Easy Recipes

Homemade Raspberry Marshmallow

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For Valentine’s Day this year, we experimented with our marshmallow recipe by adding freeze-dried strawberries. The result was so good that we couldn’t help but wonder what raspberry would taste like. Freeze-dried raspberries are a little more difficult to locate but well worth the search. I can honestly say I do not prefer one over the other. Homemade strawberry marshmallow dipped in chocolate is even better than a fresh strawberry dipped in chocolate. Raspberry, however, is a little tart and tangy bursting with flavor. Dust these marshmallows with pulverized freeze-dried raspberries and let the flavor combination dance in your mouth! This recipe requires no cooking or boiling at all. You simply have no excuse not to try these easy homemade marshmallows. Continue reading

Homemade Strawberry Marshmallows

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omemade marshmallows are so easy and fun to make that I am surprised anyone is still buying the bagged version. Seriously, they are nothing alike. The homemade version is so silky smooth, light and fluffy…seriously amazing! The best part is creating your own flavors. I have been making my own marshmallows for years because of the flavor options you can create. Vanilla bean marshmallow creates a smores that makes camping a luxurious culinary experience.IMG_1055

For Valentines Day this year, we decided to take the recipe up a notch by adding freeze-dried strawberries to the mix. The result was so yummy I was left wondering why it took so long to try. Many people add artificial strawberry flavoring to marshmallows, but extracts can’t come close to this fresh flavor. Even adding fresh strawberries cooked down into a syrup does not provide the concentrated fresh flavor that freeze-dried pulverized strawberries create.

Cut the marshmallow into heart shapes and the possibilities are endless. Toss them in sanding sugars and sprinkles for a stand-alone confection or put them on top of a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold morning. I have to admit the strawberry flavor begs to be dipped in chocolate. Homemade strawberry marshmallows dipped in chocolate, decorated and packed in a box make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

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Cream Cheese Buttermints

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From the time I was a little girl cream cheese buttermints were served at every baby shower and wedding, I can remember.  If the event involved a fancy dress you could be assured these melt in your mouth morsels were being served.

When I got engaged my mother offered to make her “town-renowned” wedding mints. I will never forget the night before my wedding. I was so nervous…I couldn’t sleep a wink. As I paced the floor worrying about caterers, florists, and the weather I felt the knots in my stomach tighten. Going over every single detail in my mind, I remembered the cream cheese buttermints in the kitchen. I nervously ate mints for what felt like an entire night.

Now, I can’t say for sure if it was the calming effect of the peppermint on my nervous stomach or the comfort of knowing they were my mom’s mints, but I can say I walked down the aisle the next day and twenty years later I am still making the same cream cheese buttermints.

This week I was organizing my cupboard of candy molds when I came across the exact heart-shaped mold we used to make the mints for my wedding day. I decided to reinvent these mints for Valentine’s Day with a little more shimmer, sparkle, and pizazz than a wedding or baby shower. Try these incredibly addictive mints and you will soon see why this vintage recipe has become a family tradition.

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Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

thumbprintSomething about these cookies makes me feel like a kid in kindergarten finger painting for the very first time. Rolling the dough in sparkling sugars. Making the heart shape by pressing your fingers into the dough, then filling the pressed shape full of jam.  I know these are traditional Christmas cookies, but they are just so much fun to make. I had these on my list of cookies to make and post at Christmas, but due to my unrealistic baking schedule during December, many of my Christmas projects have become Valentines’ Day baking projects (just wait until you see my cupid gingerbread men).  Yes, I bite off more than I can chew…or bake as the case may be, but I think you will agree these heart-filled cookies make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

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Valentine Patch-Work Cookies

shape swap #2Can I just say how much fun these cookies are to make! Making these cookies looked like a baking game of musical chairs around the kitchen island. After the large heart cookie shapes were cut and chilled, the real fun began. The girls and I took out the chilled cookie sheets and began using mini heart cookie cutters to cut, sand with sugar, then swap for the center of a contrasting cookie. We worked fast to ensure the dough would stay firm and perfectly fit the previously cut cookie.

I am always looking for new ways to make sugar cookies. While making stained glass cookies this week the idea came to me to create the same look with different colored dough instead of hard candy. All sugar cookies are not the same. Some sugar cookies are soft and cakey, pairing perfectly with American buttercream. Other sugar cookies are buttery and dense taking on more of a shortbread flavor. I think it is a good idea to have several sugar cookie recipes in your arsenal depending on the project you are working on. I am not going to lie…our most requested recipe is our sour cream sugar cookie. This cookie is unbelievably soft but isn’t my dough of choice for intricate cookie cutters or detailed frosting work. 

For this cookie, I knew I wanted to create a patchwork of shapes. The dough would need to be sturdy enough to be cut, lifted, and patched into a completely different cookie. I started with a butter cookie base. I eliminated all leavening agents as I didn’t want the cookie to puff or swell while baking. Next, and most important I added cornstarch. Can I just say that in cookies cornstarch is a magical white powder that is pure witchcraft! Wheat flour has proteins that form gluten strands. While gluten gives great structure to bread it doesn’t always produce the perfect soft texture and tender crumble for a cookie. The addition of corn starch inhibits this structure and softens the cookie. I played with the amount of cornstarch until I found an amount that created a soft cookie and held a perfectly sharp edge.

I don’t know if I had more fun creating my own cookies or watching the combinations my girls would come up with. Kennedy is detail-oriented needing every edge perfectly aligned, while Maddie is the Picasso of sanding sugar, dusting every cookie with bright colors. Isn’t it funny how they get older and bigger, but their little personalities stay the same. Creating recipes and playing with my girls…I can’t imagine a better day!!!

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Linzer Cookies

Traditional European Linzer cookies have always been a family favorite at our house. We like to make them just about as much as we like to eat them. Don’t let these fancy little cookies fool you, they look difficult but are actually very simple and fun to make. Adapted from the lattice topped Austrian Linzer torte, this fruit filled cookie has become a holiday icon around the world.

This year we changed our recipe to include cardamom. It is no secret in reading my recipes that cardamom is my favorite spice. But, oh my…added to this almond butter cookie, it is amazing!!!  Many people add lemon to their linzer dough. While I love these cookies with lemon zest, cardamom adds a deeper and more intricate lemon flavor. You really must try this recipe…one simple spice makes all the difference.

My daughter Kennedy’s favorite filling is plum. Plum jam is seedless, tangy and creates the most beautiful crimson color through the tiny cut window. Citrus curds are also a fun option to fill the cookies with in spring using flower-shaped cutouts.

With so many shapes to choose from, don’t let Christmas be the only time you enjoy these buttery cookies. Red or pink jam and a heart shaped cookie cutter will quickly turn these dainty cookies into the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!

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Chocolate Coconut Haystack

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his is quite simply the easiest recipe you will ever make. It only requires two ingredients…but two perfectly paired ingredients. Even people who think they hate coconut, love the nutty flavor of toasted coconut in mounds of milk chocolate. It is amazing how crunchy the coconut stays completely enrobed in chocolate.

Any candy store I visit is immediately scoured for coconut haystacks. Every box of chocolates I receive is instantly searched for a coconut cluster.  They are classic flavors you can never go wrong with. Sometimes a truffle or cream center can be disappointing, but never a haystack.

This is without a doubt the quickest candy to make, which is helpful as it gets so many requests. It is hard to explain just how good these mounds of chocolate are without popping one in your mouth.  The oil from the toasted coconut gives the milk chocolate a beautiful crisp sheen. The only thing that rivals how amazing they look is just how great they taste!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie



or those of you who have ever made a Nestle toll House pie, you know that there are few things in life better than a warm slice. The gooey center is the adult version of eating cookie dough straight from the bowl. One day while making peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, I decided this world needed a peanut butter version of this pie. I scoured the internet for a recipe to no avail. I began experimenting and making test pies. Although the journey to the final product was delicious this version was the clear winner. The only thing that can make this pie better is to serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top…enjoy!

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