Orange Cranberry Bliss Bars

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Orange Cranberry Bliss Bars

a photo of several orange cranberry bliss bars stack on each other. they are drizzled with a white chocolate drizzle and topped with dried cranberries.
Orange and cranberry go together like pb and j or better yet, like pb and chocolate! These orange cranberry blondies are so soft and chewy. It’s like Christmas in your mouth!
You know how some things just belong together? I believe that oranges and cranberries are one of those combos that is just meant to be. Have you tried our orange cranberry glazed poppy seed bread?  Oh man, it’s so good! Then there is our orange cranberry pull apart bread that is just to die for!
There’s just something about the tartness of the cranberries with the tanginess of the orange all together with the sweetness of the blonde brownie and frosting that makes for one blissful bite!

Speaking of Things that Go Together…

Oranges and cranberries are foods that go together. Just like certain foods taste better together, I believe that some people are better together too. So much about being a mother is hard! Is anyone out there with me? It’s hard to sacrifice so much so constantly, but it’s worth it.

I was having a conversation with a friend about going to the park the other day. I secretly hate going to the park (I know, worst mom ever!). I don’t want to try the monkey bars. I don’t want to play pirates. I don’t want to climb up the slide.

And then there is the imaginative play! I can’t do it! I don’t know what it is, but it’s actually physically and mentally imp

Christmas Magic Cookie Bars

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Christmas Magic Cookie Bars

a photo of a magic cookie bar that has been topped with Christmas m&m's, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Christmas magic cookie bars have a buttery graham cracker crust that is topped with a layer of sweetened condensed milk, then oats followed by a combination of different baking chips and m&m’s. You’re going to LOVE them!

A few years ago a friend asked why I never have a magic bars recipe on the blog and I told her, because I have never found one our family loves and I’m not posting unless I think it’s totally delicious!

 

Fast forward a few years and many recipes and the kids are here to tell you that this Christmas magic bars recipe is literally the only magic bars recipe you need . I love the simplicity of chocolates and grahams but you could always throw in salted peanuts or other nuts, different chips like butterscotch, dark chocolate, peanut butter m&m’s, the possibilities are endless! 

What is it about recipes and 7 layers? Have you ever noticed that? Why aren’t there 8 layers? Or 6? We even have our own collection 7 layer recipes…haha! Our 7 layer pea salad is so dreamy! And of course there is always a 7 layer Mexican dip, which contributed to the 7 layer dip taquitos. But anyway, 7 layers! Most magic cookie bars out there are called 7 layer magic cookie bars.

I don’t know how many layers you would say that these bars have. If you go straight from the ingredients list, then these are 7 layers too. You have the graham cracker crust, then the sweetened condensed milk, the oats and all the baking chips and m&m’s. But I’m not going to call them 7 layer magic bars because I want you to be able to add or omit “layers” to make your own magic.

 

What Do I Need to Make Magic Cookie Bars?

Believe it or not, you are only 9 ingredients away from magic! Here is what you will need:

  • Graham Crackers – you can buy graham cracker crumbs or make your own in the food processor
  • Sugar – just regular white granulated sugar
  • Butter – helps bind the gc crumbs and sugar to make a crunchy crust, use unsalted, and melt it in the microwave for about 60 seconds
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – we always go with Eagle Brand, this layer binds everything together
  • Quick Oats – I love the texture of the quick oats in this recipe but you could use old fashioned if you prefer
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips – feel free to swap these for milk chocolate or dark chocolate depending on what you like
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips – swap with butterscotch chips if you want
  • White Chocolate Chips – adds sweetness and creaminess
  • Holiday m&m’s – you can use any m&m’s you want for any holiday or just for a normal day

The measurements for all the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. 

 

More Options for Toppings

Part of what makes these cookie bars magic is layering it up in just the way you want it. If the toppings

Tuxedo Brownie Cups

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Tuxedo Brownie Cups

A marble background with a white plate filled with tiny brownie cups filled with a white chocolate cream cheese filling and a sliced strawberry on top making these the cutest tuxedo brownie cups

Brownies stuffed with a creamy white chocolate cream cheese filling and a big juicy strawberry on top. These tuxedo brownie cups are elegant and delicious!

Brownies are delicious and they go with just about any occasion or meal so they are the perfect “go to” dessert when you’ve got a lot going on, but it’s time to give brownies a little dressing up. We made it a black tie affair with these tuxedo brownie bites and I’m so glad we did!

The cream cheese filling is absolutely divine, but really can you EVER go wrong with cream cheese filling? It’s creamy and perfect along with that bold chocolate and the fresh, sweet berry.

Recommended Equipment

Ingredients for Tuxedo Brownie Bites

  • Fudge Brownie Mix: Make the brownies following the cake like instructions. You will need eggs, water and vegetable oil.
  • White Chocolate: adds a delicious rich flavor to the filling
  • Milk: thins out the filling a little and adds creaminess
  • Cream Cheese: use full fat cream cheese and make sure it is at room temperature (see section below for avoiding lumps)
  • Powdered Sugar: adds sweetness
  • Frozen Whipped Topping: adds structure to the filling
  • Strawberries: adds flavor and freshness and pairs so well with chocolate
  • Orange Zest: This is totally optional but it adds a beautiful depth of flavor. Mint or chocolate could also be used to garnish.

The measurements for all the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

Lumps in Cream Cheese

Remember, when cooking or baking with cream cheese you need to either set it out for a bit so that you can soften the brick, making a smooth spread, or fill a sink with warm water and let it sit, still in its foil until soft. There’s nothing worse than lumpy cream cheese filling and no amount of beating will smooth out those pieces.

 

How to Make Tuxedo Brownie Bites

The beautiful thing about these brownie bites (besides how good they taste) is that they seem so decadent and fancy but they couldn’t be easier to make! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven and spray all the muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Brownie Mix: Prepare the brownie mix according to the cake like directions.
  3. Bake: Using a small cookie scoop, fill the cups 2/3 full with brownie batter and bake.
  4. Create: When the brownies are done baking, use the back of the small scoop the indent the middle of each brownie to create a “brownie cup”.
  5. Filling: While the brownies cool, make the filling (see section below for more details).
  6. Assemble: Add the filling to the brownie cups (more details below)

Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

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Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

a photo of a square piece of gooey pumpkin butter cake with dollop of whipped cream on top with several pieces sitting in the background.

Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake is a yellow cake crust topped with a creamy pumpkin layer and the most popular pumpkin dessert at our Thanksgiving table.

This is the very first recipe I had ever made from the Food Network. Paula Deen inspired something in Cade and I and that is the only reason this blog exists.

Cade’s from the South and as super poor newlyweds we didn’t have much entertainment that didn’t cost money and since cable was free in our apartment we would watch Paula cook up delicious foods and I got to learn about Cade’s Southern side.

It was so fun to surprise him with classic southern dishes like, Fried Chicken, Southern Macaroni and Cheese, Perfect Pecan Pie and Tomato Basil Pie. But then we saw a few pumpkin recipes using pumpkin puree like, pumpkin cake, pumpkin gooey butter cake and other pumpkin dessert recipes.

We just knew Thanksgiving was going to be extra special.

Our First Thanksgiving Home as Newlyweds

Cade and I had been married for just shy of a year and we had gone home to Washington for the holidays. It felt so special to finally be a married couple enjoying the time with family. We had been thinking up pumpkin ideas for weeks.

I can’t remember why I was making pumpkin recipes, it must have been that we decided to not do pumpkin pie or something but either way this gooey butter cake ended up being what I chose and my whole family has been hooked on Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake recipe ever since.

Now, I’ve waited this whole time, choosing to not post any Food Network recipes because I totally get how hard those chefs work, but after almost 12 years I decided that:

  • it’s one of our favorites
  • it’s already all over the web
  • you want to know the recipes that people are obsessed with so you can make it a family favorite too!

What Ingredients for Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake Crust

  • Egg
  • Butter
  • Cake Mix

Start off by making the crust with the above in

Key Lime Bars-Torta De Limão

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Key Lime Bars-Torta De Limão

a photo of a key lime pie bar sitting on a small dessert plate.

These key lime bars hail from the beautiful country of Brazil! They are light, tangy and I adore that graham cracker crust.

Known as torta de limão in Portuguese (pronounced tor-ta gee lee-mow, “mow” like “cow”, not “mow” like “mow” the lawn, English is so dumb), these key lime bars are truly delicious. They are like a lime cheesecake or a key lime pie in bar form. I was re-shooting our photos for our blackberry lime bars and thought I should update these photos too. After all, they are the inspo for the blackberry version!

Torta de limão is a favorite that my husband had when living in Brazil from a sweet lady named, Vania. (Thank you for taking such great care of Cade!! You all meant so much to him!) So, here’s Cade and his thoughts on the dessert. Love you B. *I know his name is Cade, and B doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry about it! *

“I lived in Brazil for awhile and toward the end of my stay I was introduced to this amazing, sweet and tart dessert. At first I thought it was just a lemon meringue pie. As I took my first bite I was taken back by the flavor and texture of it all. It was creamy like banana pudding, but had the crisp peaks of the meringue and graham cracker-like crust. The lime flavor combined with the sweetened condensed milk was an immediate party with my taste buds. This is still one of my all time favorite desserts and brings back many great memories.  I think that’s what food does for us a lot. I cannot remember the names of all the people I enjoyed this dessert with but I made sure I came home with the recipe in hand and the name of this awesome treat!”

Recommended Equipment

Before You Begin…

You are going to need about 18-20 key limes (10 regular limes) for this recipe to get enough key lime juice so start by first zesting 5-6 of them and juicing all 18-20 limes. It’s a lot easier to remove the zest before a lime is juiced.

Ingredients for Torta de Limão

Now is this going to sound crazy, but you’re only going to need 9 ingredients for these key lime pie bars – 4 ingredients for the crust and 5 ingredients for the filling. It is that simple and so incredibly delicious! Here is your shopping list…

For the Crust

  • Graham Crackers: You will need about 21 full graham crackers to get the amount of crumbs you’ll need.
  • Melted Butter: Binds the ingredients together and creates a rich flavor in the crust.
  • Sugar: Adds sweetness to the crust.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavors in the crust.

For the Bars

  • La Lechera Leche Condensada: You’ll find this on the baking aisle by the sweetened condensed milk. It’s a little different than just sweetened condensed milk, so be sure to grab the right thing. It will look similar (and probably be right next to) to the La Lechera Dulce de Leche.
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