Sweet Treats

Recipe—Chocolate Crackle Cookies

A long time ago in a land far far away, I posted a recipe for Lemon Crackle Cookies. (Okay, it wasn’t that long ago nor that far away.) They were awesome! Perhaps the name Chocolate Crack Cookies would be more appropriate for this recipe since you will not be able to stop eating them! Since the base for my crackle cookies is a box of cake mix they are perfectly fluffy, super moist, ultra fudgy, and easier to make than any cookie should be. This recipe is very straightforward and easy. Anyone can make them. Really. I promise! While they may look complicated all you are doing is rolling the dough into balls, coating them generously with powdered sugar, and then baking them. They do all the fancy crackling while baking. Give them a try. Everyone you share with will be very pleased you did.

INGREDIENTS

2 (18.25 oz) boxes Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • In a large bowl mix together dry cake mix, eggs, and oil.
  • Put the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or plate.
  • Form small balls with the dough and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Be sure the cookies have a really thick coating of the sugar if you want them to have that crackle look.
  • Place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7–9 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cutting board or cooling rack.
Brunch

Recipe—Blueberry French Toast Casserole

I run a household that always seems to be full of friends and family who come to visit on the weekends. I absolutely love entertaining and cooking delicious meals for my visitors. What I don’t love is when I’m in the kitchen for hours on end. It means I am missing out on valuable time with them. This is a breakfast dish that is perfect for when you are entertaining, or heck, even if you just want an easy breakfast in the morning for the family. You prepare this in advance before your company even arrives, and then just pull it out and pop it in the oven in the morning. And by make it in advance is that you literally take the ingredients, plop them in a dish (in an orderly fashion of course) and refrigerate. How much more easy could it get? Easy to prep and easy to bake. That is my kind of breakfast!

INGREDIENTS
12 slices French toast bread, cut into 1” cubes
16 oz (2-8 oz blocks) cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 c blueberries
12 eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c syrup
1 tsp vanilla

STEPS

  • Grease a 9” x 13” baking dish.
  • Spread half of the bread cubes into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle about three quarters of the cream cheese cubes over the bread.
  • Sprinkle about three quarters of the blueberries into the dish.
  • Top with remaining bread, cream cheese, and blueberries.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, syrup, and vanilla.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the entire dish.
  • Using your fingers or the back of a spatula gently press all of the bread pieces down into the egg mixture.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake remove the dish from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Keep the dish covered in foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is s nice golden brown and the egg mixture is set, about an additional 20–30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Cut and serve.
Sweet Treats

Recipes—Craisin White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

The first time I made these cookies was actually around the holidays. They turned out delicious! So good that I even included them in my annual holiday goodie boxes. While cranberries and white chocolate are perfect for the holiday season, I think they are equally perfect for any time of year. Cranberry and white chocolate is such an awesome flavor combo, why only enjoy during the winter months? Pudding cookies are great because they turn out super moist and are some of the softest cookies you will ever have! The pudding really helps to hold them all together so you end up with perfect little mounds of deliciousness!

INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
3.4 oz vanilla instant pudding mix (dry, do not prepare)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c craisins
3/4 c white chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the butter and sugars.
  • Add in dry pudding mix and beat until well blended.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  • Slowly incorporate flour mixture until well combined.
  • Mix in craisins and white chocolate chips.
  • Roll the cookie dough into 1² balls and place on a greased baking sheet.
  • Bake cookies for 8­12 minutes or until just turning golden on the edges.

Recipe adapted from Chef in Training. 

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Truffles

This recipe is definitely an oldie and a goodie. The first time I made these was over 20 years ago when I was a Brownie. We made little boxes of these for our moms for Mother’s Day. (My mom was our troop leader so this is actually her recipe.) These are great for any occasion as individual truffles but you can also have fun with various shapes. Occasionally on Easter, my mom would make us homemade peanut butter eggs. I actually did that this Easter for my son’s teachers.

These are super easy to make and they blow Reese’s out of the water! Come on, you know anything with peanut butter and chocolate is going to be delicious. It is a fun and easy recipe to make, so get the kids involved. What kid doesn’t like to get in the kitchen and use their hands? I hope you and your family love these as much as mine.

Note: Finished truffles should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. My hubby thinks they are best when frozen.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp butter, softened and divided
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 lb powdered sugar
24 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips

STEPS


  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of the butter, corn syrup, vanilla, and whipping cream until well incorporated.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the bowl, and using your hands mix until everything is completely incorporated.
  • Pinch off bite size pieces and roll into balls. As you finish the balls place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once the balls are frozen, in a medium microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tbsp of water.
  • Microwave the chocolate for 1 minute.
  • Remove the chocolate from the microwave and beat with a fork. If there are still chunks, continue microwaving and stirring in 30 second increments.
  • Once your chocolate is smooth allow it to sit on the counter for a minute.
  • Dip each frozen ball into the melted chocolate and turn until evenly coated and place back on the wax paper covered baking sheet. (I find using a fork works great to remove the balls from the melted wafers so that the extra chocolate can drip off between the prongs.)
  • Once you have finished dipping all the balls place the baking sheet back in the freezer so that the chocolate can set.
  • Enjoy!

Snacks

Recipe—Valentine’s Day Snack Mix

If you are on Pinterest then you have probably seen one form or another of “Puppy Chow” snack mixes. (Basically a super sweet treat made from chocolate covered Chex cereal and tossed with other tasty goods.) These snack mixes are popping up everywhere! I saw one the other day for Valentine’s Day that looked super cute. I liked the idea of doing something like this for my son and all his little classmates at school but thought his teacher’s may not appreciate it if I get a classroom full of 2 and 3 year olds all hopped up on sugar. I decided to create this lower sugar version snack mix that is great for people of all ages. Have fun mixing any and all of your favorite bite size snacks!

Note: This recipe makes enough to fill 24–26 snack size Ziploc bags or 1 large bowl.

Here are my final goodie bags. I made some cute tags that I folded in half and stapled over the top.

INGREDIENTS
15.5 oz box Strawberry Frosted Mini Wheats
10 oz box Honey Teddy Grahams
2 c yogurt covered raisins
2 c raspberry yogurt covered pretzels
1 1/2 c dried cranberries
1.25 oz yo’ drops crunchable yogurt

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients and one large bowl and use a large serving spoon or scoop to mix together gently.
  • Divide mix into snack size bags or serve in one large bowl.
  • Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Side Dishes

Recipe—Savory Herb Bread Pudding

A couple months back my family and I went to Disneyland for a few days. During our stay at the Hilton we ended up ordering room service for dinner because we were just too pooped from all the fun to actually go out. One of those nights I ordered roasted chicken, which came with a savory bread pudding. The bread pudding was phenomenal! So phenomenal, that I ordered the same dish a second time during our visit. Yes, it was that good! The bread pudding was flavor packed and went perfectly with the chicken. This last weekend I tried to replicate the recipe to go with my roasted turkey because I didn’t want to do the same old stuffing I had just had a couple of weeks prior at Thanksgiving. I think it turned out fantastic! One thing I love about this recipe is that it is super easy, can be made in advance, and goes with any type of meat! This Christmas I will be making this bread pudding along with my prime rib. Whether you are cooking a ham, turkey, or a fine cut of beef at Christmas this will be the perfect side dish that will have everyone talking. It is a perfect substitute for those plain dinner rolls or even mashed potatoes.

Note: The bread pudding can be assembled up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Remove baking dish from fridge at least one hour before baking and bring to room temperature. If you have a smaller group of people this recipe is easy to halve. Just use an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.

INGREDIENTS
2 large sourdough rounds, cut into 1” cubes
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/3 c chives, chopped
8 eggs
2 c chicken broth
2 c heavy cream

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a large bowl combine the bread, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • In a small skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the garlic cooking until tender. Do not burn the garlic!
  • Add the chives to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the bread and toss to coat.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, broth, and heavy cream.
  • Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and stir until evenly coated.
  • Transfer the bread mixture to a greased 9” x 13” baking dish.
  • Gently press the soaked bread into the pan.
  • Bake for 50–60 minutes or until center is set.
  • Tent dish with foil until ready to serve.
  • Slice into squares and enjoy!
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

Awhile back I posted a recipe for lemon crackle cookies. It was a cookie recipe that is primarily made from a box of cake mix. I love the concept of taking cake batter and sprucing it up with a few extra ingredients to make one heck of a fabulous cookie These types of cookies always come out really light and super moist and best of all they are quick and easy to make. Well ‘tis the season for complete chaos and busy schedules so what better time to share a recipe for super quick and scrumptious confetti cake batter cookies. I used red and green sprinkles to make them festive for Christmas but keep this recipe in mind throughout the year. Just change the sprinkle color for the appropriate holiday. Perhaps pink and red for Valentine’s Day?

INGREDIENTS
1-18.25 oz box of white cake mix
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2–3/4 c sprinkles

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large bowl mix together the dry cake mix and baking powder.
  • Whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla.
  • Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  • Fold in the sprinkles but be sure not to over mix or the dye will stain the batter.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it.
  • Drop 1” balls of dough onto the baking sheet leaving approximately 2” apart.
  • Bakes cookies for 9–10 minutes making sure they don’t brown.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for about 3 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a cutting board or cooling rack.