Cinnamon Roll Dippers

Growing up I remember my Grandma always having a pie or two cooling. Boy, did she make good pies. Peach, cherry, apple, rhubarb…you name it. And it wasn’t just the fillings that were delicious. The buttery, flaky crusts were pastry perfection. The real treat for us grand-kids wasn’t the pie we had to wait on dessert for though, it was what we knew she would do with the leftover pie crust. She would sprinkle them with cinammon and sugar and bake them into sweet little sticks. These are so similar to what she did, but the dip blew my mind. Sorry Grandma, but the dip is where it’s at.

A sweet start to the morning? These can be for breakfast or dessert. The sticks are soft and buttery and then dipped in that cinnamon sweet sauce makes it just right. And yes, I know they’re on the sweet side for breakfast, but you’ve got to treat yourself every once in a while, right?

Cinnamon Roll Dippers

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Dippers

recipe originally from Creme De La Crumb

1½ cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar (divided)
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened +1 tablespoon (divided)
3-6 tablespoons ice cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

for the glaze dip

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in ½ cup butter with pastry cutter or two forks until crumbly. Add 3 tablespoons ice cold water and mix to combine. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed until mixture comes together. Flatten dough into a round disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 15 minutes or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. When dough has chilled, unwrap it and use a pizza cutter to cut into 1-1/2 inch strips. Place wtrips on prepared baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to spread 1 tablespoon butter over the tops of the strips. Combine cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle mixture on top of buttered strips. Bake uncovered 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned.
4. Prepare the glaze dip by combining softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Use a hand mixer to mix well. Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until a smooth consistency is reached. In a small sauce pan combine brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon and whisk until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Drizzle cinnamon mixture into prepared glaze dip. Serve

*These can be made ahead by making the dough and glaze up to two days beforehand and chilling until ready to eat. When ready, simply bake the sticks as the directions suggest (may need to increase time by 1-2 minutes) and warm the glaze in a microwave safe bowl before serving.

Cinnamon Roll lover? Try these recipes next…

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Cinnamon Roll Waffles with Cream Cheese Glaze

Sous Chef Sunday: Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

Oh, Kool-Aid, how the sons love you. How they will agonize over the packet selection at the grocery store, trying to find the perfect five or so for a $1, occasionally arguing amongst each other over whether they really want to waste one of their picks on plain, old orange. It’s always a bit of a bummer for them when they realize their packets have run out, and they’ve got to wait 2-3 more weeks for our monthly grocery trek to get anymore. Imagine their surprise when they saw me putting extra packets into the cart a few months ago. They were a bit surprised when I said we wouldn’t be drinking the grape or the cherry, but baking them instead.

These were super easy to make, and the kids enjoyed the slightly sweet taste as the cookies melted in their mouths. The older sons even learned how to separate an egg, something I didn’t do for the first time until just a few years ago. Son # 4 even helped pipe them out onto a baking sheet. He was pretty proud of himself and his ability to get his hands ‘dirty’. I’ve seen these described before as easy peasy lemon squeezy and that’s the truth!

Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

4 Snos 'R' Us: koolaid meringue cookies

recipe originally from Adventures In All Things Food

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. superfine sugar (or pulse up sugar in a food processor till fine)
1 tsp. Kool-Aid liquid

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs till they are frothy. Then add in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Then start beating in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is all dissolved and the peaks are stiff. Rub a little of the egg whites between your fingers to check for gritty sugar. The mixture should be smooth. Then beat in a teaspoon of the Kool-Aid liquid.
3. Put in a piping bag with a 1M tip and pipe onto a parchment covered baking sheet or silicone mat. Keep the cookies uniform so they will dry evenly. Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cookies in for another hour. They should be completely cool and release easily from the baking sheet.
4. Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Gah, kids grow so fast! I look at the sons at least ten different times on any given day and find myself taken aback. They look so… grown. When did that happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday even son # 1 still need his tears wiped away and boo boos kissed by Mom? I’m always surprised by how fast they grow. I’m thinking that won’t ever change, no matter how old they get or how much they eventually tower over their Dad & I. That being said, feeding said growing boys has proved quite the challenge over the past few years. When they enter the ‘hungry phase’ (although it’s really not a stage since the hubs hasn’t left it behind yet) it strike immediately. One day they will have been eating a nice normal portion of food, and the next, next, next, and so on after that…they’ve become walking, talking garbage disposals eating us out of house and home and peppering the rest of my days with hungry pleas for more. The only feasible solution that we’ve found is protein. Protein, protein, protein. The fuel my 5 hungry guys need to stay full and, incidentally, focused. I’ve gotten pretty creative at finding affordable ways to incorporate more of it into their meals snacks, and even desserts, to help keep their bellies and my bank account as full as possible.

Knowing the struggle, as I’m sure every other parent has juggled before, I knew this little ditty was going to be taking a test run. Packed with a whopping 28 grams of protein (yes, you read that right) I was fairly confident they’d guzzle it down without a second thought since all that protein was hidden under layers of chocolate and peanut butter. Two things the sons never turn down. And why would they when they combine so beautifully here. An easy, healthy peanut butter chocolate smoothie tasting just like a peanut butter cup. What’s a Mom, or anyone really, not to love about that?!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

chocolate peanut butter protein shake 2

recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

1 large banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
3 Tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder
6 oz Chobani 0% Greek Yogurt (or 2%, flavored or unflavored)
3/4 cup skim milk (or your favorite kind of nondairy or dairy milk)
1-2 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or agave
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter

4 Sons 'R' Us: chocolate peanut butter protein shake

Directions

1. Put all of the ingredients into the blender, in the order listed, and blend on high until thick and smooth. I would start with only 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, blend, and then add 1 more for a stronger chocolate taste.
2. You may need to stop and stir/scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Drizzle glass with 1 tsp of chocolate syrup (optional), hold the glass up and let it swirl around inside for a bit, pour your shake in, and enjoy!
3. If you prefer a less sweet smoothie, you may leave out the honey. Add more peanut butter for a stronger peanut butter taste. Add more milk to make the smoothie thinner, if desired. Add 1 cup of your favorite greens for added nutrition.

*Healthy* Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Chocolate is a central part of my husband’s diet, a cornerstone to his livelihood. If there is chocolate nearby, he must have it. And it is one of the few things he finds really difficult to share (along with french fries and deodorant). But really. I always worry because he has no fuel gauge when it comes to the sugary sweet stuff. He would happily (and unknowingly) chocolate his way into a diabetic coma. This little recipe has become a staple. All the same great flavors he’s craving without all the calories and guilt?! Ok, well, it’s healthyish! It’s not an apple or a head of broccoli or anything, but the ingredients in this fudge are healthy. You shouldn’t eat a whole batch of it if you’re counting calories, but you’re better off eating a serving size of this fudge than a serving size of traditional fudge. Then again, what’s a serving size when it comes to chocolate? Your guess is as good as mine.

*Healthy* Chocolate Peanut ButterFudge

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Chocolate Fudge

recipe originally from Creating Naturally

1/2 cup coconut oil (slightly melted, but not hot)
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup mild raw honey
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Prepare a muffin pan with 10 muffin liners.
2. Put all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse a few times until everything is smooth and nicely combined.  (It will be very liquid-y.)  Don’t over-mix.
3. Pour the liquid fudge into the prepared muffin liners dividing evenly between the ten of them.  There will be about a half inch of fudge in each muffin liner.
4. Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the fudge has hardened. (Sometimes I use the freezer and it only takes about 10 minutes)
Remove the muffin liners from the pan and enjoy your delicious, healthy fudge!  Store in the refrigerator.

A Birthday & A Review

Where the heck does all the time keep going?! Son # 2 just turned the big 1-4. He’s our sensitive one. For several years now he hasn’t been interested in big parties or too much ‘ado’ on his day. He’s a creature of habit and prefers to keep things simple, and the same. Birthday dinner is always Philly cheese-steak subs, Mom made of course. His party is usually just family and one friend, his closest. This year we followed all his request, except for one that never came. Each and every birthday we work together, brain-storming until we come up with some new, neat cake design for one of the coolest of kids on his ‘day’. This year, it was like pulling teeth. No ideas, no wants. None. I admit, I was stumped too. Finally, FINALLY, he decided he wanted a plain cake, but he wanted something a little different than what he normally had. For son # 2 to step out of his ‘box’ is huge. A friend had recently told me about a new frosting made by cool whip. She said it was delicious, and had a lot less sugar than the regular stuff. The son heard and wanted to give the chocolate one a go. I was skeptical, but we bought a tub and went with it.

coolwhip

Cool Whip’s new frosting line is the real deal. Creamy, and oh-so sweet, but better for you too! It may be a ‘lighter’ option, but it’s still full of flavor. The best of both worlds! I was happy. The son was happy. And so was everyone at the party, who all wanted to know the secret of the incredible frosting. The secret was, this is perhaps the only store-bought frosting that tastes better (yes, you read that right), better than homemade. By a landslide. If you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your to-do list. Scratch that. You need to bake a cake. Today. While it cools, get to your local grocer’s and grab a tub of Cool Whip frosting. Reward yourself (we should get a reward for trying new things, right?) with a hearty slice of Cool Whip frosted cake. Or you could go the son’s route. He bought another tub with some of his birthday money. Over the next 24 hours he proceeded to eat the entire thing, from the tub, with a spoon. It’s that good. I think I’ve finally found his kryptanite. I’m thinking, ‘Will do chores, without complain, for more Cool Whip frosting.’ Thank you Cool Whip for taking the guess work out of good, quality whipped frosting.

Our big birthday boy

The b.b. was particularly pleased with the other ‘spread’ at his party, as well. Good food, the age-old way to any man’s heart. These chicken & waffle sliders were his absolute favorite. An entire platter disappeared in under 5 minutes. If only the queso dip would have gone that quickly!

Happy, Happy Birthday my sweet boy. We love you and the wonderful young man you’re growing into.

**I was not compensated for this post. These are my opinions and my opinions alone. I was not required to write a positive feature and was not influenced in any way.**

Lucky Charms Blizzard

Another late day again. (shh!) It happens. If you love Lucky Charms & milk, then this fun treat is going to blow. your. mind. Everyone’s favorite marshmallow loaded cereal with ICECREAM! These are absolutely friggin’ addictive delicious. I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t become a ‘thing’, or the next big thing to hit the iconic Blizzard line. These were the perfect ending to our simple, yet ‘taste’ ful St Patrick’s Day meal. Thankfully, I had an extra carton of ice cream because everyone, sons and the Hubs included, came back for seconds. I had to put my foot down at thirds. While our blizzards featured Luck Charms, don’t just stop there. There’s a whole world of possibilities awaiting my fellow DQ lovers. Sub in your favorite treat to the base recipe and enjoy the sure-to-be splendid result.

Lucky Charms Blizzard

4 Sons 'R' Us: Lucky Charms Blizzard

recipe originally from Sweet Treats & More

about 2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp whipping cream
3/4 cup Lucky Charms Cereal + extra for sprinkling on top
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles + extra for sprinkling on top

4 Sons 'R' Us: Lucky Charms Blizzard

Directions

  1. Place ice cream, milk and whipping cream in a blender and blend until smooth (should be thick). Stir in lucky charms cereal and sprinkles with a spoon. Pour into alarge glass (or two small glasses) and sprinkle with additional lucky charms (lots of marshmallows) and sprinkles on top. Serve immediately!
  2. Note this base recipe makes about two large servings. It’s easy to double or to do several batches if feeding a ravenous pack of wolves hungry boys.

Healthy Peach ‘Milkshakes’

Nothing reminds me more of Spring & Summer than a yummy peach milk shake. I remember my Grandma making up some reason for taking us to Hardees for them as a special treat anytime the weather was warm. I used to take my own boys for peach shakes from Chik-Fil-A for their own special warm weather memories. Lucky for me, a cold, creamy milk shake is a treat to your taste buds anytime of the day or year, and a good peach shake is no exception. All that tastiness comes as a cost however. The most delicious ones are almost always a calorie bomb. The solution? We make our own ‘skinny’ version at home. Now anytime I get a craving, I can whip a batch of these babies up and enjoy a guilt free dessert. Now that’s my kind of treat! Although I call these ‘milkshakes’, there’s no actual milk involved. Their delicious deception only adds to my enjoyment.

Healthy Peach ‘Milkshakes’

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Peach 'Milkshakes'

recipe adapted from Mia’s Domain

2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup peach-flavored Greek Yogurt
2 cups frozen sliced peaches
2 tbsp sugar, or more to taste
1 tsp nutmeg

Directions

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Serve shakes cold. For added presentation, add fresh peach slices to each glass.

Cherry Pie Bars

I’ve been holding out on you. I made these bad boys a little over a month a go. . . I’m sorry! I don’t know why but I’ve been ‘saving’ them. For what I’m not sure. I just kept thinking oh, I need a special occasion to share these. And a month has come and gone and I still have not shared them! So I decided I would create a special occasion. Happy Cherry Pie Bar Tuesday!

I love me some cherry pie. It’s always my first choice. A good pie isn’t something you can just throw together. It requires planning and time invested. I had plans to make cherry pie the other day. Life had other plans. Did I let that discourage me? Of course not. Instead, I opted for these simple, yet oh so special cherry pie bars. These sweet, flaky fruit bars are warm & cozy.

Short on time? Get your fix in a jiff using this easy recipe.

(Oh, and P.S., you’re not a fan of cherry pie? Not a problem, sub in the fruity-flavored pie filling of your choice.)

Cherry Pie Bars

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cherry Pie Bars

recipe originally from Six Sisters’ Stuff

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, ream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat well. Add flour and salt to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.
3. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and spread about 3/4 of the batter in the bottom (mine was a little sticky, so I sprayed my hands with non-stick cooking spray and used my hands to spread the dough to the edges of the pan). Spread with pie filling over the batter. Drop remaining batter on top of pie filling in teaspoonful amounts (I did about 35 small spoonfuls of batter over the cherry filling to make the top crust).
4. Bake for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes clean. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over the bars.

Easy Eggnog Fudge

I love giving gifts at Christmas. There’s something so special about watching a persons face light up with joy when they first see the gift you’ve given them. Gifts from my kitchen are always nice, and typically a ‘sure-thing’. I absolutely love this recipe. The rich, creamy goodness of homemade fudge + the satisfying flavor of eggnog = a mouthful of magic. It’s the perfect gift to share with family and friends.

Easy Eggnog Fudge

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy Eggnog Fudge

recipe from Cindy at Skip to my Lou

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup eggnog
12 oz white baking chocolate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Bring sugar, butter and eggnog to a full boil in a heavy medium-size saucepan. Continue to boiling over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stir constantly to prevent scorching. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use a glass of cold water. Drop a few drops of the ‘syrup’ into the glass, if the syrup forms a doughy ball, it is done. If the syrup gets hard and brittle in the water, it has been over-cooked.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate and nutmeg, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla extract. Beat until well blended.
3. Pour into a buttered 8 or 9-inch square pan. Cool, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. May be frozen for up to three weeks.

Super-Soft Eggnog Cookies

I remember growing up and seeing all the adults drinking eggnog on Christmas Eve & Christmas day. Us kids were left at the ‘kids table’. It was a table. It was also in my grandmother’s laundry room/pantry/sewing room off of the kitchen. It didn’t bother us though. The grown-ups didn’t see us sneak a glass of the good stuff for ourselves or notice it make it’s way quickly around our little table as we each took a sip. I know what you’re thinking. Shame on you! It was non-alcoholic. Being an adult now with four boys, I totally get why they hoarded the stuff. I’m pretty stingy doling it out myself as well.

To this day, my kids and I (still) love eggnog. We wait all year long for the creamy concoction to hit the store shelves again. My husband, he hates it. This cookie won him over. He was impressed. It was moist, chewy, and the eggnog taste was just right. Seriously, he ate 12. In less than 5 minutes. He may not be ready to actually drink a cold, frothy glass full but he’s behind eggnog a little bit. And that’s enough for me! For now. Before he avoided it like that little milk jug was hiding the Ebola virus in our refrigerator.

As for me, and my family, we’ve seen the light. Eggnog is so much more than just the nectar of the gods a drink. It’s an amazing, drool-worthy addition to multiple recipes. Cookies today. Tomorrow, the world! It’s time for an eggnog revolution. What do you say?

Super-Soft Eggnog Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: EggNog Cookies

recipe originally from I Heart Naptime

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup eggnog

Eggnog Icing

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp eggnog
ground nutmeg, for garnish

4 Sons 'R' Us: EggNog Cookies

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and vanilla to the mixture and beat until smooth. Finally, add eggnog and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Slowly add flour mixture into the eggnog mixture and stir until combined. Chill dough for 20 minutes.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a cookie scoop or drop spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Do not over cook. Remove cookies from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
4. For icing, whisk powdered sugar and eggnog together. Add more sugar or eggnog, depending on the consistency you prefer.
5. Drizzle icing on cooled cookies and sprinkle with nutmeg. Store in a air tight container in the refrigerator.