Thursday, September 13, 2012

PB Banana Breakfast Cookies

I'd fallen into a hopeless breakfast rut where I found myself throwing granola bars at my children or sliding an Eggo into the toaster. Surely there is more out there? I have a very structured morning that doesn't leave time for elaborate breakfasts...we're getting showered, dressed, making beds, eating and then out the door for school. It's down to the minute and I've been looking for some quicky breakfast alternatives that taste good, are healthier than a chocolate bar and that my kids will enjoy.

I stared at the brown splotchy banana-bread-perfect bananas sitting on my counter and got inspired. Enter stage right: Breakfast Cookies. Just the mere mention of the name peaked my sons' interest. I whipped up a batch the other night and the breakfast table is now a happy place when they get to eat a COOKIE!

These are super easy, all natural and a hit in our house. The flavor of the peanut butter and the banana pair so well together and the raisins and dates are an added chewy perk. I'm playing with another version that includes apples that I'll share next week once this batch is gone.

1 brown splotchy banana-bread-perfect banana
1/2 c. all  natural peanut butter
1/2 c. honey
1 T. vanilla
1 c. oats
1/2 c. flour (I used all purpose but you would have the same results with whole wheat flour)
1/4 c. powdered milk
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. baking soda
1 handful of raisins
1 handful of dates - these precise measurements are key :)

I put all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stirred by hand until everything was combined and looked like cookie dough.

Then, on a parchment lined cookie sheet, I plopped large globs of the cookie dough and placed them in the oven at 350 for 14 minutes. They don't spread much and will retain the shape you put them in on the cookie sheet.

Let them cool for a few minutes before removing from the sheet. Store in an airtight container. This batch made around 16 cookies.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Free Treats for kids from Barnes & Noble

I'm a sucker for freebies. I recently learned about the Barnes & Noble Kids' Club so I signed up after it promised free sweets. Who can pass up free sweets? Certainly not me! I filled out their online form, a nifty little club card arrived in the mail and now, I periodically get marvelous emails sending me coupons for significant savings, along with a free cupcake or cookie on each of my kids' birthdays!

My son turned 6 over the weekend, so today after school we stopped by the store with the coupon and card and he got to choose either a jumbo iced cupcake or giant cookie. Now I would have grabbed the decadent chocolate cupcake with fudge icing, but he chose vanilla with buttercream and I snuck a bite. It was delish! Barnes' and Noble uses The Cheesecake Factory as their bakery supplier, oh happy day!

If you want a fun freebie for your kids and some great coupons, sign up for the Kids' Club and BN.COM/kidsclub.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Hampshire Vacation

Hello Friends!

I've just returned from a fun filled family vacation to New Hampshire. We do a trip with my in-laws each year and this trip was action packed and adventure filled with an amusement park, moose hunts, hiking to waterfalls, horse back riding and blueberry picking, all-you-can-eat lobster and early morning fishing. I don't think we could've packed one more thing into the trip.

With two boys full of energy, all we had to do was mention an amusement park and they were climbing the walls with excitement. We could've spent all day on the log flume and water rides alone (I felt like I was 5 again, I enjoyed it so much!)

Maine and New Hampshire are known for their amazing blueberries and we were excited to find a farm where you could pick your own. We picked 10 pounds of the most beautiful sweet blueberries I've ever seen or tasted!

Out of this, I made a cobbler.

And a batch of muffins. Both were huge hits!

We went on a moose watch, but all we got out of that was about a dozen mosquito bites each. Maybe next year! Moose are one of my favorite animals and I'd love to see a bull moose in person. It's on my bucket list.

We also got up super early and went salmon and trout fishing. Loads of fun and this lovely picture is of me getting slapped in the face by the salmon I caught.

We also toured a submarine, which made me want to lose my mind as I do not do well in tight, closed in spaces.

We came back rested and full of great memories with a wonderful time spent together. I'll be sharing the cobbler and muffin recipes soon.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Why do we save pumpkin related foods for Thanksgiving and Christmas? Clearly, pumpkin deserves to be eaten year round. Seasonal or not, 99% of you are buying Libby's from the can and that's on the bottom shelf of Harris Teeter year round.

I've seen various versions of these muffins milling about online and since there was a can of sweet little Libby on my pantry shelf, I decided to create my very own.

The results were staggering...I fixed them for my church choir and folks ate them like it was their last meal on earth, only crumbs remained and one even touted they were in fact, to die for. Well, if this muffin is THAT good, of course I'm sharing it with you.

The good news in all of this is that these little beauties freeze like a dream, so bake 'em up, freeze 'em good and pull them out for breakfast, midday splurges, your church choir, a shower or anything in between.

CC's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 eggs
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
16 oz. pureed pumpkin
1 c. canola or vegetable oil
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 T. vanilla
1 1/2 - 3 c. miniature chocolate chips

Combine all of the ingredients in the above list together, saving the chocolate chips for last. Mix until well combined, using an electric mixer and stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Scoop into greased muffin pans, filling 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crack Pie

I didn’t name it, I simply modified this amazingness from the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. Curiosity got the best of me and I fixed the recipe and can no longer fit in my pants. Shameful, I know. One simple bite and the next thing you know, the whole pie is gone. (Don’t tell my husband). Thankfully this recipe makes TWO! So he was able to enjoy a small sliver.

It’s rich, tastes like a bar cookie of sorts and you can’t fathom why on earth anyone would purchase it online for $44. Until you take the next bite and realize the pie is vanishing before your eyes. This recipe will not cost you $44 and will give you endless satisfaction until the last crumb is licked from your plate, fork and pie pan.

You start by making the crust, which is basically a giant oatmeal cookie. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, brown sugar, egg and rolled oats.

Place the cookie dough in a 9x13 pan, spreading it out into a nice layer and bake it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow it to cool. Doesn't it look like a big cookie? Resist temptation to eat at this only gets better.

Work on your filling while the crust is cooling. Combine sugar, brown sugar, salt, milk powder, heavy cream (my pants don’t fit), vanilla and egg yolks – 8 of them. Did I mention my pants don’t fit? Whisk all of this together by hand or be smart and use an electric mixer.

Next, crumble your cooled down pie crust and (which once resembled a giant cookie) add in ¼ c. softened butter, 1.5 teaspoons of brown sugar and 1/8 t. salt.

Divide this conglomeration in half and mush into two pie pans, pressing down so it’s nice and firm. (This picture is pre-mushing...don't leave it in this crumbled state!)

Pour your filling into each of these pie crusts and bake at 375 for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 10-15 minutes more. You want your filling to only slightly jiggle in the center when you give it the jiggle test. (Picture is of pie right before it was placed in the oven).

Allow these to cool slightly before putting in the refrigerator (they freeze well too). Serve this pie cold, straight from the frig and garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Cheers to ill-fitting pants!

2/3 c. + 1 T. flour
1/8 t. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. softened butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
3 T. white sugar
1 egg
1 c. rolled oats

Combine, 9x13 pan 20 minutes at 375. Crumble.
Add in:
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 t. brown sugar
1/8 t. salt

Divide between two pie pans and press down.

1 1/2 c. white sugar
3/4 c + 3 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. + 1 t. milk powder (powdered milk, same thing)
1 c. melted butter
3/4 c. + 2 T. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla
8 egg yolks

Whisk and pour into two crusts. 375 degrees for 15 minutes, 325 degrees for another 10-15. Refrigerate and serve chilled with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Say Hello to Summertime!

Ok, let's face it, we're not ready for the long Memorial Day Weekend to draw to a close. The alarm clock was a painful reminder of our return to reality. I had a fun, family filled, delicious weekend and thought I'd share a bit of it with you.

First, some fun cupcakes I baked for my son's TK graduation. The umbrellas were a huge hit and a fun way to usher in the Summer!

Next, I am all about fresh-from-the-garden salads as part of dinner. Pluck it from the vine (or buy it from the farmer who just did) and it magically appears on your table as a Summer Salad masterpiece with a few slices, dices and your favorite dressing. Feast your eyes on fresh tomatoes, basil, roasted red pepper and mozzarella all marinated in Good Seasonings Italian Salad Dressing. I could have made a meal out of this dish alone.

And finally, corn on the cob that has you begging for more. This particular farmer all but gave us the entire stalk, so I had to do some trim action to get this under control.

My secret to success for corn on the cob is leaving it in the shuck. I peel back the layers, all while rinsing it under cool water to get off any dirt. I remove the cornsilk and slide the shuck back into place.

Whaa-laaah! Place these on the grill rack and grill for 20 or so minutes. The water from rinsing your corn acts as a steaming agent with the shuck and you have the delicious perfection of steamed/grilled corn that longs for a slathering of butter and salt.

Summertime - nothing quite like it!

Have a delicious day!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just saying hello!

Hello friends! I've missed blogging like crazy and it's not for lack of being in the kitchen. Life has been a whirlwind of days that have me juggling being a wife, mom, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, employee, caterer and friend. In between trying to find one flip-flop that matches the other, wondering where that missing sock is hiding, dashing to school, running errands and helping my best friend plan her dream wedding, I've been in the midst of a move. House hunting, negotiating, temporary housing, house hunting some more. I'm ready to click my heels 3 times and say there's no place like home. I've come to realize that some days you're just going to wear your underwear inside out and backwards, forget to put on deodorant and wear two mismatched shoes. It's on those days that your toddler squeezes Watermelon flavored toothpaste all over the bathroom, your 5 year old comes home with the mother of all stained shirts, a skinned knee and a list for school that has you buying t-shirts and cheese cubes all before 8am the next day and an awards ceremony at 10...but first you need to juice up the camcorder battery and clear your camera's memory card. What box are those in? So, in my adventure of life in general, the most innovative I've gotten in the kitchen is trying a new Quinoa (keen-wah) salad that was amazing...but my camera was packed in a box so I was unable to capture it. I've been leaning on memory preserved recipes since my cookbooks are packed away and in storage. The family has been eating pasta salad with chicken, homemade pizza, roasted chicken, marinated steak and veggie kabobs and lots of ice cream and strawberries with a Capri Sun or two. When I get settled, I promise to write more and include some recipes. Until then, I'm catering a 150 person graduation reception and pondering cake pops for a wedding. 400 of them to be exact. We'll chat more soon! CC

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strawberry Refrigerator Cake

I made this cake to accompany our Easter Lunch Extravaganza yesterday and it was a delicious hit, so of course I have to share it with you.

It's so easy! Take a strawberry cake mix and bake it according to the directions on the back of the box, using a 9x13 pan.

Once it's cooled, poke a zillion holes in it. I used the handle of a wooden spoon. A straw would work well too. You want the holes large enough for your strawberry puree.

Next, puree 2-3 cups of frozen or fresh strawberries and pour them into the zillion holes you just made in the cake.

Then, you'll make the crowning glory of an icing that reallllly makes this delicious. Cool whip and a small box of vanilla pudding.

Pour the powdery pudding into a bowl and add one cup of whole milk (not two cups - just one). Then whisk in a little over half of your container of Cool Whip (2-3 cups worth).

Spread it over the entire cake and refigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Slice and serve...enjoying the cool strawberry deliciousness that is the perfect Springtime dessert.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Baskets!

I went shopping for the contents of my husband and son's Easter Baskets and got carried away with picking out enough sugar to put them all in a diabetic coma. There is just something irrisistable about these:

I could eat the whole bag and not even blink. So after filling my cart with Reece's, Twix, Pop Rocks and M&M's...I added in a box of crackers to help level out the glucose. But who wants to just put a boring box of crackers in a basket and call it a party? Not me.

I had to doll it up a bit and purchased a box of Wilton Disposable Cake Decorating Bags. The crackers went into the bags, and I tied the tops with green ribbon to give it the look of a 'carrot'. How fun and Easter-y is that?! (gotta love Pinterest inspiration).

I just thought I'd share it in case you had time on your hands and had an overly sugary Easter Basket filling quandary.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Smores Bars

It was the final Bible Study of the season and everyone was asked to bring a brunch item to enjoy. I decided upon a layered fudge brownie / chocolate chip cookie amazingness. The problem: I made it the night before and the aroma was so enticing, my husband and I devoured it before I could take it to Bible Study the next day.

Smores Bars to the rescue! I've been eyeing these on Pinterest and put my own twist on them with dazzling results. How easy is it to make a batch of Rice Krispy Treats? Well, use the same concept and these are basically made. You take 1/4 cup of butter and a package of marshmallows and melt them just as you would the traditional recipe, only instead of Rice Krispies - you sub in the same amount (6 c.) of Golden Grahams. Ohhh yes!

Once you pat them into your 9x13 greased pan, sprinkle generously with miniature chocolate chips. They melt a bit since the marsmallowyness is still warm and then you slice them into amazing bars that people ooh and ahh over and wonder why they didn't think of it before.

Enjoy friends - super easy, silly good!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Smokies

My aunt is a rockstar caterer in Oklahoma and during a recent conversation, she let me in on one of her appetizer favorites: Bacon Wrapped Smokies. Bacon is the 'in' thing right now and basically you can put it on anything and it's good...but put this trio of ingredients together and you have appetizer heaven!

Smokies - the cute little smoked sausages you normally wrap up in crescent rolls to make Pigs in a Blanket with for your kids. Take them, wrap them in 1/3 of a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Easy! (Wrap your cookie sheet in foil or you'll kick yourself for days).

Next, after you have a cookie sheet of delicious pork wrapped pork, sprinkle each one with brown sugar. I used about 1/3 of a cup. Ooooooh boy is this good.

Now bake these little sensations for 18-ish minutes at 325 and give them a flip half way through so each side gets the brown sugary goodness to carmelize.

Eat. Eat. Eat!

So good - we won't talk about calories. Just eat them.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rice Krispy Cake

Hello Friends!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping host a baby shower for one of my dear friends. I was tasked with two things: deviled eggs (which I LOVE to make) and the cake (which I am SCARED to make). It had to be perfect and I was nervous that my cake would taste delicious, but look rather home spun and pathetic. I agonized, researched and contemplated what sort of cake to bake, and then settled on something completely non-traditional and extremely fun. A rice krispy cake!

I made four batches of rice krispy treats and put two batches in two different sized spring-form pans. The decorations were white chocolate dipped strawberries (with a twinge of food coloring to make them pink) and some pink and brown satin ribbon to tie in the theme of the invitation.

It received rave reviews and was a hit! Something fun to consider the next time you are perplexed with a creative cake dilemma.

Have a great afternoon!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ready for Valentines Day!

I am one of those people who simply adores Valentine's Day. I love putting valentines together for my children's classmates and teachers. I love going out to dinner with my husband, giving special treats to my's just a fun day where you want to wear red and eat 5 pounds of chocolate. Forget the cliche of a Hallmark Holiday - I enjoy it to the fullest!

Today I'm giving you a sneak peak at what my sons' valentines will look like for their friends and teachers (if you are one of their teachers, please postpone reading this post until 9:05am on February 14, lest you spoil a suprise coming your way).

Scouring Pinterest, I found a super cute activity where you make your own crayons. We happened to have an abundance of crayons that were broken or neglected and so this project was perfect! My two boys sat around the table with me, helping peel the wrappers off of crayons. I then chopped the crayons to chunks and baked them in a silicone heart mold (you can get these at most craft stores). Baking them at 230 degrees for 15 minutes, and then letting them cool on the counter for another 15ish minutes, the wax formed into these colorful crayons!

So here is the finished product, adding a card with a fun saying (attached with a glue dot).

And I have these fun party bags that were begging for a package of gummies to be added to each.

Put it all together and that is one Valentine I would love to receive!

Now for the teachers...I'm wishing some of them a "Sparkling" Valentines day with sparkling grape juice...amazing what some cellophane and fabric ribbon can do to dress it all up!

For others, I'm wishing them a "Sweet" Valentines Day with a chocolate bar and bottle of lotion. What's not to love?

Planning ahead on these little projects is helping me be stress free the night before when I'll no doubt be baking a zillion cookies or cupcakes.

I hope this helps spark some fun ideas as you plan your own! I'd love to hear what you've come up with!