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

#SundaySupper: Easy Pork Chop Recipes

MasterChef Junior has started up again and I’m super excited. These 9-13 year olds put me, and probably everyone I know, to shame in the kitchen! I don’t watch the adult version of the show, but have been sucked into the miniature talent. This season I was actually on top of it enough to know it was happening before it started and set the DVR accordingly. It’s been two weeks and I’m already behind. Figures.

But! I did catch the first episode and 4 of the contestants had to cook a dish using “the most cooked protein.” Flip to commercial break. I spent the time it took to fast forward commercials trying to guess what would be under the cloche. The answer? Pork chops. I was wrong.

We do cook pork chops fairly often. Once upon a time it was the only protein my Firecracker would eat. Now that his all time favorite is Chick-fil-A (or any fried) chicken, it’s been harder to get him to voluntarily eat pork. After getting him to try a bite, however, he’ll finish his portion. Insert frustrated-relieved sigh here.

Shelby from Grumpy’s Honeybunch is hosting this week’s Sunday Supper event all about easy pork chop recipes. Be sure to scroll past my recipe to see a fantastic collection of recipes for your next weeknight pork dinner.

Using thick-cut chops is not something I typically do. I always prefer the thin cut because they’re quick. These thick pork chops might change the way I buy pork from now on! They’re brined for 1-3 hours (I think I landed somewhere around 2:30) yielding plump and juicy pork. A sear in cast iron helps keep that moisture in, and then into the oven underneath a blanket of brown sugar.

Quick-Brine Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze (1) for #SundaySupper from Sew You Think You Can Cook

I served these pork chops with grilled cabbage (stay tuned) and mashed sweet potatoes.

This recipe serves 2-3.

Quick Brine Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 C water
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • ice, if needed
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 1 1/2-2″ thick bone-in pork chops
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Bring 1 C water to a gentle boil. Stir in the sage and salt. Allow to cool slightly. Add 1 C cold water. Allow brine to get to room temperature. Add ice if needed.
  2. Place pork chops in a bowl, cover with the cooled brine. Add more water if needed to cover the pork. Cover and refrigerate 1-3 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brush pork with vegetable oil and season with S+P. Sear both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  5. Spread brown sugar over the pork chops in a thin, even layer and place the skillet in the oven. Cook 5-10 minutes to desired doneness, registering at least 145 degrees F in the middle. Remove pork from the pan and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

*This recipe is adapted from Emma at http://www.thekitchn.com/dinner-for-two-recipe-sage-brined-pork-chops-with-brown-sugar-glaze-recipes-from-the-kitchn-180424#*

Quick-Brine Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze (2) for #SundaySupper from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Pork Chops

Pork Chops

And More Pork Chops

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

SRC: Mini Pecan Pie Cupcakes

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It’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! In the Secret Recipe Club, each participating blogger is assigned a blog from another participating blogger and secretly searches their site for something to recreate. The accompanying blog post then goes live on reveal day! So while I was immersed in my assigned blog, someone else was picking through mine! I’m so excited to be part of this group, to see what on my blog peaks other’s interests and to stumble upon new blogs and new recipes.

I had to chuckle when I received my assignment in my email this month. You see, for the past two reveals April of Angels Home Sweet Homestead was assigned my blog! For our themed barbecue/picnic reveal she made Mexican Street Corn Salad and for our traditional Group C reveal she chose Cinnamon and Honey Roasted Chickpeas. I suppose it was only fitting that I took my turn diving more deeply into April’s blog.

April’s philosophy behind her blog is fantastic. She writes:

I want to bring back a simpler way of life, where families sit down together to a home cooked meal and talk every day, growing as much of that food as possible with our own hands, and the old-fashioned art of canning that food too.

I just love that! While I can’t grow my own food – partly due to lack of yard but mostly due to lack of green thumb – I can provide home cooked meals for my family. After our 18 months in Ohio without a dining table, it was a goal for our California home to have a space dedicated to eating family dinners. Our large table fits perfectly off the kitchen (and doubles as extra counter space) and is set with two booster/highchair seats for my boys. We have finally gotten into a rhythm of dinner between 6-6:30 and I love it! Firecracker is reaching an age where he can recount the day’s activities to Daddy and I know that as the boys continue to get older, the stress of eating will give way to pure enjoyment and nurturing our relationships and bodies.

Seven recipes made their way to my secret Pinterest board from April’s blog including Fruity Breakfast Burritos, Restaurant Style Salsa, and Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad. I was going to show the list to my husband and have him decide what I’d make. But then I didn’t. Though I’m pretty sure I picked the “right” answer anyway.

While I was updating my planner this month I decided to take a peek at the food holidays for July. I was slightly surprised to see that National Pecan Pie Day isn’t in the fall, but it’s July 12th! My decision was made. April had on her blog, and a recipe that I’d saved prior, Pecan Pie Muffins.

Now, I’m not sure these qualify as a muffin. That’s why you’ll notice I renamed them cupcakes. Though I’m not sure if that’s accurate either. Muffins imply a little bit of healthiness. There’s absolutely nothing healthy about these sweet bites.I could say that pecans are a source of protein, but that’s really stretching it. I almost just called them Mini Pecan Pie Cups but without a crust I don’t think they qualify as pie.

Whatever you want to call them, they’re pretty delicious. (And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t care for pecan pie!) I ate two within an hour of them coming out of the oven – one to taste test and one as a snack during their photo shoot.

April made hers in a regular size muffin cup and got 6 of them, but I thought mini would be the way to go. I can’t have my husband taking only 3 to work, because let’s be honest, there’s no way all 6 would be leaving the house untouched. I’m glad I made them mini, too, because I don’t think I’d be able to eat an entire muffin of this dessert before my sweet tooth had enough.

Firecracker helped bake these treats, but he won’t be getting to try them – they’re simply too sticky and sweet for my 2 year old. Now I just have to send them with Stuart to work so he doesn’t see them sitting on the counter.

This recipe makes 24 mini muffins/cupcakes. I recommend baking these without liners, no greasing of the pan necessary – there’s plenty of butter in the batter. I was 2 liners short of 24 and those two cups were our favorites because the sugar gets all crispy and crusty on the edges. If you do use liners, not that they’re much easier to peel back if you allow the cupcakes to cool completely before eating.

Mini Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C chopped pecans
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 2/3 C butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, pecans, and flour. Mix in the butter and egg until combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly among 24 mini muffin tin cups.
  4. Bake 18 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from April at http://www.angelshomesweethomestead.com/2011/01/pecan-pie-muffins.html*

Mini Pecan Pie Cupcakes for #SecretRecipeClub from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in The Secret Recipe Club this month click here:

Cracked Sugar Cookies

I don’t know how it happened, but my little man will be ONE this week!

In introducing foods I was careful to avoid too much sugar and overly processed, salty foods. Those restrictions were laxed the closer he kept getting to one.

At 10 1/2 months I decided it might be a good idea to introduce him to sweets prior to the big day. The last thing we need is for the birthday boy to get sick from his cake. (If he even eats any of it!)

We started with pancakes (no syrup). A huge hit.

cracked sugar cookiesI then decided to make cookies! He really liked these cookies! In fact, after having a taste, I couldn’t go grab myself a cookie without him practically begging for a bite. And who can blame him? These cracked sugar cookies should come with a warning label – they are addicting!! They’re almost-thin, chewy cookies with a touch of salt that keeps you coming back for “just one more.”

This recipe makes 24-30 cookies.

Cracked Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 C sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until combined. Mix in the vanilla extract, flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt until a stiff dough is formed.
  3. Roll dough into balls, about the size of a golf ball. Roll in sugar and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake 9-11 minutes, until just golden. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from Nicole at http://www.heatovento350.com/2013/09/cracked-sugar-cookies.html*

Cracked Sugar Cookies | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Brown Sugar Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

I have one more (at least to date) #10DaysofTailgate sponsor bonus feature for you today.

Today we’re using El Diablo Jalapeno Mustard in place of Dijon in one of Bobby Flay’s recipes. And thanks to Gourmet Garden I don’t have to grate the ginger myself!

My husband has a man crush on Bobby (yes, we’re on a first name basis over here… okay, maybe we’re not.. but we can pretend!) and this recipe looked like the perfect way to polish off the frozen salmon in my freezer. And the perfect way to use some of the wonderful Hot and Spicy Mustards from El Diablo. I imagine that the Mango flavor would work perfectly in this dish, but as I’m allergic to mango I opted for the Jalapeno flavor. It added a great bite to the salmon and complimented the ginger pretty well!

Judge all you want, but frozen fish is a great option. Especially now that we don’t live down the street from a seafood market. Or by the sea. I also love that buying frozen seafood means that it won’t go to waste. I can’t tell you how many times we’d purchased fresh fish to find that something else came up and it went bad before I cooked it up.

Brown Sugar Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

Ingredients:

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt butter into brown sugar and honey. Remove from heat and whisk in soy sauce, olive oil, mustard, and ginger.
  3. Place salmon in a baking dish and brush with the glaze. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.

*This recipe is adapted from Bobby Flay at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/salmon-with-brown-sugar-and-mustard-glaze-recipe.html *

Brown Sugar Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

Disclaimer: I received El Diablo Hot and Spicy Mustards and Gourmet Garden herb pastes through the #10DaysofTailgate event, however all opinions are my own.

Spiced Apple Popsicles

I found these popsicle molds at Walmart at the beginning of summer for $1. I’d been wanting to use them, but I never got around to it. Before I knew it summer was over! But hey, I live in Florida, it’s still hot out, so therefore I can still enjoy homemade popsicles!

Evan couldn't get enough!
Evan couldn’t get enough!

This recipe is actually a perfect way to end the summer and start the fall – they taste like the Motts cinnamon applesauce from when I was a kid. Stuart said they reminded him of an apple cobbler.  These fall flavors are wrapped in a summer treat! I’ve made them twice already and earned the seal of approval from a 17-month-old. Evan actually ran around the table after finishing his popsicle to try and steal the one Stuart hadn’t yet finished!

Spiced Apple Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 2 C Simply Apple Juice
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole allspice berries
  • 1/2″ piece of ginger root, peeled
  • pinch of kosher salt

Steps:

  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat and bring down to room temperature.
  2. Strain popsicle mixture into a measuring cup and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze.
  3. Run the popsicle mold under cold water to make popsicle removal easier.

*This recipe is adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/sweet-apple-pops-recipe/index.html*

Spiced Apple Popsicles 1 Spiced Apple Popsicles 2