Easy Holiday Baking Idea: Chocolate Covered Sugar Cookies

Thanks to Nestle Toll House for sponsoring today’s discussion.

Our family has many Christmas traditions that we enjoy every year. Most of them are new and were either created by Justin and I when we were dating or have just been around since Shane was born. However, some of our childhood traditions have stuck with us, including buying ornaments every year and of course, making Christmas cookies!

Shane decorating cookies

When I was a kid, my mom used to make the cookie dough from scratch and we would take turns cutting shapes out. Then we’d put them in the oven for what felt like an eternity and finally we’d cover them with so much homemade icing that the entire cookie would be dyed whatever color we were using. That’s mostly still our method, but I do take one shortcut- I use premade cookie dough.

There are so many fun and exciting things to do this time of year that i just don’t have time to make homemade dough. You have to measure everything, mix it in order, then roll it out to a precise thickness {the hardest part for me- I always mess this up and end up with half-gooey, half-hard cookies} and repeatedly flour everything so it doesn’t all stick together while you use the cookie cutters. &Then the clean-up- oh, the clean up is even worse than the baking!

Nestle Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough Sheets

This year we are taking it a step further and instead of using regular premade dough, we are using Nestle Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough Sheets! They are so convenient- they come in a two pack of already rolled out {to the proper thickness- yippee!} cookie dough that is even pre-floured. You really just take it out and start using your cookie cutters! It’s beyond simple to use and tastes just like the traditional cookie dough. My favorite part is that it saves so much time between prep and clean-up that I can make more memories with the kids- instead of with the kitchen.

Cookie Cutters

The cookie dough sheets come in three flavors- chocolate, sugar, and gingerbread. I bought chocolate to try them out and the boys gobbled them up before I could even decorate them! I made the sugar cookies last night and since it’s still a bit too early to make Santa’s cookies, I decided to forego the icing and use melted Nestle Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels instead!

Chocolate Covered Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Covered Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
Nestle Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough Sheets
Nestle Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels
Decorations as desired

Directions:
1. Open Nestle Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough Sheets and cut out cookies using cookie cutters of choice
2. Bake cookies according to package directions {350 degrees for about 8 & a half minutes}
3. Allow to cool
4. Melt a bowl of Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels in the microwave using thirty second increments and stirring each time. It took me about 2 minutes for 2 cups of chocolate chips.
5. Drizzle chocolate onto cookies using a spoon and use the back of the spoon to spread out the chocolate.
6. Decorate as desired or enjoy as-is!

These are a simple but delicious take on Christmas sugar cookies that won’t take long to make- perfect for cookie exchanges, holiday parties, or busy schedules. They allow room to get creative with decorations and cookie cutters but are so simple, anyone can make them!

Be sure to check out Nestle Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough Sheets at your local store this holiday season. I found mine at Walmart for just $2.50 each!

Do you make Christmas cookies?

Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

This post is part of the SPLENDA® 365 SWEET SWAPS ™ blogger program by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC. and The Motherhood, who sent me products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Everyone celebrates different holidays and everyone celebrates them differently, but one thing that just about everyone has in common this time of year is that there’s a whole lot of baking going on! From sugar cookies to pumpkin rolls, homemade fudge to popcorn balls, the whole last quarter of the year is chock full of baked goods.

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I definitely have a sweet tooth so I love that about the holidays. Of course, there’s the social aspect, too- how do you turn down Great Aunt Ruth’s famous almond cookies after she’s stayed up all night baking them? &How many of your holiday memories revolve around food- there was that time the sweet potatoes were a mushy mess, the time you dared your cousin to eat a whole tray of peppermints in one sitting, and that time you ate so many Christmas cookies you made yourself sick.

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I’m all about indulging this time of year, but I’m also about moderation. It’s harder to be mindful about your sugar intake this time of year with treats coming at you from every direction, so when I’m the one baking I tend to use Splenda No Calorie Sweetener to lower the sugar and calorie contents of my contributions to the dessert table! The taste is the same and it’s so easy to bake with because Splenda Granulated measures cup for cup like regular sugar. Sometimes baked goods will bake a little more quickly than traditional treats, but by just keeping an eye on it you can get the same delicious result with less calories and sugar!

This Christmas, I decided to try a new kind of cookie and made these Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are a delicious flavor combination and are perfect for cookie swaps or to leave out for Santa!

Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

-2 sticks of butter
-2 eggs
-1 C. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener {Granulated}
-1/2 C. packed brown sugar
-2 1/2 C flour
-1 1/4 tsp salt
-1 1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp almond extract
-1/2 tsp imitation coconut extract
-1 1/2 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
-1/2 C. chocolate chips
-1/2 C coconut flakes
{Optional: Almonds}

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl sift together flour, salt and baking soda.
3. Cream butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix well after each one. Add extracts.
4. Slowly add flour mixture until well combined, then add chocolate chips and coconut flakes.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoons on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place into oven to bake. For best results, begin checking doneness at about 7 minutes, but they make take up to 10 minutes to bake. They are done when the edges turn golden brown.
6. Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Splenda isn’t just for the holidays- you can use it in your cooking and baking year-round. In fact, this year, Splenda has been encouraging small, easy lifestyle changes that can lead up to big results over time, including of course switching out some of your sugar for Splenda. The average woman consumes over 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day- which is more than triple the recommended amount! By replacing some of that sugar with Splenda, you can help save calories all year long.

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To learn more about making Sweet Swaps with Splenda, be sure to check out their Tumblr page! You can even submit your own recipe ideas here. Here’s to a sweet 2015!

Have you ever baked with Splenda?

DIY Holiday Gift Idea: Peanut Butter Fudge Cookie Mix in a Jar {+ 9 Other Cookie-Mix-in-a-Jar Ideas!}

This post is brought to you by Foodie.com. All opinions are my own.

My favorite food group is cookies {and yes, in my world, they are a food group}, so I think that they make great gifts, too. They’re delicious and there are so many varieties that you can find the perfect kind for just about anyone! A fresh batch of homemade cookies are a wonderful gift for any occasion- but what if you can’t give that away, either because you’re too far away or just short on time? You can give a DIY Cookie Mix in a Jar Gift!

Gifts in a jar are so cute- it’s no wonder they’ve become so trendy. Cookies in a jar are fun because you include all of the dry ingredients they’ll need, let them know how to bake their cookies, and decorate the jar with a little flair. I like the idea of gifting cookie mix in a jar even for those who are close by, just because you can then use the mix to bake together, creating memories in the process!

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies Recipe

If you like cookies or have someone on your list who does {or just have someone who is impossible to shop for}, be sure to try one of the delicious cookie mix in a jar recipes found in the Foodie slideshow at the bottom of this post! To get you inspired, I’ve included my own easy version right here in this post- including a free printable for the jar which you can just click to download and print. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookie Mix in a Jar DIY Gift Idea

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookie Gift Jar

You will need:

-1 box of chocolate cake mix
-1 bag of peanut butter chips, any brand
-1 large wide mouth mason jar {like these}
-Double-sided tape
-Gift tag {Free printable below!}

Directions to Assemble:

1. Add the box of chocolate cake mix to your wide mouth mason jar.

2. Tap the jar a few times on the counter, allowing the cake mix to settle. Slowly pour in the peanut butter chips until they reach the top. You will probably have some left over, but that’s okay! You don’t need to add them all for them to be delicious.

3. Print the gift tag below {or found here} and secure it the side of the jar with double sided tape. Instead of tape, you could also hole punch the tag and secure it and the directions {written on the back of the tag} with twine or ribbon.

Directions to Include on the Tag:

1. Pour all ingredients into a medium size bowl.
2. Add 1 egg and ½ cup of vegetable oil to the ingredients and mix well.
3. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not over bake- they are best fudgy and chewy!

Click on for the free printable & for 9 more Cookie Mix in a Jar DIY Gift Ideas!

[Read more...]

Easy Christmas Baking Recipe: Santa’s Workshop Cupcakes

There’s less than three weeks until Christmas, which means it’s time to party! Whether you’re attending a classroom party with your preschooler or a party at the office, you may find yourself needing to bake something yummy sometime soon. When you’re feeding a large amount of people, it’s a good idea to keep flavors simple so that you can keep everyone happy- including picky eaters. So how can you add a little holiday spirit to traditional baking? It’s all in the decorations!

I love an adorably decorated cupcake as much as the next person, but when I’m the one doing the decorating, I also want that adorable cupcake to be easy to achieve. This is always true but during the holidays it’s even more important to keep it simple- there’s just no time to pipe icing or roll fondant when you have twenty gifts to wrap, a tree to decorate, and a favorite Christmas movie to watch on repeat. So if you’re looking for an easy, cute Christmas cupcake idea, consider these Santa’s Workshop Cupcakes!

Santa's Workshop Cupcakes- an Easy Baking Idea for Christmas!

Santa’s Workshop Cupcakes

You Will Need:

Cupcakes {Use any recipe or box mix you like, or try the basic white cupcake recipe below!}
White frosting
Clear sugar sprinkles
Mini red candy canes
Cupcake toppers {Free printable, see below!}
Wilton Sugar Elves, Reindeer and Santa {I located these in the Seasonal baking aisle at my grocery store for $1.99}

Directions:

1. Generously frost each cupcake with white frosting and dip the frosted top into the white sugar crystals. Set aside and repeat with all the cupcakes.

2. Next, break the top off of each mini candy cane, making a ‘post’ for the tag. Push the post gently into the center of the cupcake and attach the tag. I used a little bit of white frosting on the candy cane and the tag stuck perfectly.

3. Finally, give each cupcake a little candy figure!

 

Easy Christmas Baking Idea Santa's Workshop Cupcakes!

Basic White Cupcake Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 C. sugar
½ C. butter, softened
3 egg whites
1 ½ C. flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
½ C. milk
2 tsp. Vanilla
(2) 12 ct. muffin tins, greased or lined with cupcake liners

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and eggs and mix well. Stir in flour and baking powder, mixing well.

3. Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake tin. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Insert a toothpick at around 15-16 minutes and if it comes out clean, the cupcakes are done.

4. Be sure to let the cupcakes cool completely before decorating!

**Makes approximately 24 cupcakes. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Santa's Workshop Cupcakes

See how easy those were? Now just print out the toppers below {click to open the PDF} and enjoy!

Free Printable Santa's Workshop Cupcake Toppers

What’s your biggest baking shortcut?

Magic Mint Bars Recipe

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, which means baking season has officially begun! Whether you’re bringing treats to your kid’s classroom, making dessert to take to a holiday potluck or baking gifts to give out for the holidays, it’s officially time to bake all the things. It also happens to be mint season {my favorite!}, so why not put the two together and bake these Magic Mint Bars?

Magic Mint Bars

Magic Mint Bars

Ingredients:

-1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

-½ cup of the new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

-1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

-2 cups shredded coconut

-1 package white chocolate chips (12 ounces)

-1 package Andes chips (found in baking section)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 glass pan with parchment paper.

2. In glass bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and margarine. Press evenly into pan.

3. Top with coconut, white chocolate chips, and mint chips. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over bars.

4. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, then cut into squares.

Magic Mint Bars Recipe

To make these perfect for gift-giving, you can cut them extra small and put them into a large mason jar with some baker’s twine or ribbon wrapped around the top, or you can put them into a treat box {available at craft stores and even the dollar store}. Of course, you could always make them for yourself and enjoy them while watching Elf for the thousandth time. Just saying.

With all the baking done this time of year, it’s the perfect time to make sure that your pantry and fridge are stocked with the essentials. I know that I haven’t done much baking since the baby was born and my flour canister was not only almost empty, but full of pretty dated flour. I stocked up on that and picked up an old favorite with a new twist- the new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

The New I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Has...

What’s new about it? Now I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is made from real, simple ingredients- things you can recognize, like plant-based oils, purified water, and a pinch of salt. The ingredients in it are non-GMO sourced- the first Unilever spread in the U.S. to be able to say that! The new formula is available in Original, Light, and Olive Oil varieties and each one contains 0g trans fat per serving, no cholesterol, and no partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. It’s so good that when I first heard about it, I thought, “I can’t believe it!” {Sorry, that pun was too obvious to skip.}

If you’re doing any baking {or cooking, or spreading, or…} this season, be sure to pick up the new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! You can find it in your local grocery store now. You can also find recipes and more information on the new formula on their website! Already tried the new formula? I’d love to hear your thoughts- be sure to leave a review and let me know what you think in the comments!

What are you baking this season?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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