Rolled Oats Dark and Stormy Oatmeal Cream Pies

These amazingly delicious Chewy Dark and Stormy Oatmeal Cream Pies are #MyOatsCreation and use rolled oats and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Quaker. All opinions are as alwaysmine alone. #CollectiveBias

Hello readers of The Sweetphi Blog this is Nick, Phi’s husband, who some of you may recognize from my forays into hand modeling occasionally featured on this blog (see here, here and here to name a few).  Phi has asked me to write the introduction to this blog post/recipe because I helped her with the idea for this recipe.

This cookie was developed for a Cookie and Drink Exchange Christmas Party we hold every year.   Attendees bring cookies and cocktails and serve them throughout the night.  At the end of the party we vote on each in the following categories Best Tasting, Best Looking, and Best Christmas Themed.  The contest aspect has made everyone up their game over the years (we’re on year 4), and has really turned out some great looking cookies and cocktails.  This recipe was our attempt to keep jumping over the ever raising bar.

I think a good Christmas cookie should have a few things going for it.  First, it should I have seasonal flavors.   We were pairing the cookie with our homemade eggnog cocktail, so we wanted to avoid fruit flavors like cranberry.  For that reason we wanted to make a ginger cookie.  Secondly, I think there should be a nostalgia factor.  Not much reminds me more of my childhood then reaching in the cabinet for an oatmeal cream pie that we always seemed to have at least one box of.  This oatmeal cream pie with chewy ginger cookies really hits both those marks.

I know what you’re thinking, “…but Nick, I see ‘dark and stormy’ up in the title, what’s the deal with that?”  Well, like I said, this cookie was for cookie AND cocktail exchange, and I couldn’t help but slip in a bit of cocktail influence into our cookie while we were at it.  A dark and stormy is a cocktail made with lime, dark rum, and ginger beer.  We ditched the lime because we wanted the cookie to just hint at the cocktail flavors and still pair well with our eggnog.  We have the ginger in the cookie, so we spiked the cream filling with rum.  In the end, I think the cookie really came together, the oatmeal ginger cookies were delicious and chewy, and the rum, butter cream filling really raised them to the next level #QuakerUp

Now, without further ado, here is Philia to walk you through how she brought my cookie vision to life!

Hiiiiiiii, Phi here! Doesn’t Nicks idea of an oatmeal ginger cookie with rum buttercream sound amazing? I headed on over to Target to get the ingredients to make this cookies and found Quaker Oats Quick Oats 42oz in a special winter canister (available only at Target) and since I was making Christmas cookies I clearly need to purchase that adorable winter oats (only at Target)!

Quaker Oats at Target

To make the rolled oats dark and stormy oatmeal cream pies you’ll start by setting out all your ingredients (this makes it so much easier when you’re making the cookie batter:


There are three types of ginger in the cookies: fresh ginger, crystallized ginger, and powdered ginger! Triple ginger, triple flavor! You’ll make the cookie batter, roll it in raw sugar and ginger, bake them, then let them cool while making the frosting, frost them sandwich them and then you’re ready to go!

What I learned during making these is the more frosting in the middle the better!


They received many compliments and it was so fun to put Nicks’ vision into reality, here is an in action shot of cookie sampling from the party:


Such a good cookie! You neeeeed to make these, and Quaker has more great ideas on their Facebook and Pinterest pages!


Rolled Oats Dark and Stormy Oatmeal Cream Pies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 50-60 sandwiched cookies
  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1½ Cups Quaker Quick Oats, ground up
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup Butter, room temperature
  • 1 up Vegetable Shortening
  • 1½ Cups Brown Sugar, dark
  • 1 Egg
  • ½ Cup Molasses, bold flavor
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Inch peeled ginger, finely chopped
  • ¾ Cup Crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs Ground ginger
  • 1 Cup Raw sugar for rolling mixed with 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • For the rum buttercream frosting-
  • 1 Cup Butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 Cups Podered Sugar
  • 3 Tbs Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 Tbs Rum
  1. Start by making the cookies. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  2. In the bowl place flour, ground oats (I run mine through a food processor until it is a fine like powder with only a few oat pieces remaining) baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter, vegetable shortening and brown sugar until creamy (about 2 minutes). Then add the egg, molasses and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Now add the powdered ginger, cinnamon and the four mixture and slowly beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Then add in the fresh chopped ginger and stir, and then with a wooden spoon stir in the crystallized ginger
  4. In a bowl add raw sugar and 1 tsp ginger and stir together.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball, then roll it in the raw sugar and ginger combination (I cut the ball in half and then rolled it again) and then place on baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes (or 10 minute if making bigger ones) and then remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack (you want the cookies to be chewy so it's ok if you take them out before they're dark brown on the edges.
  6. While the cookies are baking make the rum buttercream frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter (make sure your butter is at room temperature) for about 2 minutes. Then add in your powdered sugar and whipping cream and beat until combined, then add in the rum and beat until smooth. Spoon frosting into a piping bag.
  7. To assemble the oatmeal cream pies pipe frosting in the center of a cookie (frosting goes on the bottom side) and then place another cookie on top and press together, then enjoy!


Did you enjoy oatmeal cream pies when you were growing up?



Cranberry Bliss Cookies

Cranberry Bliss Cookies are chewy, have a hint of tart from the cranberry pieces and sweetness from white chocolate chips and frosting drizzled over them making them one delicious Christmas cookie (or really a delicious cookie that can be enjoyed any time of year, because I’ll definitely be making these throughout the year!)


I don’t know about you, but as soon as December rolls around I start seeing Cranberry Bliss Bars appear at Starbucks. They’re an absolute favorite of mine. Ever since having one at the beginning of the month I’ve been thinking about them.

So when I needed to bake a cookie for the Great Big Food Blogger Cookie Swap, all I could think about was making these cookies. The Great Food Blogger Swap exchange is such a great event. Bloggers from all over the world participate and send each other cookies, proceeds from the event go to an organization that aims to fight pediatric cancer. After you sign up for the event (thank you Lindsay and Julie for all the coordination) you get sent three matches and then you mail three dozen cookies to three different bloggers, and then you receive three different cookies from three different bloggers.

I was so excited that I got to send cookies to three lovely ladies I’d actually all met in person: my bestie Lynn from Order in the Kitchen whom I met at ChoppedCon,  and my girl Taylor from Food Faith Fitness and Melissa from Hungry Food Love whom I believe I met at BlogHer Food in Miami.

To make these cranberry bliss cookies you’ll make the cookie batter and add in fresh cranberries and white chocolate chips and then frost them with a cream cheese frosting:

I had so much fun making the cookies and shipping them and was so happy to see them being enjoyed by the recipients, here here here and here are pictures of the received cookies!


And let me tell you…getting three different cookies in the mail? Awesome! I got chewy molasses cookies from Dinners Dishes and Desserts (these were the first cookie that arrived and it was love at first bite, they were chewy and addictive, it was hard to keep them until the other ones arrived for pictures!), then I got chocolate almond biscotti from The Adventure Bite (whom I met at Blogher! These biscotti are perfect with a cup of coffee and who doesn’t love chocolate and almonds?) and then brown butter shortbread cookies from Love Laugh Cook (I met her at ChoppedCon! And can we talk about her packaging? How adorable…and browned butter anything? yes please) Here is a picture of the cookies I received:


It was such a fun event to participate in and bake cookies for!


Cranberry Bliss Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5½ dozen cookies
  • 1 Cup Butter, at room temperature
  • ½ Cup Vegetable shortening
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1½ Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla extract
  • 3 Eggs
  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup Candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs Orange zest
  • 1 Cup Cranberries, finely chopped
  • 11 oz White chocolate chips
  • For the frosting -
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, at room temp
  • 4½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbs Corn syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter, vegetable shortening and granulated and brown sugar until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and then add the vanilla extract and the eggs. Beat until combined.
  3. Next add in the flour, baking soda, salt and orange zest and beat until combined, then add in the finely chopped ginger and cranberry pieces and beat again until all combined, then with a wooden spoon stir in the white chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop 1 Tbs of cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets (i got 12 per cookie sheet) and press down a little and then bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and repeat the baking process with all the dough.
  5. To make the frosting start by creaming the cream cheese and then scrape the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and corn syrup. Beat until a smooth consistency (I beat my frosting for about 3-5 minutes). Spoon frosting into a piping bag and then frost the cookies by making a zig-zag pattern over the cookies. Allow the cookies to cool until the frosting is stiff to touch, then store in an air tight container until ready to enjoy!


Mexican Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding {and brunch party food tips}

This Mexcian Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding is rich and chocolately with a hint of spice from a secret ingredient used, and is perfect for holiday brunch get togethers and is part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias


Anytime you gather with family and friends this holiday season and there is a brunch involved, there’s always the question about what to make. Think for example about Christmas morning.
With that special occasion in mind, I came up with some brunch party food tips:

  • Make dishes that are family-share friendly or little bite size items
  • Prep the main dish the night before
  • Have fresh fruit as a side
  • Have both sweet and savory options
  • Make a big pot of coffee
  • Set up the meal as a buffet
  • Always have condiments (think coffee creamer, ketchup, and Tabasco hot sauce)

Christmas morning is always something very special in my parents’ house. All my of my sisters (I have three) and our respective spouses come home. With everyone at different stages in life, it is the one time a year that we are all together, so it is very special. In the morning we all come downstairs and even though there are no small children present, I can assure you that the magic is still there. We all help get brunch ready and then enjoy the meal.

This year I’m going to add this Mexican chocolate raspberry bread pudding to the brunch menu. It has that amazing rich custard of bread pudding, but then added flavors of chocolate and a little spice which is made by adding Tabasco Chipotle sauce in with raspberry jam. The Tabasco sauce is the surprising secret ingredient.

When one thinks brunch, sure one might think Tabasco hot sauce as a condiment, but in bread pudding? Yeah, I know how odd it may sound. But I cannot tell you enough how AMAZING it is! It is not a spicy dish by any means, but when you add the Tobasco Chipotle Pepper sauce with the raspberry it adds this great subtle smokey flavor that works perfectly with the chocolate and cinnamon and then with the creamy custard bread pudding! It is something that everyone will love, but something that is very unique and delicious #SeasonedGreetings !


This bread pudding is perfect for preparing the night before and then baking while everyone is waking up (a big plus is that your house will smell amazing! Cinnamon, spice, and chocolate…YUM!

I found Tabasco Chipotle and Original Red at Target and also heard that there is a Green Jalapeño Pepper, and a Tabasco brand Sriracha Thai Chili Sauce that Target will be carrying soon check them out on Twitter here)! After seeing the delicious flavors I think these would make a great stocking stuffer for anyone that likes hot sauce!


Mexican Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding {and brunch party food tips}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 servings
  • 1 Loaf french bread (1 day old or toasted)
  • 8 oz Semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1½ Cups Heavy Cream
  • 2 Cups Milk (skim)
  • 2 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 1 Pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbs Tobasco Chipotle hot sauce
  • 1 Cup raspberry jam, seedless
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. If your bread is not 1 day old, cut bread into 1 inch cubes and bake for 5 minutes to dry it out.
  3. Place half the bread in a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. In a bowl add raspberry jam and and Tobasco sauce and stir to combine. Spoon over the bread chunks in the baking dish.Then add remaining half of bread cubes.
  5. In another bowl add the eggs, then pour in the heavy cream and milk and whisk to combine. Add salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Whisk to combine (it's ok if it's a little clumpy).
  6. In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval. When the chocolate has melted (mine took 1 min 30 seconds) spoon it slowly in spirals into the cream and egg mixture. Since the egg mixture is cold and the chocolate is warm, it will form hard pieces, that is ok.
  7. Stir the cream and egg mixture with the chocolate a few times, then spoon over the bread chunks. I used a big spoon and then made sure all the bread was covered by folding the bread over to make sure everything was covered.
  8. At this point you let it sit for 30 min, or you can keep it in the fridge over night
  9. After it rests stir up the bread chunks one more time and then bake for 35-45 minutes, until the edges look brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then spoon into bowls and enjoy! I like to serve mine with fresh strawberries


Perfect Christmas Recipe for Gifting: Sea Salt Turtle Cups

These delicious Sea Salt Turtle Cups are the perfect Christmas recipe for gifting that everyone is sure to enjoy and is part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are as always mine alone. #MyPicknSave  #CollectiveBias


THE HOLIDAYS! They’re here! Imagine me looking shiftily from left to right…where did the time go?

I am stuck in the late summer of 2010…which is coincidentally when I met my husband. So I’m going to share something from that time: we went into a chocolate shop and I had my first sea-salted-chocolate-covered-caramel! My life was changed (not only because of discovering the sea salted chocolate…also because I had found the love of my life…my husband)!

It was such an experience in fact, that for our wedding favors we had sea salted chocolate caramels from that very same chocolate shop (we had them put a stick in the caramels and then used them as our seating cards-see)


Fast forward to this holiday season, and I realize that I am way behind on buying presents. In the past I’ve been done by this time, but this year? I’m pretty sure I have like 2 Christmas presents that I bought a few months ago, and that’s it. So as I’m grocery shopping at #MyPicknSave I came across their adorable holiday aisle and they had the cutest little nesting boxes.


Bingo! I knew exactly what I was going to try and to make: sea-salted-chocolate-turtles!

I don’t know about you, but in my family part of every gift is required to be chocolate.  Not to throw my sister under the bus…but I just have to share this funny story: one year I went into her room at my parents’ house after we had opened presents and heard a rustling and saw her push something under the bed…curiosity peaked I asked what she was doing…and she was sitting in her room eating chocolates and had taken all the chocolate from my other sisters and was trying to hide the wrappers. I’m talking like 3 boxes of chocolate wrappers worth she was trying to hide in a gift bag LOL! So you can bet I’m making her a giant batch of these!

And they’re so easy to make:

You start by melting chocolate, then use a little throw-away paint brush and paint the bottom of little cups, let them cool, then when they’re done cooling you’ll add a pecan to each up, spoon in the caramel, cover with chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt.


The hardest part is waiting for them to cool


Yum! Just look at that ooey gooey center with the nuts, and then the gorgeous sea salt on top. Wrap them in a little nesting box from Pick ‘n Save and you’ll have the perfect Christmas present for that chocolate lover in your life!


After I made my first batch, I gave some to my husband to take to work, and this was the text I got:


So if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift giving recipe or recipe for a party look no further, I’ve got you covered! And if you need additional inspiration, be sure to check out Pick ‘n Save on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook!

Have you ever had sea salted chocolate anything?

Perfect Christmas Recipe for Gifting: Sea Salt Turtle Cups
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 24 Turtle Cups
  • 2 Cups Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup Pecan halves (I used roasted and salted pecans, plain pecan halves are ok too)
  • 20 Caramel squares, unwrapped
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream (you want a little less than ¼ cup)
  • 1 Tbs Fleur de sel sea salt
  1. Line a mini muffin pan with 24 liners.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl add about ⅓ of the chocolate chips. Microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between each interval (mine took 2 minutes).
  3. Use a clean throw away paint brush and brush the bottom and half up the sides of the liners with the melted chocolate. Place the muffin pan in the freezer for 15-30 min and allow the chocolate to cool.
  4. Place a pecan half in each of the cups.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl add the unwrapped caramels and the heavy cream. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds and stir when done. The caramel will bubble up and get smooth. If it isn't fully melted together microwave for another 15 seconds.
  6. Drop a half a spoonful of caramel on top of the pecan.
  7. In a microwave safe dish add the remaining chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir, then microwave in 30 seconds intervals stirring in between until it is melted (mine took about 2 minutes and 10 seconds). Spoon chocolate on top of the caramel, then sprinkle little pinches of sea salt on top of the chocolate and allow to completely cool (this took 2 plus hours - I just let them sit overnight) then enjoy!


5 Ingredient Toasted Pecan Snowball Cookies

These 5 ingredient toasted pecan snowball cookies are such an easy Christmas cookie to make and have a delicious nutty flavor and practically melt in your mouth. The extra step of toasting the pecans really brings out the best flavor, and then coating the cookies with powdered sugar gives them a beautiful sweet note, all around, these are one of my favorite Christmas cookies!


This week is all about Christmasy and holiday goodness: Graham cracker houses with a glue that dries super quickly, cocktails, sugar cut-out-cookies that hold their shape, and now these toasted pecan snowballs. Life is good!

And only 5 ingredients? You know what that means…they’re definitely perfect for my 5 Ingredient Friday series…but it’s a Thursday…but you’ll forgive me because we’re talking about cookies and it’s the holidays, right? And I have a super delish recipe coming tomorrow as well.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I need to know: have you ever had a snowball cookie before? I think these were always a staple when making Christmas cookies. They’re just so easy! You literally toast the pecans, run them through a food processor, mix the other ingredients together, create balls, bake them, then coat them with powdered sugar and viola, you’re done!

The only hard part about these cookies is making sure you don’t eat them all before letting others enjoy them. This may or may not have happened at my house. I made these cookies and ate 1 (ok, fine, you got me, I ate 3-I have no self control around these bad boys) and then packaged up the rest to send to friends. I was showing my husband the pictures of these, and he goes “hey, when did you make those?” Oooops! Guess I know what I’ll be making this weekend!


5 Ingredient Toasted Pecan Snowball Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12-15 cookies
  • ½ Cup Butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 1¼ Cup Powdered Sugar (1/4 cup for cookie batter, 1 cup for coating)
  • 1 tsp Water
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • ¾ Cup Pecans, toasted and crushed
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toast the pecan halves for 5 minutes or until they become fragrant and toasted.
  2. Remove pecans from oven and then pour them into a food processor and pulsate until they are a fine and no big chunks remain.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and powdered sugar, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the water and vanilla, mix again.
  4. Add the crushed pecans and four to the bowl of the stand mixer and slowly mix together. The dough will be crumbly, just take pieces of dough and form into balls with your hands and then place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes - or until bottom edges start to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then drop them gently in a little bowl with powdered sugar and coat them. Place them back on a lined baking sheet and allow to cool, then enjoy!


Sugar Cut Out Cookies {that actually hold their shape}

The Christmas cookies that I’m sharing with you today are my go-to, my no-fail recipe for sugar cut out cookies that actually hold their shape.


There is nothing more frustrating than taking time to lovingly bake a batch of sugar cut out cookies only to have them puff up or loose their shape (or puff up AND loose their shape). Has that ever happened to you? It’s the worst!! What you want is a consistent cookie that is easy to make and turns out every time (and one that is delicious!) Which is exactly what these cookies are: they hold their shape and turn out perfectly every time and are a delicious cookie in-and-of-themselves!

And while I was originally going to call these the ‘best ever sugar cut out cookies’ I realize that everyone probably has their very own favorite recipe (in food blogger circles it’s like saying you have the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies…even if you do, there’s always someone that thinks their recipe is better and will probably make fun of you behind your back ;) and i most certainly don’t want that lol).

Christmas cookie baking was always part of the holidays when I was growing up. We’d gather around and make what seemed like a bazillion cookies. Frosting isn’t really big in European cookie baking (ok, i could be wrong, but I can honestly say that I do not remember making frosting for sugar cut out cookies – other than chocolate of course, dipping your cookies in melted chocolate doesn’t count, right?) but what is big is adding a bit of lemon zest. It perks the flavor of the cookies right up!

Besides the lemon zest, this recipe is a pretty straight forward sugar cut out cookie recipe. It holds its shape, and one major trick is that after you make your dough, you’ll roll it out, cut out your cookie shapes, and then put them on a lined baking sheet and only then PUT THEM IN THE FREEZER for 10 minutes, then straight into the oven after. No cooling and then rolling. You roll, cut, and then cool!


That is the trick will leave you with perfectly baked sugar cookies cookies with a slightly golden brown color. They’re good by themselves or can be frosting.

Are you liking this Christmas week? I’ve shared mini gingerbread houses made out of graham crackers with a gingerbread house glue that dries in under 10 minutes and then the nutcracker cocktail…stay tuned…there’s still so much deliciousness headed your way this week!

Sugar Cut Out Cookies {that actually hold their shape}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3 dozen
  • 1 Cup Butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest (zest from ½ the lemon)
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 Cups Flour (plus more for rolling cookies out)
  • ½ tsp Salt
  1. In the bowl of stand mixer add the butter sticks and the sugar and cream together (about 3 minutes), then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, lemon zest, baking powder and vanilla extract, then beat again for 2 minutes until a creamy yellow color.
  2. Next add 3 cups flour and ½ tsp salt and mix on low speed to combine (about 2 minutes). Cookie dough will be almost crumbly, but that's ok, pres it together with your hands and form it into two balls.
  3. On a floured surface or board roll out one of the cookie dough balls to desired thickness level (they won't rise much) then cut out shapes and place on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat lined baking sheet.
  4. Put baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. After 10 minutes take the baking sheets out of the freezer and bake for 10 minutes (or until edges start to turn golden brown.)
  7. Remove cookies from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling wrack for them to cool completely before frosting, or enjoy without frosting!


Graham Cracker Houses and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Graham Cracker Cookies

Making and decorating mini Graham Cracker Houses and enjoying Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Graham Cracker Cookies is a holiday activity the whole family is sure to enjoy, and is part of a shop that has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are as always mine alone. #PBandG #CollectiveBias


I’m baaaaaack! If you’re wondering what I even mean by that, I’m referring to the fact that last week my computer went on the fritz, and in the process I lost all of my  photography for recipes that I had planned through the month of December (thank you for all the outpouring of support and understanding, and a special thank you to my bestie Lynn for stepping in last minute and guest posting…did you see her Gingerbread Candied Bacon she posted for Five Ingredient Friday?) Instead of focusing on everything that was lost, I’m going to view it as an opportunity to rephotograph some pretty amazing recipes that I am very excited to share with you!  Caught up in the whirlwind of having to redo everything, I did about a bazillion-and-a half things this weekend.

The reason I’m prefacing this post with sharing that I was doing ALL-the-things this weekend is that throughout the graham cracker house making process, I did just about everything out of order and needed my husbands’ assistance (I’m just going to gloss over the fact that even though I ‘thought’ I was the creative one, I definitely learned that he has some mad skills in the crafting department.)


Things started off great: I cut all the house pieces and made frosting using peanut butter.  The frosting I made was amazing, I’d call it more of a ‘glue.’ I had heard horror stories of frosting not drying or being sticky enough, so I wanted an adhesive that really worked and dried quickly. Done and done. The frosting I made dries in 10 minutes! It is smooth and creamy yet stiff and holds it’s own! Good thing, because after I had cut all the graham cracker pieces, things started breaking. But as my husband joked “things not lining up? just use more frosting and cover it up.” And a little tip for when you’re cutting the graham crackers – gently run your knife along the line you want to cut first, and then gently cut down with a sharp knife. Start cutting the pieces for each house (one box of graham crackers made parts for 5 finished houses).


One would think that making graham cracker houses was enough in and of itself, but being a food blogger I just couldn’t throw away the pieces of the graham crackers that were left over from making the houses, and since everything is just better with cookies, I made peanut butter chocolate chip graham cracker cookies that could be eaten while decorating the graham cracker houses. The cookies came out absolutely amazing, subtle hints of peanut butter and graham cracker and rich chocolate chips, everyone loved them!

So after we had our little houses made, we went to my in-laws’ and all of us decorated them. The toppings I had were gumdrops, peppermint bark covered pretzels, mini cookie wafers, sixlets and mini candy canes (but any decorations you have on hand or that you like to use would work!)


What a seriously fun holiday activity it was to decorate these houses, I would highly recommend stopping by Walmart and picking up some Honey Maid graham crackers (save $0.50 when you buy one (1) Honey Maid Grahams (12.2 oz. or larger)) and Skippy peanut butter (along with other fun decorating accessories).


Have you ever made gingerbread houses or graham cracker houses? This was my first time making them and and I am definitely going to do this every year!


Graham Cracker Houses and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Graham Cracker Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24 cookies
  • For the graham cracker houses-
  • 1 Box Honey Maid graham crackers
  • 1 Batch peanut butter gingerbread house frosting/glue (recipe below)
  • toppings (gumdrops, mini candy canes, cookie wafers, sixlets, peppermint bark pretzels)
  • For the peanut butter frosting/glue-
  • 3 Tbs Meringue Powder
  • 3¾ Cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs Skippy peanut butter
  • 5 Tbs cold water
  • For the peanut butter chocolate chip graham cracker cookies
  • ¼ Cup butter (unsalted)
  • ¼ Cup Skippy peanut butter (creamy)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • ½ Cup Honey Maid Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  1. For the graham cracker houses-start by cutting each graham cracker for the houses and put like-pieces with like in piles. Then line each side wall with frosting and lean it up against something and wait for it to dry, then put the house together and then add the roof, then wait for it to dry for 10 minutes and decorate as desired.
  2. For the frosting-glue: Start by beating together meringue powder, peanut butter and water (it's ok if there are a few little clumps. Mix for 3 minutes, ten add the powdered sugar and beat for 5 minutes, or until the frosting holds a peak. Put into a plastic bag and cut the end off one corner and use it as a piping bag.
  3. For the cookies- Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  4. Cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated and brown sugar. After it is creamy, add in the egg, vanilla extract and salt and beat to combine. Then add the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda and stir until combined, then stir in chocolate chips. Scoop cookies onto baking sheet (12 per sheet about an inch or so apart). Bake for 10 minutes and then allow to cool on a wire rack, then enjoy!


Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars

These little trashed up shortbread cookie bars are just…words are escaping me because they’re just flat out AMAZING! Buttery shortbread cookie bars laden with candy bits, and the best part about these trashed up cookie bars? They’re part of a virtual baby shower celebrating the fabulous Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats.


For those of you that don’t know Jessica’s blog…wait a second, I should rephrase that because everyone knows the amazingness of the How Sweet Eats blog. Get ready to hear a lot of the word ‘amazingness’ throughout this post…fair warning? Because I have been such a fan of her blog, it’s a little embarrassing my level of excitement for these shortbread cookie bars; I made them 3 separate times just to be sure they were perfect!


OMG you guys, Jessica loves trashed up recipes, glitter, neon, and lots of exclamation points!!! A girl clearly after my heart and you can better believe her baby is going to be THAT kid … you know, the one with the cutest clothes and always that has most delicious lunches…I foresee a lot of lunch theft… I need to have my sisters-in-law (who are teachers) teach Jessica’s future child in hopes of her baking cookies or something for the class which they will then deliver to me! I mean, just last week she made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Stuffed Caramel Apples! Allow me to pick up my jaw from the keyboard!


Ok, so these shortbread cookie bars…they come from a place of love and admiration. And a place of having about a million and one pieces of left over Halloween candy. Why do I have so much left over Halloween candy? Because my husband is a giant softie when it comes to buying candy for trick-or-treaters. He goes overboard to say the least. Like suuuuuper overboard. I distinctly remember the conversation: Me ‘honey, we don’t need a shopping cart for one bag of Halloween candy’ My Hubby ‘yes we do, we need at least 5 bags so we don’t run out.’ I just rolled my eyes and went with it, hey, I didn’t want to be the Grinch that stole Halloween.


We get home, with our giant bags and he starts separating them by type. BY TYPE OF CANDY!!! Ocd much? But does he hand out candy to the droves trick-or-treaters? Nope, he goes ‘honey, I put out a lawn chair for you, and the bowls of candy are out there so you can let the kids can choose what candy they want’


I went outside and sat myself down in my designated lawn chair and looked down at the three bowls of candy and started just dumping them into one bowl, and wouldn’t you know, he heard me! Lol! He came outside and started separating them again and was doing on Quality Control patrol the rest of the afternoon. I couldn’t stop laughing and was texting my girl Lynn throughout and she joked that I was put on quarantine by him.


And did we have 5000 trick-or-treaters? No, of course not, so I was left with giant bags of candy, more than appropriate to bring to work.

candy trash

So I set out to baking these little beauties, they are perfect for using all that left over Halloween candy, and definitely perfect for a baby shower. I had been staring at the empty candy wrappers and said to my hubby ‘I should call these candy trash shortbread cookie bars’ and it was his turn to laugh.


You’ll want to cut the bars right after they come out of the oven, then you’ll frost them:


Then you’ll let them cool, sprinkle a little sanding sugar on them and bring them to a baby shower. Another cool thing about these trashed up shortbread bars is that they keep very well for a few days, so if you need to make them ahead of time, go for it and just store them in an air tight container.


Want some more deliciously ‘trashed’ up recipes? Check out these amazing virtual baby shower participants, and again, a HUGE CONTRATS to Jessica!

trashed up salads

  1. Gimme Some Oven – Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce
  2. The Lemon Bowl – Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za’atar Crostini
  3. With Style & Grace – Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

trashed up cocktails

  1. Dine & Dish – Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
  2. Food For My Family – Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail
  3. Minimalist Baker – Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes
  4. Stylish, Stealthy & (sometimes) Healthy – Apple Cider Shandy
  5. A Spicy Perspective – Preggy Punch Mocktail
  6. Girl vs. Dough – Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
  7. Honestly Yum – Maple Bacon Pisco Sour
  8. Cookin Canuck – Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
  9. A Thought For Food – Mezcal Citrico Cocktail
  10. A House in the Hills – Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer
  11. The Novice Chef – Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider
  12. Bran Appetit – Citrus Cider Punch Floats

trashed up burgers

  1. Edible Perspective – Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy
  2. The Little Kitchen – Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie
  3. Daisy At Home – Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese
  4. Cookies & Cups – Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger
  5. Climbing Grier Mountain – Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy
  6. Dessert For Two – Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
  7. Country Clever – Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini
  8. Foodie Crush – The Best Cheeseburger Soup
  9. Lady and Pups – Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs
  10. Two Peas & Their Pod – Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese
  11. Bake Your Day – Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

trashed up tacos

  1. Spoon Fork Bacon – Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos
  2. The Fauxmartha – Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos
  3. With Food + Love – Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos
  4. Mountain Mama Cooks – Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon
  5. Heather Christo – Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce
  6. A Couple Cooks – Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
  7. Fitnessista – San Diego Lobster Street Tacos

trashed up desserts

  1. Table for Two – Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles
  2. My Name is Yeh – Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up
  3. Picky Palate – Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes
  4. Sprinkle Bakes – Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes
  5. Averie Cooks – Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
  6. Sweet Phi – Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
  7. Love & Olive Oil – Loaded Junk Food Brownies
  8. Lauren’s Latest – Bakery Sugar Cookies
  9. Cookie + Kate – Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
  10. Flourishing Foodie – Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
  11. The Sugar Hit – Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake
  12. Hummingbird High – Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts
  13. Top With Cinnamon – Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake
  14. Bake at 350 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
  15. Simple Bites – Lemon Layer Cake
  16. Bakerella – Baby Block Cake Pops
  17. She Wears Many Hats –  Chocolate Covered Grapefruit

trashed up pizza

  1. Bev Cooks – Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
  2. Rachel Cooks – Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust
  3. Foodie With Family – Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza
  4. Shutterbean – Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza
  5. i am a food blog – Grilled Cheese Pizza
  6. My Life as a Mrs – Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
  7. Simply Scratch – Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle
  8. The Beeroness – Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza
  9. Yes I Want Cake – Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
  10. Two Red Bowls – Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza
  11. Dula Notes – Pork Bahn Mi Pizza
  12. Weelicious – Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets
  13. Take a Megabite – Roasted Beet Pizza
  14. Hungry Girl Por Vida – Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta
  15. Bakers Royale – Trash’d Street Tacos

Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 50-60 small triangles
  • 3 Sticks Butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ Cup Powdered sugar
  • 2½ Cups Flour
  • ⅓ Cup Cornstarch
  • 1 Cup Candy, crushed (I used 2 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a ½ cup Whoppers, and ⅓ Cup Heath Bars)
  • ⅛-1/4 Cup Water
  • -For the frosting-
  • 3 Tbs Butter, melted
  • ¼ Cup Milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • -optional-
  • 1-2 Tbs Sanding Sugar for Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer beat butter for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides and add the powdered sugar and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and add the flour and the corn starch. Beat slowly until the dough resembles a crumbly mixture.
  3. Next add the cup of candy pieces and beat until incorporated. If it is very dry and crumbly, add ⅛-1/4 Cup water so that the mixture comes together.
  4. Spread into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven, and immediately transfer the parchment paper and shortbread bars to a cutting board or flat surface and cut them into squares, and then each square into a diagonal.
  5. While the shortbread bars are baking make the frosting. To do so mix all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer until they are creamy and well mixed together. Pour frosting over the warm, cut shortbread bars. If using sanding sugar sprinkle it on top of the frosting.
  6. Allow bars to cool completely, then separate them with a butter knife by running the knife along the lines you have already cut. Then enjoy!


Squash Cakes with Coconut Cream {Vegan Thanksgiving Dessert}

These delicious Squash Cakes with Coconut Cream are not only a unique, sweet and tasty way to enjoy squash, but are also vegan making them the perfect vegan dessert for Thanksgiving, and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are, as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias

Every year I look forward to squash season because it signals that Thanksgiving is near. And every time I see squash, I remember my mom pointing out the different types of squash at the grocery store.  So when I was at #MyPicknSave this week and saw the beautiful squash display, I just couldn’t resist buying a few to start making some Thanksgiving themed recipes.

Acorn Squash at Pick n Save

Squash are such a versatile vegetable. They can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, but are notoriously hard to cut and cook.


However, I’m here share to a squash cooking technique that won’t leave you with sore arms (hence letting you enjoy squash even more!). It’s embarrassingly easy, you cut your squash in half, scoop out the innards (seeds and ‘guts’) and the put the halves in a microwave safe container and cook. That’s it! Then you can scoop out the squash and use it for your recipes! This method definitely works best if you want to use squash for puree, like in this recipe.


If you ask me, part of the fun of Thanksgiving is trying all the new dishes that make their way into the lineup. With big families on both my side (I have three sisters, in-laws, and friends) and on my hubby’s side (he has two sisters and then in-laws, more family and friends) it’s always so fun to see what everyone brings.  And now that I think of it, the past three years I have made a dish that incorporates squash…is that weird? I think not, I’m just going to say that that’s my ‘thing’ lol.


And how cute are little desserts in ramekins? So this year my squash dish is going to be a sweet one. Little squash cakes topped with coconut cream! The dense cakes make me almost think of a pudding consistency, and are perfectly complimented by the coconut cream. I like to serve the cakes warm, which makes the coconut cream a little melty and perfect for dipping ones’ spoon into the little ramekins for bite after bite.


What are some of your favorite things about Thanksgiving? I like to find recipe inspiration from Pick ‘n Save’s social media accounts (Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter).

Squash Cakes with Coconut Cream {Vegan Thanksgiving Dessert}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 Acorn squash - cooked, about 1½ cups cooked squash (a little more or less is ok)
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk, unsweetened
  • 2 Tbs Sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Start by cutting the acorn squash in half. Clean out the innards, then put in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 12 min, or until the squash is easily poked by a fork. Remove from microwave and allow to cool for a few minutes before taking a spoon and spooning the squash (you'll scoop it out of the skin) into the bowl with the cake batter you'll have started while the squash was cooking.
  3. While the squash is cooking make the coconut cream. To do so you'll take a can of coconut milk and without having shaken it you'll open it. You'll find that there is solid/yet semi-soft white looking coconut after you open the can. Take a spoon and scoop the solid white coconut contents into a bowl. Stop scooping when you reach the clear coconut liquid (this you can throw out or save for a different recipe. Now add the two tablespoons sugar and with a hand mixer beat until the coconut cream forms peaks when a spoon is run through it (I whipped mine for 5 minutes.) Now take half the coconut cream and transfer it to another bowl.
  4. In the bowl with half the coconut cream now add flour, sugar, vanilla and baking powder. Beat with a hand mixer until incorporated (about 30 seconds, then when the squash is done cooking, scoop the squash into this batter and beat again with a hand mixer (about 1 minutes to incorporate it).
  5. Spoon batter into 4 ramekins and bake on cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes or until you see the cake has puffed up. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes (they'll unpoof and settle down forming a little well). Spoon a dollop of remaining coconut cream on each ramekin and serve!


Rocky Road Brownies In a Mason Jar

Are you ready to #TasteTheSeason ? These delicious Rocky Road Brownies In a Mason Jar are the perfect gift for this upcoming holiday season, and are part of a shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are as always mine alone. #CollectiveBias

To say the holidays are fast approaching is the understatement of the year! Christmas is less than two months away…and with that realization I’ve been busy making lists of everyone I need presents for: family, friends, coworkers, hosts of holiday parties, etc. And you know what? It adds up pretty quickly! With over 50 people on my list, buying everyone a million dollars’ worth of presents is just not a reality for me (this year lol).

So with the dilemma of gift giving on my mind, I was standing in the baking aisle at Walmart and saw all the amazing ingredients and remembered my mom always telling me that the best gifts are homemade ones that come from the heart.


And since I talk and write about food all the time (food connects us all, and everyone eats, so if we’re having a conversation, chances are the conversation will turn to food) I decided to make rocky road brownies in a jar! I’m such a sucker for anything cute in a jar…my husband even likes to joke that I wanted to start a business with baked goods in jar (so clearly I think of presents and baked goods in jars quite often!)

The amazing thing about this gift (aside from being super delicious) is that it’s not pricey to make, and it transports really well. If you’re traveling for the holidays a tip for traveling would be to wrap up the jars in a towel in your luggage!

To make these you’ll start by laying out all your ingredients and your empty jar. Then, what I like to do is use a piece of paper (just a regular piece of printer paper) for a funnel to help the ingredients get in the jar. I put them in in this order: flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts and then wrap the marshmallows in plastic wrap (this keeps them from drying out). Then you’ll put the cap on the mason jar to seal it and then add a label (click here for printable labels.)


Then when you gift the rocky road brownies, they’re super easy to make, the maker only needs one stick of butter, two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.


If you need more inspiration, check out the Cooking Up Good website. They have recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!


Rocky Road Brownies In a Mason Jar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 jar-9 brownies
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • ½ Tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, or Bakers Chocolate cut up into chunks
  • ½ Cup Walnuts, Planters Brand
  • ½ Cup Marshmallows, cut up, or mini marshmallows, Jet Puff Marshmallows brand
  • 1 Quart Wide Mouth Mason Jar
  • Ribbon for garnish
  • Labels
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. To assemble the jar- using a piece of paper as a funnel, start by pouring ingredients into the mason jar in the following order: flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts. Then wrap the marshmallows in plastic wrap and put it on top of the nuts. Put the lid onto the jar, and add a label and gift to someone special.
  2. If making the rocky road brownies- Preheat oven to 350. Line a square baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a bowl add stick of butter and microwave it for 30 seconds. Then add eggs and vanilla extract and stir.
  3. Next add contents of the jar (minus the marshmallows) and stir. Pour batter into the prepared pan and then top with marshmallow pieces. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove from oven, allow to cool, then lift the parchment paper out and cut brownies (you can cut either 3 or 4s, so you'll get 9 or 12 brownies.)