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John’s Cookbook – Page 5 – S’mores Dip

19 Mar

The snow is melting, the sun is shining, and Spring is here! It may not feel like it for sure yet, but warmer weather is on its way, and I for one can’t wait to get out there and enjoy it. Admittedly, I am NOT much of an outdoor girl AT ALL – BUT – when you have kids that have been cooped up inside for the past several years (months really – but feels like years), you gotta embrace the wonder that is the great outdoors

One of the best things about warmer weather is having campfires and roasting marshmallows for S’mores. It may not be S’more weather yet – but it is S’more dip weather (which – is really anytime!)

S’more’s Dip
(Recipe Courtesy of Wine & Glue)

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup fudge sauce
7 1/2 oz marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla

graham cracker sticks for dipping
mini chocolate chips/marshmallow bits for topping

Instructions
In a large bowl, blend together with a handheld mixer: the cream cheese, powdered sugar, fudge sauce, marshmallow creme and vanilla until smooth

Transfer to a serving bowl, top with mini chocolate chips and marshmallow bits and serve with graham crackers

John’s favorite part? Anything marshmallow related – he loved the fluff, and the tiny little marshmallows blew his mind!

He looks oddly like the Joker while “taste-testing” the ingredients

DIPPPPPPPPPP – so good!

As with most dips – this wasn’t exactly hard to make, and I love the idea of a dippable S’more!

It was enjoyed by all, big and small – and while it was great, it just made me want a REAL s’more even more! Still – a worthy winter time substitute, and I personally enjoyed it right off the spoon (no graham crackers needed!)

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John’s Cookbook – Page 4 – Chocolate PB Crescent Rolls

12 Mar

For this week’s page out of John’s Cookbook, he picked something simple (which I appreciate), that also managed to incorporate Chocolate and Peanut Butter (which EVERYONE appreciates!)

Chocolate PB Crescent Rolls
(Recipe Courtesy of Stockpiling Moms)

Ingredients
1 pkg of Crescent Rolls
8 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
¼ cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Roll out Crescent Rolls to form 8 triangles.
-Spread 1 Tbsp. of Peanut Butter on each triangle.
-Sprinkle Mini Chocolate Chips amongst triangles.
-Roll up Crescent Rolls and press ends together.
-Place on 13X9 baking sheet and cook for 10 mins.
-Let cool and enjoy.

Prep work (with some help from Dad and Auntie)

Before and After oven glamour shots

John loved them so much he ate 2! 

Crescent Rolls are such a great base for a lot of things – like the Crescent Roll Cinnamon Rolls John helped make a few weeks ago, and of course Crescent dogs (crescent roll/hot dog/cheese) are a favorite at our house, and now these dessert rolls, and of course they are great by themselves alongside Thanksgiving Dinner, too!

While there was nothing special about these taste-wise (they tasted exactly like you would think – a crescent roll stuffed with Peanut butter and chocolate), they were really easy for him to do basically by himself, and they can really be customized with add-ins too – jelly, mini marshmallows, nuts, other flavors of chocolate chips, raisins/craisins – you can use whatever you have on hand to whip these up – and they are pretty tasty (especially warm out of the oven!)

John’s Cookbook – Page 3 – Reese’s Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

7 Mar

I have been LOVING having my little sous chef in the kitchen with me – he has been helping me bake since he was a wee little 1 year old, and I am really enjoying having him help pick and “reading” the recipes with me.

This week, he picked cookies – because who doesn’t love cookies? I think he saw that there were Reese’s involved and that had him hooked, and I don’t blame him – there’s a reason I had saved this recipe for Reese’s Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies, and I couldn’t WAIT to try them:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies
(Recipe Courtesy of Inside BruCrew Life)

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 – 3.4 box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups halved Reese’s mini peanut butter cups, divided
1 cup mini Reese’s Pieces, divided

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Beat the butter until creamy. Add the peanut butter and sugars and beat again.
-Add the eggs, honey, and vanilla and beat until mixed in.
-Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix. Slowly add to the butter mixture until everything is mixed in.
-Stir in the chocolate chips, 1 cup peanut butter cups, and 3/4 cup Reese’s Pieces gently.
-Use a 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop to make 36 dough balls. Press the remaining candy into the tops of the dough balls.
-Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let rest on the hot cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then gently move to a piece of parchment paper.
-Let the cookies cool completely before storing in a tightly sealed container.

He’s ready to bake!

Loves doing the mixer all by himself – and he has gotten pretty good at it, too

Wet and dry ingredients – ready to be mixed together

These got the John seal of approval for sure!

These are some serious cookies – they remind me a bit of these other pudding cookies I made – the best soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies, which are also large, dense & intense!

They were easy to make, and the only change I made to the recipe was I didn’t save some of the candy to put on the top before baking – I just mixed it all in – and they turned out plenty pretty (at least – I think so!)

I actually am not a big fan of peanut butter based cookies, but these didn’t overpower with the PB flavor (I think the pudding helped offset it!) and the chunks of chocolate chips/Reese’s in every bite were awesome. Would make again, for sure – these are perfect for all you peanut butter lovers out there!

John’s Cookbook – Page 2 – Ice Cream In A Bag

5 Mar

I came across this “Ice Cream In A Bag” somewhere – Facebook maybe? And I remember making it when I was a kid – at daycare we did it a few times, and I even was able to recreate it on my own at home. I figured my son would enjoy it – as it’s easy, and doesn’t require any baking/oven time, OH – and you get to SHAKE a bag for a LONG TIME! So here we go, with the next page of John’s Cookbook – Ice Cream In A Bag!

Ice Cream In A Bag
INGREDIENTS
1 c. Milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 c. ice
1/3 c. kosher salt
Toppings of your choice

DIRECTIONS
-In a small Ziploc bag, combine milk, sugar and vanilla. Push out excess air and seal.
-Into a larger Ziploc bag, combine ice and salt.
-Place small bag inside the bigger bag and shake vigorously, 7 to 10 minutes, until ice cream has hardened.
-Remove from bag and enjoy with your favorite ice cream toppings.

Chef John enjoyed this a lot – it was easy and a fun way for him to fully make something basically all on his own!

The only change I made was that the original recipe called for half and half, but I opted to use 2% milk instead, turned out fine. Additionally – might I offer a Pro Tip – double bag it. All of it – the ice cream, the ice itself – double it up. Because no matter how strong your baggies are, they will probably leak at some point after several minutes of vigorous shaking (ours did – and they were name brand and everything – eek!). So learn from my messy mistakes and double it up before you even begin – oh – and Happy Shaking!

John’s Cookbook – Page 1 – Crescent Roll Cinnamon Rolls

27 Feb

As you all know, I have been having my little sous chef help me out in the kitchen for quite some time now – since he was about 1 (he’s 4 now!). He really enjoys helping measure, stir, and create recipes – so I thought it was about time he took the lead a bit more.

He expressed interest in making “Crescent Roll Cinnamon Rolls” – which I wasn’t even sure was a thing, but turns out, it is! So I printed the recipe in extra large font, and put it in his very own binder, titled “John’s Cookbook” – and each week I will add a kid-friendly recipe for he and I to make together

Crescent Roll Cinnamon Rolls
(Recipe Courtesy of The Two Bite Club)

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 package crescent roll dough or crescent roll sheet
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat the inside of a 7-inch x 5-inch baking dish with some of the melted butter.

2. Unroll the crescent dough. (If using crescent rolls, pinch seams to seal.) Brush the dough with 1 teaspoon of the melted butter, leaving a 1/4-inch border with no butter.

3. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1/4 inch border with no sugar. Drizzle with the remaining melted butter.

4. Roll the dough (starting with the long end) into a tight log. Cut into 8 equal pieces and carefully place into the baking dish cut side up. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, combine the room temperature butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Beat in the orange juice, vanilla, and powdered sugar until combined. Spread onto the cinnamon rolls when they come out of the oven, serving any leftover glaze on the side.

He really enjoyed taking the lead on this – and the finished product was pretty good! It’s an easy shortcut to making cinnamon rolls without all the kneading/rising of a yest dough, and they got two thumbs up from John, too!

These “Fork & Knife” Cookies & Cream Brownies Have It All – Frosting, Chocolate Galore, Brownie – And Did I Mention FROSTING?!

19 Feb

Any other brownie lovers out there? I don’t know what it is about them, but I am always drawn to them – at potlucks or picnics, at restaurants or bakeries – what can I say – brownies complete me!

These Cookies and Cream brownies are just – so very extra. So much going on – and when my girlfriend made them and I tried one, I knew that I had to make them for myself – because – they really have it all (you had me at brownie, and hooked me at frosting!)

Cookies & Cream Brownies
(Recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients
Brownies
homemade brownie batter OR 1 9×13 inch pan brownie batter
-24 Oreos (I use Double Stuf Oreos)

Cookies & Cream Buttercream
-3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
-3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
-2 Tablespoons milk
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-6 Oreos, chopped(I use Double Stuf Oreos)
-pinch of salt

Chocolate Topping
-1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
-1 heaping cup (around 200g) semi-sweet chocolate chips*

Directions
Brownies: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
Prepare brownie batter. Spread into prepared baking pan. My homemade brownie batter is very thick, so do your best to spread it to the edges. Doesn’t have to be perfectly neat. Press 24 Oreos down into the top of the brownie batter; you want 6 rows of 4 Oreos.
Bake for 32 minutes, then test the brownies with a toothpick. Insert it into the center of the pan. If it comes out with wet batter, the brownies are not done. If there are only a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done. Keep checking every 2 minutes until you have moist crumbs. My homemade brownies with Oreos on top take about 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Do not cut into squares yet. (TIP: It’s helpful to place the whole slab of brownies (parchment paper still underneath) on a baking sheet because you will need to chill the layers. The baking sheet makes transporting to the refrigerator easier!)
Cookies & cream buttercream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. With a spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the chopped Oreos. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I like adding 1/8 teaspoon salt. Spread buttercream on top of cooled brownies. Chill uncovered for 30 minutes and up to 1 day in the refrigerator.
Chocolate topping: Cut the butter into a few pieces and place in a small saucepan with the chocolate chips. Melt the two together on low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and combined. You can also use the microwave– stop and stir every 20 seconds until melted and smooth.
Pour chocolate on top of the buttercream. Spread all over the top in an even layer. Allow chocolate to set at room temperature for a few hours or in the refrigerator for 1 hour before slicing and serving. See recipe notes for my tips for cutting neat brownie squares.
Cover and store leftover brownies in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

First step – homemade brownie base

…With oreos, of course!

To me there are few things better than whipping up frosting on a cold winter’s day (Or ANY day really)

Topping Time!

Good lord that’s a beautiful cross-section, isn’t it?

Approved by all – husbands, tiny sous chefs, and dogs too (don’t worry – Walter didn’t actually get any!)

I am going to be 100% real – there are a few things I actually DON’T like about these
1. The chocolate topping overpowers the frosting (a HUGE no no in my book)
2. The oreos in the brownies got SO HARD when baking – so I would probably roughly chop them and fold into the brownie batter next time
3. Overall – I want to taste more Oreo in the frosting, so I would probably not smash those Oreos so finely next time

But – overall – it’s truly a decadent experience – and if you love Oreos and Brownies – you should definitely try these show-stoppers

Pretzel Treats – The Salty/Sweet Combo That Everyone Will Love

14 Feb

I have been wanting to make these FOR FOREVER – seriously. I have been looking for an excuse to make Pretzel treats for a while, and finally – the perfect occasion came – superbowl! What better snack to grab than something small & bite size, that is the perfect combo of sweet and salty?

Pretzel Candies
(Recipe courtesy of From Valerie’s Kitchen)

Ingredients
Pretzels square or round
Rolo Candies, or Hershey’s Kisses (any variety)
Plain M&M’s

Instructions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line baking sheet with pretzels. Center one Kiss on each pretzel.
Bake for 1 to 2 minutes. Kisses will soften but still hold their shape.
Remove from oven and carefully place one M&M, printed side down, on top of each Kiss, pressing lightly.
Refrigerate until set.

I of course enlisted the assistance of my helpful husband and my little sous chef to help unwrap the candies – because that part can get tedious!

A few minutes in the oven and these were shiny and ready for their M&M’s!

One by one – pressing the M&M’s into the treats to complete them

These were super easy to make, and cute to boot – since I was able to grab the Valentine-themed M&M’s for them.

The ones with the Rolos on them didn’t turn out as cute – the M&M’s tended to almost “disappear” in them if you pressed too hard – BUT – they tasted WAY better than the ones with the Hershey Kisses – so I am glad I did both kinds for sure

You can do this with a variety of Hershey Kisses and M&M’s for every season – so they can be the perfect treat for any Holiday! They would also make a perfect gift for someone too, for Christmas or for anytime!