Search results for 'hot chocolate'

Family Movie Night & a Recipe: Homemade Hot Chocolate

7 Dec


It’s a Friday and for us Friday nights are sometimes Family Movie Nights. It’s the end of the week and it’s often a wind-down night as well. We look forward to it.

In the winter, our Family Movie Night movie is usually “The Polar Express” at least once.

I got this book in 1993, before there even *was* a movie!

We have the hardcover version of the Chris VanAllsburg book, and it’s even autographed. We also have the special bell from the story as well as the cd of the story from a gift set that we received a few years back. You can find the book and the movie here on

There are several bell crafts you could do to go along with “The Polar Express” if you’d like.

Cups, pipe cleaners, stickers and glitter make for an easy jingle bell craft. If you have a real jingle bell, you can put it inside so that the bell actually rings.

You could:

1) Cut out a bell from construction paper and decorate it with glitter or other materials,


2) Turn a styrofoam drinking cup upside down, put a pipe cleaner through the top (gold works well) turning it into a bell that way, decorating it on the outside any way you’d like.

During the winter months, Family Movie Night often includes a special treat: Homemade Hot Chocolate. My kids LOVE this recipe and it came from a cookbook I received as a gift from one of my Stampin’ Up! customers several years back. The cookbook is called “Old Fashioned Holiday Recipes.” It was full of many great recipe ideas, but this one has always been a favorite find and perfect for our Family Movie Nights. It would go especially well with the “Krispie” Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from yesterday!

Two mugs of hot chocolate

Hot off the stove tonight!

Creamy Hot Chocolate

1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT Evaporated Milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups hot water
Marshmallows, optional


In a large saucepan over medium heat combine Eagle Brand, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well.

Slowly stir in water. Heat through, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.

Top with marshmallows (optional.)

Store covered in refrigerator. Makes about 2 quarts.

Hot chocolate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. Mix well and reheat before serving.

Your Tray or Mine? Cookie Tray Recipe of the Day: Chocolate Chip Butterballs

21 Dec

These cookies could be made with nuts instead of chocolate chips if you prefer!


Today’s recipe is another one of my favorite cookie recipes, one we’ve made for years and years. Way back when I was a Girl Scout, I used to participate in the Girl Scout Bake Off each year and one of the years I earned second place with these cookies! That’s how long my family has been making them.

We call them Chocolate Chip Butterballs, but they have many other names: Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Balls, Hazelnut Balls and probably other names I don’t even know about.

Traditionally they are made with nuts. I don’t like nuts, my family never baked with nuts growing up and I don’t either We all really love Chocolate Chips though, so my mom has always subbed in the chocolate chips for nuts. You can choose either mini chips or the regular sized chips. Personally, I prefer the big ones, but if you don’t, switch them for the minis instead. If you’re into tasting batter, this one is safe to eat, there are no eggs in this recipe. I’m always pretty sure I’d come out with about six more cookies in each batch if I ate less batter!

This recipe can be made fast and easy if you have extra set(s) of hands to help you roll the batter into balls! This is one I often let my kids help with. I don’t usually have them roll the hot ones in the sugar though, even though I use a spoon for that. Their “part” is the cold batter getting rolled into the balls for baking.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to see what the coordinating kids’ activities are for this recipe!


Chocolate Chip Butterball Cookies


2 cups flour **for a healthier version, I have used one cup of wheat flour mixed with one cup of white flour**
1 cup butter or margarine  **for a healthier version I have substituted “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” for regular**
4 TBL granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

one 12 oz. package chocolate chips

Bowl of confectioner’s sugar


Combine flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla in bowl of electric mixer. Mix well.

Add in chocolate chips, mix them into the batter.

Refrigerate dough 30 minutes (or longer.)

Form into 1″ balls, place on cookie sheet. These don’t spread, so you can put a lot on a sheet, no need to spread them out a ton.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Cool only slightly, maybe a minute or so, and then roll each one in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar.

Roll a second time in confectioner’s sugar before serving.

A Your Tray or Mine Recipe and an Online Cookie Swap: Chocolate Buttersweets

17 Dec
Chocolate Buttersweets

These are my other top favorite cookie from our trays!


This week I was invited to participate in such a fun activity: a digital cookie exchange! Now, you know how much I love cookies, and what a fun idea to do an online recipe swap! I was invited by Patience Brewster, a company that offers a unique line of handmade, hand painted ornaments and gifts for holiday and every day decor.  Their products are so beautiful! Every piece in the collection is based on original artwork by artist/designer Patience Brewster and is filled with intricate details and fanciful designs. You can read more about the company here.

As I was going through my favorite cookie recipes, trying to decide which one to choose for today’s online cookie exchange with Patience Brewster, I had such a hard time deciding! Not just any cookie would do. Ultimately I decided to run the recipe for one of my top two favorite Christmas cookies, the Chocolate Buttersweets. These cookies were the ultimate equivalent of a beautiful Patience Brewster ornament, in a cookie. Hand-glazed, multi-step, multi-layer, delectable cookies, beautiful confections….it’s a perfect fit.

Below you’ll find the step-by-step instructions for this cookie. I hope you’ll give it a try, and I certainly hope that you’ll go on over to the Patience Brewster site and and take a look at their beautiful creations.

In the meantime, I’d like to tag my friend Paula over at My Soup for You and invite her to join in on our online cookie exchange! Paula is a wonderful cook and baker, and I know she’ll be doing some baking this weekend, too! In fact, I’d like to challenge all of my readers and fellow bloggers. Link up a great cookie recipe in the comments here, blog about a good cookie recipe on your own blog, or share a cookie recipe wherever you share, and tag us all!



When I first began the Your Tray or Mine series of recipes earlier this month, I began with the Chocolate Thumbprints, which I said were one of my top two favorite cookie recipes from the trays my mom and I do. Today’s cookie, the Chocolate Buttersweets, are my other top favorite cookie on the tray.

This recipe is not complicated, although it does have three distinct steps: the cookie, the filling and the frosting. Because the cookie should be frosted when it’s warm (but not hot) I recommend prepping the filling first, so that it’s ready. Then make your cookies, and after they are filled, make your frosting and frost the filled cookies.


Cookie base for chocolate buttersweets

If you have a wooden spoon with a round handle, you can use it to poke the holes in the tops of the cookies before baking.

1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour (we also make these gluten free, using Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour)

6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 TBL flour
2 tsp vanilla

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 TBL butter or margarine
4 TBL water
1 cup confectioners sugar

**Prepare the filling first. The cookies, when done, need to be filled while warm. Have the filling ready to go.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) In large bowl cream together butter, confectioners sugar, salt and vanilla.
2) Gradually add flour to creamed mixture, mix well.
3) Roll dough into 1″ balls, placing them 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4) Press hole in center of each cookie with finger or the handle end of wooden spoon (if handle is round, not flat.)
5) Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until edges are lightly brown.
6) Fill while warm
7) Frost

Filled Chocolate Buttersweets

Step two: fill the cookies while warm.

Soften cream cheese. Blend in sugar, flour, vanilla. Cream well. Fill cookies.

In small saucepan melt chocolate chips, butter, and water over low heat. Stir constantly. Stir in confectioners sugar and mix well. Will be lumpy at first until the sugar melts. Spoon a little frosting onto each cookie.

In honor of Pi Day: Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

13 Mar
Life-changing, indeed!

Life-changing, indeed!


March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day!

No, silly, not PIE day, PI Day!!

You know,”Pi: the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, approximately 3.14159, an infinite number which has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.” (For more information like this about Pi, Pi Day and related celebrations, click on the link above!)

Pi Day also falls on the same day as Albert Einstein’s birthday. How great is that?!

Pi Day does have some similar qualities to Pie Day though (and if there isn’t actually a Pie Day, there should be), in that many people like to encourage the eating of pie of any kind to help with the celebrating of the mathematical concept!

To that end, my oldest daughter’s Algebra class will be celebrating Pi Day tomorrow with some sweet treats during class, so I said I’d send in a pie for them to use as part of their Pi Party. I had a single crust in the freezer and just enough ingredients to make the newest pie that I’ve fallen in love with this winter: a chocolate chip cookie pie.

This pie recipe was sent to me by a friend during the first blizzard we had in January as one of 23 different Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes to try out. The list claims to be a life-changing experience. If this pie recipe is any indication, I’d say they’re right!

This is a really quick pie to put together. Few ingredients, few steps. You don’t need to pre-bake your crust and the cook time is about an hour give or take, depending on your oven. The recipe is found on the Love from the Oven blog, and she has credited the original recipe to Nestle.

Obviously I did not make the Pi Day pie and then eat it myself, so my photos here are from the second blizzard of 2015, when I made this pie for dessert one night. It was a keeper for sure, and that’s the only sad thing about sending away a pie for Pi Day….we got to smell it baking, but didn’t get to eat it!

Quick, easy and perfect for Pi Day 2015!

Quick, easy and perfect for Pi Day 2015!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie Recipe from Nestle
Preheat oven to 325

1 unbaked pie crust, homemade or store bought
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)


Beat eggs in a large mixer until foamy.

Now add in flour and sugars. Beat until well blended. Beat in the softened butter.

Stir in your chocolate chips and nuts.

Stir and pour into unbaked pie crust.

Bake at 325 for  50-55 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (optional).

Fun Friday: Pillsbury’s Gluten Free Banana Streusel {Chocolate Chip} Bread

29 Jan
Only half left, already? You have to be quick here or you miss the photo opp!

Only half left, already? You have to be quick here or you miss the photo opp!

Hi and Happy Friday!

Today is a special Friday because this week we officially hit the midpoint to the school year and today is the 93rd day of school. This means that we are closer to the end of the school year than to the beginning of the school year. We began the third quarter this week, and just like that, it will soon be spring.

Well not too soon, but you know. Sooner than not spring. I’m a cup half full kind of girl.

Additionally, although we were forecast to have a giant snow storm last weekend, we happily dodged that bullet (this time) and only got a few inches. The weather warmed significantly this week and our snow is just about gone, so that’s even more reasons to celebrate the end of another week!

Today’s recipe is a new one for us as we continue down this gluten free path and I attempt to redesign some of my baking and cooking habits to fit everyone’s specific needs here. One thing I’ve been struggling with is determining when I need a binding agent in my flour, such as xanthan gum, and when I don’t. In general, I’ve been keeping two kinds of all-purpose flour on hand here, one that contains the xanthan gum which is from Trader Joe’s, and one that does not, which is Pillsbury and I buy it at Walmart. I’ve used the one without it for what is so far my favorite muffin recipe (a basic recipe we’ve used for raspberry, blueberry and chocolate chip muffins) and I’ve used the other for all of my Christmas cookies, which all seemed to stay together just fine. If you click on the links I’ve put in here, you can see both kinds of flour pictured in those posts. In addition to those, I’ve used the one without xanthan gum for much of my cooking if I need to bread chicken, and I’ve even used gluten free Bisquick to make a quick pancake mix and for making biscuits. So far, so good.

That said, I really wanted to make a homemade banana chocolate chip bread again, but I couldn’t figure out which of the two flours I needed, and the more I researched, the more confused I got. I had two to choose from, so I really didn’t want to go out and buy a bunch of individual flour blend ingredients to try to create my own blend at home, I wanted to use one of the ones that I had. Ultimately, I decided to google the words “Pillsbury gluten free banana bread” and I figured they’d have a recipe which used their own flour blend, which is what I had on hand. Sure enough they did. The recipe didn’t call for chocolate chips but I threw them in anyway. It did call for a streusel topping, which is one of my all-time favorite things, so I was immediately liking this recipe. I put it all together quickly and without issue one day this week for an after school snack, and it cooked up in an hour.

We're lucky any of the topping made it onto the bread! I kept tasting and tasting.

We’re lucky any of the topping made it onto the bread! I kept tasting and tasting.

The bread received all thumbs up from everyone here, and it will surely be one of my new go-to recipes and one that everyone can eat. My biggest problem was figuring out how to get it out of the baking dish without all of the topping coming off, because every piece that fell off, I ate. The recipe contained three bananas, which completely cancels out the fact that it contained any chocolate at all. And, the chocolate was semi-sweet, which I think is a superfood.



There was not a lot of butter in it, but we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in our recipes. Other than that, it fit the bill and it was such a relief to me to have the house smelling of a sweet treat after school again this week. I can now check off another item on our menu that I’ve been able to conquer in the gluten free journey.

If you’d like to check out the recipe yourself, you can find it here.



Fun Friday: Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

24 Oct
Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

I’m not sure if I’m an emotional-stress eater or not, but I’m definitely an emotional-stress baker and cooker. I always crave the opportunity to get into the kitchen and cook something or bake something (or in a perfect world, both) to relax after a tough day, week or lately, a tough month. I like cooking and baking for others and trying out new things to get myself to chill out and relax. Oftentimes after my initial piece of whatever I’ve baked, I’m pretty happy and relaxed til the next time. I don’t need to eat the entire thing, just a taste.

Last weekend, after two particularly tough weeks scattered with illness, elementary school death threats, jury duty for my husband and all the usual daily work and school stress, I was in quite a mood, looking to bake SOMETHING good for the family to take the edge off. I went onto Pinterest, a place I hadn’t visited in a while, found their search bar (which seemed slightly different than the last time I’d been on) and I typed in all the things I was currently craving: pumpkin, Nutella, chocolate chips.

All those things had to go together in something, I was sure of it.

I was in luck! Sure enough, Parsley, Sage & Sweet had a recipe for me! I knew someone would. It’d be hot and out of the oven in just an hour or so.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars.

Yes, seriously.

I got to work, feeling better and better by the minute.

I won’t lie, the recipe has some steps to it, but believe me, it was worth it in the end!

Through this baking experience, I also learned a valuable lesson that I’ll pass on to you, just as I shared it on Facebook that same evening:

“If you try to put the plastic jar of Nutella into the microwave to soften it up for baking, all the while thinking just how smart you are thinking of this little shortcut, you must remember that the wrapper over the top was originally metal and that there might be some left on there which will potentially catch fire and giant, bright blue sparks will fly inside the microwave, scaring you and your children half to death while making your husband jump higher and run faster than you’ve seen in a long time when you gasp out loud in the kitchen. You’re welcome.”

That said, this was a delicious treat! Everyone was anxious to try it out so I served it warm, waiting just ten minutes to cut into it, rather than the suggested hour cooling time, and it was a hit. However, I had one more piece a day or so later, after the whole thing had been refrigerated, and YUM!! Even better cold, in my opinion, just like pumpkin pie.

I plan to make them again this weekend for a get together I’ll be attending on Saturday.

Here’s the recipe as it’s seen on the Parsley, Sage and Sweet blog. The only thing I did differently was to use regular sized chips instead of mini. I really don’t “do” mini chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from Megan’s Cooking via Julia, author Of Dozen Flours- with my revisions

Snickerdoodle Layer
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup mini-chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie – Nutella Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups fresh roasted or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 to 3/4 cup Nutella

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1.  Lightly butter or oil spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish.  If desired, line with parchment paper, two edges hanging over, so you can lift the whole uncut bar out of the pan for easier cutting.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture into the egg mixture until uniform. Stir in the mini-chocolate chips. Spread the dough as evenly as you can on the bottom of the pan.

3. In a mixer bowl (you can use the same one you used to make the snickerdoodle dough) with a paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar (You can also use a hand mixer, or a just a spoon) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. This mixture is looser, so pour/scrape over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top. Preheat oven to 350F.

4.  Drop tablespoons of Nutella over the top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  About 4 rows of three dollops.  Marble gently with a knife or spoon.

5. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

6. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, (depending on your oven..for some, it has taken longer) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour).
7. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars.  Drizzle cut bars with melted chocolate (better to drizzle them when cut so some chocolate drips down every side).

8. Let chocolate set or eat them before the chocolate sets (which we did). Store any remaining bars in a covered container, preferably in the fridge so they last longer.


Fun Friday: In honor of National Chocolate Chip Day…Chocolate Chip Fruit Pizza

16 May
fruit pizza

This was such a great recipe, it got all thumbs up, all the way around!

This week I received an email message from a fellow cast member from last week’s Listen To Your Mother. The message was letting me know that today was going to be National Chocolate Chip Day!

I do believe that every day should be National Chocolate Chip Day and at my house, I celebrate on almost a daily basis.

Conveniently enough, I’d just tried out a new recipe from Skinnytaste, one of my favorite blogs for lowfat recipes. I’d received it in my inbox earlier this week and knew it was a “must try” recipe for sure.

The recipe was for a fruit pizza, and it looked so refreshing. We had some unusually hot weather on Sunday and Monday and I knew that Monday afternoon the kids would be looking for a nice cool snack when they came home Monday afternoon.

When I looked at the recipe for the fruit pizza, I had everything for it except for white chocolate chips. I decided that instead, I would use my semisweet chocolate chips, making the crust a chocolate chip cookie crust. It was perfect! I had a good mix of fruit, although slightly different options than she used on hers: I used blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and kiwi. I actually had more than enough, so that I ended up doing a side dish of all the extra fruit and they ate that as much as they ate the fruit pizza. I love seeing my kids eating so much fresh fruit, especially this time of year when the weather is warm and the delicious fruits are plentiful.

I am posting the recipe here just as it appears on the Skinnytaste blog. I do hope you’ll visit the blog however, I always find great things there. In fact, just last night I made one of her chicken recipes, and my daughter said, “I just love when you make this chicken!” So do check the Skinnytaste blog out!

Here’s the Skinnytaste Fruit Pizza recipe. I have just two minor modifications other than the semisweet chocolate chips vs. white chocolate chips: I bake with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and I used nonfat plain yogurt instead of applesauce. Other than that, I followed her recipe as is. Everyone loved it, and it made a great after school snack recipe. I had enough that it lasted us for two days. I’d definitely make this again!

Fruit Pizza
Servings: 30 • Size: 1 bar  • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 140 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 24 g • Fiber: 1 g • Protein: 2 g • Sugar: 17 g
Sodium: 72 mg • Cholesterol: 10 mg


  • 2 cups all purpose unbleached flour (Gold Medal)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate

For the Frosting:

  • 8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

To Assemble:

  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 3 diced kiwis
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a 9 x 13 x 1.375 inch non-stick baking pan (quarter sheet pan) with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend.

In another bowl, whisk the sugars with the butter, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula in two additions until the batter is very well blended. If the batter looks more “crumbly” than smooth, add just a drop of water at a time (ONLY if needed) until it smooths out. Fold in the white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter onto the baking pan using the back of a measuring cup to smooth evenly.

Bake 14 to 16 minutes, until the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Don’t over-bake or your bars will be dry. Let it cool completely on wire rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting; in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until well-blended.

Cut the bars into 15 large squares (5 cuts by 3 cuts with the knife). Then cut each square in half diagonally to create triangles. Spread the frosting in a thin, even layer over the surface of the cookie, leaving a small margin around the edges. Layer the fresh fruit over the frosting. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Fun Friday: Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

31 Jan
My mom used to make this all the time when we were growing up, but I'd forgotten all about it!

My mom used to make this all the time when we were growing up, but I’d forgotten all about it!

Today’s recipe for Fun Friday truly is a fun recipe! It’s fun to make and fun to eat. Like many recipes, it’s got a touch of science to it, and I always love recipes that show the kids something very cool. This one definitely does that as it creates a soupy, fudgy sauce underneath a crisp yet cake-like top.

The funny thing about this recipe is it’s one I grew up eating all the time. It was a go-to recipe in our house growing up. However, it’s been so long since I’ve made it myself, that none of my kids (the oldest being 14) even remembered ever having it.

I was recently reminded of it when a friend sent me a link to a similar recipe; she thought it was something I’d like. She was right, I love it! Seeing the link jogged my memory and I went to my oldest cookbook, a Campbell’s Soup photo album type of recipe binder and I pulled out my mom’s recipe for Hot Fudge Sundae Cake.

Elizabeth came into the kitchen, as she often does, and asked if she could help me. And, as she often does, she made almost the entire thing herself, with just some direction from me. It’s a great recipe for kids to learn to make themselves.

First group of dry ingredients get mixed right in the baking dish!

First group of dry ingredients get mixed right in the baking dish!

This recipe is a favorite because it’s a one-dish recipe. You make the entire thing in an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish. I used a glass Pyrex dish. You can mix the ingredients in four steps: dry, wet, dry, wet, and then you’re done!

Below is my mom’s recipe for Hot Fudge Sundae Cake, just as I copied it off her recipe card and put it into my first cookbook all those years ago. I hope you’ll give it a try this weekend and you too, will see what a fun, easy recipe it is!


                Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 In an ungreased 9×9 square baking dish mix together the following ingredients with a fork:

1 cup flour

¾ cup sugar

2 TBL. Baking cocoa

2 tsp. Baking Powder

¼ tsp. salt

Spread evenly in baking dish.

                Step 2: In a two-cup measuring cup mix together the following ingredients and pour over first five ingreidents.

½ cup milk

2 TBL canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

Spread batter evenly in baking dish.

Before the water goes on top, this is what your baking dish looks like.

Before the water goes on top, this is what your baking dish looks like.

  Step 3: Sprinkle the following two ingredients over batter:

1 cup brown sugar packed

¼ cup baking cocoa

                Step 4: Pour the following over all:

1 ¾ cup Hot Water

Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand15 minutes and serve.

Spoon sauce over ice cream if desired.

The secret is in the sauce. Underneath the crispy chocolate cake is a fudgy sauce to top your ice cream and cake!

The secret is in the sauce. Underneath the crispy chocolate cake is a fudgy sauce to top your ice cream and cake!

Liz’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

18 Jan

One of the things I love about recipes is the fact that they often remind me of people, places, of times in my life. Today’s recipe reminds me of all of those things.

When we eat our cookies, I'll be thinking of Liz!

When we eat our cookies, I’ll be thinking of Liz!

A while back we lived out of state for a few years and conveniently enough, we were in the neighboring state to where my brother and his roommates were living at the time. We were less than an hour away from them, which was fun.  Liz was one of the roommates, a friend of his from college, and a wonderful person. In fact, all of his roommates and friends were wonderful, but today’s recipe is from Liz, so today we focus on her.

Technology being what it is, we’ve been able to stay in touch with Liz and share the events of our lives with each other, which is so great. She is still living nearby, just a few hours from here, and now she has two children of her own.  She’s a fan of The Whole Bag of Chips, and recently she sent me today’s recipe. She knows how much I love cookies and she also knows that I love cookie batter. She specifically sent me this recipe because there were no eggs in the batter, so it makes it safe to taste.

I love that this recipe replaces some of the sugar with honey. It also lent itself well to being a low-fat recipe between the lack of eggs (great for people with egg allergies) and the fact that I could replace the butter with my new go-to, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It may just be my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for all of those reasons. This time around, I even replaced half of the white flour with wheat flour, just to healthify it even more. Every little bit helps!

Each Friday we spend a chunk of our afternoon with my Grandma Rose, the girls’ great-grandmother. I’ve begun bringing along a low-fat or non-fat snack for our dessert, to make things easier for her and for us. At 91 years old, she puts out quite a spread, and I’m glad I can help out a little bit. Today we’ll be bringing along a batch of Liz’s chocolate chip cookies for everyone to enjoy.

These make a great long-weekend baking project too, so give them a try this Martin Luther King Weekend!


1 1/4 cups flour (I did 3/4  cup white flour and 1/2 cup wheat flour)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 cup chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

I used my small Pampered Chef scoop to put them onto my ungreased trays.

Bake at 300 degrees for 18-20 minutes (18 was perfect for my oven.)


Grandma Rose

We enjoy being able to spend some time with Great Grandma Rose! This photo was taken a year or so ago, at her house on her 90th birthday.

A Chocolate Lover’s Dream Day

13 Aug

We hadn’t even parked the car yet and I was already salivating.

Last week, you may remember that in my post about Boston Cream Pie, I mentioned that Saturday was my birthday. This year for my birthday, I got an extra-special treat: we spent the day before my birthday in Hershey, PA.

That’s right. I was in the Chocolate Capital of the World this past Friday.

I know, I’m a lucky, lucky girl.

I must give all the credit for this amazing treat to my mother-in-law, Marylou, who treated both my family and my sister-in-law’s family to a long weekend vacation in Pennsylvania with all the activities and everything that went with them, this past weekend. It was such a fun weekend and I loved being able to spend my birthday with this side of my family, something I don’t always get to do. We hated to see it end.

All of my favorite things, all in one delicious place!

I had been to Hershey a long time ago, back when we lived in New Jersey, but it was so long ago that I had almost no memory of the trip. It was like being there for the first time, all over again.

The streets smell of chocolate as you drive through the town. It’s heavenly.

The street lamps are shaped like Hershey Kisses.

It was truly a dream-come-true for a chocolate lover.

There are several parts to the Hershey experience, and I can share a little bit with you about the parts that we got to see on Friday. There’s so many family-friendly things to do there, you definitely have to pick and choose what you’d like to do on your visit. We were lucky too, it was a rainy day and at first I thought we would not be able to go. However, there were tons of indoor activities so we were able to keep to our plan for the day.

On our first ride we learned all about how chocolate is made, how all our favorite candies come to be.

We first chose to take a moving ride tour through the chocolate-making experience. It was about 10-15 minutes long and you learn all about how chocolate is made and it was a fun ride while being very informative at the same time. It was during this tour that I realized just how many different kinds of chocolate candies are actually made by Hershey’s.

After that, since it was lunchtime, we ate in the food court, which I thought seemed very affordable. There were ten of us total: five kids and five adults, so eating out is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re trying to stick to a budget.

Caroline got a great shot of the trolley after we finished our ride.

Following the food court, we took an hour-long trolley ride which led us all through the town of Hershey. Here we not only saw the entire area, but also heard an animated history of the town and of Mr. Hershey himself. There was lots of laughing and singing (yes, we sang) on this ride and it was just as fun to watch our kids reacting to the antics of the tour guides while they were learning about the town and seeing all the local landmarks.

The kids got such a kick out of the antics on the trolley and we got such a kick out of watching the kids.

After the trolley ride ended, we went on to what was the most highly anticipated event of the day: The Gift Shop. The kids had all saved their money for the entire summer to take on this trip and they were anxiously awaiting the first time to spend some of it. I was proud though, both couples are on tight budgets and it’s rubbed off on our kids in what I think is a good way. They all took great care in buying their items and they really seemed to weigh the pros and cons of what to get and why. No one over-spent, as we still had other places with gift shops that we’d be visiting. All of my kids came home with extra money ultimately, and I believe my nieces did as well.

Ready to leave the hotel, wearing our Hershey’s t-shirts, purchased here in RI especially for this trip.

One tip I will pass along: this summer I found brown Hershey’s t-shirts at our local Walmart store. Total cost for three shirts: $22.50. I called my sister-in-law and she went to her store and found two for her daughters. Our five girls wore their matching Hershey’s shirts to Hershey Park on Friday and they looked so awesome. None of them had to spend their money on a $21.50 Hershey shirt from the gift shop. I thought that was a great treat for them and a great lesson as well.

There were some things that we didn’t do at Hershey Park that you might enjoy if you visit as well. They included a 3D show, a tour of the production facilities and an outdoor water park. If we took another trip there, those are things we might consider doing.

Overall, this was a fabulous way to spend the day before my birthday, or any day, and I’m so thankful I got the chance to visit Hershey Park again.  Here are a few last photos from the 200 or so that the girls and I took that day.


The kids got a kick out of the singing cows.

Lamp posts on the streets of Hershey.

Trolley ride antics

So Much Candy

The biggest and for $29.95 it could be yours.