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Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Talk about an easy cookie to make. These little bites of cookie and candy are another one of my favorites. Not only because they are so easy and only use 2 ingredients but because they are just so darn tasty! I could eat a dozen of them easily in one seating. If not more! The first time I had these, thanks to my friend Beth, I fell in love! When Beth made them they were just regular chocolate chip cookies but when I make them I use nuts. The two ingredients are pre-made cookie dough and mini peanut butter cups. You can use any of your favorite “tubes” of premade cookie dough. Chocolate chip, chocolate chip with nuts, sugar, chocolate… Also needed are mini muffin tins. I bake one tin at a time. It’s easier.

INGREDIENTS:

1 roll of pre-made cookie dough (your choice)

Bag of mini peanut butter cups (about 36 cups needed)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to directions on cookie dough package.

2. Fill each mini tin about 3/4 full with cookie dough. Bake according to package directions. If you wish you can spray the tins with cooking spray before adding dough just in case they stick.

3. While cookie dough is baking unwrap about 36 mini peanut butter cups so you have them all ready to go.

4. When cookie dough is finished baking remove from oven and place on cooling rack. While still warm press a mini peanut butter cup into each muffin tin. The heat will melt the chocolate a little which will help it to bond with the dough when it cools. Work quickly so the cookie dough does not harden before you can get the peanut butter cups into them.

5. When cookies are cool enough to handle carefully remove from tins and continue to cool on racks till hardened.

Makes about 36 cookies

Pecan Petites

One of my favorite cookies from a cookie exchange was from my friend Aimee. These cookies melted in your mouth! There was no way you could eat just one! Or two or three…They are delicious round balls of yumminess!

This recipe is also very easy to make. Easy is good. This way you can make more than one type of cookie! The recipe originally called for margarine but I don’t like using margarine. So using butter is a great alternative.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter/margarine

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

Confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cream butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla.

2. Add flour, mix well. Stir in the pecans.

3. Shape rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake at 325º for 20 minutes. Cool slightly, roll in confectioners’ sugar.*

*If you want to make them festive for Christmas roll them in red or green sugar crystals.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Pina Colada Oatmeal Cookies

Ok my Christmas tree is up and decorated! Woo Hoo! Now I just need to clean up and finish up the loose ends for the inside decorating. Spent all morning and part of the afternoon Christmas shopping so I got a late start on the tree today. I had promised myself I would write the blog in the morning also. Didn’t happen! It is amazing that even though I am not working (unemployed but not by choice!) you would think I had so much time on my hands! I seem to have even less. Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself so I am happy to take time and just write about my recipes and research photos and just escape into my own little food blog world. It’s a great place!

My Christmas tree

Great places have great food and drinks. The piña colada is a wonderfully decadent and delicious drink and it definitely brings up images of palm trees, warm weather, sandy beaches, tiki huts…You get the picture. So I found a recipe for my last cookie exchange that took that wonderful cocktail and made it into a cookie! The recipe calls for rum extract but I like to use the real thing. Or even use a coconut rum. It’s a small amount so don’t worry that anyone will be getting plastered from eating these cookies. They are tasty and tropical and they even go great with a real piña colada to wash them down! Why not! It’s the holiday! Enjoy! (I know the picture is small but I didn’t have a close up them by themselves. Never thought I’d be doing a blog when I made them!)

Pina Colada Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1½ sticks butter, softened

1 egg

1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice

1 teaspoon rum or coconut rum (or use rum extract)

2 cups flour

½  teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1½  cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)

½ cup flaked coconut

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, pineapple with its juice, and rum extract until well blended.

2. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until well blended. Stir in oatmeal and coconut.

3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. (Those silicone mats or parchment paper work great also). Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cookies cook on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to a rack and let cool completely.

Makes about 48 cookies

Rainbow Cookies

Here they are as promised! Rainbow Cookies! This recipe was from one of my very first Cookie Exchanges. My sister was the ambitious one! She didn’t have any kids yet and had lots of time! (She has 5 now!) The recipe itself isn’t really that hard, it is however time-consuming. Many things to do but if you follow the directions you’ll have no problems. Some rainbow cookies have a chocolate layer on the bottom as well as the top, this one has only chocolate on top. Either way they are delicious and your friends and family will be impressed when you tell them you actually baked them yourself!

I was trying to find a picture from this party way back when. It had to be in the mid-late 1990s. I’m still looking though so if I find it (after 5 or 6 moves I’m lucky I find anything!) I will add it in. I know I must have a photo of it somewhere so be patient and I’ll search for it.

This recipe will NOT, I repeat NOT, be low-calorie. Then again, most cookies that are really good aren’t! It is the season for eating and being merry so no worries this time. Just get in the kitchen and bake like crazy! I wonder if I asked my sister to make these today what she would do. Hmmm…Oldest child is 12 and youngest is now 6. Free time? Sure! NOT! She’ll just laugh at me.

Cousin Linda (L) and sister Michele (R)

I may still do an exchange this year if I want to throw one together real fast. I just love them. I just wish everyone else did! I have so many fun memories of the past ones I’ve had. Like my cousin Linda showing up to the party with cookies that were still warm from the oven! As my sister-in-law Maureen told her, “Linda, the party starts at 4:00, that doesn’t mean start baking at 4:00!” She was also late to the party. The following year I told her an hour before everyone else. Guess what? She showed up on time, an hour before everyone else! It’ll never happen again though!

INGREDIENTS:

3 sticks butter

1½ cups sugar

1½ cups flour

4 eggs

4 ounces almond paste (½ stick or ½ can usually)

1 bag (about 12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

red, green, yellow food coloring

1 jar seedless raspberry jam (use sugar-free here if you want to save a little calories)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine butter, sugar, flour, eggs and almond paste in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

2. Divide batter evenly into 3 bowls (something that won’t get stained). Add yellow, green and red food coloring into bowls. One color per bowl. Add a few drops at a time till the color you want is reached.

3. Spray three 11½ x 8 (1½” deep) aluminum pans with cooking spray. Line with wax paper and spray again. Pour each bowl into a separate pan.

4. Bake individually for 15-20 minutes at 350º.

5. After cooling, remove from pans, stack and layer with raspberry jam. Don’t put jam on the top. Just between the two bottom layers.

6. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Stir till smooth. Frost top of layers only with the melted chips. After chocolate hardens (put in fridge to help this along), cut into individual squares. Store in refrigerator.

**Not sure how many this will make but it also depends on how big or small you cut the squares. Enjoy!

Chocolate Melting Cake

This recipe is compliments of Carnival Cruise Lines. My favorite!!! This is the number one ultimate dessert onboard all the ships. My husband usually has it every night! I think they said they serve over 1000 a day! Watching the video it doesn’t seem too hard to make either. I think one day soon I am going to get the ingredients and try it! This video is done by the wonderful John Heald. He is the ultimate cruise director. On the 7 Carnival cruises I’ve taken I have yet to get him. I will one day though. He is very funny. The ship he is on right now is the Carnival Splendor doing the cruises along the Pacific coast of the US. So sit back and relax and watch the video.

S’More Cookies

S’mores usually remind us of campfires, summer nights, scouts and just plain fun. I may be weird but I’m not a fan! Honest. I LOVE toasting marshmallows but I don’t like to eat them. I like graham crackers and chocolate but not necessarily together, with marshmallows. Yes I am strange. I also think of the movie “Half Baked” with Jim Breuer and Dave Chappelle. They kept wanting to make “S’mores man!” Funny movie. But still not a fan of the actual creation. BUT, as a cookie, that is another story. Remember, I really like cookies. I also am baking challenged according to my husband but these are so simple even I can make them. They are basically drop cookies which means you mix all the ingredients and just drop them on the cookie sheet. So with the holiday season starting up give these a try for something a little different!


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped, unblanched almonds

1½ cups chocolate chunks

1½ cups miniature marshmallows

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and salt together.

2. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla.

3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Add almonds, chocolate and marshmallows.

4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a nonstick baking sheet. Press the top of each cookie lightly with a fork dipped in water.

5. Bake at 350ºF for 12-14 minutes or until light brown.

6. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute and remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about  3 dozen cookies

Oatmeal-Apricot Amaretto Cookies

The holiday season is just around the corner. It’s never too soon to start thinking of cookies for the holiday! I love cookies. I could pass up cake, brownies and pie (except Key Lime). But cookies are another thing. They’re smaller so I rationalize that it’s not as many calories. But then again for the most part if you are eating cookies you aren’t thinking of calories. Not usually anyway. So this recipe is not a low-calorie version. That’s ok though. We need the good stuff every so often! So whip up a batch of these delicious cookies and just enjoy them. Make a pot of tea or coffee and invite some friends over for a snack! They’ll love it! And my favorite liqueur is Amaretto so this cookie is a win-win! Sorry but there are no pics yet for this. When I’ve  made them in the past I wasn’t thinking to take pics. Now I take pictures of everything! When I make them again I will add a photo.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup flour

1 cup butter

1 tablespoon amaretto


1 cup chopped, dried apricots


½ cup sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup finely chopped almonds

2 ½ cups oats


1 egg

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Beat butter until soft. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy.

3. Add egg and amaretto, mixing well.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in oats, apricots and almonds.

5. Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on waxed paper to cool.

FROSTING:

2 cups powdered sugar

5-6 teaspoons amaretto.

Whisk ingredients until smooth, adding amaretto until mixture reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cookies.

Pumpkin Carrot Bars

Yes I am still in Fall mode. Trying to pretend it’s cooler outside and that the leaves are changing here. But then I look outside and see nothing but green palm trees, green leaves on the maple trees, green everywhere! Ok, so the leaves really don’t change here. They do fall on some trees but they aren’t pretty about it. Oh well, the sacrifice for living in the Sunshine State. Maybe they change in northern Florida? And right now the temperature is still 79 degrees. It’s 7pm! But I did buy a couple little pumpkins at Walmart yesterday! I will use them for pies or something later in the year. They actually last a long time after the fall! I’ve had pumpkins that lasted till April!

Well I found this recipe and changed it a bit to make it a little less fattening. I substituted Splenda and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend for the sugars and I use light cream cheese in place of regular. As always, feel free to use the real stuff if you want. I was also very happy to hear that the pumpkin shortage is officially over as well. Last year I had stocked up on the canned pumpkin when I found it. It was like gold! But the crop was good this year and we can all breathe easily now! Whew!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour or whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup granulated Splenda (sucralose)

1/3 cup light butter/margarine, softened

½ cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend

2 eggs

2 large egg whites

1 can (15 ounce) pumpkin

1 cup carrot, finely shredded

Cream Cheese Topping/Icing:

4 ounces light cream cheese, softened

¼ cup Splenda

1 tablespoon fat-free half-and-half (or whatever milk product you want)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan. (or similar pan)

2. In a small bowl combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda.

3. In a larger bowl, beat together sugar (1 cup), butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Add eggs, egg whites, canned pumpkin and carrots. Beat until well blended. Add flour mixture and mix until well blended. Spread into greased pan.

4. Mix together cream cheese, sugar (¼ cup) and milk until thoroughly blended.

5. Drop teaspoonfuls of topping over pumpkin batter and swirl mixture with a butter knife.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan completely on wire rack before cutting into squares.

Makes 48 squares.

No-Bake Tropical Cheesecake Pie

Seems like I am on a pie kick right now. And if you ask my husband I am a terrible baker. Well this pie you don’t have to bake so how hard can it be. So what if every time I try a new cookie recipe it rarely comes out good. I also should stop trying to make all the cookies or cakes diet friendly. Sometimes cookies, cakes and pies just need the calories and fat and yummy stuff!  I have had many cookie exchanges around the holidays but since living here in Florida, I’ve found my neighbors and most of my friends just aren’t into them. I would be lucky if I got like 5 people to show. In New York I always had a houseful! And the cookies came out awesome! Maybe it’s the weather here. Maybe it’s the fact that in December I am still wearing shorts and flip-flops. I wonder…

Anyway, I can’t take credit for this recipe. It’s Rachael Ray’s recipe. If you’ve ever watched her talk show then you know she CAN’T BAKE!  So she says. She always burns the bread in the oven! Nice to know she’s just like the rest of us. Well this recipe does not involve baking so even Rachael Ray can make it! And if you really don’t feel like making the crust yourself, skip that part and just buy one of those Keebler graham cracker pie crusts. Who is gonna know!


INGREDIENTS:

1 package (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 rectangles)

3 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup cream of coconut

1 mango, cut into small cubes (peel it first though!)

2 kiwis, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise (peel this first also!)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a glass measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin into ½ cup cold water and let sit.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Mix in the butter. Transfer the mixture to a 10″ deep-dish pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Freeze until firm.

3. Microwave the softened gelatin until melted, 30 seconds.

4. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate. Add the cream cheese to the mixer bowl and beat at high-speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the condensed milk, cream of coconut and melted gelatin and beat at medium speed until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Transfer the pie filling to the chilled crust. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 3 hours. Top with the mango and kiwis.

Skinny Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is my favorite pie. But I could do without all the extra calories in it. This recipe is lower in calories and fat but still tastes great. If you don’t care about your calories/fat use the regular versions of the ingredients. Key Lime Pie also should NOT be bright lime green in color! It should be an almost pale yellow to very faint green. All those other pies that glow in the dark have food coloring added. You don’t need it! Honest! This recipe is also very easy to make and takes more time to chill and set than it does to prepare and bake. If you are ever in Key West though, try their frozen chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick! OMG! Talk about sugar coma! But it is so incredibly delicious and  heavenly. The last time I had it I shared it with my husband and stepson and we had a hard time finishing it. So worth the extra calories and fat every so often!

INGREDIENTS:

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

½ cup Key Lime juice (such as Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice)

1 teaspoon lime zest (if you can find a key lime use that instead)

1 (14 ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

1 (6 ounce) reduced-fat graham cracker crust

1½ cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Beat eggs and egg whites at medium speed on an electric mixer until well-blended.

3. Gradually add the lime juice, zest and condensed milk into the egg mixture, beating until well-blended.

4. Spoon mixture into pie crust and bake at 350º for 20 minutes or until almost set. (The center will not be firm but will set up as it chills.)

5. Cool on a wire rack. Cover loosely and chill for at least 4 hours. Spread whipped topping evenly over filling. Serve!

Makes 8 servings