Chocolate Peppermint Krispie Treats

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I want someone to explain to me why the chocolate-peppermint combination seems to be so polarizing. I guess I can't wrap my brain around the fact that people just don't enjoy it the way I do.  I would have to say one of my favorite candies is the Junior Mint.  And at Christmas time?  They have Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints.

Be still my beating heart

To prove just how dumbfounded I am at people's displeasure with this especially festive combo, every year around this time I make my husband sample a chocolate-peppermint goody of mine.  Meanwhile having complete disregard for the fact he HATES the flavor.  I always reply in horror, "What do you mean you don't like it?!?!"  I'm a terrible wife, I admit it.

Eh, it's good for him.  He may come around.  It's kinda like my theory that if I try an olive every year, eventually I will suddenly find that I love them.  So far, I don't love them, and I'm 30.  How long will I do this?  How long will I make my husband do it?  Well, at least this one more year, because look at these!  Chocolate Peppermint Rice Krispie Treats.  A little fancier than the original treat, but still uncomplicated.  Because who needs complicated this time of year?

Chocolate Peppermint Krispie Treats

-6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
-10 oz. bag peppermint marshmallows
-4 c. Cocoa Krispies cereal

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large pot, melt butter over low heat.  Add entire bag of marshmallows, stirring until melted.  Remove from heat and fold in Cocoa Krispies cereal until evenly covered.  Immediately pour into prepared pan.  Spread evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.

Chocolate Peppermint Whipped Topping:
-6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
-1 1/2 c. heavy cream (divided)
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

In a glass bowl, add chocolate and heavy cream.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time elapse.  Mine takes a total of 1 minute for the chocolate to be completely melted.  Stir well and the chocolate will continue to melt due to the warmth of the bowl.  Overheating the chocolate will not be pretty.  Set aside and let this cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of the stand mixer using a whisk attachment, (try using a bowl or whisk that you've placed in the freezer for at least 10 minutes and you will find your cream whips up faster) whip remaining 1 cup of cream until it starts to thicken.  With mixer on low speed, add in cooled chocolate, vanilla, and peppermint extract.  Slowly increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form.

Spread evenly over your Krispie base.  Place in the refrigerator or freezer while you work on the final topping.

Chocolate Glaze:
-6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
-1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
-1 tsp. corn syrup
-1 c. Andes peppermint crunch baking chips

Place first three ingredients in a glass bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals.  Stirring well after each time elapse.  Mine took a total of 1 1/2 minutes for everything to be smooth and shiny.  Working quickly, as the chocolate will start to harden, spread chocolate glaze evenly over cool whipped topping.  Sprinkle the top with peppermint baking chips.  Return to fridge for at least an hour before cutting and serving.

Cut into 16 or more squares and serve!  Store in fridge.

Also, if you're looking for a super easy and festive treat to take to any holiday party, make my Red Velvet dip, link here, just replace those hearts with another holiday sprinkle!

Just replace some festive Christmas sprinkles!
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No-Bake Pumpkin Pie with Maple Spice Cream

Okay, it's Thanksgiving time.  Do you ever stress about time management and limited oven space?  I always do.  How do people do it?  Turkey, sides, appetizers, rolls, and dessert!

I vote for less stress, more down time with family this year!  I vote for a No-Bake dessert!

I'm keeping it simple.  Simple and delicious.  And if someone complains that they want a traditional pie, tell them to make it on their own time and keep that extra slice for yourself!

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie with Maple Spice Cream
adapted from Serious Eats

-Pre-made, store-bought Graham Cracker Crust

-8 oz. cream cheese, softened
-1/2 c. granulated sugar
-1/3 c. dark brown sugar
-1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-3/4 tsp. ground ginger
-1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
-1/8 tsp. ground cloves
-1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
-1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. heavy cream

Maple Spice Cream:
-1 c. heavy cream
-3 Tbsp. maple sugar
-scant 1/8 tsp. of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
-1/8 tsp. maple extract (optional for those with maple sugar)

In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, sugars, and spices until well blended.  Stir in pumpkin and vanilla until incorporated into creamy mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (preferably a chilled metal one) using the whip attachment, beat 1 cup of heavy cream from low to high until stiff peaks form.  Fold whipped cream into pumpkin cream mixture until no white streaks are visible.  Pour filling into your pre-made graham cracker crust.  Place in fridge while you make spiced cream.

To make spiced cream, use the same unwashed metal stand mixer bowl.  Add heavy cream, maple sugar (sub granulated if you have none) and spices.  Place bowl in fridge for 30 minutes.  Remove and start whipping on low, and as you increase speed add the maple extract.  Start with as little extract as possible and add up to 1/8 tsp. depending on your taste.  Whip until stiff peaks form and spread on the top of pie.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks, maple sugar, or cinnamon if desired.

Now go enjoy some time with family and friends!  And try not to stress too much!

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S'mores No-Bake Cookies

It's been quiet on the Cookie Mama front lately.  That's because I've been baking for our local farmers market that I participate in during the summer.  I'm super excited to be back and busy as ever!

Last year was my first year and it was so lovely getting to meet people in our community.  It was great seeing the same faces greeting me at my stand and buying scones to munch on while they walked around.  It felt routine.  I love routine.  But no doubt, the farmers market is some serious hard work!

You gotta have love for it, and thankfully Baking and I are good buddies.  So if you don't hear from me as often this summer, just remember I'm probably prepping, shopping, and baking up a storm for the locals!  And please come visit me if you live in the Dayton area.  I'm at the Tippecanoe Farmers Market every Saturday till September 15th from 9-12 on 4th Street!

If you love No-Bake Cookies then these might be up you alley.  They are a bit sweeter since they contain Biscoff spread in place of traditional peanut butter.  Go for PB if you don't have Biscoff spread.  Seriously though, find it if you can, and when you do, I dare you to not keep going back for more!  It's creamy, dreamy, heaven by the spoonful!

*Graham Cracker Crunch/Topping
(this step is optional, please don't worry about it if you want to keep these cookies simple)
adapted from Milk Bar

- One sleeve of graham crackers, slightly crushed
- 1/2 c. milk powder
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 9 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Mix first 4 ingredients together.  Add melted butter and stir.  Spread evenly onto cookie sheet layered with parchment paper.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Let cool some before using on cookies.  Store remaining for another batch or use in my S'mores Rice Krispie Treats in place of plain graham crackers.

S'mores No-Bake Cookies
- 1/2 c. salted butter
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 c. Biscoff spread
- 3 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. micro marshmallows

In a large pot/saucepan, bring butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder to a rolling boil.  Boil for a minute.   Remove from heat and stir in oats, vanilla, and biscoff spread.  Let it cool for a few minutes, and then add marshmallows and gently fold into mixture.  Immediately scoop out onto wax or parchment paper.

*Top with graham cracker mixture and press down firmly into cookie.  If you don't want to do the work for the graham topping just use plain graham crackers slightly crushed!  This will keep your No-Bake cookies extremely hassle free!

Let cookies cool completely to set before serving.  Enjoy!!!

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Chocolate Covered Banana Whoopie Pies

There is a rule in my house about bananas.  You aren't to eat them unless you have permission.  Which is weird, right, because most moms want their children to choose fruit and go to town without asking?  Well, when you live in a house with a baker it becomes a whole other ballgame.

Generally to avoid the whole confusing issue in the homestead, I try to find bananas at the store with some brown spots already.  But seeing as 98% of the population likes them green/yellow, they are hard to come by at the store.  So I buy my green bananas and take them home, and this is how we eat them-green/yellow.  However, once a certain amount time has elapsed, there is a window when the bananas are no longer available for eating.

Thus, my kids are required to ask for a banana, so I may inspect the color and make my decision.  If they've reached my optimum brown color for baking or they are on the cusp, well then, sorry about your luck kiddos, go eat an apple!

One time, I caught my youngest eating a brown banana, and I was mortified for a couple of reasons.  Mainly because now there wasn't enough to bake with, and secondly, that banana was brown. Like, really brown.  Ick!  Which is another weird thing, right?  I'll bake with brown bananas and eat that baked good, but I wouldn't dare eat a brown banana by itself.

My poor children.  I'm probably scarring them for life!  At least in the meantime I can comfort them with some baked goods.

These super moist Chocolate Covered Banana Whoopie Pies are just the thing to bribe their affections.  Oh man!  Let your bananas brown and make some of these!

Chocolate Covered Banana Whoopie Pies
Whoopies adapted from My Baking Addiction

- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp.  baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (approx 1 c.)
- 1/4 c. sour cream
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients- flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, mash bananas until you don't have any large chunks.  Should end up looking like the consistency of baby food-with some smaller pieces of banana.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Scrape down sides of the bowl, add egg and continue beating on medium/high speed for additional 3 minutes.   Add mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla, and continue to beat until combined. Scrape down bowl.  With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, whoopie pan, or piping bag, scoop/pipe rounds of batter onto prepared cookie sheets, approx. a couple inches in diameter.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks (not cookie sheet).

adapted from King Arthur Flour

- 1 c. vegetable shortening
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1 1/3 c. marshmallow cream/fluff- (5 7/8 oz.- so I use a 7 oz. jar and leave some at the bottom)
- 1/4 tsp. salt dissolved in 1 Tbsp. warm water
- 1 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla extract or regular if you don't have it

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together shortening, sugar, and marshmallow fluff until it appears combined.  Add salt water and vanilla and beat until filling is fluffy.

Spread or pipe onto half of cooled banana whoopies.  *I pipe because I find it easier to do it that way.

Top with remaining whoopies.

Get a good amount of filling in there!


- 1/2 c. chocolate candy coating, chopped or in disks
- Toffee bits (optional)

Place candy coating in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Stir until candy coating is melted.  Remove immediately.  Spoon a couple teaspoons of chocolate candy coating over the whoopie pie, and smooth around with an offset spatula or back of spoon.

Top with toffee bits if desired.  If you don't have a nut allergy, I highly recommend this because it adds more texture, and a hint of toffee saltiness to the whoopie pie.  Serious YUM!

Yeilds approx. 12 small whoopies

I love when the filling smooshes out the sides when you take a bite!

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Frosted Soft Lemon Cookies

Oh my.  I'm starting a citrus trend, and I blame the warm/hot weather.  Orange Brownies.  Key Lime Pie.  And now these, Frosted Soft Lemon Cookies.  I'm just here to make sure y'all are getting your daily dose of Vitamin C.  Oh, and sugar.  Always sugar.

After this week I may take a little break from all this fruit, but besides these cookies I have one more fruit dessert to share with you.  A girl can only live on fruit for so long until she breaks down and goes for the chocolate.  And by "girl" I mean "me", and I need chocolate!  I'm daydreaming of Oreos.

Anyway, I had these lemons hanging around, and when I received a last minute request for a dessert I knew exactly where to go.  However there are so many delicious lemony desserts, where to begin?  I shall turn to the mighty Pinterest for inspiration!

And here's what I came up with:

Frosted Soft Lemon Cookies

- 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lemon zest (zest of 2 sm. lemons)
- 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt-set aside.  In another bowl, add sugar and lemon zest.  Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar.  The idea is to infuse the sugar with the lemon flavor.  Lemon-sugar.  Good stuff.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy- a few minutes.  Scrape down sides of the bowl, add egg and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed for several minutes.  Turn mixer on low, and slowly add flour mixture.  Stir until batter is just combined.  Batter will be thick.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop dough (about golf ball size) onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool cookies on sheet for a couple minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Frosting
* you could probably halve this recipe but I'd rather have enough goodness to spread around, and save the extra for something else like frosting cupcakes or filling whoopie pies-YUM!  :)

- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
- 5-6 c. powdered sugar (depending on thick/sweet you want)
- pinch of salt
- 4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (use your 2 lemons that you zested)
- 1-2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
- yellow sanding sugar (optional)

In a bowl of stand mixer, beat together butter and shortening.  With mixer on low, add powdered sugar and pinch of salt.  Beat until powdered sugar is incorporated and mixture is thick.  On low, slowly add your lemon juice and food coloring.  Turn mixer on high and beat until whipped and fluffy!

Scoop a heaping mound of frosting onto each cooled cookie and and spread around.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.  Enjoy!

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Key Lime Pie

"Summer time and the livin's easy"!  (Ahh, Sublime)

I should change that to, "...and the pie is easy".  Not only is this pie ridiculously easy, but just the kind of dessert you want on a hot day.  Light.  Citrusy and Tart.  Cool and Creamy.  Mmm, get me a slice now.

I know there are a variety of ways to make Key Lime Pie, and some of those ways may include green food coloring.  But just because this isn't green, doesn't mean this isn't filled with Key Lime goodness.

I made this pie to accompany the Honey Lime Enchiladas I made from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  I zested my limes first to use for the pie, and then used the juice for the enchiladas-no waste!  I love it!

Key Lime Pie
I have no idea where this recipe comes from.  I've been making it for so long and adapted it from different sources.  I only had this recipe hand written on a piece of paper with random changes and notes.  So if you notice the same recipe somewhere else, please let me know!

- 1 pre-made graham cracker crust
- 1 (14 oz.) can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/2 c. key lime juice- I use Nellie & Joe's 100% Key Lime Juice which I find at local grocers
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. lime zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake graham cracker pie shell for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.

In a bowl, whisk together my hand or hand mixer, sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, egg yolks, and lime zest.  Pour creamy mixture into partially baked graham cracker shell.  Return to oven and bake 12-15 minutes.  Center should be firm, and only give a very slight jiggle.  Cool on wire rack.

- 1 c. sour cream-yes, sour cream not heavy
- 1/4 c. powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla powder* or extract
* my vanilla powder looks like vanilla beans, and that is the flecks you see in my topping

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.  Spread over cooled pie.  Refrigerate and chill completely before cutting and serving.

Wham, Bam, and Thank You, Ma'am!  Easy as...PIE! Enjoy!

Orange Brownies

You read that correctly, Orange Brownies.  Not Chocolate Orange Brownies- which is the perfect combination in my opinion.  But trust me, these brownies are one of the very best things I make.  And how do I know this?  Because people ask me to make them... a lot.

The thing about these brownies is that they're kinda like an old friend to me.  We hung out a lot in the beginning of my baking ventures, and as time passed and I grew more in my baking experiences, we only saw one another here and there.  But I still keep coming back to this recipe because it never fails me.

I don't know if I've ever shared this here, but my baking "re-inspiration" came from watching Paula Deen when she first got started on Food Network.  Her food wasn't complicated, she was relatable, and her dishes always look delicious, and not to mention, comforting.  Her recipes never steered me wrong, and these Orange Brownies were proof.  Everyone adored them, and me for making them, which gave me confidence to keep on baking.  And, here I am today, with many more recipes and techniques under my belt.

Orange Brownies
adapted from Paula Deen

- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 2 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp. orange extract
- 1 tsp. orange zest (zest of small orange)

- 2 c. confectioners sugar
- 1/4 c. orange juice (you can use the oranges you zest, but zest first, than squeeze)
- zest of small orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line and 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add butter, eggs, orange extract and zest.  With a hand mixer, combine until all the ingredients are incorporated together and you have a nice thick batter.

Pour or scoop batter into prepared pan and evenly distribute into the pan using your spatula.  Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and using a fork, poke holes on top of the entire pan of brownies.

Make glaze by whisking all glaze ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour glaze evenly over the top, using a spatula as need to distribute glaze evenly.  Place pan on wire rack and let cool before cutting and serving.

This recipe is truly the best to take to a summer gathering.  These brownies are moist and citrusy, lighter than "normal" brownies, which makes them perfect on a hot summer's day!

Butterfinger Cake

You're going to love me for this one!

I love cake, but I hate taking the time to cut layers, do a crumb coat, and then frost and decorate the whole thing.  Too much work, I say!  I want cake now, and want to slap the layers between some fluffy filling and call it a day.

So that's exactly what I did!  I took the very best, very easy Chocolate Cake recipe from My Baking Addiction and layered it with my Butterfinger Pie filling.  Which by the way, is another very easy dessert, so you may want to check that out too.

No fancy ingredients (I swear), and you can do this and be is CAKE HEAVEN (It exists, I'm sure)!

Butterfinger Cake
adapted from My Baking Addiction

- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 1 c. strong black coffee
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 2, 9 inch round cake pans, line the bottom with wax paper-grease top of paper. ( With a piece of wax paper beneath the pan, with a knife I trace the bottom of the pan and then cut out the wax paper-it fits perfectly)

In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  On low speed, mix until all ingredients are combined.  You may have to help the ingredients in that are around the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, give a light which to eggs, buttermilk, coffee (I let it cool to at least lukewarm), vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Add wet mix to the dry ingredients.  Combine on medium speed for about two minutes, and stop as needed to help fold dry ingredients in that may cling to sides of pan.  Batter will be thin.

Divide evenly between your prepared pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean, maybe with a couple cake crumbs.  Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes and then move a knife around sides and turn out on to wire racks and let them cool completely.

- 8 Butterfingers divided, regular size (2.1 oz), chopped
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 12 oz. Cool Whip

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to combine 6 chopped Butterfingers and cream cheese until you don't see cream cheese pieces.  Fold in 12 oz. container of Cool Whip.  Place plastic wrap over top and refrigerate until your cakes are cooled.

Place one cake layer on cake stand, scoop out and spread half of your Butterfinger filling on top.  Top with remaining cake.  Scoop out and spread remaining filling over the top.

Optional Glaze:
adapted from Annie's Eats

-4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped
-1/2 c. heavy cream
-1/4 c. light corn syrup
-1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream till simmering.  Pour heated cream over chocolate, let it stand for a couple minutes.  Whisk until all chocolate is melted.  Add in corn syrup and vanilla, whisk.  Cool slightly and then pour over the top of your cake.

Top with remaining 2 chopped Butterfingers.  Enjoy!

Store in the fridge.  And it's Friday morning, but I say this applies ANY morning!

Photo image courtesy That Girl


Bacon! Avocado, & Tomato Pasta Salad

It's the season where it's time to start thinking about what we're bringing to the BBQ.  And anytime I bring something other than desserts, I get the "Wha-What?!"  Boo.  Hiss.  Maybe what you're throwing at me now...WHERE'S THE COOKIES?!

But just so all ya' all know, I do make things other than dessert.  Rarely.  But, I do.  So when I find savory recipes that I enjoy, I vow to share them with you.  Expand my horizons a little, shall we say?

Now, if you weren't aware, I'm a huge fan of Pinterest.  Yeah, I was a fan before it became cool, I'm trendy like that.  Or maybe not, but I was definitely there before you had to worry about what pin you clicked on for fear of spam.  I'm hating on you, spammers!

Anyway, if you follow me (which you should) then you may know I'm a HUGE fan of anything with avocado, and anything with bacon.  And I'm most definitely giddy if the two are together, which they happen to be in this pasta salad I'm sharing with you today.

This pasta salad has a beautiful balance of flavors.  Mostly though, it has the balance between the healthy fat of avocados, and the maybe-not-so-healthy fat of bacon.  The healthy and the unhealthy just cancel each other out, so don't worry about it and just enjoy some yummy pasta salad!

Bacon! Avocado & Tomato Pasta Salad
adapted from Life's Ambrosia
p.s.  Double this recipe, at least, if you want to take it to a larger gathering

- 6 slices bacon*, cooked and chopped
- 1/2 lb. dried rotini pasta
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper*
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro*
- 1 c. halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 avocado, cut up

Cook your bacon, drain and dab of excess fat with paper towels.  Set aside to cool down.

Cook your pasta according to the box instructions.  I usually cook a couple minutes longer because I don't like any of my pasta to be "harder".  Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is noticeably cooler.  Place cooled pasta in a large bowl.

Chop your tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and cooled bacon.  Toss on top of pasta.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper.  Pour dressing over pasta, and stir gently to coat evenly.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Cookie Mama's notes:

* I love to bake my bacon if I ever need more than a couple slices.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place strips of bacon on foil and place in oven.  Set temperature to 400 degrees, the oven does NOT need to preheat.  Bake for 18-23 minutes depending on how well you like your bacon cooked (watch it)- I like it crispier and prefer that texture in a pasta salad.  

Baking bacon is the best!  No splatter!  No mess-just throw foil liner away!

* I have white pepper, but only because my husband and mother-in-law use it for some of their delicious Asian dishes they whip up.  I can handle it in small amounts, but it definitely has a unique flavor unlike black pepper.  Sub the black pepper for white, or use another spice you think would work well.

* Mmmm, cilantro.  I love it and I think it pairs nicely with avocado and tomato.  The original recipe calls for dill.  I also thought of using chives.  Again, use what you have on hand or like!

Killer Chocolate Cookies

These are not for the faint of heart.

If you are not absolutely, 100%, in love with chocolate, and I mean dark chocolate, then turn away.

And before you even think of taking a bite, pour yourself a tall glass of ice cold milk.  I'm not even joking.

I love chocolate.  And these cookies are like, "POW!  In your FACE!" chocolatey.  Almost, eh, too chocolatey?  Is that possible?  Nah.  Never.  Just take a sip of milk.  Have another bite.  Repeat.

Just what makes these cookies almost over-the-top chocolatey?  Perhaps it's the dark chocolate melted into brown butter? And this was an, I hear angels singing, kind of moment.  It could also be the espresso powder.  Maybe the shot of dark rum?  Or how about the bittersweet chocolate chips?

Name it, and all these things collided to make one killer rich, dense, chewy dark chocolate cookie.

Killer Chocolate Cookies
adapted from food52

- 6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 c. cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 large eggs, room temp.
- 2/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1 Tbsp. espresso powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1 Tbsp. dark rum (optional)
- 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

Cookie Mama's notes:
*  Substitute ingredients you have on hand, example:
- Kosher salt or table salt for sea salt
- Light brown sugar for dark brown
- Vanilla extract for vanilla bean paste
- Semisweet or milk chocolate chips for bittersweet
* To bring eggs to room temperature more quickly, place them in a bowl with warm water for at least 10 minutes.
* If you follow my blog, I'd recommend investing in some espresso powder.  I use it frequently and love to put it in most all of my chocolate dishes.  It really intensifies the chocolate flavor.  Locally I've seen it at Dorothy Lane and Earth Fare, but Amazon is a great source too!

In a pan, brown 1/2 c. butter over medium heat.  At first your butter will melt.  Then it will start to develop the white bits.  As it heats it will sizzle, stir it around.  The butter will foam, and when it does this, stir continuously to prevent butter bits from burning.  It will start to give off a nutty aroma.  Remove from heat when butter bits are a rich brown color.  Stir in semisweet chocolate and whisk until all chocolate is melted.  Pour chocolate butter mix in a bowl, and place in the fridge while you work.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium speed beat sugars, eggs, espresso powder, vanilla bean paste and rum until combined thoroughly.  On low speed, slowly add slightly cooled chocolate butter mixture, increase speed and beat until chocolate is fully incorporated.  Scrape down bowl.

On low speed, slowly add flour cocoa mix, then chocolate chips, stir until just incorporated-being careful to not over mix.  Dough will be shiny and thick.  Scoop dough (golf ball size or larger) onto prepared sheets, press down slightly.  Bake for 9-12 minutes.

Cool on wire racks.  Enjoy them warm, and you'll be a chocolately mess.  And they're like a fudgy brownie in the shape of a cookie.  Mmmmm...

Chocolate & Bourbon Croissant Bread Pudding

I hate throwing food out. So much so that I'm starting to think it'd be a good idea to buy a bunny or guinea pig to help out with leftover produce.  And the ducks?  With all that stale bread I'd say they're already ready for winter!

But you're going hungry today, wildlife!

I had some bakery croissants leftover once the chicken salad was depleted, and was I about to let once fresh, buttery croissants go to waste?  Not in this house, buddy!  So how about some deliciously warm, comforting bread pudding?

But why stop at just plain bread pudding?  Let's spike it with a creamy bourbon drizzle and dot it with chocolate chips!  Hello HEAVEN!  Now that's comfort that warms you from head to toe.

 Chocolate & Bourbon Croissant Bread Pudding
adapted from Noble Pig

- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 c. whole milk
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
- 8 oz. stale croissants (approx. 6-8 small croissants)
- 1/3 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a small baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Tear croissants into about 1-2 inch size pieces.

In a bowl whisk together yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg.  Toss in croissant pieces and chocolate chips.  Fold into the cream mixture until croissant pieces are coated.  Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Creamy Bourbon Sauce
adapted from my recipes

- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp. cold water
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. bourbon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small bowl whisk cold water into cornstarch.

In a small saucepan bring cream and sugar to a boil.  Turn on low and whisk in cornstarch mix.  Whisk until cream thickens.  Take off heat and stir in bourbon and vanilla.

Serve bread pudding warm and drizzle with warm bourbon sauce.

Strawberry Nutella Mug Cake

So have you ever found yourself desperately searching for something sweet to eat at say...9 o'clock at night?  And maybe you get sooo desperate that you'll eat some of your kids Halloween candy you found stashed in the back of the cabinet.

No?  Um...Yeah, me neither.  But in case you ever think you are on the verge of doing something desperate, like even thinking a Twinkie sounds good, then maybe you should try this beautiful dessert I just came across.


It's brilliant!  Throw your ingredients into a large mug, whisk, microwave, and BAM!  A personal, hot gooey cake, all for you.  I mean, I guess you could share, but really, why?!  

Get into your comfy pants, make your very own mug cake, curl up on the couch, and RELAX.  You deserve it.

Strawberry Nutella Mug Cake
adapted from The Family Kitchen on

- 4 Tbsp. self-rising flour
- 4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 Tbsp. espresso powder (optional)
- 3 Tbsp. Nutella
- 1 Tbsp. strawberry preserves (sub your favorite or omit)
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp. milk
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

*Whisk all the ingredients in a large mug.  Place mug on a plate in case it spills over.  Microwave for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes; go with less time if you have a high wattage microwave.  Top with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and fresh strawberries if you have them.

I had leftover whipped frosting and chocolate sauce from these cupcakes I made from my son's 5th birthday yesterday.  And if you want a stronger Nutella flavor, spread some over the top of the warm cake before adding the whipped cream.  Serious Mmmmmm.

* I have a baby whisk, so if you don't have one, just use a fork.

Om, nom, nom
I'm sharing this week at Inside BruCrew, Chef in Training, Crazy for Crust, Something Swanky, and Six Sisters Stuff.  Make sure you go to their sites to check out all the goodies too!