Who’s ready for Halloween??! Every single year, I’m always tempted to say Halloween is my favorite holiday, but Christmas always wins out. However, Halloween comes in at a VERY close 2nd! I absolutely love decorating the house (most importantly, dragging out all of my ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ paraphernalia), but this year was even more fun than usual, because Cassidy helped me this time around. She had so much fun dragging pumpkins and other goodies out of the big boxes and saying, “cuuuuuute!” every time I’d hang something up. We had a blast together!
We’ve all had so much fun watching our favorite Halloween movies and eating snacks together- this seriously is just the greatest holiday. Speaking of snacks- here’s a super duper quick and easy one (and DARN addictive, I might add!). No party or gathering (or movie-watching night!) is complete without these little guys. All you need is pretzels and Hershey’s Hugs- that’s it! So little effort for so much yumminess! Plus, the kids could probably help with this one; I’m sure Cassidy will be a big help the next time I make these.
1 bag Pretzel snaps (such as Synder’s)
2 bags Hershey’s Hugs (I also used some of the caramel-filled Hershey’s Kisses and they worked great as well)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Lay the pretzels down in an even layer on the baking sheet and top each one with a hug. Put the baking sheet in the oven for 2 minutes, until the hugs get glossy-looking.
Remove from oven and let sit for 1 minute. Gently place another pretzel on top of each hug, making a sandwich. Don’t push down too hard, or the hug will ooze out everywhere. Leave at room temperature to cool completely and harden- about 30 minutes to an hour. You could also pop them in the fridge to speed up the hardening process. Place in a big bowl and enjoy!
Recipe source: Cookies and Cups
Get ready for a good time! These Oreo Funfetti Brownies are thick, fudgy, and bursting with crunchy Oreo goodness! Don’t forget the sprinkles…they’re the best part!
I love a good brownie. I’ll take them pretty much any way I can get them. Stuffed, topped, plain (maybe even a little undercooked and gooey…mmm)…just as long as there are no nuts involved, I’ll eat just about any brownie you put in front of me.
So clearly, I already had a bit of a brownie addiction. But take a fudgy, chewy brownie and top it with Oreo chunks and rainbow sprinkles?? I was doomed after one bite. To my shame, I ate waaaaaaay too many of these. An embarrassing amount. Like, multiple brownies in a DAY. Oh, Amy….
Do you see what I’m saying?? Just look at that! Oreos and brownies were MADE for each other!
Oreo Funfetti Brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips
8-10 Oreos (Double Stuf is where it’s at), chopped
rainbow sprinkles (about 1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot, but not bubbling; mixture will become shiny.**
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the 4 eggs with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until combined.
Slowly add in the flour, again stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Top with chopped Oreos and sprinkles. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Serves 12.
Recipe source: brownies adapted from King Arthur Flour; the Oreo Funfetti version was my own idea
**Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
Feel free to just use a box brownie mix for these if you’re short on time!
Try this easy stovetop version of rich, velvety, homemade apple butter as a spread for toast and muffins, or enjoy it all by itself!
October had just begun, there was a slight chill in the air, and I wanted apple butter. I headed to the grocery store to find my favorite jarred variety. Not only did they not have my preferred brand, but the one kind they did have was insanely expensive. I stood there in the jams and jellies aisle shaking my fist at the apple butter people (whoever they were) and then realized, “apples are on sale! I’ll just…..MAKE MY OWN!” [cue hallelujah chorus]
I really didn’t want to wait all day for the slow cooker versions (which is basically all I could find online), so I decided to try it on the stovetop and see what happened. Turns out, it works really well on the stovetop! And super tasty- I think the butter really gives it an extra richness that’s unbeatable!
Spreadable, velvety, rich apple butter…perfection on a piece of toast or even just by itself!
Stovetop Apple Butter
5 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks (I used Pink Lady, but Honeycrisp or Gala would work too)
2/3 cup brown sugar
squirt fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a large pot and cook, covered, on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Apples will be extremely soft. Stir in vanilla.
Using an immersion blender, puree the apples until completely smooth. You could also use a food processor, working in batches. I stopped the cooking process here because I was (very) satisfied with the taste and texture of the apple butter, but you could continue cooking it uncovered on low for another hour or so, if you desire a thicker, darker consistency. Let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator. Makes approximately enough for 3 pint-sized jars.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
We got a new playmate for Izzy! Meet ZuZu, the newest member of our family! She’s about a year old and we *think* she’s part Chihuahua, part Maltese. Who knows, though.
(just look at that spotted little tummy!)
For quite awhile now, I’ve really been feeling like it was time to adopt another dog. Izzy is such a fun-loving, playful girl, so we didn’t feel it was quite right for her to be an only “dog-child”. As much as Cassidy loves pestering Izzy, we still thought she could benefit from a non-human friend. As sheer luck would have it, out of the blue, a friend of ours announced she had rescued a little dog from the side of the highway and was trying to find a good home for her. Honestly, ZuZu was nothing like what we thought we were looking for in a new dog, but once I met her, I was convinced she was the girl for us!
It all depended on how she interacted with Izzy and Cassidy (no pressure, Zu!). We brought her home and let the dogs run wild together in the yard. At first, Izzy wasn’t sure how to react to all of ZuZu’s energy, but she got the hang of it and eventually, they started playing really well together! Success!
We took ZuZu to the vet and got her all checked out, microchipped, vaccinated, and spayed, then promptly brought her home to STAY! Here it is a month later, and ZuZu and Izzy are best buds- they play SO well together (all the time!). She is so gentle and sweet with Cassidy and has our entire family wrapped around her little paw! We all love her so much already and Joel and I are SO happy we were lucky enough to adopt her! Welcome to the family, ZuZu!
A quick and easy baked pasta dish with cheese tortellini, fresh spinach, and yellow peppers tossed in a creamy, tangy tomato sauce. Perfect for busy weeknights!
Cassidy is currently pushing through 4 teeth at once. Her incisors, to be exact. She usually teethes pretty hard (congestion, runny nose, rashes, fever, etc), but this time seems to be much worse. She hasn’t been acting like herself in days, not to mention, her little nose has been like a leaky faucet non-stop. Have you ever gotten ‘eskimo kisses’ from a toddler with a snotty nose? Not the most pleasant, but I’ll be darned if I deny my sweet baby girl her eskimo kisses!
Anyway, with Cassidy feeling under the weather, I haven’t had much time to cook. It’s times like these that I love baked pastas. I can pull out a bag of frozen tortellini and toss it with whatever I have in my fridge or pantry and dinner’s DONE! That leaves me plenty of extra time for cuddles!
Tortellini Spinach Bake
1 lb. cheese tortellini
2 large handfuls fresh spinach leaves, washed
1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 26-oz. jar marinara sauce
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tortellini for about 6 minutes (you don’t want to completely cook them). Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the marinara sauce, then stir in the bell peppers, spinach, and cream cheese.
Add the cooked tortellini and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and top with the shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbly. Serves 6.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
I’ve been baking lots of cookies lately. We’ve recently had two sets of friends welcome new babies and then we hosted a party Saturday as well. And everyone knows you can’t have babies or parties without cookies…I guess. Not to mention, I just really, really like baking cookies.
In addition to taking meals to my friends, I also made my favorite oatmeal cookies as well as these gingersnaps to welcome their new little bundles. My favorite thing to do for new parents is take them bags of frozen, perfectly portioned balls of cookie dough (in addition to some already baked ones) for them to keep in their freezer. Then, all they need to do is pull a couple out and pop them in the oven anytime they want fresh baked cookies!
I am such a good friend.
I had seen these cookies recently and knew I just had to make them ASAP. There’s a nip in the air (when I say ‘nip’, I really mean 85 degrees instead of 95), pumpkins are everywhere you look, and Halloween is just around the corner- perfect conditions for soft, gingery cookies! And these are soooo good. Chewy and puffy with a nice kick of spice. In essence, the perfect fall cookie.
Soft and Chewy Gingersnaps
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand or handheld mixer, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla and continue to beat until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
With the speed on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Cover dough and chill for 4 hours or overnight.**
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookies sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees, until the edges are just turning brown – cookies will be puffy and still appear soft in the middle.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Recipe Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction
**Sally (and I) highly recommend chilling the dough for at least 4 hours, or else the cookies will not be as puffy as shown above.
Here is the second of the two kid-friendly recipes I promised this week. I’ve actually been making these a lot, simply because we get tired of plain old sandwiches for lunch. Joel works from home, so I struggle with trying to think up tasty, quick lunches all week.
I don’t make these too often, because, clearly, they’re not the healthiest, but when you’ve got a teething toddler who doesn’t have any interest in eating all of the sudden, you’ll do what you can to make meals fun. However, I do use the reduced fat crescent rolls for these instead of the regular. Cassidy still hasn’t gotten past pulling her’s apart and eating the meat and cheese separate- but hey, whatever keeps her happy, I guess.
Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups
1 roll refrigerated reduced fat crescent roll dough, such as Pillsbury
8 slices deli ham
8 slices cheddar or swiss cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the crescent dough and spread a little mustard on each triangle. Lay a slice of ham, then cheese on each triangle, then roll up, starting with the wide end. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 11-13 minutes, until golden brown. Serves 2-3 as a lunch; or 6-8 as a snack.
Recipe source: Gooseberry Patch’s Kids in the Kitchen cookbook
Since Cassidy came along, I’ve done a few kid-friendly posts here and there and even some homemade baby food, but I still get lots of requests for more kid recipes. Honestly, since she’s still so young, I haven’t done all that many recipes just for kids; mainly because Cassidy just eats whatever we eat. If I cook kale, butternut squash, and quinoa soup for dinner, that’s what Cassidy eats. However, since my little bitty baby is quickly growing into a spunky, energetic, opinionated LITTLE GIRL (for heaven’s sake, I’m going to burst into tears just typing that!), I’ve been making more kid-friendly, fun meals for her.
This week, I’ll share two such recipes with you. Starting with this breakfast banana split. How cute is that?! Last Christmas, my uncle and aunt sent Cassidy and me a cute little cookbook just for kids, which is adorable. Cassidy loves to flip through the pages and look at each picture and recipe and say, “mmm!!” as she takes a pretend bite with her chubby little fingers. I seriously adore this kid.
Anyway, it’s sort of easy for me to get into a breakfast rut with Cassidy. And when the same old things start getting old, recipes like this are a welcome, adorable change of pace! Just layer sliced bananas with your favorite yogurt, then top with blueberries and a bit of granola. You can use any fruits you like and as many toppings as you want! The sky’s the limit!
Let your kiddo choose what toppings she wants, then let her enjoy her own special creation for breakfast! Such fun!!
Breakfast Banana Splits
half a banana, sliced in half length-wise
1 4 or 6-oz. individual-size cup yogurt (we like strawberry greek yogurt)
Lay the sliced banana in a small bowl and top with yogurt, blueberries, and granola. Let your kids help you put it all together and create their own masterpiece! Serves 1.
Recipe source: adapted from Gooseberry Patch Kids in the Kitchen
Can I just rant a little bit? Is that ok? We recently bought a new MacBook pro, since our old one was getting pretty ragged. The “genius” at the Apple store suggested a retina display; especially since I do so much photo editing. Ok, fine, sure. Retina display it is. Can I just ask- WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS???? My pictures are blurry/pixel-y. My pictures that I work so hard to ensure are as close to perfect as I can get them. My food that I style so carefully and get placed just right. They. Are. Blurry. Not when they’re giant, mind you. Just after I resize them to fit on my blog. So anyone else who owns a computer with retina display will see my pictures as blurry. What a load of you-know-what!
Do you see that photo above? I worked really hard on that photo. I was SO happy with that photo. Until I resized it and now it looks like doo-doo. Joel has explained it to me a floppity-gillion times, but I still can’t wrap my tiny, technologically-challenged brain around it. In fact, he’ll probably get annoyed with me after reading this post, and explain it to me all over again, but I’m MAD, people! I don’t care how awesome retina display is- I hate it! Anything that makes my hard-earned photos blurry is NOT a good thing! So THERE! Suck it, Joel! Suck it, Michael! And suck it, anyone else who tries to tell me how great retina display is!
Phew. Ok, I feel so much better. Are you still with me? Am I down to my last 3 readers?? Don’t worry, I’ll talk about food now, I promise.
How about some soft, chewy, brownie-like cookies topped with a decadent, fudgy frosting? Sound good? Well, they are! They’re awesome, in fact. I wanted to make a rich, chocolaty cookie the other night for a party and these popped into my head. I used two of my favorite components- the Levain Bakery’s Giant Double Chocolate Cookies and Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate Frosting. What a combo!! Since I left the chocolate chunks out of the cookies, the texture and taste was more like a homemade brownie – dark, chewy, and fudgy. Smear a little of that awesome chocolate frosting on top and WOWEE, what a cookie!
Needless to say, these were a big hit at the party. Luckily, there were some left over, so Joel and I could enjoy them over the next couple of days!
Brownie Thumbprints with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to be sure the ingredients are well combined. Using a cookie scoop or small spoon, scoop out the dough and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on the cookie sheet and flatten slightly using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press the back of a teaspoon into the top of each cookie to make an indentation (that’s where the frosting will go). Cool completely.
For the Frosting**
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stir melted butter into cocoa. Add powdered sugar, then milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. (Makes approximately 1 cup frosting)
Using a spoon, place a small dollop of frosting on each cooled cookie. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.
**feel free to double the frosting recipe if you prefer lots of frosting on your cookies. Keep in mind, however, these are very rich and don’t need too much.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original idea; cookie recipe from Levain Bakery; frosting recipe from Hershey’s.
P.S. I must apologize for my outburst earlier. When I first wrote this post, there was a full moon occuring. Say what you will, but it just does something to me, y’all. That same night, I lost my temper because my pen wasn’t working. My pen, people. *sigh*
I don’t know how you do yours, but when I used to make meatballs, I made them in a frying pan. They sputtered like crazy, I had to turn them 4 or 5 times, then I would still worry about them being done on the inside. And when I was finished cooking all those meatballs (in batches, mind you), I had grease all over my kitchen. Not ideal. And honestly, my meatballs weren’t ever that great. They were usually pretty tough from over-cooking. Finally, I got wise! I watched Nigella Lawson bake her meatballs in the oven and the lightbulb went off! Thanks Nigella! For years now, I’ve been doing them this way. SOOOOO much better!
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, using your hands, mix all ingredients until combined. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until outsides are nicely browned. Serve with spaghetti, noodles, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, and more!
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
**Amy’s tip: make a bunch of these and freeze them! They freeze beautifully and it’s so easy to grab a few from the freezer on a busy weeknight! Try rolling them into different sizes (mini-size for soups and pizzas and jumbo-size for spaghetti and meatball subs)!