everyday food made simple

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Just because the holiday season was sooooo last year, doesn’t mean that we should wait another 11 months to start making anything involving peppermint and chocolate. I have stocked up enough Andes peppermint baking chips and Hershey’s mint chocolate chips to last for the next 3-4 months.. so don’t be surprised if you see a post or two (or three… or four) about mint chocolate desserts on SEF this spring!

Remember these amazingly decadent gooey bars I made a while back? Well, today I have created a cookie version of those bars, and they’re equally as delicious! It’s a chocolate cookie base with tons of crunchy peppermint chips sprinkled throughout, so you’re guaranteed plenty of crunchy minty chocolatey goodness in each bite!

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I also added extra semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter simply because, well, you just can’t have too much chocolate in a cookie! Although it’s not required, it is highly recommended since it makes the chocolate flavor even more pronounced (read: even more amazing).

Soft, chewy chocolate cookies with bits of mint crunchiness in each bite – I bet you won’t be able to eat just one!

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Just like all my other cookie recipes, I took these out 2 minutes prior to the regular recommended baking time, gently pressed the tops with the back of a fork, and put them back in the oven to cook for another 1-2 minutes. I do this a lot for cookies that don’t naturally spread out a whole lot during their time in the oven, just to achieve a nice crinkly cracked top in the end. I have tried just pressing them down after removing them from the oven completely, but I realized that they the end results aren’t as nice as taking them out after cooking them for 80% of the recommended time.

peppermint chocolate pudding cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  3. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  4. 2 eggs, at room temperature
  5. 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoons baking soda
  8. 1 tablespoon hot water
  9. 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  10. 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  11. 3.9 oz instant chocolate pudding mix
  12. 1 cup Andes peppermint baking chips
  13. 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and pudding mix. Gently mix with a spatula and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until smooth. Add in the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between additions.
  4. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. Add the baking soda mixture to the butter mixture. Then add in the vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients into the mixer bowl. Mix under medium speed until combined. Add in the baking chips and chocolate chips and mix some more.
  6. In heaping tablespoons, scoop the cookie dough on the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, slightly press the tops with a spoon or a fork, and bake for another 1-2 minutes. Remove cookie sheets from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
  7. Makes about 40 cookies
Adapted from Something Swanky
Adapted from Something Swanky
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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I actually decided to freeze half the batch of cookie dough balls for later – not only would they be readily available when I’m craving cookies at a later date, I was hoping it will limit how many cookies I eat a day… note to self for next time: if Amy wants to eat 10 cookies a day, Amy will eat 10 cookies a day, regardless if there are 10 or 20 cookies laying around the house.

Well, at least I have enough peppermint baking chips for a few more batches!

Recipe adapted from Something Swanky

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone is having a splendid holiday filled with love, laughter, relaxation, and spending time with friends and family. Since it’s Christmas, it only makes sense that I post something chocolate-and-peppermint-related, right?

On Cyber Monday, I finally broke down and bought myself Adobe Lightroom 5. I have actually been eying it for the last 6 months, but just couldn’t get myself to spend $100+ dollars on it…. so when I saw it was over 50% off, I went ahead and bought myself an early Christmas present :)

You know who else bought me an early Christmas present?

Brian.

He bought me a new Canon 60mm macro lens, had it shipped to the house when I was at work, wrapped it up and put it underneath the tree. Although he repeatedly said I would have to wait for Christmas to open my present, he just wasn’t able to wait that long. So my Christmas is basically over 3 weeks ago….. oh well. That boy couldn’t keep anything in when it comes to presents. I swear I’ve never opened a present on the actual day – he’s always so excited to give me the present or tell me what he got for me. I think the only way I’ll ever get anything on the actual day of a holiday is if he shops for it the night before…

So I’ve been super excited finding new things to make, just so I can take pictures with my new lens – it took some time to get used to, but I love it so far!

Before I try to talk your ear off about how decadent and delicious these bars are, let me just say one thing first: I’m sorry. This post contains a few more pictures than what I usually post, but I just couldn’t choose a couple because I was absolutely in love with a bunch of these pictures and wanted to share them all with you! (even though a few of them are very similar).

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Okay, now about these bars: these bars are uh-mazing. Simply amazing, you guys. They’re soft, chewy, gooey, chocolate-y, and peppermint-y – it’s got everything I love in a dessert. If I could eat any kind of dessert for the rest of my life, these just might be it. The sweetened condensed milk keeps it gooey and moist. The chocolate chips and Andes peppermint baking chips are like a match made in heaven. The crushed candy canes on top gives an extra crunch, which is contrasted well with the soft and chewiness of the bars.

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Ugh. So good.

gooey peppermint bars
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Ingredients
  1. One 15.25 oz box of chocolate fudge cake mix
  2. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  5. 1 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips
  6. 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  7. 2 regular sized candy canes, crushed (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9" pan with foil and spray generously with cooking spray.
  2. Using an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, butter, and egg. Beat on medium speed until the dough forms into a ball.
  3. Place about half of the dough in the bottom of the pan, press to form the crust, making sure all corners and sides are covered with dough.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and Andes baking chips over the top of the dough. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the chips.
  5. Drop balls of remaining dough evenly over the top. Press lightly. Don't worry if the entire surface isn't covered by the dough balls - the dough will expand once cooked in the oven. Bake for 23-24 minutes, or until the edges slightly browned. Turn off oven and remove bars from the oven. Immediately sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top. Place the bars back into the cooling oven with the oven door cracked - this will help the candy canes to slightly melt and adhere to the bars.
  6. Cool completely and cut into bars. Store in airtight container for up to 7 days (if they even last that long).
  7. Makes about 16 squares.
Adapted from Crazy for Crust
Adapted from Crazy for Crust
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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I think I just found my new favorite dessert. Even Brian agreed that these has surpassed my gingersnap cookies that he claimed was his “favorite dessert item ever”.

Recipe adapted from Crazy for Crust

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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If you’re a fan of candy cane or anything involving mint and chocolate, you probably want to keep reading…. just sayin’.

These cute little truffle balls are a peppermint/candy cane lover’s dream dessert – they’re made with candy cane Oreos (my favorite!) coated with vanilla almond bark, topped with crushed candy canes. And let me tell you, THEY.ARE.AMAZING.

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Brian came home one day from Target last month and surprised me with these. Instead of tearing them open and shoving them in my face right away, the food blogger in me racked my brain to think of something easy and delicious to make them with. And these little truffles were the first thing that came to mind.

You know you’re a food blogger when: the first thing that comes to mind when you see a food item is “what can I make with these?” And the second thing that comes to mind is “how can I style the food when I photograph it? What dishes and what props will I use?”

I don’t ever remember thinking this way about food a year ago….

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candy cane oreo truffles
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package candy cane Oreos
  2. 6 oz low fat cream cheese
  3. 8 oz vanilla almond bark
  4. Crushed candy canes for topping, optional
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Roughly break apart the Oreo cookies and place them in the food processor. Pulse until they turn into fine crumbs.
  3. Place Oreo crumbs into an electric mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment and on medium speed, add in the cream cheese and mix until everything is well mixed.
  4. Roll the Oreo/cream cheese mixture into balls about 1" in diameter, place on baking sheet. Repeat until you have no "dough" left.
  5. Place the truffle balls into the freezer. Freeze for 1-2 hours, or until hardened.
  6. Using a double boiler, melt the candy melts. Using two forks, dip each truffle ball into the melted candy melts, making sure it's thoroughly covered. Remove truffle ball and place on the baking sheet for candy melt to harden. Sprinkle top with crushed candy canes, if desired. Keep truffles in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  7. Makes about 25 truffle balls.
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Just like all my other truffle recipes, freezing the cookie balls is extremely important. Leave them in the freezer for at least an hour, but I do highly recommend freezing for at least 2 hours. This is because if they’re not hard and frozen, the cookie balls will start to crumble and fall apart when you place them in the warm candy melt mixture… and no one wants little brown specks of Oreo crumbs in the candy coating. I actually left my cookie balls in the freezer until the very last minute when my candy melts were completely smooth and melted.

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If you’re like me and are a lover of anything and everything that has mint chocolate in it, then stay tuned this winter season because I already have a ton of recipes lined up for you guys!

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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I was super excited to be participating in my first ever food blogger event this winter – The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013
This event has been made possible by two wonderful food bloggers, Julie from The Little Kitchen and Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil for the past three years. As a brand spanking new food blogger that just started less than 10 months ago, this seemed to me like the perfect way to get to know some amazing people in the food blogging circle.

It’s basically a “secret Santa”, with dozens of cookies instead. You mail out three dozen cookies to fellow food bloggers around the country (and the world), and you get three dozen different cookies from three different bloggers in return. I had so much fun this year that I’m definitely going to be participating in it again next year!

Now, on to the cookies I made this year. It’s a classic, and I haven’t met a single person that isn’t a fan of gingernsnaps.

According to my memory, these are the first ever cookies I remember making. Most people start out with something simple and classic – like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or M & M cookies. For some reason, these were the ones I chose to make – I’m weird, I know. And now I’m going to make you think I’m even more weird – that was only a mere 5 years ago. That’s right, I don’t recall ever making cookies on my own up until 5 years ago. I guess I’ve lived a sheltered life up until then…

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These cookies were also the ones that won Brian over. I remember making these one day before going to work a few years back and brought them to work one night. They worked like a magic love potion, because after he tasted how amazingly soft these spiced cookies were, he immediately fell in love with me and we lived happily ever after after that.

Okay okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it happened,  but I can promise you that these cookies are pretty dang good – so good in fact that it actually is Brian’s favorite dessert item out of everything I’ve ever made.

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In our household, gingersnap cookies are considered one of the classic holiday cookies, along with beautifully decorated sugar cookies and anything with mint and chocolate. To me, it is what kick starts the Christmas holiday season – it smells like the holidays, reminds me of the holidays, and tastes just like the holidays…

I like my cookies soft and chewy in the center while having a slight crispy exterior, which is why this cookie is so amazing. It is also why it’s one of the regular cookies in our cookie rotation. It’s rolled in sugar and slightly flattens out a bit after it cools from the oven. And even if it doesn’t seem like it has a whole lot of classic gingersnap crinkles when you take them out of the oven, those crinkles somehow magically appear after sitting out to cool for a while – see, they are magical little cookies.

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soft and chewy gingersnap cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 3 sticks (1.5 cups) butter, at room temperature
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1 cup for rolling
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/2 cup molasses
  5. 4.5 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 3 teaspoons baking soda
  7. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  8. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the drizzle
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1-2 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and nutmeg. Stir and set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 2 cups of sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add molasses and beat under medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, beat for a few more minutes until thoroughly combined. You might have to stop the mixer and scrap the bottom and edges a bit with a rubber spatula, then mix some more to make sure everything on the bottom is combined.
  3. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  5. Place the remaining 1 cup of sugar in a shallow medium bowl. Roll cookie dough into 1" balls, roll in sugar, and place about 2" apart on your baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are slightly puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before moving them onto a wired cooling rack. Cool completely.
  6. Drizzling these cookies are completely optional. To make the drizzle, whisk the powdered sugar and milk in a medium bowl. Add more milk if mixture is too thick. Place the powdered sugar mixture in a Ziploc bag, cut a small hole on a corner of the bag, and drizzle over cookies.
  7. Makes 65-70 cookies
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
These cookies are crispy, sugary on the outside that is followed by soft, chewy cookie dough spiced with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and molasses on the inside. Heavenly, I tell ya.

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The drizzle on top of these are completely optional – I’ve never drizzled glaze over my gingersnaps up until this year. They turned out to be a nice addition though. If you’re a soft chewy cookie kind of person like me, these are definitely for you!

Have I sold you on these yet? I hope so, because these are definitely a must for the holiday season!

**Disclaimer: This recipe was actually adapted from someone else’s recipe I found online a few years ago. Unfortunately I never wrote down whose original recipe it was – if you happen to stumble upon my post and realize the recipe looks familiar, please let me know and I’ll give you credit for it!

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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After a few months after it came out in theaters, yesterday I finally rented Monsters University on DVD. Has anyone else seen it? The first one was perhaps my favorite Pixar movie ever, so naturally I’ve been itching to watch the prequel to it ever since it came out. I absolutely loved it and thought little Mike Wozowski was the cutest thing ever. I swear I’m just a 12 year old kid in a 27-year-old body….

After lounging around in my PJs all day yesterday, I finally mustered enough energy to go to Kowalski’s to return it last night. You know you’re in the medical field when you say “let me go upstairs and change into something ‘normal’ real quick” before going to store, means changing into a pair of scrub pants. Not yoga pants, not jeans… scrubs. Apparently it’s what I now consider “normal” attire.

I didn’t even notice it until Brian laughed and pointed that out to me at the store. In my defense, I’ve been wearing scrubs 5-6 days a week for the past 8 weeks. I go to work, I wear scrubs. I go to class, I wear scrubs. I go run errands and grocery shop after work, I’m in scrubs. I don’t really go anywhere else so I don’t get to wear a whole lot of “normal people” clothes anymore. On my day off, I don’t really go places so I stay in my PJs.

[sigh]

Since it’s December and December marks the official start of the Christmas season, it’s only right for:

1. Hanging up Christmas decorations around the house…. (Bentley – @boxerbentley on Instagram – helped hang Christmas lights)

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and

2. The first post of December to be something that involved mint and chocolate.

News flash: I’m obsessed with anything that involved mint and chocolate. Every year when stores stock their shelves up with anything mint chocolate, I go crazy and start hoarding all things mint chocolate, enough to last me for the next 11 months. Candy cane coffee, mint M&Ms, peppermint M&Ms, candy cane Oreos, peppermint bark, Andes peppermint candies, all kinds of mint chocolate baking chips, Dove mint chocolates… you name it, I probably have it in my cupboard.

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#mintchocolate4life

This recipe is made in the similar manner I made my pumpkin spice puppy chow back in November – seasonal Hershey’s Kisses mint truffles melted down, poured over gluten free chocolate Chex, coated with powdered sugar. It’s sweet, minty, and really addicting! They’re so addicting that I’m bringing some to work today to share so I don’t eat 5738293 grams of sugar in two days….

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mint chocolate puppy chow
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 bags of 10-oz Hershey's mint truffle Kisses, unwrapped
  2. One 14.25-oz box of chocolate Chex cereal
  3. 3 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Pour the Chex cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the unwrapped Hershey's Kisses until smooth, stirring occasionally. Pour chocolate mixture over the Chex cereal. Stir to make sure all the cereal is coated with chocolate.
  3. Pour the powdered sugar into the large bowl of cereal mixture. Toss and stir thoroughly to make sure everything is evenly coated with the powdered sugar.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
  5. Makes about 8 cups
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Along with being delicious, this recipe is also super easy to make. It only requires 3 ingredients! Three! And there are only about 3 steps to the whole thing as well. From start to finish, it took me less than 30 minutes to make. No baking, no cooling, and not a whole lot of measuring.

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Yep, you’re welcome :)

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning of time, you’ll know that I’m a fan of puppy chow… here are a few other versions for you to try!

pumpkin spice puppy chow

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apple pie spice puppy chow

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orange creamsicle puppy chow

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© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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