Happiness Project:#55: Happy Heart Cookies!

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Love. Friendship. Happiness. Joy. Pain. Sadness. Life. For those of you who have been following my blog, from the very first recipe post, a little over 2 years ago, you’ve seen my Heart here. My Joys. My Life. My Struggle. For everything worth meaning. And you know of the importance I place upon being able to express all of these feelings & experiences. Because I believe in the power of sharing one’s Life and one’s Heart to those who will listen. No matter how shadowed or darkened that I may be. And it’s because of you, you who support and love me through it all, that I’ve journeyed to where I am today. It’s because of YOU that I am still here. In more ways than one. And it’s because of you that I know, truly know, of the immeasurable blessings within this beautiful little life of mine.

So for you, I am thankful. From every little piece of my heart. Thank you for letting me be, me. This Happy Heart Cookie recipe is for YOU ❤

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray a 9×10 inch glass baking dish. Then layer with parchment paper. Lightly coat (again) with (a butter & flour) spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and stir for a few minutes until nicely combined.

In another large bowl, on a stand mixer (or by hand held), beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on high until fully blended and creamy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Blend in the vanilla extract and continue mixing for 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the flour mixture, in two batches, until just combined.Then throw in those chocolate chips and stir em up!

Spoon out the cookie dough into the prepared dish and evenly spread out the entire dough with either a rubber spatula or the flat of your hands.

*I prefer to use my hands with most of my cookie recipes so that I can feel the dough between my fingers. There’s something uniquely therapeutic (and magical even) about working with cookie dough within ones hands, instead of with a spatula or rolling pin. And wonderfully, beautifully messy.

Once you’ve spread out and flatted the cookie dough in the baking dish, pop it into the oven and let bake for 20-25 minutes, depending upon how firm or slightly gooey you like a chocolate chip cookie’s center. Though when it comes to cookies, any cookies, there’s never really any right or wrong way to create the perfect cookie. Right? Right!

Let cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before getting creative with your heart (or any other) shaped cookie cutters. When using your cookie cutters with this baked cookie, gently press the cutter into the giant cookie so that it doesn’t crumble or break. Gently extract each cut heart piece and serve! Or store in a favorite family cookie jar or fun container for up to 4 days.

To all of my Family, Friends and Followers, thank you for everything! ❤ ❤ ❤

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Happiness Project#46: Classic Peanut Butter Cookies!

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Alright! Alright! After 3 of my friends contacted me within this past month, asking for my well-loved Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, I’ve finally decided to blog it out for them, and well, everyone else, too. Just so I can make finding it (& keeping it) much easier for everyone interested, myself included. Since we all know how crazy a Mother’s life can be during the holiday season, after all. Without the extra madness of hunting down one’s favorite recipe.

The story on this forever favorite home cookie of mine? Years and years ago, before I had gone to Pastry School, I wasn’t able to bake ANYTHING without burning it. Especially cookies. Just between you and me, I couldn’t bake a decent enough cookie to save my life. I didn’t have the patience required, at that point, to truly LEARN and FEEL the craft of baking. Because once you’ve discovered the passion for kitchen wizardry, all you really need to be truly good at it, is the patience to learn the basic baking techniques needed within any staple recipe and the importance of practice. Practice truly does make perfect. Trust me. You have no idea how many hours of the night that I’ve spent in my tiny, little kitchen, re-doing a recipe over and over and over again, until I got it just right. That’s just how it’s done, my friends.

Anyhow, after tweaking this cookie recipe 3 or 4 times, I finally got it just right. Being the super pastry snob that I am, after all. *wink* So from my kitchen to yours, (& all of those 3am baking sprees), here it is!

1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling and sprinkling

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 370F. Dust two baking sheets with granulated sugar or fit with a Silpat baking mat. Seriously, people, go out and buy a Silpat baking mat! It will make all of your baking experiences so much easier (& cleaner). Just do it!

In a large mixing bowl, by handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until fully incorporated. Add in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder and mix well. After scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add in the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly, beat in the flour until just incorporated. Chill your dough for 10 to 20 minutes (especially, if it’s too soft to handle), until it’s firm enough to shape. If you’re planning on using fun cookie cutters, let the dough cool in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes so that’s it’s stiff enough to roll out evenly.

*Tip: most cookie doughs will gradually warm up when being handled for extended periods of time, so don’t hesitate to pop the dough back into the fridge to cool again between filling up each cookie sheet.

Now comes the fun part. Let’s get rolling! By hand (or small cookie scoop), roll the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. Roll each ball gently into reserved granulated sugar until fully coated. Place up to 12 cookie balls onto each cookie sheet. Using a fork, gently flatten by making crisscross markings. Pop the cookie sheet into the oven, one sheet at a time, and bake for 8-9 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

Sprinkle or dust lightly with more (yes, more!) granulated sugar. Though you don’t really NEED to add more sugar. They’re quite yummy as is. I personally just really like that extra pop of sugar on top! Never said I was sensible now, did I? Ha!

There you have it, all of you cookie monsters! The best of all things classic! Happy Baking!

P.S. DO NOT consume these cookies if you’re trying to avoid yummy, sugary temptations. This cookie is NOT at all a good addition to my own Menopause diet. Trust me.

Happiness Project #43: Peppermint Surprise Cookies!

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Huzzah! November is here and so is a rather beautiful Fall! With gold and green leaves, crisp nights and stunning moons! An absolute favorite season of mine! Despite the sad fact that I’m no longer able to withstand wearing some of my favorite fuzzy sweaters. Menopause. No fun. But even though my Fall wardrobe is suffering, my Daughter’s however is ridiculously cute! With purple birds and striped leggings and adorable animal beanies. Seriously people, if adults were able to look just as cute in clothing as Toddlers, I’m positive that this sometimes dreary world of ours would be a much merrier, happier place.

But since this is not always the case, what’s the next best thing to a guaranteed happy day? Cookies. Bright, crunchy, merry cookies! With the taste of fresh peppermint bursting upon one’s tongue. And chocolate. Because, well, chocolate. So in light of what I’m now officially dubbing “Cookie Season,” my sister found this fantastic recipe on Pinterest that was a MUST BAKE NOW kitchen adventure. In which my 20mo Baby Girl gleefully helped us with. And by “help,” I really mean by indulging in. A little too much, in this Mama’s opinion. And yes, I blame her Auntie. Anyhow, after catching both my sister and Baby Girl ecstatically stealing far too much of this cookie dough, this lovely, crunchy, fragrant cookie is what we came up with. Just like the original recipe, though with a few minor adaptations. Ready for some guaranteed holiday cheer? Here you have it!

1 box white cake mix

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

pinch of kosher salt

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil (or extract)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup crushed Oreo Cookies

1 cup crushed Peppermint candies

1/2 cup M&M’s or mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Optional: Can’t have chocolate? Instead of adding in Oreo cookies and M&M’s, add in 1 cup of pecan chips instead! Or drizzle with a vanilla frosting glaze. Therefore, you’ll still get that extra crunch and added bit of sweetness.

Firstly, preheat the oven to 350F. Line up two baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.

In a stand mixer (or easily by hand held), combine the cake mix, melted butter, salt, egg and both extracts. Beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms. Add in the cream cheese and mix until gently combined. With a wooden spoon, gently stir in the crushed Oreo’s, crushed Peppermint candies and M&M’s. Pop your dough into the fridge for 30-40 minutes to help the texture stiffen up a bit before rolling.

Once you’re happy with the dough’s stiffness, firmly roll the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and place them onto your lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes until the cookie bottoms are slightly browned. Once removed from the oven, you’ll notice that the crushed peppermint candies have liquified and oozed out a bit from each of the cookies. With the edge of a metal spatula, gently scrape the edges back into a circular (cookie) shape. Well, unless you like a messy (but still pretty) cookie. Transfer your soft cookies onto a wire rack & let cool for a few minutes before either serving or storing (covered).

Ridiculously easy. And very festive. Oh, and let’s not forget, super Toddler friendly. Since my Daughter ended up sneaking in a good 4 or 5 of these little munchies while I wasn’t looking. Which, I do not always recommend for a 20mo Toddler, by the way. Unless, of course, you’re totally okay with watching your little one go through a rather hysterical sugar high.

Happiness Project #29: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Surprise Cookies!

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Wow! What a crazy, beautiful, wondrous whirlwind these past 7 months have been. After two major surgeries, countless hospital stays and unexpected visits to the ER, there’s one thing I’ve found most prevalent: my baby girl makes it all worth it. With every little smile, every big giggle, every tiny reaching hand, this little girl is my everything. She is the meaning of everything good and heroic in this world. She is the meaning of love. My love. And even though being a new Mom means temporarily sacrificing some of my own favorite things, like baking and blogging, I wouldn’t have it any other way. She makes it all so very, very worth it.

So to celebrate returning to the midnight land of baking and blogging, I’m thrilled to be posting this newish cookie recipe. Chocked full of all the yummy things a heart could most desire. You want Peanut Butter? Check! And Oatmeal? You got it! What about some Chocolate? Yes. Please. Then this, my friends, is the cookie for you! A cookie, that in all likelihood, may be the mother of all party cookies. Especially for all of the kids in your life (or those who are big kids at heart). Now some might say that having a cookie studded so liberally with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips AND chocolate M&M’s might be just a tad overkill. I, however, think not. This is one of THOSE cookies that will have everyone around you begging for more. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 granulated sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/4 cup all purpose flour *substitute with gluten free flour if preferred*

3/4 cup quick (cooking) oats *substitute with gluten free quick oats if preferred*

1/2 cup M&M’s

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Firstly & most importantly, preheat your oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats. If you haven’t yet experienced the wonder of a Silpat baking mat, then get yourself over to your neighborhood baking supply store (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table etc..) and get one! They are a bakers godsend! Trust me!

In a large bowl, by hand or stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and both sugars until light & fluffy. Mix in the peanut butter, egg and vanilla extract until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary (to prevent lumps from forming in the batter). Slowly add in the baking soda and flour, for a minute or two at your mixers lowest setting, until just incorporated. Using a wooden or plastic spatula, fold in the quick oats, M&M’s, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

Roll the dough, either by hand or cookie scoop, into 2 to 3  inch balls and line them up on each cookie sheet. Pop them into the oven and bake for 9-10 minutes: around 9 minutes for a softer cookie or 10 minutes for a slightly firmer cookie. I like a little bit of both so I tend to bake mine for 9-1/2 minutes.

After retrieving them from the oven, let them set up a bit more on the cookie sheet for another 5 minutes before gently transferring them to a cooling rack. Store in a airtight container for up to 5 days for maximum freshness. Or you can do what I always do, and eat them all, then and there. That’s the whole fun of baking after all, right? *wink*

Happy Baking, my friends! Hopefully, I’ll be back very soon with another stealthy recipe to share!

*Recipe adapted from sally’s baking addiction

Happiness Project Recipe #26: Funfetti Birthday Cookies!

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Oh birthdays! For the most part, I’m usually quite apathetic towards birthdays. To me, age is just a number, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t live my life by my age, I live my life by my heart, as corny or sappy as that may sound. So whenever February comes around, turning one year older doesn’t usually inspire an overwhelming need for any unnecessary personal validation. However, there is one thing that I truly love about birthdays. Dessert. Be it in the form of a cake, cookie or cupcake, I MUST have my birthday dessert. Nothing else matters more to me than that one, sugary, bite-full of yummy, blissful sweetness. Seriously, nothing. So to celebrate turning 35, I decided that pudding and sprinkles was exactly what I needed most. And since lately the cookie monster within me has been consuming nearly everything in sight, funfetti cookies seemed perfect for the occasion. And what a fun and easy recipe this is!

3/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 (3/4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix

3/4 cup yellow cake mix, dry

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Handful of sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

On a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

Add in the cake mix and package of dry, vanilla pudding until well blended.

Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl to eliminate any lumps from forming in the batter.

Mix in that handful (or two) of sprinkles.

Using either a cookie scoop or rolling by hand, drop 1-1/2 inch dough balls onto a sprayed or Silpat lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes before removing from the oven and cooling on a wire rack.

See? Very quick, easy recipe! Kid friendly too *wink*

 

 

Happiness Project Recipe #16: Honey-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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The funny thing about near constant nausea & ones inability to get any real sleep at night because of it, is how it makes you yearn for things you don’t usually have cravings for. Point in case, I’ve never been a big fan of oatmeal. Be it bars, cereal or cookies, oatmeal is just NOT my thing. I like my classic peanut butter. Or chunky chocolate chip. Case closed. Until now. Thanks to Martha Stewart, the cookie monster (within me) has awoken! And is hungry. Very, very hungry. Fortunately, for a few short hours, my roller coaster of a body decided to slow down enough for me to take a well earned breather. So, as usual, where was the first place I headed to? The kitchen. I wanted my cookies & I wanted them now! Got it? Good!

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup honey crunch wheat germ (I found a glass jar of this at Target)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 1 cup raisins (for oatmeal raisin cookies)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Stir together the oats, honey wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

Mix your butter and sugars (granulated & brown) in a bowl on your electric mixer until pale & fluffy (about 4-5 minutes).  Mix in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated. After reducing your mixing speed to low, gradually add in the oat mixture until just combined. Stir in your chocolate chips or raisins by hand.

Using either a small ice cream scoop or gently rolling by hand, drop dough balls onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet, placing them a good 2 inches apart (for expansion).

Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until lightly golden & just set. Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. You can store your cookies in an airtight container for up to 4 days (so eat them now!)

Moral of the story? If I can get my cookies this easily, then you can too! Happy baking, my friends!

* Recipe adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Cookies.”

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