The last few days have proved to be quite exciting.  My recipe for Crunchy Top Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal was in a national contest with Smart Balance and to, my great surprise, it won!  The prize is an all expenses paid trip for two to Canyon Ranch Spa in Miami Beach.  What’s more, I get to give away an identical trip!  (To enter and to see that recipe, you may click here.)

I was especially thrilled with the win because the baked oatmeal is truly a favorite recipe with family and friends and one that has spurred many seasonal variations.  I couldn’t even wager a guess as to how many times I have baked this recipe!   Throughout the contest, however, I noticed that several of the other recipes looked rather intriguing.  One particular dessert by Recipe for Fitness particularly caught my eye.  I even shared it on my Fountain Avenue Kitchen Facebook page.

Last night, I had family coming for dinner and it occurred to me that this would be a fun dessert to try.  What’s more, I had all the ingredients on hand and it would meet the needs of a gluten free eater in the group.  I love that this recipe is really clean eating–especially impressive in the dessert category.  With the exception of the chocolate chips–I actually used chunks–there are no processed ingredients and the peanut butter packs a terrific protein punch.  While I did adapt the recipe in several ways (click here for original recipe), I did not change it in a way that would fundamentally alter the taste or texture.

While there were several good-natured jokes about eating one of my “competitor’s” recipes, the feedback from every single person around the dining room table was positive.  Even my 21-month-old niece gobbled her piece and proclaimed that she would like to take some home with her.  My hat goes off to Recipe for Fitness for this creative, wholesome dessert…it truly got my vote!


UPDATE #1:  While this recipe was delicious freshly cooked with a scoop of ice cream, I thought it tasted even better with time.  I stored the last few pieces in the refrigerator (seemingly out of sight from anyone else!), and two and three days later, this dessert was as rich and satisfying to me as my favorite brownie–truly incredible yet packed with protein and a fair share of nutrients.  I loved the bit of crunch provided by the chocolate chunks, too.  This recipe is a “make again” recipe, for sure!

UPDATE #2:  I recently made a modified version of this recipe which has been quite popular with my newspaper readers.  See the photo and link to the adapted recipe, below.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie (grain and gluten free)

This recipe is rich and smooth–almost like a gooey brownie. If you like a little crunch, you could try using a crunchy peanut butter.

  • 1 16-ounce container peanut butter (about 1 2/3 cups), see note
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • Optional: vanilla ice cream for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend peanut butter, pumpkin and egg until creamy. (I did all the mixing by hand.)
  3. Add baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add honey and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Stir chocolate chunks into the batter.
  6. Spread batter into a lightly greased, 10-inch cast iron skillet.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until edges become golden and center is just firm. I covered with a piece of foil for the last 5 minutes to prevent the top from becoming too brown. (All ovens vary so peek a bit early to see if needed.)
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  9. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.


If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, a 9×9 square baking dish would be a good substitute.

This recipe may be prepared entirely gluten free and/or dairy free by purchasing gluten free and/or dairy free chocolate chips. Also, Smart Balance has a 16-ounce container of peanut butter that is perfect for this recipe if you wish to try their product.


 Secret Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie… an updated version of the above recipe that has been especially popular with readers