Cinnamon Chip Banana Muffins and Loaves

Let me preface this by saying that while these muffins and mini loaves were phenomenally delicious, they were also ugly ducklings. I had decided to take an old tried and true banana bread recipe, add some cinnamon chips and make some muffins. When I opened the oven to see if they were ready to come out, my heart sank. I thought for sure they were going to burn as the outer edges were already getting quite dark and they were quite obviously not yet done in the middle. To top things off, they were flat, no rise at all.

So I closed the oven door, spewed off a few expletives, and cursed the stupid cinnamon chips that are famous for altering the behavior of my baked goods! You see, I had an opened bag of cinnamon chips in the pantry. They needed to be used up and I have tried cinnamon chips in a couple different things without much success. Although, there was the cinnamon chip pumpkin cookies which were truly AH-MAY-ZING. The cinnamon chips changed these from a cake-like cookie to one more like the texture of a chocolate chip cookie. So there’s definitely something in these chips that makes batter behave differently.

I digress. After removing the dozen muffins and two mini loaves from the oven, and seeing just how unattractive they really were, I put them on the cooling rack and walked away in disgust. I even posted my disgust on Facebook, only to discover a while later that these were not only incredible, they were addictive! I ate three muffins before I even realized it. I went out and ran some errands, and came back to find the two mini loaves and only three muffins remaining. They were a huge hit and by morning only one mini loaf remained, and that’s only because I wrapped it in plastic wrap and slapped a note on it that said “MOM”. ;) The next day I had it for breakfast and was bummed that there weren’t any left.

I hope you try these, they are truly marvelous. The cinnamon chips add a chewy texture around the edges, almost caramel-like, and the flavor is way better than any boring old banana bread. :)

Cinnamon Chip Banana Muffins and Loaves
printable version

2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsalted butter, butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin tin and 2 mini loaf pans.

Mashed the bananas with a fork and place in a mixer bowl with softened butter. Mix on medium speed until well blended. Add in the vanilla, eggs, sugar and buttermilk and beat on medium speed until homogenous.

Whisk together baking soda, salt and flour. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture to banana mixture. Stir in cinnamon chips.

Divide batter evenly between two mini loaves and a 12 cup muffin tin. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for ten minutes before removing and cooling completely.

More from me you might like:
Snickerdoodles with a Twist
Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Cookies
Honey Pear Bread

Yummy stuff from the web:
Cinnamon Chip Scones – from My Baking Addiction
Banana Cinnamon Chip Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Topping – from Two Peas and Their Pod
Cinnamon Chip Danish – from The Other Side of Fifty
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Chip Pecan Cookies – from Cookie Madness

 

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Breakfast cake, coffee cake, whatever you want to call it, it’s overflowing with blueberries and absolutely delicious. The crumb topping really is enough for this, but I always have to have a pretty white drizzle on top. :) However, you can certainly leave it off if you like. I would imagine this would be good with other fruits too, such as raspberries, sour cherries, blackberries, or cranberries in the fall.

No matter what fruit you decide on, definitely add this to your “to do” list! You can play around with it too. if you decide to use cherries, add in a bit of almond extract. If using cranberries, I would add a few fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. If you use a tangy fruit like sour cherries or cranberries, you might want to add the drizzle for added sweetness.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Recipe from Annie’s Recipes

printable version

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

TOPPING:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used ground hazelnuts I had in the freezer)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

DRIZZLE
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of milk (more or less to get to a drizzling consistency)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder. Add egg, milk, butter and lemon peel; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the blueberries. Spread in a greased 9-in. square baking pan.

For topping, combine sugar, flour, walnuts and cinnamon in a mini food processor or bowl. Add butter and process, or cut in if doing by hand, until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until cake tests done.

For drizzle, combine the powdered sugar and milk. If too thick, add a few drops of additional milk at a time until it reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzles over the top of the cake and allow to sit until sugar solidifies.

Note: I made mine the night before, covered it with foil and we enjoyed it the next morning, but this would make a great snack cake or dessert cake as well. Perfect!

More from me you might like:
Fresh Raspberry Lemonade
Blackberry Pie Squares
Cranberry Pumpkin Coffee Cake
Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake
Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Great stuff from around the interwebs:
Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream – from Eggs, cream and honey
Blueberry Cheese Danish Cake – from Modern Comfort Food
Kiwi Blueberry Cream Cheese Tart – from The Other Side of Fifty
Blueberry Lemon Muffins – from Never Enough Thyme

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Honey Pear Bread

Quick bread and muffins are one of my favorite things for breakfast. They make marvelous after school snacks, but seeing that it’s summer, these ended up being “all day” snacks. When I saw the original recipe on Alicia’s, I knew I wanted to try it, but I didn’t have everything on the ingredient list. I am trying really hard to stick to my grocery budget, and while I had pears on hand, I did not have molasses. So instead of running off to the store, I chose to substitute honey instead. I also left out the nuts, since my family are a bunch of nut-a-phobes.

This was a really good quick bread. It makes two loaves, so instead, I chose to make one loaf and 12 muffins. However, I was a complete ding dong and forgot to take the muffins out after 25 minutes, so I ended up burning those. UGH. I will definitely make this again, but I liked it my way, not even sure if I would use molasses next time!

Honey Pear Bread
adapted from Spiced Pear Bread

printable version

3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
4 medium pears, peeled, cored and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans.

In a bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, canola oil, honey, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in diced pears.

Pour into prepared loaf pans. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until done. Cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

(If you enjoyed this post, I’d truly appreciate a stumble, Digg, facebook share, whatever you like! :) )

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Watermelon Cookies

Watermelon Cookies - AmandasCookin.com

If you need a fun and colorful dessert for a picnic or cookout, try these delicious watermelon cookies! This is a simple sugar cookie dough that’s been dotted with miniature chocolate chips, then rolled in a colored glaze to finish them off.

Watermelon Cookies - AmandasCookin.com

I’ve actually made these many times and published them on Familycorner.com, a website I used to own, several years ago. I did adapt the recipe a little bit over the years though. I made them again just the other day and they were polished off in no time. Here’s the step by step instructions.

Watermelon Cookies - AmandasCookin.com

Just a quick note. These cookies only look like little watermelon slices, they do not taste like watermelon. Apparently, watermelon extract is available, but I’m not sure that’s something I would care for in a cookie. ;)

Watermelon Cookies - AmandasCookin.com

watermelon cookies Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter.

watermelon cookies Use a dough scraper or a sharp knife to cut each circle in half. Place the halves on the baking sheet, about 1″ apart.

watermelon cookies Gently press miniature semi sweet morsels into each semicircle.

watermelon cookies

Bake for 6-8 minutes, checking after 6 minutes (mine were perfect in 7 minutes). Cookies will be slightly puffed but not browned.

watermelon cookies Place cookies on cooling racks, excess glaze will drip through onto the wax paper. Wait for glaze to set before moving the cookies.

watermelon cookies

Watermelon Cookies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes

Watermelon Cookies

Ingredients

    Sugar Cookie Dough
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon slices
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 drops red food coloring
  • Plus
  • 1 cup miniature semi sweet morsels
  • Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • green paste food coloring OR 15-20 drops green food coloring

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Add butter slices, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and red food coloring to your mixer's bowl. Beat on medium speed until incorporated. Don't be concerned if there are small lumps of butter still visible. Turn mixer down to low and gradually add flour mixture. Mix until incorporated and no traces of flour are left. Gather all the dough together using a sturdy rubber spatula.
  3. Remove dough from bowl and separate into two batches. Place one batch between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll out to about 1/4" thick. Repeat with the other batch. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and have insulated baking sheets ready.
  5. Remove one batch of rolled dough from the refrigerator. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter.
  6. Use a dough scraper or a sharp knife to cut each circle in half. Place the halves on the baking sheet, about 1" apart.
  7. Gently press miniature semi sweet morsels into each semicircle.
  8. Bake for 6-8 minutes, checking after 6 minutes (mine were perfect in 7 minutes). Cookies will be slightly puffed but not browned. Do not allow cookies to get too brown or you'll have dry crumbly cookies. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove to wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  9. For each batch of cookie dough, after cutting out the circles, gather the scraps together and reroll them, place back in the refrigerator. Repeat until all dough has been used.
  10. For the Glaze
  11. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients to form a glaze. You may add drops of milk to thin glaze if it is too thick.
  12. Cover counter with wax paper and place cooling racks over the wax paper to catch drips. To decorate the cookies, roll the round end of the cookie in the glaze, allow excess to drip off into bowl.
  13. Place cookies on cooling racks, excess glaze will drip through onto the wax paper. Wait for glaze to set before moving the cookies.

Notes from Amanda

*Note: Insulated baking sheets are best for baking sugar cookies. If you only have regular cookie sheets, line them with parchment or a silicon baking mat.

http://amandascookin.com/watermelon-cookies/

If you are crafty, try my Watermelon Picnic Caddy on Crafts by Amanda!

Peanut Butter Cookies: Soft and Chewy

There’s a foolproof way to bake soft and chewy peanut butter cookies. Under bake them slightly. That’s it. Baking a batch of peanut butter cookies until they “look” done is deceiving and creates a crunchy result. I’ve had this recipe in my binder since my kids were little, and my oldest is 18. (Thanks to a commenter below, the mystery is not solved, these are from Crisco! added 10/8/10) Whenever my father in law visits, he asks for these cookies. My husband loves them, the kids love them, everyone loves them. They never make it off the cooling rack and into a container, they are always devoured too fast!

Smooth or Rustic?
As you can see from the picture, you can make your cookies nice and neat or give them a more rustic look, either way they taste great. For neat as a pin cookies, scoop the dough out with a cookie scoop and roll the dough lightly in the palms of your hands. For rustic, just release from the scooper and leave as is.

Shortening vs Butter
There is shortening in this recipe. I have used both plain vegetable shortening and butter flavored shortening, however I have never tried substituting butter. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” ;) If you would like to try with butter, I’d love to hear your results.

Baking Notes
When you bake these, start with a small batch and check them after 7 minutes. Mine are always perfect at 8 minutes. They will look a little underdone and puffy. Once you remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit, they will relax and settle.

If you would like to try my tweaked Nutella version of these, click over to Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies. They are fab! Or maybe you prefer a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie!

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
from the back of the Crisco container
printable version

1/2 cup shortening (or butter flavored shortening)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat just until blended.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls (using a cookie scoop works great) 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly in crisscross pattern with tines of fork.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to racks to cool completely.

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Sunflower Whole Wheat Quick Bread

This quick bread, studded with sunflower seeds, inside and out, uses whole wheat flour and wheat germ for a healthy and tasty treat. It is definitely good warm with some butter, but it’s best when allowed to cool completely. This quick bread has a lovely, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness which makes it perfect for both sweet and savory spreads. Try a slice smeared with cream cheese, topped with sliced cheese, or as a breakfast treat with your favorite jam or preserves.

This is a very easy recipe, and because it’s a quick bread, it doesn’t require any yeast or rising time. It bakes for about an hour and is perfect for breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner time!

I found this in a book I checked out from the library, gotta love that! A very tasty addition to my recipe files. :) I will be making this again!

Sunflower Whole Wheat Quick Bread
adapted from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook

printable version

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup roasted sunflower seeds plus a handful extra for top of bread
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
coarse salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Place prepared pan on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together both flours, wheat germ, both sugars, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in 1 cup of sunflower seeds.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and the melted butter, whisk just until combined. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined. Mixture will be thick and sticky (like the consistency of cooked oatmeal that needs some milk added to it).

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with sunflower seeds and coarse salt. Place baking sheet with loaf pan into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes (mine was 55) or until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

TWD: Chockablock Cookies

Big cookies, one for each hand. Full of oats, molasses, coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit, and nuts. Oh yeah, and a little cookie dough in there for good measure! I’ll admit, while mixing up this cookie dough, I said out loud to myself “I don’t think I’m going to like these”. I was dead wrong. These were surprisingly good and reminded me of a granola bar, only in chewy cookie form. Similar to a chocolate chip cookie, I believe these were best when they were a little warm. They were definitely best on day 1, still pretty good on day 2, but day 3 they were about spent. These make great lunch box cookies too!

Oh yeah, and yet another cookie with coconut baked inside that no one knew! HA! Just like the Toasted Coconut Orange Icebox Cookies I made last week. The coconut nay-sayers had no clue. :)

Thanks go out to Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet for choosing the Chockablock Cookie from Dorie’s book, Baking From My Home to Yours. You can find the recipe on page 86 or by visiting Mary’s blog.

This recipe also gave me a great excuse to finally use this huge mug for a photo session :) Isn’t it cool? It’s a HUGE mug, it takes two hands to hold it. To give you an idea of the size, those cookies are about 3 inches in diameter each!

Photogenic, there are not. Pretty, they are not. In fact, they’re kind of ugly. The kind of cookie you look at and have second thoughts about taking a bite. But then you’re glad you did!

Now when I made these, mine varied a little in that I didn’t have enough molasses, only half, so I substituted agave nectar, and that worked just fine. As for the add-ins, I used a handful of orange essence prunes, chopped up, and the remainder was cherry flavored craisins. For nuts, I used a small amount of chopped pecans, some sliced almonds that I chopped up, and some chopped walnuts. I really didn’t want to hit the grocery store for this one, so I also improvised on the chocolate. I had enough chocolate chips for half what the recipe called for, so I chopped the remainder from some semisweet chocolate blocks (the recipe called for bittersweet, but this worked just fine).

These were a bit sticky to work with, but other than that, I had no problems. In fact, this was one of the few TWD recipes that I actually baked at the long end of the called for time.

A delicious pick, thank you Mary!

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Edible Earth: Rice Krispy Treats for Earth Day

One great, big Rice Krispy treat shaped and colored like the Earth… genius! I can’t take full credit for this idea, I actually found it on The Idea Box (if you visit their link, the photo you see there is mine, I work for them) while going through and deciding on a few crafts to make and photograph for the site.

When I told Dominic, my 11 year old about it, he wanted to help. I love how his eyes light up when I tell him he can help. He’s my youngest and the only one left of the four that still wants to putter around in the kitchen with me!

You basically just make Rice Krispy treats, shape it into a circle on a pizza pan, then use a clean paintbrush or pastry brush to paint on some lightly watered down food coloring.

Hope you have a great Earth Day!

Rice Krispy Treat Edible Earth
printable version

3 tablespoons butter
1 10-oz package of marshmallows (or 4 cups mini marshmallows)
6 cups crispy rice cereal
blue and green food coloring
2 small dishes with 2 tablespoons of water in each
pastry brush
2 plastic baggies
2 rubber bands
cooking spray
pizza pan

Melt the butter of medium heat in a stock pot. Add the marshmallows and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and add cereal. Stir to combine them dump out onto the pizza pan.

Have child put baggies on their hands, secure them around their wrists with rubber bands. Spray the palm side of the baggies with cooking spray.

Have child shape the cereal mixture into a large circle on the pizza pan. Don’t pack the cereal mixture down too hard or they will become tough and hard to chew.

Add a few drops of blue food coloring to one of the dishes of water, and add a few drops of green to the other. Use a clean pastry brush to “paint on” the land and the water.

If you’d like to make a fun Earth craft with your kids, try my textured globe earth craft, or if your kids are little, they’ll love this coffee filter Earth from The Idea Box!

Have fun!

While I usually reserve this for my craft blog, I’m submitting this to the following craft carnivals. To see some other awesome projects, be sure to visit them!

Homemade Granola Recipe

Granola started off as a healthy treat, full of whole grains, sprinkled with wholesome nuts and dried fruit. Over the years, commercialism and appealing to the masses caused cereal companies to reinvent granola, adding all sorts of preservatives and unappealing additives. Making homemade granola is super simple. Because you control what goes into it, you can also determine the calorie and sweetener levels, and it takes less than half an hour to make a batch. Once you make your own granola, you’ll never buy a bag from the store again.

My daughter plays soccer. She needs energy and she loves granola. She asked me if I could make some, how could I say no to this face (pictured left)?

She was pretty specific about what she wanted it in. Sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips. :) No problem girly, you know I love ya.

You can adapt this recipe to suit your personal tastes. My daughter isn’t big on walnuts, so we use sliced almonds and sunflower seeds. She also prefers dried cranberries to raisins. And of course, she had to have chocolate chips. Here are some ideas for substitutions and add ins:

DRY
rolled (old fashioned) oats
ground flax seed
wheat germ

NUTS (UNSALTED)
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
sliced almonds
pecans
walnuts
hazelnuts

Note: If you use salted nuts, you may want to omit the salt that is mixed with the cinnamon at the opening of the instructions!

FRUIT
dried cranberries
flavored Craisins
raisins, brown or golden
other dried fruits (banana chips, dried blueberries, etc)

SWEETENER
brown sugar (light or dark)
maple syrup
honey
agave nectar
shredded coconut

FLAVORING
pure vanilla extract
other extracts such as almond, lemon, cherry, etc
spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc)

Easy Homemade Granola 
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking 

printable version

2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries (we used cherry flavored Craisins)
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the oats with cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them. Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the nuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely.

Sprinkle the dried cranberries and chocolate chips over the granola and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container. The granola will keep for 1 week.

TWD: Chocolate Nutella Thumbprint Cookies

I used to make thumbprint cookies every Christmas. Yummy little buttery cookies filled with seedless jams and lemon curd, small enough to pop into your mouth with one bite! Yum.. After reading through this week’s TWD thumbprint cookie recipe and noticing that ground hazelnuts played a big roll, I immediate thought that Nutella would be an ideal filling.

The chocolate (not the Nutella) idea was actually an after thought. I had already rolled one full cookie sheet (by the way, I doubled the size of the cookies, 60 was just too many) when I decided to add a tablespoon of cocoa to the remaining dough. So half of my cookies were as written and the other half were a little chocolatey.

As lovely as they look, I think I made a mistake. You see, as I was grinding the hazelnuts I realized that they weren’t toasted, but raw. The ground nuts were sticking together a little bit, so I was concerned that there would be too much moisture. So I went ahead and toasted the hazelnuts, which brought out the wonderful flavor they possess. However, I think they may have contributed to the cookie’s unfortunate dryness. :( I don’t think the added cocoa had anything to do with the dryness as both versions were equally dry. :-/

I also am not certain if the Nutella was really the ideal filling for these. Perhaps if they were fill halfway through baking, and then allowed to back again, the filling may have set up. Not sure. As soon as you take a bite, and long string of Nutella hits your chin. Still tasty… Nutella is always tasty. :)

I looked back at my own thumbprint recipe, which always turns out tender and buttery, and found that the only ingredients are flour, butter, sugar, orange juice, and an egg yolk. Dorie’s recipe contains flour and ground hazelnuts for the dry ingredients, and sugar, butter and extracts for the wet. There’s no egg yolk or any other liquid. That leads me to believe that she used the moisture from the ground nuts to contribute to the moisture.

Another difference between mine and Dorie’s is that hers bake all the way before filling them. Mine you bake 10 minutes, fill them, then bake 5 minutes more. Dorie boils the jam and fills the cookies after they are baked.

These were fun, they were easy to make, but I still like my thumbprint recipe better. I’ll have to post them one of these days!

Special thanks go out to Mike from Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude (don’t you just LOVE that blog title?? Hee hee!) for hosting this week’s Tuesday With Dorie pick! You can get the recipe from Mike’s blog, or turn to page 164 of Baking From My Home to Yours by the fabulous Dorie Greenspan.

Chocolate Chip Cake (Mint optional)

Did you know that today is National Chocolate Cake Day? That’s right, January 27th is the day. The day you have a legitimate excuse to eat chocolate cake. :)

Today I’m sharing a super easy cake recipe with you that I found on Annie’s Recipes. Funny thing is, it’s not a chocolate cake! But, it does contain chocolate, so I think it counts anyway.

This was delicious! It has a wonderful caramel type flavor from the dark brown sugar, and a really nice chewy-crunchy edge. Yum!

My recipe notes:
I wanted to use up a bag of Andes Mint Chips that I had, so instead of the semisweet chocolate, I used those. I THOUGHT I measured according to the recipe, but while typing this up I realized that I used way more than what was called for! No worries though, it all worked out. I sprinkled the remaining chips on the top of the hot cake when I took it out of the oven. I waited a few minutes, then spread the melted chips around for a thin glaze. I also used butter flavored shortening instead of regular shortening and buttermilk instead of milk. Those were my changes. I’ll give you my adapted recipe below, you can click over to Annie’s at the link above for the original.

Also below, in honor of Chocolate Cake Day, I am including links to a few chocolate cakes on this blog. Hope you enjoy the day!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
adapted from Annie’s Recipes

[printable version]

2 cups flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
1 bag of Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips, separated

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 13x9x2 baking pan. Combine all ingredients (except chopped chocolate) into a large mixer bowl. Blend 30 seconds on low speed, then beat on high for 3 minutes. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the mint chips, reserve the rest. Bake 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle remaining mint chips evenly over the top. Wait a few minutes for them to melt, then spread evenly across the top of the cake. Let cool on a wire rack.

Other Chocolate Cakes to try!

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TWD: Mrs. Vogel’s Scherben

What’s a scherben you might ask? Scherben translates from German to English into the word “shards”, which would explain all the broken glass images that were the results of my google query. :-/

Mrs. Vogel’s Scherben, on the other hand, is a deep fried crispy cookie (or it can be a rock hard cookie, or even a tender cookie if you are like me and break your candy thermometer by stupidly taking it from hot oil and putting it under cold running water, hence no longer being able to measure the temp of the oil. Don’t be like me.) made from dough rolled very thin and cut into “shards”. After deep frying, they are then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar and gobbled up by anyone who walks into the kitchen and says “What’s that??”

These were good. They were messy. Tasty little treats that were fun to make and cross off my “yep I’ve made that before” list. Would I make them again? Maybe. I only say maybe because they really are good and pretty easy to make, they just require some forethought and it’s not really something that’s easy to store. They really need to be eaten the same day, and there was no danger of that here.

I made a couple of mistakes. If you actually read my ramblings, you already read that I broken my candy thermometer. You see, I put the oil on and had the flame too high. I didn’t measure the temp and dropped a couple of dough strips in only to have them turn brown within ten seconds. The recipe said it would take 2-3 minutes. Ok genius, pull out the thermometer. Wow, that sucker shot all the way to the top. It’s only supposed to be 350 F. Sheesh. Ok, so I tried cooling the oil and I could see that was going to take a while. Since I didn’t use a huge pan, just a small saucepan, I poured more oil into a clean pot and started over. Put it over medium heat this time and went to rinse my candy thermometer off. CRACK. Stupid! Still can’t believe I did that. I mean really, that’s Science 101 ya know?

*sigh*

Ok trash the thermometer and wing it. I kept it at medium heat and tested with a small piece of dough. When it seemed about right I started cooking. I know I didn’t have the temp right, but they came out fine, browning nicely. I drained them, dredged them in cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar and tapped off the excess. Then they were gone, into the mouths of my 17 year old and 12 year old. I got a couple, but that was it, no one else got anything.

I should probably mention that I did try to bake some at 400, left them in for 12 minutes. There were too brown and the sugar wouldn’t stick. Kind of stupid of me to make a whole cookie sheet that way. Those got tossed. The rest were good though, but a lot of clean up afterward. I think “clean up” and “powdered sugar” just go hand in hand, no?

If you would like to try this great recipe, visit this week’s host, one of my favorite food bloggers, Teanna of Spork or Foon? Or if you like, you can find the recipe on pages 157-159 in Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book, Baking From My Home to Yours.

Christmas Cookie Decorating

This isn’t a tutorial, I just wanted to share the cookies I decorated yesterday. I’ve just recently started decorating with Royal Icing. If you remember, I made Thanksgiving cookies as well as football jersey cookies. The cut out sugar cookie recipe and the royal icing recipe are both available here.

I made some snowflakes, but they just didn’t turn out the way I wanted so they aren’t posted here. I’ll practice some more and share those another time ;)

There are also some little mini north woods type cookies that I made for a friend of mine. Aren’t they cute? She’s totally into that north woods cabin decor, I even made these Rustic North Woods Ornaments for her.

I want to take this moment to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!

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Quick Orange Rolls Recipe

I love cinnamon rolls. I don’t love waiting hours to make them from scratch. I love orange rolls too, and my husband even more so. I usually grocery shop alone (for far too many reasons to mention) but when hubby does tag along, he always throws those cans of cinnamon and orange rolls into the cart.

Homemade cinnamon rolls are so much better, but man! Some recipes call for a 2 hour rise, some for 3-4 hours, and one that I saw was even an 8 hour rest in the fridge and THEN another couple of hours on the counter. Sheesh, I don’t want them that bad. :-p

I’ve seen a few different “quick” orange rolls around on different blogs, but some of them still required one hour rises. So I did a search and I found this recipe on the Red Star yeast website. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit from theirs, so my adapted version is below.

The verdict? Fabulous! The fresh squeezed orange flavor in these soooo outweighs the imitation canned stuff. A lovely flavor and they were gone pretty quickly. They are definitely different than the canned, one of my boys took one bite and changed his mind, but hubby, youngest son and me? We scarfed them down without hesitation. ;)

I think I will make them again, only this time I might experiment with chilling the dough to make it easier to work with. I realize that can upset the yeast and make it moody, so I’ll let you know what happens.

This recipe includes a combination filling and frosting which was delicious. I’m sure you could make half the recipe to make the filling, and make a simple glaze with powdered sugar and orange juice for the top. Hope you give them a try, let me know if you do  :)

Quick Orange Rolls
adapted from RedStar


[printable recipe]

2 1/4 teaspoons SAF instant yeast (or any quick rise)
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 F)
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups bread flour
zest of one orange
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Filling and Frosting
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (plus up to 1/4 cup more to adjust frosting*)
zest of one orange
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

In mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand 3 to 5 minutes; stir. Add the egg, 1/2 of the flour, and butter. Rub the orange zest, sugar and salt together with your fingers until fragrant, then add to the bowl. Beat all ingredients on medium until smooth.

Add the remaining flour gradually until combined. Dough should clean sides of bowl. Knead on lightly floured board until smooth. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 15 minutes.

While dough is rising, grease 9-inch round pan or deep dish pie plate.  Blend the filling and frosting ingredients and beat until creamy.

Dust a sheet of parchment paper with flour. Place dough on dusted parchment and Roll dough into a 7″ x 14″ rectangle. Spread with 1/2 of the filling, coming to within 1/2″ of the sides. Roll up jelly roll style, using the parchment to help you roll it up, dough will be sticky. (You can see this method of rolling on my Cranberry Orange Spiral Cookies post.) Pinch the edges of dough to seal.

Slice roll into 10-12 pieces and place them in the greased pan. Cover with a towel and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400 F.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

*While the rolls are baking, you can adjust the frosting if you like. It was a bit too buttercream-ish for me, so I added about 1/4 cup or so more powdered sugar and about a tablespoon of milk and whisked vigorously until it was smooth. This step is optional, the frosting can be used as is if you like.

Remove rolls from the oven and drizzle frosting over the top and spread to distribute evenly. Serve!

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Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies

I love Nutella. So do my youngest 2 boys. I love hazelnuts anyway, so pairing it with cocoa and making it into a wonderful spreadable treat is literally icing on the toast. ;) I also love peanut butter. And peanut butter cookies are a big time favorite around this house. So why not combine the two? I am certainly not the first to think of doing this, I found that out after doing a quick internet search which revealed several posts about these beauties.

Below is my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe that I have been baking for years. It’s soft and chewy and everyone here adores them. I adapted it by simply substituting some of the peanut butter with Nutella. These are a perfect addition to your holiday gift baskets!

These were really delicious and you could definitely detect the Nutella flavor. I will be trying these again, using even more Nutella and less peanut butter, to try and get a deeper flavor. However, I did notice that because Nutella has a thinner consistency than peanut butter, it did make the batter a little wetter than when I just make peanut butter cookies. Therefore, I might add a bit more flour to counteract that with the higher Nutella content. I’ll let you know! If you beat me to it, let ME know. :)

UPDATE: If you printed this recipe prior to February 27, 2011, you will want to print it again. I have made some adjustments to add more Nutella flavor. :)

You might also like these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies.

Soft Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies

[printable version]

1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine shortening, Nutella, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat just until blended.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls (using a cookie scoop works great) 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly in crisscross pattern with tines of fork.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Cherie’s Snickers Peanut Butter Cookies

The other day I was innocently reading blogs when I came across a post on my friend Barb’s blog, Barbara Bakes. She’s been doing something called 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies where every week for 12 weeks she posts a new cookie recipe. This particular recipe came from Barb’s neighbor.

They are dangerously good. I mean that with utmost sincerity.

If you have no self control, don’t make these. Or better yet, make them with a candy bar you don’t like (is there such a thing??).  I made mine with Snickers, Milky Way and Midnight Milky Way. Luckily for me, my kids don’t like the dark chocolate Milky Ways, so I was FORCED to eat those myself. :) (Aww poor me)

The recipe was a little sparse on notes or directions, so I am adding my two cents into it below. Pay close attention to the cooling section or your masterpieces will fall apart before your very eyes. Darn, broken cookies, better eat those… oh don’t worry though, I’ve heard that if you break a cookie, the calories fall out (snort).

Cherie’s Snickers Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Barbara Bakes

[printable recipe]

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup creamy (or chunky, if you prefer) peanut butter
2 eggs
2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 package Reeses peanut butter chips
1 bag mini size Snickers and/or Milky Ways

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cream butter, sugars and peanut butter. Add eggs. Stir or whisk together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed butter mixture and mix well. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Roll into balls or use a cookie scoop.

Below are a few suggestions on how to use the candy bars. I used the tiny snack sized bars and cut them in half. I placed the cut side down on top of the rounded cookie and pressed down gently.

Adding the snickers can be done anyway you like. You can place the dough balls on your cookie sheet and press a Snickers mini, whole or cut in half, into the ball and bake. You can chop the Snickers into pieces and add it to the dough, roll into balls, flatten with fork and bake. You can roll into balls, flatten pretty thin and wrap the dough around a whole Snickers mini and bake. If you have mini muffin pans, you can fill it with dough balls and press a mini Snicker into it and bake.  Or any other combination you can think of.

However you decide, bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (mine took 11.5 minutes).

Remove from oven and leave cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes to rest. Slide parchment with cookies onto cooling rack and let cool for ten minutes. Remove from parchment to cooling rack to cool completely.

If you try to eat these cookies while still warm they may fall apart. Allow them to cool completely and they’ll be fine.

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Thanksgiving Cookies: Turkeys, Leaves & Pumpkins, Oh My!

So I said I would write a post about these a few days ago. I got to thinking, what the heck am I going to write? I have a bunch of totally cool pictures, but I don’t feel confident enough to give a tutorial on these, and the recipes aren’t mine either. Hmm. So I thought I would just share some things that worked for me and provide you with the recipes I used and give a little link love to the person who shared it with me ;)

So first off, this is going to be an obsession with me, I can already see it. Between my craft blog and this food blog, this is definitely right smack dab in between. Because they are edible, any royally iced cookies will be posted here. But I’m warning you now, I will probably find every occasion and holiday to make these. So feel free to zoom on past the decorated cookie posts if I start to bore you LOL This blog certainly certainly won’t be dedicated to cookies, but they are just too dang fun not to make them when an occasion arises. :)


So on with the post. When in WalMart a few days before Halloween looking for a clown wig, I noticed some cute cookie cutters hanging on the wall. By now I had already fallen in love with decorating cookies after making the football jersey cookies for my boys’ football teams. So I just HAD to get the cookie cutters. :) It was a three pack including a turkey, leaf, and a pumpkin. I had another leaf shaped cutter at home, and also a bunch of alphabet letters, and so this post was born.

The sugar cookie recipe as well as the icing recipe I used comes from my Florida friend, Leslie, of The Hungry Housewife (p.s. don’t google that, you mind end up with an eyeful if you click to the wrong site bahahaha!). Leslie gives a bunch of great tips for making these cookies, so click over to her site and bookmark that link to refer back to. Great stuff. The recipe is also listed at the end of this post.

Another great link is The Baker’s Banter from King Arthur Flour. If you follow that link, you will find a very cool way to turn parchment paper into small piping bags for making fine lines. These work really great and it’s perfect for details. Not only because of the small lines and dots you can create, but also because it only holds a small amount of icing, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting putting a bunch into piping bags. I used these little bags to make the lines on the pumpkins, the eyes on the turkey, and the dots on the alphabet letters. Fabulous.

Now I’m sure that decorator tips are great and all, but when you only have one and you are trying to decorate with a bunch of different colors AND you don’t want to mess with couplings and switching the tip from bag to bag, you might do what I did. I just filled the disposable bags with the colored icings and snipped the end of the tip off the bag. Overall it does a great job. While the piping tip is definitely more precise, this method certainly worked fine for me.


Also, I wanted to mention that Leslie had pointed out that outlining all your cookies first and coming back and filling the centers afterward (we are talking about with the same color, so outline in red, fill in red for example) can leave visible border lines because those borders dry before you get back to them. So instead, she suggested piping the border and filling the center immediately. Again, this is only if you are outlining and filling with the same color. She was so right. When I made the jersey cookies I did this with the colored ones and they were great. When I made the white jerseys, I outlined them all first then came back and tried a flooding method I saw on a different blog using these fun icing bottles. Na da. Ended up with border lines. Not doing that again.

When I filled my centers in, I just basically kept going around the inner border of the outline, working my way inward, until I reached the center. Then I gently tapped the cookie against the side of the cookie sheet, or you an pick it up and shake it side to side a little to make the icing spread out. If there are any bubles, pop with a toothpick and shake again. You can also use a toothpick to spread the icing out, you just have to work quickly so the icing doesn’t dry before you fill all the gaps. Do one cookie at a time, that’s key.

Something else fun that I experimented with was blending colors on the leaves. These could be so much better, but not bad for being a newbie! The trick is to add the secondary color(s) right away while the base coat is still wet. Then just drag a toothpick through it and swirl around.

Even if you don’t want to mess around with Royal Icing, which is really easy, you should still try this cookie recipe. Very yummy, overall winner, and even fun to decorate with canned frosting! You can still use Royal icing to top the cookies, and sprinkle with jimmies, nonpareils, or colored sugar too. Just remember you have to add those right away before the icing sets.

And so I give thanks to my friend Leslie, she answered several questions and provided two great recipes from which I yielded these yummy treats. My family thanks you too. :)

Oh and sorry for all the pictures. I couldn’t decide which ones to use, so I just used them all! LOL Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cut Out Sugar Cookies
from The Hungry Housewife


[printable version – includes both cookies and icing]

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract or a mix of both
3 cups ap flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and the extract and beat to incorporate. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll to 3/8″ thick in between 2 sheets of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Remove the dough and cut your desired shape. Place the formed cookies back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Take the scraps and re roll them to 3/8″ in the parchment paper and re chill before cutting out again.

Preheat oven to 350 30 minutes before baking the cookies. Bake your cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (resist the urge to add parchment. These don’t make a mess, but the parchment can cause spreading) for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookie. (Mine were done in 9.5 minutes)

Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing Cookie Glaze

6 oz (3/4 cup) warm water
5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/4 pounds powdered sugar

*If your meringue powder does not have any vanilla flavor in it, you can add a teaspoon of CLEAR vanilla.

In a mixer bowl, pour the warm water and the meringue powder in and whisk for about 30 seconds until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk for another 30 seconds. Pour all of the sugar in at once and place on the mixer.

Using your paddle attachment, on the lowest speed, mix slowly for 10 full minutes.

Icing will be thick and creamy (like Elmer’s Glue). Cover the bowl the a damp cloth to prevent drying and crusting.

If you find the icing too thick, you can thin it by adding in water by the Tablespoon.

TIP: To test, lift your paddle attachment. Watch the ribbon of icing fall back into the bowl of icing. It should disappear before the count of 10. If it doesn’t add a little water at a time until it does.

Football Jersey Cookies, Royal Icing & Division Champs


I’ve mentioned recently that two of my boys play football. One of them (Dominic, 10 years) is done for the season, so the coaches hosted an end of season party for the team. I decided to make football jersey shaped cookies, and to go a bit further, thought I would finally try my hand at decorating with Royal Icing.

My other football son (T.J., 12 years) is still playing. In fact, as I type this (which won’t be when this posts by the way) he is at practice. See T.J.’s team won their playoff game over the weekend, giving them the title of Division Champs! Go Bulldogs! WOOT! The “Super Bowl” game will be played this weekend and we can’t wait! Totally psyched!

Since I was making cookies for Dominic’s team, I doubled up the batch and made them for T.J.’s team too. It worked out great, I handed them out right after they won the Division Champ title, so they were very pumped and these were a nice treat to go home with.

I decorated Dominic’s with a few different colors, while T.J. wanted his to be white to match their actual jerseys. I also made some footballs and helmets for the coaches and flags for the team moms.

I found the cookie dough recipe on Leslie’s uber awesome Hungry Housewife blog. Very simple dough, refrigerate for a while and cut with cookie cutters.
Bake ‘em up, mine were done in 9 1/2 minutes. They were a bit puffy, but I think that was because I used parchment paper, even though Leslie said not to… I somehow missed that. :-p
All was well though, the cooled off and “relaxed” a bit, taking away that puffiness.
I mixed up Leslie’s icing too and followed her instructions, though I didn’t have the right tip (#3), it still worked out really well. I tinted the icing with paste food coloring. Then they had to dry for a few hours.

Then it was time to pipe on the numbers etc. This was my first time, so I was pretty happy with the results, even if they weren’t perfect.

I can see a LOT of cookies in my future. This is a dangerous mix of cooking (this blog) and crafting (my craft blog), so I am certain these will not be the last decorated cookie to cross these pages. :) I’m already totally excited about making some Thanksgiving cookies!

Get Leslie’s cookie and icing recipe here

To end this post, I want to celebrate my two youngest boys. Dominic and T. J., I’m so proud of you boys. You are dedicated sport nuts and great team mates. Good sports and all around rockin’ kids. I love you both. :)

TJ on the sidelines while defense is on the field.
TJ After winning the division championship.
What a rockin’ number!
TJ talking to his big brother, Tony (Tony is my oldest, he’s 17, no pics of my daughter in here, she’s 15)
Coach holds up the trophy!
TJ on the field.
Big brother. Tough to get a picture of him.
Love their shirts “If you want to run with the big dogs, you can’t play like a puppy”. he he
Dominic at the end of season party
Dominic at his last practice of the season
At the end of season party, playing catch with team mates
Dominic was awarded Best Defensive Player
And last but not least, our adorable mascot Spike. Here he’s dancing at half time to “Who Let The Dogs Out”
Spike hanging with the cheerleaders!
Thanks for listening :)
GO BULLDOGS!!

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Chocolate Brownie Bars

I’m not sure why, but this recipe is named Chocolate Bar Cookies. I’ve renamed it Chocolate Brownie Bars because this is a brownie in every sense of the word, and a rich and delicious one at that! Everyone gobbled these up, it’s good I got my camera out before the kids came home from school!

You could probably just make one 13×9 pan of these, but the instructions said to use 2 8×8 square pans. I wanted to make sure I did the recipe right, so I followed as closely as I could. I only own one 8×8 pan, so I used a 9″ cake pan for the other.

I did not add the nuts, instead I stirred in extra chopped chocolate, probably why they were so rich! You could probably substitute the shortening with unsalted butter, but I made them with the shortening. These are dense and chocolatey, and the best part is they cut CLEAN, no jagged pulled edges like when you try to cut regular brownies when still warm.

This is a definite keeper, so try it today, you’ll thank me. :) Really.

I found this recipe on Annie’s Recipes. They run a giveaway each month for anyone who makes one of their recipes and uploads a photo. Check that out here.

Chocolate Bar Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter and flour 2 8×8 square pans.

Cream shortening in mixer for about 3 minutes. Add sugar and eggs, alternating and beat well.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or in a glass dish over simmering water. Blend melted chocolate into sugar mixture, stir in salt and vanilla.

Whisk together flour and baking powder then stir into chocolate mixture. Stir in nuts.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in pan before cutting into squares or rectangle bars.Comments

Notes: You can substitute chocolate chips for the nuts.

For a text only (no recipe photos or commentary) printer friendly version of this recipe, click here

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Apple Cider Milkshake

About a mile from my house is a wonderful apple orchard. There you can pick your own apples and pumpkins or buy them directly from their “barn” shop. You can watch them make apple cider too, which was always a huge hit with my kids when they were small. They sell apple cider by the half gallon and the gallon and my kids adore it.

They also offer a seasonal treat – apple cider shakes. I asked them what was in it and they said soft serve vanilla ice cream, apple cider and cinnamon. Well heck, not to take any glory away from them or anything, but I can do that!

As I type I can hear my daughter slurping the last of the shake you see in the picture. She’s an apple cider shake fanatic. :) These are fantabulous (um, that’s a word? Blogger didn’t correct it LOL) and you really must try them!

Apple Cider Milkshake

5 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 1/4 cups apple cider
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

Place everything in a blender and blend into a shake. Insert straw, slurp.

You can of course adjust to your own tastes, but we think these are fabulous as they are. This concoction makes a full glass like you see here and another smaller glass. Sorry, no technical measurements available, they aren’t around long enough!

For a text only (no recipe photos or commentary) printer friendly version of this recipe, click here

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Mississippi Mud Cookies

Chocolate. Cookies. Marshmallows. More chocolate. Need I say more??

I’ve seem these cookies on several blogs over the past several months, but the first one I saw them on was my friend Megan’s. It’s funny about Megan. I remember the first comment she left on my blog. I don’t remember what post, I just remember her saying she liked the name of my blog. I clicked over to hers and low and behold, it’s called Megan’s Cookin’. Hee hee! So today, Megan’s Cookin’ is melding with Amanda’s Cookin’ to bring you these satisfy-your-chocolate-craving Mississippi Mud Cookies. By the way, I find myself spelling out Mississippi in my head whenever I type that. In fact, I don’t think I can type that word without spelling it out just like we did in elementary school! (yeah yeah, who cares Amanda, move on…)

Normally I am a couple of weeks behind in posting what I make. I have a folder full of pictures and the recipes lie in wait for me to post them. But not today. No I made these bad boys today due to an overwhelming craving for gooey chocolate. I hit my “cookie” labeled bookmark folder and there it was, waiting for me in all of its ooey-gooey chocolatey-ness. :) I just had to share them with you right away!

I didn’t change much, other than eliminating the nuts, and instead of using milk chocolate chips, I just used the rest of the bag of semi sweet chocolate chips. My recipe is adapted a little, you can grab the original from Megan’s blog if you prefer nuts.

Oh and by the way, if you have a third of a bag of miniature marshmallows sitting in your kitchen cabinet all stuck together and getting stale (like I did) then never fear, they’ll work great in this! ;)

Mississippi Mud Cookies
adapted from Megan’s Cookin’

1 12-oz bag semisweet chocolate chips, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. miniature marshmallows

Microwave ONE CUP of the semisweet chocolate morsels in a small microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Gently beat in vanilla, then the melted chocolate.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; whisking together in a small bowl. Gradually add to flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, beating until well blended.

Stir in remaining semi sweet chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (my cookie scoop worked perfectly) onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press 3 marshmallows into each portion of dough.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes (10 minutes was perfect for mine) or until set. Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes to allow them to rest and deflate a bit, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

This dough made 44 cookies.

For a text only (no recipe photos or commentary) printer friendly version of this recipe, click here

 

Black and White Cookies

I first saw these black and white cookies on the King Arthur Flour blog, Baker’s Banter, however, the recipe I used for these I found on Alicia’s Recipes. I did use a technique from Baker’s Banter, and that was to flatten the cookie dough a bit with the bottom of a wet measuring cup. Great tip! These were pretty good cookies, but I didn’t have lemon extract, so I’m sure that took away from the original deli flavor these treats are supposed to have. Also, the glaze on Alicia’s is pretty different from the one on Baker’s Banter, but still good.

Would I make these again? Maybe for a birthday party or something, but not for cookies just to have around the house. They were good and all, but the frosting part takes some time and because it’s pretty sugary, it’s not the type of cookie that you grab a stack of and eat with a glass of milk in front of the TV. These are more of a one cookie per person type treat, great for a party or get together.


Pretty standard recipe really, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and extract.

Whisk together the cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture.

For smaller cookies, use a cookie scoop, for larger cookies use an ice cream scoop.

Put some water on a small plate and dip the bottom of a measuring cup into it.

Then use that to flatten the cookie dough.

Lovely! :)

You don’t want the cookies to brown, and everyone’s oven is different, so keep an eye on them. These are more cake-like than cookie-like. After they’ve cooled and you’ve made the frosting mixture, coat one side of each cookie.

DON’T do what I did and try to use semisweet instead of bittersweet. Semisweet has too much sugar content and will seize up as you see in the picture above. Looks ugly. Use bittersweet. Trust me on this.


See how much better the chocolate looks using bittersweet? Told you to trust me ;)

Black And White Cookies
adapted from Alicia’s Recipes 

1 cup unsalted butter
1- 3/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 (1 ounce) square bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then set mixer on low speed, or stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon extract. Combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets. Put a small amount of water on a salad plate. Dip the bottom of a dry measure measuring cup into the water, then gently press down each cookie to flatten it. You will need to re-wet the measuring cup every 2-3 cookies or it will stick to the dough.

Bake until edges begin to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes (15-20 for smaller cookies). Cool completely.

Place confectioners sugar in large bowl. Mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until mixture is thick and spreadable. (Add more than the indicated amount if you need to).

Transfer half of the frosting to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir in the chocolate. Warm mixture, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat.

With a brush or the back of a spoon, coat half the cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with the white frosting. Set on waxed paper until frosting hardens.

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Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Have you ever just stopped and thought to yourself “Man I really want some chocolate chip cookies”. Well, I have. Just now.

I had just finished cleaning out my 12 year old son’s closet and it hit me. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies.

I wanted to try something different, something other than the tried and true Toll House recipe, but didn’t really want to veer away from that wonderful comfort food, so I landed somewhere in between. I opened Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun that I checked out from the library a couple of weeks ago. I had these cookies, and several other recipes, earmarked to make, so today was the perfect day.

The recipe is that of a basic chocolate chip cookie with a couple of twists and turns. Instead of chocolate chips you use chocolate chunks. Ina’s recipe calls for 1 1/4 pounds, but I only had an 11 oz bag, so that’s what I used. Also, instead of table salt, this recipe uses Kosher salt, and the eggs called for are extra large instead of the standard large. There also seems to be more vanilla in this recipe than most and a little less flour. After mixing everything up, the dough seemed a little on the thin side to me.

After using a cookie scoop to drop the dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets, you wet your fingers and gently push the dough down a bit. Then it’s into the oven for 15 minutes exactly, no more, as the recipe says you need to undercook them just a bit to get that lovely, chewy texture. Umm… 15 minutes?? Most chocolate chip cookie recipes that I know are 8-11 minutes, does this seem awful long to you too?

Well it was. At least in my opinion.

The picture in the book has a stack of cookies, several different types, and they are all fairly flat. Some are pretty light brown too. Problem is, there’s no text identifying which cookie is which, so I don’t know if this is what they are supposed to look like or not. I’m leaning toward NOT.

These look way overdone to me, and certainly not slightly underdone as indicated in the book. A taste test proved that they were not hard, at least not yet as they have only been out of the oven for ten minutes or so.

However there was a very slight burnt taste, though no indications of being burnt (i.e. black bottoms, etc).

So the next pan I put in I baked for only 10 minutes. These are considerably lighter, and a couple appear to be slightly underdone, but I’m still not convinced we are where we are supposed to be.

A taste test proves these are considerably better than the batch before, and the chocolate is still gooey.

So the third pan went in for 8 minutes. Oh now these look much better! Much lighter in color and still a little puffy, not completely flat like its predecessors. Problem is I am starting to feel sick from too many taste tests of the previous batches. So no more taste tests for now.

I put the last batch in for 7 minutes to see if it would improve on the third pan, which I think were pretty darn good. Hmm. VERY light. Can one minute really make that big of a difference? Closed the oven and added 30 seconds to timer. Still too underdone. 30 seconds more. Well there we are at 8 minutes and they are still lighter than the 8 minute batch, most likely from the door being opened so many times. So in the photo below I’ve indicated the last cookie as 7.5 minutes instead of 8 (just in case you care). :-/

The final verdict – would I make these again? No, probably not. Were they good? Sure, they were, nothing spectacular, but if you like flat cookies these are for you. I don’t. I like puffy, chewy chocolate chip cookies. Will they go to waste? No way. Not with 4 kids in the house and a husband who thinks chocolate chip cookies should have their own food group. :)

My opinion, not enough flour means flat cookies. This just didn’t have enough. The flavor is quite good, but I just don’t like flat chocolate chip cookies. These were visually unappealing to me, which in my opinion, is half the draw of baked goods :)

I also wonder if using the cookie scoop caused part of the problem. According to the directions below, Ina says to use a 1 3/4″ diameter ice cream scoop OR rounded tablespoons. Maybe mine were just too small but dang, how big were these cookies supposed to be anyway?? I got about 48 cookies and the book says it’ll yield 36-40. So I really don’t think that made too big of a difference.

Ok, that’s enough of that. Back to cleaning closets, the cravings have been satisfied. ;)


Chocolate Chunk Cookies
p. 235 Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa’s Parties

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (I omitted)
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the butter with the mixer on low speed, mixing only until combined. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chunks.

Drop dough on baking sheets lined with parchment, using a 1 3/4 inch diameter ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen hands and flatten dough slightly. Bake exactly 15 minutes, the cookies will seem underdone. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Soft Gingerbread Football Cookies and Football Brownies

Football season is here! We are definitely football fans in this house. Our two youngest boys both play tackle on the local youth football league, and even my daughter is getting in on the action playing in the powder puff game at homecoming.

Recently, the boys’ teams had a couple of parties and we needed to bring a dish to pass. Since I was in a hurry, I made brownies from a (shudder) box mix (eek!) and used a football shaped cookie cutter on them once they were cooled off. Then I added the laces them with a tube of white cake decorator icing. The brownies were a huge hit at the parties and the boys were very happy. :)

Then, I had an assignment for Disney to make some gingerbread cookies (sorry, can’t say anymore about that), and only used a portion of this FABULOUS soft gingerbread cookie dough I found. I have never really liked gingerbread, well at least I didn’t until I found this recipe. :) Roll it fairly thick and you’ll have deliciously soft and chewy gingerbread. So anyway, I needed to use up the remaining dough, so I dug through the cookie cutters and decided to make the boys a helmet each with their numbers on them, some footballs, and played around with the rest, making some gingerbread people, ghosts, and pumpkins.

I found the recipe on Recipezaar and absolutely agree with the title. Some people had a little trouble with the dough being sticky, but I followed her directions exactly, including the part about letting the dough rest for at least two hours and had no problems at all. I didn’t make the second batch of cookies until the next day. I had chilled the dough in the refrigerator overnight and took it out in the morning and let it come to room temperature before rolling it out.

Soft Gingerbread Football Cookies and Football Brownies

Rating: 51

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional - I didn't use this)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
  2. In a large bowl (KitchenAid's great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
  3. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Return to room temp before using.)
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick (I rolled mine a bit thicker for softer cookies). Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
  6. Cut out cookies with desired cutter. I actually found it easier to roll the dough out on the parchment, cut out the cookies and remove the outer pieces, leaving the cookie shapes on the parchment. Then lift the parchment up at one side, so that the cookie shape is now upside down, place your hand under it and peel the parchment off the back of the cookie. The cookie will land gently in your hand and won't get stretched out of shape like it would if you lift the cookie from the surface and place it on the pan.
  7. Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies). Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.
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