cooking & recipes

St Pattys Day Project #2: Spring Cookies To Share

speaking of cookies... on 365 Project

After lunch the kids and I made sugar cookies with light green frosting and some pretty, Spring colored sprinkles. Okay, if we’re going to be honest, this wasn’t my shining moment in Baking With the Kids, but they did come out pretty and MM did help with some pouring, frosting and sprinkling in between me yelling at him to get out of my kitchen… Oh well, I tried.

This was one of those projects where I improvised from beginning to end. I’d been hoping to find some kind of “kit” in the store that was all St Patrick’s Day Spiffy without being cut and cook cookies loaded with MSG. I ended up buying sugar cookie mix, frosting and green food coloring (that are probably loaded with MSG, but at least I had to mix my ingredients). Then I thought the sprinkles would look like pretty spring flowers. They are probably more Easter appropriate than Saint Patrick’s Day, but still a fun Spring project and delicious.

Not wanting to have too many sweets in the house, we decided to plate up four cookies and bring them across the hall to some neighbors that we’ve never taken the time to really get to know. I can still remember when our other neighbors did that around Christmas and it was such a clever way to say hello and truly started a great friendship. I decided to take a page from her book and be That Awesome Neighbor. Remind me to do the same thing when we move because it’s such a good idea and I actually know more about our neighbor now from ten minutes chatting than from two years living across the hall from each other! Another reminder to reach out more and say hello to the people you see every day!

Hope you guys are having a fantastic Saint Patrick’s Day! And if you want to steal my “Hello Neighbors” cookie idea – well, DO it! Then come tell me how it went! Let’s start a Cookies to Share revolution!

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t13: Thirteen Sweet Recipes I’m Coveting

Between being hugely pregnant and prone to craving sweet treats and having access to Food Network again for the first time in like two years, my sweet tooth coveting tendencies have been kicked into overdrive lately. Here are thirteen desserts and assorted sweet treats that I have a hankering to make right now and the people responsible.

  1. Wanted: Chocolate Ricotta PiePerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – The first thing that struck me about this recipe was, “holy cow I want a food processor.” Watching her make it had me drooling for her appliances just as much as the dessert, which I mean – what’s not to love about chocolate pie?
  2. Wanted: Key Lime PiePerson to Blame: The Pioneer Woman – I’m not sure if she knows this but right now lemons and limes are like my favorite thing in the world, which is weird because before pregnancy they were kind of a take it or leave it thing with me. I’m guessing this little baby of mine is a citrus fiend, and I’m anxious to make something along these lines soon.
  3. Wanted: Hazelnut & Chocolate Pie w/ Vanilla Whipped CreamPerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – This just looks decadent – she compared it to flourless chocolate cake which is one of my other new favorite things and um yeah, me wants it.
  4. Wanted: Lemon BarsPerson To Blame: Bakerella – Again with the lemon and me obsessively craving it – these bars look absolutely delicious and her pictures weren’t helping matters (see left). She even cooked these with her kids which had me feeling all, “I should be a super mommy and cook with my son, too,” but the truth is I just really want to eat a lemon bar.
  5. Wanted: Earl Grey Shortbread CookiesPerson To Blame: Claire Robinson – Claire hosts a show on Food Network called 5 Ingredient Fix – I love the idea of the show and her food looks really good. Some of her recipes I think I’d add a couple more things to and spice them up but I like the idea of keeping it simple and letting a few stellar ingredients really stand out and shine in a recipe. And I like cookies.
  6. Wanted: Biscotti Gelato Sandwiches and EspressoPerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – I’m not the biggest fan of biscotti but I love ice cream cookies and espresso and I’m supremely tempted to give this “recipe” a try – Giada certainly made it look delicious, but then she does that, doesn’t she?
  7. Wanted: Chocolate Peanut Butter PiePerson To Blame: The Pioneer Woman – I love chocolate peanut butter pie but I’ve only had it a couple times and I’ve been on the hunt for a good recipe for it – this looks like the recipe – it’s perfect and I plan to make this in the near future or at least by Thanksgiving.
  8. Wanted: French Toast with Strawberries and CreamPerson To Blame: Claire Robinson – Another thing I recently discovered that I like is French Toast. I know – these are things normal people learn at like infancy or something – but I swear I never liked it until a couple weekends ago when Dan made some and I suddenly wanted them, too. And they were delicious. Claire’s recipe is of course super easy and the strawberries on top are genius. I’ve actually made this one already and will definitely make it again.
  9. Wanted: Limoncello Cheesecake Squares – Person To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – As soon as I pop this baby out and I’m either not nursing or can take a couple hours off from nursing, I want to try some Limoncello (a lemon liquor) or some equivalent thereof. And I want to make these cheesecake squares for sure – they look delicious and you might have noticed that I’m infatuated with all things lemon, so yeah. This one needs to be made for sure.
  10. Wanted: Cream Puffs With Lemon Mousse and Blueberry SaucePerson To Blame: Martha Stewart – I’m not sure how Martha Stewart ended up on my list – I don’t watch her show, at least not normally – but this looks fantastic and I definitely want to try it sometime.
  11. Wanted: Strawberry Peach DipPerson To Blame: My Wooden Spoon – Honestly it was the picture (see left) that made me start craving this recipe. It sounds (and looks) perfect for the summer – what could be better than a tray full of fresh fruits and a delicious dip to eat with them? I’m thinking nothing unless I can have that and the other twelve desserts on this list also. That might be better. Also – can I have her serving dishes because they are adorable (speaking of coveting).
  12. Wanted: Individual Orange and Chocolate CheesecakesPerson To Blame: Giada De Laurentiis – These look so cute and I love the idea of making individual servings – with such a small family somehow this feels like less of a waste of baking because they are so grab and go and I bet you could freeze half of them or something. Or just eat like five at a time.
  13. Wanted: White Chocolate MoussePerson To Blame: Claire Robinson – This sounds so easy to make and delicious. I’d love to make this when my mother-in-law comes to visit as she’s allergic to chocolate and the blackberries to go with it? Heavenly.

Check out the new home of Thursday 13 for more Thursday 13 participants!

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Six Dishes I Wouldn’t Kick Off My Breakfast Table

Today’s Small Talk Six topic is “6 breakfast foods that you love or hate.” You can answer this with a list of 6 words, 6 phrases, 6 sentences, 6 paragraphs, 6 photos, 6 videos, etc . . .

  1. Pancakes – I grew up on Bisquick pancakes and love them dearly, but we just tried this simple recipe from scratch and yeah, they might be better. Dan will tell you they are a ton better. I love pancakes – so versatile, you can put blueberries, chocolate chips, whatever in the batter, top with fruits or syrup, etc. No two pancake dishes need be alike.
  2. Waffles – I know, I’m copping out right off the bat by separating pancakes and waffles, but I’m a bit worried I’m going to run out of steam shortly after this, so I’m covering all my bases. We especially love making waffles with our new Calphalon waffle maker – makes the whole waffle making process a breeze. For the most part, I like my waffles plain – no mix ins, but I do love topping them with fresh fruit, especially if it’s a whole wheat waffle, which I don’t like as much as the regular less healthy stuff.
  3. Southern Biscuits and Gravy – It doesn’t get much better than this for me and I don’t get to eat it often. There is a small little breakfast place near the college I went to that makes the world’s greatest southern biscuits and gravy, at least the best I’ve tried. And I am picky – I’ve had a lot of people’s lame attempts at this dish and it’s not always pretty. But a good southern biscuit and gravy breakfast will have me on cloud nine. Dan has made it for me at home a few times and has pretty much mastered the recipe, but it’s a bit of work, so we don’t do it often.
  4. Corn Bread – I’m even pickier about my corn bread than I am southern biscuits and gravy. Go figure, that breakfast place I mentioned in #3 makes a killer corn bread, too (there isn’t anything there that I’ve tried that wasn’t amazing though). I don’t like it too dry or too crumbly. It should be moist and sweet and hold up at least fairly well. “Bad” corn bread (i.e. not moist and sweet) is pretty much disgusting so it’s a bit of a crap shoot.
  5. Cinnamon Rolls – Pillsbury pretty much has the market on cinnamon rolls and I don’t deviate with that much – it’s good, it’s easy, it’s so horrible on my diet – but it’s always worth it.
  6. Muffins – I think blueberry is probably my favorite, but I like most basic muffins. I like baking them myself especially so that I get a normal serving size muffin and not some gigantic 1,000 calorie muffin. I don’t like that hardened sugar stuff on my muffins and none of that bran junk. I do love chocolate chip muffins and apple streusel muffins, etc. but for the most part I like to stick to blueberry.

Serve me any of these dishes with a bowl of fresh fruit and some delicious breakfast sausage or bacon and I am one happy woman. Thankfully for my diet, I rarely eat any of these things, although with Dan home from work, we have had pancakes and waffles a bit more often than normal. Such sacrifices… ::sigh::

What are your favorite breakfast foods?

cooking & recipes memes & carnivals

Aloha Friday: Best Birthday Cakes

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Last weekend was part one of MM’s 3rd birthday celebration. We had all his friends (and ours) over for cake, ice cream, a couple presents and your basic good time – basically it was game night with cake and ice cream – actually that’s exactly what it was. Anyhow, the birthday cake. I’ve had the pleasure of making a handful of birthday cakes for the little man and a couple for my husband – I can bake a cake and it always tastes good – but the decorating, oh the decorating. Inevitably it always has that, “Look ma, I made it myself!” look written all over it. My cake handwriting skills are pathetic at best (really need to work on spacing) and sometimes you go for an idea and it sounds easy but it comes out nothing like how you envisioned it. I’m no pro, basically, and it shows.

But I had high hopes for this year’s cake. The theme was Madagascar and I had the genius idea to go to Target, The Dollar Store, something and pick up some of those tiny little jungle animals – you know the ones the size of GI Joes that are sold in little 20 packs for like a dollar or two? Cheap and easy – and then I don’t have to try drawing jungle animals, which would end badly – and they could be kept as toys for MM afterwards. I decided I’d simply arrange a lion, zebra, giraffe and hippo (assuming I could find all four) on a cake that I’d frost green. I also really wanted to maybe have some separate blue frosting to make a body of water. It sounded easy until the day of the party when I found I had only red food dye. Seriously. Also – I’d have to use plain white frosting to get the colored effect and I’m such a frosting snob. I went back in forth in my head and the pantry after discovering this dilemma – chocolate cake with white frosting? White cake with chocolate frosting? White on white? Chocolate on chocolate?

Along this time I also started to remember my frosting dilemmas. It seems like no matter my best efforts whenever I frost a chocolate cake with white frosting the cake crumbs mix with the frosting giving it an ugly sort of Oreo effect. Which is cool if you’re going for that, but annoying if you aren’t. And okay – I’m just going to say it – in my humble opinion non-chocolate cakes are basically fake cakes. And since the party the following week (now tomorrow) with my family would NEED a yellow cake as both his grandmothers are ironically allergic to chocolate – I didn’t want to gip the poor boy out of chocolate cake altogether. And then it hits me – chocolate frosting looks like… mud. And it’s the same exact color as the cake. So what if crumbs mix in? Who would be able to tell? I put the theory to the test and it’s true – no matter how many times the cake broke apart a bit as I frosted, when I was done nobody would be able to tell.

But what about my Madagascar theme? I dug around my cupboards some more looking for colored sprinkles – hoping I’d find some green – and I did – green colored sugar sprinkles – and not just that, dudes, I found blue, too. Destiny aligned and I had everything I needed to make the cake you see here:

I know… tea lights… while destiny was aligning, it neglected to bring birthday candles.

We made due and I actually kind of like the end result…

And it tasted delicious. And I came to the conclusion that for the slightly decoration impaired cake diva that would be me – chocolate cake and chocolate frosting are a winning combination that I will never doubt again – It’s like wearing black to slim your figure – it hides a couple imperfections but perfectly showcases the overall deliciousness that is chocolate cake. And second revelation is that colored sugar is my new favorite thing ever. I intend to implement this genius idea into every cake and cookie I can as long as we both shall live. Perfection.

So, my Aloha Friday question for today is (you thought I forgot, didn’t you?):

What is your birthday cake secret weapon?

What little tricks of the trade never fail you?

What is your absolute favorite kind of birthday cake?

family fun memes & carnivals photography

WW: MM’s first 3rd Birthday Party

This was the “friends” party with all his little buddies. We gave him Madagascar for his birthday this year and I made a ‘Madagascar’ themed cake using those little miniature zoo animals that you can buy at Target for like $2.00 for a pack of 20 animals or something like that. I was actually very impressed with how the cake came out – my best cake effort by far – all I have to say is chocolate cake and chocolate frosting are nearly impossible to mess up – and that colored sugar is my new favorite decorating tool. And this post is officially the opposite of wordless. Sorry.

For more wordless fun (more wordless than mine anyway) head to Wordless Wednesday and 5 Minutes For Mom!

family fun

Happy Pi Day!

Pi (pi) is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

Pi = 3.1415926535…

Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts everywhere on March 14th.

If you (or someone you love) is a fan of Pi, here are some fun ways you can celebrate the Big Day (thanks to for these ideas):

  1. Bake a Pie with the symbol Pi on it, measure its diameter, calculate its circumference, and eat the Pie.
  2. Use a piece of string to “prove” Pi by measuring other circles’ circumference & diameter.
  3. Recite as many digits of Pi as you can as a team taking turns, or have a memorization contest and the winner gets to eat Pie first.
  4. Send your friends Pi Day eCards to remind them it’s Pi Day.
  5. Give everyone a “High Pi” instead of a high five.
  6. Get creative and write a song about Pi, or listen to music based on Pi.

Are you celebrating Pi Day in another fun way? Tell me about it in the comments section and be sure to mention it to, too!

cooking & recipes memes & carnivals

Christmas Cookie Exchange: Mistletoe Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

You can go to Jan’s blog to find more delicious recipes in the
Christmas Cookie Recipe Exchange!

* * * * *

This recipe is one I remember seeing year after year at my grandmother’s house growing up and it’s very simple. Just make basic peanut butter cookies but instead of pressing it with a fork, keep it rolled in a ball, then when finished, immediately press half a peanut butter cup into the cookie so that it looks like a flower pot.

I like the peanut butter cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens:


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a large mixing bowl beat peanut butter and butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough in 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

NOW, BEFORE COOLING, immediately press the halved peanut butter cups in the center of each cookie so that the cut side is pressed into the cookie and no longer visible.

Transfer to wire racks. Cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Now to decorate – You can do this a couple of ways, we typically use green frosting and red hots cinnamon candies, but you can also use green frosting and red frosting or any other variation you like, but basically you want to squirt some green frosting on top of the peanut butter cup “flower pot” to resemble leaves and then add the red candies or frosting to make little round berries. Voila – Mistletoe Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

I don’t have any pictures handy and couldn’t find any online, which means this idea must be fairly original. But I think you can use your imagination to combine this:

and this:

cooking & recipes family fun

Happy Birthday To You – Happy Birthday To You – Happy Birthday D.H. – Happy Birthday To You!!!

My husband wanted one thing for his birthday this year (well I’m sure there are other things he wouldn’t mind, but this was the one thing he asked for): My homemade chocolate chip cookies. I haven’t made them for a year or two now – at least not since we moved into this apartment – the first time in our marriage that I haven’t had a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to use while making them. He’s asked every so often, and I’ve told him in no uncertain terms, “Not until you buy me a stand mixer.” Not that that’s happening anytime soon.

But I decided for his birthday this year that he deserved some sweat and tears and chocolate chips from yours truly, so I set about making them today during MM and SB’s “nap” – I used a hand mixer which was remarkably less difficult than I’d imagined, making me feel a little silly and a little guilty for avoiding this for so long. But seriously, who knew? And in other news I think my hand mixer is broken – something inside it was shaking around and I’m guessing that isn’t normal? Anyone have that happen to their mixer?

I made half the batch and froze the rest of the dough which I’m thinking was a really good idea because, well, I haven’t tried them yet, but I think I’m disappointed. It’s clearly been awhile and I failed to trust my instinct and I think I overcooked them. Now you should know that my idea of overcooked is a little different from the average person – it’s possible that I’ve never actually burned anything in my life because I really dislike overcooked food, so it just never gets that far – I’m not gloating, it might actually be an unhealthy obsession – what I mean in regards to the cookies anyway, is that an hour after cooling on the racks they were not soft to the touch and the bottoms are a little browner than I like them. But I like my cookies super soft – even 10 days later soft – so I’m hoping for a miracle, because geeze, what a waste of elbow grease. But like I said, I saved some of the dough so I may try the baking part again in a couple weeks and make him think I’m a Domestic Goddess for whipping out another batch for no apparent reason.

And you know, he’ll probably love this batch, as he isn’t nearly as picky as me, and who knows? Maybe they are magically moist on the inside? I’ll find out tonight when I indulge in one or two and hopefully not twelve. Part of me wants to accidentally forget about counting calories tonight but I’m doing so good right now with my diet that I’d hate to blow it all on some possibly overcooked cookies. Even if I did find myself covered head to toe in flour making them and refrained from licking a single morsel of that cookie dough. My will power has been surprising me lately.

Tomorrow afternoon we’re having Birthday Cake #1 with my folks, then my dad is watching MM for the night while I take dh out for dinner and a movie. Then Sunday is Birthday Cake #2 with dh’s parents. It’s like a weekend-long birthday extravaganza – nothing but the best for my favorite husband.

What are your plans for the weekend? If you could have any present for your birthday, what would you pick?

contests & giveaways eats

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Kitchenaid & Cuisinart Appliances!

So it’s kind of an on-going thing in our house that dh will ask for some yummy baked good, like my world famous(ish) chocolate chip cookies, and I’ll laugh and laugh, and say, “Maybe if you buy me a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.” And of course at the price they go for, this hasn’t happened yet. Well if I win the giveaway at My Wooden Spoon, dh will be getting a whole lot of cookies!

Lori is giving away your choice of either Kitchenaid Immersion Blender, a Cuisinart Food Processor, or a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer!  Well you know which one I put my vote in for, but I want to share the love and make sure you all get a chance to vote for one of those awesome gifts, too. There are four (4) ways to enter this contest:

  1. Leave a comment telling her which one you would choose.
  2. Vote for My Wooden Spoon’s Shrimp Stroganoff Casserole over at the Velveeta Casserole Challenge.
  3. Twitter this giveaway.
  4. Blog about it.

So easy! So get a move on and head over to enter RIGHT NOW, okay?