Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Homemade Popcorn Seasoning

It's New Year's Eve and as new parents Dave and I will likely go to bed before the ball drops, but then Logan will probably wake us up so we'll be able to watch anyway. Otherwise, if we get a nap later today, we might stay up and watch a movie before ringing in the New Year. We love to cuddle up on the couch, watch movies and eat popcorn. Dave has been through a number of popcorn makers over the years--not because the machines don't work, but because he makes so much that they just wear out. To add a twist on the flavor for our popcorn, I made these homemade popcorn seasonings, which I also made into gifts for our friends Rachel and John who also love popcorn. The Cheesy Garlic flavor is a great twist on regular cheese popcorn and the Mexican Hot Chocolate is a fun, sweet option for a traditionally salty snack.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Homemade Easy Bake Oven Mixes

Did someone you know get an Easy Bake Oven from Santa? Or are you completely grossed out by how much the mixes cost to churn out goodies from the Easy Bake Oven? My niece Abi asked for more mixes for Christmas so I decided to stock her up with three different mixes, each good for several batches, and recipe cards explaining how to turn these homemade mixes into tasty cookies and cakes. I opted for chocolate chip cookie mix, chocolate cake and funfetti cake mixes, so Abi will have some variety. Since Abi is a frequent visitor to this blog, I had to wait until after she opened her gifts to post these recipes so as to not spoil the surprise. But now she'll have these recipes to replenish her supply after she's treated everyone to plenty of cake and cookies.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Cranberry Upside Down Bread

While most of your holiday activities might be over, there's always a reason to whip up a quick bread and this one is still seasonally appropriate. I think it would be perfect for New Year's Day brunch, although I've been sneaking pieces just because. This tender bread has a lovely vanilla flavor with a hint of orange and the cranberries really provide some tartness and tanginess, making every bite delicious. It's a really simple recipe and I was able to make it with a baby strapped to my chest in the Ergo carrier--nothing like a cozy baby snuggled up next to you and having your hands free to bake.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

If you follow me on Facebook, then you saw my announcement that Dave and I welcomed our little boy, Logan, two weeks ago. He's definitely the best Christmas gift and the only thing I asked for this year. We're all healthy and happy, though a bit tired. Little does Dave know that in a few years he'll lose his title as First Lieutenant in Charge of Sprinkles to a younger, cuter helper.

Thank you to all my loyal readers for the support, comments and blog love this year. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas full of cookies, goodies and everything wonderful.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Soft Pretzel Bites

Sometimes you just need a snack that's salty, soft and pairs well with mustard. Enter these soft pretzel bites. They make the perfect appetizer, game day treat, or really just an excuse to eat salty pretzels. You could easily turn this recipe into regular full size pretzel twists, but I made them into bites when I took them to two different parties and they were a big hit. Just the right size to have a few but not be committed to a huge pretzel. Although I probably popped enough of these delicious and doughy snacks to qualify for a huge pretzel, but that's not the point and really who's counting? As bites, these do take a bit more time, but they certainly aren't complicated. And the dough is super easy to make. Get ready for New Year's Eve or playoff football with these awesome treats.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brownie Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

We were invited to dinner with friends at their home and I wasn't about to go without cookies, because, well, cookies. Even though I made another bar dessert, I knew cookies would be expected. And since chocolate and peanut butter is always a win, of course I went with those. But not just any combo, a fudgy, brownie-like cookie dotted with peanut butter chips. And would it really get any easier than starting with a boxed brownie mix? Sometimes when you get invited somewhere at the last minute, you have to cut corners. And no one will fault you for that when the result is this delicious. Let's just say I'm glad these were easy to make because I certainly didn't eat enough of them while at dinner and most of the leftovers went to our friends.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Oatmeal Muffin Mix

Here's another homemade mix perfect for gifting. And I love this one. This mix is the one my mom first introduced me to and thought it can be used for bars, cookies and pancakes, I grew up using it exclusively for oatmeal muffins. I remember being 11 or 12 years old and waking up on a Sunday morning to pull out this mix and make oatmeal muffins for the family. To this day I still have a special place in my heart for oatmeal muffins. So when I wanted to package up some gifts created with homemade mixes and recipe cards, I knew I wanted to include this one. It makes about enough mix for 3 batches of muffins--and they're really good muffins, particularly warm and smeared with butter of jam--so be prepared to make more of this mix pretty quickly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cinnamon Pancake Mix

This recipe was a two-for. First, Dave is pretty handy in the kitchen and I knew he could make some pancakes when I'm busy with the baby, but I figured it be easier on both of us if I prepared some mix and he just needed to add the wet stuff. And then I thought how these would also make a great gift, along with some of my other homemade mixes. This mix is simple to make in a big batch, and super easy to turn into a gift, scooping portions into pretty bags or containers and adding a simple recipe card with the instructions for turning them into a great breakfast. And it makes a ton, so you can either stock your pantry or make a bunch of gifts (maybe you've got a bunch of teachers, coworkers or friends you want to share a little gift with) for plenty of pancakes to go around.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Rich, fudgy and slightly salty. A delicious combination that is also decadent which makes it an amazing holiday cookie. Seriously, these take no extra time or skill than any other cookie on your holiday list (they're still basic drop cookies), but the flavor and texture will make them seem so much more amazing. This brownie-like cookie gets it's flavor from three types of chocolate and an extra special finish of sea salt intensifies all that chocolate goodness. I gave most of these away and Dave and I bartered for the remaining few. I was being generous in this pregnancy. In any case, I'm hoping to get a chance to make these again soon.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fluffernutter Cupcakes

Dave's birthday is this weekend, but since our little guy is on his way any day now, I threw him a party a couple of weeks ago just to be sure we'd get a chance to celebrate. And to make sure I got an opportunity to make his birthday cupcakes. I think choosing his cupcakes from my insanely huge board on Pinterest is one of his favorite things about his birthday. He didn't have to scroll far to find these fluffernutter cupcakes--a peanut butter cupcake with a surprise inside, topped with a marshmallow buttercream (yup, marshmallow and butter!). What's the surprise? A full sized Reese's cup nestled into the bottom of each cupcake. These taste amazing and if you've ever sat with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of fluff and a spoon, these are your cupcakes. I'm told that when Dave was a toddler, he couldn't wait for someone to make him a fluffernutter sandwich, so he just sat on the floor with the jars and a spoon and helped himself. Although apparently he was kind enough to share with the dog as well. But going back to these cupcakes--they are tender on the inside, perfectly flavored with peanut butter and the frosting is spot on. A lot of fun and full of flavor, I'm guessing Dave will be asking for these again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Peppermint Bark

Delicious? Easy? Perfect for an edible holiday gift? Yes, yes and yes. Peppermint candies and white chocolate are a wonderful holiday combination and I amped this on up with some holiday peppermint M&Ms, just for fun. Dave was particularly excited about this treat since he loves peppermint bark. Do you know what I didn't know? That Dave loves peppermint bark. Seriously, I've know him for over 15 years--you'd think I'd pick up on that. And he couldn't believe I'd never made it before. Know we're both wondering where he's been getting his fix all these years. But back to this bark: whip this up and you'll be able to break it up into deliciously big chunks, bag it up and share it as gifts--perfect for teachers, class treats, coworkers, anyone. Personally, I'm thinking some labor and delivery nurses might be the recipients of these treats--assuming our little guy arrives before Dave eats it all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

In and amongst all these holiday treats, I realize that we all still need to eat dinner. And maybe that dinner should be relatively healthy, in addition to tasty and perhaps a little comforting. And wouldn't it be nice if it didn't take that long to make since we're all busy this time of year? I think this chicken and mushroom dinner covers those bases. Whipped up on a weeknight, this chicken and sauteed vegetables has a nice sauce that goes well with pasta (and would with rice) and really makes you feel all warm and cozy--perfect as these temperatures drop. It's a good thing I have my monthly Secret Recipe Club match, because otherwise I might not have found such a great dish!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Muddy Buddies

Surprisingly, I've never actually made muddy buddies. Or puppy chow as it is sometimes referred. But I have some friends who love it and I thought I'd give it a try for a party recently. So glad I did because this holiday version is amazing! It's got all kinds of fun flavor and a twist on the original because instead of peanut butter, this recipe uses chocolate-hazelnut spread (yup, Nutella). Add in M&Ms, yogurt covered raisins and sprinkles, then toss it all powdered sugar and you've got a deliciously messy sweet snack that's a little bit festive.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stuffed Cherry Blossom Cookies

I love a cookie with a surprise inside. Whether it's an Oreo tucked inside, a cheesecake filling, or even peanut butter cream, there's something fun about biting into a cookie only to find a little something unexpected. And usually a sweet sugar cookie doesn't get to play those games. But these perfectly flavored sugar cookies with vanilla and almond extracts are getting in to the action, hiding a lovely maraschino cherry inside a soft cookie. Yum. Rolled in sugar for a little extra sweetness, these cookies are fun and festive and sure to please. I've got a few cherry-lovers on my cookie tin list and I know they are going to love these.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chip & Chunk Cookies

These are what I like to call definitive holiday cookies. Seriously, they have all the bits of a perfect holiday cookies: cinnamon, chocolate, nuts and coconut. Baked up in a tender cookie with a lovely crunch to the exterior, these flavors really just remind me of the holidays, so they are perfect for your baking list this month. For an little extra flavor, toast that coconut first and you'll get a little more depth to these cookies. Coconut burns pretty quickly, so keep an eye on it while it toasts--I had to try twice since I forgot to pay attention the first time. Whoops.