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A Cookie Cake For My Sweet Little Graduate

4 Jun

This sassy little man is about to graduate from PreK. Which ok – “graduate” may seem like a strong term, but it does make the end of one phase of life and the start of another. Next year he will be in full day Kindergarten – riding a school bus, eating lunch in the cafeteria, and growing up right before my eyes. Excuse me while I cry….

Ok. Now that that’s out of my system, I wanted to find a way to celebrate this milestone. Saw someone order an awesome looking cookie cake for their preschool graduate, but when I looked it up they started at $35. No thanks. So I figured – might as well try and make one

So, here we go:

Giant Cookie Cake

(Recipe courtesy of Divas Can Cook)

INGREDIENTS

COOKIE CAKE

12 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup mini chocolate chips + more

decorations (m&m’s, frosting, sprinkles, etc)

FROSTING

4 Tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup Crisco

2 Cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp butter flavoring

2 Tablespoons milk

INSTRUCTIONS

-Preheat oven to 325.

-Line a 12-inch pizza pan with grease parchment paper. Set aside.

-In a large bowl cream together melted butter and brown sugar.

-Mix in eggs and vanilla extract.

-In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.

-Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms.

-Fold in mini chocolate chips.

-Press dough evenly into prepared pan.

-Sprinkle additional mini chocolate chips on top. (optional)

-Bake for 13-15 minutes. (do not over bake. Remember cookie will continue to cook as it cools)

-Let cookie cool on pan until completely cooled.

-Prepare frosting by creaming softened butter & Crisco together. Add the other ingredients and mix throughly until light and fluffy. Spread on cake

Notes: I didn’t have any mini chocolate chips on hand – so I used regular ones, and I used way more than 1/2 a cup – more like a heaping cup. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written – baked it for exactly 15 minutes and it came out great!

I am NOT a pro at decorating – but I think this one turned out pretty awesome! Not as fancy as if I had ordered one, but considering that this one cost nothing (since I had all the ingredients on hand) makes it pretty hard to argue with. Plus – the kid likes it, and that’s all that really matters isn’t it?

Next stop – kindergarten! (Cue sobbing moms everywhere)

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Brookies – A Perfect Marriage Of Two Amazing Desserts

30 May

The other day I was just dying for some cookies. But, I was also really in the mood for a brownie – dilemma, right? WRONG – enter – the BROOKIE. If you have never heard of it before, the brookie is a brownie/cookie bar that basically gives you the best of both worlds (both the cookie and brownie worlds that is!)

So I set to baking right away:

To-Die-For-Brookies
(Recipe courtesy of Debbie Net)
Ingredients
Brownie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Cookie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla exract
1 egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Brownie Layer:
-In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt; set aside.
-In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; stir mixture until it is well combined. Add 2 eggs and beat well. Stir in the cocoa powder until it is well combined. Add the flour mixture, stirring well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan.

Cookie Layer:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together 1-1/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt; set aside.
-In a large bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, the light brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; continue beating until mixture is creamy. Add 1 egg; beat about 2 more minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
-Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the dough is combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Carefully spread the cookie dough over the brownie layer in the baking pan.
-Bake in the preheated oven, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the brookies comes out clean. Cool completely; cut into bars.

I love recipes where I have everything in my pantry already, and luckily this one fit the bill! I threw them together and in no time I was enjoying these warm from the oven!

They turned out great, the only thing I wish is that the brownie flavor came out a little more, it sort of gets overpowered by the cookie portion, but otherwise these were great!

John’s Cookbook – Page 8 – Bunny Butt Cookies

26 Apr

We really aren’t big Easter people, but since my son is in school this year, he learned more about the holiday (the non religious version that is!) and we did a bit more than usual to celebrate. A little egg hunt in the playroom, a nice Easter basket, and – of course – themed baking! Kids love bunnies, and butts make them laugh, so why not combine them and make these bunny butt cookies?

Bunny Butt Cookies
(Recipe Courtesy of Pillsbury)

Ingredients
1roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated sugar cookies
1container (12 oz) fluffy white whipped ready-to-spread frosting
Pink gel food color, if desired
22 miniature marshmallows
Assorted size candy sprinkles

Directions
-Heat oven to 350°F
-Cut cookie dough into 33 slices
-Cut 11 slices into 4 equal wedges; shape each wedge into ovals for bunny feet
-Place cookie dough slices and bunny feet on ungreased cookie sheet.
-Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
-In medium microwavable bowl, stir frosting and 1 to 3 drops pink food color until well blended. Microwave uncovered on High 10 to 15 seconds or until soft but not translucent.
-To make bunny butt, frost 1 whole cookie slice and 2 bunny feet with frosting. Place bunny feet on bottom of cookie as shown in photo. Place 1 marshmallow in center of each cookie for tail. Decorate bunny paws with candy sprinkles. Repeat with remaining cookie slices and bunny feet.

John really enjoyed making these with me, and I have to say – they turned out super cute!

Hope you all had a very “Hoppy” Easter! I know I did!

John’s Cookbook – Page 7 – Oreo Dirt Cups

9 Apr

Signs of spring have finally sprung – birds. Flowers. And so so much mud. Mud everywhere, and sticks and leaves and all the things that homeowners just love. Well. Forget that noise – no more adulting. The yardwork can wait. Spring inspired desserts though – those cannot wait!

Is there anything cuter than some good old fashioned kid friendly dirt and worms? I think not!

Oreo Dirt Cups
(Recipe Courtesy of Shari Blogs)

Ingredients
2 cups cold milk
1 package (4 oz) chocolate instant pudding
1 – 8 oz container whipped topping, thawed
1 package (16 0z) Oreos (crushed into crumbs)
Gummy Worms
10 plastic cups (8 oz. size)

Instructions
-Pour the milk into a mixing bowl and add the pudding mix.
-Beat with a wire whisk until well blended (about 2 minutes), Let pudding stand for five minutes.
-Stir whipped topping into the pudding very gently until it is all the same color.
-Place about 1 Tablespoon of the crushed cookies into the bottom of each cup , Then add a 2 Tablespoons of pudding to each cup.
-Then repeat another layer of cookies, then pudding, and then cookies.
-Finish up by adding 2 gummy worms cut in half to the top of each of the cups.
-Put cups into the refrigerator for about one hour to chill them.

Notes
* I usually wait and add the gummy worms when I am ready to serve, rather than put in the refrigerator.
* Can pipe green buttercream on top to look like grass, then add Peep Bunnies and candy eggs to it for an Easter look, too!

These were a perfect thing to make with John – no baking or oven needed, and he got to use the meat hammer to smash the Oreos!

I made an executive decision while prepping these to skip the “layering” part – too ambitious with a little one helping. We did Oreos on bottom, pudding, then more Oreos on top. We also added some green frosting “grass” to some of them so that we could add peep bunnies, eggs and carrots in addition to the worms

These are such a cute thing to bring to a spring gathering, the layers look so fun in the cups.

It tastes just like I remember – awesome. Pudding plus Oreos = the best

If you want to skip the cups and make more of a “large batch” version of this classic – check out my Dirt N Worms

Happy Spring!

Amish-Style Apple & Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal (Because I Love Oats & Apples)

7 Apr

I have written about various baked oatmeal recipes that I have tried, and they have all turned out awesome. But when I found this one that included my favorite fruit – apples – I knew I had to try it – because you really can’t ever have too many baked oatmeal recipes, can you?

Amish-Style Apple & Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

(Recipe courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

INGREDIENTS

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar (more to taste if you like things a bit sweeter)

2 1/2 cups milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted

2-3 large tart, sweet apples (like Honey Crisp or Gala), peeled, cored and diced

INSTRUCTIONS

Lightly grease a 8X12-inch or 9X13-inch baking pan or 9X9-inch (for super thick oatmeal) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (don’t preheat the oven if making ahead of time and refrigerating overnight).

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar.

In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.

Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and add the melted butter or coconut oil. Stir or whisk to combine.

Arrange the diced apples evenly over the bottom of the baking dish and pour the oatmeal mixture over the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden and the mixture is setup and not super jiggly.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a little milk poured over the top, if you want.

This was easy to throw together – but it took a lot longer to bake for me – not sure why. It took about an hour in the oven for it to not be super jiggly.

I love the way it tastes – crispy on top, creamy underneath. It’s the perfect thing to warm you on a lazy Sunday morning!

John’s Cookbook – Page 6 – PB&J Brownies

2 Apr

It is a well-known fact that Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches are basically the only food that ALL kids like. Seriously – if you don’t know what to feed your kid, or if you ask them what they want and they have rejected all of your suggestions – simply suggest good ole’ PB&J – and they will agree. It’s just like – a law of the world or something, they all love it, and I have to say, even as an adult, I love it too!

So I thought, why not add that goodness to something else most kids (and adults!) love – BROWNIES? So, that’s what we did:

 Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownies
(Recipe courtesy of me – I made it up)

Ingredients:
-Brownie Mix for 9×13 pan (plus ingredients called for on brownie mix box)
-1 cup Peanut Butter
-1 cup Jelly (any flavor will work!)

Directions:
-Preheat Oven per Brownie Mix Directions
-Prepare Brownie Mix per Box directions
-Spread half of the brownie mix into a greased 9×9 pan
-Melt the Peanut butter slightly and pour it over the brownie mix
-Repeat with the jelly layer
-Top with the rest of the brownie mix
-Bake per Brownie box directions
-Let cool completely, then slice and enjoy!

 

I know I said I made this recipe up – but let’s be honest, it’s hardly a recipe – it’s basically just brownie mix with peanut butter and jelly added in. Might be simple, but dang is it good! I love the addition of these to the plain brownies – makes me wonder – what else can we add to brownies? Hmm…

Two Thumbs Up For This Insanely Easy Churro Dip

1 Apr

There are few things better than spending time with close friends. Add in some snacks (and wine!) and you have the perfect girls night!

My Best Friend from college came to town last week and we were able to take a girls trip to Ithaca NY where we met attending Ithaca College. I saw this a few days before she arrived and since we both adore Nutella I knew I would have to make it for us

Nutella Churro Dip

INGREDIENTS

1 can refrigerated biscuit dough

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 c. cinnamon-sugar

2 c. Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an oven-safe 10” skillet with cooking spray.

Cut each biscuit in half and roll halves into balls. Dunk each ball in melted butter then roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place around the perimeter of skillet to form a ring. The biscuit pieces should be touching!

Dollop Nutella into the center of the biscuits. Bake until biscuits are golden and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm

Assorted prep pics – we actually ended up using a smaller cast iron skillet. And we also skipped the butter – the biscuits were sticky enough that the cinnamon sugar stuck to them well without adding in the butter component

We also didn’t add the Nutella until the last 5 minutes or so of baking – didn’t seem to be any reason to put it in for the whole time (probably could have burned or boiled it, and wasted Nutella is to tragic to tempt fate in my book!)

My BFF, husband and I ate it all and it was damn good. Biscuits. Sugar. Cinnamon. Nutella. Nothing to hate there. Here’s to awesome friends, desserts, and fun!