Monthly Archives: January 2017

Easy Valentine Suckers

valentine-suckers-5I was a little skeptical about these suckers. After all, I’m not a big fan of candy making. It’s too complicated for me.

But actually, this one was pretty darn easy. And, I was happy to finally have an excuse to use my cute Valentines sprinkles.

I cleaned out my pantry recently, and found the perfect sized box to hold all my sprinkles. As long as I don’t purchase even one more bottle. I discovered a bunch of stuff in there I had forgotten about, including the heart-shaped sprinkles.

Which is too bad, because they are dang freaking cute.

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Really the main key to making candy is just being prepared. Get all your stuff out ahead of time. Use the bathroom and pour yourself a drink and finish the current episode of whatever you’re binge watching before you start.

You don’t need distractions.

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And, because I know you’re going to ask, let me answer in advance.

Yes, you do need the ice water. I learned this the hard way when I forgot to put the pan in ice water and my candy was all full of bubbles.

No, you don’t need the flavor extract, but it helps. You can use any flavor you want, though.

Yes, you will need to work fast to get the sprinkles on there. No, they don’t stay really well, which is why I ended up being happier stirring them into the candy before I poured it out.

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I wasn’t positive my family would love these, but they went plenty fast. My niece even told me I got her to like coconut, which is a real plus.

I think I might make them for more holidays.

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Easy Valentine Suckers

A very easy sucker garnished with Valentine sprinkles.

Servings 20 suckers

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut or other extract (optional)
  • sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Prepare ahead by lining two baking sheets with silicone liners. Have sucker sticks and sprinkles handy. Place a candy thermometer in a heavy saucepan and have a pastry brush nearby. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil.

  3. Let boil 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Wet the pastry brush with water and periodically brush the sides of the pan just above the candy to keep it from crystallizing. Cook until candy reaches 310F, the hard crack stage.

  4. Place the saucepan in the bowl ice water, making sure no water gets inside the pan. This cools the pan and quickly stops the cooking process. Stir the candy while in the water, about 15 seconds, until smooth and clear. 

  5. Add extract and stir well.  If desired, you can add sprinkles to the candy at this stage.

  6. Pour candy onto prepared pans, making about 3-inch circles. Quickly set sucker sticks in the middle of each sucker and put sprinkles on top. You must work quickly during this stage. If the candy in the saucepan begins to harden before you are done, set it back on the stove over low heat to warm and soften it slightly.

  7. Let cool before gently removing from pan and serving. I found that they were safe to move within 5-10 minutes.

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

blueberry-yogurt-muffins-6True story: I had planned to make these strawberry yogurt muffins. I just liked the idea of strawberries and the pink-red color, and blueberry muffins are soooo cliche, and I already have a blueberry muffin recipe on here, and I’m getting ready for February… and you get the idea.

And then I woke up to a solid foot of fresh snow. Which made my already lackluster desire to go to the grocery store plummet.

So I put my slippers on and made a thorough search of my freezer and found a half a bag of frozen blueberries. It is literally the only thing resembling a berry in my house. (Except some frozen cranberries leftover from this Cranberry Pecan Pie… but cranberries are SO last month.)

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I let the blueberries thaw, and when I used my half-cup measure to scoop them into the muffin batter, I got a lot of juice with them. Which is just what I wanted. It gave the muffins such a cool swirly look.

If you want to use strawberry yogurt and some frozen strawberries, you should do it. And then send me photos and your report of the finished product, because it sounds kind of amazing to me. Though, you might have to run a knife through the strawberries, since the frozen ones are often packaged whole.

I like using yogurt to really give the muffins some extra flavor and texture. I almost always have yogurt cups in the fridge anyway, and one of these 6-ounce cups is the perfect size.

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By the way, how cute are these baking cups? They are kind of my favorite thing right now. I love this quatrefoil pattern, and while they come in a bunch of fun colors, this gray really suited my mood today.

If you really wanted to, you could dress these muffins up with a little glaze. Just mix some powdered sugar with a small amount of milk in a small bowl, and either drizzle it over the top, or just dip the tops of the muffins in. It kind of puts a finishing touch on the whole thing.

Don’t you think?

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Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

A soft and flavorful muffin made with yogurt and swirled with blueberries.

Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ounces blueberry yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries mostly thawed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.

  2. Mix butter and eggs in a large bowl or stand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

  3. Add yogurt and mix well.

  4. Add salt, baking soda and flour, and mix just until combined.

  5. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold in berries. Mix just enough to incorporate.

  6. Prepare a muffin pan by lining with paper baking cups. Fill cups about 2/3 full of batter. (Batter should make 12 muffins so spread evenly between 12 cups.) Bake for 13-18 minutes, until edges are slightly brown.

    Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

You can substitute other berries and yogurt flavors if you prefer a different type of berry.

 

 

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

strawberry-chocolate-chip-cookies-4bI’m one of those people that prefers vegetables to fruits. My son, the Fruitarian, is horrified at the thought.

“You’re telling me you would rather eat broccoli that strawberries???”

Yes. Yes I would.

If there’s a fruit salad and kale salad on the table next to each other, I choose the kale. Every time.

But… sometimes fruit just really hits the spot. Sometimes you just need something pink and fruity to remind you of a better time.

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And when I say “better time,” of course, I mean, warmer time. It’s all cold and grey and snowy here today, and I could use some spring in my life.strawberry-chocolate-chip-cookies-9

But my favorite thing about this recipe is how easy it is to make. I mean 3 minutes of mixing + 18 minutes of baking + 5 minutes of scooping cookies on and off the pan = 3 dozen awesome cookies in just 26 little minutes.

Perrrrrfect.

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5 from 1 vote
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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simple strawberry cake mix cookies with chocolate chips.

Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings 3 dozen
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix cake mix, eggs, and butter until well combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

  2. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a lined or greased baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes.

No-Bake Chocolate Layer Delight

no-bake-chocolate-delight-9 I don’t know what my problem is. Every time the pressure is on, or I have some reason for the baking I’m doing, the baking flops.

Even no-bake desserts. It’s freaking ridiculous.

I mean, how do you screw up a dessert this easy?  Well, let me tell you. I did it. For some reason, my pudding didn’t want to set up, and it was like soup in the pan. I thought, it will spend some time in the fridge and it will eventually set up, but no. It spent a full day in my fridge, and it was still soup.

UGH.  Fortunately, my second try went a lot smoother.

To be honest, I was a little surprised at how well my family liked this dessert. I assumed they would prefer the baked-from-scratch stuff, the complicated cakes, the extra pretty cookies with designer ingredients.

What was I thinking?

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This dessert went faster than almost anything I’ve made in the past, and the whole family was pestering me incessantly about whether it was available for eating.

So lemme walk you through how to make this thing.

Before you get going with your day, put the cream cheese and Cool Whip on the counter to soften. It’ll just make your life easier when you’re ready to put it together.

Then start with a whole package of Oreos. The regular Oreos, the regular package. Don’t get fancy with it.  You find a way to crush the entire package. That’s 36 cookies into the food processor, blender, nut chopper, or plastic bag with a rolling pin. Personally, I use the blender.

Mix those crumbs with some melted butter, and press them into your pan.

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Get out your hand mixer and mix together the cream cheese, milk and sugar. Then fold in about half of the Cool Whip using a rubber spatula.  Spread this layer on top of the crumb layer and throw that in the fridge while you do the next step.

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The next step is to prepare the pudding. You’ll need to wash off those beaters and get a clean bowl ready. I mix about 3 to 3 1/4 cups milk with 2 small packages of instant pudding mix. Make sure it’s the instant kind. Pour and spread this over the cream cheese layer, and then give it a few more minutes in the fridge.

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Top the whole thing with the rest of the Cool Whip. And if you wanna make it cute, toss some chocolate chips or sprinkles on that thing.

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Pop the whole thing back in the fridge. You want this to be cold when you serve it.

In theory, this has beautiful black and white layers. In reality? The layers are a touch on the soft and gooey side, making them not that beautiful.

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It won’t stop anyone from eating it though. Trust me on this one.

 

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No-Bake Chocolate Layer Delight

A layered chocolate and cream cheese dessert with no baking involved.

Servings 12 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 package regular Oreo cookies (36 cookies)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces regular cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 3 1/4 cups milk
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed
  • 2 boxes instant chocolate pudding (3.9 ounce packages)
  • chocolate chips or sprinkles for garnish optional

Instructions

  1. Crush cookies into crumbs. Melt butter and combine with cookie crumbs. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

  2. In a bowl, use a hand mixer to whip softened cream cheese, and add sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix until smooth. Gently fold in about half of the whipped topping. Carefully spread this mixture on top of the cookie crumbs. Refrigerate while next layer is being prepared.

  3. In another bowl with clean beaters, mix budding mixes with 3 1/4 cups milk. Beat for about 2 minutes, until mixture starts to thicken.  Pour the pudding over the cream cheese layer and spread evenly. Return to fridge for 5-10 minutes.

  4. Top with remaining whipped topping, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles if desired. Keep in fridge until serving.

  5. To serve, carefully cut into 12 large or 20 small pieces.

Recipe Notes

Be sure the cookies are the original variety, not one with extra filling or other flavors.

Be sure the cream cheese is a full fat brick, not a lower fat or whipped product.

Be sure the pudding mix instant and not a cook and serve variety.  I have used both the chocolate and the chocolate fudge flavors with good results.