Tag Archives: ginger

Cranberry Bliss Bars

So the Cranberry Bliss Bar from Starbucks comes back on Tuesday for the holidays and I simply couldn’t wait the last two days to have one. Mom gave me this awesome book (recipe is also on their website on topsecretrecipes.com) for Christmas a few years ago so I busted it out in search of the recipe and thank goodness it was there!

They were a 4 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10 mainly because there were three different parts to the recipe and also finding candied ginger was harder than tearing Curtis away from the TV on Superbowl Sunday. That’s a huge exaggeration. I just thought it was going to be in the baking aisle with everything else and it wasn’t. It was in the bulk ‘scooping’ part of Pak ‘N Save. For a few minutes there I thought this whole recipe was going awry and all I really had to do was ask for help 😛

So, anyways, once I got past my difficulties these were quite relaxing to make!

Candied cinger is super photogenic!

This is what candied ginger looks like- that also may have been part of the problem, I didn’t know what exactly I was looking for! However, I have learned from shopping with my mom and sisters that you should never be afraid to ask for help! Especially when such a delicious recipe is at stake.

So first I mixed, using a blender, the brown sugar and butter. Once that was thoroughly blended, I added eggs, ginger, vanilla and salt and continued mixing until it was smooth.

P.S. The ginger needs to be diced….

Stages 1, 2, and 3 of the candied ginger

After that was all mixed up and lookin’ delicious, I added the flour and baking powder and (after that was mixed) I added the cranberries and white chocolate.

Now, this recipe suggested using Ghirardelli’s White Chocolate, but Nestle’s White Chocolate Morsels were on sale and they tasted fabulous.

The whole ‘morsels’

….and the roughly chopped ‘morsels’

I didn’t want them to be completely whole so I just chip chopped my knife over ’em a couple times and called it good. And oh, they were.


Smoothed it out in the pan and popped it in the oven at 350 for 32 minutes! (recipe said 25-30)

While it was bakin’ away, I made the frosting and drizzle in about 2 minutes.

the old ‘I don’t want to buy a frosting bag so I’ll use a sandwich baggie with a corner cut off’ trick

The bar-part came out of the oven looking and smelling SO GOOD. I’ve told M numerous times I wish we could send smells via text cuz sometimes pictures just can’t do it justice. However, in this case, that’s not entirely true. This is a photogenic recipe.

I love it when the edges toast a little

Let it cool completely, then frost

Spread the frosting, sprinkle some dried cranberries, and drizzle the drizzle!

Fancy, fancy!!! The way they’re cut in the store is in little rectangles, then into triangles. So I went all the way and cut them the same!

The texture is phenomenal

See? You don’t need smell….yeah, not true. I totally wish you could smell ’em.

Anyways, I made these about 2 hours ago and there’s half a pan left. Curtis has some friends over for the game (which one is that, you ask? Well, you’re asking the wrong person.) and they devoured them. A hit? I think so.

So, if you have a party to attend where a little sugary snack is desired, these are a delectable choice that is far cheaper than the ones at Starbucks and they taste Oh So Good. 10/10 on the Tastes Like Heaven in My Mouth Scale. Yes, it’s a scale.


Cranberry Bliss Bars 


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup chopped dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)

1/2 cup white chocolate cut into chunks


4 ounces softened cream cheese

3 cups (yes, cups!) powdered sugar

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Preheat oven to 350.

Make cake by beating the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt and beat well. Gradually ix in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix the chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks into the batter by hand. Pour the batter into a buttered 9×13 inch baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Allow cake to cool.

Make the frosting by combining the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium owl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the cake.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of copped dried cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

Make the drizzled icing by whisking together powdered sugar, milk and shortening. Drizzle this icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion with a squirt bottle or fill a small plastic storage bag with the icing and cut off the tip of one corner.

Cover the cake and let it chill out in the fridge for a couple hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times, making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally, creating 16 triangular slices.

Makes 16 bars.

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Filed under Cookies/Bars, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs., Holiday

Sesame Peanut Chicken Pasta

I have a fear of weird ingredients.

If I can’t pronounce the ingredient, I usually end up kind of… ignoring it. Or, if I think I have a close substitute for what the recipe calls for, I just sub it out. ( Sesame oil vs. olive oil? Eh, same thing.) Usually, it ends up working out okay and we still enjoy the meal. But I am always a little disappointed, thinking maybe if I had just followed the recipe, it would be all I had hoped for.

Those ‘eh, its all the same’ days are behind me now, because of this recipe. I had this sesame peanut pasta a few weeks ago when I was in Michigan for that wedding. My Aunt Jodi whipped this up for dinner one night during that wedding week, and I hadn’t arrived yet so my first taste was having it cold for lunch the next day. Every single bite had me spellbound. Incredulous. Very protective over my own portion. Spurned cousins had to go dish up their own plate because this girl was not sharing. Every single ‘weird’ ingredient is there for a good reason!! It makes the dish complete- and if you decide to forgo the foreign spice here, or the nut oil there, your final product will be missing a little something.  I was ready to go to any store I needed to get the ingredients for this!! So I asked my aunt for the recipe, and encountered a little problem.


My aunt warned me when we sent this email to me that 1.) She doesn’t measure. Ever. 2.) Her recipes are based on what she has in the kitchen, so they come out different everytime. 3.) Sometimes they turn out awful- especially if she is a little too liberal in her substitutions, see #2. (I seriously doubt #3, because I’ve never witnessed an awful anything come out of her kitchen.)


You can imagine this made me a little worried, because I am the type of person that follows the recipe precisely. (except the weird ingredients, before.) I need exact measurements!! So what you have here is a precisely followed, loosely described recipe that will rock your socks off. And its good hot OR cold. And for breakfast.


(disregard how I splatter ever ingredient all over my stovetop. That’s not a worm in the grate there, promise )

Get cookin! It’s so easy, don’t let the Asian ingredients intimidate you.


Sesame Peanut Chicken Pasta

serves 6-8. Or 2, with lots of leftovers. 🙂

Boil 1 pound of pasta (we used WW spaghetti)

In a hot skillet, add 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add one thinly sliced onion. Saute until translucent. If you are using raw chicken, at this point, add boneless chicken, cut into chunks. (My aunt suggested thighs, but all we had was breasts and it worked well too!) Continue to cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan.

Add to the onions & drippings:

3-4 Tbsp Sesame oil

2-3 cloves garlic

1 Tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1/2-2/3 cup Peanut butter

3 Tbsp honey

1-2 Tbsp. mirin or soy sauce (I used soy)

1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts

1 Tbsp red pepper flakes

Bring together over medium heat, and add water to thin a bit. (I probably added about 2/3 to 1 cup). Toss in 1 bunch of chopped green onion, and a 1/2 head of shredded cabbage. My aunt used green, I used red because it’s what I had. It tasted great, but the color had Joey a little hesitant for a while. He got over it and ended up addmitting that he loved the cabbage 🙂

Saute for a few minutes with the lid on. This helps to wilt the cabbage faster. Now is the time to add the chicken back in and stir it all up! Now you can add a little more water or chicken stock to make sure its nice and saucy. Pour over the cooked noodles and mix it all together! Eat immediately, or chill and eat later. Or do both, like we did. If you like it hot, add a little more crushed red pepper flakes on top.


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Filed under Family, Food Stuffs., Uncategorized