Homemade Goldfish Crackers

Goldfish have always had a special place in my heart. My sister and I used to eat them ALL the time when we were little, and I definitely still snack on them nowadays. So when I saw this idea on pinterest, I immediately bought a fish shaped cookie cutter on amazon and patiently waited two days for it to be delivered (I’m pretty sure I tracked the package about 6 times…I was just too excited). Once the cutters FINALLY arrived, I gathered my ingredients and followed this recipe:

    • 1 cup (4 ounces) very finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 cup whole or reduced-fat milk
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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I stirred the cheese, flour, salt, baking powder, and onion powder together in a large bowl until the cheese was evenly distributed and coated. I then added the milk and vegetable oil and continued to stir with a spatula, then kneaded  the dough until a cohesive dough formed. It was crumbly at first, but I continued to press and knead the dough until the dry bits were incorporated.I then transferred the dough to my work surface, and covered it with the upside-down bowl to let rest for 10 minutes.

Then it was time to preheat my oven to 375˚F, and lined 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.I divided the dough into 2 pieces, and refrigerated one piece while I rolled the second piece as thin as humanly possible (no more than 1/8-inch thick). The thinner your dough, the crispier your crackers will be, and everyone likes a crispy cracker 😀

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Next I stamped out cracker shapes with my fish cookie cutter, and transferred the shapes to my prepared baking sheets. I let the crackers bake for about 10 minutes, until the crackers were crispy and just turning golden at the edges. I used two different sized cutters, and adjusted the baking time accordingly. The timing will vary according to the size and shape of your crackers.

I then transferred them  to a wire rack and let cool completely. They tasted so good!! This is seriously such a fun snack.

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Snickers Ice Cream Cake

For the next birthday at my office, I had a request to make an ice cream cake. Naturally, I was elated. The only thing better than a regular birthday cake is an ice cream birthday cake!! So I began scouring the web for a recipe that didn’t require an ice cream machine…because of course I wanted to use homemade ice cream despite the fact that I don’t have an ice cream machine. Yes, I know I’m silly. Regardless, I knew I had a winning recipe when I came across this one. It makes the ice cream layer without a machine, is simple, and uses SNICKERS. I deviated from the original recipe which recommended using box brownie mix and decided to make the brownies from scratch, but it’s totally your call! To make it my way, you will need:

For the brownie layers:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa

For the ice cream layer:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed

For the topping/filling:

  • 1 20 oz bottle chocolate sundae syrup
  • 1 20 oz bottle caramel sundae syrup
  • 1 11.5 oz bag mini snickers, chopped, divided into three groups

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I began by greasing two 8-inch pans (springform pans would work best, but I don’t have any so I just used 9 inch cake pans) and lined the bottoms with parchment paper to allow for easy removal. I mixed together all the brownie ingredients in a large bowl and poured half the batter into each pan. I let them bake for about about 12 minutes, until the tooth pick came out clean, and let them cool for 10 minutes before placing them on a wire rack.

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As the brownies were cooling, I made the ice cream layer. I combined the milk, cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter together, and mixed them together with my hand mixer. Once all the ingredients were completely combined. I then folded in the cool whip.

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For the assembly of the cake, I placed one of the brownie layers in the middle of my cake tray and spread 1/3 of the snickers evenly over the top. I then drizzled 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce and 1/2 cup of the chocolate sauce over the brownie. I then topped this with half of the peanut butter ice cream, and let this first level freeze for about 15 minutes. I then placed the second brownie layer on top of the ice cream, and again cover the brownie with the second group of chopped snickers, 1/2 cup caramel sauce, and 1/2 cup chocolate sauce.  I topped this with the remaining peanut butter ice cream, and topped with the remaining snickers, caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.

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I then let this completely freeze, and brought it into work. It turned out wonderfully! The consistency of the ice cream layer was perfect, and the frozen snickers added a great textural component. If I were to make it again, I would definitely use spingform pans, and try to make the cake taller (rather than wider) to enhance the aesthetic effect. I am looking forward to testing out more ice cream cake recipes  this summer 😀

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Nutella Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Like all wonderful things in life, this recipe involves Nutella…so you know it’s going to be delicious. I can’t take all the credit for this week’s inspiration, since it was actually one of my coworkers that initially gave me the idea (thanks again cyn!). I have modified the original recipe a bit  by switching out a regular graham cracker crust for an oreo crust, and adding the cream centers into the cheesecake filling. Why, you might ask? Because I love oreos just as much as I love Nutella. And you can never have too much chocolate (which I made clear with my Chocolate Trifecta Cake) . To make this master peice, you will need the following ingredients:
For the crust:
    • 1 large package of oreo cookies, cream centers removed
    • 4 T butter
For the filling:
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • the removed cream centers from the oreos
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Nutella
As always, I began by preheating my oven to 325 degrees F. I then buttered an 9×13 baking dish and lined it with parchment paper, making sure that the parchment is well pressed in the corners.
To make the quintessential oreo crust, I went old school and crushed the oreo cookies in a plastic bag using a serving spoon. This was a great opportunity get out my frustrations from the day. Once I had broken down the cookies into crumbs, I stirred them into my bowl of melted butter. I pressed the Oreo mixture evenly into the bottom of my baking dish and baked the crust until it had set (about 12 minutes). Set aside to cool.
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To make the filling, I used my little hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, oreo centers, and sugar together until the mixture was smooth. I then mixed in the eggs and vanilla. I then spread the filling evenly over the crust, and dropped Nutella over top of filling. Using a knife, I swirled the Nutella into the filling.

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I let this bake for about 25 minutes, or until filling is just set. I let the bars cool overnight.

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It is really important that the bars are completely chilled/firm before you cut them. This means that I had to wait until I got to work to taste test them….and honestly they turned out perfectly! I baked them just long enough, and couldn’t be happier with the modifications I made to the original recipe. They were a huge hit at the office, people started eating them before 10am 😀

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Reese’s Fudge Ripple Cake

I don’t even need to say anything about this cake, it speaks for itself. It starts with a rich, chocolate fudge cake, and is topped with a fluffy peanut butter buttercream frosting, smooth chocolate icing, and of course Reece’s peanut butter cups. To me, it sounds like a little slice of heaven! To make this cake, you will need:

Sour Cream Fudge CakeThis is a perfect cake for stacking and sculpting because of its tight crumb and firm structure (makes two 9″ rounds)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup regular sour cream
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups hot coffee

Chocolate Frosting
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 12 oz. packages Reese’s minis, unwrapped and chopped (for middle layer and garnish)

I know it seems like a lot of ingredients, but I bet you already have a majority of them in your pantry! I also want to say that this recipe is pure genius, and that I knew it would be a winner when I saw that it included coffee and sour cream in the batter.

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For the Sour Cream Fudge Cake, I started off preheating my oven to 350 degrees, buttering my 9 inch cake pans, lining them with parchment paper rounds, and buttering the paper. I then dusted the entire interior of each pan with cocoa powder. Then I got started on the actual cake batter, and sifted the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar into my mixing bowl. In a separate bowl I mixed my wet ingredients, which included the eggs, oil, milk, sour cream, cooled coffee, and vanilla. I then added my wets to my drys in three installments, and beat until everything was incorporated. I poured the batter into the two pans and let them bake for about 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick came a clean. I then let them cool in the pans for about 20 minutes, and removed them to let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

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As the cakes were baking, I got started on the frosting. I made the chocolate frosting first, and mixed together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, cocoa, and salt until it was smooth. I then added the corn syrup (this gives the frosting it’s luscious gloss) and vanilla and process until just combined. The last step was to pour in the melted chocolate, and mix until smooth and creamy.

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For the peanut butter frosting, I whipped the cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, and salt on a low speed until it was combined. I then added the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time. Once all the sugar had been incorporated, I bought the speed up to high and whipped until it was light and fluffy.  Note: The ingredients may appear to separate at first, but it’s ok! Continue to whip air into the frosting to emulsify the fats and achieve a smooth, fluffy texture; it can take up to five minutes.

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Then came the fun part, the assembly!! I cut each cake in half for four even layers.  I placed one of the bottom layers on a tray I would be using to transport the cake to work. I spread half of the chocolate frosting evenly on the first layer, then set the second layer on top. On second layer, I spread 1/2″ of peanut butter frosting.  I then sprinkled the entire surface of frosting layer with chopped Reese’s.  I lightly pressed the candy into the frosting. Next I placed the third layer on top, and evenly spread the remaining chocolate frosting onto it.  I then placed the final layer of cake on top.  I recommend using one of the “bottom” pieces of cake and flipping it over so that the smooth bottom becomes the top of the cake.

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I then frosted the exterior of the cake with the peanut butter icing.  I pressed slivers of chopped Reese’s along the bottom rim of the cake, and then sprinkled the remaining Reese’s peanut  butter cups on the top of the cake. Next I put the remaining chocolate frosting into a piping bag, and drizzled it in a ring around the top of the cake. I then placed some Reese’s Pieces on top of the chocolate drizzle! Then the REALLY hard part came. I had to let the cake sit in my fridge overnight until work the next day. It was definitely a winner!!

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Watermelon Feta Bites

I don’t know what it is, but fresh fruit and cheese taste so good together! My mind always immediately goes to apples and sharp cheddar, but this appetizer mixes it up a bit. Watermelon is in season, and I was really excited to incorporate it into one of my appetizers for my birthday party. The things you will need include:

  • Cubed watermelon
  • 1 block of feta cheese
  • bundle of fresh mint
  • toothpicks

The hardest part is probably chopping up the watermelon…but if you are in a rush or don’t feel like cutting one up, you always buy pre-cut watermelon. I prefer cutting it up myself though, since it’s so much cheaper to buy a whole watermelon. I also don’t mind having left over watermelon to snack on 😀

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I then cubed my feta, placed it on top of each bit of watermelon, and topped each bite with a bit of chopped mint leaf. I shoved toothpicks through each bite to make them easier for everyone to eat. I was really surprised by how well the salty, drier texture of the feta went with the juicy, sweet watermelon. The spring of mint is mostly ornamental, but it also added a nice little hint of flavor. I love this combination, and will definitely be making it again.

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White Wine Sangria

I recently made red wine sangria, and thought it was about time I tried out a white wine sangria! You can really add whatever fruit you want to sangria, so I chose my favorite fruits and used the following ingredients:

  • 1 bottle white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 12 oz. ginger ale (you could also use club soda)
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 limes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pint blueberries

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I put everything into a large pitcher and let it sit in my fridge overnight. It was perfectly chilled when I pulled it out for my birthday party! And MAN was it tasty – it was crisp, refreshing, and perfect for a summer night fun 😀

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Crescent Jalapeno Poppers

I feel like crescent rolls are like an open canvas, the possibilities are endless. Usually I follow my sweet tooth and make chocolate crescents, but today I leaned toward the savory side. This takes all of three ingredients:

  • crescent dough
  • 4 tablespoons chopped jalapenos
  • 4 oz. cream cheese

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, then laid out the crescent dough. I spread about a tables spoon of cream cheese at the base of each dough triangle, then put about 1/2 tablespoon of jalapenos on top of the cream cheese.

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I rolled each crescent up starting from the base, and popped them in the oven for about 10 minutes (give or take) until they were golden brown.

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These literally went like hot cakes. I set them out and they were gone before I knew it! Definitely my favorite savory crescent recipe!!

Creamy Margarita Popsicles

I still can’t believe my birthday was yesterday! I am a little nervous about being 23, but I’m sure it’ll be great. I mean, I’m definitely started the year off right by having a big birthday party 😀 Of course my party had tons of drinks, apps, and….popsicles? YES! I saw this recipe for creamy margarita popsicles and couldn’t wait to make them. This got me thinking about alcoholic popsicles…and inspired me to also make these vodka gummy bear popsicles. That’s a different story though. For my margarita popsicles, I used:

  • 1¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 8 limes), plus 4 limes for stabilizing the popsicle sticks
  • 1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (optional)
  • Kosher salt or margarita salt
  • a drop of green food coloring
You will also need:
  • 12 (3oz) Dixie cups
  • popsicle sticks

In a pitcher, I combined the lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, water, tequila, food coloring, and orange juice. It is important to combine the ingredients in a container that has a spout because it will make it much easier to pour the mix into cups.

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I then lined the Dixie cups on a baking sheet (to make it easier to get them in and out of the Fill each Dixie cup 90% of the way with the tequila mixture. I sliced the limes into ¼ inch thick rounds and pushed a popsicle through the center of each lime round, so that half of the stick poked out from each side. I topped the mixture with the lime sticks, and made sure the lime was resting directly on top of the tequila mixture.

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I let them freeze overnight, and then sprinkled the tops with salt before I served them. They were delicious! I will definitely be making these again throughout the summer 😀

The BEST Strawberry Cake

I swear June is everyone’s birthday month! Including my own 🙂 However, this cake was made for a fantastic senior manager on my team at work. I was lucky enough to have my friend Uli help me bake this cake! Uli is so much fun to bake with, and she always helps out SO much. After some googling and pinteresting, we ended up choosing this recipe. Any cake involving fresh fruit is always in the summer, and the strawberries at my grocery store have been looking beautiful lately 😀 The ingredients included:

Cake

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
  • 6 TBSP plus 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 2 1/4 lbs strawberries, hulled, sliced in half (about 6 cups), divided

Frosting

  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature (I used low-fat)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

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I began by preheating my oven to 325 degrees F, and putting a medium sized mixing bowl in the freezer. I buttered and floured my two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch high sides. (I chose to make four layers for this cake, so I baked the layers in two batches). In a medium bowl, I whisked together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate large bowl, Uli creamed the butter and sugar together until the mixture was light and fluffy. SheI then added the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Next we added the sour cream and vanilla, and beat until everything was just incorporated. We added the dry mixture in three installments, beating after each addition. We then divided half the batter into my prepared pans, and baked until the edges were golden brown (about 35 minutes). I let the cake cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing then onto a wire rack to cool completely. We then baked the remaining batter following the same steps.

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While the layers were baking, we made the frosting and prepped the strawberries. In a large mixing bowl, Uli beat the cream cheese and butter together until it was smooth. She then beat in sugar and jam. Next I removed the chilled bowl from the freezer and beat cream until peaks form (the chilled bowl really speeds up this part). The last step was to fold the whipped cream into frosting.

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For the assembly, I spread frosting over the each layer, and over the top and sides of the cake in a thin layer. I then spooned teaspoons of jam onto the top and sides of the cake, and swirled the jam into the frosting using the back of a spoon. This recipe makes a good sized 4-layer cake, and easily fed my entire team at work (15 people).

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

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Yes, I KNOW I just made chocolate chip cookies this weekend…but anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I love to overdo things. So why not make chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes?? The concept is genius. There are three components to this recipe: the cupcake batter, the cookie dough, and the frosting. Considering I’m tackling this recipe on a work night, I opted to make my life a little easier by using store-bought cookie dough. This goes against my morals (homemade is always better than store bought), but I have solid reasoning to support my decision. The cookie dough needs to be FROZEN to ensure it keeps its texture and consistency while the cupcake bakes around it… and since I started this recipe at 9pm, there was no way I could magically create frozen cookie dough.

Sooooo I bought chilled cookie dough and shoved it in my freezer while I prepped the batter. Logistically, this was the only way I could follow the recipe instructions. My modified ingredients included the following:

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cookie dough:

  • 2 packages store-bought cookie dough

For the frosting:

  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

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To make the cupcakes, I preheated the oven to 350° F.  I then lined two cupcake pans with paper liners (one for regular sized cupcakes, one for mini cupcakes).  In a large bowl I combined the butter and brown sugar, beating them together on medium-high speed until it the mixture was light and fluffy.  I then mixed in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

After that, I stirred the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.  I slowly added the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mixed them at a low speed. I alternated with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. I mixed the batter after each addition just until everything was incorporated.  The last step was to mix in the vanilla.

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Using two spoons, I filled the prepared cupcake liners 1/2 full with the cupcake batter. I then pushed a frozen cookie dough ball into the center of each cupcake. I let the cupcakes bake for about 15-18 minutes; the mini cupcakes obviously baked a little quicker than the regular sized ones. I then removed the cupcakes from the pans and let them completely cool on a wire rack before frosting them. I have a tiny oven, so I made about 4 batches (my cupcake pans are half sized).

I made the frosting while the cupcakes were baking, and began by combining the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and creaming them together on medium-high speed until they were light and fluffy. I then beat in the powdered sugar until it was smooth., and added the salt, milk, and vanilla and mixed  until everything was incorporated.

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When the cupcakes were all the way cool, I frosted them and sprinkled them with mini chocolate chips! This yielded about 18 regular sized cupcakes and 36 mini cupcakes…Yes they all took forever to frost. But they tasted SO GOOD, it was definitely worth it 😀

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Chocolate chip cookies….such simple perfection. I can honestly say I have NEVER heard someone say they don’t like chocolate chip cookies. Which is exactly why I chose to make this recipe. There was a pretty big group of us going skydiving, and I wanted to pick a treat that I knew everyone would like (and wasn’t allergic to….Robert!) So I gathered my ingredients and began:

  • 2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg &1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

Now before I get into the process, I want to highlight the KEY aspects of baking a chewy cookie. The secret ingredient is a bit of cornstarch! It works wonders. Having your eggs at room temperature also is important, but the MOST important part of the process to ensure a chewy cookie is to CHILL YOUR DOUGH. I mean really chill it. Your dough can sit in the fridge for anywhere from 2 hours to 3 days. This aspect is so important because the cooler your dough is, the less it will spread. And the less it spreads, the chewier it will be 😀

Of course, I started by getting my dry ingredients together. I tossed the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl, and set it aside. Next I whisked the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remained. Then I whisked in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. I poured the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mixed them together with a rubber spatula. The dough was very soft, but was that was fine because it still needed to be chilled! So I folded in my chocolate chunks (I chopped up a Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bar) and chilled my dough for an hour. The recipe says to chill for at LEAST two hours, and I have to admit the cookies did spread more than I wanted. I recommend following this advice. After chilling the dough, I took it out of the refrigerator and allowed it to slightly soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.

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I then preheated my oven to 325 degrees, and got my silicone mats ready for my cookies! I rolled the dough into balls, using about 2 Tablespoons of dough. The dough was a bit crumbly, but the warmth of my hands let me form proper balls. Following the recipe’s advice, I rolled the cookie dough balls to be taller rather than wide, to ensure the cookies baked up to be thick. I put 12 balls of dough onto each cookie sheet. I didn’t do this, but next time I would press a few more chocolate chips/chunks on top of the dough balls for looks. The last step was to let the cookies bake for 11-12 minutes. Even if the cookies look a bit underdone, it’s ok! They will continue to cook on the cookie sheet, and firm up as they cool. I let them cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before I removed them to a wire rack to cool completely. I was SO satisfied with the texture and taste of these cookies! Everyone that went skydiving seemed to like them too, they were all gone by the time we had jumped.

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Billionaire Bars

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A billi, A billi, A billi...a billionaire bar?? Yes, I DID rename this from Millionaire Bars to Billionaire Bars. Why? It just sounds better. And if I’m making it, I can call it whatever, right??

Anyways, my mouth literally started watering when I came across this recipe. It also uses ingredients I always have in my pantry, which is so refreshing! It makes life so much easier when I don’t have to get 10 new ingredients to try out a new recipe. There are three layers to this bar, which are made with the following:

Butter Cookie Base
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
Billionaire Filling
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
Billionaire Topping
  • 2 cups milk chocolate, chopped (or 2 cups chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or coarsely chopped white chocolate
Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13″ baking pan with foil (parchment paper also works), and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
Begin with the cookie base. Ideally I would have used a food processor, but considering I’m a 22-year-old living in NYC, my TINY kitchen seriously doesn’t have the space to fit any gadgets (I don’t even have a microwave!). So instead I just melted my butter, and added it to all the dry ingredients.Lightly mix ingredients until it just starts to hold together like a dough.  Press the dough into the prepared pan, and prick thoroughly with a fork. Bake for 25 minutes (until lightly browned). Let this cool fully.
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For the Billionaire filling, heat the butter, brown sugar and condensed milk over low heat in a heavy sauce pan.  Let the mixture lightly simmer, and stir constantly until it thickens and becomes a medium caramel color (about 20 minutes..yes it’s an arm workout).  Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla. Pour the filling over the cookie base, and spread evenly. Let this cool completely before adding the chocolate topping.
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To make the Billionaire topping, heat the the chocolates separately (using a double boiler).  Drop spoonfuls of each chocolate over the caramel topping, and use a sharp knife to lightly drag lines of melted chocolate all over the top.  Let the bars sit in the refrigerator, until the chocolate becomes firm.  Before cutting them, allow them sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes, so that the chocolate layer wouldn’t crack when cut.
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With the way they tasted,  I wouldn’t be surprised if Jay-Z wrote that song about these bars! The were AMAZING!! Gooey, rich, and SO satisfying. I honestly think this is one of the best things I’ve made. And yes I did cut these at work….and I do work in a windowless conference room. Oh, the life of an auditor 😀

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Homemade Pore Strips

All the humidity and summer heat has my face feeling GROSS! My pores feel so dirty. When I saw this idea on pinterest and realized I could make pore strips at home, I was so excited! You will need:

I measured 1 Tablespoon of unflavored gelatin into a disposable container, then added about 2 tablespoons of milk. I then mixed the ingredients together until it had a chunky consistency (See below).  I then heated the gelatin mixture until it became running and spreadable (I used a double boiler, but you can use a microwave and heat it for 10-15 seconds).

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I gave it a quick stir then started applying it IMMEDIATELY to my face.  This stuff hardens up incredibly fast so it is important that apply it to your face right away.

I let this dry for at least 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready to remove when it is difficult to make facial expressions. I then started peeling this off…and I’m not going to lie, it was difficult and a little painful! But once I got it all off, my skin felt AMAZINGLY soft. I mean baby’s bottom soft. It was definitely worth it.

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Some tips: DO NOT PUT IT ON YOUR EYEBROWS. Once this stuff has hardened, it can pull some of you eyebrow hairs out. If you get some on them, don’t worry! You can just rinse it off once you’ve peeled off the rest. You can put it wherever you please, but I would avoid putting it close to the edge of your hairline, as it is painful to remove there if you have baby hair (which I do). I also would apply it on thickly, because this will make it easier to peel off once it hardens.

Blueberry Mojitos

Summer….time for sunshine, fun, and cocktails! I was at a friend’s house this weekend, and after a long afternoon at the beach we needed some refreshments. I saw a recipe for blueberry mojitos a while back, and thought it would be perfect for the evening. So I gathered my ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup rum
  • the juice of two limes (I got an extra to cut up as a garnish)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint

I definitely eyeballed the measurements of my mojitos, since I didn’t want to wander aimlessly through my friend’s kitchen, but they still tasted delicious! They were a bit strong, but that’s how I like my drinks 😀 I first filled the pitcher up with some ice, then poured in the sugar, lime juice, and mint. I attempted to muddle this (but it was was more of a vigorous stir). I then added a hefty pour of rum, and the seltzer water. The finishing touch was tossing in the frozen blueberries and lime garnish.

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In an ideal world, I would have pureed the blueberries, chopped the mint leaves a bit smaller, and properly muddled the limes and mint. But life is too short to worry about being perfect! Everyone enjoyed them, and the pitcher was gone before we knew it.

Quinoa Pancakes

Quinoa…..in pancakes? What?? I’ve been meaning to make this recipe for a while, and today was the perfect day. After a weekend of raging at the Jersey Shore, I was ready for a healthy breakfast.

The recipe called for:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon course salt
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup, plus more for serving
  • Fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional) for serving

I’m going to be real…I was reallllly hungry when I made these, so I just threw all the ingredients in a big bowl and mixed them together.

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If your batter is too thick or thin, just add a touch more flour or water until the consistency is right. I prefer my pancakes almost like crepes/on the thinner side, so I added an additional splash of water. I then heated my pan on medium, lightly buttered my pan, and started cooking! You know it’s time to flip your pancake when those glorious little bubbles form on the at the edge of the pancake.

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The batter ended up making about eight, six-inch pancakes. I LOVED this recipe! It’s so nice to be able to enjoy pancakes, and feel good about it! These pancakes have twice as much protein as regular pancakes, and they taste just as yummy 😀

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I will definitely make these again….Next time I might throw in some blueberries!