Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Our friend Katie's birthday was a couple of days ago. We took over some of these cupcakes along with this ice cream. I used one of my favorite vanilla recipes for the base, added some chocolate chunks and of course a handful (more like a couple of handfuls) of eggless cookie dough bits. It was perfect. I'll definitely be making it again!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
1 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise or 1/2 tsp. ground vanilla bean
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped chocolate chunks (Toll House Chunks)

1 eggless cookie dough recipe- see below

Eggless cookie dough
1/4 c. (4 tbsp.) butter, room temperature
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. water
1/8 c. semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels

1. Warm the milk, salt, sugar and 1 c. of cream in a medium sauce pan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean or add the ground vanilla bean to the warm milk. Cover and keep on low heat (just enough to keep warm) for 30 minutes.
2. Pour the remaining 1 c. of cream into a large mixing bowl and place a mesh sieve on top.
3. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. After combined, scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Using a heatproof spatula, scrape the bottom as you stir, until the mixture coats the bottom of the spatula and/or reaches 170 degrees.
4. Pour the heated mixture through the strainer and into the cream. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Place over an ice bath to cool, then place in refrigerator for 30 minutes until chilled throughout.

6. Meanwhile, to make the cookie dough bits, in a small bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Then mix in flour and water. Gently fold in mini chocolate morsels.
7. Place dough in a ziplock bag, flatten to allow it to cool faster. Place in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, remove and roll into bite size bits (set aside).8. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. When finished churning, stir in cookie bits and chocolate chunks with spatula.
9. Place in a air-tight freezer safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

BITS + PIECES of love


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Breakfast in bed,
a box of goodies from California,
sour cream sugar cookies,
notes from loved ones,
cupcake cookie jar,
PB&J thumbprint cookies,
mail for Stephen,
handmade bag + Stephen's present,
packaged goodies,
gifts- his & hers.

Hope you had a great day, we did!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When I was thinking of things to bake for Valentine's Day, these cookies immediately came to mind (along with a hundred other recipes I've pinned on Pinterest). I asked my mom for the recipe and was so surprised how simple they were to make. Usually we just do a thumbprint in the center when we bake them for Christmas, but instead, I did a heart. You can fill them with any kind of jam you have on hand- strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. shortening
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
(1/4 c. jam)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine shortening, peanut butter and sugar. Beat until creamy.
3. Add vanilla, salt and egg. Mix until combined. Then, with speed on low, gradually add flour until incorporated (the dough will become thick).
4. Using a standard cookie scoop, create a ball of dough. Using your thumb or a spoon, press a deep circle into the center of the cookie. Place on an ungreased sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are golden brown (they will look like they are cracking but once they come out of the oven they usually sink and the cracks disappear).
5. Remove from oven, gently/carefully press down the center if it has become shallow. Transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, using a small spoon, fill with jam.

Tutorial: Heart Gift Bag


Monday, February 13, 2012

This morning I was running errands and suddenly remembered that I needed a bag for Stephen's Valentine's Day present. Being that it was so last minute, the only bag I could find was this really plain brown bag. So when I got home I grabbed some acrylic paint that I had laying around and whipped up this little beauty. You could do it any color you want, any size and you could even use glitter paint- I think he will thank me for not doing that though :)
What you'll need: A gift bag, some paint (it can be glittered), a paint brush, painter's tape, pencil, scissors and a piece of cardstock. To start, fold the cardstock in half, draw half of a heart on the cardstock. Cut out with scissors and open. Make sure you leave room at the top and bottom of the cardstock so that you have a full stencil.
 Tape the stencil to your bag, making sure it is flat (also you will want to gently press down the tape so it doesn't end up ripping part of your bag off when you remove it). Then press the stencil down with your free hand and paint around the edge of the heart. Once the edge is of the heart is finished, fill in the center. Carefully remove the stencil and touch up any rough edges. And voilà, you'll have a perfect heart!

Cream-filled Hostess Style Cupcakes


Saturday, February 11, 2012

I came across this idea on Martha Stewart's website a couple weeks ago and just couldn't help myself. I was never really a huge fan of Hostess cupcakes, but homemade ones sounded pretty tasty. So I did some research, tested some recipes and discovered the best cream filling I've ever tasted. It will put any of those marshmallow fluff-based recipes to shame. I kid you not. I was eating it like it was peanut butter. The cupcakes I made were light, moist and full of chocolatey goodness (although I will warn you that the batter is super runny, so don't be surprised). And of course, these days I always add a pinch of espresso powder to every chocolate thing I make, but if you don't have any, don't worry, it's not really necessary. Anyway, the cupcakes were a huge hit both with my husband, the women at my church activity and myself. So if you have some extra time- make these! You won't regret it! Plus they'd be perfect and easy to personalize for Valentine's day :)

Cream-filled Hostess Style Cupcakes
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's brand)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. warm water + 1/8 tsp. espresso powder
3/4 c. buttermilk (or 3/4 c. whole milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice, let stand for 5 min)
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream filling
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Chocolate ganache
1 c. heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
1 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup
1/8 tsp. vanilla

White icing
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 tbsp. whole milk
1 c. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 cupcake pan with liners, set aside.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk or sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add eggs, warm water w/ espresso powder, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Turn down speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until smooth (no flour/cocoa pockets remain), about 3 minutes.
4. Divide batter evenly among cups, filling 2/3 of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 20-21 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake!
5. Remove from oven, allow them to sit for 3-4 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. To make the cream filling, whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat. Whisk continuously until it begins to thicken... really watch it. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat, whisk out all clumps, and place in refrigerator to cool completely. The mixture must be chilled all of the way thorough before adding it to the butter, or it will melt it.
7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt for 2 minutes on medium-high speed, using the whisk attachment. Add flour and milk mixture. Beat on high for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy (and slightly resembles whipped cream). Chill in refrigerator.
8. When cupcakes are completely cooled, remove a dime sized section from the top, and using a sharp knife (cut out a circle, keeping the "top" will use it as a plug), then make a hole for the filling (or if you have a cupcake corer, use that, but just make sure you have lots of room for filling- the more, the merrier). Pipe the filling into each hole and place the top back on, making sure it is flush with the rest of the cupcake.
9. To make the ganache, heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a separate bowl, combine chocolate, corn syrup and vanilla. Once the cream is heated through, pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes or so before using it.
10. Once ganache is cooled, turn cupcakes over and dip, making sure to cover the top completely and remove excess by swirling it circles and allowing it to drip. Continue the process with each cupcake, then go back and re-dip each cupcake 2 more times (this will build up a thick coating and will help hide the hole).
11. Place cupcakes in refrigerator for 10 minutes so the ganache can solidify. Meanwhile, to make the icing, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add salt and vanilla. Combine. With speed on low, slowly add powdered sugar, then milk. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Then pipe away!
Note: cupcakes should keep for 3 days.

Tootsie Pop Valentines


Friday, February 10, 2012

Katie and I put together these valentines for Emme to give to her friends + classmates at school. Katie found the idea over at Eighteen25 (their site has a lot of cute ideas for 3D valentines). They were pretty simple to put together, the hardest part was trying to get a 3 year old to stick her hand out exactly where it needed to be/ look at the camera simultaneously. But once we got the shot we added a message to it in Photoshop and had the image printed as a 4x6 at Costco. Then all that was left to do was mount the photos on the cardstock and cut two slits above and below her hand to put the tootsie pop through. These are quick and easy to make, and certainly one-of-a-kind.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes


Thursday, February 9, 2012

 For some reason I had this crazy idea of making a million kinds of cupcakes this week. Okay, maybe not a million, more like 3. The cupcake I decided to start out with was this one. I love chocolate chip cookies and I love cupcakes, so how could I not love a chocolate chip cookie cupcake? I've seen several versions of this kind of cupcake floating around sites like Annie's Eats and TidyMom, but mine is different. The base is a sweet vanilla cupcake with both regular and mini chocolate chips scattered throughout. Instead of smashing a giant clump of cookie dough in the center and frosting over it, I made small little bits and used them like sprinkles on top, along with mini chocolate chips. Also I read several reviews of similar cupcakes and saw that a lot of people were complaining about how overly sweet the frosting was, so I used my own version- a brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
Next I'll be making a Valentine version of hostess cupcakes... so keep an eye out.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes
3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (16 tbsp.) butter, room temperature
1 c. sour cream
4 tbsp. whole milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 egg yolks, room temperature
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips + 1/4 c. semi-sweet mini morsels

Eggless cookie dough chunks
1/4 c. (4 tbsp.) butter, room temperature
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. sweetened condensed milk (if you omit this, increase water to 3 tsp.)
2 tsp. water
1 tbsp. semi-sweet mini morsels

Brown sugar frosting
1/2 c. (8 tbsp.) butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, cold
1 tsp. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
10 tbsp. brown sugar, finely ground
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. - 4 tbsp. heavy cream

1/4 c. semi-sweet mini morsels for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 regular size cupcake pans with 24 liners.
2. For the cupcake batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
3. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed for approximately 3 minutes until creamy. Add sour cream, egg, egg yolks and vanilla. Beat at a medium speed until smooth, approximately 30 seconds.
4. Gradually add dry ingredients by turning mixer to low speed and slowly pouring mixture in. Mix until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips by hand.
5. With a standard size scoop, divide batter evenly among cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until tops of cupcakes are lightly golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool in cupcake pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. For cookie dough chunks, using a small bowl and a spatula, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until dough becomes firm. Roll into small balls to sprinkle on top of frosting.
7. To make the frosting, in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese and brown sugar (for the brown sugar you can use a blender, food processor or a magic bullet to create a finer texture) on medium-high speed for 1 minute.
8. Add vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then turn up speed to medium, beating for on minute until it becomes fluffy. Add cream, taking into consideration the texture of your frosting, until you get the consistency desired. Beat for 1 additional minute.
9. Frost each cupcake, then garnish with cookie dough chunks and mini morsels.
10. Serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Stephen + Natalie | Makes approximately 24 standard cupcakes

An upgrade of sorts


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The past couple of months have been full of long runs and tired feet. Stephen and I have been training for the Gate River Run 15k which will be in March, here in Jacksonville. A couple of weeks ago I began to notice how the cushioning in my shoes was less than cushy- of course, that is to be expected when you've been wearing them for the past year or so. Finally I caved and bought a new pair in hopes of breaking them in before the big race (Gel Kayano-18's... I'm so glad Asics makes a new and improved version of them... and that they were in stock at a local running store). So far, so good. I did a 4.25 mile run yesterday and it felt like I was running on clouds.
Love that feeling. Seriously. I'm one happy runner.

Yesterday, according to my phone


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

babysat the Rudder kids (Will's favorite monkey)
colored + played + painted toenails
flowers from Katie
went grocery shopping then running... 
reminded myself how much I need new shoes
finally found a spot to display the cake stands I've collected + made a 1/2 
batch of PW's restaurant-style salsa to go with our tacos for dinner. 
I was a little skeptical when I was making it, but it was soooo good! (go here for the recipe)

Soft and Sweet Snickerdoodles


Friday, February 3, 2012

Back in high school I took several culinary arts classes. One of our requirements
was that we had to put together a recipe binder of all the things we made and all the menus
we created for our campus restaurant. Since then, I've loaded it with family recipes
and ones that I've found/love from the internet. The other day when I was browsing through it,
I ran across a recipe for snickerdoodle cookies. I remember that we, our class, made them often.
We'd sell them with our chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls at break. Since it had been
such a long time since I had made them [my latest snickerdoodle creation being in cupcake form],
I decided to give them a go. They were a huge hit back then, and still are today :)

2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. shortening (I use regular, but butter flavored or half of each works too)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
3 tbsp. whole milk
{to roll dough in- mix together in small bowl}
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening on medium-high speed for 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, mixing after each addition, then milk and vanilla. 
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt and cinnamon.
4. While mixer is set to low speed, slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until combined.
5. Remove bowl from mixer and chill dough for 30 minutes. Once dough is sufficiently chilled, use a standard cookie scoop to create balls. Roll dough in hands to form balls, then roll into cinnamon sugar mixture. Place onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass cup.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheet half way through the baking process. Once cookies begin to brown, remove from oven (don't over cook them or they will be dry and crumbly). 
7. Let cookies cool on sheet for 3-5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Graham Cracker S'mores Bars


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I came across this recipe one afternoon and immediately knew I had to make it. Something about baked s'mores just intrigued me. Also s'mores bring back a lot of good memories for me... like bonfires in the canyon with roommates and friends. So I made a few alterations to the original recipe and voilà! They're kind of amazing little things. When I was scooping the dough onto the graham crackers, I just wanted to eat a handful of it, and when they were baking it made our entire house smell hea-ven-ly. The process does require a little bit of time and certainly more work than standard cookie bars do, but I think you'll agree that the results are well worth it!

Graham Cracker S'mores Bars
11 tbsp. butter, room temperature
½ c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2½ c. flour
1¼ c. mini marshmallows
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chunks (Nestlé Toll House)
¾ c. mini semi-sweet morsels (Nestlé Toll House)
3 Hershey's bars, broken into squares (I used 1 regular, 2 dark)
2 sleeves honey graham crackers, broken into squares

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars (1-2 minutes).
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to combine.
4. Add egg one at a time to butter mixture, gently beating after each addition. Add vanilla and mix.
5. Slowly begin to add flour mixture to the butter mixture, keeping the mixing speed low while doing so.
Once combined, remove and fold in 1c. mini marshmallows, mini morsels and chocolate chunks. Chill mixture in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
6. While mixture is chilling, prepare baking sheet (standard size, with sides) by lining it with parchment paper. Take graham crackers and break in half. Lay out onto sheet, until it is completely full (they should cover the entire sheet and cookies should be tight and touching- see picture).
7. Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and using a standard cookie scoop, place one ball of dough onto each cracker. use remaining dough to fill in the gaps. It may look like a lot of dough, but it all needs to run together in order to cover the entire sheet.
8. Place into oven for 6 minutes, then remove and press Hershey's bar pieces into top along with remaining 1/4 c. marshmallows (just fill in the gaps with them a little). Return to oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until dough and marshmallows being to brown, making sure the dough is cooked through. Remove from oven and place sheet on a wire rack to cool. Once it is sufficiently cooled (20 minutes or so) place into refrigerator to solidify. Remove after an additional 20 minutes and cut into squares.
Adapted from Always With Butter | Makes approximately 30 bars

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