Thursday, December 18, 2014

Soft and Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you have tried any of my cookies, you know that soft and puffy is how I think cookies should be.  I have long been on a quest to find a chocolate chip cookie that would have the perfect classic flavor, be chock full of delicious chocolate, and go from mixer to oven without days of chilling.  After making these Super Soft and Puffy Snickerdoodles inspiration struck.  I took a basic chocolate chip recipe, adjusted the amount of sugar, bumped up the flour, and added in some cream of tartar and milk just like in the Snickerdoodles.  The results were fantastic!

Start out by creaming together the butter and the sugars.  Once the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy, crack in a couple of eggs, a splash of milk, and a little vanilla and beat it all together until well combined.

Add in some flour (I used white whole wheat but all purpose will work too), baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and mix until well combined.  Mix in a bunch of chocolate chips and you are ready to start scooping.

I made two sizes of cookies with this cookie dough, standard sized cookies for the teachers at Jake's school and "Lauren" sized.  To make standard sized cookies, use a medium cookie scoop and bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes.

For "Lauren" sized cookies, you are going to use an ice cream scoop, yep, an ice cream scoop.  Bake the "Lauren" sized cookies for 11-14 minutes.

Now that is a cookie!  Look at all of those chocolate chips.  These cookies are so soft, so chocolatey, so perfectly delicious. Y-U-M!!!!

Soft & Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbls. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream butter sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add in eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat well. 
  4. Add in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and mix well.  
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop cookies a few inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes or until light golden.
  8. **If you want to make regular sized cookies use a cookie scoop instead of an ice cream scoop and bake for 8-9 minutes. 

I'm linking up with Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Snowman Birthday Banner

Luke's best buddy Calvin recently celebrated his first birthday with a "Winter ONE-derland" theme.  Isn't that such a cute idea!   Since I love crafting and will take pretty much any excuse to use my Silhouette Cameo I helped Calvin's mom make this adorable Snowman Birthday Banner.

To make this banner you will need white cardstock, blue cardstock, scrapbook glue, and ribbon.  I used the Tombow mono scrapbook glue but any brand will do.

I used my Silhouette software to make the snowman outline and cut them out on the blue paper.   Then I used the same outline but added a face and used that with the addition of the letters to make the snowman part.

Once everything was cut out we glued the white snowmen onto the blue bases and we were ready to put the banner together.  I find grosgrain ribbon to be the best choice when making a banner.  It is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the cardstock and since it is textured they don't slide around.  I used grosgrain ribbon on the Superman banner I made last year for Jake's birthday and it was the easy choice here.  We wanted the ribbon to look like the arms of the snowmen so we chose brown like branches.

String the snowmen onto your ribbon and you are ready to hang up your birthday banner.  This banner doesn't take much effort to make, but has a big impact.  It was the perfect backdrop for Calvin's first experience with birthday cake!

If you have a silhouette and want to make your own Snowman Banner, here are the cut files.

I'm linking up with Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dark Chocolate Turtle Cookies

A while back I found out about these amazing caramel filled chocolate chips.  As you probably know by now, I L-O-V-E caramel so to find an easy way to put caramel into my baked goods was a pretty exciting moment for me.  

I picked up a bag the next time I was at the store, but it took me a while to figure out their inaugural recipe.  After going back and forth I finally decided to make a chocolate turtle cookie.  I started with the same cookie base that I used in my Double Dark Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cookies.  I swapped the peppermint extract for vanilla and changed my mix-ins to make these turtle cookies instead of Creme de Menthe.

This may have been one of my best dessert ideas ever!  These cookies are made in one bowl, there's no refrigerating the dough, they are rich, soft, chewy, and delicious.  What more could you ask for in a cookie?  I made them for the teachers at Jake's school, and I seriously contemplated getting up early that morning to make something else so I could keep these at home. They are that good!

Now that I have you drooling, I'll tell you how you can make them yourself.  Start out by creaming together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until nice and fluffy.  Add in some dark cocoa powder and a little vanilla extract and mix until the cocoa is completely blended in.  Crack in a couple of eggs and mix again. 

We want these cookies to be nice and puffy so add in some baking soda and a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch along with the flour.  I used white whole wheat flour, but all purpose will work just fine.  Mix it in until the dough is completely brown, no unmixed flecks of flour for these delights.  At this point you will have a VERY thick cookie dough.  You can stir in your mix-ins by hand, but I just used my mixer.  I figured that a few of the caramel filled chocolate chips would get broken, but that was okay with me.  I did give it a few final stirs with my spoonula to make sure all of the mix-ins were incorporated.

Use a cookie scoop to portion out your cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  I baked two cookie sheets at a time so I rotated them half way through the cooking time.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before moving them to the cooling rack to finish cooling.  These Dark Chocolate Turtle Cookies are delicious fresh and warm from the oven, look at that melting chocolate.

They are just as good the next day.  I can't speak to how they are after that because I foolishly gave them away and only saved a few for us.  My guess is that you won't find out how they are after more than a day either but if you do, I think they will still be soft and delicious. 

If I had been serving these in a single layer on a cookie tray I might have drizzled a little caramel over the top because I can never get enough caramel, but they really don't need anything else.  These photos do not do them justice.  The dark chocolate cookies with the melty semi-sweet chocolate chips, crunchy pecan pieces, and sweet, rich caramel filled chocolate chips combine to create the perfect cookie.  

Dark Chocolate Turtle Cookies
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 heaping tbls. cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 package Toll House DelightFulls caramel filled chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract and mix until the cocoa is completely blended in.
  4. Crack in both eggs and mix again until well incorporated.
  5. Add baking soda, cornstarch, and flour and mix until the dough is completely brown with no white showing from the flour.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips, pecan pieces, and caramel DelightFulls.
  7. Use a cookie scoop to put on your cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 8 minutes.
  8. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

I don't know about you, but I love a good seasonal cocktail.  We recently hosted both Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving and I wanted to have a festive cocktail so after some googling and brainstorming I decided on this Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail.  I haven't really had bourbon before but it seemed like the right seasonal choice, and it was a winner.

This cocktail is super easy to make and is perfect for parties because you make it as a big batch, not one by one.  This means you are free to mingle with your guests instead of playing bartender, score!

Start out the night before you're planning to serve by combining some bourbon with cinnamon sticks, a few shakes of allspice, and some freshly grated nutmeg.  I'm sure this would be good with the pre-ground nutmeg too.  That being said, the whole nutmeg is just as easy to buy, and if you have a microplane only takes a few seconds to grate and smells so wonderful!

Right before you plan to serve this delicious cocktail, combine the spiced bourbon with some sparkling apple cider.  That's it.  Some bourbon, some spices, and some sparkling cider.  This cocktail is easily doubled, halved, basically it can accommodate whatever size group you are serving.

The spices and the bourbon are seasonal and warming and the sparkling cider makes it extra festive.  This Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail is the perfect cocktail for any of your holiday get togethers or just a night in.

Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail
  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • a few shakes of ground allspice
  • half of a whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1 1/2 - 2 bottles sparkling cider
  1. Combine bourbon and spices and let steep overnight.
  2. Right before serving, add sparkling cider to bourbon and stir.  Pour into glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired.

 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet BellaroosPin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

A few weeks ago we went to a potluck at a friends house, and I signed up to bring a dessert because they are my favorite thing to make.  I had been ruminating on the idea of a trifle with brownies and Nutter Butters for a while, but every time I went to make one it was just too hot to turn the oven on to make brownies.  We finally had a cool enough day so I decided to turn my little idea into reality.  This Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle turned out even better than I had imagined!  There were a bunch of kids at this party and not a single one of them got a bite of this trifle because the adults ate it all.  When we got in the car to leave Jake asked if we were bringing the rest home because he didn't get any; sorry buddy, the grown ups ate it all.  There were definitely some mommies and daddies going back for seconds and thirds but I won't name names. (;

Not only is this Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle out of this world delicious, it is incredibly easy.  Start out by making a batch of brownies, I used my favorite Ghirardelli mix.  I made mine in a rectangular pan so they would be thinner.  Once your brownies are completely cooled, cut them into bite sized pieces.  If you want to make this no-bake, you could easily substitute store bought brownie bites.  Take your brownie bites and layer them in the bottom of a trifle dish.  I used about 3/4 of my batch and then "disposed" of the remaining pieces by wolfing them down while hiding from Jake.

The next layer is peanut butter heaven, and by that I mean peanut butter pudding.  That's right, I said PEANUT! BUTTER! PUDDING!  Take a big box of instant vanilla pudding mix, some milk, and some creamy peanut butter and mix it up until it is nice and thick.  Then spread that peanut buttery goodness in a layer right on top of those brownies.

Now you need a little crunch, so take half of a package of Nutter Butters and put them into a large zip-top bag.  Get out your rolling pin and roll right on over those Nutter Butters until they are broken up into chunks.  You don't want them all crumbs, you want some good sized pieces.  Sprinkle the Nutter Butter chunks on top of the pudding reserving a few spoonfuls of the tiny crumbs from the bottom of the bag for later.

Get a container of Cool-Whip (I used the light) and spread it on top of the Nutter Butters.  For those of you who are new to Cool Whip like I was up until a few years ago, you have to defrost the Cool Whip first.  Now you want a little more chocolate, obviously!  Get some mini chocolate chips, you could use regular but the minis just seemed right to me, and sprinkle them all over the top along with the reserved Nutter Butter Crumbs.

You have just made the perfect Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle.  Try to share, but if you eat it all yourself, I won't tell. 

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
  • 1 batch brownies, cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5.1 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 3/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 16 Nutter Butters
  • 1 container light Cool Whip
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Layer brownie bites in the bottom of a trifle dish.
  2. Make pudding by combining pudding mix, milk, and peanut butter with a hand mixer until smooth and thickened.  Spread pudding on top of brownie layer.
  3. Put Nutter Butters in a zip-top bag and roll over with a rolling pin to crush into chunks.  Sprinkle chunks over pudding reserving a few spoonfuls of crumbs for the topping.
  4. Spread defrosted Cool Whip over Nutter Butter Chunks.
  5. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips and reserved Nutter Butter crumbs all over the top.  Chill until ready to serve.

 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I Wore - Mad About Plaid

Plaid has been all over the place lately and I'm smitten with it.  When I saw this shirt at Old Navy during one of their sales I snapped it up.  A lot of times I don't like long sleeved shirts like this because they feel constrictive to me, but this one is super soft and comfortable.  The colors and pattern are great for fall but the red also gives it a holiday vibe.

When the weather is just starting to cool off I think layering is the way to go.  I had a white tank underneath and then added this cream scarf on top.   It added just the right amount of extra warmth when it was cloudy, but was easily removed when the sun came out.

Paired with these medium blue denim leggings and my favorite cognac boots, I was ready for fall.

Plaid Shirt - Old Navy
Denim Leggings - Loft 
Scarf - Target - old
Boots - Cathy Jean - old 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

See's Candies at Fashion Island and a Giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Since today is a day filled with delicious foods and being thankful, I thought it would be the perfect day to talk about chocolate.  I mean, I don't know about you, but I am thankful for chocolate!

Recently I was invited to a media event to check out the new See's Candies store at Fashion Island the day before it's grand opening.  If you can't tell, I L-O-V-E dessert so I was super excited to go.  To make it even more fun, I went with one of my very good friends and fellow bloggers, Amy.

Not only did I get to check out the new store, I got to sample to my hearts content, and did I ever.  If you have ever been to See's, then you know that you get a sample every time you go.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes when I'm running errands I decide I should pick up a Scotchmallow for Josh (those are his all time favorites and one of See's top 5 sellers).  Even though I tell myself it's for Josh, I'm the one who gets a yummy sample to eat right then so we both win.  This night I was welcome to enjoy unlimited samples...I was in heaven.  We also had a fun little head to head race where we packed our own 1/2 pound boxes.  We had two types to choose from but I filled mine with all Dark Butterchews.  If you haven't tried this one yet, I highly recommend it.  The Dark Butterchew is a chewy vanilla brown sugar caramel covered in dark chocolate and it is one of my absolute favorites.

I love dessert and I will happily eat the leftover Halloween candy in our house but there is no comparison between the preservative filled stuff in our Halloween bucket and the preservative free, aged chocolate heaven that you get at See's Candies.  See's make 100 delicious varieties of treats and sells over 1 billion pieces a year.  In addition to their standard fare, See's also has special seasonal candies and packaging.

I love the fall leaf on this packaging and don't even get me started on the seasonal pie truffles.  I'm not usually a fan of white chocolate, but the pecan pie truffle was OUT OF THIS WORLD!

See's makes it easy to celebrate any holiday.  Of course they have lots of great Christmas products, but they have Chanukah too!  Since we celebrate both holidays in our family, I love it when a store gives me one stop shopping like this!

While I was there the store manager brought this out for us to try and instructed us to eat it the way he handed it to us.

It was the See's Candies version of a peanut butter and jelly.  Seriously you guys, MIND BLOWN!

I'm not usually a fan of fruity chocolates so I never in a million years would have bought the Strawberry Cream but I am sooooo glad that he gave us this to try.  If you can't tell, it's paired with a peanut butter patty.  This combination was unbelievably good.  If I wasn't already super full I would have asked for another.

Now that I have you drooling over all of these delicious treats, See's and I have a little Thanksgiving treat for you.   Enter below for a chance to win a $25 gift card to See's Candies.  This can be used in any See's Candies store, the new Fashion Island location is great because it is located on the outside edge of the mall (near Macy's) so you can just run in and out.  You can also use the gift card online with FREE shipping, score!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was a guest of See's at this media event and received some See's products to take home.  The gift card for this giveaway was provided by See's.  All opinions are my own.