#EasterWeek: Peeps Cookie Bars

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Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Earlier this year Firecracker wanted to make some cookies. My husband grabbed one of my cookie cookbooks (Cookies: Over 300 Step-By-Step Recipes For Home Made Baking). They selected more of a bar than a cookie, but we ran with it. Little tip for ya: Don’t try cutting out train shaped cookies from this bar, just let it be and cut it into rectangles.

The cookie bars were an almond cookie base, topped with jam, and marshmallows.

Now, my kids LOVE marshmallows. I’m talking bribery-status treat level here!

The cookies were quite fun and incredibly sweet. I had used a huckleberry jam from Knott’s Berry Farm.

I knew I had to try them again for Easter using Peeps!

I can’t recall having Peeps since making my famous (hey, the recipe was published in the Chicago Tribune last year!) Peeps Lemon Drop Martini FOUR years ago.

Peeps seem to get a bad rap (wrap?) these days. They’re one of those “love ’em or hate ’em” types of foods. Whatever. They’re delicious, and my kids, no surprise, quite enjoyed them. I’ll be sure to grab a small pack for their Easter baskets this year.

I used the bunny shaped Peeps because once cut in half, they’re thin enough to layer on the cookie bars. And to avoid any gruesome looking cookies, I used a pineapple and apricot jam instead of strawberry.

To make the cookies you first make the cookie base and let it cool. Then you top it with your jam before layering on sliced marshmallows. You need to cut them in half and place the cut side down to ensure they’ll stick. You then pop them back in the oven under the broiler.

Now, our oven has been busted pretty much since we moved into this home two years ago. The oven is older and runs into an “overheating” error that fails at a mere 350 degrees F. To work around the error we have to have the fan on the microwave running and the kitchen window open. Additionally, anything over 375 degrees F requires that nothing be on top of the stove, too. That means, I don’t get to use my broiler, so my marshmallows don’t get the toasty golden look to them (the Peep bunny faces did melt creating the allusion of toasted marshmallows). Ah well.

Peeps Cookie Bars for #EasterWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook (1)

Peeps Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C superfine sugar
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • approx. 1/2 C jam
  • 1 pkg (3 oz) bunny Peeps

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″x9″ cake pan (option to also line with parchment paper/foil).
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest with an electric hand mixer. Add in the vanilla, almonds, and egg until combined. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt until a dough is formed. Spread dough evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Spread jam over the baked cookie base.
  4. Cut Peeps in half horizontally and place, cut side down, on top of the jam. Return to oven and broil until marshmallows are golden.

Peeps Cookie Bars for #EasterWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other Easter recipes:

Brussels Sprout Potato Cakes by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Candied Lemon Zest Jalapeño Deviled Eggs by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice

Carrot Cake Cookies by Daily Dish Recipes

Curried Deviled Eggs by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Dried Cherry and Almond Scones by Family Around the Table

Easter Egg Sugar Cookies by The Redhead Baker

Eggs Benedict Breakfast Bake by Cookaholic Wife

Greek Lamb Keftiko by Caroline’s Cooking

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Roasted Pork Loin with White Wine Sauce by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Maple Apple Baked Oatmeal by Jolene’s Recipe Journal

Peeps Cookie Bars by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Easter Bread Cheesecake – Pasca by All that’s Jas

Spring Veggie Crudités with Fresh Pea Hummus by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Vanilla Bean Mocha Biscotti by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Vegetable Breakfast Casserole by Simple and Savory

#EasterWeek: Whipped Ricotta Salad

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Wait a minute.

Wasn’t it just Christmas?

Am I allowed to admit I feel like I haven’t reached a level of organization for 2018 yet?

And we’re talking Easter!?

Well, since we’re talking about it, might as well cook about it!

This year’s #EasterWeek, hosted by Christie of A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures, convenes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and providing you plenty of time to come up with your perfect Easter menu. (Easter is April 1st – that’s 13 days from now!)

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

To start your menu, I propose a light and bright, spring-timey salad.

This salad comes from the cookbook Happy Cooking: Make Every Meal Count … Without Stressing Out by Giada De Laurentiis and is featured in her Las Vegas restaurant.

I quite like ricotta cheese, but when I have leftovers I never know what to do with it besides make some lasagna, ravioli, or pasta sauce. I have done muffins before, which is quite delicious.

With an almost full container of ricotta in my refrigerator, I selected one of Giada’s cookbooks hoping she’d know what to do.

Guess what.

She does!

This salad is both refreshing and satisfying.

The basil vinaigrette paired with the fresh tomatoes and the creamy ricotta reminded me of a caprese salad.

Whipped Ricotta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 C packed fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp + 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 C whole milk ricotta cheese, chilled
  • 3 C baby greens salad mix (I used a blend of kale and spinach)
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved

Steps:

  1. Make dressing: Place basil, toasted pine nuts, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes into a food processor and blend. Add in 3 tbsp of the olive oil until the dressing comes together. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric hand mixer, whip the ricotta with the remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, gently toss the salad green, peas, and tomatoes with the dressing.
  4. Plate: Spoon whipped ricotta onto a plate and top with the salad. Serves 4-6 people.

Whipped Ricotta Salad for #EasterWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other great Easter recipes:

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Bunny Cinnamon Rolls by Family Around the Table

Bunny Mary by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Carrot Roll Cake by Cookaholic Wife

Chocolate Dipped Robin’s Egg Cookies by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Crunchy Easter Bird Nest Granola Bites by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice

Deviled eggs with creme Fraiche and herbs by Simple and Savory

Easter M&M Blondies by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks

Easter Mini Chocolate Rum Cupcakes by Daily Dish Recipes

Egg Benedict Quiche by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Orange Ricotta Pancakes by Jolene’s Recipe Journal

Puff Pastry Eggs with Ham and Cheese by All that’s Jas

Sausage and Spinach Pie by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread by Caroline’s Cooking

Whipped Ricotta Salad by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Rainbow Marshmallow Treats

Last month I shared how I’ve been developing my own curriculum when it comes to holiday themed school units for my preschoolers (with a lot of help from Pinterest).

It’s time now for me to share something from our St. Patrick’s Day “studies.”

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

St. Patrick’s Day was only a big holiday for me when we lived in the FL panhandle because my best friend was (I mean, she still is) Irish and we celebrated 4 SPDs together in a row. Quite fun.

I admit I know nothing really about the holiday. Yes, I could go google that right now, but I’m not going to; let’s be real.

But hey. I ordered two books to fit the holiday off Amazon (funnily enough the library didn’t have materials left for me to check out!) and we’ve read them 8 times today (aka yesterday). Guess they’re a hit: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover! and Ten Lucky Leprechauns. (Personally, I prefer the latter.)

Firecracker absolutely loves rainbows so I knew we’d have to focus on the “pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow” idea of the holiday. He doesn’t get it. (Hey, I don’t either, kid.) But a rainbow activity and craft – he’s all for it.

We made rainbow paper chains and learned about how staplers work – quite an interesting machine! “I’m very curious about the stapler.” These cute crafts act as my prop for the star of the show – the Rainbow Marshmallow Treats.

Rainbow Marshmallow Treats #StPatricksDay | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Think Rice Krispie Treat made with Trix cereal.

I know marshmallow treats made with Lucky Charms are incredibly popular this time of year, and rightfully so, but I wanted to go a slightly different route this week. They’re definitely fun, festive, and applicable more than once a year – they’d be great for birthday parties!

Rainbow Marshmallow Treats

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 1 box Trix cereal

Steps:

  1. Melt butter and marshmallows in a large pot over medium heat. Stir until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and fold in the cereal, mixing until cereal is fully coated.
  3. Press into a greased casserole dish and let set before cutting into squares.

Rainbow Marshmallow Treats #StPatricksDay | Sew You Think You Can Cook

#MuffinMonday: Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts

Muffin Monday It’s time for another Monday filled with muffins!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins to brighten their Mondays. There isn’t a theme to #MuffinMonday posts so anything goes, as long as it’s a muffin!

You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.

I’m keeping the Valentine’s Day spirit alive with my February #MuffinMonday submission. Muffins shaped as hearts! And involving both chocolate and strawberries together. Who doesn’t want to start their morning with a little love in a muffin cup?

IMG_6145As part of our Valentine’s themed school unit, I thought it’d be fun to bake muffins with the boys. It was the perfect way to end the lessons

Bonus points – the boys now have added marbles to their toy collection. I taped an octagon (because who can tape a circle?!?) on the carpet with painters tape and we played a game of rolling the single larger marble into the “circle” to get marbles out of the circle. Firecracker is really into this game. Treat prefers to just kick and stomp through the circle, dispersing every single marble across the floor. If you have other good marble games to play, please share them in the comments!

Treat even took a nap the day we baked these muffins so I was able to put in a little extra photography effort with the help of Firecracker, who really wanted to be in the pictures.

This recipe makes 24 muffin hearts.

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 10 oz frozen strawberries, thawed, chopped, and drained
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 C buttermilk
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the strawberries, tossing to coat and distribute evenly.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to incorporate. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  5. Fill muffin cups halfway with the batter. Gently tuck back the liner and put a marble between the liner and the tin (not in the batter). Bake 20min, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.

*This recipe is adapted from Averie at https://www.averiecooks.com/2014/01/strawberry-chocolate-chip-muffins.html, the method from Getty at http://www.gettystewart.com/does-using-marbles-to-make-heart-shaped-muffins-really-work/*

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts for #MuffinMonday from Sew You Think You Can Cook

And don’t forget to check out these other muffin recipes:

Bouchon Bakery Style Carrot Muffins from Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Cocoa Beet Chocolate Chip Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts

Lucky Charms Muffins from Palatable Pastime

Morning Glory Muffins from Food Lust People Love

Rice Cereal Apple Muffins from A Day in the Life on the Farm

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Fondue Recipe Round-Up

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

When we got married we were given two electric fondue sets as wedding gifts. We decided to keep both of them. And for four years they were both used once a year, on Valentine’s Day. It became our Valentine’s tradition to have fondue that night, and because we had two pots, we could do one cheese fondue and one chocolate fondue without having to worry about clean up between courses.

After Firecracker was born we still managed to make fondue his first Valentine’s Day. That was three years ago.

Those poor fondue sets have been sitting at the top of cupboard in SoCal for two straight years. They’ll probably continue to sit there until we leave here in 2020. Maybe February 2021 (wow that looks weird!) the boys will be old enough to be trusted around warm devices?

Or maybe, this round-up I’ve created will inspire us to have a date night at home the next Parents’ Night Out hosted at our wonderful church!

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue Round-Up | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • You know that fondue I mentioned having made back in 2015? It was this one from Tara’s Multicultural Table – Caramelized Shallot Gruyere Fondue. My photos of the night were lost in camera fiasco of 2018, but I assure you, Tara’s are much better anyway.
  • Chef Markus discoverd the secret to authentic Swiss Cheese Fondue and has shared it with his readers at Earth, Food, and Fire.
  • Traditional cheese fondue is typically made with gruyere cheese, which can tend to tip the grocery budget. Shari, of The Root Family Review, developed a Frugal Cheese Fondue using shredded Monterey Jack and Parmesan. I’m all for saving some money and still delivering on taste!
  • When I think about fondue I tend to think of a romantic candlelit dinner, typically geared towards the ladies. I know because, while my husband does enjoy fondue, he’s typically still hungry after the meal. Erica hit it out of the park with these Beer Brats in Blankets and Smoked Gouda Fondue!
  • Rachel pulled out all the stops for her Valentine’s Dinner with a Surf and Turf Cheese Fondue. I always pair cheese fondue with bread, chips, veggies, and apples. Why didn’t I think of using meat or even shrimp!?

Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate Fondue Round-Up | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • Chocolate lava cake is a classic Valentine’s dessert, and Gretchen turned it into 3-Ingredient Chocolate Lava Dip. Seriously, I’m sold!
  • Even if you don’t like dark chocolate, you need to go read Mystique’s post about taking full advantage of all five of your senses while eating. It will make you want to make some Dark Chocolate Fondue for Two and shut out the world!
  • Can you even have a section about chocolate and not mention its soul mate peanut butter?! Michelle figured out a way to make fondue night happen with her kids with Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue. Now, I don’t know how old her two boys are, but I’m definitely hopeful again!
  • White chocolate tends to be a sensitive topic when it comes to chocolate discussions, but I’m all for it! Especially if that white chocolate is paired with champagne and turned into fondue! Thank you, Blair, for sharing this White Chocolate Champagne Fondue with the Internet.
  • There can be fondue for everyone thanks to Laura’s Dairy-Free Chocolate Fondue – unless your Valentine can’t have coconut – but for all the rest of you out there, grab a strawberry and dig in!

M&M Cookies

I’ve been homeschooling Firecracker (and by proxy, Treat) this school year, which is why things have slowed down quite a bit around here in the blog-o-sphere.

But I’ve really been enjoying it!

I’ve been following a curriculum I purchased last summer, but mixing it up somewhat drastically to fit certain themes or occasions in our lives. For example: We actually started with units 9 and 16 instead of 1 and 2. We actually just did unit 2 in January!

And now that we have somewhat of a routine with how the units are organized, I’ve been venturing out and creating my own units, too! All of the units I’ve developed are centered around the holidays.

We’re currently on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day!

And I’ve been getting really into this least favorite holiday of mine. I’ve been cutting their sandwiches and cheese slices into hearts for lunch and we’re crafting up a storm.

We even made Valentines for our long distance family members. (The photo below was sent from my beautiful sister-in-law and shared with her permission.)

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I found the idea for the Valentines on Pinterest. The boys loved having me paint their hands, saying it tickled. (Mega crafting milestone for my boys!) I cut the yarn to be the length of their arm span. The boys each picked the background color for each of their Valentines depending on who they were being sent to! It was fun to watch their little minds work in decision mode.

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Inside their Valentine boxes were a couple of appropriately colored M&M cookies. We sent so many cookies that there was only one cookie leftover for the 4 of us to share. (I ran out of brown sugar to make more – tragedy! Seriously. I have got to hit up a grocery store, like, ASAP, so I can make more of these cookies for us!)

M&M Cookies | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

I don’t think I’ve ever baked cookies that involved melted butter before, I was skeptical. But using melted butter made the mixing of these cookies insanely easy – no stand mixer required! I love the use of brown sugar in cookies, I think it gives the cookies a great depth of flavor. And of course, holiday colored M&Ms provide the perfect texture to these soft and chewy cookies.

This recipe makes approximately 21 cookies.

M&M Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C M&Ms

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with silicone baking mats, parchment paper, or spray with cooking oil.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, switching to a spatula for easier mixing. Fold in the M&Ms.
  5. Spoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool on baking sheets.

*This recipe is adapted from Kristyn at https://lilluna.com/giant-chewy-mm-cookies/*

M&M Cookies perfect for Valentine's Day | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Tuesday Tattles: 2nd Birthday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by loved ones. We’ve been enjoying the sunshine and time with grandparents. The kids were beyond spoiled and the joy and wonder of Christmas was evident everywhere.

Tuesday Tattles

My Treat turned TWO in October and we celebrated with a playground party in early November. (Little fun fact: shopping for birthday party decorations the week before Halloween is slightly insane.)

My guy has had an attraction to sports balls as early as I can remember, and he’s naturally athletic, coordinated, and too brave for his own good. A sports themed birthday would be a no-brainer. And then he had me second guessing my decision with an obsession with animals that rivaled anything to date! We celebrated his actual birthday with a trip to the zoo. If he continues his love of animals and zoo trips, you’ll be seeing an animal themed third birthday next year

As has become my birthday tradition, I made a banner for my birthday boy. I punched out circles of cardstock and decorated them to look like baseballs, tennis balls, basketballs, and a soccer ball. Even ovals for footballs. I used navy stickers for the lettering, to make it easier.

I stuck to the four “main” sports: football, soccer, basketball, and baseball. (If the Chicago Cubs had made it into the World Series a second year in a row I definitely would have adjusted to a Cubs only theme.)

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This birthday party was the first of the 4 we’ve previously thrown for the boys that did not include extended family. I am grateful for fantastic friends who offered their help in setting up and taking down the decorations at the park.

The décor included:

  • Green table cloths
  • Small white plates for the dessert table
  • Gold oval plates for the snack table (they looked like footballs!)
  • Red and yellow napkins
  • Blue spoons and forks
  • The party favor bags were simple black cellophane bags and stored in a large football shaped bowl
    • Inside the bags were bubbles, sports balls, chocolate candies, and dum-dums

My favorite part of any party décor are the balloons. Turns out this old soul of mine has a little kid in it, after all. Those wonderful friends I mentioned at the beginning of this post came over early to help us blow up about a dozen balloons, including the mega #2. The balloons got all tangled before even leaving our house, and my OCD self let it go, because it looked really cool! We didn’t even make it out of the front door before we lost 10 of the balloons, including the mega #2. The screams that emitted from my children were heard from the playground where daddy was setting up. He saw those balloons fly into the sky and came running to help console. Heck, I was a wreck, too! I hadn’t gotten a single picture of my guy with his #2 balloon.

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The food helped bring the sports theme to life, one dish for each sport:

  • I made the superfood layer dip again, arranging the layers with shredded cheese on top and decorating it with black beans to create the stripes of a basketball
  • My favorite display was the fruit tray to look like a baseball field. I used my largest rimmed baking sheet and arranged five small ramekins for the bases and pitching mound. Those were filled with pretzel sticks, toothpicks, chocolate hummus, and caramel yogurt dip. Different fruits were arranged to create the outfield, infield, and stands
  • I’d ordered a pull-apart cupcake cake from the local grocery store to look like a soccer ball and it turned out fantastically!
  • I made cocoa krispie treats in the shape of footballs and decorated the laces with melted white chocolate

Just like last year, we had a threat of rain, but the sky cleared and it was a beautiful, slightly windy day, perfect for a playground party.

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