Traditions

cookie time 3We have a tradition in our house. Close to Christmas, I bake a batch of sugar cookies and my girls decorate them. We’ve been doing this for the past few years and it’s just me and the three of them. They asked this year if daddy was going to help and I told them “It’s a girl thing”. And I’ll admit, it can be trying at times during the process because I happen to be a bit neurotic when it comes to my kitchen, i.e. I don’t like messes. But luckily, they’re pretty good about keeping it fairly clean. Plus, they like being able to do it on their own and it’s something they look forward to. And, they get to eat the fruits of their labor. So it’s a win/win for them.

I always let each kid pick out what cookie cutter they want and this year they chose a Christmas tree, a snowman and a gingerbread man. And although they really like decorating the cookies, I think their favorite part is actually when I roll out the dough, and they get to cut out the cookies.

cookie timecookie time 2cookie time 4I think they turned out pretty cute. And they taste really good too!

If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect sugar cookie recipe, click here. I’ve tried a few different ones and this one is a definite keeper. I haven’t altered or changed a thing about it. I follow it to a T and they turn out perfect every time!

Skillet Cinnamon Apple Cobbler

cobbler 10I told you I’d be cooking up a cobbler with those cinnamon apples! And lucky for you, it’s just in time for Thanksgiving. There’s always the traditional pumpkin, pecan and apple pie but this dessert would be a great detour from your standard Thanksgiving sweets. And it’s cooked and served out of a cast iron skillet. Rustic perfection!

So I altered my standby cobbler recipe that was given to me many years ago and turned it into THIS. I’ll explain to you how much I enjoyed eating this. Typical night in my house goes like this. After the kids are in bed, my hubs and I cuddle on the couch, watching TV and eating dessert. Together, alone, nice and quiet, no interruptions. Well, of course, I happened to let the dog out before I sat on the couch and just as I’m digging in and going “yum”, she’s scratching at the door to be let in. Hubs says he’ll get up and let her in. I pause the DVR, he lets her in, and goes upstairs to close her crate. By the time he gets back, I have ONE bite left. And not only was there cobbler in my bowl, but I also had a scoop of vanilla ice cream and milk poured all over it. Yes, I’m a glutton. But the plan had been to eat dessert while watching TV. That really didn’t happen but I’m happily blaming that on this delicious cobbler, and not the fact that I’m a sweet tooth pig. But seriously, it’s good. And don’t save it just for holidays because although it will make everyone ooh and ahh on Thanksgiving (it’s pretty in that skillet!), you’ll get that reaction any day of the year. YUM.

P.S. I reduced the cooking time on the apples since they’ll cook in the oven, omitted the alcohol and held off on adding the nuts until the cobbler was assembled. Aside from that, the apples are the same 🙂

Skillet Cinnamon Apple Cobbler (uses a 12″ cast iron skillet)

  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thin slices (any variety apple will do)
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used almonds, but pecans are screaming at me to use them next time)
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. Bisquik (I used the Heart Smart)
  • 3/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 12″ cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp. butter and let melt. Add in apples and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir. Remove apples into a bowl and set aside.

Add in the remaining 4 tbsp. butter. Reduce heat to low and let melt. Once melted, turn heat off and add in the sugar, milk and Bisquik. Stir together until combined, but leave slightly lumpy. Evenly spoon the apples from the bowl over the batter. Sprinkle with the nuts and then sprinkle with a little bit more cinnamon. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven, making sure to use a pot holder or something on the handle since it will be HOT. Let cool and serve with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream.

cobbler 8cobbler 7cobbler 6cobbler 5cobbler 4cobbler 3cobbler 2cobblerWasn’t that easy? And your first bite will make you think….. apple pie alternative. cobbler 9

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

choco cookies 4As I’ve told you in the past, my baking skills are ehhhh….. Take for example the cake disaster of 2011. It was one of my daughter’s birthdays and I wanted her to have a beautiful cake with homemade fondant for her party. The previous year I’d made this delicious chocolate cake that my BFF had given me the recipe for and it turned out great. So I figured I’d make the same cake again and do some different decorations. Well, I followed the directions to a T. And it didn’t turn out right. It got stuck in the pan badly and just didn’t look right. I had to toss it. I persevered and made another one. Guess what? That one didn’t turn out right either! At this point, I was pissed which resulted in a lot of yelling/crying, my frustrations being taken out on a cake pan that I slammed repeatedly into the trashcan trying to get the cake out of it and my husband telling me to just go buy a cake. He’s always the voice of reason when I reach THAT point. And I was probably at like an 11, on a scale of 1-10! I didn’t listen to him though and I went ahead and made ANOTHER cake, but used an old standby and it turned out fine. Anyways, it’s incidents like that (and that wasn’t an isolated one!) that make me leery of baking.

BBBBUUUUTTTT, I’m getting better and taking on much smaller baking projects. Like, cookies! My hubs is usually the cookie baker in our house but (and I love him dearly!) his cookies are never consistent! They always taste good but they look different every time. So I’ve taken over the cookie duties lately and here’s the result of one of my baking experiments.

Although it’s a double chocolate cookie, it’s not overly sweet (which I’m not a fan of!) but has just enough choco goodness. And this is a great cookie base so if you want to switch out the chocolate chips for something else, that would work too. I’ve got some white chocolate chips in the pantry that are calling my name!

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies (makes 3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 2/3 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, or a large bowl using a hand mixer, add in the butter and sugar. Beat for several minutes until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix together. Scrapes the sides in between mixings. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and whisk together. Add half of this to the mixer and mix until combined. Then add in the rest of the dry ingredients. Add in the chocolate chips and mix once more just until combined. Using a cookie scooper, scoop the dough and place onto baking sheets. I usually do 12 cookies on 3 baking sheets. Place in the oven and bake for 8-9 minutes. The cookies will puff slightly. Remove from oven and let sit for about 3 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. The cookies will flatten as they cool. Once completely cooled, place in an airtight container or a large Ziploc bag.

choco cookieschocolate cookies 2choco cookies 3Enjoy my fellow chocolate lovers!

Easy Cinnamon Apples

cinnapp 5Fall is here. But where I live, it really hasn’t felt like fall at all. Part of my weekend included wearing a tank top and shorts, wishing for a cool breeze as I sat watching my daughter’s softball game. It was downright hot in the sun! But a gloomy morning came to be the following day and desperately craving fall comfort food, I decided to whip up these apples. Hopefully to speed along the fall weather as well. Although it’s just wishful thinking, since the weather forecast shows 90’s midweek. This just doesn’t seem right for late October. But these apples tricked me a little into feeling like fall was in the air.

Easy Cinnamon Apples

  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thin slices (any variety apple will do)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used almonds)
  • 2 tbsp. whiskey, optional (I used Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey)*

Heat a pan over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add in apples and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. *Now here’s the optional part if you choose to do so. Remove the pan from the heat. Like away from the stove. Pour in the whiskey. Place pan back on heat. It will most likely flame up so stand back and BE CAREFUL. If it doesn’t flame up, slightly tip the pan towards the flame and it will then catch and flame up. The flames will die off very quickly.  But please make sure you NEVER EVER pour hard alcohol straight from the bottle into a pan that is sitting on the heat. You can very easily catch the entire bottle AND yourself on fire. If you don’t want to use the alcohol or are afraid of setting yourself on fire, just skip this entire step.

Then at this point, add in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir. Then add in the nuts and stir to combine.

This recipe makes a smaller serving so if you’re wanting extra, you can easily double it.

cinnappcinnapp 2cinnapp 3cinnapp 4Now you have these delicious, incredibly simple cinnamon apples to do with what you will! I used them on top of a shortcake to make my very own Cinnamon Apple Shortcake. But a few other suggestions to put these apples up on top of:

  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Pork chops

They’d also be great used in an apple crisp. But I will definitely be trying them in a Cinnamon Apple Cobbler. Look for that upcoming blog post soon!

Cinnamon Zucchini Cakies

zucchini cakies 6Dare I call these breakfast cakies? Well, they remind me of zucchini bread. Scrumptious bite sized morsels of zucchini bread. Which is very appropriate to eat at breakfast time. I know one thing for sure. I ate these for breakfast and I also ate them for dessert. So I guess they’re versatile cakies.

I’ve been doing some baking experimenting and I’ll tell you this. It for once, hasn’t ended in disaster. Which is amazing considering my track record. I’m not saying I’m going to open up a bake shop or anything but still, it’s a small victory for me! And these cakies were one of my experiments that ended with a full tummy. Because I stuffed my face when these things cooled off.

Breakfast? Dessert? A snack when your kids aren’t looking? It doesn’t really matter because these things are purty darn good ANY time of day! And they can’t be too bad for you, right? I mean, they have vegetables in them! So have at it!!

P.S. They’re delicious with a cup of coffee.

Cinnamon Zucchini Cakies (makes approximately 3 dozen)

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 c. shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar + 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon, mixed together

Preheat your oven to 350. In a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and mix until fully combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together. Then add the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing just until combined. Add in the shredded zucchini and mix again until combined. Using a cookie scooper, scoop the dough and place the cakie dough balls onto a baking sheet. (If you have old baking sheets like I used to, I’d recommend spraying them with cooking spray. But if you’ve got nice new ones, leave them ungreased.) Using a spoon, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of each cakie. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until the underside of the cakie turns slightly golden. These cakies do not get golden on top.  Leave on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. When cakies are completely cooled, place in an airtight container.

So after these had all cooled off, my youngest daughter got the first taste since the other girls were at school. She liked them so much that she told my other kids this when they got home. “Mommy made something with disgusting green stuff in it but they’re really good!” She has a way with words, that little girl of mine.

 

zucchini cakieszucchini cakies 2zucchini cakies 3zucchini cakies 4zucchini cakies 5

Soft Chocolate Chip Cakies

cc cakies 11What are cakies you ask? Something like a small cake like cookie. Hence, cakies. Well, I don’t know about you but I have a preference when it comes to cookies. I like them soft and chewy. I’m not a crispy cookie eater, AT ALL. And although I love chocolate chip cookies, I do not love baking them. I basically have a love/hate relationship with baking. I love sweets. I hate baking. Yes, you’re reading my food blog. I know…. But in case you haven’t noticed, dinner is my forte. Despite my past baking disasters, I still chug along and continue to bake every so often. Usually, with it ending in frustration. However, after making these chocolate chip cakie creations, I finally achieved sweet success. Literally!

Here’s my problem with my typical cookie baking. My cookies are never uniformly the same size. Even though I use a cookie scooper and they’re the same size when they go into the oven, they aren’t the same size as each other when they come out of the oven. They spread too much. They get crisp after cooling. And the list could go on. So you can see what I was aiming for in creating the cakies. None of that nonsense basically!

These cakies are chewy, soft, spread very little, are uniformly the same size and lastly…. yummy. And although they are a little taller than your average cookie, they TASTE just like a cookie.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cakies (makes approximately 3 dozen cakies)

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 10 ounce bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (only use 3/4 of the bag)

Preheat your oven to 350. In a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and mix until fully combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together. Then add the baking powder and salt. Mix. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scooper, scoop the dough and place the cakie dough balls onto a baking sheet. (I used 3 baking sheets and I sprayed them with cooking spray. Except the one with the Sil Pat on it.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until the underside of the cakie turns slightly golden. These cakies do not get golden on top. Only the bottom please! Leave on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. When cakies are completely cooled, place in an airtight container.

cc cakies 10cc cakies 9cc cakies 8cc cakies 7cc cakies 6cc cakies 5cc cakies 3cc cakies 4cc cakiesThese cakies will stay soft for days! If they last that long….

P.S. They’re delicious with a glass of milk or as they’re eaten in our house, IN a glass of milk.

Mixed Berry Popsicles

berry popsicle 6It’s summertime!!!! This means hot days, longer evenings, lots of pool time and hungry kids. During summer, my kids are constantly wanting to eat. And especially when we go spend time at the pool, they are so hungry. I guess all that swimming builds up an appetite. So I made these popsicles for them to have as a nice treat for when we get home from the pool.

The verdict on these treats? My kids love them! And I will never buy popsicles from the store ever again. They are just too easy to make at home. And the combinations are endless. This is only my second popsicle making attempt, with my first attempt being an epic fail. (The stick came out! So popsicles they were no longer.) But I know I will attempt many more popsicle concoctions this summer.

Mixed Berry Popsicles (makes approximately 4 popsicles, depending on the size of your mold)

  • 1 cup mixed berry 100% fruit juice
  • 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt
  • handful of blueberries

Add juice and yogurt to a measuring cup. Whisk until yogurt is completely blended into the juice. Add a few blueberries to each mold and then pour the yogurt/juice to the fill line. Snap the popsicle sticks/tops into the molds and place in your freezer. I make these in the morning and by mid afternoon, they are totally frozen. When ready to eat, run the molds under lukewarm water for approximately 1 minute to loosen. Then pull out of the mold and eat!

berry popsicle 3berry popsicle 2berry popsicle 4berry popsicle 5berry popsicleBy the way, these popsicles are super healthy. But, shhhh….. don’t let the kids in on that little secret.