Everything But The… Cookies

PhotobucketEither my oldest daughter is obsessed with food as I am or she is one very creative kid.  We’ll go with the latter.  Either way, she does have some delicious and ingenious ideas when it comes to cookies.

We’re huge ice cream fans, especially Ben & Jerry’s, however, we only splurge on the Cadillac of ice cream when it’s on BOGO at our local supermarket.  Thankfully, that hasn’t happened in a while.  Though my taste buds miss the ice cold delicacy, my thighs can do without it.

Then, one day in a sad we-miss-Ben & Jerry’s moment, Allana says, “You know what would be really good?  An Everything But The… cookie.”

“Oh my God.  That’s genius!”  I felt a twinge in my thighs when I said it.

Then in like an ironic twist of fate, I woke up in the middle of the night with a Charlie horse in my right quad.  My thigh was already Jonesing for the chocolaty goodness.

These ice cream inspired cookies came out better than Allana and I imagined.  I just hope my thighs don’t beg for them in the middle of the night again.

Everything But The… Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup pretzel sticks
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup Heath English Toffee Bits
½ cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Using a standing electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Then add eggs one at a time and beat until well blended.  Mix in vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add flour to wet ingredients a little at a time and mix on a low speed until well combined.  Mix in pretzel sticks and almonds.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold in chocolate chips, Heath bits and mini peanut butter cups.

Drop about a tablespoon amount of dough onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for five minutes.  Then, move cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately three dozen.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

And while here, don’t forget to toss some cookies at The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Peppermint Snickerdoodles

‘Tis the season for snickerdoodles!

Snickerdoodles are a favorite in this house, but I wanted to add a new twist to an old favorite.  A peppermint twist that is!

Originating from a late night wild idea, these Peppermint Snickerdoodles came out better than I dreamed.  My family loved them and hopefully, they will be a hit at this year’s Christmas cookie swap too.

On the subject of Christmas cookies swaps, I’m hosting The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap.  Be sure to sneak a peek and sample all the tasty treats being shared in the linky party.

Peppermint Snickerdoodles
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, COLD
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
6 tsp red edible glitter
½ cup (about 24) starlight mints


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Place mints a Ziploc bag and crush with a mallet until powdery.  In a small bowl, combine red edible glitter and crushed mints.
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt until well blended.  Set aside.
  4. Using a standing electric mixer, beat unsalted COLD butter cut into small cubes and sugar.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined.  Add peppermint and mix through.
  6. Add in the flour mixture in three parts and mix until well combined.
  7. Shape the dough into 1 ½ inch ball.  Roll each ball in the red minty sugar mixture until well coated and arrange about 2-3 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
  8. Bake one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes.  Leave additional baking sheets chilling in fridge while the other bakes.
  9. Let stand briefly.  Then move cookies to cooling rack until completely cooled.  Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Run DMT Second Annual Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap

Maestro cue the music.


Eh hem.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
When flour needs some sifting
And batter mixed with an ingredient of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s yum, yummiest season of all!
Oven timers will be dinging and mom will be singing
As she samples them all!
It’s yum, yummiest season of all!

There’ll be cookies with chips
And some will call to be dipped
And some are powdered with snow
Sometimes you feel like nut
But sometimes you don’t but you choose
To present them with a bow

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Oh the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  It’s time find your favorite cookie recipes or maybe share some new ones in Run DMT’s Second Annual Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap. I know that the title of the cookie swap linky party is a bit of a mouthful, but then so are the cookies I will be stuffing in my face all month long.

Simply post a cookie recipe or any sweet treat on your blog.  Be sure to included add The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap button to your post and link back to this post.  Then, swing back here to Run DMT and add your link to the linky list.  It’s that simple!  Can’t you just taste the fun already?!  Cookies and comment love is a tasty pair.

It’s all the fun of a regular Christmas cookie swap without all the extra calories.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Turkey Cookie Craft

PhotobucketThanksgiving has come and gone and though most of my readers are focused on another a holiday in the midst of Black Friday frenzy, I wanted to share an edible turkey craft that I made with my seven year old’s class while Thanksgiving is still fresh on the brain digesting.  You will want to bookmark, pin and file away this edible turkey craft idea for next Thanksgiving.

After Halloween, I bought several bags of candy corn on clearance with the specific purpose to make some kind of edible craft with my kids.  Funny enough, as one of the homeroom moms, I was in charge of a craft for our Thanksgiving feast.

With a quick Google search, I tried to remember how to make an edible turkey with Oreo cookies, however, the Oreo turkeys I found weren’t exactly what I wanted.  So, I decided to combine a few of the ideas I found and I came up with this.

Of course, the kids gobbled up the fun.

Turkey Cookie Craft
Golden Double Stuff Oreos
Nutter Butter Bites
Harvest Mix Candy Corn
Pretzel sticks
1 tub of white icing
1 tube black decorating icing gel
1 tube red decorating icing gel

Gently add the turkey’s tail feathers by wedging in the four brown-colored candy corn into the Oreo middle between the two cookies.  (You could also gently remove the top cookie.)

For the turkey’s legs, snap one pretzel stick in half and gently add the sticks into the opposite end of the candy corn.  (If you pulled off top of the Oreo, add a small amount icing and reapply the cookie.)

Add a small amount of icing to backside of a Nutter Butter Bite and “glue” the cookie to Oreo.  Add a small amount of icing to a yellow candy corn and “glue” it to the mini Nutter Butter.

Using the black decorating icing gel, add two eyes.  Then, add a wattle using the red decorating icing gel.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! 

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Are You Ready for Some Football and Tailgate Cupcakes?

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Run DMT program with a Special Edition Friday Food Fight.  This week, I am collaborating and co-hosting with some of my favorite foodie bloggers a Progressive Tailgate Picnic to officially kick off the football season.


Beverages will be provided by Camille.

Courtney has got the scoop on the dip.

Hezzi D is making a mean main course.

Ruth will be offering the appetizing appetizers.

And yours truly is dishing up the desserts.

So, when served the task of cooking up a tailgate related dessert, I thought it had to be something with beer, because after all, football and beer go hand and hand.  At least, when watching the game, there’s always a beer in my hand.

Now this season, there will be a beer in one hand and a beer cupcake in the other.

Go Bucs!

Tailgate Cupcakes
½  cup butter
1¼ cups sugar
¼  cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
¾  tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager
2 eggs
½ tsp salt

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add vanilla.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in another bowl.  Then add the flour mixture and beer to the batter in mixer, alternating and ending with the flour mixture.

Ladle batter into cupcake liners about three-quarters full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cool completely.


Quick Buttercream Icing
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powder sugar, sifted
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
Green food coloring
Green colored sugar sprinkles
Dove Chocolate Covered Almonds

Using a handheld mixer, add butter, salt and sugar to a medium-sized bowl and mix until well combined.  Stir in vanilla and milk. (If additional liquid is needed, add small a amount of additional milk or a tablespoon of beer until icing shows desired consistency.) Reserve about ½ cup of the icing for decoration in a snack size Ziploc bag.

Add a several drops of green food coloring to achieve desired green color for grass.  Sprinkle with green sugar crystals.

For the yard lines, cut a small tip off one of the corners of the Ziploc bag.  Carefully draw one line across each cupcake, add a smaller line and write 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 in the center.

For the football laces, carefully draw a line down the center of a chocolate covered almond and two smaller lines perpendicular to the center line.  Use a toothpick to help shape the lines. After drawing the laces, gently place almond on cupcake.

Thanks for joining our Special Edition Friday Food Fight – Progressive Tailgate Picnic! We can’t wait to see what everyone is sharing at the picnic!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Cake Toddlers Dig

PhotobucketWhen I uncovered this construction cake on Pinterest, I knew Liam would love it for his birthday.  What two year old wouldn’t love a cake with construction vehicles and edible dirt?

I placed my order with our resident Cake Boss, Iron chef Allan and he assembled the cake as outlined by Lauren of Fredellicious. He baked two cakes, one yellow and one chocolate, although our cakes were a Betty Crocker’s Butter Recipe Yellow Cake and Devil’s Food Cake recipe to save on time.

He then, froze and cut the cakes, following Lauren’s slanted stripes cake tutorial.

Then, iced the cakes with his own chocolate icing recipe. (See recipe below.)

And finally, he finished it off with some crushed Oreo cookies and a few construction vehicles.

I love the extra touches he added such as some Oreo dirt in the dump truck and tire trucks along the cake platter.

He even added a small lake.

And just as I suspected, Little Lion Man loved it.

Iron Chef Allan’s Chocolate Icing
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
2Tbsp coffee
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract


Using a handheld mixer, add butter, salt, cocoa and sugar to a medium-sized bowl and mix until well combined.  Stir in vanilla and coffee.  If additional liquid is needed, add small amount of additional coffee until icing shows desired consistency.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth FridayPhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogue Look whooooo’s snapping

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

S’more Cupcakes


It may be too hot for camping at the moment, but it’s never too warm to enjoy another camping tradition: s’mores.

Did you know that today (Friday, August 10) is National S’mores Day?

Not many foodie observations slip past this family, especially ones that involve chocolate.  In fact we love s’mores so much that my family and I created a S’more Hot Chocolate recipe together just for occasion, which is being featured at 5 Minutes for Mom.

But I saved this little treat for you.

I have to confess, a campfire confession, if you will.  I requested Iron Chef Allan to assist me with this.  (He made me tell you that or he would never help me again.)  

Because I haven’t mastered meringue or even attempted to make marshmallow from scratch, Iron Chef Allan helped me with the marshmallow part.  Instead of a double-boiler, he used a large bowl to heat the eggs white to give him some extra room to whisk the egg whites into the fluff.

Then, he wouldn’t have to transfer the mixture to bowl.  How clever is that?! 

Much like their outdoorsy sticky sandwich cousins, these chocolate cupcakes topped with marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker will have everyone begging for s’more.

S’more Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
(Cupcake recipe borrowed from Joy of Baking.)


½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup boiling hot water
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or cupcakes will be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, top with marshmallow frosting (see below).
 Marshmallow Topping
(Recipe borrowed from Annie Eats.)

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Graham crackers, broken into quarter segments
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (1.55 oz), broken into segments


Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of a few inches of simmering water.  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F.

Once the mixture reaches 160 degrees, remove from stove.

Using a hand-held mixer, whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined.

Transfer the marshmallow frosting to a decorating bag with a large round decorative tip and pipe over cupcakes.  Lightly brown with a kitchen torch.

Garnish each cupcake topping with chocolate and a graham cracker.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

PhotobucketThanks to Kristi’s Summer Daze Photo Challenge, my children have been obsessing over root beer floats as well as foil dinners and snow cones.  I should have never printed out that checklist.

For the purpose of the Summer Daze Photo Challenge, I tried to capture photos of my kids enjoying their summer time treats, but they always slurped them down with such speed.  Is there some kind of root beer float competition like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest? I could win money with these kids.  After all, they have certainly trained like professional contest eaters.

I had such dreams and aspirations of snapping photos of my kids slurping on their icy treats in an old fashioned ice cream shop complete with black and white tiled floors and retro bar stools with squishy vinyl swivel seats.  But that never happened.

Instead I have my porch as a backdrop and empty glasses in their hands.  Such is the life of a suburban mom living in cow country with several Targets and no town center with an old fashioned soda shop.

But I really shouldn’t complain because thanks to all our A&W and Breyers vanilla ice cream root beer floats, Allana came up with a pretty ingenious cupcake.  She suggested making root beer float cupcakes similar to the Grape Soda Cupcakes I made for Purple Day.  Allana went on to add, “You could even top the root beer float cupcakes with whipped cream and a cherry.”

Now, that’s pretty darn creative and very clever.  And with today being my birthday, I decided to whip up a batch.

You can lick the screen if you want.

Or try and tap it with a straw.

Either way, you don’t want to miss out on this treat.

Root Beer Float Cupcakes


1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

4 cups cake flour

1 tsp vanilla

½  tsp baking soda

½  tsp of salt

½  tsp baking powder

1 ¾  cups Root Beer

24 cupcake liners

Whipped Cream for frosting (See recipe below.)

10oz jar of maraschino cherries, rinsed


In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add vanilla.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in another bowl.  Then add the flour mixture and root beer to the batter in mixer, alternating and ending with the flour mixture.

Ladle batter into cupcake liners about three-quarters full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cool on racks.

Once completely cooled, ice cupcakes with whipped cream.  Rinse and pat dry maraschino cherries with paper towels.  Top each cupcake with one cherry.

Yields 24 cupcakes.


Whipped Cream


1 pint heavy whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla

4 Tbsp powdered sugar

In a small bowl, whip heavy cream with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until stiff.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Summer Daze Fun Photo Party

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Piña Colada Cupcakes

PhotobucketThe ladies in my moms group host a fun Moms Night In every month that revolves around a Bingo-type game called Pokeno.  I rarely ever make it but this week presented itself with an opportunity to attend the game night.

The rules of the house for Pokeno dictate everyone to bring a dish to share.  With Tuesday being National Piña Colada Day, I thought Skinnytaste’s Piña Colada Cupcakes would be a nice treat.  A low calorie, low fat spongy treat to soak up the alcohol everyone would be drinking while they played.

Many low fat cupcake or muffin recipes use applesauce in place of egg and oil, but Skinnytaste created a tropical flare to the average low fat cupcake by adding crushed pineapple to her recipe.  And much like many of Skinnytaste’s recipe, this was a simple one too.  Seriously, can you get much simpler than two ingredients: a box of cake mix and a can of crushed pineapple?

As for the recipe, I followed it as is, even “completely draining” my crushed pineapple chunks with a small sieve and a spatula for the icing.

Just like Skinnytaste promises, my cupcakes were moist and flavorful.  The pineapple cream cheese coconut topping finished it off perfectly. I sprinkled a dash more shredded coconut on top for an extra tropical taste.

Funny thing, it rained Tuesday evening.  It’s a darn good thing my cupcakes had umbrellas.

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain…

Skinnytaste’s Piña Colada Cupcakes (Borrowed from Skinnytaste.com)

Low Fat Pineapple Cupcakes


1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix

20 oz can crushed pineapple in juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix on medium speed with electric mixer for about two minutes.

Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Ladle the batter into liners, about 2/3 full. Bake in accordance with cake mix directions or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool.


Pineapple Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese

20 oz can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice, completely drained of any liquid

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup sugar


Combine cream cheese, crushed pineapple, sugar and coconut flakes in a medium bowl and mix with a hand mixer until combined well. Spread on cooled cupcakes and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what yummy food everyone is flinging this week!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Progressive Picnic: Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Roll out the picnic blankets and bring an appetite for the blogosphere’s first ever Progressive Picnic Blog Hop!

For this virtual picnic, each foodie blogger listed below is offering a different menu item.  Click on the links and be prepared to lick your lips as your eyes feast on an assortment of delicious dishes.

Camille from Growing Up Gabel is offering an appetizer, Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates.

Courtney from Peace, Love, Recipes is bringing the beverage, Red, White and Blue Sangria.

Ruthie from What’s Cooking With Ruthie is supplying the side dish, Picnic Perfect Potato Salad.

Heather of Hezzi-D’s Cooks and Books is dishing out the dessert, White Chocolate Brownies.

And yours truly is serving up the main dish, Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps


2 Tbsp canola oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips

½ tsp Kosher salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 large yellow or white onion cut Asian style

1 red bell pepper cored and cut into thin strips

¼ cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp honey

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

1 cup cooked Jasmine rice

Leafy green lettuce (Romaine or Bibb)


Heat the canola oil in a large skillet on a medium high heat.  Add chicken strips and season with salt and pepper.  Stir-fry for a few minutes to sear the meat at the edges.  Then, add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for two minutes more.  Add the red bell pepper and cook until softened.  Add onions and stir fry for few minutes.  Once onions are soft, add tamari and honey.  Together, they should form a caramel colored sauce as they deglaze the pan.  Stir to coat chicken with the sauce.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.  The heat from the pan will cook and wilt the basil.

Using the leafy part of the lettuce, drop a Tbsp on cooked Jasmine rice in the center of the lettuce.  Then, add spoonful of the Thai Basil Chicken and gently drizzle some sauce from the skillet over the mixture.  Roll lettuce to form wrap and place on a serving platter. Continue with remaining stir-fry and serve.  If any sauce is remaining in skillet, pour it into a ramekin to use as a dipping sauce.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+