Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies


Really though. These little bites of deliciousness are almost too good to be true.
Buttery, sweet, salty, vanilla-y (?), melt in your mouth Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies.

Oh how I love you, Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies.

Oh, and BTW....these are a cinch to make.

Okay, so here goes.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies
1 cup softened butter (not melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 vanilla bean 

-Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add in cornstarch, flour & salt and mix until well combined. Dough will be dry and crumbly, but also hold its shape. Last, scrape the seeds out of a half of a vanilla bean and mix evenly into the dough.
-Press the dough about a 1/2 inch thick into the bottom of a square or rectangle parchment lined baking pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-(While waiting for the dough to chill, go ahead and make the frosting for drizzling.)
-Once the dough has chilled, heat oven to 325 and remove dough from fridge. Lift the dough out of the pan and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into uniform squares. I like to make them pretty tiny, like 1 inch square, but any size will do as long as they are all about the same size. 
-Place the cold dough squares onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for about 8-10 minutes. The bottom should be light golden brown, and the tops should not be browned at all. Remove from oven and let cool completely. 

Vanilla Bean Drizzle
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp water
1/2 vanilla bean

-Mix together powdered sugar, vanilla extract and water, starting out with 2 tbsp. Mix the water/vanilla into the powdered sugar until it is fairly thin. If the 2 tbsp. is not enough, add more water about 1/2 tbsp. at a time until the Vanilla Bean Drizzle is the consistency of a maple syrup. Once you reach the desired consistency, scrape the seeds from a half of a vanilla bean and stir into drizzle evenly. 
-Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until you are ready to use.
-Once the cookies are baked and completely cooled, remove plastic wrap from drizzle and stir until smooth. 
-With a spoon, drizzle Vanilla Bean Drizzle over the Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies. Use as much as you like....but sometimes more is more. 
-Let the cookies sit until the drizzle dries, and then you are done. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. 

If you practice self control, these will store for several days in a ziplock bag or an airtight container. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Marshmallow Pumpkin Pops

Hey hey hey!
I know it's been forever and a day since I posted....oops. 
I may need to change the name of my blog....I wonder if Haley's Bi-Monthly is taken?

Anyway, moving on. 
Today I made a super cute and easy little Halloween/fall snack. 
These Marshmallow Pumpkin Pops were easy, and so fun. They would be perfect for a school party or a Halloween party because you could make a lot in a short amount of time.

So let's get started. You will need the following:

large marshmallows
orange candy melts
squeeze bottle or piping bag
green paper straws (or any treat stick)
green ribbon
parchment paper

-First, I cut the paper straws in half. 
-Next, dip the end of a straw in water and then push into the flat side of a marshmallow. Repeat until all marshmallows have a straw "stem". 
-Now you can melt candy melts according to the package instructions. Once melted, dip the marshmallows into the candy melts, making sure to cover completely. If you need to, you can carefully spoon some candy melts around the straw. Shake off the excess candy melt and then scrape the bottom of the marshmallows on the edge of the bowl and set on parchment paper. 
-Let the candy melts harden while you spoon the remaining candy melts into a squeeze bottle or piping bag. Pipe lines down the sides of the pumpkins. I started at the top and then stopped at the base. 
-Let the candy melts completely set up and then tie a green ribbon at the top. 

Seriously, these are fun to make. And, I realize that I'm not the first person to make a marshmallow pumpkin, but I love how these Marshmallow Pumpkin Pops turned out!

My 7 year old daughter came home and said she wanted to make some for her school Halloween party. Game on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zucchini Bread- 2 Ways

Oh my gosh.....right now I have more zucchini than I know what to do with.
It's just that time of year.
I LOVE zucchini, and I use it in tons of savory recipes.
But when you have enough zucchini to overtake your have to find some other ways to use it.
So I decided to make some yummy Zucchini Bread.
Just for the record, I'm sure everyone has a recipe for zucchini bread, but this one is a goodie.

This recipe makes enough batter for 2 loaves. So I made one traditional loaf and another loaf with mix-ins.

So let's start with the recipe. (We'll talk mix-ins later, okay.)

Zucchini Bread
2 eggs
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 cups finely grated zucchini (green or yellow)
*1-2 cups mix-ins

Start by creaming together eggs, greek yogurt, sugars, honey, butter, oil & vanilla. Once combined, add baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and flour. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined into wet ingredients evenly. Next, take the grated zucchini and squeeze out excess water (using a small strainer or a paper towel). Add zucchini to the batter and mix until evenly combined. *Now you can add your mix-ins (if using any) and combine.
Bake at 350* for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into center of loaves comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Okay, so now we can talk mix-ins. As I mentioned, I put half of the batter into a loaf pan and then added mix-ins to the rest of the batter and put that into the second loaf pan. I added some chocolate chips and Reese's Pieces.  Opinions were mixed in my family, but they were both delicious.

You could use just about anything for mix-ins, but here are a few suggestions:
-chocolate chips (any kind)
-small candies like M&M's, Reese's Pieces, etc.
-nuts (any kind)
-dried fruit like raisins, dried cherries, etc.
-chopped up candy bars
.....or any combination you can dream up.

Let me tell you, we have all had zucchini bread and I know I have used many recipes....but you should really give this one a try. The greek yogurt helps keep it really moist while the honey gives it a little bit of extra sweetness. I love to eat mine at room temp. with a little bit of soft butter spread on top. MMMM.

Oh yeah, and this little guy loved it too.

*Also, feel free leave a comment if you have and questions about the recipe or possible substitutions.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce out of a jar is fine.
I ate spaghetti that way for years.
Honestly though...why have fine when you can so easily have AMAZING?
And besides, I am known to be somewhat of a food snob.
You guys...spaghetti sauce is so easy to make and SOOO worth it.

Spaghetti Sauce
3 tbsp. canola/olive oil
1 onion- finely chopped
1 carrot- finely chopped
1 zucchini- finely chopped
2 cloves garlic- grated or finely chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tbsp. sugar
fresh  Italian parsley (optional)
fresh basil (optional)
to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder

Heat oil in a pan and add garlic, onion, carrot & zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and then saute until they start to soften and get a little color (golden brown). Next add tomato paste and stir around. Once you can smell the tomato paste add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce & chicken broth. Set heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Add dried Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes & sugar. Also season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. I like a lot of seasoning, you may use less. Just keep adding and tasting until you like it. Once the sauce is simmering reduce to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add the fresh parsley and basil (if using) and serve.

I love to serve over spaghetti with meatballs. It would also be great to brown up some ground beef and Italian sausage with the veggies and have a meat sauce. This sauce is a great base for your favorite pasta recipe.

Friday, May 9, 2014

End of the Year Teacher Gift Idea

So this week was Teacher Appreciation Week.
Obviously, it is now over.
So I am not calling this a "teacher appreciation" gift.
I am calling it an "end of the year teacher gift".
Hey, it works, right?
Whatever occasion you choose...teachers are amazing and really deserve whatever little gift you can afford to give. And I know they are very appreciative.
I made a cute little printable, which could be used for Teacher Appreciation, Christmas, end/beginning of the year, or even V-Day.
Over the last couple years I have given Starbucks gift cards, gift cards to a local yogurt shop called Spot On yogurt, and an assortment of other little gifts.
This year I really thought about it.
I volunteer in all 3 of my kids' classrooms so I sort of know their teachers.
I thought about giving each of the 3 teachers a different gift card.
But then I realized Amazon could really make everyone happy.
They can buy stuff for their classrooms, stuff for their kids, their homes, themselves, rent movies, buy e-books.....pretty much anything.
Did I ever mention I am in LOVE with Amazon?
(Just as a side note, if you shop on Amazon at all check out Amazon pick a charity and go to to shop and they will donate a % of every purchase you make to the charity of your choice. And you can be specific. I chose the Ronald McDonald House of Spokane Washington. Which is my favorite charity in the world because I lived there when my first baby spent almost 2 months in the NICU.)

So onto the printable.
I made this as a 4X6.
That is the perfect size to attach a gift card.

To print, follow these steps:
1) Right-click the image and select "save image as..."
2) Name the image. (I called mine "teacheramazon")
3) Open the image using your photo viewing/editing Window's Live Photo Gallery.
4) Now you will print the image as a 4x6, making sure to UNSELECT "fit picture to frame". (BTW, you can print any size as long as you unselect "fit picture to frame", but I chose 4x6)

Once you have your image printed, back it with some card stock and attach the gift card. You can obviously add ribbon, washi tape, or embellish any way that your heart desires. I kept it pretty simple, but it is still cute enough.

Real quick, I just want to give Amazon a little more love. It is one of the few shops where even just $5 can get something good. $5 is plenty to buy an e-book or rent a movie on Amazon Instant Video. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cookie Dough Carrot Pops

Cookie dough!
Can't go wrong...right?
But I have to say...this is the first time I have actually made egg-less cookie dough.
Yes, that means I have been eating raw eggs since I was a kid.
I never really worried about it too much. husband has been taking a microbiology class.
He has shared with me the dangers of eating raw eggs. friends, disease!
(Really, I can't remember what he said but it is BAD. Shame shame.)
So I have changed my ways.

So for the cookie dough recipe, I searched Pinterest.
I finally settled on this recipe from The Lady with the Red Rocker.
I did make a few minor changes, because I am allergic to recipes...but I really loved a couple things about her recipe.
1- I love that her recipe has baking soda in it. Even though it is not needed for leavening, I want this to taste exactly like regular cookie dough, and regular cookie dough has baking soda.
2- I love that it has plenty of vanilla and also some brown sugar....'cause my favorite cookie recipe has both.

So now let me share my version of the recipe. (I made half with chocolate shavings and the other half with crushed white chocolate chips.)

Egg-less Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1/2 cup butter (soft)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. milk
1-1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or shavings)
1/2 cups white chocolate chips (or pieces)

(FYI....I don't get fancy when mixing cookie dough. I don't sift, or use separate bowls or anything like that.)

*Basically, use a stand mixer or hand mixer and cream together butter, sugars, vanilla & milk until fluffy. Add salt, baking soda and flour (starting with 1 cup flour and add more if the dough is too soft) and mix until fully combined. Add chocolate chips (or shavings) and gently mix with spoon until evenly combined.

Now your cookie dough is done.  Either grab a spoon and dig in, or continue to make carrot pops. If you are going to make carrot pops, refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes while you get everything else ready.

-For carrot pops, you will need toothpicks, orange candy melts, parchment paper, and some green ribbon/twine.

-Get out a large sheet of parchment and toothpicks, and now you are ready to form your cookie dough.

-Start with about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough per carrot. Using your hands, roll cookie dough into a ball, and then form one end into the "tip". Just kind of roll the end so it is slightly tapered. It will be like a short, fat carrot. Once you have formed all of your carrots, stick toothpicks into the fat end and cool in the fridge or freezer until super firm.

-Once your carrots are firm, you can get ready to dip them. Using a shallow bowl, melt about half a bag of orange candy melts according to package. One at a time, hold carrots by the toothpick and dip into candy melts. Roll carrot until all sides are covered. Lift out of chocolate and shake off the excess, and then scrape the bottom of the carrot against the edge of the bowl, and then set that bottom side on a piece of parchment. Repeat with all of the carrots, and then let the covered carrots set up in the fridge.

-Now, you can take what's left of the candy melts and spoon it into the corner of a freezer bag. Once the carrots are set up, remove from fridge. Snip the corner off the freezer bag and drizzle the "lines" onto the carrots. Before the lines set, pick up each carrot and move to clean parchment paper.

-Let candy melts set one last time. Once the carrot are completely set up, remove from parchment and tie ribbons onto the toothpicks.

These will keep for several days in the fridge and can be served on their own, or in a bucket of dirt. :)

Okay, not real dirt.
But I did crush some chocolate graham crackers. They looked really cute and my kids were a little creeped out by it. Win win.
I have to say, I love this cookie dough, and the white chocolate chips were my favorite. Thanks to the Lady with the Red Rocker for sharing this recipe.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Huckleberry Cream Cheese mini Pies

As I have mentioned a time or two (or ten)...I live in Idaho.
In the late summer, the mountains give us an awesome gift...
Oh my gosh!
If you haven't had the opportunity to try huckleberries you are missing out.
I can't say I am a big picker, but my parents and my kids are.
You can pick the berries in the summer and then wash and freeze them.
Perfect way to have one of our favorite desserts all year long!

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Pie (or in this case mini pies)

This dessert is something my mom has made for years. She is awesome. Have I mentioned that before? She is a great cook. She is the reason I love good food. And in turn, the reason I love to cook.
Anywho. My husband and step-dad LOVE my mom's Huckleberry Cream Cheese Pie. By the way...normally this is a full-sized pie. I happen to have a thing for cupcakes, or mini desserts.
So here is my version.

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Mini Pies 
w/ Pecan Shortbread Crust

for the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter- softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
-In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Using a fork, mix all ingredients until well blended. 

for the cream cheese layer:
8 oz. cream cheese (1 package)- at room temp.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
-Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spoon mixture into the corner of a gallon freezer bag or piping bag.

for the huckleberries:
1 cup frozen (or fresh) huckleberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp. corn starch
-In a saucepan, add all ingredients and stir over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Continue cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes until thick. Remove from heat.

to assemble:
-Heat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of shortbread dough into each muffin tin. Using your fingers, press evenly into the bottom of each liner. Bake for 12 minutes and then let cool in the pan.

-Once cool, snip the corner off the gallon bag or piping bag and pipe cream cheese mixture on top of each crust. Pipe cream cheese layer about 1/2 inch thick, leaving room for a thin layer of huckleberry mixture. Put in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.

-Once cream cheese layer has set, spoon a layer of huckleberry mixture over top. Once all mini pies are done, put in the fridge for an hour or more to set.

Once cooled, remove from muffin liner and serve....either cold or bring to room temp. Serve with whipped cream if you like.

 YUM! These are so cute and so delish. They are just the perfect size for one little serving. 


*If you want to make a full size pie, just press the shortbread crust into the bottom of a
pie plate and bake for 20 minutes instead of 12. Cool and then spread cream cheese layer over top. Cool again and then pour berry mixture over top and let set in fridge. Easy enough.

*If you can't pick your own huckleberries, sometimes you can buy them frozen. But, if you cannot find huckleberries, this would work with blueberries (or any berry). Just adjust the amount of sugar in the berry mixture depending on how sweet or tart the berries are. Blueberries tend to be a bit sweeter than huckleberries, so maybe use a little less sugar.