Shark Week Cookie Cake

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{I’m still here! I know it’s been 70 days since I last posted (who’s counting?!), but I’m still here. And my little, loyal blog was here, waiting for me, all along. And I hope you were, too. I hope to get back into feeling good, and feeling inspired, and delivering better-than-subpar blog posts and recipes.}

Do YOU know what week it is? SHARK WEEK! We just love Shark Week in our house! My boys just love sharks and we get a kick out of having a whole week devoted to them. I always like to make a fun treat. This year, I made a cookie cake!

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It is an enormous chocolate chip cookie, “choc” full of chips.

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It is covered in creamy, vanilla frosting ocean water, its frothy waves lapping up to shore, meeting the gold, glittery beach.

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Let’s hope that the owner of the surfboard went for a walk! Yikes! Those waters are super shark infested!

Shark Week Cookie Cake

Serves:  A lot of hungry dudes and dudettes

Recipe adapted from: Doughmestic Housewife

1 C softened butter

1 C sugar

1 C brown sugar

2 eggs

1 t baking soda

3 C flour

2 C chocolate chips

Mix the first 5  ingredients. Then add the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. Press into a greased cookie/pizza pan. Bake 18 – 25m at 350F.

Frosting:

4 C powdered sugar

1 C shortening

4 T milk (plus more, if you need to thin it out)

1 t vanilla extract

Food coloring

Mix together until you have the right consistency (spreadable, not too runny). Split the frosting into two parts. Color half of it blue (I used both green and blue to make a turquoise-y color).

Extra materials:

Graham cracker crumbs

Gold and blue sugar sprinkles

Fish and dolphin sprinkles

gummy sharks

Plastic palm trees, surf board, umbrella

After the cookie caked has been baked and cooled, frost half of it with the white frosting. Cover most of it with the graham cracker crumbs and gold sprinkles. Leave a little bit of white frosting showing, for the waves. Next, add the blue water. Then add the sharks and sea animal sprinkles, blue sugar sprinkles, palm trees, surf board, and umbrella.

And there you go, little surfers!

Hang then! Don’t let the sharks bite you!

Kristin

Christmas Wreath Cookies

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Okay, Friends! If you don’t have any cookies baked yet, you’re either not going to or you don’t have any quick, easy ideas. I can’t help you with the former, but here is a great recipe for the latter. My boys and I whipped these up today (for Santa and Mrs. Claus).

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They are rich with butter, crumbly in the best kind of way, and packed with vanilla and almond flavors.  I can almost guarantee that you have all the ingredients already (don’t quote me on that).

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Wreath Cookies

1 C butter, softened

1/2 C sugar

2 1/4 C APF

1/4 t salt

1 egg

1/4 t almond extract

1/4 t vanilla bean paste (or extract)

5-7 drops of green food coloring

sprinkles

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour, salt, egg, almond extract, vanilla bean paste (or extract), and food coloring. Roll the dough into little balls and form a hole in the center (I used an icing tip). Put on the sprinkles.  and place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or just before the cookies turn brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

My boys also made these little masterpieces:

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I let them go nuts with M&Ms, sprinkles, marshmallows, and icing. I think Santa will both enjoy them and go into a cookie coma!

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Memories were made and that’s all that matters. ❤

The Merriest of Christmases to you and your families! May you feel God’s love and know the real reason behind this special season.

God bless!

Kristin

Easy Pie Crust

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I have never been one to make pies. I love eating them, but making them scared me. Getting the dough ratio just right, rolling it out, and transferring it to the pie tin seemed very daunting to me. That is…until my Mom shared her foolproof pie crust recipe with me. She’s been using it since 1970, where she got it from a gal who also lived in her dormitory. She’s also submitted it to several church cookbooks over the years; it’s ease and popularity always proven. Because cold fat (butter) and ice water are not part of this recipe, it’s easier to make and use. At least for scaredy cats like me! It yields a nice, flaky crust and comes out perfect every time.

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Okaaaay, so I have a lot to learn about transferring the dough [evenly] and making it pretty!

Easy Pie Crust

Makes enough for one bottom crust

1 1/4 C flour

1/2 C shortening

1/2 C boiling water

1/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

Combine all the ingredients. Stir well, until completely mixed. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll out, as desired. Add your filling and bake in a 350F oven (time depends on filling). You can place tin foil on the crust if it starts getting too brown.

THAT’S IT! How easy is that?

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I hope you enjoy this family recipe! (I used the Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe right off the back of the can)

Peace ‘n’ Blessins’!

Kristin

Gluten Free Apple, Honey, and Olive Oil Cake

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You guys. Have you ever made a recipe that is so good that you are at a loss for words? I just did that. Earlier in the week, I found a recipe for an Apple, Honey, and Olive Oil Cake that looked out of this world. It wasn’t gluten free, so I thought I’d be nice and make it such, so my husband could eat it, too. I definitely deserve some kind of pat on the back or a new pair of shoes or something for that act of kindness. Anyways.

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This cake was not only easy (you probably have ALL of the ingredients!!), but it wasn’t overly sweet OR unhealthy.

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It’s basically a health cake. You’re welcome.

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I’m going to be perfectly honest with you right now. I cut a huge slice of this and put it on my dinner plate. I ate the first slice right along with my baked ham with cloves, green beans with almonds, and corn.

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I DO have one regret – not buying (and eating) vanilla ice cream with this. It would be killer. So, that is my sage and wise advice to you today. Buy vanilla ice cream to go with this.

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This cake was one of the best things that happened to me all day.

Gluten Free Apple, Honey, and Olive Oil Cake

Recipe adapted from: Pickledplum.com

5 small red apples (or 4 larger ones), peeled, cored, and sliced thinly

5 T gluten free flour mix (with xanthan gum in it) or another GF flour with 1/8 t xanthan gum added)

5 T brown sugar

5 T extra virgin olive oil

1 t baking powder

4 large eggs

⅔ C honey

Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease an 8-inch cake pan, then place the apple slices inside. Put flour, sugar, baking powder, olive oil, eggs, and honey in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter over the apples and sprinkle cinnamon over top. Bake for 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle more honey on top. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Eat hot or cold. It was ridonk hot. It would be even more ridonk hot with that vanilla ice cream. I’m planning on eating it cold later tonight and/or for breaky. I’m sure it’ll be ridonk, once again.

Enjoy!

Kristin

Pumpkin Kindergarten & 3’s School Lunches

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I had waited long enough. It was time. Time to pull out the Fall decorations and put them up proudly, knowing that not everyone would agree with my decision. So, today, that’s exactly what I did. I’ve got my Fall wreath on my front door, some sparkly gourds filling a glass pillar (because all gourds should be sparkly), some felt owls on my china cabinet. Oh yes. My boys are so excited. I also baked apple cookies. God-willing, with all this Fall surrounding me, Fall weather will come sooner and relieve me of this dreadful 90+ degree heat.

To further celebrate our festive decor, I went with a pumpkin theme on my boys’ lunches for tomorrow. I made pumpkin shaped sunbutter and apple jelly sandwiches, and used my Food Writers to add a wee bit of detail. I also packed red grapes, cheddar sandwich crackers, charred corn (in my pumpkin shaped silicone cupcake wrappers), and one Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookie.

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These cookies are the epitome of Fall. Chewy, soft, warm with cinnamon, sweet with apples.

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Oh yes, boy

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This recipe is EASY. And, wait for it…HEALTHY! I made smaller cookies than the recipe called for (instead of fifteen, I made 22), and I added vanilla bean paste, in addition to the vanilla extract. And each cookie is less than 100 calories (and actually, I think MUCH less since I made smaller cookies!). These can also be easily converted to gluten free. A must!

http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2015/01/03/apple-pie-oatmeal-cookies/

Happy (almost) FALL, y’all!

Kristin

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

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I have a very tumultuous relationship with banana bread. I either LOVE it or it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know what it is. I love a dense cake, but dense banana bread is sort of meh.

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But, I just came across a new recipe…

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And it changed me…

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…FOREVER.

This Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread recipe yields the perfect balance between dense and fluffy, chewy and crusty.

You simply MUST try it, especially if you are broken up with banana bread, as I was. Now we’re back on. Here’s to a long and successful future!

Cinnamon Swirled Banana Bread

** I didn’t use the banana on the top, and I also made two smaller loaves**

Kristin

Bourbon Candy Bar Rice Krispie Treats

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You guys. I made the yummiest dessert! My husband is a DJ and was having a DJ buddy come over on Friday night to throw down some tracks (lol), and I wanted to make a dessert for them. That was boozy. And cool. Because I need to stay relevant. Anywayzzz. I decided to do something with bourbon, because I am a bourbon/whiskey girl, through and through. I’m not even sure I should admit that. But, there you go. I also had to make something that was gluten free. So, I came up with bourbon rice krispie treats! It turns out, other boozy folk have had the same idea, according to the Internet (everything on the Internet is forrealz). But, mine is better. Because I added more butter. SALTED butter. And candy bars. And several different kinds of sprinkles. It was ridonk. Totally unnecessary. And cool. [all things that could be said about me, tbh]

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These babies were chewy, crunchy, sprinkle-y, chocolatey, caramel-y (from the Rolos!!), and bourbon-y.

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I left the candy bars off of a few for my Husby

I used a traditional rice krispie treat recipe, but added a bit of flair.

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The traditional recipe calls for a quarter cup of butter. I sort of added a half cup. #oopsie I also used salted butter, instead of unsalted butter. I love the flavor it added. It balanced out the marshmallows and candy bars. And, because I used twice as much butter, it was extra rich and gooey.

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Bourbon Candy Bar Rice Krispie Treats

1/2 C butter

4 C marshmallows (a little more won’t hurt!!)

5 – 6 C crisped rice cereal

2 good glugs of bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark, Fireball would be delicious!)

Splash of vanilla

Assorted candy bars, chopped

Assorted sprinkles

Melt the butter in large sauce pan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until melted and well-blended. Keep it on the burner for about two minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla and bourbon. Add the cereal and stir until well-coated. Pour into a buttered 9×13 pan. Sprinkle chopped candy bars and sprinkles, and press down with buttered hands. Let it cool completely (I placed mine in the fridge) before cutting into squares. 

Eat. Responsibly.

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But cooly.

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** Rad melamine “paper” plates found at Target **

Enjoy,

Kristin

Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate

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Well, oopsie. It’s almost been a month since I blogged. What can I say? Summer really took over. Now, it’s coming to a close. My boys go back to school next week ( 😦 ). I’ve so enjoyed my extra time with them, where the days started and ended later, we ate our weight in ice cream, and we did what we wanted. Times are a-changin’! It’s back to the grind. It’s going to be a rude awakening next week, when I’ll be forced to wake them up. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. That “my baby is now going to Kindergarten” bridge will also have to be dealt with. I’m not emotionally prepared to deal with that at this time.

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Moving on to what makes me comfortable – food. 😀

I found a recipe for Quinoa Granola Bars and tweaked them a little.

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These were so good! The oats made them chewy and the quinoa made them crunchy. The dried fruit made them subtly sweet and the chocolate coating just made them. Chocolate coating makes almost everything. Ask anybody.

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You can leave the chocolate coating off, if needed. I can barely come up with a situation where a chocolate coating would not be needed. But, know that option exists.

Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate

Recipe adapted from: Superhealthykids.com

1 C uncooked quinoa

1 C oats

1/2 C coconut

1 1/2 C combination of nuts and dried fruit (I used a 1/2 each of cranberries, golden raisins, and sliced almonds)

1/4 t salt

1/2 C peanut butter

3/4 C honey

1 T  oil (I used coconut)

3 T brown sugar

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 C chocolate chips

1 t oil (I used coconut)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9X13 inch baking dish.  Spread the oats and quinoa on a cookie sheet and toast in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Pour the quinoa and oats mixture into a large bowl and add coconut, nuts, and dried fruit. Mix together. In a medium saucepan, combine salt, peanut butter, honey, oil, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and immediately remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Pour over oats mixture and combine until dry ingredients are evenly coated. Pour into baking dish. Press mixture down into pan. Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes.

To make the chocolate, mix the chocolate chips and oil together in a bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring until melted. Spread over the top of the bars and let them cool/dry.

Cut and serve.

These are a teeny bit crumbly, but are delicious for snacks (after school, maybe? mid-morning? you decide). You could also individually wrap the slices and freeze and pop into a lunchbox.

Enjoy!

Kristin

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Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

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It might seem that I am on a chocolate cookie kick. And that might actually be true. But, I really think the universe is lending itself to chocolate cookie situations. It’s a circumstance beyond my control. Who I am to mess with that?

This time around, I made Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. Mexican Hot Chocolate is simply spicy hot chocolate. The spices lend a lovely warmth to the creamy, rich chocolate. And they do the same in the cookie form.

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These cookies are crunchy and chewy, rich with chocolatey flavor. They have a little kick from cayenne and a lot of warmth from cinnamon.

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And, let me just tell you how delicious they are with ice cream sandwiched between two of them. I can barely think straight and think of that at same time!

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I just know you’re going to love these! They were perfect accompaniment to Taco Night.

Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

2 1/2 C powdered sugar

1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder

2 t Saigon cinnamon (it’s a bit stronger in flavor than “regular” Ceylon cinnamon)

dash cayenne pepper

1/4 t Kosher salt

1 T cornstarch

3 egg whites (or 9 T All Whites)

1 t vanilla extract

1 C bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add parchment paper or a Silpat (I used both and the parchment paper worked better with this recipe) to a baking sheet.

Sift together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy, about one minute. Add vanilla and mix together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop onto your prepared pan, about one inch apart. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes (mine took 16). Let them cool completely before removing from the pan.

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Enjoy with ice cream! Or systematically eat them one by one, while standing over the sink, and hoping that no one sees you. Either way.

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Enjoy! Disfrute, mis amigos!

Kristin

Shark Week Cake

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In case you live under a rock and didn’t know, it was Shark Week a few weeks ago. We go bonkers for Shark Week in our house. My husband and I have been watching it for years, even before kids. It’s a thing. And now, it’s a thing for our kids. For this year’s, I prepared an entire homeschool session based around sharks. We checked several shark books out from the library, I had the boys watch a show on different kind of sharks, we went fishing, and I made cake. Because…cake. I tried to get them to eat fish for dinner, too, but they were having none of that. #moreforme

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I had so much fun making this shark cake. Honestly, I have fun making any cake, but this one was especially fun for me. Cake. Icing. Sharks. Cake. Sprinkles. Icing. Cake. Sharks.

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I made a one-layer (soooo, basically no layer(s)? not sure, too meta for me) vanilla almond cake, with a creamy, vanilla almond frosting.

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I used the I Am Baker method of swirling the frosting into rosettes and added some extra “waves”.

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I made blue toned white chocolate shark fins, used white pearl sprinkles for bubbles, and used dolphin and fish sprinkles.

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Shark Week Cake

Cake:

Recipe adapted from: White Cake Recipe, goodiegodmother.com

**The recipe below makes a one layer 8 inch cake**

1 C sugar

1 1/4 C flour (APF)

1 t baking powder

1/2 t kosher salt

6 T canola oil

1 T egg white (I always have liquid egg whites on hand)

1 t vanilla extract

1 t almond extract

1 C milk (I used coconut)

Sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease one 8-in cake pan and set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a smaller mixing bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add sprinkles (I used green and blue) and mix together. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched (mine took 30). Cool the cake for 10 minutes before letting it cool on a wire rack.

Frosting:

Recipe adapted from: I Am Baker, Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

**Recipe has been halved**

1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened

1 t vanilla extract

1 t almond extract

3 C icing sugar (or more, as needed)

2 T milk (more or less, as needed)

pinch salt

Blue food coloring (I used Americolor Sky Blue)

Purple food coloring (I used Americolor Electric Purple)

White chocolate

Sprinkles

Beat the butter in bowl of stand mixer on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Turn the mixer to low speed to slowly add in the icing sugar. Whip for at least 6 minutes on medium high. Add food coloring and mix until fully integrated. Add more milk to the frosting, if too thick. Add more icing sugar, if too thin.

For the white chocolate shark fins:

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a pan. Melt white chocolate chips on the top of a double boiler (microwave will also work, I just find a double boiler more consistent). Whisk until smooth. Add a few drops of food coloring and whisk again. Once smooth, spread out onto the parchment paper. Place in the fridge until hardened. Once it is, use a very sharp knife to cut shark fin shapes.

To assemble:

Place the one-layer cake onto your serving platter. Scoop the blue frosting into a piping bag, fitted with a 1M tip. I didn’t need a coupler. Make frosting rosettes all over the cake. Once it is covered, go back and add a few flicks of frosting, for “waves”. Stick white chocolate shark fins into icing, add a few pearl sprinkles around it, as “bubbles” and sprinkle the entire cake with fish and dolphin sprinkles.

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El fin. <– get it?

Enjoy!

Kristin