Brownie Cookies

We have all heard of the new way of making cookies: taking a cake mix, skipping adding the milk or water, and making a cookie dough out of it. Those cookies turn out nice and fluffy, and they are great for frosting and decorating.

Then, a friend told me that I could do the exact same thing with a brownie mix! I was shocked and excited all at the same time! I mean, they don’t turn out all fluffy like the cake mixes, so they aren’t even close to the same kind of thing. They come out thin, with slightly crispy edges and a super soft center. I love them!

It’s actually really easy to do, and they are definitely a crowd pleaser. And, they don’t take very long, so you can make them whenever you’re craving something sweet. You won’t have to wait too long for it!

This is how I make cookies from the brownie mix:

Ingredients:

1 boxed brownie mix
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil

(Your ingredients may vary. Use the specified oil, eggs, and flour amounts that are listed on the back. The amount of flour will be labeled something like “High altitude instructions.”)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and spray some non-stick spray on a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, and vegetable oil. Make sure it is really well combined. Then, add the brownie mix. Be sure you don’t over mix in this step because the cookie will come out really tough and chewy. No one likes those cookies that stick to every groove of your teeth.

Use a small spoon to scoop the dough in about 1 inch balls onto the cookie sheet. Place them about three inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake for only 5-7 minutes. Do not over bake! They will become cookie chips that are practically inedible.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack, and serve.

Pizza Dough

Pizza dough has to be one of the most difficult breads to master. I know I struggled with them for a really long time. But making your own pizza dough opens up so many doors when it comes to creating your own pizzas at home. For instance, you can create dessert pizzas, grill the pizza bread, or even invest in a pizza baking stone for your oven to make a super crispy crust. You can make really thin crust, thick pan pizza crust, or get really adventurous and make a deep dish pizza.

Pizza is just one of those meals that are so versatile, and learning to make your own creates so many more options. Once you’ve mastered the dough, you’re pizza options will be limitless. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 packets of active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. You want the water to be between 106 and 115 degrees for best results. Stir the water well, and let it sit for about 8-10 minutes. It should be foamy, and if it’s not, something is wrong, and you need to try again.

Then, in a mixer, combine the yeast water, flour, salt, and olive oil. Use your single spiral mixer attachment for best results. Some hand mixers also have this attachment, but don’t try to use beaters. If you don’t have a mixer, you’ll have to do it by hand. It will be a bit of work, but be patient. Let the mixer run for about ten minutes. The dough should be completely incorporated, and it shouldn’t be sticking to the sides. If your dough is sticking, add a bit more flour. If there is still flour visible, add a few tablespoons of water, and continue to mix.

Once mixed properly, pull it out, and knead it for another two to three minutes with your hands. Then, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Allow it to rise for about 30 minutes. I like to place mine next to my preheating oven so make sure that it’s in a warm enough environment.

Then, pull out your dough and cut it into two pieces. Roll it out a bit, then let it rest for another ten minutes. Be sure that you cover it with a damp cloth.

Use a rolling pin to roll your dough out to the desired thickness. Add your toppings, and put it into a 450 degree oven for about ten minutes. The crust should be nice and brown.

Cut into slices, and eat up!

Key Lime Pie

There is nothing quite like a key lime pie. It has such a tart flavor, and it’s really uncommon in the dessert world. Not many people really enjoy it. I think it’s because many are afraid to try it. It can seem intimidating, or maybe people would just rather have something sweeter or chocolatey. But I think that key lime pie is great!

It tends to do well in the summer because the limes are more in season, but there is no reason why you can’t have a slice all year long. If you can find fresh limes, you can always use the bottled lime juice to add that tangy flavor.

Here is my recipe for key lime pie:

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 cups graham crackers
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp. melted butter

Filling:

1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup lime juice
zest of 1 lime (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Mix well. Then, add the melted butter. Combine it well so that everything is moist. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a pie pan (I use the 9 inch size), and place it in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, and allow it to cool before putting the filling in.

Then, in another bowl, combine the condensed milk and egg yolks. If you aren’t confident in separating eggs, crack your eggs into a separate bowl, then use a slotted spoon to remove the yolks. You’ll get it right every time, and your hands won’t get covered in egg goo.

Add your lime juice and zest to the mix, and stir really well. Pour your mix onto your pie crust, and put the pie in the oven. Bake for approximately 14-18 minutes, or until the center has set up. Let it cool on a wire rack until it’s at room temperature, then transfer it into the refrigerator. Top with whipped cream, and enjoy!

Lemon Bars

My brother has an obsession with lemon flavored desserts. He loves lemon cream pie, and he always asks for lemon-lime cake. I’ll have to add that recipe later. It’s super easy, and you can use the icing recipe that I’ve already posted to top it all off.

Lemon bars are really delicious, and they tend to remind me of spring time and Easter. Maybe it’s because my grandma likes to make them during that time of year. Anyway, I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to adjust these to the altitude, but I found that sticking pretty close to my grandma’s original recipe and adding just a bit more liquid worked perfectly. I love to make these, and they are always a crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. cold, cubed butter

Filling:

1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
zest of two lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tps. salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a baking pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt for the crust. Then, add the butter, and beat with a mixer until the ingredients begin to clump together. Gently press this mixture into the bottom of your pan, and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, combine the sugar, eggs, and zest. Beat the ingredients until they are fluffy. Then, add the lemon juice, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for about four or five minutes. You want the filling to be really smooth and creamy, so you really can’t over mix the batter.

Once your crust is done, prick holes about three inches apart all over the crust. Then, pour your filling over it. Bake the entire thing for about 25-30 minutes. Remove, and allow the bars to cool to room temperature, then place them in the refrigerator for two hours. Use a serrated knife to cut them into bars, and serve.

For a bit more sweetness, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top before serving. Enjoy!

 

Cheesecake

Ever since that one episode of Friends, I tend to enjoy a good cheesecake just a little more. I can remember laughing so hard when Rachel tripped, dropping her portion of the cheesecake. Then, when Chandler was mocking her, she swatted his plate out of his hand. It was so hilarious! Then, when Joey finds them eating it off the floor, it just becomes perfect. That cheesecake must have been really amazing.

I tend to like my cheesecake to be more on the moist side, and I’d rather have thick custard feel to it, as opposed to a fluffy texture. I also like the graham cracker crust to be crumbly, not crispy. So I’ve kind of altered this recipe to fit my tastes. It’s a bit of work to make this cake, but I think it’s worth the effort.

Ingredients:

Filling:

4 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Crust:

6 tbsp. melted butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, spread a piece of tin foil across the bottom of your spring form pan. This will help a whole lot when you take out your cake. Spray some non-stick spray all over the pan and foil.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the butter graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Make sure you mix it all really well. It should be the texture of wet beach sand. Then, press the mixture into the bottom of your spring form pan. Be sure that it reaches all the edges, and you pack it really well.

Then, in a mixer, beat your cream cheese until it gets soft. Then, add the sugar. Beat for about two minutes. Next, add the corn starch, sour cream, and salt. Mix for another minute. Add the eggs one at a time. Then, add the lemon juice, and mix it well. Finally, add your filling to your spring form pan.

Bake it for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. It will still jiggle, but it shouldn’t be liquid. To make sure your cracks on the top can close back up, cool on a wire rack until it’s room temperature, then put it in the refrigerator over night. Remove from the spring form pan, top with your favorite fruit preserves, and enjoy!

 

Oven S’Mores

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as the taste of graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate and melted together in a gooey sandwich of amazingness. Okay… maybe I love s’mores a little too much, but they really are good!

The only down side is that they are a summer treat. You have them when you’re out at a campfire or having a bonfire on the beach. When winter hits, the campfires go inside, and the s’mores go into hibernating. Or do they?

Personally, I like to be able to enjoy s’mores all year round. So I had to figure out a way to make them in my kitchen that didn’t involve a real fire on my counter, or killing my microwave with marshmallow slime. This is what I’ve come up with. I hope you get a chance to try it out this winter. If you think s’mores are amazing all on their own, just wait until you have one paired with a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

Oven S’mores

Ingredients:

12 graham cracker squares
6 large marshmallows
3 Hershey’s chocolate bars

Directions:

First, turn on your broiler to its lowest setting. If you set it too high, you’ll end up with burnt marshmallows that aren’t even warm on the inside. Let the broiler preheat for about five minutes.

On a cookie sheet, place 6 of your graham cracker squares down. Then, top it with half a Hershey bar. Finally, add a marshmallow on top of that. Put it flat side down so that it doesn’t roll around when you move the tray. Place the cookie sheet in the oven, and allow it to heat for about 4 minutes. Pull the s’mores out, and immediately top them with the remaining graham cracker squares!

If you want to be even more creative, substitute the regular squares for other candy bars. Reese Cups work really well, and you can even try Kit Kats, or whatever your favorite candy bar might be.

I hope you enjoy!

Simple Icing

I love to use icing on a ton of different baked items. It goes well on cookie, cupcakes, muffins, cakes, scones, and just about anything else you can think of. But making icing can be intimidating, and many think it’s easier to just buy icing from the store. This will end up costing you quite a bit more, and you’ll end up ingesting all the preservatives and artificial coloring that they add to those. If you really enjoy baking, learning to make icing is an essential skill.

There are actually several kinds of icing, including buttercream, whipped cream, and citrus flavored. The recipe I use is just two simple ingredients, and it comes out perfect every time. In fact, you can alter it to be whatever consistency you want. For some cakes, you may want a dripping effect, so you’d make the icing much thinner. For things like cupcakes, you would want to use a thicker icing that you can pipe or spread with a knife. You can even make it really thin to use for homemade donuts. The uses for this icing are endless.

It’s easy to make, and you can ensure that it’s as fresh as possible. Here is the recipe I use:

Ingredients:

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk

Directions:

Using a mixer or an electric hand mixer, add one tbsp of milk at a time to the powdered sugar. When you’ve reached the desired consistency, continue to mix for another minute to make sure the sugar dissolves. Otherwise, your icing may get a weird mouth feel, like it’s coating the inside of your mouth with powder. Use it immediately. If it sits in the bowl for too long, it gets stale, and starts to stiffen.

For things like lemon cake or other baked goods that would go well with citrus flavors, use lemon juice instead of milk. You can also substitute the milk for other flavored juices, if your recipe would benefit from it.

Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

I really love sugar cookies, especially when the holidays roll around. They are just such a versatile cookie. You can drop a scoop of ice cream over them during the summer, or decorate them to match the theme of any birthday or holiday. They taste great with frosting, sprinkles, fruit spread, or even just plain. There really isn’t much you can put on a sugar cookie that would ruin it.

I really like to make this particular recipe because it ships well. I like to send them home to my family occasionally, and the cookies always make it there still gooey and soft. I also like them because they are easy to make with kids. I look forward to teaching my daughter how to bake one day, and this recipe will definitely be one of the first ones we do together.

I hope you love them as much as I do!

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375, and spray your cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. If you don’t have any powdered sugar, just put some regular granulated sugar in a blender, and let it run for about three or four minutes. It works perfectly.

Add the egg and vanilla to your butter mixture, and beat for another minute until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, making sure that the baking soda gets distributed evenly. Add the flour to your original butter mixture, and mix it until the dough is fully incorporated, but only just so. Place the dough in a bowl, and refrigerate the dough for about an hour.

Then, on a floured surface, roll out your dough to about 1/2 an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter (or even the round top of a cup) to shape your cookies. They won’t spread very much, so you can place them pretty close together on the pan. Bake them for about 8 minutes, or until the dough starts to brown slightly around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Decorate and enjoy!

Gluten Free Brownies

Gluten-free seems to be a major food trend in today’s world. Some have to adopt the diet because they have a gluten allergy. Others just cut gluten out of their foods because they believe it to be a much healthier way to eat. No matter what the case, I’d like to provide a recipe for them, too.

One of my best friends in college had a gluten intolerance, I kind of felt bad for her. She couldn’t really eat a lot of the things that were available on campus. It was even worse when we would have some sort of class celebration. She always looked so bummed when she would look over all the amazing looking food.

So I did my research, and I found this recipe for brownies. I have changed it some because the original recipe always came out really dry and gluey, which was kind of gross. It took me about ten batches to finally get it right. And I made it a point to take it to every single classroom potluck just for her. She was super grateful, and it made me feel good that I could give her a little something special.

So here it is!

Gluten Free Brownies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2/3 cups cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup gluten-free flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly flour a baking pan. Set aside.

Create a double boiler on your stove. A double boiled is just a large metal bowl sitting over water that’s boiling in a large pot. Add the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder into your double boiler. Stir until everything is melted and combined. It should be a nice syrupy texture. Then add the vanilla and mix well.

Remove it from the heat and add the eggs one at a time. Be sure to mix it well. The add the flour, salt, and chocolate chips. Mix it until the flour is just barely wet. Over mixing can make your brownies really tough, so be careful. Pour the batter into your baking pan, and put it in the oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes. The time will vary based on the pan size you’re using. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, the brownies are ready.

Allow them to cool for at least ten minutes, then enjoy!

Apple Hand Pies

Hand pies are so much fun to make, and they are a great recipe to try with the kids. Let them practice rolling out the dough or forming the pie shapes. They can use small bits of dough to personalize their own little pie, as well, which is really fun for them.

This is a bit more for the advance baker, so, if you aren’t very confident with your baking skills, I recommend buying a pre-made pie dough, then jumping in on the recipe where you start making the filling. This way, you can be sure that your pie dough won’t break or fall apart during assembly or baking.

I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Pie Crust:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cups butter
4 tbsp. water

Filling:

4 apples, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup white sugar

1 egg for an eggwash

Directions. 

First, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Then, using a pastry cutter, mix in the butter. It will be kind of lumpy, but that’s okay. Then, add the water. The goal is to ensure that all the flour gets wet, without making the dough overly moist. If you still have some dry flour, continue adding 1/2 a tablespoon until the problem is resolved. Cover your dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

Then, in a pan, melt the butter with the cinnamon and nutmeg on a medium heat. Add the apples, and pour the sugar evenly over the tops. Saute them for about 8 minutes. You want to get the apples to be soft, but not mushy. To check, push a fork into one. It should go into the apple slice easily, but not slip out of the fruit’s flesh.

After your filling is ready, set it aside. Roll out your dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 an inch thick. Then, cut out circles approximately 5 inches in diameter. You can use a cookie cutter, a bowl, or even just a knife. Then, scoop a small amount of filling onto one half of the circle. Fold the other half of the dough over the top, and press the edges to seal it. Then, scramble an egg, and brush it over the tops of the pies. Cut three diagonal slits along the top.

Bake the pies at 375 for about 12-15 minutes, or until the dough is a golden brown color.

Enjoy!