Pinterest Tested Thursdays: The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can bake my butt off. I mean, cakes, pies, I’m your girl.However, I can’t seem to really make chocolate chip cookies to save my life. They never seem to come out the way I want them to. I mean, their aight, but I’m no Mrs. Fields. Well, I wasn’t, until this recipe. You know a cookie recipe is bomb when your husband doesn’t want to eat the last cookie for fear of there being none left and when you tell him to go ahead and eat it he says “I mean, will you be able to make more tomorrow???” Yasss! I finally found the winning recipe. So easy, so yummy, and you don’t even have to refrigerate the dough to get it to come out beautifully! Anyway, without further ado, the recipe!:

Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar (I like to use raw cane sugar with a coarser texture)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (but I always add a little extra)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I use a combination of chocolate chips and chocolate chunks)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn’t be hot – but it should be almost entirely in liquid form.
  2. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff).
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle (right at the stage between “wet” dough and “dry” dough). Add the chocolate chips and incorporate with your hands.
  4. Roll the dough into 12 large balls (or 9 for HUGELY awesome cookies) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden.Warning, friends: DO NOT OVERBAKE. This advice is probably written on every cookie recipe everywhere, but this is essential for keeping the cookies soft. Take them out even if they look like they’re not done yet (see picture in the post). They’ll be pale and puffy.
  5. Let them cool on the pan for a good 30 minutes or so (I mean, okay, eat four or five but then let the rest of them cool). They will sink down and turn into these dense, buttery, soft cookies that are the best in all the land. These should stay soft for many days if kept in an airtight container. I also like to freeze them.

Annnnd voila!

Can you sayTrust me when I say these are so so so yummy. I followed everything Lindsay at Pinch of Yum said and these are indeed the best cookies ever! Head over to Pinch of Yum for more tips on this recipe, and for more awesome recipes, follow me on pinterest!

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Pinterest Tested Thursdays: Easy Jell-O Popsicles

If you follow me on pinterest, chances are you saw me pin these Easy Jell-o Popsicles about a week ago.

I was searching for a treat to make for Johanna and these popsicles did the trick because they sent me right down memory lane.

When I was a child my mother would send me to my grandparents house in South Carolina for the summer.I loved it because I was surrounded by my cousins and aunts. We walked everywhere! It didn’t matter if a family member lived around the corner or 3 miles away, we walked. As you could imagine it got pretty darn hot in S.C. I think today I would simply melt away if I was that hot, but back then, we felt it, but kept right on pushing. One of the things that helped us keep on pushing was our walk to visit the lady that ran the corner store out of her house. We could go there and buy all kinds of goodies, mainly candy, and popsicles. Now our popsicles didn’t come on a stick or anything fancy like that. I promise you it was straight up kool-aid frozen in disposable plastic cups. And it was heaven. I would walk away from her house griping my cup full of sweet, icy goodness impossibly tight, delightfully licking the top of it as we made our way back to our grandparents house. Such a simple, sweet memory that fills me with joy.

So you see, I obviously I had to make the popsicles! The ingredients are super simple, and it’s quick to make.

johannasmama.com*Quick tip – If you have a hard time getting the popsicles out, simply run them under hot water for 60 seconds.

Ingredients

  • 1 (3oz) package Jell-O
  • 1 packet of Kool-Aid
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. In a pitcher, combine the Jell-O, Kool-Aid, sugar, and boiling water. Stir until dissolved.
  2. Mix in the cold water and pour into your molds. Freeze for 4-6 hours or until solid.

That’s it! I let it stay in the freezer overnight and surprised Johanna with it the next day. Did she like it?
Johanna's Mama(3)She LOVED it! She has had one for dessert every night this week!

This recipe gets an A+ from me. It’s yummy and great to have on a humid summer day. The recipe was just as easy as it claimed to be. Definitely have fun with the flavors. There are so many awesome combinations that you can do! And I’ll let you in on a little secret – in my freezer right now are a few cups of this mixture,frozen solid, waiting for me to grab one and enjoy a nice walk down memory lane. I had to do it!

*Original recipe can be found on the One Sweet Appetite blog here.

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Pinterest Tested Thursdays: No Bake Honey Nut Cheerios Bars

One of my absolute favorite pastimes is finding things on Pinterest to recreate, especially food! And if it’s something for the kids, that’s even better! So I’ve decided to share my experience with you guys because 1) I’m not a professional and 2) I’m not a food blogger. Don’t you appreciate it when people show you what these beautiful creations will truly look like when you’re finished? I do, and I always wonder if they’ll taste any good. I want you to see what these meals look like from a regular, busy, can barely keep my head above water mom. First up are these No Bake Honey Nut Cheerios Bars.

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Don’t these look ridiculously fun and yummy?! Obviously I had to try them! The ingredients and directions seemed simple enough, so let’s go!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup creamy unsalted butter (half of one stick)
1/4 cup honey (light-colored corn syrup may be substituted and will keep the bars firmer at room temp than using honey)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups Honey Nut Cheerios (or similar storebrand cereal; plain Cheerios may be substituted for a less sweet bar)
1 cup raisins, optional (1 cup  honey-roasted peanuts, 1 cup chopped almonds, or 1 cup trail mix may be substituted)
about 1/2 cup chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, optional (I used Trader Joe’s)
pinch sea salt or Kosher salt for sprinkling, optional

Directions:

  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, honey, brown sugar, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt.
  3. Stop to stir. Mixture will be on the granular side, this is okay.
  4. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high power. Stop to stir
  5. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high power. Stop to stir. On this third and final burst, mixture will become quite bubbly and foamy; use caution when removing from micro because this is boiling hot caramel and can cause burns.
  6. Stir in the vanilla using caution because mixture could bubble up.
  7. Stir in the cereal.
  8. Stir in the optional raisins (or nuts).
  9. Turn mixture out into prepared pan, packing it down firmly with a spatula and smoothing the top.
  10. Optionally, sprinkle evenly with sunflower seeds and salt (the salt cuts some of the sweetness and I recommend it).
  11. Cover pan with a sheet of foil (to prevent fridge smells), and place pan in fridge to set up for at least 2 to 3 hours, or overnight, or until bars are completely set before lifting out with foil overhang, slicing, and serving.
  12. Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. I recommend storing them in the fridge rather than room temp because they soften and get loose.

So, the originator of the recipe preferred corn syrup and that’s what I used. I didn’t just happen to have those beautiful, colorful chocolate covered seeds on hand so I knew my bars weren’t going to look as pretty, and they don’t!

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Thankfully presentation doesn’t persuade my kid at all. She’s all about texture. The verdict – she liked it ok. I think the mistake I made is using all corn syrup. Next time I would do half corn syrup and half honey. Also, I would add a pinch more salt to it to combat some of the sweetness.

Would I make these again? Absolutely. Now that I know what I need to do I think they make a great on the go snack. Please visit Averie Cooks for more tips on how to make these bars outstanding!

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Banana Pudding Cake

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Sometimes when you’re thinking about the love of your life, a stroke of genius hits you! That’s exactly what happened when I was thinking about my dh a few weeks ago. The man loves banana pudding and I hate it! But I loooovveee cake! Suddenly I heard harps playing, as I sometimes do, and ding ding ding! What if we put the two together! So I started to research what banana pudding recipe to use (again, I don’t like the stuff, so I had no clue what should go into it). It was then that I realized there was a better way of making it than what I was thinking. I was simply going to make a white cake with banana pudding and vanilla wafer filling. But then I saw that someone else actually put banana pudding into the cake as well. Genius! And ever since I posted that cake on my fb and instagram pages, folks have been asking me for the recipe. So here it is! I’m going to warn you right now that it’s quite a few steps, but if you love to bake, or you just adore who you’re baking for, it’s not a problem!

Cake
2 2oz sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar 3 eggs + 2 egg whites
3 tsp vanilla 3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
One 3.4oz box instant Banana cream pudding mix
1 cup milk

Banana Pudding Filling :
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
3 medium bananas, sliced

Whipped Cream Frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream

To brush on layers:
Mix together the following:
1 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk 1 Tbsp whole milk

You’ll also need:
2-3 medium ripe bananas sliced

Step 1: Make the cake

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prep three 8″ round pans (or 2 pans and 1 cupcake pan) by lining the bottom with parchment paper or baking spray. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in eggs and egg whites, one at a time. Beat in vanilla until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and pudding mix. Add into wet ingredients in three separate additions, mixing until just combined. Don’t over mix! Stir in milk until combined. Divide batter and pour into 3 pans. Bake 22-25 minutes or until cake is golden and begins to pull away from sides of pans. Allow cake to cool 15 minutes in pan. Loosen and remove from pan. Allow to cool another 1-2 hours on a wire rack.

Step 2: Make the Pudding (courtesy of Paula Deen)
While the cake is cooling, make your pudding as follows:
Mix together sugar and cornstarch and slowly add milk. This should be cooked in the top of a double boiler, but you can cook it over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Do not leave it unattended. Slightly beat egg yolks and temper with a small amount of the hot custard; stir well. Add egg mixture to custard pot and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Let cool.

Step 3: Make your Whipped Cream Frosting
Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

Step 4: Begin layering

Level each cake. Add the pudding and slices of banana between the cakes to make a 3 layer cake. Brush outside of cake with milk mixture. Decorate with leftover slices of bananas. Cover the whole cake with whipped cream frosting and top with nila wafers. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

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Vegan-ish Pasta Alfredo & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Lately around these parts we have been eating a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes. No, this isn’t a lifestyle change. It’s just always fun to change it up a bit. So I made a dish that I figured my vegetarian friends just might enjoy. The real test is giving it to your kids and seeing if they enjoy it. Now, Johanna didn’t scarf it down, but she didn’t push it away in disgust either. JJ and I certainly tore it up though. I think you will too.

 

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I simply stole the recipe from the Silk website for the sauce. Everything else was super easy!

Pasta Alfredo, Silk Style

16 oz fettuccine (I used veggie pasta)
3 Tbsp olive oil or soy margarine
3 Tbsp flour (I used almond flour)
4 Tbsp dry white wine or vegetable stock
2 cups Silk Unsweetened soy or almondmilk
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
***Grated parmesan cheese optional

1.Prepare fettuccine according to package directions.
2.While pasta is boiling, heat olive oil or margarine in a medium saucepan. Add flour and wine or stock and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
3.Stir in Silk and remaining ingredients, except parsley. Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened, about 3 minutes.
4.Remove from heat.
5.Toss with cooked pasta, arrange on six plates and sprinkle each serving with grated parmesan cheese.

I definitely added more salt, some cayenne for heat, and a teaspoon more almond flour to thicken it up even more. It was yummy! I always say the key to a successful pasta dish is to not forget to season your noodles while they are cooking. Nothing like tasting an unsauced noodle that is reminiscent of playdoh, ugh.

For the portobello mushrooms I simply cut the stems, brushed on some olive oil and roasted them in the oven at 440 for 10 minutes. While they were roasting I combined some panko breadcrumbs with a little olive oil, parmesan cheese, pepper, and a dash of salt. Once the mushroom were done I topped them with the breadcrumb mixture, popped it back in the oven for 5 minutes to give the mixture time to combine and brown, and voila! That was it! I did mix some of the bread crumbs on top of the pasta to give it a nice crunch. Yummo!

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