Tuesday, June 21, 2016

No Bake Cookie Butter S'mores Bites #CreativeCookieExchange

I've been on a bit of a S'mores kick lately. I recently made these decadent Nutella S'moreos for my Leftovers Club partner. There's something about S'mores that's synonymous with Summer don't you think?

The theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange was no bake cookies. After all, who wants to turn on the oven on a hot Summer day? Not me and I'm pretty sure you don't either. On those days, these No Bake Cookie Butter S'mores Bites are the perfect treat to satisfy your sweet craving.
So leave the oven off, grab an ice cold drink, kick back in front of the fan and enjoy one of these No Bake Cookie Butter S'mores Bites!

No Bake Cookie Butter S'mores Bites
Makes 12 large cookies or one 13"x9" pan

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup cookie butter
6 cups mini marshmallows + 2 cups
6 cups Golden Grahams cereal
2 cups dark chocolate

Place the 2 cups of chocolate chips in the fridge 15 minutes prior to making. This will help keep them from melting.

Spray a 12 cup silicone muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or line a 13"x9" pan with nonstick foil (alternatively line with regular foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray).

Place the butter and cookie butter in a large pot and stir constantly until melted. Add the 6 cups of marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat and fold in the cereal then fold in the chocolate chips and remaining 2 cups of marshmallows.

Divide evenly between the muffin cups and press firmly. Allow to cool completely. Once cool, carefully remove from the pan and serve.

Store leftovers in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

To hot to turn on your oven? The theme this month for the Creative Cookie Exchange group is No Bake Cookies! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). We all post on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking (or this month "no baking"), check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nutella S'moreos for #theleftoversclub

The theme for this month's Leftover's Club exchange was nut butters! Originally, I was planning to post a cookie recipe using homemade maple roasted almond butter (sounds yummy doesn't it?), but the recipe didn't quite turn out as I had planned and I discovered that I don't really like almond butter. As hard as I try, my mind can't seem to grasp the fact that it's just not peanut butter. I think the taste of the almonds is too subtle for me and I keep expecting to taste peanuts. I was hoping that roasting the almonds in maple syrup and adding cinnamon to the mixture would help amp up the flavor, but neh...almond butter is just not my thing.

So I went with plan B - Nutella! You can't go wrong with Nutella can you? Chocolate + Hazelnuts = Yum. Plus I had a huge jar or it in my pantry...

I debated for quite a while about what to make and decided on not one but two recipes! Homemade Nutella Puff Cereal for my exchange partner Michele's adorable son, Nicholas (he has the same name as my son!) and these decadent Nutella S'moreo Cookies for Michele. Michele does such a great job as the leader of The Leftover's Club I thought she deserved something extra special.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the outcome of the Nutella Puff Cereal. While the dough is super easy to make, pinching the dough into tiny balls and rolling them was a little time consuming and too repetitive for me. This would be a great task for the kids to help with (hint,hint)! Also, I thought the Nutella flavor didn't really shine through enough. I'm curious to hear if Michele's son, Nicholas, gives them the thumbs up or thumbs down.
Here's the link to the recipe I tried. If you're into making your own homemade cereals (and you have someone to help you roll the tiny balls), I encourage you to give it a try. The recipe makes a small batch, enough for about 2 servings.
Now, onto these decadent Nutella S'moreo Cookies....I mean c'mon, just look at these things.
Who knew making your own homemade oreo cookies was so easy? And they totally taste like Oreos only better. Just think, you can fill them with whatever filling you want! Since the theme was nut butters, I made a creamy Nutella filling, topped it with some marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crumbs. Oh mama!
I really hope they are delivered to Michele intact and that she enjoys them! Thanks Michele for all you do for The Leftovers Club!
If you are interested in swapping yummy treats each month with fellow food bloggers, sign up over at Michele's blog, Alwayz Bakin!

Homemade S'moreos with Nutella Cream Filling & Marshmallow Fluff
Adapted from Crazy for Crust
Makes approx. 12 sandwich cookies

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs


Preheat oven to 350f and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using your electric hand mixer), cream the butter and both sugars for approx. 1 minutes scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients just until combined.

Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon size balls onto the prepared baking sheets and bake at 350f for approx. 10 minutes or until the cookies are set and no longer look shiny. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets. Remove to a wire cooling rack.

Make the filling

Place the butter, nutella and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use your electric hand mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the heavy whipping cream and whip and med-high speed until creamy (approx. 1 minute). Place the filling in a piping bag (decorating tip optional).

Assemble the cookies

Once the cookies have cooled, take half of the cookies and place them upside down. Pipe the nutella filling around the edges of the cookies. Dollop some marshmallow fluff on top then sprinkle with some of the graham cracker crumbs. Place the remaining cookies on top of each of the filled cookies creating cookie sandwiches.

These cookies are best eaten the day they are assembled. You can bake the cookies a day ahead.

The Perfect Strawberry Custard Cream pie


Growing up there was one dessert that always stood out from all of my mom's famous desserts and that was her Strawberry Custard Cream Pie.  She learned to make this pie from a Mexican cook that would broadcast recipes over the radio for the listeners to write down.  This pie was so yummy, I still remember requesting it for my birthday.  
As the years went by, somehow the recipe was lost in one of our moves. Mom tried recreating it once, but it just didn't taste the same.  A few months ago, I was craving this pie so badly I could literally taste it. I thought to myself, I have a food blog.. I can do this this! 
So I daringly attempted to recreate the famous, lost Strawberry Custard Cream Pie recipe at home. My starting point was everything I could remember about the pie... 
 Pie crust, a strawberry custard filling , fresh strawberries and lots of Cool Whip (mom didn't use whipped cream back then, Cool Whip was cheaper ) 
I found a good basic custard recipe (originally for a banana cream pie), added strawberries, replaced the Cool Whip with heavy whipping cream and used an organic pie crust that I love.  When the pie was finished, I brought it to a family dinner and waited for the reactions...
  My sister Miriam was the first to say, "Did you find mom's recipe?" SCORE!  I knew I had it when I took the first bite...
I did my second test run of the recipe this past weekend, made one or two minor adjustments and bingo! Mom's pie was back and even better! 
 This pie is delicious. Everything you want in a cream pie; creamy, fluffy, full of strawberry flavor. The perfect pie for strawberry season.  I brought some to a party and not a single piece was left. I had to keep myself from taking a second piece, trust me I wanted it!  So I guess I will need to make another two very, very soon! 
Of all the recipes I'm proud to call my own, this has to be at the top of the list. I hope you give it a try.
Happy Cooking Everyone

The Perfect Strawberry Custard Cream Pie
Make two 9" pies


2 premade pie crusts
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
7 egg yolks
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sweet cream butter, softened
1 cup of chopped strawberries
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
10 strawberries, cut in 1/2 for decoration


Prep work:
1. Bake Premade crust per directions on package and set to cool.  Make sure you poke holes with a fork for venting.

 Most Pre-make crust taste ok, but this brand is absolutely delicious.  Tastes like you made it yourself.. super flakey

2. Whip 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream until soft peaks have formed. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar and whip to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Chop strawberries into small pieces to equal one cup chopped (about 7-8 large berries). Place on a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Filling layer #1
1. Bring milk to a boil. Do not let it spill over. Once boiled, set as side.
2 . In a heavy pot, add egg yokes, brown sugar, white sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk together.

3.  Add 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture. Whisk together quickly so it doesn't scramble the eggs.  Add another 1/4 cup of milk, and continue whisking. Repeat until you are out of milk.

4. Put the egg mixture on the stove at medium heat. Continue to whisk.
5. Once the mixture begins to boil it will become really thick, continue to whisk for another minute or two until all liquid had turned into a thick velvety mixture. Remove from stove.

6. Whisk in vanilla and set aside for 5 minutes.
7. After 5 minutes, add the butter cut into small cubes.  Whisk until completely melted.

8. Pour the custard in to a glass bowl and cover with either plastic wrap or parchment paper. Put into refrigerator for 1-2 hours, till custard is chilled. (the custard can be chilled up 3 days)

9. Once custard has cooled , beat with electric mixer for 4-5 minutes to get nice and creamy.

10. Add 1/2 cup of custard to the bottle of each pie crust.

Filling layer #2
1. Take the remaining custard, and beat in 2 cups of the heavy whipping cream you prepared earlier and add one drop of red food dye for color, just until blended (approx. 1 minute). Do not over beat or it will break down the cream.

2. Add 1 cup of chopped strawberries.  Mix until blended, but do not over mix or it will breakdown the cream.

3. Divide the filling between both pies

Filling Layer #3
1. Take the remaining whipped cream and divide between both pies.

2. Decorate with the strawberries you cut in half.

Chill pie for at least 3 hours, honestly the longer this pie chills the better the flavor.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Favorite Homemade Crackers for #theleftoversclub

While I'm mainly a baker of sweets, every once in a while everyone needs to take a walk on the savory side. The theme for this month's Leftovers Club was savory. I had a few different ideas in mind, including a few "meal in a jar" ideas, but I finally settled on these crackers which are my new favorite hence the name My Favorite Crackers.
Most of the ingredients in my favorite crackers are savory (pecans, rosemary, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds), but I decided to throw in a few sweet components (dried apricots and cranberries) because I'm just rebellious like that. Although the apricots and cranberries are sweet, these are definitely not sweet crackers. They are perfect for snacking all on their own or make a great addition to a cheese platter. They would compliment a wide variety of different cheeses.
For this month's exchange, I was paired with Elizabeth from Food Ramblings. She and I have been partners several times, so much so that I'm beginning to think we're becoming an item...ha! Check out the amazing savory shortbread she sent to me! I'm a sucker for shortbread!
As I mentioned before, Elizabeth is a new mom to an adorable baby boy, Jonah. I hope she enjoys this snack in between all of her busy mom moments!
If you'd like to exchange delicious treats with fellow bloggers, join The Leftovers Club over at Alwayz Bakin! I've been a part of fun group for a few years now and I love it!!


My Favorite Homemade Crackers
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 3 dozen crackers

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons brown sugar
3/4 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons raw, unsalted sunflower seeds


Place the dried cranberries and apricots in separate ramekins. Cover with hot water and allow to sit for 15 minutes to rehydrate. After 15 minutes, drain well and place on paper towels to catch excess moisture.

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 2  5" mini loaf pans or 3-4 4" mini loaf pans with non-stick spray. Using mini loaf pans is important because you want the crackers to be small. Using a regular size loaf pan would make very large crackers.

Place the pans on a rimmed baking sheet.

Combine both flours, brown sugar, chopped fresh rosemary, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. Pour the buttermilk over the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to mix just until combined. Add the dried cranberries, dried apricots, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Fold to distribute evenly throughout the dough.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared baking pans (pans should be 3/4 full). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When cool, place the pans in a freezer safe container or freezer bag and freeze for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300f

Remove the pans from the freezer and remove from the "bread" from the pans. Using a serrated knife, cut into thin slices approx. 1/8" thick.

Place the slices on baking sheets lined with silicone mats or parchments paper.

Bake for 15 minutes then turn the crackers over. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the crackers are browned and the edges start to curl. The centers may still be slightly soft at this point but they will harder up as they cool.

Remove from the oven and place the crackers on wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Candied Flower Shortbread Cookies for #creativecookieexchange

So if you saw my recent Instagram post, you might be guessing who the special person is who inspired these cookies. Well, that person would be my mom!

I don't talk about my mom very often on the blog. I mainly focus on sharing recipes without getting too personal, because after all, you are here for the food. Well, the theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange was Mother's Day so I thought now would be the perfect time to say a little bit about the woman who has been a major influence in my life.

My mom was born and raised in the Philippines and had far from a privileged childhood. As a result, she's not a very mushy, sentimental type of person. My mom taught me the value of hard work, to earn what I have and not expect it to be handed over on a silver platter. She taught me to be tough and strong, to put my family before myself and to give without expectation. I am the person I am today because of my mother.

My mom has the biggest green thumb of anyone I know. She can grow anything, anywhere. Here she is with her giant collard greens! The leaves are almost as big as she is!!
This woman could literally make roses grow out of a rock (ok maybe not literally, but you get the picture). I don't know how she does it. Growing up, she had these beautiful rose bushes which she would care for and water every day. The smell of roses in our front yard was intoxicating. I, unfortunately, did not inherit her green thumb, but I can bake, and I baked these cookies for her.

These Candied Flower Shortbread Cookies are the perfect tribute to my mom. Made with pretty, edible flowers, they are beautiful, strong and not too sweet, just like my mom...

These cookies are also far from perfect, just like me...

I know your mom would enjoy them too! Why not make some for Mother's Day?

Candied Flower Shortbread Cookies
Makes approx. 18 cookies (depending on the size)
Adapted from Curtis Stone

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar + more for sprinkling
1 cup + 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch of salt
Egg wash - l large egg white, beaten which 1 tablespoon water
18 edible flowers (small pansies preferred)


Prepare the flowers

Gently wash the flowers in cold water and place face down on a paper towel to dry for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the flowers face up and allow to dry completely.

Make the dough

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using your hand mixer), cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy (approx. 2 minutes).

Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed just until combined.

Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, form into a disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Bake the cookies

When ready to make the cookies, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes so that it is pliable enough to roll out.

Preheat oven to 350f

Roll the dough to 1/4" thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Cut into circles using a 1 3/4" to 2" cookie cutter (depending upon the size of your flowers). You can do a mixture of both sizes if needed. The size of your flowers will dictate the size you need to cut the cookies into.

Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove from fridge and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until just lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place the cookies on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Apply the flowers

Reduce oven temp to 325F

After cookies have completely cooled, brush them lightly with egg wash. Carefully place the a flower on the top of each cookie and lightly brush the flower with the egg wash so that it adheres to the cookie.

Sprinkle each cooking lightly with granulated sugar.

Place the cookies back on the baking sheet and bake for another 5 minutes or until the flower has dried out.

Remove from the oven and place the cookies on the cooling rack.

Store cookies in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Note: My edible flowers were pretty large and thick so I had to use just some of the petals to construct a flower. Small, flat flowers are preferred for this recipe so you can keep the entire flower intact

Mother’s Day is coming! And what better cookies to make than those either in honor of or for our mothers? You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt Caramel Peanut Butter Cookies for #theleftoversclub

If you like dark chocolate, ooey gooey caramel, peanut butter and a sprinkling of sea salt (and honestly who doesn't?) then you will love these cookies!

The theme for this month's Leftovers Club exchange was salt. My intentions were to come up with a unique recipe using salt, but time got the best of me, as it often does, and I defaulted to everyone's favorite salted ingredient...salted caramel. I guess you can never go wrong with salted caramel right?

Well, I took this step even farther. Instead of making my own salted caramel (which I highly recommend), I cheated and used Rolo candies cut in half with a sprinkling of sea salt. Voila! Instant "cheaters" salted caramel!
For this recipe, I used my Whoopie Pie pan which I received as a gift a few years ago! I really like baking cookies in this pan. They turn out large and thick without spreading out too much and each one is the same size!
This month I was paired with Alli from Tornadough Alli! Don't you just love her blog name? Alli is one of 3 new members to The Leftovers Club and I for one know we're really excited to have her in our group!
 Alli sent me these delicious Sweet & Salty Ruffle Treats. They were so good!! Thanks Alli!
With this being Alli's first swap with the group, I knew I had to make a good impression. Not only did I send my package out to her early (normally I'm very last minute), but I also included these artisan salts handmade in Vista, CA where I live! I know Alli will come up with a creative use for them!
If you're interested in swapping delicious treats each month with a fun group of fellow bloggers, sign up to join over at Alwayz Bakin! You'll really enjoy it!!
Now onto the recipe...
Dark Chocolate, Seat Salt Caramel Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 16 large cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used golden)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup extra dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
20 rolo candies cut in half or thirds
Sea Salt & Extra dark chocolate chips for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350f

Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes) scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter and mix at med-low speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Scoop about a tablespoon and a half of dough into each cup of your whoopee pie pan then smooth the dough out to the edges. The cup should be about 3/4 full but not all the way to the top.

Place a few cut up pieces of Rolos on top of each cookie. I like to alternate them with the cut side face up and face down. Then sprinkle a few dark chocolate chips on top. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of each cookie making sure you put some on top of the caramel.

Bake at 350f for approx. 10 minutes. The edges should look set but the middles may still be soft. Do not over bake.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. Allow cookies to cool and set in pan for about 15 minutes then carefully remove by running a knife carefully around the edges and then lifting them out of the pan. Place on a wire cooling rack after removing.


Store leftovers tightly covered at room temp for up to 2 days.