{Good Eats} RIDICULOUSLY good cookies!

I don’t even know what to say about these cookies, except that they are RIDICULOUSLY GOOD! I was in a bit of a cookie rut.  I’m not gonna lie, normally my cookies get some pretty positive reviews…however, I think the last 2 or 3 (12….) times I just kept missing the mark. Stupid things like doubling half the recipe and not the other half, using Tablespoons instead of teaspoons of salt, miss measuring the brown sugar….I mean this has gone on and on and on. I was certain my brain was telling me YOU SHOULD NOT BE EATING COOKIES, therefore I WILL MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE for you to bake them.

But Sunday I had to give it a go again.  Jenny over at Picky Palate is pretty much a dessert goddess.  If it is coming out of her kitchen you just know it’s going to be good.  I had seen her Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie weeks ago and it’s been haunting me to bake it.

Then last week Jenny did a post on ALL of the stuffed cookies she has come up with this year. HELLO!?!?  Now HOW am I supposed to resist THAT I ask you!?!?

But I’m lazy.

And with the track record I’ve had, I just figure “STUFFED” was not something I should attempt. These days, I would likely set the oven on fire. So instead I planned to just throw a sleeve of Oreos in the mixer and cut back the chocolate chips to 1/2 of what Jenny suggests.

But then…..

Yep, you know there had to be a “But then…..”

I was getting all the ingredients set up when Hubs walks in the kitchen.

Hubs: “Bummer, there were some kids selling candy bars out of a cooler, and I didn’t have any cash on me.”

Me: “What?  Where did they go?  I’ve got cash!!”

And out Miss Piper and I went running to the neighbor’s house to catch them on their route.  We scored 6 beautiful Caramello Bars!!!  That would be little pockets of caramel wrapped in milk chocolate. Oh YUM!

NOW I was going to have to make stuffed cookies.

I followed Jenny’s recipe making the following changes:

  1. I used 1/2 the chocolates chips (using only milk chocolate chips)
  2. I threw a sleeve of Oreos in the mixer. Just let the mixer break em up.
  3. I placed a scoop of cookie dough on my parchment lined cookie sheet, then placed a Caramello square on top of the dough, placed my second scoop of dough on top of the Caramello square, then pushed down the sides just a bit to seal.
  4. I baked mine 9-10 minutes. I also baked single scoop (unstuffed) cookies along side the big daddies. They baked in the same time without issue. Figured smaller cookies were better for the little Punks around here.

And YES, that is caramel DRIPPING down the cookie….oh.my.goodness.  RIDICULOUSLY GOOD!!! Enjoy!

(I also froze some of the little ones to add to ice cream later this week…just sayin’…)

{Family Fun} Making Ice Cream!

Our house is in the the middle of this year’s swim lessons.  Last year the girls started in April. This year, I choose to wait until May so that Piper would be the same age as Hayden was last year, 14 months.  Now while this post isn’t about swim lessons (It’s in the line up to come though) it is about the sweet rewards for being brave and giving it your all for swim lessons!

Mother’s Day was not the best memory of the year for me.  However, while Hubs was in his own bucket club, he managed to crawl to the garage where he had a pretty fun gift waiting for me from the girls. An Ice Cream Maker!! How cool was that!?  We love ice cream treats in our house…(but then again, who doesn’t??)

So Addie’s treat for a job well done on her first day of swimming this year, was to make ice cream.  While the other 2 Littles slept, we practiced our skills…

And while there is loads to learn about, you thankfully can’t really go wrong.  We’re on our third batch so far and each just keeps getting better.

I’ve learned that there are 2 main kinds of ice cream ~ Custard Style that requires eggs, heating, and refrigerating overnight, and a Philadelphia Style that does not require any of that.  The Philadelpia style does not keep as long in the freezer and is not that creamy texture…more soft serve ice cream.  But it’s GREAT for INSTANT GRATIFICATION!! (Read fabulous for busy moms and antsy kids.) And tastes super yummy the first couple of days!

And seriously, at 3 years old (or 38…just sayin’) there isn’t a whole lotta patience involved.  I found this Vanilla Ice Cream recipe online yesterday and with 5 easy ingredients I knew we were in business.

For the record, this recipe makes A LOT.  I ended up pouring 1/2 in the Ice Cream Maker, and 1/2 in a Tupperware in the fridge.  This turned out to be very convenient in that we could easily make ice cream again the next day (though I think it would have been fine to store for 2 or 3 days at least….but again, we’re impatient!).

I love that it’s a fun activity to do with Addie, that she learns about smells, and measuring, and following directions. And that the whole process is so fast to put together, then it gets poured into the machine for about 25 minutes. She doesn’t need to wait long to see what she just made.

The self discovery, and wonder are great! And of course, so is the candy sneaking and eating…you totally get to be the “Cool Mom”…

The smell of vanilla was captivating for her!

And yes that is a tatoo on her arm….”they” lie when “they” say the tatoos last 2-3 days. And I’m lazy and never seem to get around to getting out the rubbing alcohol…

Addie: “Is it ready YET, Mommy!!??”

Wow.

A pile of goodness.  You can add treats to your ice cream about 5 minutes before it’s done.  I wait until it looks like ice cream and then pour in whatever goodness Addie thinks up, while the machine is running.  Yesterday it was leftover chocolate buttercream frosting, pretzels, & Nestle Crunch bars.  YUMMMMM!

Addie: “Just one taste??? Please??”

Me: “Well OK. 1 for you, 2 for me.  Why? Because I’m taller than you…”

Such a fun Summer treat!  Looking forward to trying lots of recipes this summer! I think I need to order this Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

So my tip?  Get yourself an Ice Cream Maker. Lots of fun (and loads of deliciousness) for you and your family this summer!  Enjoy!

real simple ~ chocolate fondue

I know I’ve been re-posting a few things lately.  But I’m doing it for a couple reasons.

1.) I’m living out of a suitcase with my babes at my parents house while they are out of town and our floors are being re-done.  Read = THIS IS NOT FUN.  I am thankful we had a place to go, but having your life split between 2 houses and not having all that you need in one place + having kids that are NOT SLEEPING, all equals a not so great time…

And 2.) MFE has a much different readership number now than it did back when I originally posted some of these favorites.

And, honestly, they are favorites that I think you really need to know about.  This Chocolate Fondue is SO EASY!  I would give my left arm to have this right now!  With all the fun holidays coming up, this should be on your “Make This” list for sure! I’m making it the moment we move back into our house, I promise you…at this point I might eat the whole thing by myself…

Here is the original post….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have to give complete credit to my sister for finding this recipe in Real Simple. We were both pregnant at the same time over New Years in 2007/08.  We opted for a mellow night in with our hubbies in Tahoe.  She cooked an amazing dinner for us, and then we splurged on this for dessert…SOOOOO YUMMM! We actually sent the boys to the market to get us the chocolate and told them not to come back with anything but the GOOD stuff….well they took us seriously, because they brought back Lindt Milk chocolate.  We seriously died and went to Heaven that night.

Since that night, I have made this NUMEROUS times.  It’s a super easy crowd and party pleaser.  Great conversation starter too.  Don’t be surprised if everyone asks for the recipe after.

(Image: Real Simple)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound milk or dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I use milk chocolate)
1 pint fresh strawberries
1  store-bought angel food cake, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
8 ounces dried fruit, such as pineapple slices and figs (optional)
(1 like to use: blackberries, banana slices, green apples & caramel cookies from Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the cream and chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Transfer the fondue to a serving bowl. (I like to put a little bit into a few different ramekins and place at all sides of the dining or coffee table, you can also use a dessert fondue pot, but you don’t have to.)

2. Serve immediately with forks and foods for dipping strawberries, angel food cake, etc..

a few favorite spooky things

So it’s just shy of 100 degrees around our house right now.  In fact it was 90 IN OUR HOUSE last night!!  We were all completely melting, but I gotta hand it to Piper…she helped the whole fam damily out.  Normally she goes down like a champ by 7:15…

But not last night.

Every time I tried to get her down, poor thing just kept crying. She was so hot. Just sweating in her crib.

Hubs couldn’t take it anymore. “Close the doors we’re turning on the AC!”

PRAISE YOU AND THANK YOU PIPER!!!!

All that being said, HOW is it October this weekend???  Last week there was just a hint of fall. The kids were putting on sweatshirts to go to the park, it was a nice change.  But then Summer decided to finally show up on the first day of Fall, SERIOUSLY!?!?!?  Why???

BUT, I will say that it has been fun to start thinking about Halloween decorations, to read some fun Halloweeen decorating tips, and dream about the recipes.  Thought I would share a few favorites with ya.

Do you know who Amy Atlas is??  I guess if I kept up in the party design & styling world better, I would.  But hear me now, I’m following her site from this day forward!!  So much talent, and a wealth of inspiration!! How amazing does this table look!

I am so in love with these witches hats/ice cream cones, I’m going on a search for them…anyone have any ideas??

Super cute treat bags…

(Photo Credit: All above images, Amy Atlas)

They reminded me of a treat bag a darling friend of mine made for her little girl’s play group one year…aren’t these witches broomsticks the best!! I found similar tutorials for both of these bags on Martha Stewart’s site.

This is a project my girls would LOVE! I think the stamp could work well with a pumpkin face too.  I’m going to try really hard to fit this one into our October somewhere, cross your fingers (boney finger?) I can get a post out about it…

Or you could just make your life simple and draw cute faces on balloons…cheap and easy!

ORRRR, I saw these already painted on faces at Pottery Barn Kids.  But if you’re still feeling like being crafty, Ikea is selling paper lanterns (blue, green, red/orange, pink, yellow, white ~ colors aren’t shown in the link) right now for $5…you could paint them yourself…I actually bought white ones that I’ve got a crafty ghost project I’m hoping to do.  Again cross your boney fingers…

And while we are on pumpkin faces, how about these cute little numbers from one of my absolute favorites, Bakerella??! Pretty stinking cute!

Or you can move on from just pumpkin faces and go for the whole spooky crew!!! These kill me they are so cute! And if you like these, you should see her other pops.  Bakerella has a BEAUTIFUL book that was just released.  I think it would make a great Christmas gift for a baking foodie in your life. I still think it’s funny that the one Martha Stewart TV episode I’ve ever watched was the one Bakerella (I wrote about it here) was on…AND that the post she talks about maybe doing a cake pop cookbook, is this Halloween post!

But if the whole spooky face thing isn’t for you, how about just the eyeballs??  These have GOT to be tasty! Basically because everything Pick Palate makes, well, IS tasty, plus peanut butter is involved!

(And why, oh why does Halloween have to come around when I need to get rid of baby lbs!!!!) Someone make these and tell me just how YUM these are!

If you’re just the mature, no faces on anything type, then I’m pretty sure these Chocolate & Pumpkin Pie Shortbread Bars are gonna work for you….

Again, Picky Palate’s recipes are down right, GOOD!

Get your Halloween decorations up this weekend! (Then can you come over and do mine too??) Enjoy the start of fall and all the spooky goodness it has to offer!

(Photo Credits: All images are from the respective site links mentioned.)

a little slice of heaven ~ plum & peach buttermilk cake

A couple of weeks ago our Plum tree was going CRAZY with ripe plums and I was desperate to find as many recipes as I could to use them up.  I sent out a call for help (AKA – “Tweeted”!) for Plum recipes.  To my pleasure a wonderful new friend, who I had recently met at the Thermador event in Arizona (yep, that’s a post I still need to write…), Maria from Two Peas and their Pod sent me a link to one of her scrumptious recipes. Plum Nectarine Buttermilk Cake.  If you have not checked out her site, you need to.  She shares fabulous recipes, and well…she is just so genuinely nice!  You kind of feel like she is your friend next door.

(Plus, I’m not the only one that adores her…check out the Raspberry Lemon Bars, WOW, yum!)


I didn’t have nectarines, but I did have a big box of beautiful peaches (that I had just used to make an easy little grilled dessert).  So I substitued.  I also love to use a tart pan with tall sides. It just makes cakes look pretty, and it’s nice to lift the cake out rather than worry about the whole flipping-it-out-thing….but a regular 9″ round pan is perfectly fine!  You can’t always get away with using a tart pan, but I usually try to!

Seriously, check out that fruit!?!?  YUM!

The house smells divine. I NEED to take a bite of this cake!!  My Vanilla ice cream is waiting more patiently than me….

Oh Maria, you have not failed us on this one!  Thanks for sharing the recipe! So beautiful and it tastes Heavenly!

ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

We love dessert in our house.

And I love to play the game of “use all leftovers, must.use.everything.in.the.fridge.and.freezer”

It’s a delusional game, but it gets me my jollies.  I know, weird.

Anyway, I usually win.

Except this one time when my mother-in-law asked if I wanted to save grilled hot dogs leftover from an afternoon BBQ.

Me: “No, I think I’m gonna draw the line there.  I mean, how many dishes can you REALLY use leftover hot dogs in??”

She agreed and we tossed them. If only I could get those dogs back!!  I was reminded the next day by a friend’s mom…”Oh, why not use them in Baked Beans?  Or chopped up in Mac & Cheese for the kids?”

Daggummit.  Guess I lost that round.

Anyway, dessert, let’s get back to what’s important.

We love ice cream sandwiches.  And I always find them to be a crowd pleaser.  In fact a crowd OVER ACHIEVER is more like it. Normally, I make them with chocolate wafers, vanilla ice cream, and Heath toffee bits.  But these sandwiches came about because I was about to leave town again, my dad had brought over grocery store bakery peanut butter cookies a few days earlier, and we had about 2 inches of ice cream left….

I find cutting open the ice cream carton is the easiest approach.  Had this been a new container, I would have sliced the ice cream an inch at a time after cutting off the carton, working quickly.

I’m a bit of a sucker for restarant supply stores.  I love to buy things that you normally only see at restarants.  Trust me, for the $15 you will spend for the 5000 of something, you will find a MILLION places to uses them!  Case in point, French Fry bags.  I’ve used these to give the kids snacks to take outside, to hold sliders at dinner parties, but most of all, to hold little cookie ice cream sandwiches.

Get all your supplies out, as the sandwiches need to be assembled in the shortest amount of time possible.  You want them back in the freezer, quick, quick, quick.

You will need:

The cookies (again I normally use Chocolate Wafers, but any cookie will do)

Ice Cream ~ whatever suits your fancy.  I love Ben & Jerrys’ Vanilla Heath Bar

Toppings for the sides ~ I would use Heath Toffee Bits if given the option.  They stick to the sides and are simply the BEST!  Place on a plate and set aside

A box or baking pan to line the finished sandwiches in stacked bags for the freezer.

I like to lay out a bunch of cookies face down to begin with.

I slice off ice cream, an inch at a time, and then cut equal portions of that slice.

Quickly place an individual piece on each cookie.  Don’t worry about shape, it will all taste the same in the end.  I made these a little full as I wanted to use all the ice cream and only had a few cookies.

Place a top on each sandwich, and roll them in the waiting topping plate.

I used peanut butter & milk chocolate chips this time as it’s what I had (but they don’t stick as well).

Heath Toffee bits truly are the bomb and are worth the drive to the grocery store.

Quickly slide the sandwich into the little bag and stack them on a tray, shoe box, baking pan, anything that lets you keep them all together and into the freezer.

Pull them out for dessert and watch your guests go CRAZY!  (I’m serious, they will go crazy!)  My hubs is always so glad when we have leftovers!

Enjoy!!

s’more Brownies – gimme some more!!!

(Image: Picky Palate – And please note, how amazingly PERFECT this looks!! Not so much for ours!)

I am on such a recipe kick these days!  Must have been that Thermador event last week!!!  It actually IS because of the Thermador event…I was surrounded by some of the BEST food bloggers in the country, along with some of the BEST cooking appliances in the country…how could I NOT be inspired to do more cooking???  That post is coming soon, very soon….but until I wrap my brain around it all….I just have to share some of the fun I’ve been having. (Feel free to check out the Tomato Jam, Buttermilk Syrup, and Goat Cheese & Strawberry Salad while you’re waiting on that post…you wont be sorry!)

I need to explain though that I’m not a trained culinary chef, nor an expert chef, nor even a semi expert home chef.  Yes, I do still call both my mom and dad (who ARE great cooks) to refresh my memory on many of the basics (How long do I boil an egg??)

BUT, I do have instinct when I cook and I follow instruction well.  In my past life, prior to marriage and prior to kids I cooked a lot, and a lot from scratch, still never an expert, but I enjoyed being in the kitchen.  As the years have gone by I’ve had to simplify.  My cooking days are still flavorful, just not as complicated.  A REALLY good meal comes from a date night out or eating at mom and dads.

But after my Thermador visit, I’ve been inspired again to find simple recipes that let me be the cook I used to enjoy being, in the short amount of time I now have each day.

On top of all that, to be able to incorporate something fun with the kiddos, well that’s just priceless!  And sometimes you have to just do something fun.

This particular recipe doesn’t have a whole lot to do with cooking, but it does with baking…

Don’t you have fond memories of cooking and baking with your family growing up?  Good news is, it doesn’t always need to be perfect, in the end it all tastes the same.  I currently have a baking love affair going with Picky Palate’s site.  Did you see her Ice Cream Cookies we made last week?  Well this week we made her S’more Stuffed Brownies….and we had fun!

Yep, pretty sure Jenny had her graham crackers a little more lined up than ours.

Can you stand this chubby little hand??? I had to include this photo for the little squishy arm alone!

And I couldn’t find the Hershey Bars (later they were found in the back of my SUV, slipped out of the grocery bag and ended up chocolate soup!) But we scrounged around and found more birthday candy in the freezer.  Hayden thought we should use them still wrapped….

1 chocolate kiss for Hayden….1 for the pan…

1 chocolate kiss for Addie…1 for the pan.  I think this ACTUAL kiss made it into the pan after that bite.

Looking gooooooood!

Many hands = less work (isn’t that how the saying goes?  I may have to talk to the author about that…)

Oh Mama!  This looks good!

Here Mama, Addie do it!  Like dis Mama!

See Mama!?  Yum!

No!  We’re not eating chocolate AT ALL!

What you talking about, Mama!??

There’s PLENTY of chocolate in the brownie pan!

(And PLEASE scroll back up to the top to see Jenny’s and then look at ours..HAAAA!)

Can we do it again Mama??

Yeah Mama!  Can we, can we!!!?!?

And see, in the end they look the same (almost).  And they sure tasted good!!!

Be sure to have your glass of milk or Vanilla Ice Cream waiting!

(Image: Picky Palate)

For the recipe and a perfect set of step by step photos, check out Picky Palate.

Enjoy!

Flat Belly Diet ~ Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

These could seriously get me through this entire diet!  Everyone in my family LOVES them!  And there is nothing like a latte with 3 of these cookies as my afternoon snack (and sweet treat fix!).  You can eat  3 of these cookies with 1 cup of milk (which I put with 1 shot of espresso) as a Flat Belly snack!  Thank you, I’ve died and gone to Heaven!!  Oh, and they are super fast to make too!  Bonus!!

From the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook

8 Servings (3 cookies each) / 315 Calories / MUFA: Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

1 cup natural unsalted crunchy peanut butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
All purpose flour for shaping cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat several large baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
  3. Shape the dough into 24 balls and arrange on the sheets.  Dip the tines of a fork into flour and gently press a criss cross pattern into the top of each cookie.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom.  Transfer to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. (Next time I plan to do a double batch and store in the freezer to have on hand!)

mississippi pound cake

mississippi pound cake:

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar
2 sticks softened butter
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
2 small t vanilla

Directions:

  1. Cream together the sugar and softened butter.
  2. Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk to the sugar mixture.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Pour into a butter/floured bundt pan.
  7. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes.
  8. Cool.  I like to gently loosen the sides a bit with a spatula and then flip out onto a cake plate.

Topping suggestions:

  1. With powdered sugar, sliced strawberries or fresh fruit and vanilla ice cream
  2. With chocolate sauce and ice cream, or chocolate fondue
  3. With sorbet

Endless possibilities!

Enjoy!