Happiness Project#69: Candy Apple Cookie Cups!

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If you give a Mama a cookie…

It’s been one of my rough weeks. Or to be painfully accurate, a rough month. I re-injured the already deteriorating discs in my neck a few weeks ago, and have been in and out of my (hated) neck brace every day since. If you’ve ever had a severe back or neck injury involving the many discs in your spine, then you presumably know all too well how frustrating wearing a neck brace is. Not only are you virtually immobile with the range of movement in your neck but because of needing to be virtually immobile, you’re generally restricted from doing a whole slew of everyday activity. Like driving. Or being in a car. So thus being said, I’ve been on doctor’s house arrest (for lack of a better word). For nearly FOUR weeks, people. FOUR weeks. No fun.

Fortunately, even though I had to cancel numerous play dates and rely on my husband to run all of our out-of-house errands, my nearly 3 year old daughter didn’t seem to mind. Or notice that we were always inside, with only occasional romps out in the courtyard. Toddlers, my friends. They create play and adventure no matter where the are. Toddlers ROCK!

Anyhow, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect pain-free opportunity to create these super cute cookie cups since well before Christmas. And this weekend was finally my chance. Because if you give a depressed and restless Mama a cookie, she’s going to throw in a whole jumble of yummy, mood altering additions. Like cool whip, caramel sauce, diced Gala apples and mini Snickers candies. Candies. Enough said.

Best of all? This bitesize treat is not only designed for all family members in mind but it’s ridiculously easy to create. Like ridiculous. Ready? GO!

Firstly, you’ll need to create the sugar cookie dough. And since I already have my own sugar cookie recipe that I always use, refer to my Messy Hearts Sugar Cookies post for the easiest cut out cookie recipe you’ll ever need. Or use your own recipe instead. Just note that your sugar cookie dough will need to be a stiffer consistency in order for the cookie cups to set up correctly.

Once you’ve created the dough and rolled it out, on a lightly floured work surface, use a 3 to 4 inch round cookie cutter to create the flat circle needed for the shaped cups.

Set your oven to 350d and lightly spray 1 mini cupcake pan (or 1 standard size cupcake pan) with butter.

Now the messy and FUN part. Take your already cut circles of dough and gently press each disc into each cupcake mold, creating a cup of dough, pressed flat in the middle of the pan, climbing up each side of the mold until the dough is just barely peeking out above the top. Think cup shape.

Slide that pan into the oven and let bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookie cups are lightly golden in color.

Set out, in the pan, until fully cooled.

Onwards to the cup fillers! You’ll need…

1/2 cup melted and slightly cooled caramel candies

8oz container of Cool Whip

1/2 part Gala Apple, cut into very small, diced pieces

1/2 bag mini Snickers candies (cut in half pieces)

With the tip of a pairing knife, gently loosen each cooled cookie cup from the pan. Place each cup within an assembly line for fillings.

With a tablespoon, dribble the caramel sauce into each cookie cup. Followed with a spoonful of cool whip. Now layer the cool whip section with 3 to 4 diced pieces of apple. Followed with another 2 to 3 spoonfuls of cool whip, filling each cookie cup all the way to (or slightly above) the top edges.

Garnish with mini snickers! Or another apple piece! Because at least the apple part is healthy, right? Ha.

*P.S. Cookie Cups are one of the most versatile desserts you’ll ever run across. Want to use a different candy combination? Try chunks of chocolate chips with mini peanut butter cups! Or how about a healthier option (beyond candy)? Add in a couple tablespoons of your favorite cold yogurt, instead of the cool whip, with a coordinating fruit garnish! The options are endless!

Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready for mass family consumption! Just don’t except these lovely little cups to last for much longer than 24 hours. I have a sneaky suspicion that they won’t even last through an hour. Toddlers, remember?

The Book and a Cuppa Swap is here!

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Book nerds unite! It’s time for this year’s FANTASTIC book and cup reader swap! You have no idea how exciting this is to me! It’s been nearly 3-1/2 years since I left the book industry to become a Mom and Pastry Chef and there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t miss the joy and bustle of it! So joining up in this swap, to read new books, as well as meet fellow book nerds? So. Much. Yes.

Want to join in on all of the glorious magic (because reading IS very much like magic)? Visit the official site, here

You know how a seemingly large amount of women have a giddy habit of collecting things like shoes and purses? Well, besides children’s books (500+) and cake stands (which I own over 20 of at this point), I may or may not have discovered a new “habit” to collect. Coffee Mugs! Because who doesn’t love an awesome coffee mug? Or two. Or maybe a dozen. Need some mug-tastic inspiration? Here are just a few on my MUST-HAVE-NOW list:

The Happy! Mug from Pier 1 Imports! Anyone else breaking into a happy dance? I might be.

And this AWESOME Star Trek Mug! To boldly go…

OR this Have Courage Mug! from Etsy. Because courage is contagious.

And this BUT FIRST COFFEE mug, for all the fellow mamas out there. No explanation necessary.

OR maybe this I Turn Coffee Into Cakes!

Because coffee…and cake….and well, ME!

And just because my bookseller friends will always hold a special place in my heart (Lori, Julia, Katie, Sarah, Jen), this is one of the cutest coffee or tea mugs I’ve found for their express enjoyment: The Cat and Mouse Mug!

What are your favorite MUST-HAVE-NOW mugs? I’d love to know!

Happiness Project#68: New Years Eve Tortilla Soup

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Forget Christmas. My now favorite time of year is New Years Eve. Why? Because it’s truly all about spending time with my family. No gifts or expectations. No running around in the mad rush of pre-Christmas frenzy. No cleaning FOR DAYS. It’s just one magical night, once a year, with pretty sparklers, s’mores and kids movies. One night a year which has become a Cadiz-Copper family tradition.

One of the uncountable things that I adore about my daughter’s toddler developments, is how excited she becomes over the experiences that just a year ago, she wasn’t “quite” into yet. Like throwing popping fireworks onto the cold, hard ground. I kid you not, I think I counted her gleefully throwing down at least a dozen of those popping sparklers this past weekend. All the while running around in circles, giggling joyfully, with her three adoring cousins in tow. It was such a beautiful sight to behold.

And dare I mention the giddy messiness of New Years Eve S’mores? Let’s just say that there was chocolate EVERYWHERE. On a counter, a floor, fingers, noses and maybe even in one mischievous little girl’s lovely curly hair. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

However, the one New Years Eve tradition which has fast become my favorite sister experience? Whipping up some delicious crock pot Chicken Tortilla Soup. With everything warm and savory of a cold winters night. Which makes this Mama one very satisfied woman.

Ready to indulge in some of your own post New Years Eve magic? Let’s get to it! Here’s what you’ll need:

3 to 4 chicken breasts, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

6 cups chicken broth

15 ounces Diced Tomatoes, drained

1 (4oz) can tomato paste

2 (8oz) cans yellow corn, drained

1 (8oz) can black beans, drained

1 (4oz) can green chilis, drained

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for garnish)

1 large bag of tortilla strip chips (for garnish)

The wonderful thing about this crock pot recipe is how quick and easy (truly easy!) it is to create. No more standing next to your bubbling crock pot, longingly counting down the (seemingly endless) hours until soup perfection. All you need is a little bit of pre-cooked chicken and 1 hour of cook time in that lovely little crock pot of yours. Seriously! So get cooking!

First up, the chicken. On medium-high heat, in a large pot of water, drop in 3 to 4 frozen pieces of chicken breasts, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the chicken pieces are just on the verge of being fully cooked through. Remove from the pot and let stand on a cutting board to cool slightly before shredding into bite size strips.

While your chicken is cooling, spoon in all of the other ingredients, one at time, into the crock pot. Once the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, beans and green chilis are successfully transferred into the crock pot, add in the shredded chicken. Followed by 2 teaspoons of chili powder. Stir up all of that sweet goodness so that everything is mixed up well and good.

Now the easy part! Set the timer on your crock pot to 1 hour (on high heat) and let cook! It’s THAT easy! I’m doing a happy dance. Are you?

Once that hour is up, spoon out however much of this yummy tortilla soup as you want. Garnishing with a small handful of cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

AND EAT! Until you tummy is full and your kiddos are asking for seconds. Believe me, there will be seconds. Oh yes, there will.

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