Happiness Project#77: Cookie Dough Milkshake!

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It’s time, my friends. Time to take a piece of my heart and run with it. I’m a strong advocate of helping those less fortunate than I. Particularly those who face circumstances that no one should ever have to face. Circumstances that become a battle for ones own life. Neuroblastoma. DIPG. Leukemia. Three pediatric cancers that effect the lives of those most precious, those most fragile: our children. Diseases that force the youngest of souls to loose so much, too much, of their own childhoods.

So in following my heart, and my desire to help where I’m most able, I recently created a community outreach project, Cheer Bear Mail, on Facebook. Where, with the help of my immediate community, I create Cheer Bear Mail packages for these children fighting pediatric cancer. Personalized packages including handwritten cards, books and toys, gathered together in one big bundle, to shower these brave young warriors with love, encouragement and a little bit of cheer. Because these children, who’s lives are riddled with pain, needles and hospital rooms, deserve all of this, and so much more.

If you’d like to join my Cheer Bear Mail project, by helping support children and their families effected by pediatric cancer, please visit my official page on Facebook!

So I guess you’re curious as to why this lovely milkshake has anything to do with Cheer Bear Mail? This yummy cookie dough milkshake was created specifically with a child’s spirit in mind. Because milkshakes remind me of summer. And the summer reminds me of children. Joyfully running though wet blades of grass. Gleefully kicking up sandy footprints. Begging for that one last Popsicle. Or THIS milkshake.

Here’s what you start with:

Chilled roll of chocolate chip cookie dough

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 cups of your favorite vanilla ice cream

1 cup of whole milk

Firstly, you’ll need to create the chocolate chip dough bits. Using whatever favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipe that you prefer, create the cookie dough, and then tightly wrap up that cookie dough, to be placed in the freezer for at least one hour.

Once your cookie dough is very chilled, remove from the fridge, and with a small knife (or your fingers), roll up tiny sections of the dough, into quarter inch balls. Now depending on how many milkshakes you’d like to serve, you’ll only be using around a quarter of the whole cookie dough (to create 18-24 mini milkshake balls). With the remainder of that dough, you can easily rewrap it into a log, and freeze for another day.

Place the quarter inch balls on a cookie sheet, and freeze for at least 20 minutes.

Now to the milkshake.

In a blender, add in the sugar, vanilla ice cream and milk. Blend on low speed until fully mixed, and a bit frothy.

In 2 to 3 chilled glasses, pour in the milkshake. Followed by gently stirring in 3 to 4 of the chilled cookie dough balls. And serve, with spoon or straw. Or freeze for an additional 20 minutes for a thicker texture!

It’s a milkshake, after all. It’s supposed to be thick, creamy and wonderfully decadent!

From my heart to yours, may you, too, relive a piece of your own childhood, with this tasty cookie dough milkshake. That’s the beauty of living, right?

 

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Happiness Project#76: Ross Family Butter Noodles!

butternoodleWho’s doing a little happy dance, right now? This Mama! I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase an indoor, tabletop lightbox studio, with two adjustable studio lights, and I totally love it! Up until now, I’ve been using the natural lighting that my “studio” porch bench outside provided, but would always need to wait through rainy weather to complete my blog post. So you can imagine how frustrating winter was. But now, this perfect little studio. Which fits quite perfectly on my kitchen table. And folds up for perfect storage behind my dresser. Yes, perfect! Very worth the $110 that I spent on it!

Anyhow, to celebrate the future with my new, wonderful studio, I wanted to share with you a recipe that my two sisters and I grew up with. A recipe that brings to mind so many joyful, yummy moments with my family. Like when my twin sister & I rented our very 1st 2 bedroom apartment together, a good 15 years ago. This super easy, fast noodle recipe was a near daily staple within the two years that we roomed together. Because noodles, butter and parmesan cheese? The perfect student go to! Anytime of the day!

So in honor of my family, here’s some yumminess just for you!

2 cups farfalle pasta

4 tablespoons salted butter, cold

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Firstly, cook the noodles to a boil, in hot water. Once the noodles are cooked through to your desired texture, be it crispier or soft, remove the noodles from the stovetop, and drain.

Add in each tablespoon of cold cut butter, stirring within the drained pot of pasta, until the entire potful of noodles is generously buttered.

Add in the parmesan cheese and toss until fully coated.

And serve! All by itself, or with a favorite vegetable. Like peas, or gently steamed broccoli.

That’s it! From start to finish, 10 minutes at most. Perfect for students away from home, older kids learning to cook, or as a fast, well loved family meal. Your tummies will thank you.

Happiness Project#75: Funfetti Cookie Cheesecake!

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Holy Sweetness! This cheesecake. This funfetti cookie cheesecake is quite possibly one of the yummiest things that I have ever wrapped my taste buds around. After toying with it’s balance through a couple of failed baking sessions. But at last, THIS. Which I am quite proud of, I must admit. Because unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all of our life, you can’t not like cookies, cake AND sprinkles. The best of everything dessert. In my humble opinion, at least.

This cheesecake has basically saved me. From my very turbulent heart. The past two weeks has been some of the most impossible weeks I’ve ever faced. In comparison to my very difficult stay in the mental ward, when I had been suicidal shortly after the birth of my daughter, 3 years ago. That’s how rough the past couple of weeks have been. From unexplainably losing a mommy friend of mine (one of my closest this past year & a half), to the tragic passing of one of my Crown Books comrades, to discovering that I have, yet again, another tumor rapidly creating mass chaos within my body, I was at the edge of my tolerance. For, well, everything. Including life in general.

However, thanks in part to a new support group of women that I’ve been interacting with, as well as the calming presence of my doctor, I’m feeling more optimistic and hopeful about where I am right now in life, than I have in years. YEARS. Which, in my life, is a cause for much celebration! Starting with THIS cheesecake. Something you do not want to miss out on. Trust me. Ready? You’ll need:

For the cookie crust:

24 pre-baked sugar cookies (which you can create from scratch or with pre-made freezer dough)

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

To prepare your cookie crust, first, finely crush up those 24 pre-baked sugar cookies in a food processor. Your cookie crumbs will want to resemble a texture akin to grainy sand.

Dump the crumbs into a small bowl. Add in the 1/2 cup of sprinkles, as well as the melted butter. With your hands, mix all three ingredients together until the full mixture is slightly moist.

Now to the 9 inch springfoam baking pan. Lightly grease the bottom of the pan, so that the cookie crust does not stick to the surface upon extraction. Preheat the oven to 325d. While the oven is warming up, take heavy ply aluminum foil and tightly wrap up the entire bottom and outside surface of the pan. This is to prevent water from seeping into the cheesecake layer while being baked. Once wrapped, take your funfetti cookie dough and firmly press into the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Bake this bottom layer in the oven for 8 minutes.

While your cookie layer is baking away, you can work on preparing the cheesecake layer. Here’s what you’ll need:

24 ounces of cream cheese, warmed to room temperature

1 cup of granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole milk

On a stand or with a hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar, until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl between each addition. Add in the vanilla extract, slowly followed by the whole milk. Mix well until your cheesecake batter is lump free.

By now, you”ll be able to take out the cookie layer from the oven. Let rest for a few minutes, at room temperature, before spooning in the cheesecake batter on top.

For this recipe, I used a water bath to control the overall temperature of the cheesecake while it was baking. For a water bath, take a tall lipped pan, or a turkey roasting dish (that is wider that the spring foam pan) and, after placing the cheesecake pan within it, slowly pour boiling water into the bathing pan, until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Let bake for 50 minutes, until the edges of the cheesecake is slightly firm to the touch, and the center of the cheesecake is slightly gooey.

Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest inside the oven, with the oven door cracked open, for 45 minutes to an hour.

Upon removing the cheesecake from the oven, smoothly remove from the water bath, and unwrap the cheesecake pan from the aluminum foil. Again, let stand, at room temperature for a good half hour.

Now comes the waiting. Cover the top of the cooled cheesecake with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 7 hours.

Once you’re ready to serve (after that long 7 hour wait), remove the pan from the fridge, and gently pop open the pan. Now here’s the super important tip: when releasing the cheesecake from the pan, do not shake the cheesecake out of the pan. That was my mistake with my 1st failed recipe. Let the cheesecake pull away from the pan itself. Even if that means waiting a few minutes for it to do so on it’s own. Therefore, your lovely cookie cheesecake will come out nice and clean.

AND now sprinkle! With as many sprinkles as your happy heart desires! Must I say, the more the merrier? OR scoop on some cold vanilla ice cream. Because cookies, cake, sprinkles AND ice cream? Kinda brilliant!

Until next time, all my love! xoxoxo

 

 

 

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