Yearly Archives: 2013

October Recap

Oct-recap-2

October was pretty awesome this year.  I had lots of fun bringing you some great fall and Halloween themed treats.

The highlight of the month, for me, was the Halloween Party I held with my friends.  Each of us shared a Halloween food with you.  I hope you saw it, my friends came up with some really fantastic stuff!  It’s always fun getting together with them, and finding some fantastic new recipes.

Are we connected on Facebook?  I’ve been quite devoted all month to bringing you lots of recipes from myself and lots of other great bloggers on my Facebook page.  If you’re fond of finding beautiful recipe ideas on Facebook, (and really, who isn’t?) you should say hi to me over there.

Want an idea of what’s coming up in November?  Scroll to the bottom of this post to find out!

Here’s what happened in October:

Russian-tea-cakes-7 Russian Tea Cakes

These classic shortbread cookies are loaded with walnuts
or pecans and rolled in powdered sugar.  They make a
perfect Christmas cookie!

german-chocolate-skillet-cake-6 German Chocolate Skillet Cake

This simple but delicious chocolate cake is baked in a
cast iron skillet.  Top it with this great coconut pecan
frosting to complete the picture.

dk-choc-muddy-buddy-5 Dark Chocolate Coconut Muddy Buddies

If you want a Halloween treat that is slightly more adult,
you’ll love these muddy buddies.  The dark chocolate,
coconut, and pistachios might be enough to make kids
lose interest, so adults can indulge while relaxing!

12-easy-halloween-treats 12 Quick and Easy Halloween Treats

If you want a Halloween party, but you’re short on time,
this collection is for you!  All treats in here are super
quick and super easy!  You can have the cutest party on
the block in minutes!

spider-cookies-5 Spider Cookies

Turn basic chocolate chip cookies into fun spider cookies
for Halloween!  Kids will love making and eating this
seasonal treat!

Butterfinger-bark-6 Butterfinger Bark & Halloween Party

This easy homemade candy tastes very similar to
Butterfinger candy bars!  Cut it into fun Halloween shapes
for the holiday.  While you’re here check out the other
fantastic Halloween recipes!

hot-spiced-cider-2 Hot Spiced Cider

Turn apple juice or apple cider into a warm and relaxing
hot buttered spiced cider drink.  It is perfect for cool
weather and sick days!

ginger-cookies-with-molasses-2 Molasses Waffle Cookies with Chocolate Frosting

These molasses cookies are baked in a waffle iron!  They
can be made very quickly and easily without heating up
the oven!  Top with chocolate frosting for a fun seasonal
treat.

For several months now, I’ve been contributing to the site “My Cooking Spot” once a month.  In October, I shared these delicious OREO TRUFFLES, rolled in seasonal sprinkles.  These were quite popular at my house.  Not only did my kids eat them all within a few hours, (and literally left the empty dish in the fridge!  Thanks kids!) but they’ve been asking me every week to make them again.

What’s coming up in November?  Cookie Week!  Cookie Week is the second week of November, and will be a large event with lots and lots of great holiday cookies, with fun giveaways for prizes!  If you like to bake cookies for the holidays, you will not want to miss this event.

Also?  A new feature… Wordless Wednesday.  Periodically I will be sharing recipes that can be described with no words at all.  These posts will be pictures only, and they should be a fun and different way to share recipes.

I can’t wait to share all this great stuff with you in November!  Thanks for being part of my life and my blog in October, I certainly appreciate your support.  If you haven’t yet, please consider subscribing to e-mail updates, to be sure you see all the latest and greatest JFC stuff in your inbox!  (click the brown box below to subscribe.)

Molasses Waffle Cookies with Chocolate Frosting

Ginger cookies with molasses;  These easy ginger molasses cookies are made in a waffle iron and topped with chocolate frosting.

ginger-cookies-with-molassesIt’s fall, and I have a lot of cookie recipes planned to share with you.

A LOT.  So many, in fact, I was having trouble deciding which to share first.

I polled my Facebook fans… most of them voted for an eggnog cookie.  I polled my children… they voted for cookies I’ve already made.  I polled my friends… many of them suggested an apple pie cookie.

Oh, the decisions!

Here’s the thing.  I already made an Apple Pie Cookie.  Alright, the photos are pretty bad (practice makes perfect, right?) but the cookies are pretty good.  And I have ideas for eggnog cookies but I haven’t worked out the details yet.  And I don’t have any eggnog in the fridge today.  (If you’re having eggnog dessert cravings, I recommend these bars or these cookies.  Both excellent, if I do say so myself.)

Ultimately, the deciding factor was that my life got a little nuts.  I forget what it’s like when Robb leaves town.  My already crammed full schedule gets even worse, with no support from him.  It was lucky we had dinner this week, let alone cookies.

Molasses Waffle Iron Cookies from Jen's Favorite Cookies

Have you ever made cookies in the waffle iron?  Granted, you can only make 4 cookies at a time, but they cook quickly, and you don’t have to heat up your oven. Continue reading “Molasses Waffle Cookies with Chocolate Frosting” »

Hot Spiced Cider

Spiced hot cider recipes; this spiced hot cider recipe is quick and easy to make and delicious!

spiced-hot-cider-recipesWe don’t drink many hot beverages around here, even in the winter.  We aren’t coffee drinkers, and Robb usually complains about hot chocolate being too sweet, which just leaves us with the occasional cup of herbal tea, and this hot spiced cider.

Hot spiced cider has long been a family favorite.  We usually buy the packaged mixes, for convenience, but every once in a while, I like to make the real stuff.  The kind made from actual apples.

I usually only make it when Robb is sick.  Maybe one of these days I’ll convince him to make it when I’m sick!

It just feel so good to have something clear, warm, sweet, and a little spicy when you have a sore throat or a cough.  It’s not a cure, by any means, but it brings some welcome relief, let me tell you.

Hot Spiced Cider from Jen's Favorite Cookies

I like to throw the spices right into the pot with the cider.  Some people like to complain about that.

“There’s a lot of… stuff in the bottom of my cup.”
“That’s the stuff that makes it taste good.”
{looks skeptical}

Hot Spiced Cider from Jen's Favorite Cookies

If you’re not a big fan of “stuff” in the bottom of your cup, you can totally wrap up all your spices in a piece of cheesecloth, tie it up in a neat little package with a piece of string, and drop the whole thing in the pot.  When you’re ready to serve your cider, just retrieve the packet of spices and toss it.

Voila!  A hot drink the whole family can enjoy!

 More wintery beverages you might like:

Wassail Wassail eggnog mocktailBlack Cherry Eggnog CranLime1Cranberry Lime Sodas

 

Hot Spiced Cider
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A warm spiced apple drink.
Author:
Recipe type: Beverages
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 2 cups apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp. cloves
  • ½ T. butter
Instructions
  1. Place apple juice in a pan with water, sugar, and spices.
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot but not boiling.
  3. Remove from heat, add butter, and stir until melted. Serve hot.

 If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Hot Cider Nog from Hannah and Bryan
Hot Cider Floats from Seasonal Family
Apple Cider Ice Cream from Chocolate Moosey

*This post contains affiliate links.

Butterfinger Bark and Halloween Food Party

Easy Homemade Candy; this candy is similar to Butterfinger candy bars, and easy to make.

easy homemade candyI think I need to be up front about this and tell you that this brilliant genius easy-candy idea was not mine.  I wish it was, don’t get me wrong, but I really just cannot take credit.

I found this on Cookies and Cups, although I’m not sure Shelley can take credit either.  Whoever first thought to melt candy corn and mix it with peanut butter should get some kind of award.

The only part of this that was actually my idea was using the coffin-shaped cookie cutter.

Okay, so maybe I’m not in the running for genius of the year, but that is not going to stop me from sharing this fantastic recipe with you.  Because who knew you could make your own Butterfinger Candy Bars at home?!

Shelley is right that the texture is not quite as good as the real thing, but the flavor is, fo sho.  If you want a full tutorial with awesome pics and everything, just click through to the Cookies and Cups post.  But if you’re looking for more genius-of-the-year Halloween recipe ideas, you’re better off hanging out here.

Butterfinger Bark from Jen's Favorite Cookies

Because, y’all?!  My friends are back!!  And we’ve gathered up some amazing-awesome Halloween recipes just for you.  Because that’s the kind of friends we are.

Here’s the story.  Each one of my friends has made something fun today, and below is a photo and link to each and every one of them.  If I know you, you’re going to want to check out all of them.  Because that’s the kind of friend you are.  You might even be the friend who wants to share these ideas with your friends on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or whatever else you’re using.

Just click each image below to read the posts and get the recipes.

Butterfinger Bark from Jen's Favorite Cookies Chocolate Pumpkin Cut-Out Cookies from Created By Diane Chocolate Crepes with Pumpkin Filling from Pineapple and Coconut Vampire Delight Martini Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookie Cups from Chocolate Moosey Rice Krispie Candy Corn from That Skinny Chick Can Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Halloween Puppy Chow Homemade Sour Patch Kids from What Smells So Good Reese's PB&C Pretzel Crust Pie from Hungry Couple Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies from Crumb Blog Pumpkin Pie Fudge from Juanita's Cocina Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake from Gotta Get Baked

Let’s talk about Butterfingers again.  Am I boring you yet?

easy homemade candy homemade-butterfinger

Important Tip #1: Use fresh candy corn.  Just like with marshmallows in krispie treats, old and stale candy corn is not your friend.  Feed those to the kids and get a new bag for your Butterfingers.

Important Tip #2: Get the peanut butter ready ahead of time, as well as a big strong spoon and some elbow grease.  Once the candy corn comes out of the microwave, you’re going to need to get crackin’ on mixing in that peanut butter.  This stuff sets up fast, it’s hard to stir, and you’re going to need to work fast and hard.

Slightly less Important Tip #3:  You probably figured this out on your own, but the coffin cookie cutter is totally unnecessary.  Personally, I made a few Butterfinger coffins, and then I cut the rest into neat little rectangles with a big knife.  I like this idea too, because you can control the portion size (for my kids.  and myself.) and you don’t have any waste.

I hope you enjoy this bark, and all the genius Halloween recipes today!  Drop me a comment below if you did!

Butterfinger Bark

A simple homemade candy similar to Butterfinger candy bars.
Author: Jen @ Jen’s Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces chocolate chips (2 bags)
  • 10 ounces candy corn (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  • Place half the chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish, and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted.

  • Spread melted chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with foil.
  • In a separate bowl, place candy corn. Microwave until melted, about 90-120 seconds. Very quickly stir, and stir in peanut butter. Mix well to combine.
  • Spread candy corn mixture over chocolate layer carefully.
  • Melt remaining chocolate as before, and spread over the top of the candy corn layer.
  • Chill in fridge for about an hour, until set. Cut into pieces with a knife or cookie cutter. Store in refrigerator.

Spider Cookies

These Cute Halloween cookies are easy to make!

Spider Cookies for Halloween from JensFavoriteCookies.comFortunately for me, my kids are easily entertained.

The Hippie Chick thinks anything related to bathroom activities, farting, or rear ends is hysterical.  HYSTERICAL.  She’s far worse than both her brothers… combined.

Just say the word “crack” and she will start giggling uncontrollably.

The other day, while Robb and I were talking in the kitchen, Hippie Chick was around the corner in the hall.  Robb was describing himself as a crotchety old man.  She was quietly, closed-mouth giggling to herself.

“You have to stop saying crotchety,” I told Robb.  “All she hears is ‘crotch.’ ”

I suppose some teens would not be amused by something as simple as a chocolate chip spider on a cookie, but I can count on my kids to find some enjoyment in this.

Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure the boys enjoyed the cookies more than the spiders.

Spider Cookies for Halloween from JensFavoriteCookies.com

The cookies themselves are a basic chocolate chip cookie.  I included a recipe below, but feel free to use whatever chocolate chip cookie recipe you prefer.  In fact, I have a collection of 100 Chocolate Chip Cookies, so you’re sure to find one you like here!

You will need some good chocolate chips.  For this project, I used the Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.  They are seriously my favorite.  They’re so yummy.  They’re also slightly larger and flatter than the chips of my childhood, which makes them perfect for this job.

Spider Cookies for Halloween from JensFavoriteCookies.com

Before you mix the chocolate chips into the dough, reserve about a half cup of them.

Once you have mixed up the dough, and placed beautiful little cookie dough balls on your baking sheet, press one or two chocolate chips into the top of each cookie.  These need to sit on top, and not be mixed into the dough.

After the cookies are baked, and while they are still warm, use a toothpick to draw “legs” on your chocolate chip spiders.

Spider Cookies for Halloween from JensFavoriteCookies.comSpider Cookies for Halloween from JensFavoriteCookies.com

Some tips and tricks:

Tip #1:  Don’t try to drag the chocolate out into legs.  It just makes a mess.  Instead, pretend your toothpick is an old-fashioned fountain pen, (the kind Mr. Darcy uses!) and the chocolate is the ink.  Dip the toothpick in the chocolate and use it to draw the legs.

Tip #2:  The toothpick-fountain-pen doesn’t actually draw very well.  It works better if you make a series of small dots that connect into a line.

Tip #3:  A couple on each pan may not turn out perfect.  Plan accordingly.  {Read: These are not suitable for serving, and must be consumed immediately!}

When you’re all done, just look for some kids who are easily impressed to tell you how great they are!

More spooky Halloween treats:

chocolate cookie recipeSalted Dark Chocolate
Cookies
gumdropsHomemade
Gumdrops
printableFree Halloween
Printables

 

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A basic chocolate chip cookie.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 4 dozen
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (10 oz.)
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add soda, salt, and flour, and mix until combined.
  3. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 9-11 minutes.

If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops from Just a Taste
Halloween Cupcakes from Tidy Mom

cute halloween cookies

12 Easy Halloween Treats

Halloween Easy Treats;  For this Halloween, easy treats are the way to go!

12-easy-halloween-treatsLet’s just say you wanted to put together a fun Halloween party for your kids.  Or your friends.  Or your kids friends.  Or your friends kids.  Whatever.

And let’s just say you didn’t want to spend a day and a half baking fancy treats and making complicated crafty decorations.  You might like some fun Halloween ideas like those I’ve collected for you today.

Personally, I’m not in love with Halloween.  Maybe you remember?

I looked around the wide wide wide web, and asked my friends, and their friends, and found a few treats that fit my very narrow criteria.

1) They must be Halloween.  Not just fall, not just candy corn, but actual Halloween.
2) They must be easy.  Crazy-easy.  Your-five-year-old-could-make-it easy.
3) They must be fast.  If they take more than about 10 minutes of my personal hands-on time, they’re not going to be worth it for this party.  (*Disclaimer: a couple of these recipes might take more than 10 minutes total, but not much more.  Seriously.)

So here we go:

12 Easy Halloween Treats

Black Widow Spider Bites SquareBlack Widow
Spider Bites
halloween-ghosties-11Nutter Butter
Ghosts
Halloween-Pretzel-Sticks-2Chocolate Covered
Pretzel Sticks
Tootsie Pop Ghosts 1Tootsie Pop
Ghosts
spider-web-cookieGiant Spider Web
Cookie
Witch-Hats-2Witch Hat
Bread Sticks
Candy-Stuffed-Rice-Crispy-Treat-Pumpkins-0155-1024x682Candy Stuffed
Pumpkin Treats
3-IMG_1732Dipped Oreo
Cookies
Pumpkin-Fruit-Cups-with-Witch-HatsFruit Cup
Pumpkins
DSC_1529-mummyMummy Candy
Bars
Herbed bread sticks 9Herbed Bread
Bones
Halloween-Flour-Tortilla-Chips-002Halloween Shaped
Tortilla Chips

 

I love all these ideas, and I can totally see myself making all of them.

I should tell you that this is not the end of my Halloween plans for this year.  Coming up next week:  another Halloween party, where all my friends contribute their amazing holiday creations with you!

You won’t want to miss that one.

Have a great Halloween season!  And check out these other Halloween treat ideas!

More Halloween easy treats!

pumpkin-roll-bars-9Pumpkin Roll Bars pumpkin-fudge-cookie-bars-6Pumpkin Fudge Cookies pumpkin oat cookiesPumpkin No-Bake Cookie

Halloween easy treats

Dark Chocolate Coconut Muddy Buddies

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, PEOPLE Magazine & Hershey’s, but all my opinions are my own. #HersheysPeople #pmedia http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

dk-choc-muddy-buddy-5True story:  A ton of my friends tell me Halloween is their favorite holiday.  But me?  Not so much.

In fact, I kind of hate Halloween.  I hate spending money on candy and coming up with costumes for my kids, and dealing with candy wrappers all over the house.

I do like passing out candy, though.  And I like the decorations.  But that’s about it.

It seems like Halloween is always hectic.  Is that just me?  Between the school parties for the kids, and trying to get everyone into their costumes, and get some actual dinner in them, and the trick-or-treating, and visiting the grandparents, and passing out candy… there is just a lot to do.  It’s always a busy night.

I mean, let’s face it, sometimes a girl needs a break.

Let me be more specific:  Sometimes, on Halloween, a mom needs 10 minutes to herself, so she doesn’t lose her cool.  We all know what that looks like, and it ain’t pretty.  It might be the scariest part of Halloween, actually.

dk-choc-muddy-buddy-1

Here’s what you do…   Continue reading “Dark Chocolate Coconut Muddy Buddies” »

German Chocolate Skillet Cake

German Chocolate Skillet Cake; This chocolate cake is made in a skillet and topped with coconut pecan frosting.  You’ll love this German Chocolate Skillet Cake!

German Chocolate Skillet CakeI remember, there was a time when I didn’t fully appreciate a good cast iron skillet.

I’m pretty sure that when Robb and I first got married, he brought a very small (maybe 6-inch?) cast iron skillet into the marriage.  Having no previous experience with cast iron, I never used it, and I’m pretty sure I got rid of it some time ago.

What was I thinking?  Do you have any idea what I would give to have that little skillet back now?

My awesome brother gave me a brand new 12-inch skillet as a gift recently.  I was so excited to get it seasoned and start using it.  I couldn’t decide what to make in it first!

I finally decided on this skillet cake.  I have always wanted to make skillet cakes, brownies, and cookies, but never had a skillet that could go in the oven.

Why didn’t I just go buy one?  I have no idea.  Sad, but true.

German Chocolate Skillet Cake

My one disappointment with this cake was the frosting.

I love, and I do mean luuuuuuvve this coconut-pecan frosting.  It’s basically one of the seven wonders of the world.  It’s right next to the Taj Mahal in beauty, no lie.

The problem was that this recipe didn’t quite make enough for my taste.  It’s probably plenty for the average person, but I have a major sweet tooth, and frankly, the “more frosting the merrier” is the motto of my dessert-loving life.

German Chocolate Skillet CakeGerman Chocolate Skillet Cake

So, if you are like me, go ahead and double this frosting recipe.  That way you can get it all the way to the edges, so you can be sure that every bite of cake comes with a generous bite of this caramel-y nutty piece of heaven.

More simple and delicious cakes you might enjoy:

almond buttermilk cake thumbAlmond Buttermilk
Cake
Chocoholic CakeIntense Dark
Chocolate Cake
Sheet Cake and Cherry ToppingChoc Sheet Cake with
Warm Cherry Topping

 

 

Lightly adapted from My Baking Addiction

3.0 from 2 reviews
German Chocolate Skillet Cake
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A chocolate cake cooked in a cast iron skillet and topped with coconut pecan frosting.
Author:
Recipe type: Cake
Serves: 8
Ingredients
CAKE:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup flour
FROSTING:
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup pecans
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. For the cake: Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl with butter. Melt in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each.
  2. Once melted, add Sugar, oil and eggs to the chocolate mixture, and mix well. Add salt and soda and mix well. Add flour and mix until combined.
  3. Spread mixture evenly in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
  4. For the frosting: combine milk, butter, and egg yolk in a sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and starts to darken in color. (about 5 minutes)
  5. Stir in pecans and coconut. Spread over cake while still warm.

 If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

German Chocolate Cheesecake from Willow Bird Baking
German Chocolate Sandwich Cookies from Chocolate Moosey
German Chocolate Cake Donuts from Tina’s Chic Corner

September Recap

sept-wrapupSeptember was a good month for Jen’s Favorite Cookies, and I want to thank you all for that.

This site saw lots of new viewers, lots of new followers, and some really fun recipes.  I certainly do love sharing good food with you, with beautiful photography and fun stories.  In fact, I love interacting with you any way I can.  (If you haven’t yet, you should totally consider connecting with me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram!)

That being said, here’s a recap of what happened in September, and some of my other favorite things.

 

cheddar-bacon-scones-6 Cheddar Bacon Scones

These savory buttermilk scones contain cheddar, bacon,
and green onions.  I think these would be so great with a bowl of chili.
I also describe why I’m a better foreman than apprentice when
helping my husband with his building projects.

chocolate-zucchini-cookies-5 Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

These fluffy buttermilk cookies use shredded zucchini for texture.
It might be the only way I can get my family to eat their greens!
I made these after my neighbor brought me the biggest zucchini
I have ever seen!

zucchini-recipes 24 Zucchini Recipes

Since zucchini season is in full swing, I made this great collection
of zucchini recipes for you.  Many of these recipes are sweet,
but some are savory.

chocolate-pudding-7 Chocolate Pudding

This simple egg-free pudding is a favorite in Robb’s family.  I
interviewed Robb about what it’s like being married to a food
blogger, he dishes about the strangest thing I’ve done for this
blog, and you can read the truth about who does the dishes
around here.

pumpkin-fudge-cookie-bars-6 Pumpkin Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I used Pumpkin Spice Kisses to make a simple pumpkin fudge, and
I layered it between chocolate chip cookie dough.  The bars turned
out kind of gooey, but it didn’t stop my family from devouring them
in record speed.

orange-smoothie-3 Orange Carrot Smoothie

I love my green smoothies, but sometimes I crave a little
something different.  I used carrots and oranges to make
this simple and healthy smoothie.  These smoothies are almost
a necessity for my too-busy son and his swim-fatigued body.

brownie-mix-cookies-6 Brownie Mix Cookies

Use a brownie mix and some oil to put together these super easy
chocolate cookies. These are the sorts of recipes I make when I
wake up with cranium-splitting headaches.

pumpkin-roll-bars-9 Pumpkin Roll Bars

Every year, my sister-in-law and I make pumpkin rolls, and we hold
our breath and cross our fingers, and hope they won’t crack.  This
year, I made them into bars.  They taste just the same, but there’s
no rolling required!

Pretzel-Toffee-5 Pretzel Toffee

I rounded out the month with this simple and delicious pretzel toffee.
It was my most popular post of the month!  Toffee is much easier to
make than most people realize, and if you pour it over pretzels you
get that wonderful salt-sweet combination!

More September news:  I created two new Pinterest Boards you might be interested in, a PUMPKIN RECIPES board, and a MUFFINS & SCONES board.  I hope you’ll find me there.

I’ve also created a slideshow about how to use Pinterest.  I made this for those of you who already know and love Pinterest, but would like to learn to use it better, and find some more great content.

Find the Pinterest Slideshow on SlideShare.net

Thanks for all your help and support this month.  It’s been fun making these recipes for you!  Stay tuned… October will bring fun homemade candies, fall cookies, and Halloween desserts!

Russian Tea Cakes

Shortbread Cookie Recipe; These Russian Tea Cakes are a shortbread cookie with nuts, great for holidays!  Try this easy shortbread cookie recipe.

Russian Tea Cakes from JensFavoriteCookies.comCan we just talk about schedules for a minute?

My kids’ schedules rule my life.  I’ve basically told all my friends that if they want to hang out with me, it needs to be between the hours of 8 am and 2 pm, because after 2:00, my day belongs to my kids.

Today, for example, all three kids stayed after school for different reasons.  The Lizard needed to talk to his employer (conveniently located across the street from the high school), The Fruitarian stayed for swim practice, and The Hippie Chick joined Science Club.  All of them required rides home from yours truly at different times.

And that was just the beginning.  The Lizard had to ride his bike to work; The Hippie Chick may not have time to eat between play practice, volleyball, and karate; and The Fruitarian literally just interrupted me in the middle of writing this to ask me to take him to his extra karate class… the one he helps teach.

Not that I don’t have my own things to do… I teach piano lessons in the afternoons, and blogging isn’t exactly the walk in the park many people think it is, not to mention the sink full of dishes and the piles of dirty laundry, and the dust on every surface.

Russian Tea Cakes from JensFavoriteCookies.com

You know what else?  I just had two big handfuls of pretzels for dinner.

Seriously, some days I just need a Calgon break.  Most days.  Basically every day. Continue reading “Russian Tea Cakes” »

Pretzel Toffee

Toffee Pretzel Recipe; This recipe uses basic butter toffee poured over pretzels and topped with chocolate.  You’ll love this toffee pretzel recipe!

Pretzel-Toffee-recipeThe hypocrisy is strong around here some days.

Just yesterday, for example, Robb told the way-too-skinny and super active teenage boys that they needed to double their caloric intake if they want to be strong and healthy.

I fully supported this plan.

Then today, he told them they needed to get their jobs done before they could eat lunch.

I also fully supported this plan.

Eat, don’t eat… It’s confusing, I know.

Then I told everyone I would be making snacks, but ended up making candy instead.  What can I say? Life ain’t perfect.

Pretzel-Toffee

Toffee is one of my favorite candies.  Butter + Sugar… what’s not to love? Continue reading “Pretzel Toffee” »

Pumpkin Roll Bars

Easy Pumpkin Bars;  These bars taste just like a pumpkin roll, but without the rolling!  Try these easy pumpkin bars.

easy-pumpkin-barsI love a good pumpkin roll.

My sister-in-law and I usually make 2 every year for Christmas.  We store them in the freezer, bring them out all frozen and wonderful, cut a few slices, plop a big spoonful of fresh whipped cream on top, and savor slowly.

Then we get another slice.

This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

The problem is that pumpkin rolls are not particularly easy to make, and they are certainly not easy to make look good.  The cake always cracks, or the frosting squishes out, or our rolling technique fails us, or some other disaster happens to make our pumpkin rolls really not beautiful.

Tasty still, but not beautiful.

I decided it was time I make life easier on myself.  This year, I’m making my pumpkin roll into bars.  This way, I can still get all the pumpkin-and-cream-cheese goodness without the rolling.

pumpkin-roll

One thing I will say for these bars, they are a touch on the sticky side.  Which isn’t a huge problem for me, because I prefer them frozen anyway. Continue reading “Pumpkin Roll Bars” »

Brownie Mix Cookies

Brownie Cookies from mix; These easy chocolate cookies are made with a boxed brownie mix.  These brownie cookies from mix are delicious and so easy!

brownie-mix-cookiesI never really did get nauseous when I was pregnant.  What I got was massive headaches.

I still get massive headaches.

I’ve learned over the years to avoid them by keeping a consistent sleep schedule, limiting my caffeine intake, and keeping myself hydrated, and I’ve learned a few tricks to help me manage the pain a little better, but these things are not a cure.  Not by a long shot.

This morning, for no good reason at all, I woke up with a doozey.  It was bad enough that I begged Robb to handle the morning routine without me so I could stay in bed.

When I finally emerged hours later, I was headache-free, but had a strong strong chocolate craving.

I nearly drove to the nearest fast food restaurant in the pouring rain for a chocolate milkshake, that’s how strong it was.  In fact the only thing that kept me from doing just that was the knowledge that there was a brownie mix in my pantry.

brownie-cookies-from-mix

Making cookies from a brownie mix on a heavy headache day is a double bonus.  Bonus number one, the obvious one, is the chocolate.

But bonus number two is equally as important.  Because you’re making cookies from a brownie mix, they are fast and easy to mix up, and you can do it all in one large bowl with a wooden spoon.

brownie-cookies

Last time the massive-headache-chocolate-craving-blues hit me hard, I made these gorgeous Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies.  Those got the job done, let me tell you.

I was kind of excited also to use a new product I found.  The people at Star Fine Foods offered to let me try their new Butter Flavored Olive Oil, and I tried it in these cookies.  I’ve never really been one to bake with olive oil, but the butter flavored oil gives a nice buttery flavor, with the soft consistency of oil.

Best of both worlds.  Thanks, Star.

(P.S. You can’t get this product everywhere, but I’m almost positive it’s available at WalMart.)

 

More brownie-like cookies you might enjoy:

fudge-brownies-cookies-recipechocolate cookie recipecookies n cream feature

 

4.4 from 5 reviews
Brownie Mix Cookies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A soft chocolate cookie made from a boxed brownie mix.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 3 dozen
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter flavored olive oil (or use vegetable or canola oil)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines 18 oz. box)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Lightly beat eggs, and combine with oil and water.
  2. With a wooden spoon, mix in brownie mix and flour, stirring until well combined.
  3. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  4. Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 9-11 minutes.

 If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies from Six Sisters Stuff
Favorite Cake Mix Cookies from Something Swanky
White Chocolate Funfetti Cake Mix Cookies from The Kitchen is my Playground

Orange Carrot Smoothie

Orange Carrot Smoothie; this smoothie recipe uses only fruits and vegetables.  Try this easy Orange Carrot Smoothie recipe today!

orange-smoothieOur son, The Fruitarian, is fully enjoying his high school experience.  He joined swim team this year, which, in addition to copious amounts of martial arts training, church sports, a play, piano lessons, and the regular homework and chores routine, is pretty darn heavy.

And the season hasn’t really begun yet.

Every day, he drags himself home, drops on the sofa like a sack of potatoes, and complains about how hungry and tired he is.  It seems the huge lunches I’m packing him are just not enough.

He’s a growing boy, after all, and swimming really takes it out of a kid.

I’ve been using smoothies as a way to quickly get some extra fruits and veggies in his system, and give him a little energy boost.  I like smoothies, because you can hide all kinds of things in there.  Not just veggies, but also medicine, supplements, and anything else a kid is likely to fight you on.

Don’t get me wrong, he knows what’s in his glass, but he doesn’t fight me when it tastes like oranges.

orange-carrot-smoothie

I’m kind of partial to this Simple Green Smoothie.  I’ve been making it for months now, and everyone loves it.  Continue reading “Orange Carrot Smoothie” »

Pumpkin Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Recipe for pumpkin fudge; These chocolate chip cookie bars have a layer of pumpkin fudge inside!  Use chocolate chip cookie dough and Hershey’s pumpkin spice kisses to create this amazing dessert!

pumpkin-fudge-cookie-barsI almost didn’t post this recipe.  Almost.

My son, The Lizard, convinced me to do it, between bites.

The thing is, this recipe didn’t turn out exactly the way I planned it in my head.  Actually, the taste of this bar was what I expected, but the pumpkin fudge ripple layer…

…it’s a little gooey.

A LOT gooey.

 

But it tastes so marvelously, fantastically decadent, I figured I would find a way to work around the too-soft texture.

And find one, I did.

pumpkin-fudge-cookie-bars

I found two solutions, if I’m being honest.

SOLUTION #1:  Refrigerate.  The key to this plan is that you will be eating them directly from the fridge.  If you tend to eat them one at a time, here and there, this is probably a good solution.  It keeps the pumpkin fudge from getting too drippy.  Just eat them fast.

SOLUTION #2: Freeze.  This is a good option if you are planning to serve them to a crowd.  Just take them out of the freezer about 20 minutes before you plan to eat them, otherwise people will break their teeth.  I liked this a little better, because it gave me slightly more eating time before gooey-overwhelm set it.

Either way you do it, be sure to use parchment paper, or you will have a big mess on your hands.

recipe for pumpkin fudge

Gooey or no, I had to share these because I love the Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses.  They are kind of a seasonal treat, and you just have to use them all while you can!

The pumpkin kisses have a little spice in them, and I added some cinnamon to the cookie dough to match that.  It takes the classic chocolate chip cookie and dresses it up for fall.

Love that gooey pumpkin, chocolate, cinnamon autumn dessert flavor!

Pumpkin Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Chocolate chip cookie bars with a layer of pumpkin spice fudge.
Author:
Recipe type: Bars
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 bag (10 oz.) Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add salt, soda, cinnamon, and flour and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. For pumpkin fudge, unwrap candies and place in a glass bowl. Add condensed milk. Melt candy, either over boiling water (like a double boiler) or in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth.
  4. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. Press about ½ to ⅔ of the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. Pour pumpkin fudge evenly over the top. Use the remaining dough and drop in pieces over the pumpkin layer.
  5. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely, and chill thoroughly before cutting into 12 large or 24 small bars. Keep bars in the fridge or freezer.

 

Chocolate Pudding (egg-free) {Appreciation Post}

Chocolate pudding dessert;  Try this simple egg-free recipe for chocolate pudding.  Dessert never tasted so good!

chocolate-pudding-dessertAs if I haven’t done enough blogging about blogging lately…

Today I want to blog about the man behind the woman behind the blog.  Because he is one awesome man, and one who never puts himself in the spotlight, much to my dismay.

Plus, he’s super cute. {see photo below for proof.}

If you’re one to frequent food blogs, you might notice quite a few of us talking about our significant others today.  It’s like it’s a conspiracy or something.  {Scroll to the bottom for the complete list.}

I had a few questions for Robb about being the husband of a *ahem* rich and famous food blogger.  But before I get to his responses, let me introduce this recipe.

This simple chocolate pudding is a recipe I learned from Robb’s family.  He loves foods that are basic, simple, uncomplicated.  This pudding is one of his favorites, and we eat it pretty regularly.

You may have heard me lament in the past about his preference for vanilla over chocolate, especially in the ice cream department, but thankfully, pudding is one exception to that rule.  Chocolate pudding tastes just like love.

chocolate-pudding-dessert

1. I first asked him what my favorite blog is, and what his is.  He doesn’t really read blogs much, aside from the occasional visit to some IT blogs, and mine, of course.  {I say “of course” but the truth is I had to pester him to subscribe to the RSS feed so he gets notifications when there’s a new post to read.}  He said my favorite blog is Pinch of Yum, which might be true.  Mostly I talk to Robb about that site because I love that they are kind of a blogging super-team, and I probably spend a lot of time making Robb feel bad because he is not the talented web guy that Bjork is.  His talents are more hardware-oriented.Robb square

2. I asked him what his favorite prop was, and what he thought my favorite prop was. Continue reading “Chocolate Pudding (egg-free) {Appreciation Post}” »

24 Zucchini Recipes

24 Zucchini Recipes;  Wondering what to do with all that zucchini?  Look no further!  Try these recipes for breads, desserts, breakfasts, dinners, and snacks made with zucchini!

zucchini-recipes

I missed Zucchini Day.  It just passed me right by.

My apologies, everyone!  I’m sure you were waiting with baited breath for the blogging celebration of this overabundant squash.

The truth is, I didn’t think of it initially because I don’t have squash in any variety in my garden this year.  But now, I have about a dozen baggies in my freezer, each with 2 cups of shredded zucchini, thanks to a friend.

If you haven’t already heard this story, and want to see the monster of a zucchini she brought me, you can do it all in this post about Zucchini Cookies.

Several of my friends have asked me for more zucchini recipes.

So, here I am.  I’ve put together an amazing collection of recipes that will be perfect for using your bounteous harvest.

 

Zucchini Breads:

carrot-zucchini-breadCarrot Zucchini Bread
from
Alida’s Kitchen
dbl-choc-zucchini-breadDouble Chocolate
Zucchini Bread from
Like Mother Like Daughter
8629415449_20a27e866cZucchini Bread with
Chocolate Streusel from
Beyond Frosting
zucchinipinebasketZucchini Pineapple
Mini Loaves from
Ricki Heller
nutella-zucchini-breadNutella Swirl Zucchini
Bread from The Girl
in the Little Red Kitchen
Double-Chocolate-Espresso-Zucchini-BreadChocolate Espresso Zucc-
hini Bread from Modern
Christian Homemaker

 

 

 

Zucchini Desserts:

Cinnamon-Frosted-Zucchini-Bars-BlogCinnamon Frosted
Zucchini Bars from
Julie’s Eats & Treats
chocolate-zucchini-cookies-5Chocolate Zucchini
Cookies from Jen’s
Favorite Cookies
choc-zucchini-cakeChocolate Zucchini
Cake from Chocolate
Chocolate and More
Chocolate-Zucchini-Beanie-Brownie-bChocolate Zucchini
Beanie Brownies from
PB and Peppers
choc-zucchini-cupcakesChocolate Zucchini
Cupcakes from
Alida’s Kitchen
Cinnamon-Swirl-Zucchini-Bundt-Cake-BLOGCinnamon Swirl Zucc-
hini Bundt Cake from
Julie’s Eats & Treats

 

 

Zucchini Breakfast:

zucchini-french-toastZucchini Bread French
Toast from
Spabettie
SONY DSCZucchini Fritters
from
Ricki Heller
SONY DSCZucchini Oatmeal
from
Ricki Heller
zucchini-wafflesChocolate Zucchini
Waffles from
Farm Fresh Feasts
cream-cheese-filled-carrot-zucchini-muffins-600-wmCream Cheese Carrot
Zucchini Muffins from
I Heart Eating
cherry-zucchini-muffinsCherry Zucchini
Crumb Muffins from
Spabettie

 

 

Zucchini Main Dishes and Snacks:

zucchini-lasagnaZucchini Lasagna
from Like
Mother Like Daughter
ham-pasta-with-zucchiniHam Pasta with
Zucchini from
Hungry Goddess
cheesy-zucchini-tart-recipe-11Cheesy Zucchini
Tart from
Roxana’s Home Baking
Green dip made with yogurt or sour cream, selective focus.Zucchini Hummus
from
The Culinary Life
Crispy-Baked-Ratatouille-Fries-7320Crispy Baked
Ratatouille Fries from
Chocolate Moosey
stuffing-bitesZucchini Stuffing
Bites from
Busy Vegetarian Mom

 

 

 

Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

Zucchini cookies recipe; These chocolate zucchini cookies are a great way to use your extra zucchini!  Try this zucchini cookies recipe.

zucchini-cookiesI have a friend who was recently regaling me with stories about her too-much-zucchini problem.

I, of course, am zucchini-free at my house, which is code for my kid planted everything but zucchini this year.  I love zucchini, so I told her if she was trying to get rid of squash, she could get rid of it at my house.

 

Perhaps I should have been clearer, because a few days later, she sent me a text message, asking if I wanted large zucchini, or if I was holding out for small ones.  I told her I wasn’t picky, and I would take whatever she had available.  She responded by saying she was on her way over, and within a few minutes she knocked on my door with an armload of large zucchini.

Actually, large doesn’t begin to describe it.  There were three of them, and two are large but the third is obscene.

This zucchini is humongous.  It’s the size of a small child.  It’s as big as my leg.  It’s the biggest zucchini I’ve ever seen in my life.

And it’s sitting on my kitchen counter.

Chocolate Zucchini Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com

I started by shredding a bunch of the zucchini with my handy dandy Cuisinart food processor.  I figured this way it’s all ready for bread and cookies and this, which is my new lunchtime favorite.

My days start early lately, and lunch was hours and hours away, so my first order of business was cookies. Continue reading “Chocolate Zucchini Cookies” »

Cheddar Bacon Scones

Savory scones recipe easy; This easy recipe for savory scones includes bacon, cheddar cheese, and green onions, for a classic flavor combination.  Try this savory scones recipe easy.

savory scones recipe easyMy husband has been building a deck for his mother.

Initially, I would have said WE are building a deck for her, but frankly, as year three of the deck project comes to a close, I’ve basically removed myself from the project.

So now, HE is building it.

Except, sometimes I tag along to help with the problem solving.  Like, when things aren’t square or the boards are warped so badly it takes three men and a gorilla to get them into place.

I like to think of myself as the “big guns,” or more accurately, the foreman.  The brains, if you will.

It’s not really true, but that’s the story I like to tell.  It’s all about the way you frame it.

Sometimes I put my huge deck-building-problem-solving brains to work on other problems, like how can I turn my favorite scone recipe of all time into a savory scone?

Cheddar Bacon Scones from JensFavoriteCookies.com

Turns out it couldn’t really be easier.  I started with my favorite recipe for buttermilk scones.  You might remember it (my family certainly does!) from a few months ago when I used it to make these SO delicious Coconut White Chocolate Scones.

So, you start with that recipe, and just add some shredded cheddar and bacon bits, and you’re golden. Continue reading “Cheddar Bacon Scones” »

8 Things They Don’t Tell You When You Start a Food Blog

Apologies to those who came in search of recipes today.  I promise new calorie-laden foods will be available next week!

8 Things They Don't Tell You When You Start a Food Blog | JensFavoriteCookies.com

I’m not really sure who the “they” is.  After all, there’s no international board of blogging experts that you consult when you start blogging.

Unfortunately.

After a few years of blogging, and nearly two years of blogging seriously, I thought it was time I cleared the air about a few things.  Set the record straight.  Pull back the curtains of the glamorous world of food blogging.

{Sidebar: Is it glamorous?  I doubt anyone thinks it is.  I just like to pretend it is to build my fragile ego.  It’s probably why I started the blog in the first place… all the glamour.}

“Talent is cheaper than table salt.  What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” -Stephen King

Drumroll please…

1. You can’t do it for free. Yes, I realize they said you could blog for free, and you can. But what they did not say is that you cannot blog seriously for free. You just can’t. Sorry, friends.

See, you can start yourself a free Blogger or WordPress blog (I have a free one. A few free ones. Okay, I’m an addict.) but if you want to be serious, to have a business, to make money… you can’t do it with a free blog. You need hosting. You need your own domain name. You need to look and act like a professional.  Now there are lots of options when it comes to hosting. You might even be able to score some cheap hosting for $20/year, but if you’re expecting traffic, please don’t buy the cheap hosting. You’ll regret it. {Ask me how I know that.} I’m currently paying $20/month with Media Temple. They’re not the cheapest guy on the block, but you won’t regret using them. Click here to check them out for yourself.

You’ll also need a camera, with a lens, and a tripod. Maybe some lighting. Props. Backdrops. I use an old Canon Rebel that I bought used from a friend who gave me a screaming deal at $140. I use the kit lens. Lenses are crazy expensive, and I’m going to have to save up for a lens that will make me happier. My parents gave me a tripod as a gift, and it was super lucky they did, because decent tripods ain’t cheap either. This is the tripod I use. I developed an addiction to buying food photo props. Everything in the entire world looks like a food photo to me. It’s a blessing and a curse. Not to mention, you may find that photography is harder than you thought (I did) and you may want to take some classes.

Also, ingredients are rarely, if ever, free. If you’re blogging for real, you’re going to need a budget.

2. You’re going to spend half your life on social media. Y’all, I literally have accounts at all of the following: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Google+, Tumblr, Foursquare, Vine, and probably a couple others that I have quite literally forgotten about. On Facebook, besides my page that I run, I’m also a member of dozens of blogging groups, some of which I moderate. You can’t build a following without social media, and you can’t have effective social media without spending TIME.

It’s addictive. You can lose hours doing this. You have to show up, say something, engage. Join groups, make friends, make enemies, pin stuff, tag people, ask questions, disagree, share, and most of all, know how each social media platform works. Get good at it. Be an expert. There’s no short path, you gotta do the work.

And, P.S., that also goes for SEO.  {Search Engine Optimization}  SEO is hard to understand, a lot of work to get right, and ever changing.  I’ve been using this 21 Day SEO Challenge to learn what I’m doing, and it’s been hugely helpful.  Of course, I’ll probably never be an expert.

3. You need to become an excellent photographer. This is not optional. You don’t have to be great at all photography, just your particular style of food photography. Photographs spark the imagination. They are the hook that brings people to your food blog. They get you attention on Pinterest and other social media. They can bring you traffic courtesy of food photo submission sites. Basically nothing will kill a blog faster than really bad photography.

Disclaimer: I’m not an amazing photographer, but I have worked hard to acquire the skills I have. I literally have dozens and dozens of blog posts about food photography pinned and bookmarked. {Check out my food photography Pinterest board, if you want.} I bought e-books. (Click here to see my favorite food photography ebook.) I copied other photographers. I’ve shot the food, looked through the pics, and then screamed and yelled and started all over with a new photo shoot. I’ve remade old recipes, just so I could take new pictures and re-write old posts.

P.S., You have to get good at editing pics, too. This is it’s own kind of skill, completely separate from the photographing, and every bit as important.

4. You cannot ignore the technical stuff. When I first started blogging, I figured that if I ran into technical problems I didn’t understand, my husband, the IT administrator, would take care of that for me. The real problem was that when I needed him, his reply was, “I’m not a web guy.” You don’t have to know everything about the technical side of your blog, but problems will crop up, and if you don’t want to spend your life savings paying web guys to handle it for you, you’ll need to learn a few basics yourself.

Some basics that helped me: html: For reals. I hate html, I can’t write code to save my soul, but I can figure out enough to put my most pinned posts in my sidebar, install ads, and fix some weirdo glitches that periodically happen in my posts. Plugins: You basically can’t run a blog without them. You need at least a general idea of how they work, and know how to turn them off if they start to not play nice with one another. Settings: Understanding what my blog can do and how to do it gave me a ton more freedom.

Of course, knowing what you can’t do is valuable information as well. There are some really reputable tech guys out there who specialize in wordpress blogs. You might need the number or email address of one or two on file, just in case.
8 Things They Don't Tell You When You Start a Food Blog | JensFavoriteCookies.com

5. Food Blogging is competitive.  Estimates range all over the place, but sufficeth to say, most days it feels like a good 40% of the world’s population run food blogs.  Everyone does it.  The market is completely saturated.  If you’re going to stand out, you need to be unique, you need to WORK.  Some days it will feel like every food blog out there is better than yours, and that there is no place in the internet-world for you, but trust me.  You have a voice, and someone will like you.

And persistence beats talent every time.

6. If you build it, they may not come.  If your stuff is outrageously useful, super high quality, and downright amazing, the people will come.  They will come in droves.  But just because you wrote down some witty thoughts about your last family vacation or you found a new way to customize a cake mix, it doesn’t mean people will flock to your amazing new blog.  Just because you know that you spent 25 hours designing your new theme, and that it’s way better than your old theme, it doesn’t mean anyone else knows it.  Or cares.

Even if your stuff is of life-changing quality, you will probably still go have to find the people and tell them to come.  You will need to self-promote.  Self-promoting is uncomfortable, especially at first.  It’s hard to get a Facebook page started.  You have to ask people you know to like your page.  You have to put yourself out there and risk rejection.  You have to pin your own stuff a dozen times, hoping someone with a million followers will see it and be impressed.

Yes, build it.  Build it like your life depended on it.  Be a perfectionist and make it something you will be proud of.  And then?  GO find the the people and ask them to come.  Some of them will.

7. Food blogs are not gold mines.  I’ve spent too much of my life chasing gold mines.  Blogs are not get-rich-quick-schemes.  Building a good, reliable following takes time.  Finding advertisers that are decent and pay a fair amount takes persistence.  Growing an e-mail list, and learning to sell as an affiliate, and working with brands, these things all take practice, work, and time.  Neglect them, and they will whither like an unwatered garden.

My first experience with Google AdSense was a disaster.  My first ad network paid me far less than average.  My first private advertiser stopped talking to me after one month.  My first sponsored post was offered by a third party media group.  You can make money blogging, and there is nothing wrong with it.  I will never tell you that you shouldn’t blog for money.  I believe money is a good thing which encourages people do become something better, serve other people, and work hard.  I am saying that you won’t make a liveable wage, especially not in the beginning.  You’ll need another reason or two to keep you going.

8. Your blog friends might replace your real friends.  I feel like I have this big group of close friends who understand me… and who live all over the world and whom I’ve never met.  I am in several food blogging groups on Facebook, and one in particular has been perhaps the most valuable thing to my blog ever.  There are over 100 people in this group who freely share, give opinions, offer help and encourage.  Some of them even offered to mentor me, which is a priceless gift, in my opinion.  I could not have done it without them.

I have other blog friends I talk to very frequently, sometimes about blogging, sometimes about other things.  Sometimes we even talk about renting a house in some central location for a week, so we can all get together and have a big party.

Making blog friends I care about this much was not something I was expecting.  It might be my favorite thing about blogging.  Blogging is a very creative process.  It requires parts of you that you don’t show the whole world.  Your food blog friends will get that.  Your non-food-blog friends MAY just think you are really nerdy.

 

I should sum this up by telling you that I mostly wrote this post for myself, to remind myself where I have been and where I am going.  To tell myself what I wish I had known in the beginning.  To prepare you in some small way for the amazing journey you might go through.

You can do it, food blogging friends.  I’m in your corner.  And if you need a pep talk, e-mail me!