Moorhead, Minnesota. It's a tasty update on a classic and a finalist in this year's Bake-Off!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Snack Mix

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 5 Min
  • Makes: 24 servings


  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
  • 4 cups Vanilla Chex™ cereal
  • 1 bag (5.5 oz) gluten-free yogurt-covered pretzels (2 cups)
  • 2 cups salted mixed nuts


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. In small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.
  2. Shape dough by 1/4 teaspoonfuls into balls. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and set. Cool 2 minutes; carefully slide parchment onto cooling rack. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add cooled cookies; stir gently to mix. Store in airtight container.

How to Draw Clothes on Illustrated Characters

Want your illustrated characters to look just as fashionable as you? Master the art of adding texture and flow to clothing with the helpful article I wrote on the subject. Complete article here.


"Paleo" Banana Avocado Chocolate "Ice Cream" Recipe

Banana Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream. It might sound crazy, or at the very least like some crazy health food, but I promise all the yoga has not gotten to my head. I still enjoy goodness above wholesomeness. 

But let me tell you: this stuff is good. Combining banana with avocado really brings out the green fruit's (yes, fruit) sweetness, and, well, chocolate works well with both. Three simple ingredients come together to make this surprisingly satisfying and refreshing "ice cream". In my opinion it's more like pudding, but I guess if you're on the Paleo diet you need to take comfort where you can? 

This recipe is an excerpt from Paleo Ice Cream: 75 Recipes for Rich and Creamy Homemade Scoops and Treats.

Banana avocado chocolate "ice cream"

Avocado is perhaps the only food that is considered healthy by all nutrition experts. For this reason, many people are always looking for new ways to get avocados into their diet. My favorite way to eat more avocados is by eating. . . ice cream. If you like your ice cream pretty sweet, you can add a tablespoon or 3 of honey in the food processor as well.

YIELD: About 1 pint

  • 4 very ripe medium bananas, sliced and frozen 1 ripe medium avocado, scooped and frozen
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy and enjoy! You might have to push banana pieces down into the mixture if they stick to the sides of your food processor. If you would like a harder consistency, freeze ice cream in your ice cream maker until your desired texture is achieved. 

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also enjoy this banana chocolate pudding recipe.


30 Non-Pumpkin Fall Treats

I'll just go ahead and say it. What's the big deal with pumpkin?

Don't get me wrong. I like pumpkin. When done right, I can even love pumpkin. But when fall rolls around, you'd think there's no other flavor, such is the proliferation of the gourd-geous stuff.

To inspire fall baking that accommodates the other seasonal produce and flavors, from apples and beyond, I've come up with this list of 30 awesome non-pumpkin fall treats for you to bake and enjoy. No particular order to these; just thirty I think are fab. 

1. Apple pie bars.

Including oats and apples, they might seem somewhat healthy, but trust you me, it's an illusion. These bars are all about the tasty brown sugary topping and caramelly innards, and cakey but firm base. (CakeSpy)

2. Applescotch cookies.

 Made using a cake mix, these apple cookies taste toasty in the fall, and come together in minutes. (CakeSpy)

3. Quince custard cake.

I'm intrigued by this mix of a lesser-known fruit and creamy custard. (Apt. 2B Baking)

4. Fig "Brownies.

Actual health food! But still tasty. These brownies employ figs for their tasty moisture. (Sarah Jio)

5. Honeycrisp apple bread.

 More seasonal than banana bread, more delicious than sandwich bread. A perfect way to secretly eat cake and call it breakfast. (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

6. Caramel Apple Magic Bars.

Look at that oozy caramelly top. Don't you want to swim in it? Or at the very least eat a stack of these? (The Domestic Rebel)

7. Homemade Mellowcreme pumpkins.

Why buy when you can make your own, which taste even better, and come together pretty quickly? (CakeSpy for Craftsy

8. Sweet potato biscuits.

Sweet. Moist. Carbohydratey. Need I say more? (Taste of Southern)

9. Apple pie bread pudding.

This bread pudding has all of the flavors of your favorite (non-pumpkin) fall pie. (Flavor Mosaic)

10. S'mores martinis.

Make s'mores and drink them too with these adult-friendly sweet martinis. (Excerpted on CakeSpy

11. Maple apple pie with walnut topping.

Maple isn't necessary a fall flavor, since it's harvested in the spring, but it works so well with apple and nut that it's joyfully allowed on this roundup. (The Spiffy Cookie)

12. Apple Cider Doughnuts.

Growing up, these were one of our quintessential fall treats on the Jersey Shore. I think you'll love them, too. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

13. Apple cinnamon chip blondies.

It's pretty well publicized that I prefer blondies to brownies. These ones look autumn-fantastic. (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

14. Sage Shortbread cookies.

These shortbread cookies are SAVORY! I know that sounds nutty, but try them with soup. (The Green Chalkboard)

15. Figgy pudding

Bring us some, right now! Figs are in season, so stock up and make this dessert from now til the official eve of figgy pudding-dom (you know, Christmas). (CakeSpy for Serious Eats)

16. Butternut squash cake.

It's not pumpkin, but it still has that lovely, earthy aroma and flavor. (Betty Crocker)

17.Quince jam thumbprint cookies.

Quince, once again! This time, in jam form, in tasty little thumbrpint cookies. (In Erika's Kitchen)

18. Apple pie breakfast bake.

A Bake-Off finalist from the past, this recipe is a winner on every morning it graces your table! (As seen on CakeSpy)

19. Brown sugar buttercream.

It may or may not contain crack. Not technically fall-flavored, but it goes with everything toasty and comforting, so it's on the list. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

20. "Carnival" caramel apples.

Can't you just taste the outdoor fun? Extra points if you make them with apples you picked. ( Taste of Home)

21. Caramel Apple Nachos.

These are pretty cute, and they even look healthy, even though that is not my primary concern.(Consumer Queen)

22. Brussels Sprouts Cupcakes.

Believe it, my friends. Whether you want to or not. (CakeSpy)

23. Pear and custard tart.

Pears are in season. Custard is always a welcome accompaniment! (As seen on CakeSpy)

24. Chocolate Cauliflower cake.

Seriously. It exists and is apparently very good. (Chocolate Covered Katie)

25. Brown sugar ginger cream cake.

Pears! Cake! And plenty of rich brown sugar pecan butter topping. YUM! (CakeSpy for Garlic My Soul)

26. Triple-dipped apple s'mores.

Take your favorite outdoor treat and add apples that you just picked, because of course you're all fall-like and outside picking apples. Right? (Country Living)

27. Cinnamon roll pear bread pudding.

This Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist recipe is perfect for cool fall mornings: indulgent with a touch of health. It will keep you going! (As seen on CakeSpy)

28. Macaron mushrooms.

Well, OK, they're actually sweet. But mushrooms are in season, so consider them an homage! Via Bubble and Sweet.

29. Apple pie.

Plain and simple is best sometimes. (Craftsy)

Note: also check out the history of apple pie, here!

30. Cheesy sausage bread.

I know it's not sweet but wow, totally sweet! Have it for "dessert" after all these treats. (BHG)

What's your favorite (non-pumpkin!) fall treat?


Union Pie: The State of the Union is Delicious

Image: Me, Myself and Pie by Sherry GoreIf there's one thing that I gained during my year living in Philadelphia, it was a deep love of Amish cuisine. Living next to the Reading Terminal Market, it was all at my fingertips--well, from Wednesday through Saturday, that is. 

This is all to say that I am immediately intrigued when I see a new book featuring Amish recipes. So suffice it to say that I was super excited to receive the new, pie-centric Me, Myself, and Pie by Sherry Gore. And guess what? It's as awesome as you might think an Amish pie recipe book would be. Full of recipes from the expected (Shoofly Pie) to the downright unusual (Union Pie, which is featured here) and with many lovely sweet and savory recipes in-between, I think that this book is a fine addition to any baker's repertoire, especially if you liked my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts, and have an interest in the stories behind sweets. (Like how I just plugged my book there? Yup, just did it. BUY IT.)

I am excerpting the recipe for "Union Pie" from the book. This recipe immediately intrigued me because A) I'd not seen it before, and B) in the picture, it looked almost like a pie filled with tar, so dark was the filling. Turns out it's a slurry made primarily of molasses, buttermilk, sour cream, and spices. Well. I'll let Sherry Gore take it from here with the headnote and recipe--enjoy!

Thanks to Harper Collins for letting me reprint the recipe, which is from Me, Myself, and Pie by Sherry Gore.

Union Pie

I love this pie! Made with sour cream, buttermilk, and dark molasses, this custard confidently charges in like a brisk cup of licorice coffee to preserve the harmony between your fork and your sweet tooth. United we stand, indeed.


  • One 9-inch unbaked pastry pie crust


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or sour milk)
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl, combine sour cream, buttermilk, molasses, and egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the flour mixture into the sour cream mixture and combine thoroughly.
  4. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking for 20–25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Have you ever heard of Union Pie?


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Creamy Peanut Butter-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

 What is better than peanut butter and chocolate? Cupcakes jammed with the killer combo, of course! This recipe takes a good thing and makes it even better with the addition of cake (which is cleverly made with gluten-free cookie dough!). Thanks to Klaren Gerhart of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for coming up with this clever and tasty recipe.

Creamy Peanut Butter-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 45 Min
  • Makes: 12 cupcakes


  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Watkins Original Double Strength Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated or powder sugar
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Line 12 regular-size muffin cups with baking cups.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add cocoa, vinegar, vanilla and 1/2 cup water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 2 minutes or until well blended. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup, filling about 2/3 full.
  3. In a small bowl, beat peanut butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes or until well blended; stir in chocolate chips. Spoon or pipe 1 rounded tablespoonful peanut butter mixture in center of each muffin cup.
  4. Bake 23 to 26 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake around edges comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Store in covered container.



Prunes Are Not Just for Old People: Paczki With Prune Butter

Paczki - ovenly book

Prunes have a bit of a reputation for being a food beloved by cranky old people. I say this lovingly, because my grandma is one of those cranky old people. 

But here's the thing: I like prunes. And I think you will, too, especially when they're accompanied by deliciously fried paczki, a sort of Polish doughnut which is famous especially around Lent. This recipe is excerpted from Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Most Creative Bakery. Enjoy!

PS: If prunes aren't your bag, there's a blueberry jam recipe at the bottom, too. 

Ovenly book


Yield: approximately 20 pączki

I kinda hate doughnuts. An unfortunate mishap involving a cruller at a gas station in rural Wisconsin when I was ten years old scarred me for life. But then came pączki. Pączki (pronounced ponch-ky) are served in Poland on Easter, and the first year we met, incredulous that I hated doughnuts, Agatha bought one for me from a local Greenpoint bakery. Hot, crispy, tender and sweet, she proved to me that doughnuts could be awesome (though I’m still cruller averse). For our cookbook, Agatha’s dad, Zdzislaw, sent us a recipe from Agatha’s great aunt, with a serious note reminding us that pączki are good to make no matter the time of year. In homage to Eastern Europe, we’ve stuffed our version with prune butter, but any fruit spread will do.



  • 1½ cups whole milk + more for thinning the dough
  • 3 tablespoons + 2¼ teaspoons (1¼ ounces) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup + 5¾ cups all-purpose flour, sifted + more for kneading
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup rum or spirytus (neutral spirits)
  • 3 cups safflower or peanut oil, for frying + more for oiling the bowl
  • Prune butter or homemade jam, for filling
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting



1. Heat the whole milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, to 110⁰F to 115⁰F.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and a ½ cup of the flour, whisk together thoroughly and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan or in a small, microwave-safe bowl in a microwave oven, melt the butter and set aside to cool.

4. In a separate small bowl, vigorously whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons and ½ teaspoon sugar, egg yolks and rum until frothy.

5. Place the remaining 5¾ cups flour in a large bowl. Whisk the yeast mixture again, and pour it over the flour. Add the egg mixture, and mix with a wooden spoon or a spatula until the dough just starts to come together. Add the melted butter, and combine until smooth.

6. Liberally flour a work surface, and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough until it comes together and no longer sticks to your hands when worked. If the dough seems dry, add a little more milk and knead. If the dough seems too wet, add a bit more flour.

7. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm area until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

8. Punch the dough down and separate it into 2 balls. Flour your work surface again, and roll the first ball into a disk about ½-inch thick.

9. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or an inverted drinking glass, cut rounds out of the dough. Set the scraps of dough aside.

10. Place 1 tablespoon prune butter in the center of 1 of the rounds. Top it with another round, and pinch the seams with your fingers to seal the edges. Then bring together the edges of the dough on 1 side to create a sphere (see process below), and pinch to make a new seam. Reshape each ball with your hands to re-form it into a fluffy round shape. Repeat this process for the remaining rounds. Set each filled pączki on a floured surface.

11. Repeat this process with the remaining ball of dough. Reroll all the scraps of dough, and repeat this process again.

12. Let the filled pączki rise for 20 minutes, or until fluffy.

13. After the pączki have risen for 15 minutes, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed steel or cast-iron skillet to 350ºF on a candy thermometer, and line a large plate or a cooling rack with paper towels.

14. Once the oil is ready, use a slotted spoon to carefully place 3 or 4 pączki in the hot oil. Fry for 45 seconds, or until golden brown on 1 side. Flip the pączki and fry on the other side until golden brown, about 25 to 35 seconds.

15. Remove the pączki from the oil immediately and transfer to the prepared plate or cooling rack.

16. Let the pączki cool completely. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

Pączki Process:

  1. Once the prepared dough is rolled out, use a 3-inch cookie cutter or an inverted drinking glass to cut rounds out of the dough.

  2. Place the filling in the center of 1 of the rounds.

  3. Top it with another round.

  4. Repeat this process with the remaining rounds.

  5. Pinch just the ends with your fingers to seal the edges securely.

  6. Reshape the pączki so that they are fluffy and round, and set them aside to rise for 20 minutes.

  7. Heat the oil in a skillet to 350ºF. Fry the pączki until they are golden brown on each side.

  8. Remove the pączki from the oil and transfer them to a plate or a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain.

  9. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle the cooled pączki with confectioners’ sugar.

Note:  To ensure your pączki are perfectly fried but not greasy, heat your oil to 350⁰F before frying and reheat it to 350⁰F between batches.


Yield: approximately 1½ cups

What better accompaniment to a scone than butter and jam? Since we sell a lot of scones at Ovenly, we go through a lot of fixin’s, as well. With all the fruit we have on hand, it was a no-brainer for us to start making our own jam. Don’t be intimidated: all you have to do is throw everything into a large pot, heat and…wait.


  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup honey


1. Place the blueberries and honey in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning, for 4 minutes.

2. After about 4 minutes, the blueberries will start to sweat. Turn the heat up to high, and stir until the liquid comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer for about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture thickens as it reduces.

3. For a juicier jam, reduce the cooking time by a few minutes. For a thicker consistency, cook the jam for the full 20 minutes. The longer you cook the jam, the thicker it will be.

4. Set the jam aside to cool and thicken fully. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Credit: “Excerpted from Ovenly by Agatha Kulaga & Erin Patinkin (Harlequin Nonfiction). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Winona Barton-Ballentine.”



Cute Fall Recipe: Crescent Witch Hats

Photo: PillsburyCrescent rolls? Great, most times of the year. But around Halloween, something more festive is in order! My favorite pick is these cute "Crescent Witch Hats" recipe which Pillsbury was kind enough to let me share here.

Not only are these incredibly easy to make but they pack an adorable punch. See for yourself:

Crescent Witch Hats


  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar or unsweetened baking cocoa


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Separate dough into 8 triangles.
  2. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of chocolate chips on wide end of crescent triangle, and roll over once to form brim of hat.
  3. Form the rest of the crescent triangle into hat shape. Repeat for remaining crescent triangles. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Using fine mesh strainer, sprinkle crescent hats with powdered sugar or cocoa; serve warm.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Glazed Hawaiian Braid

Hawaiian bread

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

Is it cold where you are right now? It suddenly and relentlessly got cold here, so I am dreaming of the tropics. Cindy Nerat of Menominee, Michigan must have heard me, because she came up with this dreamy glazed Hawaiian bread as her entry to the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Sounds like a getaway breakfast is in order!

Glazed Hawaiian Bread

  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr
  • Makes: 12 servings


  • 3/4 cup coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (4 oz)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
  • 1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crusty French loaf


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the coconut and 2 tablespoons of the macadamia nuts; set aside. In medium bowl, mix mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the orange extract until well blended. Stir in pineapple, remaining 1/2 cup coconut and remaining macadamia nuts.
  3. Carefully unroll dough on work surface; press to form 12x10-inch rectangle. Fold dough rectangle into thirds; transfer to cookie sheet. Unfold dough rectangle. Spread mascarpone mixture down center of dough in 4-inch-wide strip to within 1/2 inch of short ends. Using kitchen scissors or sharp knife, make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of filling. Fold strips of dough diagonally over filling, alternating from side to side, stretching dough as needed.
  4. Bake 22 to 32 minutes or until tops of strips are golden brown. Cool about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 4 to 5 teaspoons of the reserved pineapple juice until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over braid; sprinkle with reserved coconut mixture. Serve warm.

Illustration Friday: Octopus

Octopus with scuba cuppie

Check out all of the other awesome illustrations on Illustration Friday's website!

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