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Cindy’s gone for the week, soaking up the sun in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ for the nugget’s spring break. You know what they say – when the cat’s away, the mice (or mouse, I guess) will play. And that’s exactly what I’m doing while she’s lounging poolside. I’m cooking up whatever I want!

First up? A light pasta with blue cheese, cherry tomatoes and red onion. Cindy’s not a big fan of the stinky cheese like I am, so I’m taking full advantage of her absence and really loading up on it. For dessert, I searched all over Pinterest for a delicious looking sweet, and I found the most decadent of them all: pretzel crusted peanut butter cookie Reese’s brownie bars. Yeah, I know it’s a mouthful, but it’s certainly a yummy mouthful! Cindy’s going to be so sad she missed these dangerously decadent bars.

Penne with Tomatoes, Red Onion and Blue Cheese Weight Watchers Best Darn Food Ever | 2012
It’s been pretty hot in St. Louis lately – 80° or above nearly every day this past week! When it warms up like this, I don’t want anything too heavy or hot. This pasta is the perfect dish for a warm, spring night with cherry tomatoes, onions and parsley that lend this dish a light, fresh flavor. The blue cheese adds the perfect hint of richness to the mix. The best part? It’s diet lifestyle-change friendly! And since I gorged on recently delivered Girl Scout cookies this week, that’s exactly what I need.

This dish takes almost no time to make, so it’s easy to whip up on a busy weeknight. A light italian salad makes a fabulous addition to this meal.

This is where the ride to Flavortown begins.

Start by cooking the penne pasta in boiling water. Next, chop up the red onion. Onion goggles would have been a great accessory for this step.

After chopping the onion, cut the cherry tomatoes in half.

Coat your skillet with nonstick spray and sauté the onions until they’re golden and tender. This will take about 8 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook about 4 minutes longer, or until tomatoes have softened.

Drain the cooked pasta and add to the onion and tomatoes. Stir until the pasta and vegetables are well mixed.

Add the dried thyme, flat-leaf parsley and blue cheese.

Toss the pasta so that the cheese begins to melt, coating all of the noodles.

Dig in!

Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients:
1 pound whole wheat penne
1 large red onion, chopped
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup crumbled reduced-fat blue cheese

Directions:
Cook penne according to package directions, omitting salt if desired. Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook until tomatoes are softened, about 4 minutes longer.

Transfer onion mixture to serving bowl. Add pasta and remaining ingredients. Toss until mixed well.

Pretzel Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Reese’s Brownie Bars Baby Gizmo Blog | February 27, 2012
Have you ever thought about what your ultimate dessert would be? For me, it’s hard to choose just one favorite. I love peanut butter. I love chocolate. I love things that are both sweet and salty. I love cookies. I love brownies. I love candy. In reality, I love all sweets. So, when I spotted this dessert on Pinterest, I knew I would be trying it soon. Pretzels, peanut butter cookies, Reese’s AND brownies? You had me at “Hello.”

This dessert creates a lot of dirty dishes, but it’s well worth it. My roommate couldn’t stop raving about how deliciously decadent this dish is. You better make sure you have milk on hand though – you will definitely need it to wash these bars down!

These are a few of my favorite things…

First, crush the butter pretzels in a food processor.

Don’t process the pretzels too much. Just pulse the pretzels until they are broken into small pieces like these.

Add the sugar to the crushed up pretzels.

Next, add melted butter to the mix.

Press the pretzels into a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish to form a crust.

Prepare the peanut butter cookie dough according to the directions on the package. Add the cookie dough to the pretzel crust.

Lightly press the cookie dough evenly on top of the pretzel crust.

For the next layer, cover the cookie dough with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. There should be a few left over for you to snack on while you’re making these. Hint hint.

Prepare the brownie batter according to the directions on the box.

Pour the brownie batter over the peanut butter cups. Then bake this heavenly dish at 350° for about an hour, or until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.

If you can, let the bars cool for about 10 minutes before cutting them. Serve warm with a big, tall glass of milk.

Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients:
2 ½ cups crushed butter pretzels (I used Snyder’s Butter Snap pretzels)
1 cup melted butter
5 tbsp sugar
Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix (+ all the ingredients the mix calls for)
Brownie Mix (13×9 family size box + all the ingredients the mix calls for)Snack Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 – 10.5oz bags)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Melt the butter in the microwave.

Crush the pretzels in a food processor. Make sure not to crush the pretzels too small. It’s good to keep some small pieces to keep the crust crunchy. Mix the melted butter, sugar and pretzel crumbs in a mixing bowl and press mixture into lightly greased 13×9 pan.

Set aside pretzel crust and prepare peanut butter cookie dough according to directions on the bag. Lightly press the cookie dough evenly on top of the pretzel crust.

Unwrap snack-size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and cover the cookie dough with the candy.

Prepare the brownie mix according to directions on the box. Pour the brownie batter evenly over the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Bake at 350° for about an hour, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let cool ten minutes. Pour glass of milk. Enjoy.

And this is what dreams are made of.

Next week: We’re cooking it up Pioneer Woman style with recipes from Ree’s latest cookbook, a gift I preordered for Cindy for Christmas.

Nom. nom. nom.